Apr 28, 2021
While the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit has been around for some time, it remains one of the best opportunities for manufacturing and distribution companies to minimize their tax liability and leverage an immediate source of cash. The credit was designed to provide a tax incentive for U.S. companies to increase spending on research and development in the U.S.
How to qualify
What constitutes as R&D is much broader than manufacturers realize. Applying to not only the development of products, but also activities and operations, such as new manufacturing processes, environmental improvements, software development, and quality enhancements. The R&D credit is available to any business that incurs expenses while attempting to develop new or improved products or processes while on U.S. soil. A four-part test has been established to help manufacturers determine if they qualify:
- An activity that creates a new or improved business component of function, performance, reliability, or quality;
- Technological in nature and related to physical or biological science, engineering, or computer science;
- Intended to discover information to eliminate uncertainty in capability, method, or design;
- An activity that includes a process of experimentation, or evaluating one or more alternatives to achieve a result. This might include modeling, simulation, or systematic trial-and-error.
How to claim the credit
Since the credit may be claimed for both current and prior tax years, manufacturers should document their R&D activities to ensure they are positioned to claim the credit in both situations. You will be required to factually provide the number of qualified research expenses (QREs) paid with documentation such as payroll records, general ledge expense detail, project lists, and notes, etc. Qualified research expenses are defined as:
- Wages paid to people directly working on, supervising, or directly supporting the development process
- Supplies used or consumed during the development process
- Contract research expenses paid to a third party for performing qualified research activities on behalf of the company
- The cost of cloud service providers or leasing computers used in research activities
It is important to note that research doesn’t have to lead to a successful product or process for the expenses to count. Even if the project or research failed, you can still claim the credit.
Additional tax benefits
- Alternative Minimum Tax – Eligible small businesses with an average of $50 million or less in gross receipts over the past three years may claim the federal R&D tax credit against their alternative minimum tax liability beginning in 2016.
- Payroll Tax – Eligible startups can use the credit to offset payroll withholding taxes. Startups using the provision must have gross receipts of less than $5 million and no gross receipts prior to the five taxable years ending in the then-current tax year. The credit towards payroll withholding taxes is limited to $250,000 in one year, but companies can carry forward excess credits to apply to future payroll withholding taxes.
How we can help
For more information about R&D credits or reducing your company’s risk of facing penalties, contact our Manufacturing & Distribution Practice Leader below.
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Robert Bradshaw, CPA
Manufacturing & Distribution Practice Leader
firstname.lastname@example.org | 419.891.1040
Mar 23, 2021
Statistics show that a mere 8% of employers offer some kind of student loan repayment option. While this is not a new phenomenon, bigger corporations like Google and Hulu recognize the value-add of such offering to attract and retain top talent. Recent changes to a CARES Act provision providing employers tax incentives if they offer student loan repayments has been making news. Similar to employer-sponsored retirement and health care plans, employers can contribute up to $5,250 toward an employee’s student loan balance (principal or interest) and the payment will be free from payroll and income tax under Section 2206 of the CARES Act. This temporary tax-free provision has now been extended for at least five years, and employers are starting to take notice.
Due to the pandemic, many employers are focusing efforts on employee wellbeing and financial stability. This opportunity benefits both sides: the employee doesn’t have to pay income tax on the $5,250 and the employer gets a tax deduction. Some employers have evaluated the benefit of providing annual raises or offering a contribution to student loan debt. Given the economic impact of the pandemic, some may prefer the latter. Especially with student loan interest suspended until September of this year.
If you are interested in taking advantage of this tax-free provision, employers who already maintain an educational assistance program will need to amend their program, and employers who do not already maintain such a program will need to adopt one. Developing a written plan that outlines: 1) how to notify employees of the program, 2) eligibility and, 3) benefits is a good place to start. If you have questions, please contact your William Vaughan Company advisor today.
Mar 18, 2021
Yesterday, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extended the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year to Monday, May 17, 2021. “This continues to be a tough time for many people, and the IRS wants to continue to do everything possible to help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic, while also working on important tax administration responsibilities,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.” While the deadline has been extended, there are some items worth noting:
- The delay applies to individuals filing Forms 1040 and 1040-SR.
- The postponement does NOT apply to first-quarter estimated tax payments for 2021. The deadline for such remains April 15. After that date, interest and penalties on unpaid amounts will apply.
