OwlSpark | Rice University Startup Accelerator | TeamWise: Tax Credit Hero
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TeamWise: Tax Credit Hero

Tax Credit Hero is a service offering tax software specifically designed around the R&D tax credit, creating a federal tax incentive for companies conducting R&D.

The Tax Credit Hero team ties together applicable skills as well as presenting incredible diversity. Stephen Tsai brings his tax consulting background to the table, while Ashley Arciero’s background is at NASA as an aerospace engineer. Mithil Chokshi, the third member of Tax Credit Hero, brings his neurotechnology startup knowledge to OwlSpark. All the founders are either students or alumni of Rice University: Stephen is an alumni of the MBA program, Ashley is currently pursuing her MBA, and Mithil is a Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering.

Tax Credit Hero comes to the rescue just after the Tax Cuts and Job Act (TCJA) of 2017 effectively overturned the key principle in the Tax Reform Act of 1986. This change in the tax law allows small businesses to apply their R&D tax credit against payroll taxes. The R&D tax credit has been in existence for over 30 years. Larger, more established companies would claim this tax credit, as well as smaller businesses and startups. Stephen’s work as a tax consultant exposed him to this issue.

Our process is designed to maximize your R&D tax credit and minimize your time involvement so you can continue focusing on innovation.

This diverse team has already had some successes, as they already have some paying clients, one of which is Decisio Health, who was also Tax Credit Hero’s first client. Decisio Health is a healthcare software company with about 20 employees, and Tax Credit Hero was able to save them more than $50,000.

We’re not doing anything blockchain, AI, or machine-learning craziness. This industry’s existed for 3 decades already, it’s well-established. All we’re doing is introducing a technology angle to it to help automate a lot of the processes to make it more streamlined for the client.

Tax Credit Hero’s success isn’t without some reservations. Although the R&D tax credit was largely untouched by the TCJA because of its positive pro-business qualities to both Democrats and Republicans, if anything does happen to it, the founders may have to find a new source of income. Like Stephen Tsai said, “If the laws change, I need to dissolve the business and find something else to do.” Hopefully, that won’t be the case and Tax Credit Hero will achieve their goal of 40 paying clients by the end of the next calendar year.

It’s all about connecting with people. Not only does it help get our name out there, but meeting people is great.
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