As accessibility lawsuits begin to grow in numbers it is crucial that all businesses act proactively to provide an accessible digital experience. For small businesses, it can be difficult to fund an accessibility project. However, ignoring website accessibility can add to resource strain further down the line. The cost of settling accessibility lawsuits and website team strain can quickly add up. With the Disabled Access Tax Credit, small businesses can act proactively to avoid these costs.
Small businesses with less than $1M in annual revenue and fewer than 30 employees can benefit from the Disabled Access Tax Credit. This tax credit allows businesses to receive up to a $5k tax credit.
This annual tax credit covers 50% of accessibility costs when a business spends over $250 and under $10,250. This tax credit was introduced in 1994 as IRS Title 26, Section 44. In order to qualify for this tax credit, businesses must file Form 8826.
The qualifying expenses for this tax credit according to the IRS include, but are not limited to,
- Removal of communication, architecture, physical, or transportation barriers preventing an organization from being accessible.
- Provide interpreters or other accessible alternatives to individuals with hearing disabilities.
- Provide qualified readers, taped texts, and other accessible alternatives to individuals with visual disabilities.
- Replace or modify inaccessible equipment.
When it comes to web accessibility, there are usually two approaches. There are businesses that are being proactive and can expand their web accessibility project over time. For these businesses, using the tax credit towards website monitoring can be beneficial. While automated tools can only detect 30-35% of WCAG 2.1 they are a great way to kick off accessibility. Attacking these violations before engaging in a manual audit and certification can cut down on development resources and costs. Since this tax credit is available annually, these businesses can create a roadmap that allows them to attack accessibility in a sustainable manner.
The second path is for businesses that need to upgrade their website’s accessibility immediately. There is a range of reasons a business may need to do this from ADA demand letters to the need for a VPAT. Hiring a reputable web accessibility company to perform a manual audit and certification is the first step these companies should take. After completing this engagement, these companies should continue to monitor their website to ensure their accessibility continues as they update the website.