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How Can My Business Claim R&D Tax Relief?

Gary Green
Gary Green
May 21, 2019

There are two schemes for claiming R&D relief, depending on the size of the company or organisation.

When claiming R&D relief, you can apply via the Small or Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) scheme. Or, if you have a large company, you can apply to the Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) scheme.

In general, a project qualifies as R&D if:

  • It seeks to achieve an advance in science or technology.
  • The research is relevant to the business.
  • The business is of a trading nature as distinct from someone working in a profession or vocation.

HMRC’s guidelines state that the activity must contribute directly to seeking the advance in science or technology or must be a qualifying indirect activity.

The R&D must be related to the companies’ trade or intended trade.

Any qualifying costs for claiming R&D tax relief must be of a revenue nature. However, capital costs relating to R&D work may qualify for R&D capital allowances using a separate procedure.

Qualifying revenue costs include:

  • Staff costs (including direct and externally provided) - staff actively engaged in carrying out?R&D.
  • Materials consumed or transformed in the R&D process.
  • Utilities - power, water, fuel used directly in carrying out?R&D.
  • Software - computer software used directly in the?R&D.

HMRC will generally accept any reasonable method for calculating amounts that need to be apportioned between relating to R&D and non-R&D expenditure.

In order to make a claim, businesses need to perform a detailed review of all their activities and isolate all expenditure relating to R&D projects.

Costs that cannot be included:

  • Capital expenditure, including the cost of land; although other reliefs may be available.
  • Expenditure on the production and distribution of goods.
  • Payments for the use and creation of patents and trademarks.

Finally, if you have received a grant towards a project that is notifiable under State Aid you can’t get relief under the R&D scheme. Your grant provider should be able to provide this information.

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