Way back in 1979 I became enamored with what would eventually become the personal computer industry. My first machine was a TRS 80 and I was instantly hooked. Living in a small town in Louisiana, the idea of being able to communicate around the world with a MODEM was fascinating and liberating – and so began a hobby that would soon evolve into not only a passion but a lifelong career.
In 1984 I worked the entire summer in the sweltering South Louisiana heat putting roofs on houses and commercial buildings to earn enough money to purchase the absolute most cutting-edge technology of the day – an Apple IIc. I paid the equivalent of approximately $3,100 in today’s dollars (a veritable king’s ransom for a poor kid from the Bayou). I was thrilled with the idea of having 128 kilobytes (yes, kilobytes) of data.
Over the years I stuck with teaching myself the ins and outs of software development during my stints at Louisiana State University and in the US Army. In 1988 I started my first software company with a buddy I met in the Army and the rest, as they say, is history. One of the first things I realized as a kid with no distinguishing accomplishments or education, was that I had some knowledge that older, more accomplished people simply lacked – how to make a computer do things. And this turned out to be a very powerful game-changer over the course of my professional life.
The Rise of Tax Credits and Incentives
I leveraged my computer knowledge into a career and found myself lecturing very senior people at some of the largest companies in the world about PCs, networks, email, the internet, and all things software. Since that time, I have started a number of successful technology companies, been a financier on Wall Street, and wrote a book on the impact of information technology on the balance of power between political and economic forces.
It is this shifting balance of power between human and societal development that drew me to The OIX when the board approached me to help them continue to grow their tax credit management company. The book I wrote in 2009, The Fourth Shock (admittedly not the best book you’ll ever read, but the best one I ever wrote), discusses this power shift and how governments will need to learn to match the flexibility of companies as these entities continue to use information technology to spread information and operations around the globe. A natural and inevitable consequence is the rapid growth of economic incentives offered by all levels of government to encourage good corporate citizenship and stimulate desired economic activity.
And this got me thinking about the role of tax professionals in corporations and the parallels to my early days in software. But it wasn’t until our new head of marketing casually remarked one day in a meeting that “tax people are the new tech people” that the idea really crystallized for me. This is because it is fundamentally true. In 1979, I had a fascination with a rather obscure field that attracted math ‘nerds’ and out-of-the-mainstream hobbyists. Twenty years later, the most successful people on earth would come from that bunch of nerds.
Tax Pros = Tech Pros
The same dynamic appears to be playing out in the world of tax. I don’t know too many people who think “tax professional” and envision a titan of capital markets. It’s generally safe to say that most tax professionals, like the 1970s nerds of yore, are considered necessary but non-strategic drivers of corporate development. Tactical value creators, if you will. But as information technology became the core and essential driver of competitive fitness in the 1980s and 1990s, the nerds became the cool folks and eventually, many of them became the ultra-successful. That trend continues today as Facebook, Google, Instagram, Netflix, Amazon, and others continue to create immense generational wealth by leveraging the evolving technology landscape.
So What Does the Future Look Like?
I believe the movie is playing itself out again, as those who understand tax credits and incentives and how they can drive long-term competitive advantage are moving from the nice-to-have world of reactive tax planning to mission-critical team members in overall corporate competitiveness. Today, at the most dynamic and successful companies, tax personnel are critical in making capital allocation decisions across all aspects of corporations – M&A, hiring plans, facilities development, and expansion, R&D, infrastructure, etc.
… and what’s the bottom line?
There has never been a more interesting and valuable time to be in tax credit management (particularly with the introduction of FASB Topic 832). At The OIX, we take pride in empowering these professionals to continue to expand their roles in their respective companies, creating margin and profit expansion that I believe will play a huge part in the companies that will dominate their industries (and frankly create new ones) in the future.
Ladies and gentlemen of the tax world, the nerds of the 1980s and 1990s salute you. Together, tax and tech will transform the world yet again and Tax Credit Software will shape a new future.
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is a private, non-profit organization whose ultimate goal is to establish and improve the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) within the United States (in the public’s interest). FASB has a very complex task in front of them to set account standards for the most dynamic economy in the world. FASB derives their authority from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the standards set forth by FASB are also authoritatively recognized by The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). FASB has been tasked with the mission to improve and establish clear and detailed information to companies financial reporting of government assistance programs.
What is FASB Topic 832
FASB Topic 832 was specifically developed to address the increase in levels of monetary assistance provided by federal, state and local governments. This government assistance has been provided in a variety of forms including, but not limited to tax credits, tax incentives, and government grants. FASB Topic 832 was therefore established to supplement a lack of clear financial reporting guidance under the GAAP. There are currently no clear guidelines for reporting government assistance programs.
What is the difference between FASB vs. GAAP?
Some people may think that the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is a part of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). But it is FASB that has been tasked with maintaining and improving the GAAP. FASB is a private, non-profit, standard-setting body, whereas the GAAP is the set of rules (or guidelines) that makes up accounting standards. These rules have substantial authoritative support and are the rules that businesses follow to create their financial statements, such as balance sheets and cash flow statements. The GAAP essentially provides a clear standard for all financial reporting so that when investors look at companies financial statements there is a standardized form and structure to all the financial data.
What is FASB Codification?
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) codification is the process of establishing financial reporting rules and guidelines and is currently the only source of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). The GAAP is maintained and improved upon by the FASB.
