The government is concerned that many small companies are missing out on generous R&D tax credits. For the last year HMRC have been offering companies an advance assurance scheme to check whether or not their activities qualify before they make a claim. So far over 200 applications for advance assurance have been made.
There is a general misconception that R&D involves scientists in white coats but it should be remembered that R&D may be necessary to resolve a problem with a product or a process.
So some of the work by your engineers or technical staff may qualify as R&D. For Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) the tax credit is 230% of the expenditure on qualifying R&D, and where the company incurs a trading loss, HMRC will provide an immediate cash refund rather than waiting until there is a profit in a future period.
By applying for advance assurance the company’s R&D claim will not be subject to an HMRC enquiry and HMRC will then accept the first three years of claims.
Companies eligible to apply for advance assurance:
- turnover below £2m
- fewer than 50 employees
- no previous R&D claims
Then claim “patent box” in respect of your innovation
If the R&D results in a product or process that can be patented there is a further tax break available. The “Patent Box”, introduced in 2013, will provide a 10% rate of tax on profits derived from that product or process.