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What is the MainStreet Guarantee?

We stand by our work.

In the unlikely event of an audit, we’ll reimburse you up to $1,000,000 for any accountant fees or penalties or interest you have to pay to the government due to a MainStreet error.

What happens if I get audited?

We'll step in to support you during the process.

When you work with us, you’re protected by the MainStreet Guarantee: we guarantee you’ll end up in a better financial position by using our services. If you don’t - we’ll cover you up to $1,000,000.

In the unlikely event of an audit – less than 1% of startups even begin an audit process – we'll step in to support you and cover the costs of any accountants, lawyers, or penalties incurred related to credits we helped you claim.

Some other credit processors intentionally do not protect you during audits in order to cut costs – when it comes to tax work, you get what you pay for. We stand by all of our work and will step in to justify the credits claimed on your return.

How does the cash advance work?

We advance your startup a portion of the credits you're owed in real-time for free.

When you sign up for MainStreet and connect your payroll system, we collect and validate information about your business and estimate the credits you've earned.

Once you’re validated, we'll begin to advance you cash at 0% interest against the future claimable credits we're finding for you. You don't pay us back until you're able to claim the credit directly from the government. If you’d like a detailed repayment schedule of your cash advance relative to when you’ll be able to claim these credits, give us a shout - we’re happy to walk you through it.

The cash advances are included for free at no-extra cost in the 20% processing fee we charge on any credits we find and claim for you. We strive to make an accurate estimate  – in the off-chance that we’ve overestimated your credits, we’ll refund you any overpayment and reconcile your cash advance to bring our fees below 20%.

Do I need to have a digital payroll system?

Running payroll manually with an old-school accountant?

Our system and qualification processes rely on real-time access to your payroll program to recommend and apply for tax credits and incentives. If you use an old-school accountant to run your payroll manually every month, we’re happy to recommend some options – drop us a line.

What payroll systems do you support?

I use [insert payroll system here] - can I use MainStreet? Yep. :)

We integrate with Gusto, Rippling, ADP, Paychex, Namely, Trinet, QuickBooks, Sage, OnPay, and dozens more systems. You’ll be able to see the full list of integrations during onboarding. Give us a shout on Intercom if you have any questions, we’ll be able to get you sorted out. 😄

We use Finch to securely connect to your payroll system and only access data required to qualify your startup for tax credits, credit advances, and to develop other MainStreet products. We will never sell or rent your data to a third party, and all data that we collect from you is encrypted securely, both at rest and in transit.

I already have a CPA – don't they claim these credits for me?

We support 175+ credits most accountants don't check for.

These credits are difficult to find and even more difficult to file for. Many accountants and firms don't bother to file for these credits because they're paid per filing, not by the amount of money they save for you. 

It's free to have us qualify your startup, and we play nice with your CPA – come Tax Day, we'll send them the forms to include in your tax filing to get you back what you're owed and answer any of their questions.

Do I need to be profitable to qualify?

Nope! You do not need to be profitable to get cash back.

A majority of the savings discovered by MainStreet can be claimed against payroll taxes, which means you can get cash back from the IRS every time you run payroll. This can be as much as 10% of your gross payroll.

If you are profitable, don't fret! These credits can also be claimed against federal income taxes, so you'll be able to significantly decrease your tax burden come Tax Day. If you’re both profitable and meet eligibility criteria to take credits against payroll taxes, the choice is yours between taking it against payroll or income taxes. 

How much does MainStreet cost?

We only make money when you do.

Our fees will never exceed 20% of savings we find and claim for you. So, if we qualify your business for $100,000 in tax credits, our fee would be capped at $20,000.

How do you guarantee that my fees won’t be above 20%?

Come filing day, we’ll reconcile your prepaid fees and check all the math.

We’ve gotten very good at these estimations. After working with hundreds of these companies to file for these credits and using the data we grab from your payroll system, our algorithms and tax team are able to estimate these tax filings reliably at scale. 

We’ve gotten very good at estimating these credits accurately – in the off-chance that we’ve overestimated your credits, we’ll refund you any overpayment and reconcile your cash advance to bring our fees below 20%.

How does MainStreet work?

