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Summing It Up

Keeping you ahead of the curve with timely news & updates.


R&D Tax Credits and AMT: Chasing Those Blues Away

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A recent taxpayer-friendly change in the federal tax law has effectively expanded the number of taxpayers that can use research and development (R&D) tax credits to reduce their income tax liability. Companies that rely on the hard sciences or use technology to create or improve products or processes can reduce federal taxes using R&D tax credits. 

Historically, the rules applicable to general business credits only allowed the use of R&D tax credits to offset regular tax up to the amount of the alternative minimum tax (AMT). In many cases for corporations, shareholders in S corporations, and partners in partnerships, the high-income earners were paying AMT in excess of their regular income tax liability—meaning they could utilize none of the R&D tax credits generated each year (though the tax credits could then be carried back one year, and carried forward up to 20 years).

This limitation on the use of R&D tax credits discouraged companies and individuals subject to AMT from performing an R&D tax credit study, since they weren’t able to utilize the R&D tax credits generated.

New Opportunity to Claim R&D Tax Credits 

The IRS and Congress were aware of this limitation and instituted changes through the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act). Effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2015, “eligible small businesses” and their owners can use R&D tax credits to offset AMT.

The following example demonstrates the impact the PATH Act has had on the ability of a small business owner to utilize R&D tax credits. In this example, the taxpayer is an owner of an S corporation and a Limited Liability Company (LLC) and the taxpayer is actively involved in both entities. The flow through ordinary income and R&D tax credits from the S Corporation are $140,000 and $15,000 respectively. The flow through ordinary income and R&D tax credits from the LLC are $260,000 and $25,000 respectively. The taxpayers’ utilization of R&D tax credits and the resulting tax savings pre and post Path Act are shown below.

  PRE PATH ACT POST PATH ACT
Adjusted Gross Income $540,000 $540,000
Regular Tax $148,000 $148,000
Alternative Minimum Tax $144,000 $144,000
Difference $4,000 $4,000
R&D Tax Credit Generated $40,000 $40,000
R&D Tax Credit Used $4,000 $40,000
Tax Savings   $36,000

Note: AMT limitations continue to apply to any R&D tax credits carried forward from taxable years beginning before 2016.

“Eligible Small Business” Defined

This new tax savings opportunity is available for a non-publicly traded corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship if the average annual gross receipts for the three-taxable-year period preceding the credit year do not exceed $50 million. Partners, LLC members, and S corporation shareholders must also meet this gross receipts test.

This change in the PATH Act may present your business with an opportunity to re-evaluate your activities to determine qualification for R&D tax credits.

We may be able to quickly tell you if you are an eligible small business that qualifies for R&D tax credits. Have your financial and tech specialist contact us for a no-cost preliminary consultation with a member of our R&D tax credit services team.

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See New York’s Top 10 Tax Credits and Cash Incentives for Start-ups

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Here in New York State, the federal and state governments offer certain types of programs that can incentivize companies as they start and grow their business. Our team recently presented this topic to the Genesee County (N.Y.) Chamber of Commerce. 

You can see the video of the full presentation here.

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10 Programs and Tax Credits for New York Start-ups to Consider:

While there are many programs and credits available to start-ups, here is our list of the top 10 to consider:

1. The U.S. government provides the federal research tax credit for companies that are innovative and are creating something new to their business or industry, or that are expanding a business into a new area.

2. NYS has designated 10 Innovation Hot Spots in each of the state’s economic development regions. This a tax credit program whereby your company can potentially avoid income taxes and sales taxes for five years.

3. START-UP NY offers new and expanding businesses the opportunity to operate tax-free for 10 years on or near eligible university or college campuses in the state.

4. The Excelsior Jobs program, which provides tax credits for such strategic businesses as high tech, bio-tech, clean-tech and manufacturing that create jobs or make significant capital investments, also applies to innovative companies.

5. The Investment Tax Credit applies if you or your business placed qualified property into service during the tax year. If your application is properly structured, as a new business you can potentially get cash back from NYS for up to five years.

