Clear and accurate record-keeping is immensely important to ensure you don’t miss out on any qualifying expenditure while making an R&D tax claim. Every business operates differently and has a distinct method of record-keeping. That’s why HMRC does not specify a way of record-keeping for R&D tax claim. However, having a complete and clear record can be very helpful in making an R&D tax claim as it will help you provide precise calculations of your qualifying R&D expenditure and minimise the risk of missing out on the incentives.
With years of experience in handling R&D tax claims, we have noticed that the majority of companies overlook the importance of maintaining records, especially the ones claiming R&D incentives for the first time are unaware of the importance of record-keeping for the claim. Having all the records and documents is extremely important in business, and every R&D tax consultant will suggest the same for your future claims. This blog will explain the importance of record keeping for R&D tax claim and provide tips for effective record keeping.
Why is Record Keeping Important?
Record keeping is a must; every company should establish it as a part of their daily business operations. The record-keeping is essential for R&D tax claims because it helps you:
1. Prove eligibility to HMRC
HMRC requires every claimant to provide a record of the amount and time invested in the qualifying research and development projects for R&D tax claim. To make a successful claim, you need to prove your qualifying expenditure to HMRC to validate your claim, and this can be made really easy if you ensure record keeping.
2. Ensure maximised claim value
With a detailed record of every project and expenditure made, you can easily track each and every cost that qualifies for the claim reducing chances of missing out on any expenditure or project.
Which Documents and Records Do You Need to Keep for an R&D Tax Claim?
HMRC does not specify the required documents but demands a summary of your R&D project, uncertainties faced during the project, and a detailed breakdown of R&D expenditure. You can set up a record-keeping process to keep accurate and updated data of all the R&D-related expenditures to make your future R&D tax claims easier. You can also create cloud-based timesheets to record employees’ time spent on R&D projects and track all the research and development-related activities.
For that, you can plan a record-keeping process as follows:
1. Project Details
The first immensely important task is maintaining a list of all your projects specifying all the R&D projects you have worked on over the last accounting period. Keeping an updated list of all R&D projects for an accounting period can save a lot of time in making an R&D tax claim. Even if you are still determining which project is categorised as R&D, keep data of all the projects recorded, whether small or big, so you can later discuss those with your R&D tax consultant.
2. R&D Project Records
Additionally, keep comprehensive notes for all your R&D projects, including what you were trying to achieve, was your project successful, what were challenges faced, and did you take assistance from a competent professional to resolve technical uncertainties faced during an R&D project.
3. Staff Time & Costs
To save yourself from the arduous task of calculating staff time and costs before a claim, you can keep a record of any staff members involved in the R&D projects. These records will be used to calculate apportion of the salary allocated to the R&D tax claim. The documents must include wages, including positions, NIC, bonuses, reimbursed expenses, travel costs, and comprehensive time sheets.
4. Consumable Expenditure
Keep a record and invoices of all the materials, resources and consumables used to carry out research and development projects, including heat, light, water, and materials.
5. Software Costs
Software and software licence, which was bought only for the purpose of research and development, qualifies for an R&D tax claim. Therefore, don’t forget to keep a record of all the software costs, and if the software were partly used for an R&D project, you’d need to apportion the expenditure.
6. Sub-contractor and Externally Provided Worker's Costs
Keep detailed data of all the subcontracted R&D projects dividing it into two categories, i.e. local and overseas, as HMRC has recently announced proposed changes regarding overseas R&D, so it is better to plan your claims accordingly. In addition, keep a record of all the temporarily hired staff that worked on the research and development project.
7. Prototype Expenditure
Keep a record of all the expenditures related to the research projects’ design, development, and testing, including the cost paid to volunteers who took part in clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies.
Need an R&D Tax Claim Specialist’s Help?
If you are conducting eligible R&D activities and planning to make an R&D tax claim, our R&D tax specialists can help you find our eligible projects, dig out hidden qualifying costs to increase claim value and put together your claim.