Tax Reliefs for Research and Development Expenditure

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1 Tax Reliefs for Research and Development Expenditure

2 Introduction Successive Governments have recognised that encouraging businesses to undertake Research and Development (R&D) activities in the UK is vital for the health of the UK economy and the tax benefits on offer have become steadily more attractive. In 2012/13 approximately 16,000 claims were made and, based on qualifying expenditure of over 13 billion, the value of the enhanced relief given was almost 1.4 billion. Despite this, there are many eligible companies that are not claiming the benefit of these very generous reliefs. There are separate reliefs depending on whether the company is an SME (small or medium-sized enterprise) or a large company. Under the SME scheme, a company can claim a deduction of 225% (230% from 1 April 2015) of the qualifying R&D expenditure in calculating its taxable profits. Additionally, if the R&D claim results in a tax loss, the loss can be surrendered in exchange for a cash payment from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Under the large company scheme, a company can claim a deduction of 130% of the qualifying R&D expenditure in calculating its taxable profits. Alternatively, it can claim an R&D credit of 10% (11% from 1 April 2015) of qualifying expenditure. The credit is included as income in calculating taxable profits and an equal amount is deducted from the company s corporation tax liability giving a post tax benefit from 1 April 2015 of 8.8% of the qualifying expenditure. The credit scheme will be mandatory for large companies from 1 April What is the definition of research & development? Research and development is defined as creative or innovative work in the field of science or technology with a view to extending scientific or technological knowledge and producing new or substantially improved materials, devices, products, processes, systems or services before commercial production starts. The definition distinguishes research and development activity from non-research activity by the presence of an appreciable element of innovation. Additionally, any development work carried out by a company on well established products and processes which does not extend the knowledge base in the relevant industry sector would not be R&D, even if it improves the company s understanding of them.

3 Activities that would normally be included in R&D Experimental, theoretical or other work aimed at the discovery of new knowledge, or the advancement of existing knowledge Searching for applications of that knowledge Formulation and design of possible applications for such work Testing in search for, or evaluation of, product, service or process alternatives Design, construction and testing of prototypes and models and development batches primarily to test R&D hypotheses Design of products, processes, services or systems involving new technology or substantially improving those already produced or installed Construction and operation of prototypes and pilot plants Indirect supporting activities such as maintenance, security, administration and clerical activities and finance and personal services insofar as undertaken for R&D Activities that would normally be excluded from R&D Testing or analysis of equipment or product for the purposes of quality or quantity control Periodic alterations to existing products, services or processes even though these may represent some improvement Operational research not tied to specific research and development activity Cost of corrective action in connection with break-downs during commercial production Legal and administrative work in connection with patent applications, records and litigation and the sale or licensing of patents Activity, including design and construction engineering, relating to the construction, relocation, rearrangement or start-up of facilities or equipment other than those whose sole use is for a particular research and development project Market research

4 What relief is available for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs)? Small and medium-sized companies can claim relief equal to 225% of qualifying research and development expenditure. Therefore, if the company charges to the Profit and Loss Account qualifying R&D expenditure of 30,000 it can deduct an amount of 67,500 ( 30,000 x 225%) in calculating its taxable profits. The tax saved as a result of the enhanced deduction is 7,500. For expenditure incurred from 1 April 2015 relief will be given at the rate of 230%. Conditions required for 225% relief (230% from 1 April 2015) To be able to claim relief the company must be a going concern. The expenditure must satisfy the following four conditions: 1. It must be of a revenue nature 2. It must relate to the company s trade, an extension of that trade, or a trade that will be derived from that expenditure 3. It must relate to staffing costs, consumable items, externally provided workers, certain computer software, power, water or fuel employed directly in relevant R&D 4. The expenditure cannot relate to activities which have been contracted out to the company by another person What is an SME for R&D purposes? To qualify as a small or medium-sized company, it must have during the period in question: - fewer than 500 employees; and - annual turnover not exceeding 100m and/or - gross assets not exceeding 86m