Tell us a little bit about your business and connect your payroll – we’ll do the rest. 

After you sign up, we'll connect to your payroll tool to get the information we need about your business and the type of work that you do. We play nice with Gusto, Rippling, ADP, QuickBooks, Justworks, and dozens more.

Based on what you tell us and the data that lives in your payroll system, our team will qualify your startup against hundreds of various tax credits in real-time, every month. These tax credits range from large federal programs to small local programs – when you qualify, we'll do any necessary paperwork for you to include these credits in your yearly tax filing.

Our fees will never exceed 20% of the savings we find you.

Do I qualify for MainStreet?

If your startup is based in the US or employs people in the US, then likely yes 🙂

If your company conducts some type of economic-activity in the US – has employees, contractors, or has some type of outsourced development firm based in the US – then yes, you're likely to be eligible for some number of tax credits. And no, you don't have to be profitable; some credits can be claimed against your payroll taxes, franchise taxes, or sales taxes.

If you’re doing any of the following, you’re likely owed cash back: it’s free to see if you qualify for hundreds of different tax credits and takes less than 20 minutes to sign up: 

  • Raising venture capital from US-based funds or angel investors
  • Hiring engineers, designers, PMs, or scientists to launch a new product
  • Hiring contracted engineering or product design firms
  • Working with a contract research organization (CRO)

If you don’t meet these criteria, you can still create a free profile now – we’ll notify you when new credits are available that might apply to your business.

Is my data safe, secure, and private with MainStreet?

Yes – your data is secured and used only for MainStreet products.

We use Finch to securely auth into your payroll systems and only access data required to qualify your startup for tax credits, credit advances, and to develop other MainStreet products. We will never sell or rent your data to a third party, and all data that we collect from you is encrypted securely, both at rest and in transit.

You can view our terms of service and our privacy policy.

When will I get my first bill?

On the first of the next month after you’re qualified.

Your first bill will be triggered on the first of the month – the same time as your first cash advance – after you’re qualified for one of our supported tax credits.

How long does it take to set up MainStreet?

 It takes less than 15 minutes to get set up with MainStreet.

Onboarding with our self-serve flow takes less than 15 minutes, or we’re happy to walk you through the process live.

For most of our tax credits, we’ll need no more than an hour of additional time when we generate your paperwork to confirm details and make sure you and your accountant understand the credits we’re helping you claim. Easy peasy.

How does this work with my accountant? Can I share this with them so they can make sure it looks good?

Yes! We’ll work with your accountant to get you back what you’re owed.

Come credit filing time, we’ll provide your accountant with all the paperwork and guidance they’ll need to include these credits in your annual or quarterly tax filings. These are credits accountants typically don’t check or file for – they’ll have the opportunity to review all of our work, and we’re happy to work with them if there are any questions before they file.

How is MainStreet different from other R&D tax credit agencies?

Cash advances, cheaper fees, and less of your time – what’s not to love?

We’re not your standard tax preparer. 

We’ll take up less of your time. Most accountants and boutique agencies will take 20 to 40 hours of your time to manually generate the paperwork and R&D studies that protect you in case of an audit. We grab all the data we need programmatically – for most credits, we’ll need less than an hour of your time when it’s time to file to confirm and review our work.

Get the cash you’re owed today instead of in a year. We have access to large debt funds to give you cash advances for the credits you’re earning in real-time – nobody else is able to offer this. Instead of having to wait until Tax Day to get your credits, we’re able to give you access to a portion of the credits you’re owed in real-time at 0% interest. 

Audit support. Some other credit processors intentionally won’t support you during an audit in order to cut costs – when it comes to tax work, you get what you pay for. We stand by all of our work and will step in to justify any claimed credits if the IRS asks.

Hundreds of credits supported. Many accountants – if they check at all – will only qualify you for one or two credits. Our platform supports hundreds of credits that most agencies and CPAs don’t bother looking for because they’re complex to claim.

When do I pay back for the advance?

The advances are due back when you start receiving your tax credits.  

The advance is due back when you start to receive tax credits back from the federal and state governments, but the specifics will largely depend on the filing deadlines and the specific tax credits we're helping you claim, so it’s tough to give a one-size-fits-all answer. 

