Claim the R&D tax credit with Pilot

Your business could save up to $500,000* through the R&D tax credit.

Pilot helps you maximize your savings while doing the heavy lifting. We handle the whole process so you can skip the paperwork and get back to business.

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What is the
R&D Tax Credit?

Does your business incur research and development costs in the US? Then you may be able to claim a sizable tax credit of up to $500,000* or more. Once approved by the IRS, the R&D credit is applied towards your business’s future payroll tax liabilities.

Businesses across many industries can qualify for the R&D credit – including technology, ecommerce, bio-tech, hardware, and more.

Claim the R&D tax credit,
without the headache

You could save thousands through the R&D credit, so it’s important it’s done right. We handle the tax claims process from start to finish and provide the necessary documentation to back up your claim with the IRS. Claiming the R&D tax credit can be complicated and tedious, but we make it easy.

Pilot end-to-end service

End-to-end service

We handle the full R&D tax claim process for you. That includes identifying eligible R&D expenses, filing the right paperwork, and making sure your credit is accurately applied through your payroll.

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Meticulous documentation

Our combination of software and experts make the R&D claim process and your paperwork meticulous. We also ensure your payroll provider, tax preparers, and accountants are all on the same page.

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All-in-one support

With Pilot you get bookkeeping, tax, and R&D credit support all under one roof. We already know your numbers from the ground up: That means we work fast and efficiently to identify expenses and maximize your savings.

Here’s how we streamline the entire process:

We conduct an R&D tax study, which identifies the total amount of qualifying R&D expenses you can claim on its federal tax return.

We prepare and file the necessary tax paperwork to claim the R&D credit, if you use Pilot Tax. Otherwise, we provide the right documentation for your tax preparer to file.

We provide required supporting documentation, which is an important prerequisite in case of an IRS audit.

We work with your payroll provider to apply the R&D credit against your payroll taxes and ensure it's accurate throughout the year.

Gusto logo

If you use Gusto, we’ve partnered with Gusto to automatically apply the credit, saving you time.

A complicated credit, but simple pricing

We charge 20% of your total credit received. Check out our calculator to estimate how much you can claim and what our fees are.

Your estimated qualifying R&D expenses
per year
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Your annual estimated R&D tax credit
with a fee of $0
See If You Qualify

Frequently asked questions

Do I qualify for R&D tax credits?

If your business has less than $5 million in annual revenue, and it's been less than five (5) years since your first gross receipts/sales, you can frequently reduce your Social Security Payroll tax liability under the PATH Act R&D credit. If you do not qualify under the PATH Act R&D Credit, you can take regular R&D Credit against income taxes (rather than against payroll taxes).

What activities qualify for R&D tax credit?

Qualifying R&D expenses and/or activities are those which pass this four-part test:

  • Technical uncertainty. The activity is performed to eliminate technical uncertainty about the development or improvement of a product or process, which includes computer software, techniques, formulas, and inventions.
  • Process of experimentation.The activities include some process of experimentation undertaken to eliminate or resolve a technical uncertainty. This process involves an evaluation of alternative solutions or approaches and is performed through modeling, simulation, systematic trial and error, or other methods.
  • Technological in nature.The process of experimentation relies on the hard sciences, such as engineering, physics, chemistry, biology, or computer science.
  • Qualified purpose.The purpose of the activity must be to create a new or improved product or process, including computer software, that results in increased performance, function, reliability, or quality.
How large will my R&D tax credit be?

Unlimited, if applying the R&D credit against income taxes. These credits can range between 5% and 15% of qualifying R&D costs. If taking the PATH Act R&D credit, a company can receive up to $500k* against payroll taxes and take the remainder against income taxes.

As an example, for an unprofitable 5-person tech startup that has less than $5M in annual revenue with roughly 80% of time being spent on qualifying R&D activities, and average salary of $100k/year, the credit might be between $20k to $60k. Pilot’s fee is a small percentage of the total qualifying R&D expense and easily pays for itself by securing the R&D Tax Credit for you.

*$500,000 for 2023 tax year, $250,000 for 2022 tax year

Can I claim the R&D credit retroactively?

Yes, we can help you file an amended tax return to claim the R&D credit for previously filed Income Tax returns (past 3 years), but you cannot take the PATH Act R&D credit on an amended tax return.

What does Pilot R&D Credit Service include?

We help businesses with all aspects of claiming these R&D Tax Credits. Pilot will:

  • Identify and calculate qualifying R&D expenses
  • Prepare Forms 6765, 8974, and 941 to gain IRS approval of credit. If you use Pilot Tax, we’ll file on your behalf as well.
  • Prepare all required supporting technical and financial documentation, including documentation of research time, R&D payroll expenses, etc. This is an important pre-requisite to support an IRS audit in case that happens.
  • Coordinate with your tax preparer, payroll provider, and accountant to ensure your books and taxes are accurate
  • Continually ensure the credit is applied correctly against your payroll liabilities
  • Email and phone support with R&D credit experts
Does Pilot support you in case of an audit?

Yes, we can help support you in the case of an audit. For more details, please contact us.

Why is having an R&D study done important?

Pilot recommends anyone who claims the R&D credit to get a study done. An R&D study determines the total amount the business should claim and collects the necessary documentation to support that claim.

When filing for the R&D tax credit, you must submit the relevant tax forms to the IRS. However, you must also have the technical and financial justification of what you were claiming prepared in case the IRS audits your claim. If the IRS audits the claim and you can’t produce technical and financial evidence behind what you claimed, you will need to return the money and potentially pay a penalty. The R&D Tax program is on the IRS’s "Dirty Dozen List". Once you’ve been audited, the IRS can also audit your claims for up to 7 years prior – so you need to make sure that each year’s claim has proper and thorough substantiation.

Can I use Pilot R&D Credit service without using Pilot Tax?

Yes, we’ll calculate the R&D tax credits and provide the necessary documentation for your tax preparer to file. If you use Pilot Tax, we’ll take care of the full process and file the necessary tax paperwork on your behalf as well.

Are there state-level R&D tax credits?

33 states currently offer an R&D credit. Generally, the states follow federal guidelines on what constitutes qualified R&D expenditures with few exceptions. Pilot will provide guidance on state level credits. For example, the CA R&D credit is non-refundable which means it cannot be taken against payroll tax. Work must be done in CA to be considered qualified and CA credits can carry forward indefinitely until exhausted.

Your full finance stack

Pilot goes beyond tax credit claims services to offer everything you need for your business's financial management


Our expert bookkeepers are supported by powerful software, ensuring books with unmatched accuracy. Plus, get industry-specific reports, with metrics that matter.


Get your tax prep and bookkeeping handled seamlessly, together. We file your business income taxes, including 1099 filings, and local and federal tax returns – so that you’re compliant with the IRS.

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Need advanced finance support? We have your back. Get the expert CFO support for your business needs, from building budgets to fundraising preparation.

See what Pilot can do for you

Get the peace of mind that comes from partnering with our experienced finance team.

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