Topic 832 is Inevitable, Being Prepared is Essential
Here’s the deal: The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Topic 832 is a pending regulation that establishes a new financial disclosure framework. With this new system in place, companies will have to disclose exactly how government assistance (like tax credits, for instance) impacts their corporate financial statements.
What’s the bottom line? While this soon-to-be-implemented FASB 832 disclosure framework does not yet have a start date, it’s on the horizon and fast-approaching. The upcoming transition will affect how corporate entities perform their financial reporting, including credit management, and your organization will need to comply.
If your organization is the beneficiary of government assistance, your company will also be impacted – which will require acute tax credit management to successfully fulfill the upcoming FASB regulations.
The reality is that FASB 832 is coming – so early preparation is critical.
Basics of The New Regulations
You might be wondering: What’s the point of the new FASB 832 rules?
There are a wide array of financial assistance programs of which businesses all over the country take advantage, as governments frequently use tax credits and incentives to lure in businesses and encourage existing ones to expand their operations locally. From bond guarantees to tax rebates to qualified opportunity zones, local authorities want to entice organizations to set up shop and stick around.
Before FASB 832, these government assistance programs have not been considered when it came time for financial disclosures. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) do not currently include the financial impact of government assistance – but this is set to change.
Why do businesses suddenly need to start disclosing information related to government assistance?
There are two main reasons:First, members of the investor community believe that government-backed financial arrangements like tax credits and loan guarantees should be included in GAAP standards. According to them, information regarding government assistance programs helps paint a fuller financial picture for any company that is on the receiving end. Consistent reporting on this topic will help those who must interpret companies’ financial results and potential for future cash flow in a more transparent fashion.
Second, the FASB 832 switch will bring US financial reporting protocol in line with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
So, how will this affect you?
What Does FASB 832 Mean For my Business?
To put it simply, the goal of FASB 832 is to make sure helpful data related to the impact of government assistance is reported. Businesses receiving assistance will need to disclose:
– The types of government-backed financial assistance they receive
– Terms and period of each agreement
– The accounting method used for government assistance
– The impact of the assistance on financial statement totals
If your firm has been the recipient of any kind of business tax credits, tax incentives, grants, tax rebates, abatements, bond guarantees, loan guarantees, or any other sort of government-backed financial aid, then you will eventually need to cough up the related details.
While it sounds somewhat easy on paper, the reality is complicated and stress-inducing – as businesses often receive a complex arrangement of financial help from the government. Conventional tax credit management hasn’t quite caught up yet.
Getting assistance from a leading tax credit software provider like The OIX is critical to correctly fulfilling the imminent FASB changes.
Utilizing Tax Credit Software to Prepare for FASB 832
Once the effective date for the new FASB regulations is made public, public organizations will likely have less than one year to implement and comply – with private companies likely to have less than two years to make the necessary switch.
That’s not a lot of time to realign your organization’s entire accounting procedures.
As the effective date for the updated FASB regulations looms on the immediate horizon, it’s crucial for both public and private organizations to take early steps in getting ready – and partnering up with a seasoned tax solutions provider is the smartest and most efficient way to make a smooth transition.
Not only is it absolutely critical for healthy companies to gain total control, transparency, and visibility of their government financial assistance from a fiscal perspective, it is equally as vital – and an urgent necessity – to pay attention as soon as possible.
Waiting until the last minute, particularly with the potential for lengthy closing cycles, could be detrimental.
Thankfully, the experts at The OIX have developed the ideal roadmap and best practices for tracking, managing and reporting on every type of government financial assistance. Tax credit companies, like The OIX, offer tax credit management solutions that are geared toward both public and private entities of all sizes. More importantly, their tax credit software can guarantee a seamless transition into the next era of FASB financial reporting – helping businesses everywhere gain an edge over their competitors.
With such a critical shake-up coming so quickly, US organizations need to get it together ASAP.
FASB 832 can’t be stopped, but it can be effectively embraced if action is taken early.
What Are They? How do They Work? Why do They Work?
Thanks to some recently-enacted tax legislation resulting from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) taxpayers can defer capital gains liabilities when investing in underserved communities across the US. These regions are called Qualified Opportunity Zones and the tax incentives that come along with them are designed to boost long-term public-private sector investment in low-income urban and rural communities throughout the country.
The Origin of Opportunity Zones
There are major geographical disparities when it comes to private sector investment in the US. The country has been relying on just a handful of places to generate its growth – with five metro areas cranking out as many newly-formed businesses as the rest of the US put together (between 2010 and 2014).
While a handful of cities are surging, much of the rural and impoverished regions of the country are left behind – which is why the concept of Opportunity Zones came about.
Opportunity Zone Map
The US government crafted a new section of the Tax Code (26 U.S. Code § 1400Z) in the TCJA. This created a new type of economic development program called Opportunity Zone Funds, which offer investors big federal tax advantages if they invest in targeted areas referred to as Opportunity Zones.
What are Qualified Opportunity Zones?
An Opportunity Zone (OZ) is a US census tract that has been nominated by its state to be classified as such. The idea is to spur job creation and general economic development in regions that haven’t been able to reap the benefits of the country’s economic recovery.
In order to qualify, a potential OZ must meet the law’s requirements for low incomes or high poverty rates. Opportunity Zones can be found in every state, in five US territories like Puerto Rico, and in Washington DC.
