Unlocking R&D Tax Credits in the Construction Industry

Rd Tax Credit Construction Industry

Unleashing the Power of R&D Tax Credits in Construction

The R&D tax credit construction industry may sound complex, but it can offer substantial financial benefits to construction businesses. If you’re searching for quick insights on how these tax credits can benefit your construction company, here’s what you need to know:

Key Points:
– R&D tax credits significantly reduce tax liability.
– Qualifying activities include design, BIM modeling, cost estimation, and material testing.
– Non-qualifying activities: aesthetic design and routine data collection.

Construction companies of all sizes—from small remodelers to large general contractors—often engage in activities that qualify for R&D tax credits without realizing it. These credits are designed to promote innovation, offering a financial boost by reducing tax liabilities.

Infographic of Qualifying Activities for R&D Tax Credits - r&d tax credit construction industry infographic hierarchy

I am Philip Wentworth, Jr., co-founder of Rockerbox, with over two decades of experience helping small businesses unlock valuable tax credits. Our proprietary technology automates tax credit programs, improving cash flow by up to 40%.

Now, let’s delve into the specific activities and expenditures that qualify for these lucrative credits and see how Rockerbox can guide you every step of the way.

What is the R&D Tax Credit?

The Research & Development (R&D) Tax Credit is a federal incentive designed to promote innovation and technological progression among U.S. companies. It’s a dollar-for-dollar tax savings that directly reduces a company’s tax liability, making it one of the most beneficial tax strategies available.


The R&D Tax Credit is available to businesses of any size that design, develop, or improve products, processes, techniques, formulas, or software. Essentially, if your company is making something better, faster, or more efficient, you could qualify.

Federal Incentive

Created to spur innovation, the credit applies to a wide range of industries, including construction. It encourages companies to invest in new technologies and methodologies. The credit can represent between 7% and 10% of qualified research expenditures (QREs) paid or incurred during the year.

Technological Progression

To claim the credit, the research activities must be technological in nature. This means they must rely on principles of engineering, physics, biology, chemistry, or computer science. If your project could be buddies with Bill Nye the Science Guy, you’re on the right track!

U.S. Companies

The R&D Tax Credit is not just for tech giants. It’s available to small and medium-sized businesses across the U.S. For example, the PATH Act of 2015 expanded the credit to make it easier for smaller companies to benefit, eliminating hurdles like the Alternative Minimum Tax bar for those with $50 million or less in gross receipts.

By leveraging Rockerbox’s proprietary technology, construction companies can automate tax credit programs to improve cash flow by up to 40%. This ensures you get the most out of your qualified research activities without the hassle.

Next, let’s explore the specific activities within the construction industry that qualify for R&D Tax Credits.

Qualifying Activities for R&D Tax Credits in Construction

Examples of Qualifying Activities

The R&D tax credit construction industry is a powerful incentive for companies to innovate and improve. Here are some examples of qualifying activities:

Design and Build Projects

In construction, design and build projects are common. These projects often involve creating something new or significantly improving existing structures. Activities like developing shop drawings and CAD models to visualize and plan the construction process are essential. These drawings and models help identify potential issues and optimize the building process.

Engineering Activities

Engineering activities are crucial for qualifying for R&D tax credits. This includes concept engineering, value engineering, and exploring alternative means and methods. For example, testing different materials to determine the best option for a specific application or developing unique systems to manage project schedules more efficiently.

Green Building and Sustainable Designs

With the push towards sustainability, many construction companies are experimenting with green building techniques. Designing structures to meet LEED standards or other energy efficiency benchmarks qualifies. This could involve experimenting with new materials or methods to improve a building’s heat, light, and power efficiency.

Technical Improvements

Making technical improvements to buildings can also qualify. This includes enhancing a building’s ability to withstand seismic events or extreme weather. Developing new methods for supporting pipe or ductwork to improve efficiency or reduce costs is another example.

Unique Facilities

Construction projects that involve the development of unique facilities such as stadiums, dams, bridges, and tunnels often qualify for R&D tax credits. These projects usually involve significant technical challenges and require innovative solutions.

Field Data Review and Testing

Reviewing field data and conducting various tests to validate new construction methods or materials is a qualifying activity. This process helps in eliminating uncertainties and finding the best solutions for construction challenges.

Design/Build Projects and Design-Assist

Design/build projects and design-assist roles are integral in the construction industry. These roles often involve creating innovative solutions to meet project requirements. For example, using Building Information Modeling (BIM) to identify potential conflicts before starting construction.

Alternative Means and Methods

Exploring alternative means and methods to achieve project goals can qualify for R&D tax credits. This includes developing new methods for estimating material or construction costs and experimenting with different construction techniques.

By identifying and documenting these activities, construction companies can leverage the R&D tax credit construction industry to significantly reduce their tax liabilities and improve cash flow.

Qualifying Expenditures for R&D Tax Credits

When it comes to the R&D tax credit construction industry, knowing which expenditures qualify is key. Let’s break down the main categories:


Qualified Wages: Wages paid to employees directly involved in R&D activities are eligible. This includes:

  • Conducting Research: Employees developing prototypes or testing new methods.
  • Direct Supervision: Managers overseeing R&D projects.
  • Direct Support: Technicians and staff supporting the research.

Documentation Needed: Keep W-2s, payroll registers, and time-tracking data to prove the time spent on qualified research activities.


Eligible Supplies: Costs of materials consumed during R&D are included. This covers:

  • Tangible Property: Raw materials, chemicals, and other consumables used in experiments.
  • Non-Depreciable: Items like lab equipment that are not depreciated over time.

Examples: Raw materials for prototypes, chemicals for lab tests, and other consumables directly related to R&D.