6. The Qualified Emerging Technology Company (QETC) credit is for innovative companies looking to fulfill a key need: investment capital. This particular credit is for the investor who puts money into your company.

7. Companies starting up that are also doing R&D activities can realize a break in paying sales tax.

8. Grants for NYS start-ups come in many varieties: research, educational, energy-efficient improvements to your manufacturing facilities, capital investments. Grants can also come from many sources, such as Empire State Development.

9. With employment-based tax credits, if you’re looking to hire employees, you should be screening those employees for qualification for potential tax credits.

10. If you’re a manufacturer in NYS, you now pay 0% tax. That brings home the importance of looking for tax credits that give you cash back.

Our team is experienced in getting companies of all sizes the most they have coming through federal and New York state tax credits. Contact us to learn more about how we can help.

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Three Tax Credits You Should Know About

NY State Tax CreditsWith the new release of income tax credits, three New York State business tax credits have been extended or created to help reduce New York State income tax liability. These credits include potential claims for refundable credits even if you do not owe any income tax and may benefit employers.

For a full explaination of these credits please see our client alert here.

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On Your Mark- Get Set- Start Up NY!

The Start Up NY Program, per the legislation, is ready for its long awaited unveiling. The program will help foster entrepreneurialism and job creation on a large scale through tax free communities across New York State; with concentrated focus in Upstate NY.

The goal of this program is to bring businesses and jobs to the New York State region, helping to foster growth and innovation.  Participating tax free communities include college campuses and Universities.

SUNY community college and 4-year college/University can establish a tax-free community using:

  • Vacant land on the SUNY campus (for every campus outside of New York City)

  • Vacant space in buildings on the SUNY campus (for every campus outside of NYC)

  • Any business incubator with a bona fide affiliation to the campus, university or college, and

  • Up to 200,000 square feet within one mile of a campus (for every campus north or west of Westchester County).

Private Colleges/Universities: The program also provides 3 million square feet of tax-free areas primarily dedicated to private colleges and universities on land north of Westchester County, to be allocated by the START-UP NY Program Board (consisting of three members with significant academic based entrepreneurship experience) in a manner that ensures regional balance and balance among eligible rural, urban and suburban areas in the State.

  • For private colleges and Universities north of Westchester County, the tax-free areas can include vacant land and vacant space on- or off-campus, as well as any business incubator with a bona fide affiliation to the campus, university or college.

  • Of these 3 million square feet, 75,000 square feet will be allocated for each of the following: Nassau County, Suffolk County, Westchester County, and the boroughs of Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Private colleges and universities in New York City and Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau Counties, as well as SUNY and CUNY campuses not specifically designated, may apply to sponsor these tax-free areas. Once the 75,000 square foot cap is reached in these counties and boroughs, the board may designate up to an additional 75,000 square feet in each. Therefore, a potential of 150,000 square feet of space will be available in these counties and boroughs.

20 State Properties: In addition, the 3-member board can also designate up to 20 strategic State assets as tax-free communities. These must be State-owned vacant land, State-owned vacant facilities or State-owned facilities that are in the process of closing and becoming vacant. Each will be affiliated with a SUNY, CUNY or independent college or university to attract new employers and new jobs and transform the site into a regional economic engine.

In order for a business to be eligible and locate within a START-UP NY tax-free community, a business will need to be aligned with or further the academic mission of the campus, college or university sponsoring the tax-free community. Businesses participating in the program will need to have positive community and economic benefits; create and maintain net new jobs in order to participate, be a company from out of state that is relocating to NYS, or the expansion of an already existing NYS company- as long as it can demonstrate that it is creating new jobs and not simply moving “existing” jobs.

In addition, New York State start-ups "created" from New York State incubators will be eligible to enter tax-free communities and be eligible for the benefits under the program

Participating companies in this program will not pay any business, corporate, sales and/or property taxes for 10 years. Employees with participating companies will not pay income taxes for the first five years, after which they will pay partial income tax based on wage income for the remaining five years. 