Over 8,700 census tracts, which is about 10% of all census tracts in the country, have scored designations as OZs – and they can range from a few square blocks to massive swaths of land.
Must I relocate in order to take advantage of an Opportunity Zone?
Businesses don’t have to move to an economically distressed area to set up shop, nor do investors have to move to a designated OZ to take advantage of this new tax code. In fact, there is no need to live, work, or run a business in an OZ in order to score the appealing tax incentives.
How do Opportunity Zones benefit investors?
These tax benefits only apply if one invests in a Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF), which is an investment vehicle created as either a corporation or partnership for investing in eligible property that’s geographically situated in a Qualified Opportunity Zone.
There are two ways that investors can benefit from investing in a QOF:
1. Investors can take previously-earned capital gains (generated elsewhere) and invest them in a QOF to defer paying taxes on those gains. Tax savings depends on how long the QOF investment is held:
– Less than 5 years: No savings. Deferred payment of existing capital gains until the QOF is sold or exchanged
– More than 5 years: 10% exclusion of the deferred gain
– More than 7 years: 15% exclusion of the deferred gains
– More than 10 years: Investor is then eligible for a bump up in the basis of the QOF investment equivalent to its fair market value on the day that the QOF investment is exchanged or sold off (whichever comes first).
2. Investors pay zero capital gains tax on any opportunity-zone investment they hold on to for at least ten years.
Opportunity Zones in Practice
Now, investors can avoid paying capital gains taxes by dedicating themselves to a long-term investment in a community that really needs it. The law is written so that only certain investments can qualify, to ensure that funds flow where they are needed the most.
For example, a real estate fund whose main business involves investments in real estate properties can qualify as a QOF if 90% of the properties in its portfolio are located within Qualified Opportunity Zones.
This way, the government is making sure that their tax incentives are only given to investment operations that can truly enrich a lagging local economy.
So what’s the bottom line?
Opportunity Zone investments aren’t a sure-fire success when it comes to return on investment (ROI), as many factors come into play. It’s best for investors to carefully strategize their QOF investments, as well as look at how other tax incentives (like local or state tax breaks) can be combined with the benefits of investing in Opportunity Zones.
Tax Incentives and Superb Fiscal Policy Exceptionally Misunderstood
The recent Amazon HQ2 turmoil in Long Island City (“LIC”) has left many scratching their heads and wondering:
– Where did so much misinformation come from?
– Was this a case of inexperienced public policy analysis?
– Where were the economists in the room?
– Was the policy condemned because certain aspects of negotiations were held in secret, and perhaps some constituents affected by the decision were not consulted?
– And now, as the dust settles, do opponents recognize the impact of losing out on what would have been an incredible generational win for LIC and the people of New York?
Many opponents of Amazon HQ2 LIC expansion and development project viewed the incentive package crafted by state and local officials as a nearly $3 billion-dollar handout from the government. However, a thorough examination of the details of the proposed initiative reveals a vastly different perspective. Did opponents truly believe that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had an extra $3 billion to finance other public works projects? In truth, the reality is very, very different.
The Breakdown of the Amazon HQ2 Incentive Package
By offering Amazon a compelling tax incentive package, the State and City of New York proposed a transfer of value, if you will, in return for direct economic investment in the local community. Amongst other commitments, the company would have needed to:
– Employ 25,000 full-time, high-paying and quality jobs;
– Indirect support of an additional 82,000 jobs;
– Approximately $2.5 billion in direct investment;
– 4 million square feet of energy-efficient office space developed with an opportunity to expand to 8 million square feet;
– Incremental tax revenue estimated at more than $27 billion over the next 25 years. 
And like all recipients of negotiated incentive offerings, the company would have been required to agree to a checks-and-balances regimen (compliance) to ensure it was delivering on its end. Failure to comply at any point during the lifecycle of the proposed incentives (e.g. not hiring as many people as promised) could result in a clawback, recapture, or forfeiture of the tax incentives.
In losing out on the opportunity to become the next big tech hub in America, LIC also potentially lost tens of billions of dollars of ancillary and additional economic activity, property value increases, and vast improvements to public services to support the permanent infrastructure that would have been the benefactor of Amazon HQ2 Big Apple expansion.
Contrary to what opponents of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity may believe, this deal had the makings of a truly sound economic development policy. Perhaps the location of the next Silicon Valley and vital tech-hub will be in another American city, but there is no guarantee of that. The competition for high-value jobs and good corporate citizens like Amazon is global in nature and incentives have been cropping up around the world to woo them. The only thing we know for sure at this moment is that it will not be in Long Island City.
Amazon’s HQ2 Long Island City Expansion Plans and the Severe Cost to the State, City and the People of New York
It should be added, the negative impact on New York will not be limited to this one event. How many corporations seeking to invest billions in new facilities and jobs will be willing to risk entering a good-faith negotiation with New York state and local officials only to have it fall apart in a PR nightmare at the last minute?
Not only is the damage from this event potentially long-lasting, but the opponents’ hypocritical nature is also quite interesting. For example, consider the fact that Amazon’s HQ2 package paled in comparison to that of the expansive real estate development project about to open on Manhattan’s West Side known as Hudson Yards.
