Federal R&D Tax Credit Introduction


The federal R&D tax credit, also known as the R&D Credit, encourages investment in developing or improving products, processes, and technologies in the United States. Eligible companies can receive a tax reduction of up to 20% of their qualified R&D spending above a calculated base amount from prior years. Originally temporary, the credit became permanent in 2015 and expanded to offer tax liability reduction for many small to medium-sized companies that previously couldn’t use it.


It’s important to assess your eligibility to claim or detect the credit now for several reasons. Firstly, on December 18, 2015, the federal Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 was enacted, which brought immediate enhancements to the R&D credit:

  • Made the R&D credit permanent.
  • Expanded its applicability by enabling eligible small businesses to offset their alternative minimum tax liability.
  • Expanded its applicability by allowing qualified businesses to offset their payroll tax liability annually up to $250,000.


In general, a company may have qualifying R&D activities if they invest time and resources in trying to create or improve a product, process, method, technique, formula, invention, or software within the United States. Here are some examples of qualifying R&D activities:

  • Developing or designing new products, processes, formulations, or systems.
  • Creating prototypes or pilot models.
  • Modifying or redesigning existing processes or systems.
  • Exploring product and material alternatives or substitutions.
  • Improving manufacturing processes or tools.
  • Applying for patents in the United States.
  • Directly supervising research activities.
  • Developing internal software solutions or applications.


Qualified Research Expenses (QREs) eligible for the R&D credit encompass a range of costs associated with research activities. These typically include:

  • Wages: The salaries of personnel engaged in, supervising, or supporting qualified R&D activities. Employees who dedicate 80% or more of their time to such activities can have 100% of their wages included. If their involvement is less than 80%, their wages are prorated accordingly.
  • Supplies: Most tangible personal property used or consumed during qualified R&D activities, excluding land, improvements, and other depreciable properties.
  • Contract Research: Generally, 65% of payments made to third parties for conducting or supporting qualified R&D activities, or 75% for contract research conducted within a qualified research group.


R&D Tax credits offer various monetization opportunities. For instance, a corporate taxpayer can enhance their federal income tax return by including two additional forms. This action directly reduces the tax liability associated with the Research and Development (R&D) credit on the federal income tax return. Moreover, eligible entities can utilize the payroll tax offset, which is claimed during quarterly payroll tax filings following the federal income tax filing. Furthermore, state credits may either be sold or refunded.

It’s important to highlight that federal taxpayers have the option to retroactively claim R&D credits by amending returns for up to the past three years, especially if the company experienced losses during that time. This presents an effective means of recovering previously paid taxes. Additionally, state taxpayers may also have the opportunity to amend returns extending even further back in time.





  • 2015年12月18日,美国联邦保护美国人免受税收增加法案生效,该法案的的通过立即增强了对研发企业的税收抵免;
  • 研发税收抵免永久化;
  • 适用范围的扩大,使符合条件的小型企业能够抵销其替代性最低税税责;
  • 同时也能够抵销最高可达25万美元的工资税税责。



  • 开发或设计新产品、流程、配方或系统;
  • 制作原型或试验模型;
  • 修改或重新设计现有流程或系统;
  • 探索产品和材料的替代或替换方案;
  • 改进制造过程或工具;
  • 在美国申请专利;
  • 开发内部软件解决方案或应用程序。



  • 工资:从事、监督或支持符合条件的研发活动的人员的薪水。将80%或更多时间投入到这些活动中的员工可以将其全部工资纳入计算。如果他们的参与度低于80%,则根据比例分配其工资。
  • 用品:在符合条件的研发活动期间使用或消耗的大部分有形个人财产,但不包括土地、改进和其他可折旧财产。
  • 合同工:通常是指支付给第三方进行或支持符合条件的研发活动的款项的65%,或者在符合条件的研究团队内进行合同研究的75%。