How to Offset Federal Payroll Taxes With R&D Tax Credits

Are you leaving money on the table when it comes to your federal payroll taxes? Many businesses are unaware that they can leverage research & development (R&D) tax credits to offset a portion of their federal payroll taxes. This blog post aims to shed light on this specialized yet impactful financial strategy.

payroll tax relief

The Laws Making This Possible

Before jumping into the details, it's helpful to understand the legislative backdrop enabling this payroll tax offset strategy. Key regulations expanded the opportunity over time.

A Major Win for Small Business Relief

The 2015 Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act was a game-changer. For the first time, eligible small businesses could apply R&D tax credits not just against income taxes, but also payroll taxes. This greatly increased access to relief, especially for pre-revenue startups not yet profitable enough to benefit from income tax reductions.

Bigger Benefits With the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act

The recent Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) further boosted advantages:

  • The payroll tax credit limit increased from $250,000 to $500,000.
  • Automatic inflation adjustments were set to incrementally raise the cap moving forward.
  • With a higher limit, the potential savings have grown for eligible businesses.

Who Qualifies and What Are the Limitations?

To utilize this strategy, you'll need to navigate the IRS eligibility rules and caps. To qualify, a company must:

  • Have under $5 million in gross receipts that tax year
  • Have had gross receipts for five years or less, including the current year

Important Notes

  • Certain sectors like hospitality may not be eligible for R&D credits at all.
  • Any excess credit can be carried forward to the next tax period.

How To Apply for the Payroll Tax Offset

  1. Consult an Expert –

    Before applying, meet with a tax professional. They can assess if you qualify and estimate your potential benefits. Their guidance is invaluable for the process.

  2. Calculate Your Credit –

    File Form 6765 with your income tax return to quantify your R&D tax credit amount. This form determines the total credit eligible for the payroll tax offset.

  3. Determine the Offset –

    Next, complete Form 8974 to identify the portion of the R&D credit that can be applied to payroll taxes, given the caps.

  4. Claim It on Your Return –

    Attach Form 8974 to your quarterly payroll tax filing (usually Form 941). This applies the credit against the employer social security taxes you owe.

The Bottom Line

Offsetting payroll taxes with R&D credits is a specialized strategy that can yield big savings, but it does require some expertise to leverage fully. Working with an experienced tax advisor makes all the difference in seamlessly maximizing your credits.

The effort is well worth it. With payroll tax savings unlocked, you can redirect that capital to accelerate growth, hire talent or achieve other strategic goals.

If your startup is leaving this money on the table, it's time to change that. Contact us today to tailor a tax savings plan to your business's unique needs and take control of your financial future.


Engineered Tax Services

Engineered Tax Services

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