To attract investors to this development initiative – which will include luxury retailers, major corporate headquarters, and residential buildings (with one-bedroom apartments renting for $5,000+ a month to penthouse condos selling for over $30 million) – incentive packages have reached over $6 billion according to public records (and a study by the New School), all without the outrage bestowed upon Amazon’s HQ2. Where is the opposition to this project? Would a project like Hudson Yards happen in the future, once investors reflect upon the turmoil to which Amazon HQ2 was subjected?
Capital will flow where it is well-treated, and the Amazon executives were balancing their fiduciary duty to maximize value for their shareholders while also seeking to create long-term, multi-billion-dollar investments as a good corporate citizen.
Contrary to beliefs by opponents, New Yorkers are not $3 billion ‘richer’ due to HQ2’s failure to launch. Quite the contrary. The people of New York and particularly, the people of LIC and the surrounding areas, will never realize the potential benefit of billions of dollars additional tax dollars and increased economic activity flowing into their local economy.
One of the interesting outcomes of the HQ2 story is that it will create a controlled economic experiment of sorts. Because there were to be two new headquarters, one in LIC and one in Crystal City, Virginia, it will be fascinating to observe the changes in economic wellbeing in say, five years, between LIC and Crystal City. Particularly, it will be interesting to look at the change in tax dollars generated from 2019 to some point in the future. It’s a fair bet to say tax dollar growth in Crystal City will far outpace LIC.
Leveraging the Economic Advantage of Tax Credits and Incentives
Despite our belief that smart economic incentives are an inevitable fact of life in today’s technologically wired world and that they can present great outcomes for all involved, skepticism surrounding the checkered past of these types of arrangements is not misplaced.
Critics can point to numerous circumstances where the government didn’t get what it bargained for. The reasons for this vary, from lack of oversight, lax regulation, improper cost-benefit analysis, and sadly, also due to greed and corruption among policymakers and certain recipients.
That said, governments have an increasingly difficult time mandating certain economic behavior from companies and thus are having to find ways to entice desired behavior. This shift in the business/government balance of power is directly attributable to the proliferation of modern information technology.
In today’s wired world, organizations large and small can efficiently manage assets and employees wherever they’re best treated and effortlessly conduct business through integrated information technology.
Bottom line: companies no longer need to have one physical ‘home base’ but rather operations can be managed from anywhere on the globe and at any given moment.
Therefore, government at all levels must be smarter about working with businesses, and progressive legislative policy in the form of tax incentive packages are the best tools they have at their disposal to stimulate and encourage investment and compete in a global economy.
Why? Because they work.
Tax credits and incentives are simply a necessity in today’s economy so the real question is how can they do it best? The answer is technology and transparency.
Can FASB 832 and Modern Tax Technology Dispel the Negativity around Tax Incentive Policy?
We at The OIX believe that in this pivotal moment of regulatory evolution – with the approaching implementation of FASB 832, the logical descendant of GASB 77 – government at every level has a fantastic and consequential opportunity to embrace and improve tax credit and incentive policy.
Through proper technology – coupled with a regulatory mandate to force best practices – businesses and policymakers alike can weigh the economic benefits, both direct and ancillary, which for the latter will result in legislating successful programs for the collective benefit of all its citizens and improving critical investment decisions by the former.
These new regulations and the accompanying emphasis on disclosures and reporting are critical if incentives are to remain in the Government’s tool chest. With transparency and supporting data, taxpayers, and voters will for the first time be able to formulate an informed perspective so as not to thwart a once-in-a-generation opportunity like AMZN HQ2 LIC.
Now is the time to be smarter about dealing with the reality that companies use information technology to think and expand globally. With each passing year, an ever-increasing amount of global wealth is created. And with it comes growth in economic power, while political power remains relatively static and is generally limited to the local geography.
So, when a local government and a business from afar make an agreement that promises the creation of new jobs and investment in a community:
– How does the government confirm that specified conditions, job creation, and investment pledges (mandated to receive the incentive and tax-advantaged treatment), actually happen?
– How do they know what’s occurring in real time?
– How do they measure the results of those new jobs and other economic impacts?
– Did those additional jobs increase or decrease taxable revenues to the jurisdiction?
– With respect to the subject at hand, how might the City and State of New York have been able to monitor what Amazon HQ2 promised to deliver and share that information with taxpayers (proponents and opponents alike), and the very administration who drove the policy?
The answer is quite simple: through modern technology and tax credit and incentive reporting and analytic solutions.
What’s next for the Tax Credits and Incentives Landscape After Amazon HQ2
While FASB 832 and GASB 77 were great first steps, the next logical bridge is the smart application of existing tax technology and specialized software designed to measure credits and incentives on every level. As this measurement requires transparency, the implementation of technical and reporting standards will allow companies to report compliance in real-time, which in turn will allow the government to analyze results and ensure end-to-end compliance.
We may be biased… but cue The OIX.
The OIX is a Tax Credits and Incentives Management company, which is specifically architected to address government incentives, provides a layer of technology that helps companies manage their responsibilities and compliance needs related to maximizing their tax credits and conforming with regulation. From the other side, this technology offers the government a solution for monitoring a real timeline of deliverables and making those findings public.
Learn more about why the world is taking notice of The OIX.
The OIX Integrates 3,500+ Statutory Tax Credit Programs Into Its Credit and Incentive Software
The integration with CCH’s IntelliConnect And Business Incentives Navigator Product Suite delivers updated information on thousands of statutory programs in a timely manner.
