Understanding R&D Tax Credits

We get a lot of questions about making R&D (Research & Development) Tax claims, often seen as a complex process, leaving many businesses unsure of where to start. So we’ve put together a list of R&D Tax Credit FAQs to help.
What is R&D tax relief?

R&D tax relief was put in place when the government introduced the R&D tax relief in 2000 as an incentive to UK businesses to invest in advancements in the fields of Science and Technology. It rewards businesses across any sector by allowing them to reclaim some of their R&D expenditure.

Are R&D expenses tax deductible?

R&D claims aim to either reduce the amount of profits subject to corporation tax or increase tax losses. You’ll need to work out all of your qualifying expenditure for the project in order to claim.

How to qualify for R&D tax credits?

To qualify for the scheme, UK companies must have R&D projects that aim to work towards scientific or technological advancements in new or enhanced products, services or processes in their field.

Are R&D tax credits government aid?

The SME scheme is classed as a ‘notifiable State Aid’, so if you’ve already received a State Aid grant for this project, it may affect your claim.

How much can we get?

How much you can claim for depends on your company size. SMEs can claim an effective 14-33% on qualifying costs. For large companies, a tax relief credit of effectively 8.8% is available under the Research and Development Expenditure Credit scheme.

What types of activities qualify for R&D tax credits?

For a project to qualify, it must meet certain criteria. This includes R&D that aims to overcome technological uncertainties, advancements in Science and Technology and a competent professional in the field doesn’t have the current knowledge or capabilities to deduce what your project is aiming to achieve. This could be new or enhanced products, services or processes.

Can I claim for R&D even if I’m loss making?

Absolutely – the scheme is designed to help anyone who’s made R&D expenditures towards science & technology advancements. If a you’re a non-profitable business, you’ll receive a cash sum.

Project isn’t finished yet. Can I still claim?

The purpose of the scheme if to reward innovation, not just successful or completed projects. If the project’s costs fall within the financial year you want to claim for and the eligibility criteria are met, then a claim can be made. If the project is ongoing there is potential for past, as well as future claims.

Can I claim for failed projects?

Yes – the purpose of the scheme is not the outcome of the project,but the investment the company made towards technological advancements and intent that matters.

Do overseas projects qualify?

Location of the R&D activity doesn’t affect the eligibility of a company for R&D tax relief. If the company is paying UK corporation tax, it may incur qualifying costs that are linked to overseas R&D activities.

Will HMRC investigate my R&D tax claim?

Only a small amount of claims become subject to an HMRC inquiry, and if this is the case for yourselves, using a specialist R&D claims expert can help increase your chances of success.

How do R&D tax claims work with subcontractors?

Although subcontracting can be a more complex area, you can still make an R&D tax claim. Eligibility may be affected by the contract details and who’s undertaking the risk and uncertainly of the project activities.You can claim for 65% of payments made to the subcontractor unless you’re part of the same group.

Are R&D Tax relief rates different for SMEs and Larger businesses?

R&D tax rates differ depending on your company size. SMEs under the scheme are classed as those with fewer than 500 employees and with an annual turnover of €100 million or a balance sheet under €86 million. SMEs can reclaim a higher % than large companies – recovering up to 33.5% of eligible costs.Larger companies, as of April 2016 under the Above the Line Credit Method, have 11% taxable credit available under the Research and Development Expenditure Credit scheme.

Can charities or sole traders claim for R&D tax relief?

No – Only companies liable for Corporation Tax can claim through the scheme (limited companies).

Do grants affect my R&D claim application?

Possibly – Grants or subsidies may result in a company having to claim either partly or entirely through the Research and Development Expenditure Credits (RDEC) scheme.If your grant comes under the umbrella of ‘State Aid’ and was for the purpose of the R&D involved in the claim, your project will not be eligible for the SME scheme.

How far back can I claim for R&D tax relief?

You may claim for qualifying expenses made in the last two accounting periods of the company.

How are R&D tax credits paid?

Depending on whether a company is profitable or not, R&D tax credits can be paid in one of three ways; a Corporation Tax rebate, cash credits, or an enhanced expenditure that a business may carry forward against future profits.

What is the claims process?

To complete the claims process successfully, you’ll need to prove your eligibility and work out how much you can claim. Qualifying revenue costs include staff wages, utilities, consumables, materials and subcontractors. Capital expenditure is a complex area for which you may also be able to claim, but it’s wise to seek advice about this – speak with a specialist advisor from R&D Tax Solutions to learn more. Claims need to be submitted to HMRC.

How long do I have to wait before being paid?

Once your claim has been submitted, you should receive your R&D Tax credits within a few weeks. HMRC aims to deal with 95% of claims within 28 days of receipt.

What documentation do I need to prepare if submitting myself?

You’ll need to prepare a report detailing the nature of your project and its eligibility. This includes the advancements sought, the industry uncertainties in this area and why the knowledge sought wasn’t already deducible by a competent expert in the field. Your report will also need to detail the qualifying expenses and the calculation of the R&D tax relief sought.

Do you have a minimum fee?

Our minimum fee is £2’000 however we would never encourage you to make a claim that isn’t beneficial to your company. Once your accounts and project details have been sent to us we will advise you accordingly. If we felt there would be no or very little financial benefit to your company we will let you know. As we work on a contingent basis there will be no fee if there is no financial benefit to your company.

How quickly can you complete my claim?

We aim to review, complete and submit your claim in 2 weeks. When there is an impending deadline we do our best to accommodate. However, this process requires your input and final approval, therefore we are dependent on your availability to discuss the projects with our specialist claims team. (They usually require a couple of hours of your time at the most.)


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