What would you do with an extra $500k? Starting with 2023, startups can now get up to $500k back from the IRS.
"Try Fondo...automatically get cash back from the IRS (average startup gets $21,000)"

TL;DR Key Takeaways:

• R&D credits can help businesses save money through tax incentives.
• These credits allow companies to claim approved expenses related to research and development activities.
• To qualify for R&D credits, businesses must meet the four-part test.
• Eligible expenses include employee wages, third-party costs, research payments, and supplies.
• The credit can be calculated using the traditional method or the alternative simplified credit method.

R&D credits are a valuable tool that can help businesses save money through tax incentives. The R&D tax credit is a federal tax liability reduction that allows companies to claim approved expenses related to research and development activities. By taking advantage of these credits, businesses can offset their tax burden and reinvest those savings into further innovation and growth.

Fondo handles all of this for you — the credit is claimed by doing an R&D Credit study, filing additional forms with your corporate tax returns, and updating your payroll system. Get started here →

🔽 Some great insight about the R&D credit from Zoeb Salehbhai, CPA, Senior Tax Manager at Brex 🔽

Does my startup qualify?

Most likely, yes! Startups with less than $5M in gross receipts will generally qualify. Because of the broad definition for qualified activities, startups from almost every industry have claimed R&D tax credits. If you have employees or contractors in the United States who spend any time developing new or improved products, processes, software, algorithms, formulas, or inventions, then you likely qualify for the R&D tax credit. See if your startup qualifies →

What You Need to Know

In order to take advantage of R&D credits, it is crucial to understand how they are structured and what they entail. The R&D tax credit is a federal tax liability reduction that allows companies to claim approved expenses related to research and development activities. This credit can result in substantial tax savings for businesses.

To qualify for the R&D credit, companies must meet the four-part test. This test includes having a technological purpose, engaging in experimentation, eliminating uncertainty, and having a qualified purpose. These requirements ensure that the activities being claimed are truly innovative and meet the criteria for the credit. It is important for businesses to carefully assess their projects and determine if they meet these criteria.

Once a company qualifies for the R&D credit, they can calculate it using either the traditional method or the alternative simplified credit method. The traditional method involves calculating the credit based on a percentage of qualified expenses, while the alternative simplified credit method provides a simplified calculation based on a fixed percentage of qualified expenses. Companies can choose the method that best suits their needs and maximizes their credits. It is recommended to consult with a tax specialist to determine the most advantageous approach.

Businesses can claim the R&D credit for open tax years and carry unused credits forward for up to 20 years. This flexibility allows companies to offset future tax liabilities and maximize the value of their credits over time. Additionally, new and small businesses may have the option to apply the credit against payroll taxes or alternative minimum tax, providing immediate benefits to cash flow.

Qualifying for R&D Credits: The Four-Part Test

To qualify for R&D credits, businesses need to meet a four-part test that includes specific criteria set by the IRS. This test ensures that the activities being claimed as research and development are indeed eligible for the tax credit. Here are the four criteria that businesses must satisfy:

1. Technological Purpose: The research or development activity must be undertaken to create a new or improved product, process, technique, formula, or invention. It should involve the use of technological principles in fields such as engineering, science, computer science, or physical sciences.

2. Experimentation: The business must engage in a process of experimentation to eliminate uncertainty. This means conducting systematic and formal trial and error processes, simulations, modeling, or other methods to evaluate alternatives and test hypotheses. The objective is to gather information that will result in technological advancements.

3. Elimination of Uncertainty: The business must demonstrate that it is trying to discover information to eliminate technical uncertainty. This uncertainty must relate to capability, methodology, design, or similar factors that could impede the successful development or improvement of the product or process.

4. Qualified Purpose: The research must be conducted for the purpose of creating a new or improved business component that enhances performance, functionality, reliability, or quality. It should seek to resolve technical issues or provide a competitive advantage.

Meeting these four criteria is essential for businesses to claim R&D credits. It is crucial to carefully document and provide evidence of activities that satisfy the test to ensure eligibility. Consulting with a tax specialist can help navigate the complexities of the test and ensure accurate calculations.

How much does my startup qualify for?

The amount of money you can get back is based on your company's R&D expenses (founder/employee/contractor payroll) and can be up to $500k per year. See how much you can get back with our Tax Credit Calculator →

Examples of Qualifying R&D Activities:

To further illustrate the four-part test, here are some examples of activities that typically qualify for R&D credits:

Eligible Expenses for R&D Credits More Info

In order to claim R&D credits, businesses can include certain expenses related to research and development activities. These expenses can be classified into different categories, including employee wages, third-party costs, research payments, and supplies. When calculating R&D credits, it is important to consider these eligible expenses for maximum tax benefits.

Employee Wages

The wages of employees directly engaged in qualified research activities can be considered as eligible expenses for R&D credits. This includes not only the salaries but also any additional compensation, such as bonuses and benefits, as long as it is directly related to R&D work. It is crucial to accurately track and document the time and effort spent by employees on research and development projects to ensure proper calculation of credits.

Third-Party Costs

Businesses can also include payments made to external contractors or consultants who contribute to qualified research activities. These third-party costs, such as payments for technical consulting services or software development, can be considered eligible expenses for R&D credits. Keeping detailed records of these payments and the services provided will help support the claim and maximize the available tax deductions.

Research Payments and Supplies

Expenses related to research payments and supplies can also qualify for R&D credits. This includes costs for materials, prototypes, and testing equipment used in the research and development process. Additionally, payments made for research conducted by universities or other qualified institutions can be considered eligible expenses. It is important to maintain proper documentation, including invoices and receipts, to support these expenses and ensure their inclusion in the R&D credit calculation.