Commerce Clearing House (CCH) is a provider of best-in-class software solutions for tax, accounting and audit workers. The OIX and CCH recently announced the integration of CCH’s IntelliConnect and Business Incentives Navigator Product Suite into The OIX Credits and Incentives (C&I) discovery platform.
This new combination will provide The OIX customers with detailed information on available economic development programs at the federal, state and local level. In addition, as the database is maintained by CCH in real-time, customers will receive legislative updates (on both existing and new programs enacted) to help them identify and take full advantage of available C&I programs.
The new product enhancement offers OIX customers the ability to identify available incentives through precise and granular filtering based on contemplated investments.
The result is a strategic planning and roadmap tool for optimizing the decision making the process and maximizing the profitability of C&I assets, improving your firm’s tax credit management. Danny Bigel, founder of The OIX stated:
“The importance of properly managing a C&I portfolio cannot be overstated. Maintaining compliance, regulations, filing requirements and rules and regulation amendments are all essential factors in ensuring the optimal financial impact is achieved and for avoiding problems such as slippage, recapture claw back, or in the worst case forfeiture. Integrating CCH’s “IntelliConnect and Business Incentives Navigator Product Suite” into our tax credit software provides OIX customers with enhanced research capabilities. This is only the latest example of our relentless drive to constantly improve our platform and remain the innovation and value creation leader. ”
Mr. Bigel added:
“In the coming months, our incentive program database will continue to grow as we add expanded international Credits and Incentives (C&I) program coverage as well as advanced modules that will compute, compare, calculate and analyze available incentives. Our sole mission at The OIX is to deliver technology that allows our customers to use the full potential of every applicable C&I program to escalate profitability and create game-changing margin expansion, all while advancing good corporate citizenship and helping improve local communities.”
The complexity and confusion surrounding credits and incentives and tax preparation can be daunting while running a business, regardless of size. Whether you’re a small, midsize or large multinational, the number of variables that must be considered in relation to an entire organization’s tax liabilities pose a complex challenge.
A constantly changing tax landscape can impact your bottom line – most recently resulting from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Add to that a multi-state jurisdictional footprint and international activities and you then have a formula for complexity, confusion and missed opportunities.
Over the last several decades we have witnessed a tirade of progressive fiscal policy that has resulted in an explosion of economic incentives and benefits issued by all levels of governments on a global level. These economic development programs and the assets they produce are too often overlooked in the day-to-day process of managing traditional tax compliance despite the significant and material cash flow derived and/or the reduction of your company’s annual tax bill.
We are referring to credits and incentives (C&I), and you and your company have likely already considered the financial benefits as part of your investment decision-making process and the strategic decision-making process.These assets are the byproduct of direct investment, job creation and certain enterprise behavior (through the adherence to government policy initiatives and economic development program rules and regulations).
The most typical outcome provides a dollar-for-dollar reduction that can be applied against tax liabilities owed to various levels of government (federal, state, local and international), but other benefits can include cash rebates, refunds, grants, abatements or certain government guarantees designed to promote good corporate citizenship and a win-win scenario.
Credits and Incentives: The Inevitability of a Growing Asset Class
Historically, many business leaders have thought of credits and incentives as a “nice-to-have” that was usually nothing more than incremental and marginal economic benefits – or an opportunity for local politicians to tout community development campaign promises.
However, as governments around the world have become more and more competitive in their attempts to stimulate their economies, attract the best firms, innovation and job creation to their communities, these incentives have grown to be material in every sense of the word.
For example, while some of our constituents at The OIX manage a small handful of incentives that produce several million dollars of benefits, others are managing several dozens or hundreds of these assets resulting in over $1.0 billion + of economics and direct bottom-line impact, and regardless of magnitude, often a small team consisting of just a few people are making this happen. Think about that for a second; credit and incentive professionals at some of the largest companies in the world are adding potential billions or more to their companies’ bottom line.
As more and more companies come to appreciate the scope and potential materiality of these types of assets, credit and incentive professionals will become more and more valuable to their company’s competitiveness and profitability. It is truly an exciting time to be a tax professional who understands the C&I world. And yes, we said tax planning and execution is exciting!
Of course, C&I assets are not without controversy, as evidenced by the uproar caused, most recently, by Amazon’s HQ2 location selection and the multi-billion-dollar C&I packages they have received. Opponents of C&I often decry these programs as “corporate welfare” and nothing more than handouts. To add to the contention, various economic impact studies have produced wildly different assessments of actual economic impact.
However, many of the anti-C&I studies ignore ancillary benefits – as the analysis is circumspect and ill-equipped to value the trickle-down effect, as well as to measure the long-term permanent infrastructure, quality jobs, and community development befits that these programs foster.
But let’s be real here… What choice do governments have when it comes to attracting top tier businesses, innovation, and jobs to their locales?
The government has but one tool in its arsenal to surgically stimulate economic behavior and its outcome to enhance the quality of life within its borders.Yes, C&I as smart fiscal policy.
The Effect of Credit and Incentive Policy
The fact is that the balance of power between economics and politics has been shifting over the past 70 years (and really since the Reformation and Renaissance) and while many factors contribute to this shift, the most prevalent is caused by the advent and deployment of real-time, global information infrastructure and information technology that allows businesses to operate on a global level and manage tax credit assets in real-time.
At the same time, the government remains local and geographic in nature and has decreasing ability to dictate economic behavior it seeks from a business. Progressive fiscal policy that results in the most beneficial outcome requires lawmakers to judiciously legislate programs that make sense and provide measurable returns to taxpayer investment.
