Research & Development Relief

The official definition set out in the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) Guideline s that R&D takes place for tax purposes when a project seeks to achieve an advance in science or technology through the resolution of scientific or technological uncertainty.

This definition means that, as well as scientific research, R&D can also include development work and design and engineering that involves overcoming difficult technological problems – for example, creating new products or processes or improving existing ones.  In addition, the following may also qualify as R&D:

  • Attempts to replicate a particular advance in science or technology which has already been made or attempted but where the details are not readily available (for example because it is a trade secret) – but not routine copying, analysis or adaptation of an existing product, process, service or material.
  • Work which takes place alongside production which seeks to improve, optimise or otherwise resolve uncertainties.
  • Unsuccessful projects – R&D can still take place where the advance in science or technology sought by a project is not achieved or fully realised – indeed, that demonstrates the existence of uncertainty.

There is no minimum or maximum level for an R&D claim (save for an overall cap of €7.5m on total state aid received per project under the SME scheme).  Provided all of the qualifying conditions are met, and that the company incurs qualifying expenditure, then relief can be claimed.

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