Claim Your $5,000 Tax Credit: ADA Website Compliance

Claim Your $5,000 Tax Credit: ADA Website Compliance

It has certainly been a rough year or so for many small- to medium-sized businesses. Trying to stay afloat while keeping up with constantly changing mandates and guidelines, making sure both employees and patrons feel as safe as possible, and dealing with product and labor shortages during the pandemic has not been an easy feat. Hopefully, you’ve been able to take advantage of some of the state and federal relief programs that have rolled out since the start of COVID, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG), and other city and state grants. In addition to these programs, there are also tax write-offs that could help you widen your profit margins – or possibly flip the books from red to black. In this article, we’re going to focus on the often-overlooked $5,000 ADA website compliance tax credit. When you optimize your website to meet the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility standards, not only can you take advantage of a possible $5,000 tax incentive, but you can also boost your business website rankings on search engine pages for higher revenue potential and avoid expensive noncompliance lawsuits.

Why the ADA Applies to Business Websites

When many think of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, there is a misperception that ADA compliance applies only to physical public spaces, such as providing accessible parking spaces and wheelchairs to accommodate both employees and customers with disabilities in brick-and-mortar stores. However, this is inaccurate. ADA compliance applies to all spaces that are open to the public – and in today’s world, this includes the digital space that is your business website. There have been many successful lawsuits filed against companies that failed to update their websites with reasonable accommodations. To avoid such costly fiascos, businesses can utilize the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) website accessibility guidelines, which include things such as making your website completely navigable by keyboard, optimizing for screen readers, and providing audio alternatives.

What Happens When Your Business Website Isn’t Accessible

ADA compliance lawsuits citing inaccessible websites are becoming more and more prevalent: within a two-year span (2018-2020), ADA suits have jumped from 2,000 cases to 3,500. Lawsuits have been brought against many large corporations, such as Winn-Dixie, Netflix, and Nike, costing some of these companies tens of thousands of dollars to fight these charges and bring their websites into compliance. Small businesses simply do not have the same deep pockets as their corporate counterparts to handle lawsuits like this. Fortunately, most complaints begin with a demand letter from a lawyer, giving you the opportunity to audit your website and bring it into compliance, avoiding a lawsuit altogether. However, we recommend not waiting for threats to arrive in your inbox to get started on optimizing your website. Because ADA compliance can be tricky and, at times, tedious, working with an ADA website accessibility specialist can save you time and money. A digital accessibility expert can run an audit on your site, make recommendations, and do the heavy lifting of optimizing your website for accessibility – at a much more affordable rate than hiring a lawyer to fight an accessibility lawsuit.

Tax Credit Eligibility and Filing

Any small business that made the effort to accommodate people with disabilities may be eligible for the Disabled Access Credit. Other credits and deductions that fall under ADA accessibility compliance include the Barrier Removal Tax Deduction and Work Opportunity Tax Credit. There are, however, certain requirements your small business must meet to take advantage of the Disabled Access Credit. As defined by the IRS, an eligible small business must have (1) earned no more than $1 million and (2) had 30 or fewer full-time employees in the given tax year. That’s it – just two requirements. The tax credit will cover up to 50 percent of expenses related to ADA compliance, including making improvements to your website. One catch, however, is that these expenses must fall between $250 and $10,000 for the tax year. The good news is that you can claim this tax credit each year you spend money on accessibility improvements. Because many of the W3C guidelines can also help you improve your website’s performance on search engine results pages (SERPs), this means you are also potentially shaving costs from your digital marketing budget. Two birds, one stone, right? To claim these accessibility-related deductions, you can fill out an IRS form 8826. Per form 8826, reasonable and necessary expenditures must fall under any of these four categories:
  • Removal of barriers preventing access to your business by individuals with disabilities
  • Implementation of audio alternatives, such as providing qualified sign language interpreters for the hearing impaired
  • Implementation of text alternatives such as taped texts and text-to-speech for the visually impaired
  • Modification of equipment or devices for people with disabilities
To make sure your expenses qualify under the Disabled Access Credit and to avoid any snafus with the IRS, you should speak with your accountant or tax specialist.

A Few Pointers to Get You Started

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the standard go-to for making your website more accessible to individuals with disabilities. They organize these guidelines under four principles, which say that your website should be: (1) perceivable, (2) operable, (3) understandable, and (4) robust. If you want to learn more about what these categories mean, you can read our article here. Here is a short list of things you can do or get started on to make your website ADA compliant:
    • Provide alternatives for time-based media
    • Include HTML versions of text
    • Have customizable color contrasts and font sizes
    • Optimize your website for keyboard navigation
    • Disable flashing elements
    • Turn off time limits and auto-play features
    • Ensure language is simple and easy to understand
    • Simplify forms
    • Keep your website code up to date
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it does provide a good place to get started.

Reach Out to an ADA Website Accessibility Specialist

Contacting an ADA website accessibility expert is your best bet to keep your business safeguarded against potential compliance lawsuits. In addition to avoiding lawsuits, following website accessibility best practices can boost online exposure, increase revenues, and garner goodwill from the public. You can read more about the additional advantages of having an ADA compliant website here. If you’re concerned about ADA website compliance, reach out to our accessibility experts in Camarillo, CA today. We’ll audit your website to create a concrete plan of action tailored to your business needs.