So, the trend in C&I policy (from industry expanse to huge leaps in dollar amounts and number of programs enacted – most recently, as an example, Opportunity Zone incentives created through the 2017 TCJA) – all point to the inevitability that democratic capitalists governments really don’t have a choice but to find smarter and more efficient ways to incentivize businesses to stimulate growth.For companies and the recipients of these assets, the need to ensure compliance with the terms and requirements that these packages offer is ever more increasing.
This is acerbated by new regulatory disclosure and reporting mandates governed by FASB Topic 832, set to take effect in 2020.Said another way, good corporate citizenship and smart political policy goals can co-exist in a mutually beneficial environment provided that there is enough visibility to ensure that all parties are living up to their piece of the bargain. (More on this in a future OIX Blog Post.)
Unfortunately, historically, this asset has been a “grey” area for many C&I professionals and recipients. But fortunately, through advances in information technology and dedicated asset management solutions to address the sector there also lies the key to maximize the value of C&I programs and their benefits, and of course, we’re talking about The OIX’s tax credit software!
The Power of Credits and Incentives
In our view, credit and incentives are the most powerful and effective policy tools that government has at its disposal to surgically stimulate economic behavior that it deems vital to the growth and economic activity within its borders.
Our goal at The OIX is champion smart C&I incentive policy and their use, and we deliver the technology to ensure that all parties in the ecosystem are doing their part to create the mutually beneficial economic outcomes as intended.
Through this blog, we will make the case that credits and incentives should become a strategic component of every company’s financial planning process – from acquisitions, procurement, divestitures, hiring, capital market activities, facility development, and everything and anything that is considered when running a business in today’s hyper-competitive global arena, where winning and competing on the margins is essential.
This rapidly growing asset class will continue to expand, and the companies that are best prepared to utilize and leverage policy will see higher margins and greater long-term profits.
Please feel free to ask us any questions – we would really love to hear from you! You can reach us at info@TheOIX.com.
How to Best Maximize Economic Benefits of Business Tax Credits
Ensuring that a business achieves long-term growth takes a lot of careful strategizing. This is especially true when it comes to business tax credits and tax planning, where organizations have the opportunity to carve out substantial savings every year – and potentially even generate additional cash flow.
Especially in recent years, there has been a legislative surge in new tax benefits through economic incentive programs, called opportunity zones, geared to stimulate investment and job creation for small, midsize, and even large global companies.
This extends from the federal, state and local level here in the US, with identical dynamics on a global level throughout international jurisdictions, and now businesses are faced with a complicated and vast collection of opportunities to save – and even make – money with respect to taxable liabilities. The byproduct of this fiscal policy is known as tax credits.
The problem is that, far too often, organizations’ focus on regular management of traditional tax compliance causes them to miss opportunities – meaning tax credits that don’t get claimed, or worse, companies do not go after credits and incentives that they may be eligible for.
What is a Business Tax Credit?
Tax credits are generated through government-sponsored incentive programs that are designed to influence businesses (and individuals) to behave in a way that is beneficial to their community, local workforce, or environment.
Credits and incentives should not be confused with tax deductions; the latter enables a reduction to total taxable income base (decreasing what can be taxed by the government), whereas the former provides a dollar-for-dollar reduction in tax liability after calculating the total tax bill. If an organization properly demonstrates that they have fulfilled program requirements and the rules and regulations that govern defined benefits, then a tax credit is issued along with guidelines for redemption.
Properly taking advantage of incentive programs and the tax credits they produce isn’t easy. While it may seem simple on its face, real-world understanding and management of tax incentives is quite an undertaking – no matter the size of the company. Legislative and statutory frameworks dictate how business tax credits can be earned, claimed and monetized, and a considerable amount of expertise is required to navigate these waters.
There are seemingly countless types of tax credits available to businesses, and each of them has their own unique list of preconditions, requirements, and qualifications. Not only do companies need to determine which US federal tax incentives are available and how to take advantage of them, but there are also incentive programs offered by all 50 states.
Further, city governments also provide their own tax incentives that are designed to support investment and job creation on a municipal level, endeavor to lure new businesses to relocate and/or encourage the expansion of local operations. This same dynamic exists on a global level as there are tax incentive programs offered by just about every government around the world.
Tax Credit Monetization: What Types of Business Tax Credits are There?
There are a myriad of available tax incentive programs that support and encourage innovation and investment across just about every industry. From pure “jobs” programs – including Enterprise Zone, Work Opportunity Tax Credits (WOTC), Research & Development, among so many others, which as policy programs target and stimulate the most innovative industries and quality jobs – tax credits and incentives are the most effective economic development tool that government has at its fingertips to promote generational prosperity, growth, and permanent infrastructure.
Generally, with respect to tax credit monetization, business tax credits fall into these categories in how they can be redeemed:
Non-refundable tax credits
This represents the majority of tax credits. These types of tax credits can be applied against tax liabilities on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to the total amount of tax (federal, state, international) that business owes.
Refundable Tax Credits
Upon filing a tax return (in the jurisdiction), and to the extent that the credit exceeds liabilities, the government issues a cash “refund” to the company.
Transferable Tax Credits
Statutorily, these credits can be freely transferred/assigned/sold to another taxpayer (who has liabilities in the issuing jurisdiction) at any time, subject to the rules and regulations around the transfer, who then applies for the credit against their liabilities.