This program will also impact the Excelsior Jobs Program, a state initiative that provides tax credits to businesses. Changes to the program include reducing, by half, the job creation requirements for businesses receiving tax credits through the Excelsior Jobs program; amended as follows:

  • Manufacturing – 10 net new jobs (originally 25)

  • Agriculture – 5 net new jobs (originally 10)

  • Financial service data center or financial services customer back office operation – 50 net new jobs (originally 100)

  • Scientific research and development – 5 net new jobs (originally 10)

  • Software development – 5 net new jobs (originally 10)

  • Back office operations – 50 net new jobs (originally 150)

  • Distribution center – 75 net new jobs (originally 150)  - this category was previously combined with back office

  • Targeted industry that retains 25 full-time jobs (originally 50) or a manufacturer retaining at least 10 full-time jobs (new provision) with a cost benefit ratio of 10:1.

In addition, a pro-rated reduction in the tax credit was created in the event that the minimum job threshold is achieved and new job creation is within 75% of the net new job creation goal.

For more information on the Excelsior Jobs Program, please visit our Excelsior Jobs page.

When it comes to taxes, Freed Maxick CPAs is different than most accounting firms in Western New York. What matters to you matters to us; giving you the most up to date information and legislative changes that may affect you and help you respond in a timely way. We serve all 50 states. Contact us today.

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“Tax Free New York:” – oxymoron or maybe not?

By Samantha Southall, CPA
Senior Tax Manager

When entrepreneurs from outside our state think of New York, they think high taxes.  Forget about the amazing talent pool, the beautiful landscape, the history or the incredible natural resources. New York with its high income tax, property tax, franchise tax, and sales tax makes it a prime candidate for business exodus, never mind attracting new business.  But perhaps that perception is about to change…..

Tax Free New YorkOn May 30th I was invited to hear Governor Cuomo speak at Genesee Community College about his new proposal titled “Tax Free New York.” The Governor’s message came across loud and clear – Upstate New York has been in an economic downturn for decades.  With job growth of only 5%, over the past ten years, we trail the national job growth rate of 9% by almost half and New York City’s job growth of 16% by two thirds – figures that the Governor deemed embarrassing. He claims that the “Tax Free New York” program will be a complete game changer.  The premise of the proposal is this:  

New York is competing with other states to attract new business; states which have low or no income tax. The whole foundation of this proposal is grounded in the belief that once you level the “tax” playing field, New York will win out every time.

So what exactly does “Tax Free New York” actually mean you ask? 

Well, it means exactly what it says. For businesses that qualify, under the proposed program, they will pay no property taxes, corporate level franchise taxes, sales tax and their employees will not pay any New York State income tax. According to the Governor “no other State has ever done anything like this”-  ever. That sounds like a pretty tall order to fill.

 

The goal is to capitalize on the world class higher education institutions we have in New York and use the university talent to draw new businesses onto or near SUNY campuses. There will be approximately 120 million square feet of designated properties for these “Tax Free” communities including: SUNY campuses, some private higher education institution campuses, and twenty strategically placed inactive properties owned by the state (i.e. the Governor used a vacant prison as an example). To qualify for the “Tax Free” community, a business must create new jobs. Unlike previous incentive programs that had large loopholes, there will be no benefit to businesses transferring employees.

Governor Cuomo closed by stating that in the case of attracting and retaining business, “The competition isn’t beating us.  We are beating us.” As New Yorkers, we all want the same thing. We want continue to live in Upstate New York because we love it here.  We want our children to grow up, become educated and be able to have a career in Upstate if they so desire. In order to do that, New York can no longer continue to “tax businesses to death.” 

I know that at the end of the presentation, I felt a high amount of energy in the room, but then there was no question and answer session allowed, and of course there are always questions. I may have been the only CPA in the room, but I was thinking about who is going to pay for this? I think it is difficult for anyone to say conclusively at the current juncture, whether this program will work or not, but it is a step in the right direction. If the proposal passes, then New Yorkers will have time to see how the whole thing plays out.  