5 Where a company has interests of 25% or more in other enterprises or where itself is owned 25% or more by other enterprises, it may be necessary to take account of employment, turnover and assets of those other enterprises when deciding if it is an SME. In addition, no more than 25% of the claimant company s capital or voting rights can be held by enterprises that are not small or medium-sized. Payment for R&D surrenderable loss If the SME s R&D tax relief gives rise to a trading loss there are two methods available for claiming relief: 1) The loss can be used in the normal way (set sideways against other income from that period, carried back to the preceding accounting period, carried forward against future profits from the same trade or surrendered as group relief). 2) A cash payment can be claimed from HMRC based on any loss still unrelieved after taking into account loss relief claimed (or which could have been claimed) as set out in 1 above up to a maximum of the 225% R&D deduction. The amount of the cash payment that can be claimed is 14.5%. This is equivalent to pence for every 1 spent (33.35 pence for every 1 spent from 1 April 2015). R&D contracted out by or to an SME If an SME contracts out R&D, the SME can generally claim enhanced relief at the rate of 225%/230% on 65% of the payments it makes to the sub-contractor. If an SME undertakes R&D as a sub-contractor, it can claim enhanced relief at the rate of 130% of the qualifying expenditure it incurs if the contractor is a large company or a person who is not eligible for R&D reliefs. Alternatively, the SME can claim the tax credit available to large companies discussed overleaf; from 1 April 2016 this will be the only option available in respect of such expenditure. Advanced Assurance From autumn 2015 small companies making their first claim will be able to obtain advance assurance from HMRC that a project qualifies for relief..

6 What reliefs are available for large companies? For large companies (i.e those not classified as SMEs), relief of 130% is available and is based on the same format as the allowance for SMEs. A claim can only be made in respect of costs on work contracted in if the contractor is another large company or a person who is not eligible for R&D relief. Generally if a large company subcontracts work to others it will not be able to claim relief unless the subcontractor is: A university or other higher education institute A charity A scientific research organisation An NHS body An individual or partnership of individuals A large company can also claim relief on contributions towards the cost of relevant independent R&D carried out by the above persons. A large company cannot claim a payment from HMRC in respect of an unrelieved loss attributable to R&D relief. Tax credit for large companies As an alternative to enhanced relief, large companies can claim a credit equal to 10% (11% from 1 April 2015) of qualifying R&D expenditure. This alternative is also available to an SME in respect of qualifying expenditure on R&D subcontracted to it by a large company. The choice will cease to be available from 1 April 2016 when the only option will be to claim the credit. An amount equal to the credit is added to taxable profits and deducted from the company s corporation tax liability. The effective rate of tax relief from 1 April 2015 is 8.8%. If the company, or the group of which it is a member, has insufficient tax capacity, provided it is a going concern, the company can claim a payment from HMRC equal to the amount of the unused credit.

7 Frequently asked questions What if the company is an SME and it has not started to trade? If the company can claim relief on the expenditure at the enhanced rate of 225%/230%, it can elect to have the loss treated as if it were a trading loss which can be: set against other profits of the period (such as interest) surrendered as group relief surrendered for a cash payment from HMRC Any unused losses can be carried forward and used against future profits of the trade. What if some of the qualifying expenditure has been funded by a grant or subsidy? An SME cannot claim enhanced relief at the rate of 225/230% on: any expenditure related to a project which benefits from notified State aid (i.e. State aid approved by the EU); this does not prevent expenditure incurred on other projects from qualifying expenditure which is funded by other grants or subsidies Such expenditure is eligible for enhanced relief at the rate of 130% (until 30 March 2016) or the R&D tax credit. Relief for capital expenditure Where a company incurs qualifying capital expenditure, it can claim a Research and Development Allowance (R&DA) of 100%. Qualifying expenditure includes all expenditure on plant, buildings etc incurred for carrying out R&D and providing R&D facilities, but no relief is available for the cost of the land. Frequently asked questions What if expenditure qualifies for more than one capital allowance? If expenditure qualifies for more than one capital allowance, e.g. R&DAs and plant and machinery allowances, it is possible to claim for only one allowance. Any of the qualifying allowances can be chosen but once a choice has been made it is not possible to claim another allowance.

