The R&D credit was made permanent in the Tax Extender Bill of 2015. It was also made more accessible to start-up businesses that have not yet generated taxable income.
Credit may be used against AMT: A business with less than $50 million in gross receipts is now able to use the R&D credit to offset AMT. This helps a business that has qualifying expenditures, but was formerly barred from getting a benefit due to AMT limitation.
Start-ups may use R&D credit against payroll tax liability: A start-up may have significant R&D expenditures, but no taxable income. Now, these companies may offset up to $250,000 per year in payroll tax liabilities with the R&D credit. The company must be in the first five years in which it has gross receipts, and those gross receipts must be less than $5 million.