This interview is part of Meet Our Tax Experts, a series where we’ll hear from Ardius CPAs and why they’re passionate about R&D tax credits for small businesses.
Our JD and R&D Tax Specialist Jay Manon has a long and varied career: he started as a lawyer before diving into R&D tax credits for large companies at Ernst & Young (EY), Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), and Squar Milner (which was recently acquired by BakerTilly) and now for small businesses at Ardius. Read on to learn why he finds working with small businesses so impactful and what makes Ardius’ approach unique.
Tell us a bit about your professional background before joining Ardius.
I’m a lawyer by trade. I got into practicing law because I liked its project-oriented nature, and because it involves a lot of writing.
In 1998, I started working for PwC and learned about R&D tax credits. I was hooked, and especially enjoyed interviewing clients to determine what kinds of R&D they were doing. My first client was Hughes in their Space and Communications and Hughes Technical Services Company divisions which created things like missile systems and satellites. It was fascinating to hear the engineers talk about their work, like figuring out how to dissipate heat from electrical components in space. I loved getting early exposure to all kinds of technology – like hearing about Bluetooth for the first time in 2002. It sounded like a bad dental condition!
That role also allowed me to flex some of my legal skills, like interviewing and writing – which are under appreciated in accounting. Being able to explain things and ask questions that get to the right information are really valuable. People in accounting don’t always learn those skills, so this work gave me many mentorship opportunities. I led teams in completing larger R&D projects.
What made Ardius stand out to you from other firms or opportunities?
I spent part of my career at EY, where Joshua Lee was my senior manager. I went back to practicing law after that, but got back in touch with Joshua a few years later and he invited me to join Ardius.
Joshua is a very upbeat, supportive person and I knew the environment at Ardius would be the same. I also knew that knowledge sharing would be a big part of the company. At EY, Josh made sure that his team had a deep technical understanding of the tax code. They all knew the ins and outs of the R&D tax credit and understood its complexity.
At Ardius, I love sharing my own knowledge by training and mentoring colleagues. Recently, a new colleague came in not knowing about R&D tax credits. A couple months later, he was explaining a complicated part of the credit in a leadership meeting. Moments like those are rewarding.
What’s the difference between working on R&D tax credits with large companies and small businesses?
People innovating at small businesses have a unique excitement. When you own a small business, it’s kind of your baby, and you’re so proud and excited about the things you’re developing.
Why is the work Ardius is doing important?
Small businesses have to be so focused on the bottom line – it’s a matter of survival. Alleviating tax burdens helps them succeed. Reducing payroll taxes enables them to increase their investment in their products or hire new employees.
It’s rewarding to see the significance of my work so directly, and witness how personal it is for small business owners. The impact of receiving the tax credits can be even bigger for them than it is for large companies. If you have 10 employees and your tax credit allows you to hire three or four more, that’s a big increase.
What distinguishes Ardius to its customers from other firms offering similar services?
We have two different groups that collaborate closely. The quantitative side calculates the numbers for customers’ applications, while the qualitative side ensures the calculations are defensible in case of an audit. My role is leading the qualitative team, but I work closely with the quantitative team all the time.
Our technology automates much of the R&D analysis process, which is typically long and painstaking. That allows our teams to apply their time and attention to ensure a company receives the biggest credit it is eligible for.
For our customers, this combination of expertise and technology means a more efficient, holistic approach. Instead of one person analyzing an issue, it’s always a collaborative effort. People on our team with different employment backgrounds and perspectives work together to reach the best solution. We always do the work to substantiate the numbers we reach, which means clients are prepared if they’re ever audited.
What interests and passions do you have outside of your work?
I enjoy spending time with family, and one of my favorite things to do is travel with them. Unfortunately, I haven’t been out of the country for several years but when we can, we love going to new places. My wife has always wanted to go to Australia so that is definitely on the travel bucket list.
Are you looking for a partner to navigate the R&D tax credit process with? Get in touch with us!