Companies investing in the advancement of technology by creating integrating systems or developing software are offered valuable tax relief by HMRC. However, most companies don’t claim for software development because they fail to identify which activities and projects qualify for R&D tax relief claims. Software development is the most challenging domain in R&D, and its eligibility is often ambiguous and complicated. Whether software development is part of your core project or it is your core business, it might be eligible for an R&D tax relief claim. Software development usually involves seeking solutions to technological challenges, which inculcates many qualifying activities. To deal with these ambiguous eligibility issues in software development, HMRC provided guidelines addressing all the problems and provide clarity in eligibility criteria.
This blog will enlighten you with qualifying activities for the software development sector and the right way to claim R&D tax relief.
Which activities qualify for the R&D tax relief claim?
Following are the few eligible activities you might be undertaking:
- Resolution of scientific or technological uncertainties
- Analysis and testing to resolve technological uncertainty
- Planning for R&D projects
- Design and development of new advanced technologies
- Creating integration designs
- Finding technological solutions
- Redesigning improved systems using different technologies
- Developing digital applications such as software for communication or entertainment
- Creating new or upgraded data processing solutions to analyse or interpret large, diverse data
- Developing systems to automate complex workflows
- Projects which involve data science
- Blockchain development
- Firmware development
- Neural network development
What doesn’t qualify for an R&D tax relief claim?
- Design and development which does not contribute to scientific or technological advancement
- Analysis and testing which does not resolve scientific or technological uncertainties
- Non-functional testing for confirmatory purposes
- Fault detection and fixing which does not involve technological uncertainties
Things you should know before claiming R&D tax relief for your software development
Software development has been a core focus of HMRC, and the majority of the claims face enquiry in this sector. Following are some guidelines that should be kept in mind while making R&D claims for software development to avoid HMRC’s enquiries.
• Technological advancement is considered an innovation.
For an R&D tax relief claim, you don’t necessarily need to create extraordinary software. Companies often need software to meet their business requirements, so developing software using alternative methods and different approaches can be eligible for R&D tax relief claims. For the eligibility assessment of your project, you need to evaluate if your project has made any technological advancement? How is this software developed? What are the developmental challenges you encountered during this project? Hence any project, whether it is a case management system or customer relationship management software, its eligibility is based on technical aspects of the project, not on the features or functions. Before making an R&D tax relief claim, it is better to review your claim in light of the criteria given in HMRC guidelines for R&D claims.
• R&D tax relief claim for web development
According to HMRC’s software guidelines, UI upgrades that resolve usability challenges and improve performance are likely to be eligible for R&D tax relief claims. However, changes made in layout focused only on upgrading the look of an interface without bringing any improvement in usability might not be eligible for the claim.
• R&D report should be detailed with less jargon
Software development is a complex and diverse field that involves technical terms and jargon, which makes it more challenging to understand. HMRC won’t necessarily have a technical specialist to understand software projects, companies need to provide technical detail to HMRC to eliminate any need for an enquiry.
• Identify boundaries between R&D activities and your wider project
In software R&D tax relief claims, you don’t just need to present your claim clearly and coherently to avoid enquiry, you also need to identify clear boundaries between your R&D activities and the whole project. It is better to consult an R&D tax relief expert for technical advice, and this will help you avoid enquiry by HMRC.
• Consultation from experienced R&D tax relief specialists
Most of the mistakes and errors in R&D claims are made due to poor quality consultation. You can avoid these errors by consulting experienced R&D tax specialists who have successfully made software claims and have a deep understanding of this domain.
The team of R&D tax relief experts at Square Finance can help you claim for your software projects. We have software developers to understand and assess your software projects and to assist you in making an impeccable claim. So we ensure you get maximum relief avoiding any enquiry by HMRC.