6 Tax Credits to Reduce Your Business Taxes

Tax Credits for Disability Access, Research, Hiring Workers, and More

For most business owners, the term "tax credit" signifies something good, but they are not sure what the term really means, and tax credits are often confused with tax deductions. As you will see, tax credits are better than deductions.  Also explained in this article are some of the most common tax credits that businesses can use to lower taxes.

What's the Purpose of Tax Credits? 

Tax credits are given to businesses and individuals as incentives for certain kinds of activities. For example, businesses can get tax credits for purchasing energy-efficient vehicles and building with "green" products. Usually a tax credit is offered for a specific time period, ending after that time has ended.

Tax Credits for Purchases

For tax credits for business purchases, you must have purchased and put into service (started using) the equipment, vehicle, or facility in the year when you claim the tax credit. 

Check With Your Tax Professional

As you read through the list, be aware that all of these credits come with limits and qualifications that you must meet in order to receive the credit. Read carefully, and discuss possible tax credits with your tax preparer or tax advisor.

What's the Difference Between Tax Credits and Tax Deductions?

Tax Credits for Business Tax Savings
Tax Credits for Business Tax Savings. Tetra Images/Getty Images

Tax credits are superior, in terms of tax savings, to deductions. Tax credits are deducted from income before gross before-tax income is determined. Tax deductions are taken in the next step of the tax process, reducing the net taxable income.  

The purpose of a tax credit is to give a business an incentive to act (or not to act). In the cases below, these actions benefit the economy, the environment, business development, or other positive business purposes. 

NEW Research and Development Tax Credit

Tax Credit for Business Research Activities
Tax Credits for Business Research Activities. Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

Research and Development tax credits have been available for many years, but small businesses often don't realize they can qualify for these credits. The PATH Act of 2015 includes some increased incentives—in the form of tax credits—for small businesses who use the R&D (Research and Development) tax credit. 

Even if your business doesn't do traditional scientific research, you may be eligible for this tax credit for other kinds of research, including:

  • product development,
  • improving product quality, reliability, or function,
  • improving business performance,
  • and payments to outside researchers or employees  who do research. 

It's worth looking in to this possible tax credit.  More

Business Tax Credits and Deductions for "Going Green"

Business Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency
Business Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency. John Lund/Marc Romanelli/Getty Images

Making changes to your business with equipment to make it more energy efficient or more environmentally "friendly" can benefit you through tax credits. In addition to the tax credits, you may also be eligible for tax deductions for changes made to your business facilities. 

For example, the Business Energy Tax Investment Credit gives businesses credit for purchasing or implementing energy-saving activities, like fuel cells, wind, and solar energy.  More

Access for Disabled Persons Tax Credit

Tax Credits for Disability Access Updates
Tax Credits for Disability Access Updates. Huntstock_ImagesCLOSED/Getty Images

If you make changes to your business location to accommodate employees and customers with disabilities, you may be eligible for disabled access tax credits. Removing barriers and updating facilities serves the dual purpose of increasing access and decreasing your business taxes.  More

Work Opportunity Tax Credit for Hiring Workers

Work Opportunity Tax Credit Explained
Work Opportunity Tax Credit Explained. Image Source/Getty Images

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit provides incentives to employers who hire qualified veterans and others from specific targeted groups. This tax credit has been modified and extended several times. The credit was scheduled to be eliminated for 2015, but the PATH Act of December 2015 reinstated the tax credit and extended it through December 31, 2019.   More

Alternative/Hybrid Vehicle Tax Credit

Tax Credits for Alternative-Hybrid Fueled Cars
Tax Credits for Alternative Hybrid Fueled Cars. Mischa Keijser/Getty Images

Individuals and businesses who buy a brand new hybrid, electric or diesel fuel vehicle can take advantage of the "Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit." This tax credit applies to new cars and trucks that are certified for the credit by the IRS.The IRS alternative motor vehicle tax credit has more information.

To qualify, the vehicle must be new (not used), and it must meet certain fuel efficiency and mileage guidelines. If you think you just bought a vehicle that might qualify, check with your tax professional.  More

Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

New Health Care Law and Your Business
New Health Care Law and Your Business. MCCAIG/Getty Images

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) includes a tax credit to encourage small employers to offer health insurance for the first time or maintain coverage they already have.

The credit is available to small businesses that pay at least half the cost of single coverage for their employees. If your business and your plan meet the qualifications, you can get a credit of up to 50& of the health insurance premiums you paid for employees. Note also that the credit if for small employers with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees. 

This article, from William Perez, Tax Planning Expert, explains how to qualify.  More