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frequently asked questions

Do you have a question about R&D tax relief?

Is your innovative company missing out on R&D tax credits to fund essential research and development projects to continue growth? Many companies are missing out on claims because they are unaware R&D tax credits exist, they are deterred by the complexity of the process or they believe the misconception that the scheme is solely for science and tech businesses.

Fear not! Our specialist team have provided answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about R&D tax relief below. If you would like more detail or have a more specific question, please get in touch! Our team will be happy to help.

What is R&D tax relief?

Research and Development (R&D) Tax Relief and Credits support companies that work on innovative projects in science and technology. The scheme is applicable to companies that are creating or developing new products or processes or changing existing products and processes in an appreciably improved way, for example, so that the process is faster, the product cheaper to produce or the method or material used more efficient.

Any type of company can apply for the relief provided it is taking a risk by trying to resolve scientific or challenging technical uncertainties which are not easily deducible by a competent professional, which means that finding a solution is complex.

What projects qualify for R&D tax relief?

The work that qualifies for R&D relief must be part of a specific project to make an advance in science or technology. It cannot be an advance within a social science – like economics – or a theoretical field – such as pure maths. The project must relate to your company’s trade – either an existing one, or one that you intend to start up based on the results of the R&D. To get R&D relief you need to explain how a project:

  • looked for an advance in science and technology
  • had to overcome uncertainty
  • tried to overcome this uncertainty
  • could not be easily worked out by a professional in the field

Your project may research or develop a new process, product or service or improve on an existing one.

I do not work in the scientific sector – can I still claim?

There are no restrictions on the sector or type of business that can qualify provided they meet the claim criteria. The R&D scheme supports any company working on innovative projects. Common sectors with companies already benefiting from the scheme include: Adhesives, Architecture, Construction, Design, Electronics, Engineering, Environmental, Food Manufacturing, Lighting, Medical, Packaging, Plastics, Printing, Software and IT and Textiles.

Can you claim if you are a large company?

Yes, large companies can claim a Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) for working on R&D projects.

RDEC replaced the large company scheme in April 2016.

RDEC can also be claimed by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who have been subcontracted to do R&D work by a large company or who have received a grant or subsidy for their R&D project.

How much could my benefit be worth?

The SME R&D tax relief scheme allows you to deduct an extra 130% of qualifying costs from your yearly profits, as well as your normal 100% deduction, totalling 230%. If your company is making a loss, you can claim a tax credit worth up to 14.5% of the surrenderable loss.

Large companies can claim a Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) for working on R&D projects. The RDEC is a tax credit, and is 13% of your qualifying R&D expenditure.

What qualifies as SME under the scheme?

You can claim SME R&D tax relief if you’re a company with:

  • less than 500 staff
  • a turnover of under 100 million euros or a balance sheet total under 86 million euros

You may need to include linked companies and partnerships when you work out if you’re a SME.

Can I claim if I am a soletrader?

Unfortunately, it is unlikely you can claim if you are a soletrader. Sole traders do not pay UK Corporation Tax and, as a result, they cannot claim R&D tax credits. R&D tax credits are form of Corporation Tax relief and so — if you’re a sole trader — you’re not registered for UK Corporation Tax and cannot make a claim.

Can I claim if my project has been unsuccessful?

Great news! R&D tax relief can even be claimed on unsuccessful or aborted projects. Provided you have tried to or successfully overcome uncertainty, there’s a strong basis for a claim.

Can I claim if I am not a limited company?

Unfortunately, the scheme is only applicable to limited companies. You must be a limited company and registered to pay corporation tax in the UK to receive R&D tax relief.

What costs qualify under the scheme?
  • Staff costs. You can claim the salaries of staff directly involved with the R&D project
  • Consumable items
  • Software
  • Prototypes
  • Externally Provided Workers (EPWs)
  • Subcontractors
  • Research Contributions
  • Clinical Trial Volunteer Costs
What costs cannot be claimed under the scheme?

Costs that cannot be claimed for include:

  • the production and distribution of goods and services
  • capital expenditure
  • the cost of land
  • the cost of patents and trademarks
  • rent or rates
What is the timeframe/How far back can you claim?

The research and development (R&D) tax credit claim time limit is two years from the end of the accounting period the claim relates to. Before this period ends you must submit a claim for any qualifying expenditure that you’ve identified during that period.

How long does it take to receive the tax credit?

HMRC aim to make payments within 28 days for SMEs claiming research and development (R&D) tax credits. Corporation Tax repayments can be much quicker, and sometimes come through within a week of your claim being filed.

How will I receive my benefit?

R&D is a Corporation Tax (CT) tax relief that may reduce your company’s tax bill if your company is liable for CT or, in some circumstances, you may receive a payable tax credit.

Claiming R&D tax relief sounds like a lot of work – where will I find the time?

Our technical specialists do all the work that goes into claiming R&D tax credits so that you don’t have to. We know your time is precious, so in asking the right questions to assess your eligibility to claim, we make the process as easy as possible.

We would love to find out more about your business and how we might be able to help you compile a Research and Development tax claim. Please contact us today to book a consultation with our team.

How is the R&D tax relief scheme changing in 2023?

Following the review of R&D tax reliefs launched at Budget 2021, the government announced the following measures, which will generally apply for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 April 2023:

  • Extending qualifying expenditure
  • Tackling abuse and improving compliance
  • Measures to address anomalies and unforeseen consequences

For full information on these measures please read our news article: (link here)