Can we stop calling those generous government tax reliefs “R&D”?

(3 minute read)

Why? Well, I find R&D, which stands for Research and Development, sounds too complex for most businesses. Too much like pharms & chems or rocket science, and it creates a mindset that sets the bar too high in terms of what businesses need to do to qualify.

You see, every business – so long as it’s not a wholesaler – is probably doing some sort of activity that meets the criteria for claiming the incentives. But sadly, a lot of them are missing out, either in full or in part, by not including everything they can. And with up to 33.35% cashback available, that's criminal!

Does your business make something?

R&D incentives can be applied to any business that makes something... anything! This even includes intangible things like software.

The thing you’re making could even be being made elsewhere too.

Only, it’s likely you’re not using the same materials or following the same standards as your competitors. You might be lightweighting, working in differing space constraints and so on.

There are probably so many things that differentiate your product or the processes you use to put it together.

“We’ve made some changes to our product range to make it better”

R&D pretty much comes down to one of two qualifying criteria: 1) you've made some changes/improvements to your product or manufacturing process; and 2) these changes weren't obvious or easy and you didn't know exactly how to make them work from the off.

So, have you ever improved a product? Have you developed one further? If you do any process engineering or value engineering, that counts as R&D too.

Or, if you’re a food and drink manufacturer, for example, you might have had to change something to follow new industry standards (BSs/ISOs) for clean labelling. This is all classed as R&D work.

And if you’ve made improvements and could quite easily say, “Those changes took some thought, some time and some testing,” it’s time for us to talk.

Choosing the right specialist to help you

One of the lines we frequently hear is: “We’ve had six people come and talk to us about R&D, claiming to be 'experts' but this is the first time we've 'got it' and can see why we might have something to claim.”

This is obviously a huge shame for the businesses out there missing out. But here are the four things that make us different, and why our R&D Incentives team is on a roll. These are the “golden 4” in R&D circles:

1)     Technical background – in our R&D leadership team we have Rebecca Prince – an expert in pharmacology and science, Mark Frost is an expert in software and technology and I’m an engineer by background. Our team is full of people who know the industries we work in. We know what we need to find.

2)     Tax qualified – of course, as well as having the industry know-how, I'm also Chartered Tax qualified and we’re part of an award-winning tax team. The Best Practice in the UK.

3)     Experience – I’ve been working in R&D incentives for over 18 years, since the scheme started in 2000. I know how it works. I know the context behind each change. The whole team does too.

4)     HMRC Committee – I’m part of HMRC’s R&D Consultative Committee. I know the changes coming up and input into them. Put simply, I’m a true expert in this area of tax.

Have a question about R&D incentives?

Put the four things above with the fact we’re part of such a forward-thinking business, and we think we make a great team. And if your business is doing anything that hits the criteria set out earlier, we’ll work collaboratively with you to find it and help you make the claim.

If you’ve got a question about R&D incentives or you’d like to chat, please get in touch using the link above.

Chris Knott
Tax Partner

T: +44 (0)7870 420841

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