Contract Research

Third-Party Services: Payments to external consultants or firms conducting research on your behalf can be claimed. The IRS allows 65% of these costs.


  • Economic Risk: You must bear the risk, meaning you pay even if the research fails.
  • Substantial Rights: You should retain significant rights to the research results.

Non-Qualifying Activities

Not all activities qualify for the R&D tax credit. Here are some that don’t:

  • Aesthetic Design: Work related to style, taste, or cosmetic design factors.
  • Adaptation or Duplication: Modifying or copying existing components.
  • Efficiency Surveys: Routine data collection, market surveys, or studies.
  • Routine Data Collection: Standard data-gathering activities that don’t involve new research.
  • Foreign Research: Research conducted outside the U.S.
  • Funded Research: Research funded by a grant or contract where you don’t bear the economic risk or retain substantial rights.

Internal Labor Costs

In-House Labor: Costs for employees working directly on R&D projects can be included. This covers engineers, architects, and project managers involved in qualifying activities.

Outside Consulting

Consultant Fees: Payments to outside consultants for engineering, design services, or testing related to R&D are eligible. Ensure you maintain documentation of the services provided and their direct link to R&D activities.

Example: A construction firm hiring an external engineering firm to test new materials for a project.

By understanding these qualifying expenditures, construction companies can maximize their R&D tax credit claims, reduce tax liabilities, and improve cash flow. Leveraging Rockerbox’s proprietary technology can automate tax credit programs, leading to up to a 40% improvement in cash flow.

Next, let’s look at the Benefits of R&D Tax Credits for Construction Companies.

Benefits of R&D Tax Credits for Construction Companies

Case Study Example

R&D tax credits offer substantial benefits for construction companies, including tax refunds, reduced tax payments, a decreased effective tax rate, and income tax reduction.

Example Construction Firm: Let’s consider a construction firm operating as a Partnership with around 1000 employees. Most of these employees are engaged in non-R&D activities. However, the wages of its estimators, project managers, superintendents, and project executives, as well as expenses paid to third-party consulting engineers, were found to be associated with qualified R&D activities.

  • Total Wages 2021: $55,100,794

  • Total Eligible R&D Wages: $6,647,855

  • Total Tax Credit: $566,025

The $566k in tax credits is passed through to partners to directly offset their income taxes owed.

This firm operates in a state that offers additional R&D tax credits, further offsetting state taxes.

Key Benefits:

  1. Tax Refunds: The company can receive refunds for taxes already paid in previous years by carrying back unused credits.

  2. Reduced Tax Payments: By applying the credit to current tax liabilities, the company can significantly lower the amount of tax it owes.

  3. Decreased Effective Tax Rate: The tax credit effectively reduces the overall tax rate, freeing up capital that can be reinvested into the business.

  4. Income Tax Reduction: Partners in the firm benefit directly from the tax credits, reducing their personal income tax liabilities.

Leveraging Rockerbox’s proprietary technology can automate tax credit programs, improving cash flow by up to 40%. This means more funds are available for innovation and growth.

Next, let’s address some Frequently Asked Questions about R&D Tax Credits in Construction.

Frequently Asked Questions about R&D Tax Credits in Construction

What industries qualify for R&D tax credit?

Many industries beyond traditional tech and pharma can benefit from R&D tax credits. Key sectors include:

  • Manufacturing: Developing new products or improving manufacturing processes.
  • Aerospace: Innovating in aircraft design, materials, and aerodynamics.
  • Automotive: Enhancing vehicle performance, safety features, and fuel efficiency.
  • Electronics: Creating new electronic devices or improving existing technologies.
  • Construction: Implementing new building techniques, green building, and sustainable designs.

What qualifies for the R&D tax credit?

To qualify for the R&D tax credit, activities must meet these criteria:

  • Developing: Creating new or significantly improved products, processes, or software.
  • Improving Functionality: Enhancing the capabilities of existing products or processes.
  • Quality: Increasing the durability, safety, or usability of a product.
  • Reliability: Making products or processes more consistent and dependable.
  • Performance: Boosting efficiency, speed, or effectiveness.

In the construction industry, examples include:

  • Design/Build Projects: Integrating design and construction to streamline processes.
  • Green Building: Developing sustainable building practices and materials.
  • Technical Improvements: Innovating in areas like energy efficiency and structural integrity.

How do R&D tax credits work?

R&D tax credits can be a game-changer for your business by providing:

  • Cash Payment: Direct refunds for eligible R&D activities.
  • Corporation Tax Reduction: Lowering your overall tax liability, which improves cash flow.
  • Innovation Spending: Encouraging investment in new technologies and processes.

Leveraging Rockerbox’s proprietary technology can automate these tax credit programs, improving cash flow by up to 40%. This automation makes it easier to claim credits and reinvest in your business.

Now that we’ve covered the FAQs, let’s dive deeper into how construction companies can maximize these credits.


In summary, the R&D tax credit is a powerful tool for construction companies. It not only rewards innovation but also offers substantial financial benefits. By identifying and documenting qualifying activities and expenditures, construction firms can significantly reduce their tax liabilities and bolster their cash flow.

Leveraging Rockerbox’s proprietary technology can take this process to the next level. Our advanced systems automate tax credit programs, making it simple to claim your credits and ensuring you don’t miss out on valuable opportunities. This automation can improve your cash flow by up to 40%, allowing you to reinvest in your business and drive further innovation.

Ready to unlock the full potential of your R&D tax credits? Discover how Rockerbox can assist your business today.

With the right partner, navigating the complex landscape of R&D tax credits becomes a breeze. Let Rockerbox help your business thrive by turning innovative ideas into tangible assets that drive growth and profitability.