Tax Credits

The tax credit landscape is vast, potentially lucrative, and weird.

Take, for example, the Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit. It sounds harmless enough – earn 50 cents in tax credits for every gallon of alternative fuel produced. But paper companies which had been fueling their vehicles with a byproduct of paper pulp called “black liquor” discovered a loophole feature of the credit – mixing a little diesel with their own stuff counts as alternative fuel. International Paper Co. earned $257 million last quarter. The alternative fuel tax credit added $330 million to its bottom line.550615_10150892600532532_1117945734_n

As taxpayers, we sincerely hope you’re not this clever. And as entrepreneurs, we sincerely hope you don’t need to be. You’re innovators, not accountants! (We love accountants too. It’s just . . . you understand. Never mind.)

Tax credits can be worth more than a tax deduction because a credit directly pares down Adjusted Gross Income. We recommend that you start your search at the IRS Web site (,,id=99839,00.html), which lists 29 federal tax credits available for small businesses. You can probably find more than these at the state and local level, and the list is likely to change with stimulus packages, state legislative tinkering and the political ambitions of your local county commissioners.

Qualifying for a business tax credit will often – but not always – require your company to employ people the government wishes to help, to be in a part of the country the government wishes to help, or to be in the kind of business the government wishes to help.

Here are a few examples:

  • The Work Opportunity Tax Credit encourages employers to hire people who have been on temporary government assistance, disabled veterans, “disconnected” youth and other groups. It provides up to $2,400 for each new adult hire, $1,200 for each new summer youth hire, $4,800 for each new disabled veteran hire, and $9,000 for each new long term family assistance recipient. 

  • The Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit provides from $400 to $4000 in incentives for purchases of qualifying vehicles on or after January 1, 2006, based on fuel economy.

  • The Employer Provided Childcare Facilities and Services Credit allows employers to claim 25% of their expenditures for qualified childcare facilities for their workers, and an additional 10% of their qualified expenses for finding childcare facilities and referring their employees to those facilities.