How General Business Credits Work

Types of General Business Credits

There are typically around 30 credits available to business owners, but unless your company imports distilled spirits, maintains railroad tracks and trains mine rescue teams all at the same time, it's unlikely that you'll ever be able to claim 'em all in one fell swoop. Although some of the credits are seemingly random, they can actually mean big bucks for businesses in specific industries. Of course, many standard credits were also created to incentivize common workplace/business concerns, like environmental responsibility and good employer practices. Check out this sampling, and see the IRS site for the full, constantly evolving list:

Employee-based credits: Small business owners who incur costs associated with a variety of employee-related needs are eligible for credits. Disability access measures, pension plan startup costs, employee child care and health insurance coverage expenses are common costs that can be leavened by dollar for dollar credits. Employers who hold paid positions for active duty military for more than 30 days are also eligible for a credit to offset differential wage payment costs.

Alternative fuel: The government is making it worth the while of Big Business to switch over to more Earth-friendly fuel options. Among them are the biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels credit, the low sulfur diesel fuel production credit and the alternative motor vehicle credit. On a related note, businesses that purchase and use qualified electric plug-in vehicles, rather than standard gas guzzlers can also enjoy a nice cash windfall.

Energy-efficiency: Manufacturers of energy-efficient homes and appliances are able to receive credits for their efforts, which consumers also enjoy, to a lesser extent.

Low-income assistance: Businesses that operate low-income housing are also eligible for a credit, as are employers who hire workers of certain groups that typically have higher unemployment rates (such as ex-felons), via the work opportunity credit.

Research and development: Of particular note to those in the energy field, the credit for increasing research activities was established to encourage businesses to engage in continual development for the good of industry as a whole.