Letter: New R&D tax putting small businesses at risk


When you’re driving in your car on the way to work or the grocery store, how often do you think about the road you’re driving on? Or the traffic signal at the next intersection? While these might blend into the background to the average person, a team of skilled engineers pored over their design and placement to optimize the infrastructure that makes our daily lives run smoothly.

As the president and CEO of Lanham Engineering, LLC, here in Powell, these are the projects that our team is proud to take part in to ensure that our communities perform to the best of their ability. Our mission as a traffic engineering firm is to help save time and frustration as well as keep people safe. Our engineers prepare studies and design plans that elevate safety techniques and forecast traffic patterns to inform innovative solutions to everyday problems.

While we may be a small firm, we’re always looking to stay up to date with the larger industry. To do so, we engage in research and development (R&D), which allows us to continuously revamp and modernize our tools and solutions to tackle each new project. As we’ve made progress in our R&D, we’ve looked into expanding our team from seven to nine employees in the next year.

However, a change in how R&D is taxed has thrown a wrench in all of this. In years past, businesses could deduct all their R&D expenses in the year that they occurred. Now, a change to the tax code forces businesses to amortize these expenses over a five-year period – leaving firms like ours strapped for the funds needed to continue R&D or simply meet overhead. This increased tax liability poses a financial burden that hinders day-to-day business, which could even cause them to shutter their doors for good.

This is a hard reality that we at Lanham Engineering are facing. Because of this provision, we’ve had to drastically tighten our budget, which means that we can’t hire enough engineers. And while we are thankful to continue to win new business, we worry about how we will be able to staff these projects because of the financial situation this tax has put us in.

R&D is an essential part of our business model. Thankfully, this tax has garnered attention in Washington, and there are bills in the House and Senate to combat the damage it’s doing to our businesses.

I commend Senator J.D. Vance as well as a bipartisan group of eight Ohio representatives for cosponsoring these bills that will relieve financial strain for so many firms. Engineers play a critical role in helping communities run efficiently and safely and fixing this tax will help them continue to operate and innovate.

Joy Lanham


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