Give us a shout if you have questions about your specific tax credit advance agreement, we’re happy to walk you through your specific repayment schedule and how that aligns with your tax credit claims.

How do I get the money from the advance in my bank account?

Connect your bank account or debit card via Stripe, easy peasy.

We work with Stripe to manage payouts – in your dashboard, link your bank account or a debit card, after which you'll be able to trigger a withdrawal from your dashboard each month. The transfer can take 3-5 business days depending on your bank and transfer method. 

If you're having issues withdrawing your money or connecting your account, please ping us on Intercom, we're happy to get you sorted ASAP. 🤝

Can I get an advance on credits I've already incurred earlier this year?

Yes! The sooner you sign up, the more advance you’ll get.

We offer advances to bridge the gap between when you qualify and when you actually get back cash from the government. So – the earlier you sign up for MainStreet, the better. We’re also able to offer partial advances for credits already earned earlier in the year depending on which credit we’re helping you claim, give us a shout on Intercom for more information.

What happens if my monthly payroll changes? Can my advance change as well?

Yes! We can adjust your advance and fee structure as your payroll changes.

If your monthly payroll increases, you’ll be eligible to increase your cash advances and estimated fees. All of this information will be available in your dashboard and we’ll notify you in advance of any changes.

If you have any questions, feel free to touch base with someone on our team, we’re happy to walk you through any changes made to your advance and fees.

Do I include contractor payments in my payroll?

Yes! As long as the contractors are located in the US.

If you're paying US-based contractors as part of your startup, you can absolutely include those figures in your monthly payroll estimations. When it's time to put together your paperwork, we'll help you work through the contractor and employee categorizations to make sure everything is properly accounted for.

If I don't want to be part of the credit advance program, can I still use MainStreet to process my tax credits?

Absolutely, but you'll still need to pre-pay your processing fees.

If you'd prefer not to take part of the credit advance program, we can still work with you to file and claim your tax credits. However, you'll still need to prepay your monthly processing fees – 20% of anything we expect to claim for you – in real-time, meaning you'll be cash-flow negative until your credits are processed, which could be many months away. 

Taking the cash is free – we eat the interest payments in order to offer this program –so there's no downside to joining. If the government doesn't approve your credit (which is extremely rare), you'll get a full refund for any processing fees incurred and you'll return the cash we've advanced you, bringing you back to par.

How do you know how much to advance me?

After claiming $40M+ for startups, we’ve gotten very good at estimating.

After working with hundreds of these companies to file for these credits and using the data we grab from your payroll system, our algorithms and tax team are able to estimate these tax filings reliably. 

We’ve gotten very good at estimating these credits accurately – in the off-chance that we’ve overestimated your credits, we’ll refund you any overpayment and reconcile your cash advance to bring our fees below 20%.

Why do I get an advance?

Because money today is better than money tomorrow.

We have access to large debt funds to give you cash advances for the credits you’re earning in real-time – nobody else is able to offer this. Instead of having to wait until Tax Day to get your credits, we’re able to give you access to a portion of the credits you’re owed in real-time at 0% interest. 

If you'd prefer not to take part in the credit advance program, we can still work with you to file and claim your tax credits. However, you'll still need to prepay your monthly processing fees – 20% of anything we expect to claim for you – in real-time, meaning you'll be cash-flow negative until your credits are processed, which could be many months away. 

Taking the cash is free – we eat the interest payments in order to offer this program – so there's no downside to joining. If the government doesn't approve your credit (which is extremely rare), you'll get a full refund for any processing fees incurred and you'll return the cash we've advanced you, bringing you back to par.

Nothing happens when I try to set up Stripe – is it a bug?

Check your pop-up and ad blockers, they’re likely the issue.

If you’ve installed any third-party pop-up or ad blockers, that’s likely the culprit. Disable them and refresh the page, the authorization flow should appear. 

If you’re using Safari, look inside the address bar for the blocked pop-up icon.

If you’re still having issues, give us a shout on Intercom, we’ll be able to help out.

Can I add multiple users to my account?

Not yet, but you can generate a secure link for someone else to connect your payroll system.

