Businesses historically have not been able to use the Section 41 research credit in tax years where there was no regular income tax liability. However, on December 18, 2015, then-President Obama signed into law the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015, which includes favorable changes to the research credit that help mitigate the impact of this limitation. In particular, the PATH Act of 2015 allows certain small businesses to offset their alternative minimum tax (AMT) or payroll tax liability with the research credit. As a result, small businesses in an AMT or loss position that otherwise would not have claimed the research credit should now consider doing so.
Private Company Services, Mid-Central Region Team Leader, PwC US