Tax Incentive and Advisory Services for Architects, Engineers, and Contractors

As drivers of growth and innovation, businesses in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries may be eligible for significant tax savings based on their routine activities. Examples of incentives that may be available to businesses in these industries—yet are often underutilized—include the §179D deduction for energy-efficient commercial buildings and the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit. At CRG, we provide tax incentive and advisory services for architects, engineers, contractors, and related professionals, drawing on our team’s unique combination of expertise in tax law and commercial buildings to help your business maximize the savings available to you.

179D Deduction for Energy-Efficient Commercial Buildings

Created with the goal of incentivizing sustainable design in commercial and public buildings, §179D of the tax code provides a deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot (indexed for inflation) for energy efficiency measures installed in new or existing buildings. Specifically, the deduction is worth up to $0.60 per square foot each for qualifying improvements to a building’s lighting system, HVAC system, and the building envelope. In December 2020, the §179D deduction was made a permanent part of the tax code.

In addition to providing a powerful tax savings opportunity for commercial building owners, the §179D deduction is also available to the primary designers—including architects, engineers, green building consultants, and contractors—of qualifying energy efficiency measures in government-owned buildings. In this case, the government entities simply transfer their deductions to the primary designers through an allocation letter.

Third-party certification is required to claim the §179D deduction. As a leading third-party certifier, CRG helps primary designers review their projects and capture maximum tax savings through §179D. For example, we recently helped an architecture firm claim a §179D deduction of over $160,000 based on their design of an elementary school.

Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credits

 As one of the most lucrative incentives in the tax code, the federal R&D Credit is often overlooked by eligible businesses that mistakenly assume the credit is reserved for large corporations or those involved in scientific or high-tech research. In reality, the R&D Credit is available to businesses of all sizes in a wide variety of industries, including architecture, engineering, and construction. Since 2015, the R&D Credit has been a permanent part of the tax code, and many smaller and newer businesses have been able to use it against their alternative minimum tax (AMT) or FICA payroll tax liabilities.

Architects, engineers, and contractors may find that many of their day-to-day activities would be considered qualified research under the R&D Credit. For example:

  • Creating designs that include energy efficiency measures or accommodate unique site conditions
  • Determining the optimal building materials to use
  • Performing engineering calculations
  • Evaluating alternative design concepts through modeling, computational analysis, or an informal trial and error process
  • And many others…

At CRG, we have helped countless architecture, engineering, and construction firms claim six- or seven-figure tax savings through federal and state R&D Credits. For instance, one of our clients, a mid-sized engineering firm based in Phoenix, saved approximately $152,000 per year in federal R&D Tax Credits and $234,000 per year in Arizona R&D Credits based on activities such as developing environmentally friendly designs and testing different design concepts.

Is your firm capturing all tax savings available to you? The experts at CRG are here to help review your project records and identify opportunities to minimize your state and federal tax burdens. We will also work with your tax and financial advisors to develop a tax savings strategy customized for your business. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!