- The extension also does NOT include fiduciary (trust) income tax return
- It does NOT change the deadlines for corporate, partnership, or nonprofit tax returns.
- The deadline to file the 2020 tax return remains Oct. 15 for taxpayers who file Form 4868 to request an automatic extension. The deadline to submit this form is now May 17, not April 15.
- Recent law changes allow an exemption of up to $10,200 of unemployment compensation. If you received unemployment compensation last year and already have filed your 2020 tax return, the IRS strongly urges you not to file an amended return from federal tax but the IRS hasn’t announced what steps to take but plans to do so soon. For those who haven’t yet filed their 2020 returns, the IRS released guidance on March 16 that includes a worksheet and instructions to claim the exemption
Some state agencies have followed suit in extending the deadline. We expect more states to push back their tax filing deadlines but recommend each taxpayer check with their state agency for any state tax deadline extensions.
Finally, while the deadline has been extended, we highly recommend taxpayers get their documents to their CPA and file as soon as possible, especially those who are owed refunds. Filing electronically with direct deposit is the quickest way to get refunds, and it can help some taxpayers more quickly receive any remaining stimulus payments they may be entitled to. If you have any questions, please reach out to your William Vaughan Company advisor at 419.891.1040 or check out the IRS news release here.
Jan 06, 2021
Prior to the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, (CAA), the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) was as afterthought reserved to the deepest recesses of most employers’ minds as in the original CARES Act, taking a PPP loan and requesting subsequent forgiveness of that loan precluded businesses from also taking the ERTC. At best, the ERTC was a backup option for businesses that failed to request a PPP loan on time or had too many employees for the PPP loan. Now, however, with the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 just days ago, the ERTC is retroactively available to employers even if they took a PPP loan.
The ERTC is a refundable payroll tax credit that can be taken against employment taxes equal to 50 percent of the qualified wages an employer pays to employees after March 12, 2020, and through December 31, 2020.
This post dives into the details of the ERTC and the mechanics of how employers can capitalize on this additional benefit.
The ERTC for 2020
As noted above, employers that borrowed a PPP loan can now also claim the ERTC for 2020 but not on the same dollars of payroll costs. What this means is wages and health care costs used in calculating the ERTC cannot also be used in deriving PPP loan forgiveness. Simply put, there’s no double-dipping. In order the qualify for the ERTC an employer must satisfy one of the following conditions:
- Full or partial suspension of business operations during any calendar quarter due to government orders limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings as a result of COVID-19 (this does not include individuals business choices or simple advisories by public officials), OR
- A significant (>50%) decline in gross receipts in a 2020 calendar quarter in relation to the same quarter in 2019.
If the significant gross receipts decline qualification is met, every quarter thereafter is considered a qualifying quarter until the first day of a calendar quarter following a quarter in which gross receipts returned to at least 80% of the gross receipts in the same quarter during 2019.
Example: Gross receipts for 2020 are $100,000, $150,000, $100,000, and $120,000 for Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4 of 2019 respectively. Gross receipts are $45,000, $112,500, $83,000, and $90,000 for Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4 of 2020 respectively. The employer would qualify for the ERTC beginning in quarter one since gross receipts decreased 55%. Quarter four would not be a qualified quarter since gross receipts rose back to 83% of the prior year’s receipts during the 3rd quarter.
If a business began in the middle of a quarter, gross receipts would be extrapolated to estimate the total quarter’s receipts. For example, if a business began on June 1st and reported $50,000 in gross receipts for the month, the business would use $150,000 of gross receipts for the 2nd quarter of 2019 ($50,000 x 3 months). Extrapolated gross receipts would be used for any prior quarter in 2019.
Once an employer has determined they qualify under one of the stipulations above, the next step is to determine on which wages to calculate the credit. First, in the event that a business is fully or partially suspended, only wages paid during the period of suspension can be used in calculating the ERTC. If the business qualifies based on the gross receipts test, the wages from each qualifying quarter can be used. The number of average monthly full-time employees (FTEs) significantly affects what wages can be used under either qualifying event. If the employer had less than or equal to 100 average monthly (FTEs) in 2019, then all wages paid to all employees during the eligible time period can give rise to a credit. If however, the employer had greater than 100 average monthly FTEs in 2019, only wages paid to employees during the eligible time period to NOT WORK are eligible for the credit. For purposes of this rule, and FTE is an employee who, for any calendar month in 2019, had an average of at least 30 hours of service per week or 130 for the month. This is not a fractional calculation. All employees working less than 30 hours count as zero FTEs in the average monthly calculation.