We don’t currently support multiple accounts for each company. You can either share your login with your team member, or – if you’d like to give someone else access to connect your payroll system – you can generate a shareable, secure link here.

I have more questions - how can I get in touch?

We’re here to help! Give us a shout on email or Intercom.

We’re here to answer any of your questions – you can schedule time with one of our tax experts here, click the Intercom icon at the bottom right of the page, or email us support@mainstreet.us.

What happens if the government doesn’t approve my request for the credit or the credit is less than MainStreet advanced to me?

In event that your credit is less than our estimate, we’ll reconcile our fees back under 20%.

We’ve gotten very good at estimating these credits accurately – in the off-chance that we’ve overestimated your credits, we’ll refund you any overpayment and reconcile your cash advance to bring our fees below 20%. If we don’t save you anything, we don’t get paid – full stop.

When you work with us, you’re protected by the MainStreet Guarantee: we guarantee you’ll end up in a better financial position by using our services. If you don’t - we’ll cover you up to $1,000,000.

What will happen when it’s time to actually file taxes?

We’ll do the legwork and send you the forms to include in your tax filing.

The nuts and bolts of the process will largely depend on which credits we’re helping you claim – for example, with the federal R&D credit, we’ll prepare and provide your Form 6765 using data collected from your payroll system. You can then review the form with your accountant, who will file it along with your annual tax filing.

When and how will I get the money back from the government?

It largely depends on the specific credit - reach out for more information.

Your payment schedule will overwhelmingly depend on which credits we’re helping your startup claim and how you’re claiming them.

For example – if you’re taking the Federal R&D credit against your payroll taxes, you can start using the credit the quarter after you file your taxes. Some payroll providers will let you use the credits with each payroll cycle to offset payroll taxes, some will have you pay payroll taxes as normal but file the paperwork at the end of each quarter to get a refund back from the government, and some will give you the credit back on your statement each quarter.

We’ve designed MainStreet’s cash advance program to make sure you don’t have to think about the specifics of any payment or repayment – sign up, get cash every month, and we’ll make sure you’re getting back what you’re owed.

If you have any questions about your specific credit schedule, give us a shout on Intercom, we’re happy to walk you through it.

How much of my total credit is MainStreet advancing me?

It depends on the specific credit we’re helping you claim.

The amount we’re able to advance depends on a number of factors, including the specific credit we’re helping you claim and how much you’re approved for. You’ll be able to see how much of each credit is available for advance when you use MainStreet for a particular credit.

If you have any questions about your specific credit advance schedule or qualifications, give us a shout on Intercom, we’re happy to walk you through it.

Can I buy more of my total expected credit for a higher fee at the end of the year?

No, we only have one credit advance program right now.

We’re unable to extend cash advances for more than you’re approved for – if you have questions about other non-dilutive financing options, give us a shout, we have a number of partners that we’ve worked with in the past to help startups scale quicker.

What is my risk of being audited?

Less than 1% of startups are audited, and you’re protected by the MainStreet Guarantee.

Less than 1% of startups even begin an audit process – in the off-chance you’re audited, you’re protected by the MainStreet Guarantee: we guarantee you’ll end up in a better financial position by using our services. If you don’t - we’ll cover any accountant fees and associated penalties you incur up to $1,000,000.

Some other credit processors intentionally do not protect you during audits in order to cut costs – when it comes to tax work, you get what you pay for. We stand by all of our work and will step in to justify the credits claimed on your return.

How can I make sure everything is correct?

We’re happy to spend time with you and your accountant to explain our work.

We’ll always share forms and details with you ahead of time – some paperwork we can file on your behalf, some will be sent to your accountant to be included in your annual tax returns. 

You’ll be kept in the loop every step of the way and we’re happy to walk you through any specifics before filing.

Do I need a full year of payroll to get R&D credits?

Nope! You can claim R&D tax credits with even a month of payroll.

You don’t need a full year of payroll to claim your R&D tax credits. As long as you’ve spent money on what the IRS defines as “Qualified Research Expenses” – that could be employee payroll, a contracted engineer or product design firm, or working with a CRO.

It’s our job to figure this out for you – schedule time with one of our tax credit experts here and we’ll walk you through the entire process.