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Proposed Federal Budget Extends Deductions for Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings

Over the past year, commercial and industrial buildings used approximately 50% of the energy in the U.S. economy. Building on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, operations can be made more efficient using cost effective efficiency improvements. The “Better Buildings” initiative gives commercial and industrial builds a chance to increase efficiency 20% by 2020. These changes are built into the President’s 2014 Federal budget, which includes a proposed tax change to modify and permanently extend the 179D Energy Efficient Commercial Building Deduction. There are various strategies to the initiative.

Streamlining Green Energy Incentives for Commercial Buildings

In order to encourage businesses to go green, a number of financial measures are being explored. Progress has been made by proposing updates to the rules for the 179D tax deduction. The Federal Government is looking to redesign the current deduction to be more generous which will encourage building owners and real estate investment trusts (REITs) to retrofit their properties.

The proposal would raise the current maximum deduction for energy efficient commercial building property to $3.00 per square foot. The maximum partial deduction allowed with respect to each separate building system would be increased to $1.00 per square foot. For taxpayers that simultaneously satisfy the energy savings targets for both building envelope, HVAC, and lighting systems, the proposal would increase the maximum partial deduction to $2.20 per square foot.

The proposal also provides a new deduction based on energy savings realized from retrofitting an existing building. The deduction would be capped at 50 percent of the total cost of implementing the plan. The deduction would be allowed on a sliding scale ranging from $1.00 per square foot of retrofit floor area, for energy savings of at least 20 percent, up to $4.00 per square foot of retrofit floor area, for energy savings of 50 percent or more. Sixty percent of the deduction would be available when the property is placed in service and would be based on the projected energy savings performance of the commercial building retrofit plan. The remaining 40 percent of the allowable deduction would be available at a later point and would be based on actual energy savings performance of the retrofit plan.

Do you know what deductions are available for your business?

CSP360 is one of the nation’s leading providers of cost segregation and consulting services to real estate owners. Our philosophy is to offer clients an experienced team of professionals who take a 360° view of a taxpayer’s assets. This helps our team identify credits and incentives that the taxpayer may benefit from. Contact usto learn more!

 

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New York State Solar Power on The Rise!


By: Jeffery T. Zawada, CPA

A few years ago, talk of harnessing energy for commercial or residential sustainability didn’t seem practical. With no replicable models for doing community based energy projects or investments, local development didn’t seem thinkable. But with recent opportunities in community solar, crowdfunding and R&D, there has been a surge in commercial and residential development and investment.

What are other States Doing?

In 2012, California-based company, Solar Mosaic, launched their first community solar investment project, allowing 51 California investors to earn 6.38% returns for investing in a 47 kilowatt solar array on the roof of the Youth Partnership in Oakland. Their subsequent 235 KW project ups the ante; opening up to regular folks in California and New York (and accredited investors in all 50 states). 

The Mosaic model turns community solar into a simple investment, letting prospective investors select a particular Mosaic project to invest in, with significantly higher returns than parking money in a U.S. Treasury or savings account.  For now, it’s limited to broad participation in just two states, New York and California. This is just one example of how solar companies are expanding the reach of solar energy output.

What is New York Doing?
Governor Cuomo, in his 2013 State of the State Address, announced the Charge New York Program; making NYS part of a clean tech economy. Due to the large amount of money NY is investing in panel installations for home and business; various companies in New York offer incentives and tax credits for both residential and commercial businesses looking to recoup some of the costs.

Companies like New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offer many state incentives and credits for commercial and residential builds.

  • NYSERDA Solar PV Program Incentives- Saves 40-70% off the purchase cost and install on a solar electric system by combining this program with other New York Energy SMART programs;

  • The NYSERDA Solar Thermal Program Incentive offers both residential and commercial 15-20% off the installed cost of an ST system.

On the state and federal level, NY offers tax credits and exemptions for various solar installations. Some of these include:

  • The NYS Solar Credit:  Is a 25% credit of the total installation cost. You have to file tax form IT-255 to receive the credit. Be mindful; there’s a cap of $5,000 on this. If you are installing a 5kw system, you’ll be due back $5,000 from the state.

