Research and Development can be basically defined for tax relief purposes as:
Seeking an advance in science OR technology
Activities undertaken which aim to achieve the advance by resolving scientific OR technological uncertainties
If a particular advance has been made but details are not publicly available, if for example it is a trade secret, then work to achieve the advance can still be an advance that qualifies as R&D for tax purposes.
It could therefore be the case that two rival companies have developed virtually the same product independently of each other but both qualify for R&D tax relief.
Frequently asked questions about Research and Development (R&D)
What is R&D (Research and Development)?
Research and Development (R&D) reliefs support companies that work on innovative projects in science and technology. It can be claimed by a range of companies that seek to research or develop an advance in their field. It can even be claimed on unsuccessful projects.
You may be able to claim Corporation Tax relief if your project meets the definition of R&D.
Can sole traders and partnerships claim R&D (Research and Development)?
No – Only companies liable for Corporation Tax can claim through the scheme.
How far back can I claim R&D (Research and Development) tax relief?
You can claim for the last two accounting periods of the company.
What type of projects count as R&D (Research and Development)?
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.
What are the different types of R&D (Research and Development) relief?
There are different types of R&D relief, depending on the size of your company and if the project has been subcontracted to you or not.
Small and medium sized enterprises (SME) R&D Relief