May 3, 2024

How to Claim Research and Development R&D Tax Credit Calculation


The United Kingdom government offers a significant financial incentive for businesses engaged in research and development (R&D) activities.

These R&D Tax Credits can be a powerful tool to reduce your corporation tax bill, boost cash flow, and fuel further innovation. 

Do you engage with R&D activities in your business? Do you want to know of the different tax credits available for it?

Well, in this blog post, I’m going  to equip you with the right knowledge to navigate the R&D tax credit calculation and claim process in the UK.

So buckle up, let’s dive in further.

What Are R&D Tax Credits?

R&D Tax Credits are a form of corporation tax relief awarded to companies that invest in developing new products, processes, or services. 

They essentially reward companies for undertaking innovative activities that carry a degree of technological uncertainty.

Qualifying businesses can claim a tax credit worth a percentage of their R&D expenditure, effectively reducing their overall corporation tax liability.

The Objective of R&D Tax Credits

The primary goal of the R&D tax credits scheme is to encourage and support businesses that engage in risky or innovative projects, even if those projects do not succeed.

By reducing the financial risk associated with R&D activities, the government aims to boost the UK's competitiveness in the global market and stimulate economic growth.

Who Qualifies for R&D Tax Credits?

The good news is that R&D Tax Credits are available to a wide range of businesses in the UK, regardless of size or industry.

To qualify for R&D tax credits, your project must meet certain criteria set out by HMRC, including seeking advancement in science or technology and facing technical uncertainties.

Here are some general eligibility criteria:

  1. Be a UK Limited Company: You must be a UK limited company subject to Corporation Tax.
  2. Carry Out Qualifying R&D Activities: Your company should have carried out qualifying research and development activities.
  3. Spending on R&D Projects: You must have spent money on these projects using either internal PAYE resources or a third party.
  4. Seek Advancement in Science or Technology: Your R&D project should aim to seek advancement in science or technology.
  5. Face Technical Uncertainties: The project must involve overcoming technical uncertainties or challenges.
  6. Commercial Innovation: The R&D work should be considered commercially innovative.
  7. Not Readily Available Elsewhere: The science or technology incorporated in your project should not be readily available in your industry.
  8. Relate to Your Company’s Trade: The findings from the R&D work should relate to your company’s trade, and you must intend to use them for your business.
Child Tax Credit
Child Tax Credit

The Benefits of Claiming R&D Tax Credits

I’m always of the belief that you should never pay more tax than you should. 

And so taking advantage of R&D tax credits (especially when you qualify for it) can significantly impact your business's bottom line. 

Some of the main benefits include:

  • Reduced Corporation Tax Bills: Companies can deduct an extra percentage of their R&D costs from their yearly profit, on top of the normal 100% deduction, reducing their Corporation Tax.
  • Cash Credits for Loss-making Companies: If your business is not yet profitable, you might be eligible to receive R&D tax credits as a cash payment, providing vital funding to support your development projects.
  • Increased Cash Flow: The tax credit acts as a financial injection, improving your company's cash flow and overall financial health.
  • Funding for Future Innovation: The financial boost provided by R&D Tax Credits allows businesses to continue pushing the boundaries of innovation and explore new development projects.

Identifying Qualifying R&D Activities

When identifying qualifying Research and Development (R&D) activities for the purpose of R&D Tax Credits in the UK, it’s essential to adhere to the guidelines set by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). 

Let me give you a summary of the guidelines for your understanding.

Here’s a comprehensive breakdown:

1. Qualifying Projects: To qualify for R&D tax reliefs, activities must be part of a structured project aimed at achieving an advance in a qualifying field of science or technology. The project should be designed to resolve specific scientific or technological uncertainties.

2. Fields of Science or Technology: The project must contribute to a qualifying field. This includes a wide range of sciences and technologies, but the work must aim to extend the overall knowledge or capability in that field, not just the company’s own state of understanding.

3. Technological Uncertainties: Qualifying activities are those that seek to overcome technological uncertainties. This means challenges where the solutions are not readily deducible by a competent professional in the field.

4. Advancing Knowledge: The activities should aim to create an advancement in the overall field. This doesn’t necessarily mean inventing something new, but could involve significant improvements to existing technologies or processes.

5. R&D Activities and Costs: Qualifying costs can include staff wages, subcontractor fees, materials, and utilities consumed or transformed by the R&D process. It’s important to accurately identify and record these costs as they relate to qualifying activities.

6. Documentation and Compliance: HMRC expects detailed records that demonstrate how the project meets the qualifying criteria. This includes documenting the technological uncertainties faced and the R&D activities undertaken to overcome them.

7. Claiming the Credit: To claim the credit, you must submit a comprehensive report with your tax return that outlines your qualifying R&D activities, the technological uncertainties you’ve addressed, and the advancements achieved.

