2023 Legislation Updates

2023 Legislation Updates

Stay in the know! Get 2023 legislation updates, including R&D and ERC tax credit changes, with TaxTaker.

By Austen Legler ・ 6 min read
Industry Insights

Another year, another set of new tax laws. This time, we're talking about changes to research and development (R&D) capitalization starting in the 2022 tax year. Here's what you need to know, how it will impact your business, and how an R&D tax credit can help. 

What is R&D capitalization? 

R&D capitalization is the process a business uses to classify R&D activities as an asset rather than an expense. When you capitalize R&D expenses, you can increase your company’s profitability, which is ideal for startups looking to show investors and creditors the true profitability of your organization. Most businesses elect to deduct qualified R&D expenses in the same year as they incurred instead of amortizing the expenditures over at least five years. Businesses benefited from this, as it reduced their federal income tax in the same year they incurred the expense. 

However, the 2017 Tax Cut Job Act (TCJA) changed how R&D expenses are deducted and amortized starting in the 2022 tax year. These changes will affect how your business will file its taxes this April. 

What's changed?

Instead of taking an R&D expenditure as a deduction all in one tax year, the expenditure must be treated as an asset and amortized—or spread out—over a certain number of years. Per IRC §174, you can't take R&D expenditures as a deduction. Instead, you must capitalize them over five years (domestic) or 15 years (foreign). You also won't be required to file the Application for Change in Accounting Method form, as the IRS generally waives it. However, you should still submit a statement containing specified information, such as a description of the type of expenditures.

For example, if your company generated $500,000 of revenue and incurred $1,000,000 in deductible R&D expenses in 2021, you would have reported a $500,000 taxable loss. Under the new capitalization rule, you can only deduct $100,000 of R&D expenses. So, you would have $400,000 of taxable income. The remaining 2022 capitalized R&D expenses ($900,000) are deductible over the next four years.

What this means for your business  

The bad news: Your calculated taxable income will likely increase because you cannot use R&D costs incurred during the year to generate losses. Some companies that lose money may appear profitable on paper. Hence, your startup may reach profitability earlier than you anticipated (at least in the eyes of the IRS). That means you'll miss out on an Net Operating Loss (NOL), even though you're not profitable yet.

The good news: Although these changes affect IRC §174, IRC §41 (the tax code section that rewards certain types of R&D expenses as qualified for an R&D tax credit) remains unchanged. In fact, it's become more valuable—though you must capitalize all R&D expenditures, those that qualify under IRC §41 actually "pay you back" with a credit.

How do I qualify for an R&D tax credit for 2022?

If you're wondering if you qualify for an R&D tax credit for 2022, ask yourself:

  • Do you design or develop new products, processes, or tools?
  • Do you make existing products better?
  • Do you make software or make it better by creating add-ons?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above, great! The next step is to see if your expenditures pass the four-part test below, a set of industry-standard guidelines to decide whether certain expenses can be considered qualifying research activities. The four-part test asks you to prove that your R&D activities have a permitted business purpose, eliminating uncertainty, showing developmental iteration, and being technological in nature.  

What expenses can my business claim?

There are four buckets of expenses you can pull from when calculating your R&D credit savings. These include:

  • W-2 wages for any U.S.-based employee involved in R&D activities, including supervision, support, or execution
  • U.S.-based contractors 
  • Materials used for prototyping and development 
  • Cloud costs for your pre-production and staging environment (think Google Cloud, AWS, Heroku, etc.)

Once you determine that your expenses meet the guidelines, you can apply for an R&D tax credit with the help of TaxTaker. Our experts walk you through the process, from helping you collect documentation to when your credit hits your bank account. Remember: No matter the size of your company or development phase, you can still receive an R&D tax credit! 

Our friends over at Growthlab Financial, a Fractional CFO, also wrote a blog on this very topic. And if you need guidance on the accounting/financial implications from these legislation updates, Growthlab can help!

About the author

Austen Legler
Head of Partnerships

Austen Legler, an experienced marketer and sales professional, has worked with fortune 500 companies, startups, and more. As TaxTaker's Head of Partnerships, he leads the partnership strategy and is focused on building out TaxTaker's partner ecosystem.

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