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Projects that count as R & D for tax purposes

Source: HM Revenue & Customs | | 17/01/2018

Research and development (R&D) tax credits were introduced for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in 2000 and for large companies in 2002. R&D credits are a corporation tax relief to encourage innovation and enterprise within the UK economy.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) can claim SME R&D tax deductions totalling 230% of any qualifying R&D expenditure (from 1 April 2015). It is also possible to claim a tax credit if the company is loss making.

It is important to be aware that the rules for claiming R&D tax relief are very generous and that from a tax point of view many business activities can qualify for relief rather than just those involved in very specific scientific type research.

To qualify for R&D relief you need to explain to HMRC how a project:

  • looked for an advance in science and technology;
  • had to overcome uncertainty;
  • tried to overcome this uncertainty;
  • couldn’t be easily worked out by a professional in the field.

R&D tax relief can be used by companies that are developing new or improved systems, processes, services or products in the areas of technology or science. The R&D project in question must relate to the company’s trade and can be used by an existing company or by new start-ups.

Planning note

Small companies that haven’t claimed R&D before and have an annual turnover of less than £2 million and less than 50 employees can apply for Advance Assurance. This allows small companies to be able to be sure they can claim R&D tax credits before embarking on significant expenditure. Once accepted, HMRC will allow claims without further enquiries for the first 3 accounting periods of claiming R&D relief.

If you undertaking R&D and have not claimed this relief in the past, please call for more information.



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