8. Ongoing Evaluation: It’s recommended to regularly review and evaluate your R&D activities to ensure they align with HMRC’s guidelines and to make the most of the tax reliefs available.

In summary, not all innovation qualifies for R&D Tax Credits. Only those activities that genuinely seek to resolve technological uncertainties and contribute to scientific or technological advancements in a structured project setting will meet HMRC’s strict criteria for qualification. 

It’s crucial to maintain thorough documentation and seek professional advice to ensure compliance and maximise the potential benefits of R&D tax reliefs.

How to Claim Research and Development R&D Tax Credits

The claim process for R&D tax credits involves several key steps, from preparation to submission. Being able to understand this process can significantly impact the success of your claim.

Preparation: Documents and Information Needed

Before you begin the claim process, gather all necessary documentation and information. 

This includes detailed records of R&D projects, financial reports showcasing R&D expenditure, and any supporting technical documents that explain the projects' advancements and challenges.

Research and Development Tax Credits
Research and Development Tax Credits

Filing the Claim: Detailed Instructions

  1. Review eligibility: Ensure your projects meet the criteria for R&D tax credits as defined by HMRC.
  2. Compile R&D costs: Identify all R&D-related expenses, including staff costs, subcontractor fees, materials, and software, that qualify for the credit.
  3. Prepare technical report: Write a report that describes each R&D project, the scientific or technological uncertainties involved, and how these were overcome.
  4. Complete the R&D tax relief claim form: Fill in the CT600 form (Company Tax Return) and include the R&D tax relief claim. You may need to submit an additional information form (R&D) to provide further details about your R&D activities.
  5. Submit your claim to HMRC: Send your completed claim to HMRC, either online or by post, including your company tax return, the R&D claim, and the technical report.

Deadlines and Timelines for Claiming

Claims for R&D tax relief must be made within two years of the end of the accounting period in which the R&D expenditure was incurred.

It's important to be aware of these timelines to ensure you don't miss out on the opportunity to claim.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Claiming R&D Tax Credits

When claiming R&D tax credits, businesses often encounter pitfalls that can lead to rejected claims or reduced benefits. 

I think it would be best if I give you a heads up on this pitfalls so you can avoid them.

They include:

  • Overlooking eligible activities: Many companies fail to recognise all the activities that qualify for R&D tax credits, such as preliminary research or failed projects.
  • Insufficient documentation: Lacking detailed records of R&D activities and expenditures can result in an inability to substantiate the claim.
  • Misunderstanding the claim process: Misinterpretations of the eligibility criteria or claim process can lead to errors in the application, delaying or jeopardising the claim.

Partnering with ASWATAX for R&D Tax Credit Solutions

Based on everything I’ve said so far I believe you will agree with me that the process of claiming R&D tax credits is intricate and governed by stringent HMRC guidelines. 

Working with specialised accountants like ASWATAX is thereby crucial because we possess the expertise to navigate these complexities. Our team will ensure that your claim is robust, compliant, and maximises your rightful benefits.

Some of the key areas we can help you with are;

  1. Tailored Solutions for Your Unique Needs: At ASWATAX, we understand that each business has unique challenges and opportunities. We provide personalised solutions that align with your specific R&D activities, helping you identify qualifying expenditures and optimise your tax relief claims.
  2. Ensuring Timely and Accurate Submissions: Deadlines are critical when it comes to R&D tax relief claims. Our professionals at ASWATAX are dedicated to maintaining meticulous records and ensuring timely submissions, so you never miss out on the opportunity to claim what you’re entitled to.
  3. Comprehensive Support and Guidance: From initial assessment to filing the claim, ASWATAX stands by your side. We offer end-to-end support, including documentation preparation, dealing with HMRC inquiries, and providing guidance on how to structure your R&D activities for future claims.
  4. Maximising Your R&D Investment: Investing in R&D can be a significant financial commitment. ASWATAX helps you leverage the R&D tax credit scheme to its fullest, ensuring that your investment yields the best possible financial return and supports the continued innovation and growth of your business.
Best UK Tax Advisor
Best UK Tax Advisor


R&D tax credits are a powerful tool for businesses dedicated to innovation and development. 

By understanding how to navigate the claim process and identify qualifying activities, companies of all sizes can significantly benefit from these incentives.

Properly leveraging R&D tax credits can not only provide financial relief but also encourage ongoing investment in research and development, fostering a culture of continuous innovation.

Whether you're refining existing products or breaking new ground in your industry, R&D tax credits are designed to support your endeavours.

Ensure your business takes full advantage of these opportunities to fuel growth and maintain a competitive edge.

Meet Omar

Omar is a Chartered Tax Advisor (a.k.a an expert on tax issues) and founder of ASWATAX. He regularly shares his knowledge and best advice here in his blog and on other channels such as LinkedIn.
Book a call today to learn more about what Omar and ASWATAX can do for you.

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