8 What if the asset is only partly used for qualifying research and development? If the asset is only partly used in research and development then only that part of the asset qualifies for R&DAs. If no part of the asset is used exclusively for one purpose then the cost of the asset should be apportioned to reflect the use for the purposes of research & development. What if the cost includes an element of land or a dwelling? In the case of land a portion of the expenditure reflecting the value of the land should be excluded from the amount on which the R&DAs are claimed. If a dwelling is included in the expenditure this should also be excluded. However, if the dwelling is part of a larger building, and that building is used for R&D, then the element of expenditure associated with the dwelling, if it is not more than a quarter of the whole cost of the building, can be ignored. In this case the whole amount can be treated as allowable. Can R&DAs be claimed on qualifying research and development expenditure that has been funded by a grant or subsidy? In general no allowances will be available on expenditure funded by grants or subsidies from third parties. Where these grants or subsidies fund only a portion of the qualifying research and development expenditure then it should be deducted from the total in order to arrive at the amount eligible for R&DAs. The following grants are exceptions and thus do not affect the amount which qualifies: a regional development grant made under part II of the Industrial Development Act 1982 a regional development grant made under part I of the Industrial Development Act 1972

9 How we can help We have extensive experience in helping our clients to successfully make R&D claims and in agreeing claims with HMRC. We can work with you either on a project by project basis or as part of an on going tax compliance engagement. We would be delighted to speak to you to discuss how we can help your company to maximise its R&D claims. About the firm HW Fisher & Company is a commercially astute organisation with a personal, partner-led service aimed at entrepreneurial small and medium-sized enterprises, large corporates and high-net worth individuals. Our tax team includes seven partners, five tax principals and more than 40 staff specialising in both corporate and personal tax. Our corporate tax services include tax planning, corporation tax advice, share valuations, and advising on corporate transactions including mergers and acquisitions. The tax partners and staff are practical, hands-on practitioners, and are experienced in negotiations with HMRC at the highest level. We also provide personal tax advice for a great many clients on a wide range of issues including capital gains tax planning, inheritance tax planning and flexible remuneration schemes. The wider firm is a multi-faceted group with specialist companies active in corporate finance, financial services, property, and mergers and acquisitions. For more information, please contact: Brian Lindsey Toby Ryland Andrew Jones T T T E E E

10 HW Fisher & Company Business advisers - A medium-sized firm of chartered accountants based in London and Watford. Related companies and special divisions: HW Fisher & Company The core chartered accountancy practice HW Fisher & Company Limited Advisers to small businesses and start-ups Fisher Corporate Plc Corporate finance and business strategy Limited Online accounting and back-office services FIAC (Fisher IT Asset Consulting) Software and Hardware Asset Management, contract and supplier review, licence and audit defence. Fisher Performance Improvement Growth and strategic advice for SMEs Kingfisher Collections Royalty administration and collections services for IP owners Fisher Forensic Forensic accounting and litigation support to the legal profession. Licensing and royalty auditing Fisher Okkersen International specialist film audit service provider Fisher Partners Business recovery, reconstruction and insolvency services Stackhouse Fisher Limited Specialist insurance services Eos Wealth Management Limited Intelligent wealth management and financial services VAT Assist Limited UK VAT representative HW Fisher & Company and HW Fisher & Company Limited are registered to carry out audit work in the UK and in Ireland. A list of the names of the partners at HW Fisher & Company is open to inspection at our offices. Fisher Forensic, Fisher Okkersen, Fisher Partners, Fisher Performance Improvement, Fisher IT Asset Consulting, FIAC and Kingfisher Collections are trading names of specialist divisions of HW Fisher & Company, Chartered Accountants. HW Fisher & Company Limited, Fisher Corporate Plc, Limited, Fisher Forensic Limited, VAT Assist Limited, EOS Wealth Management Limited and Stackhouse Fisher Limited are related companies of HW Fisher & Company, Chartered Accountants. HW Fisher & Company and HW Fisher & Company Limited are not authorised under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 but are regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales for a range of investment business activities. They can provide these investment services only if they are an incidental part of the professional services that have been engaged to provide. Fisher Corporate Plc is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under reference EOS Wealth Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under reference Stackhouse Fisher Limited is an Appointed Representative of Stackhouse Poland Limited who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under reference This guide provides a summary of the tax legislation and practice as at February It is for guidance only and not a substitute for personalised, professional advice. All liability is excluded for loss or damages that may arise as a result of any person acting or refraining to act in reliance upon this guide. HW Fisher & Company Print date: February All rights reserved.

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