Reducing taxes is always a topic of interest among US businesses. If you’re a manufacturing company, make sure you take advantage of the Internal Revenue Code Section 199 Domestic Production Activities Deduction (DPAD.)  DPAD’s generous tax deductions make it an appealing option for American manufacturers looking to maximize their income.

What is DPAD?

In 2004, Congress enacted the DPAD as a way to provide tax relief for manufacturers in the U.S., no matter where the goods are sold, and to ensure jobs remained onshore. Subject to certain limitations, manufacturers are allowed a deduction equal to the lesser of:

  • 9% of the taxpayer’s qualified production activities income (“QPAI”);
  • 9% of the taxpayer’s taxable income for the year; and
  • 50% of the taxpayer’s W-2 wages for such year that are properly allocable to domestic production gross receipts (“DPGR”)

QPAI includes receipts from products that have been manufactured, produced, grown, or extracted (MPGE) by the taxpayer in whole, or in significant part, within the United States. In addition to traditional manufacturing, activities can include the production of qualified films, utilities, software development, and U.S. real property construction. 

The deduction is not limited to corporations, but rather any entity engaging in these activities. Pass-through entities should provide information regarding DPAD on the K-1s issued to shareholders, partners or members.

Detailed calculations are required to arrive at net QPAI.  Simply put, after determining the domestic production gross receipts (DPGR), subtract the cost of goods sold, direct expenses and a ratable portion of indirect expenses allocated to these gross receipts (IRC Sec 199(c)(1)).

The challenge is in the allocation of the DPGR and the costs. In order to capture the information necessary for the computation and to maximize your deduction, a modification to your current accounting system may be needed.

The Recent Evolution

Since its issuance, DPAD has been causing an array of confusion among taxpayers and enforcers alike. There has been recent debate between the IRS and district courts over what manufacturing activities are eligible under Section 199. So the looming question is, at what point can a business claim that they are manufacturing?

The loose interpretation of what falls under manufacturing, producing, growing or extracting (MPGE) has catalyzed a slew of businesses claiming to fall under the manufacturing umbrella.

The Wins for Manufacturers

With uncertainties as to what qualifies under MPGE, there have been two recent district court cases ruling against the IRS in favor of businesses claiming repackaging as a qualifying activity.

Dean, Houdini Inc.

Houdini Inc., a company that created gift baskets and gift towers from various items from multiple suppliers, claimed that their use of an assembly line to change the form and function of the various items into one new product fell under the qualifications set forth by DPAD. The IRS fought the claim by saying that minor assembly or repackaging does not qualify as a MPGE activity.

The courts ruled in favor of Houdini, declaring that the assembly line changed the form and function of the various items in its production process. As a result, the IRS released Proposed Reg. Sec. 1.199-3(e)(5) that declared the following activities as non-MPGE: packaging, repackaging, labeling, or minor assembly, by way of adding examples to the existing regulation to help narrow the scope.

Precision Dose Inc.

Days later, another court case arose. Precision Dose, Inc., a company that creates single-dose medications from bulk, was denied their refund under DPAD by the IRS. Precision argued that their product, although derived from bulk items, was unique due to their complex production process. The IRS refuted the claim stating that Precision was merely repackaging and labeling an existing product and therefore failed to qualify as MPGE.

The courts ultimately ruled in favor of Precision, stating that their “complex production process,” which included research, product testing, and unique mixing, qualified them as creating a “distinct” final product. The IRS dropped their appeal.