table with laptop showing website code

$5000 Web Accessibility Tax Credit

As the surge of ADA-related lawsuits and demand letters continues, many businesses now grapple with the cost of website accessibility.

The good news is that small businesses under $1M in annual revenue and under 30 employees can receive up to a $5K tax credit for web accessibility costs... each year.

What the Disabled Access Tax Credit Covers

  • The Disabled Access Tax Credit was introduced in 1994 as IRS Title 26, Section 44 to incentivise and help with costs related to :
  • remove architectural, communication, physical, or transportation barriers that prevent a business from being accessible to, or usable by, individuals with disabilities;
  • provide qualified readers, taped texts, and other effective methods of making materials accessible to people with visual impairments;
  • provide qualified interpreters or other effective methods of making orally delivered materials available to individuals with hearing impairments;
  • acquire or modify equipment or devices for individuals with disabilities; or
  • provide other similar services, modifications, materials or equipment.

How to Get The Tax Credit for Website Accessibility

Qualifying business may apply via form IRS 8826 and receive a tax credit of 50% of the preceding list of eligible expenditures that exceed $250 but do not exceed $10,250 for a taxable year. So all expenditures over the $250 threshold are eligible. 

What is very interesting is that a business may take the credit each year that it makes an eligible access expenditure. Therefore, if you’re taking a phased approach to such a project or the project spans two years, you could get a tax credit of $5000 for each year. This could also cover on-going monitoring or other related costs to make your mobile app or website ADA compliant. 

Best Practices for ADA / WCAG Web Compliance

The first step in how to make your website ADA compliant begins with a thorough WCAG website audit performed by a qualified web accessibility company with web accessibility experts that understand the ADA and the WCAG and who understand the many use cases that people with unique abilities face and the website code itself.

Since automated tools are very limited, the web accessibility consultant must also perform manual WCAG testing as well as assistive technology testing on the unique pages of your website. Learn more about website accessibility auditing here

Website Accessibility Remediation

Once you have a complete audit, then you have your existing web development team fix the WCAG issues found in the audit. If you lack such a team, hire a team of accessibility web designers with experience in digital accessibility. 

Verification WCAG Audit

Before relaunching, you should have a verification web audit performed to ensure all issues have been resolved, and new ones have not emerged during that time.

Web Accessibility Maintenance

Moving forward, periodic automated testing and monitoring should suffice until the user interface is modified. Then you should run spot-checks on the parts that have changed.

What to Avoid

Responding to the dream of fast and cheap, too-good-to-be-true “overlay” solution providers claim that by adding a plugin or javascript snippet they can automagically make any website WCAG compliant. Without naming names, these rely on automated tools which we know can only detect ~30% of issues in the first place. As the term “overlay” suggests, these methods fail to fix the underlying code. They also need to be manually turned on by the end-user. These are essentially band-aids with holes. 

Attorney Richard Hunt of Hunt Huey PLLC was one of the first attorneys to specialize in digital ADA cases. As he wrote in Is there a silver bullet for ADA website accessibility? Sorry, but the answer is no. He states: "If your business wants to avoid getting sued under the ADA because of an inaccessible website an accessibility overlay or widget isn’t going to help you. I can say this with some certainty because in the last two weeks alone five lawsuits have been filed against businesses that use an accessibility widget or overlay on their websites."

Also be sure to avoid alternate “accessible website tactics”. This approach fails the separate but equal mandate of the ADA, as such sites are never equal in practice.  

More reading on these and other "solutions" and methods to avoid.

Final Thoughts on Web Accessibility

In an era when Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is focused so much on how brands treat people and those most marginalized, it’s ever more important to make sure your website and digital content is inclusive of all. 

 

Note : We are not tax or legal experts. Consult your tax advisor to determine whether you are eligible. 

Photo by Christopher Gower on Unsplash