Rebates and Grants
These incentives are monetized in the form of cash receivable from the issuing agency, without the need to first file a tax return. The former is redeemed following satisfaction of qualifying guidelines, whereas the latter is received prior to investment.
Reduction of or exemption from taxes granted by a government for a specified period, usually to encourage certain activities such as investment in capital equipment, and most commonly offered to offset property tax liabilities.
Corporate debt securities offering a secondary guarantee that interest and principal payments will be made by a governing agency should the issuer default due to reasons such as insolvency or bankruptcy.
Statutory, Discretionary and Negotiated Incentive Distinctions
Statutory incentives include economic benefits that are earned by right if a company meets certain thresholds or performs certain activities as defined by legislative policy and which meet qualifying guidelines. Discretionary incentives are similarly legislated but require pre-application and/or pre-approval to qualify and are completely at the governing agency’s discretion, and usually include “but for” requirements – meaning, if not “but for” the incentive the economic investment and job creation would not be undertaken.
While some tax credits can only be claimed in the year in which they were earned, others can be “carried forward” to apply against liabilities in future (tax) years. “Carryforward” provisions typically range from 1 year to as much as 20 years, and in regard to certain incentives, credits can be carried “back” and applied again liabilities in prior years. Attention should also be paid to amended and re-stated returns as it pertains to credits, their use, and limitations.
In order to earn certain credits and incentives, companies engaging in economic activity eligible for benefits and liability offsets must adhere to the rules and regulations and follow certain guidelines with respect to (1) how an investment is targeted and maintained, and more important (2) the jobs and permanent infrastructure created as a result. Each incentive program (whether statutory, discretionary or negotiated) will have their own unique compliance requirements.
Maximizing the Value and Benefits of Tax Credits and Incentives
Owing to the diversity of tax credits and incentives and all forms of government assistance through economic development policy, how can your business maximize their value? How do you leverage, from a balance sheet and cash flow perspective, the economic benefits that may make the difference in how you compete on the margins and win?
Knowing the ins and outs of each potential tax credit program is crucial, as it can dictate how investments are prioritized, play a significant role in forecasting cash flow and provide the (soft equity) gap that may lead to a “go” or “no go” decision.
Understanding how to get the most out of the system, however, is nearly impossible without the best technology and access to the necessary expertise. The sad truth is that a ton of companies are either overlooking eligible incentives they should be going after, but also are not properly benefiting from the credits they have earned due to the absence of modern-day tax technologies designed to maximize their value.
Collaborating with an experienced technology partner to plan and manage a sound tax management strategy is how top organizations are able to minimize their tax liabilities each year. Investing in an enterprise solution to manage tax credits is one of the only ways to ensure that companies are navigating the system in the most lucrative way possible each year. It’s all about dumping your tax credit concerns onto someone else’s plate – putting all the hard work into the hands of an established and reliable tax credit company, such as The OIX.
With years of experience slashing clients’ tax liabilities with innovative tax credit and incentive software, The OIX offers a unique and effective solution that takes all the chaos and inefficiency out of the picture. This next-generation platform streamlines the management, reporting, forecasting, analysis, workflow, monetization and compliance processes for tax credits and incentives on a worldwide scale.
By adopting tax credit software solutions through an industry-leading tax credit company like The OIX, you can ensure that your business isn’t missing out on any lucrative tax credits – while also positioning your company for long-term growth.
So, how is it pronounced? We say it like it is spelled – The OIX (oʊ-aɪ-ɛks). Here at The OIX, you will find a group of tech-go-getters, policy-enthusiasts, economic-development-pioneers, adventure-seekers, as well as the cloud-based technology home of the world-class OIX Tax Credits & Incentives Platform!
We know what you are thinking. Tax Credits? Tax Incentives? These subjects are normally associated with other words like snooze, dry, boring, confusing, etc. And yes, historically the subject of credits & incentives (C&I) could be described as any of those words. However, as this the tax credit and incentive asset class take on an ever-greater role in helping companies profit and succeed in today’s hyper-competitive world, we intend to demonstrate to you that far from being boring, these hidden gems are interesting, compelling in nature and fascinating at their core – and most importantly, financially and operationally material to overall corporate success regardless of size or location.
The OIX Community Blog
This blog is intended as a two-way conversation with you, our readers, on subjects related to and surrounding C&I. Throughout these conversations we will share educational knowledge (from nuggets to five-course meals) for you to snack on throughout your week, give you some informational bits on the latest news and issues affecting C&I, and lastly and certainly most importantly enlighten you with a variety of perspectives and insights regarding this asset class so you can be in a position to leverage the tax code and help your organization compete and win on the margins by using a Tax Credit Company like ours.
Don’t be alarmed if our conversations start with subjects like opportunity zones, football stadiums, M&A activity, renewable energy. Trust us when we say C&I’s are a game changer for every business that fosters job creation and community investment, across all geographies, and we are here to talk about it with you in gory detail. Even more importantly we would like to learn from you.
Our goal: Educate. Inform. Enlighten. So you can: Compete. Profit. Excel.
Moving forward we will share with you our perspective on the state-of-the-art technologies, strategies and best practices emerging in the C&I arena. But just as importantly, we will discuss where the industry may be heading. This will include discussions on the future of technology innovation in the C&I world and explore such things as big data, artificial intelligence, and advanced analytics, and the role of blockchain in the coming years. We will bring you interviews and insights from thought leaders across every aspect of the industry to share their ideas with our readers.
