Businesses can benefit from research and development tax relief

Investment in Research & Development (“R&D”) is more important than ever to the UK as the Government look to turn the UK into an innovative powerhouse to support the recovery from the pandemic.

Careful planning is paramount to ensure that this R&D benefit is utilised in the most efficient manner

COVID-19 support measures are coming to an end and many companies will look at options of how they can positively impact their cashflow. A key consideration for companies should be R&D tax relief - a generous relief for companies who continue to invest in innovative activities.

Broadly, to qualify for R&D tax relief, the project must seek to achieve an advance in science or technology through the resolution of scientific or technological uncertainties. The R&D definition can make companies think that the activities they undertake are not qualifying, however in our experience clients often do not realise the potential for R&D in their work.

For companies that qualify, R&D tax relief can result in significant tax savings or cash repayments. The benefit of R&D can vary considerably depending on how the relief is applied. Careful planning is paramount to ensure that this R&D benefit is utilised in the most efficient manner. There is a misconception that R&D tax relief is only beneficial to profitable companies, however, loss making companies have a range of options too, including the potential for cash repayments.

The rate of Corporate Tax is rising to 25 per cent in 2023 – making the relief even more valuable. Planning around R&D tax relief is crucial to achieve the best outcome.

The savings come at a significant cost to Government and as a result, legislation is regularly introduced to counter abuse of the relief. Recent figures suggest £311m is overclaimed through errors and fraud annually. To tackle this, HMRC are employing a greater workforce to scrutinise R&D claims and we are anticipating an increase in HMRC enquiries for R&D claims.

The UK Government are incentivising companies to increase investment in innovation and attract talent to the UK and have recently announced plans to widen the scope of qualifying costs but will seek to restrict relief to UK R&D activities only. This, coupled with the complexities and restrictions when performing calculations, highlights the importance of an R&D tax advisor who understands your business and can help you navigate the complex world of R&D tax relief.

Azets’ team of trusted business advisors are on hand to offer R&D tax relief advice and assist companies making a claim for R&D tax relief. To discuss your business activities and a potential R&D tax relief claim, contact [email protected] or call 01224 581 288.