After considering all of the qualifications, the calculation of the credit is pretty straightforward. The ERTC is 50% of up to $10,000 of wages, including certain health insurance costs per employee per year. Let’s look at a simple example.
As seen in the table above, Jed’s quarter 3 wages are limited to $1,000 since $9,000 of his wages were already accumulated in quarters 1 and 2. Likewise, Jack’s wages are limited beginning in the second quarter and none of his wages are eligible in quarter 3.
One caveat to keep in mind when running the numbers on this credit is that wages up to the amount of the credit are not allowed as a deduction on the employer’s income tax return. So if an employer claims a $5,000 credit on $10,000 of wages, $5,000 of those wages are non-deductible for tax purposes.
As for businesses with multiple entities or subsidiaries, the following aggregation rules apply:
- if ONE business in the group has been partially or fully suspended, then all businesses in the group are considered to have been partially or fully suspended
- when calculating the percentage decline in gross receipts quarter over quarter, the gross receipts of ALL aggregated businesses must be taken into account
- when determining FTEs for purposes of the 100 FTE threshold, employees from all of the businesses in the group must be added together
Finally, in order to claim this credit, the employer can use one of two approaches. First, employers will report their total qualified wages and related health insurance costs for each quarter on their quarterly payroll tax returns (Form 941 for most employers). The credit is then taken against amounts that would have otherwise been deposited including federal income tax withheld, the employer’s share of Social Security and Medicare tax, and the employees’ share of Social Security and Medicare tax. The second acceptable method is to request an advance of the ERTC by submitting Form 7200.
OK – intermission. Stand up, stretch, use the restroom, and refill your coffee. We made it through the 2020 provisions of the Employee Retention Tax Credit. Next, we are going to breeze through the extension of the ERTC into 2021 provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. Here we go…
Changes for the 2021 ERTC Program
Congress voted to extend the ERTC into 2021 with the program set to end on June 30, 2021. The credit percentage has been increased from 50% to 70% and it is now calculated on $10,000 of wages per employee per quarter. In addition, the FTE threshold is up to 500 FTEs vs. 100 in 2020 and, what is considered a significant reduction in gross receipts quarter over quarter is down from greater than 50% to greater than 20%. Furthermore, congress tossed up a softball by including the provision that, when considering gross receipts for the first quarter of 2021, the employer can elect to compare Q4 of 2020 vs. Q4 of 2019 instead of Q1 of 2021 vs. Q1 of 2019 in the event that there’s a benefit to doing so.
One additional rule put in place for 2021 is that the advance credit claimed via Form 7200 cannot exceed 70% of the average quarterly wages paid in 2019.
As can be expected, the various allocations and calculations possible under the multitude of possible scenarios are far too comprehensive to include in the overview of this blog. When considering the ERTC for your business, do not hesitate to reach out to a William Vaughan adviser for assistance on maximizing the benefits of this program.
By: Jon Floering, CPA
Nov 19, 2020
Yesterday, the U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released guidance clarifying the deductibility of expenses paid with paycheck protection program (PPP) loan funds.
What is the significance of the new guidance?
Previously, it was unclear what would happen if a taxpayer incurred the expenses in one year (2020), but received forgiveness in the next year (2021).
Rev. Rul. 2020-27 states if a business reasonably believes a PPP loan will be forgiven in the future, expenses related to the loan are not deductible, whether the business has filed for forgiveness or not. Meaning, if you used all of your PPP funds in 2020 and expect to receive full forgiveness, those expenses are not deductible, regardless of whether or not you have applied for or have received forgiveness notification as of the end of 2020.
What happens if loan forgiveness is partially or fully denied in 2021 after one has filed their 2020 return?
Revenue Procedure 2020-51 establishes a safe harbor for taxpayers whose loan forgiveness applications are partially or fully denied, or who decide not to apply for forgiveness after filing their 2020 tax return.
While these expenses may ultimately become deductible with a future act of Congress, we encourage you to connect with your William Vaughan Company advisor to assist you in determining the best path forward for you and your business.
Need further PPP guidance? Check out our COVID-19 Resource Center.