  • The federal solar tax credit: Allows for a 30% solar installation tax credit. This credit differs slightly from NY state credits. You need to calculate your expenses after rebates. For example- on a hypothetical 5kw system priced at $25,000, you can expect back $4,875 (this is by taking the $25,000, subtracting the state solar power rebate of $8,750 to arrive at $16,250. Then take your 30% and you’ll get $4,875).

  • The NYS solar tax exemption: for the addition of solar panels to your home; giving an exemption from property tax increases, even though you’ll be adding roughly 20 times your annual electricity bill savings to your property value.

Still unsure what renewable energy credits or incentives you qualify for? Freed Maxick can help you figure it out. Contact us to connect with our experts, or call us at 716-847-2651.

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How to Maximize the Oil & Gas Industry Tax Filing Requirements

Various Tax Credits Available to Industries

Author: Jeff Zawada, CPA


Most of the energy used in the United States comes from Fossil Fuels; petroleum, coal, and natural gas, with crude oil products currently used as the dominant source of energy.

According to the EIA (the United States Energy Information Administration) and OPEC, market fundamentals and expectations strengthened in January 2013; forecasting growth from 110,000 bpd to 1.05 million bpd over the course of the next 22 years. While only a 12% growth rate, compared to the 26% growth from 2004-2012, EIA projections are conservative and likely to increase.

What credits are available?

The IRS has specified tax credits for the oil and gas industry; at the state level legislation varies.  “Fracking” — more formally known as high volume hydraulic fracturing — involves injecting large amounts of sand, water and chemicals deep underground at high pressures to extract natural gas from rock formations. The drilling is concentrated in the Marcellus Shale formation, a deep repository that runs through West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.  Natural gas drilling, while maintaining certain growth expectations, is still hitting barriers in New York State.  

  • Permit applications for conventional vertical gas well, which are still allowed in NYS, have dropped from roughly 600 in 2008 to below 200 in 2012.

  • Site specific special assessment reviews have to be done on an individual basis.

  • Currently Governor Cuomo is expected to announce a formal decision after the Geisinger Health System study, launched in Pennsylvania by Degenstein Foundation, is finished.

State by State Analysis: Quick snapshot

  • Pennsylvania has created over 140,000 jobs in the last few years in the drilling industry. With the launch of the Geisinger Health study, PA will provide deeper insight into drilling impact and incentives across the board.

  • Ohio’s Knox and Stark Counties saw the most drilling activity since 2010, at 43 wells drilled. In total Ohio currently has 11 counties reporting drilling. The state of Ohio also maintains a cost recovery assessment, as per law 1509.50. All money collected, pursuant to section C of this law, shall be deposited in Ohio state treasury to the credit of the oil and gas well fund.

  • In New York State, the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has recently provided incentives for alternative fuel trucks. Credits such as: vouchers of up to $40,000 for the purchase of compressed natural gas, hybrid electric and all-electric Class 3 through 8 trucks operating in New York City, and vouchers that cover up to 80% of the cost of purchasing and installing emission reduction equipment for medium- and heavy-duty diesel vehicles operating primarily in New York City; requests for pre-qualification are now being accepted- currently there is a wait list. E85, compressed natural gas, and hydrogen fuel that is used exclusively to operate a motor vehicle engine is exempt from state sales and use taxes. Additionally, NY cities and counties may reduce the sales and use tax imposed on 20% biodiesel blends (B20) to 80% of the diesel fuel tax rate. The exemption and rate reduction are in effect until September 1, 2014 (Reference from: New York Tax Law 1111 and 1115).

What credits are available to your business? Have you maximized your IDC planning? Learn more HERE.

Freed Maxick understands the growing complexity and nature of the oil and gas industry.  We can navigate industry tax filing requirements, locate tax credits, and help with financial statement audits, reviews and compilations. Still have questions?  Contact us to connect with our experts, or call us at 716-847-2651.

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