By bringing to light these real-life case studies, our goal is to share best practices across the industry. When combined with the deep analysis of government policies and objectives, we will hopefully create insights that will impact our readers’ competitiveness in the marketplace.
But our intentions don’t stop at education and best practices – we aim to assist our clients in their professional goals, as we believe many of tomorrow’s corporate leaders will spring from the ranks of C&I experts and thought leaders who are our customers. As they say, knowledge is power, and our clients have command of a niche knowledge set which, when combined with cutting edge technologies, will give them unprecedented influence and status in their organizations.
As one professional in the apparel retail industry remarked recently: “Six years ago we didn’t have a single tax credit or incentive. Today, we won’t open a store or hire a person without first considering what incentives are available to us. We compete on the margin and these assets can make a huge difference.” This is a common refrain we hear day in and day out and our clients are poised to ride this emerging trend to corporate success and professional growth.
From Past to Present
The OIX was founded in 2012 as a marketplace platform to enable businesses to transact in C&I assets on a principal-to-principal dynamic (i.e. the buying and selling of tax credits) in order to create more value for everyone in the C&I ecosystem. In particular, The OIX sought to and achieved, vast reductions in the friction between buyers and sellers.
The end result: Both buyer and seller got a better deal.
Although our marketplace was and is the single most successful and robust trading platform of its kind, our long-term goal had always been to use that technology as a sort of bridge to building an enterprise SaaS solution to help companies manage tax credits over the life cycle of these complex financial instruments. The trading platform was our initial effort to generate revenue while we learned how to address the complex dynamics of managing every kind of C&I from around the world.
We’re happy to say that after years of hard-core R&D and working with clients in real time, in late 2017 we achieved that goal and in early 2018 we pivoted out of trading as a primary business (we still partner with the best brokers in the world who use our system to assist our clients to optimize their tradable C&I assets) and into the de facto standard for enterprise SaaS management of C&I assets.
Our long-term vision was always that as this asset class grew in materiality and complexity, companies of all sizes would need to get control of their business tax credit portfolios and enhance their value to the organization. Today, our technology spans the entire ecosystem of C&I asset management in a unified, secure, collaborative, cloud-based enterprise solution that tackles these three challenges in one eloquent solution:
1) The OIX Advisory Solutions – we partner with the best of breed advisory firms of all sizes to deliver an integrated and seamless solution to determine what tax credits and incentives are best for your situation around the globe.
2) The OIX Credits and Incentives Platform – once you have secured C&I assets for your particular situation, you need to intensively manage those assets through their lifecycle. No other solution comes close to the breadth and depth and ease of use of The OIX platform.
3) The OIX Brokerage Solutions – and when your C&I assets are maturing, you have the option of instantly connecting with our brokerage partners to optimize the value of tradeable tax credits that you cannot use internally.
In conclusion, The OIX is focused on the end-to-end enterprise management of C&I portfolios. Keep a look out for our upcoming blog posts as we dive deeper into The OIX and how we are pioneering the future of tax credits & incentives…
Welcome to the party of Tax Credits and Incentives!
If you just can’t wait for our next blog to go live, we totally understand! Just move on over to our homepage to find out more about The OIX’s tax credit and incentive management solutions, or visit our Press Page for current and archived media coverage and thought leadership initiatives.
Please feel free to ask us any questions, we would really love to hear from you, you can reach us at info@TheOIX.com
OIX Tools & Solutions
The OIX provides cloud-based enterprise technology solutions designed to help your company maximize economic development programs, leverage tax credits and incentives to gain economic benefits, and remain compliant from project inception through monetization.
Learn how The OIX Product Suite and our comprehensive packages can be used to achieve strategic objectives.
From our "Basic" to "Advanced" packages, The OIX solves real problems and offers formidable solutions that address the needs to maximize and comply with economic development programs
Manage statutory or negotiated requirements in order to remain compliant and satisfy rules and regulations to achieve incentives. OIX Systems will help you stay on top of obligations, and provide reminders and alerts to notify in/out of compliance.
Workflow Process Management
Create a library of templates to manage the processes around acquisition, compliance and monetization. With great precision you can customize workflow to meet statutory or internal processes, and collaborate internally and/or externally to gain greater control.
Portfolio and Statistical Analysis
Discovery and interpretation and measure the value of your entire portfolio; identify how credits are being "utilized"; map various data-points against one another to discover meaningful patterns for statistical analysis, and gain insight into valuable areas rich with recorded information.
Highly configurable reporting system which enables you to organize, filter and customize data points to manage reporting and compliance needs. Create a customized library of report templates, run in real-time, export, archive, distribute. FASB 832 compliance needs at your fingertips.
State-of-the-art and proven transactional processing systems to automated back-office operations and scale broker/syndicator businesses. Couple OIX tech with white-label deal rooms and OIX Platform integration to bring your brokerage or syndication business to the next level.
Feature Release Catalogue
As The OIX continues to innovate our product suite, we release “new feature updates” to our customers to support use of our systems, and provide guidance on how to best manage and maximize tax credit and incentive assets. Through collective learnings and implementation of proprietary information technology tools and applications, The OIX product road-map will continue to bring best-in-class practices and solving solutions to your organization.