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Driving Innovation: Three-Step Plan to a Winning R&D Tax Credit Process

DST Advisory Group, Porsche Experience, Atlanta

Three-Step Plan to Ensure a Winning R&D Tax Credit Process

Earlier this month, DST hosted a Porsche Experience in Atlanta. At the event, renowned race car driver Katherine Legge shared her insights on achieving success on the racetrack. Her experiences resonated deeply with our audience of tax professionals, especially when we realized how closely her principles aligned with the pillars of a successful R&D Tax Credit claim and study. In this article we review these parallels, presenting a three-step plan to ensure a winning R&D Tax Credit process that emphasizes relying on an Engineered work-product, a credible expert team, and having the foresight to instill strategic preparation.

Step 1: The Importance of a Well-Engineered Product

Katherine Legge emphasized the importance of having a reliable and well-engineered race car. “Every aspect of the race car is engineered; we have tire engineers, engine engineers, aerodynamic engineers – whether it’s when you head out onto the track or when you’re potentially heading into an IRS examination for your R&D Tax Credit,” she said, “you need a product you can count on.” This principle is equally vital in the realm of the Research Tax Credits.

To achieve a winning R&D Tax Credit process, companies must ensure their study is based on qualified research activities, but also on thoroughly documented and substantiated activities that are linked to the qualified research expenses. Just as a race car driver relies on the engineered precision of their vehicle, companies must depend on the accuracy and thoroughness of their engineered R&D documentation.

“Just like a well-designed race car is crucial for a driver’s success, meticulous R&D documentation is essential for a company’s success in securing tax credits.” ~Katherine Legge, Professional Race Car Driver

At DST, we emphasize the role of our Tax Engineers and technical experts in gathering dependable documentation that clearly illustrates the 4 Part Test. The appropriate level of each business component must be specified and documented. This level of detail is essential when facing an IRS examination, much like the dependability of a race car in a high-stakes race.

“Our focus on detailed and precise R&D documentation at the business component level ensures that our clients are well-prepared for any IRS examination, just as a race car must be flawlessly engineered for the track.” ~Diane Stogiannes, DST President


Step 2: Rely on Your Team of Experts

Another key point Katherine Legge highlighted was the importance of relying on your Team of experts. “Working with a team that you can trust and are experts in their fields is crucial,” she stated. In racing, every team member, from the pit crew to the strategists, must excel in their roles to ensure success. This is no different in the world of R&D Tax Credits.

At DST, we understand the value of a specialized team focused solely on R&D Tax Credits. Our expertise and singular focus on this area mean that we bring a depth of knowledge and experience that is unmatched. Just as a race car team relies on the skills of seasoned professionals, companies must trust in the proficiency of their R&D tax credit consultants.

“Hearing about the precision and coordination of the race team at the event was eye-opening. It made me appreciate the expertise of DST in handling our R&D Tax Credit process.” ~TEI Member

A successful R&D Tax Credit claim hinges on the quality and cohesion of the team involved. This trust ensures the intricate details of the tax credit process are handled with precision and care, leading to successful claims and maximized benefits. There are so many nuances with respect to Section 41 and Section174. Knowing how these both intersect and the impact they have on each other with respect to the taxpayer’s unique situation and facts is critical when consulting and advising on the best approach to complex scenarios.  

“Just like a race team depends on each member’s expertise, our clients rely on our specialized knowledge to navigate the complexities of the R&D Tax Credit process.” ~Diane Stogiannes, DST President


Step 3: Strategically Prepare for Every Turn and Pass

Strategic preparation is a cornerstone of both racing and the R&D Tax Credit process. Katherine Legge’s insights into anticipating turns on the track and planning pit stops were particularly illuminating. “You need to build out your plan, know what to do to pass an opponent early so you don’t fall behind, and avoid accidents,” she advised.

This strategic mindset is critical when preparing R&D Tax Credit claims. Companies must anticipate the requirements and potential challenges of the tax credit process. This includes thorough documentation of claims, staying abreast of legislative changes, and implementing best practices early on. By doing so, companies can ensure they are well-prepared for any eventuality, much like a race car driver who knows exactly how to navigate every turn of the track.

“Strategic preparation on the track is the key to avoiding pitfalls and achieving victory. The same goes for preparing your R&D Tax Credit claims.” ~Katherine Legge, Professional Race Car Driver

At DST, we guide our clients through every step of the process, ensuring that they have a clear plan and are well-prepared to effectively document their claims. This proactive approach minimizes last-minute scrambles and maximizes the potential for successful outcomes.

“Our strategic preparation ensures that our clients are not only ready for any IRS examination but are also positioned to maximize their R&D Tax Credits efficiently. This is especially true with the upcoming changes to the F6765. We are already four months into 2024, and we’re preparing our existing clients to use this year as a trial run to get prepared for when this form comes into full effect by the IRS.  That’s what strategic planning means to us.” ~Diane Stogiannes, DST President


Event Highlights

The DST Porsche Experience in Atlanta was not just about learning; it was also an exhilarating experience for all attendees. Tax Professionals in Atlanta (many of them TEI Atlanta members) had the unique opportunity to go out on the Porsche course with professional race car drivers, adding a practical and thrilling dimension to the event. These experiences provided valuable insights and fostered a deeper understanding of the parallels between race car driving and the R&D Tax Credit process.

“What an amazing experience!” ~TEI Member

We are excited to share that we will be hosting these events regularly, offering ongoing opportunities for learning and professional development. DST events are designed to provide participants with both the theoretical knowledge and practical experiences needed to excel in their fields.


The lessons from the racetrack, as shared by Katherine Legge, are invaluable for anyone involved in the R&D Tax Credit process. The importance of a well-engineered product, the necessity of relying on a credible team of experts, and the critical role of strategic preparation are principles that can drive success in both arenas.

“By applying lessons learned from race car driving, companies can navigate the twists and turns of the R&D Tax Credit process with confidence and precision.” ~Diane Stogiannes, DST President

We invite you to join us at future events to learn from experts in both racing and R&D Tax Credits. For more information on how DST can assist with your R&D Tax Credit needs, please reach out to us. Together, we can navigate the twists and turns of the tax credit process and drive innovation forward.