Incorporating these eligible expenses into the calculation of R&D credits can provide businesses with significant tax benefits. By leveraging these credits, companies can reduce their tax liability and allocate more resources towards innovation and growth. To ensure accurate calculations and eligibility, it is advisable to consult with tax specialists experienced in R&D tax deductions and credits.

Calculating R&D Credits: Traditional vs. Alternative Simplified Credit Method

Businesses have two options when it comes to calculating R&D credits: the traditional method or the alternative simplified credit method. Both methods allow companies to determine the amount of credit they are eligible for based on qualifying research and development activities. Understanding the differences between these two methods can help businesses maximize their R&D tax savings.

The traditional method of calculating R&D credits involves a detailed analysis of qualified expenses and activities. Companies must track and document all eligible expenses, including employee wages, third-party costs, research payments, and supplies. This method requires a thorough understanding of IRS guidelines and regulations. While it may be more complex, it can potentially result in higher credits for businesses with significant R&D expenditures.

Alternatively, the alternative simplified credit (ASC) method offers a streamlined approach to calculating R&D credits. This method allows businesses to claim a fixed percentage of their eligible expenses, simplifying the process and reducing the burden of documentation. While the ASC method may result in lower credits compared to the traditional method, it offers a more straightforward and time-saving approach, especially for smaller businesses.

Differences between Traditional and Alternative Simplified Credit Method:

Traditional Method

• Requires detailed documentation of expenses: You need to keep a detailed list of what you spend on creating new products or processes.

• More complex calculations: Figuring out your tax break is tricky and takes a lot of math.

• Potentially higher credits: You could get a bigger tax break because it includes all your research expenses.

Alternative Simplified Credit Method

• Allows a fixed percentage claim of expenses: You can claim a set percentage of your research costs for tax savings.

• Streamlined and simplified calculations: It's easier to calculate your tax savings with a simple formula.

• May result in lower credits: Your tax break might be smaller since it's based on just part of your expenses.

When deciding which method to use, businesses should consider their specific circumstances, including the size of their R&D budget, overall tax strategy, and available resources for documentation and compliance. Consulting with a tax specialist can help businesses make an informed decision and navigate the complexities of claiming R&D credits.

At Fondo, we understand the importance of maximizing R&D tax savings for businesses. Our all-in-one accounting platform simplifies the process of claiming and managing R&D credits, whether you choose the traditional method or the alternative simplified credit method.

Carryforward and Application of R&D Credits

R&D credits can provide long-term benefits for businesses, allowing them to carry forward unused credits and apply them strategically. If a company qualifies for R&D credits but does not have enough tax liability to offset in the current year, they can carry forward the unused credits to future years. This flexibility allows businesses to maximize the value of their research and development efforts over time.

Carrying forward unused credits can be a valuable strategy for companies that anticipate future growth or expect to generate more tax liability in subsequent years. By carrying forward credits, businesses can effectively reduce their future tax burden and free up resources for further investment in research and development activities.

IRS Rules and Consultation with Tax Specialists

It is crucial for businesses to navigate the complex IRS rules and regulations surrounding R&D credits, which is why seeking guidance from tax specialists is highly recommended. Understanding the intricacies of the tax code can be challenging, especially when it comes to claiming R&D credits. That's where tax specialists, like the experts at TryFondo, can provide invaluable assistance.

By partnering with Fondo, businesses can ensure accurate calculations and eligibility for R&D credits. Our team of experienced tax professionals stays up to date with the latest IRS guidelines, ensuring that your claims are compliant and maximize your benefits. We understand the specific requirements businesses need to meet in order to qualify for R&D credits, and we can guide you through the entire process.

Fondo: Your Partner in R&D Credits

We can handle everything you need to get it done -- end-to-end. Most of our competitors will only do the R&D study and you still need to find someone else to (1) file your tax returns with the attached R&D credit forms, (2) update your payroll system, and (3) do your bookkeeping.

• Cash back from the IRS (Fondo will complete the R&D Credit Study, prepare Tax Forms, and make required updates to your payroll system)

• Optional Add-on: TaxPass - Delaware + Federal/State Corporate Income Taxes Filed (timely filings that you need to claim the credit)

• Optional Add-on: Bookkeeping (get financial statements that you need to file your tax returns)

Let Fondo handle: all the paper work, bookkeeping, tax filings -so your startup can get cash back! Join 700+ startups and get an instant quote today

How do I claim the credit?

Fondo handles all of this for you — the credit is claimed by doing an R&D Credit study, filing additional forms with your corporate tax returns, and updating your payroll system. Get started here →

Fondo is an all-in-one accounting platform that provides startups with an easy solution for claiming R&D credits and maximizing their tax benefits. Our platform simplifies the process of calculating, documenting, and reporting R&D credits, saving you time and effort. You can focus on what you do best – innovating and growing your business.

Our user-friendly interface allows you to effortlessly track and categorize your R&D expenses, ensuring that you capture all eligible costs. Whether it's employee wages, third-party expenses, research payments, or supplies, we help you keep everything organized and in one place. No more digging through receipts or spreadsheets.

We also provide comprehensive assistance in maximizing your R&D credits. Our team of experts is well-versed in IRS rules and regulations, ensuring accurate calculations and eligibility. We understand the complexities of R&D credits and are here to guide you every step of the way, helping you take full advantage of this valuable tax incentive.

It is important for companies to understand the IRS rules and consult with a tax specialist to ensure accurate calculations and eligibility. We offer an easy solution for busy founders. To learn more visit: ‎https://www.tryfondo.com/tax-credits


This blog for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or tax advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Companies should consult their own attorneys or tax accountants for advice on these issues. Because of the generality of the issues discussed in this piece, the information provided may not apply in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal or tax advice based on particular situations.

November 9, 2023
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