Research and Development tax relief

How to claim tax relief on tech development projects

Overview. Small or medium-sized enterprise ( SME ) R&D tax relief allows companies to: deduct an extra 130% of their qualifying costs from their yearly profit, as well as the normal 100% deduction, to make a total 230% deduction

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Common examples of software development projects that may qualify for R&D tax relief include:

  • state-of-the-art software for new projects, or new functionality for existing R&D projects;
  • tools to extend the functionality of application software programs or of an operating system;
  • extensions to database software, programming languages, or operating systems;
  • software development tools, such as tools to port data across platforms, tools for image processing or character recognition;
  • novel data management techniques, such as new object representations and new data structures;
  • innovative methods of capturing, transmitting, manipulating, and protecting data;
  • software to run new computer hardware;
  • software to run on devices with pre-installed operating systems, such as handheld GPS, mobile phones, and tablets; or,
  • means of integrating hardware and software platforms.

What activities can be included in an R&D Tax Credit claim for software projects?

In terms of qualifying tasks, the following activities would be considered eligible for R&D tax credits:

  • defining technical objectives;
  • identifying uncertainties;
  • feasibility studies;
  • reviewing new and competing technologies;
  • analysing, designing and developing the technology;
  • producing technical specification or other documents to explain and support the R&D project and advancement;
  • testing the product, process or software;
  • planning and managing projects.

In addition, certain indirect support activities may qualify for R&D tax relief, such as:

  • administration, finance, and personnel services specifically required to support R&D activities;
  • training to support R&D.

What R&D expenditure can be claimed for software projects?

You can claim relief on costs that have been expensed through the Profit & Loss account and in certain circumstances you can also claim capitalised expenditure (providing that the assets purchased have been classified as Intangible Assets).

The main areas of costs that can be claimed are:

  • staff costs (gross pay, employer's NI and employer's pension contributions);
  • agency workers (externally provided workers),
  • subcontractors/freelancers
  • software license costs, and
  • consumable items (heat, light and power, and materials and equipment used or transformed by the R&D process).

What staff roles can be included in an R&D tax relief claim for software projects?

It is not uncommon for an R&D team to consist of many individuals from different parts of the business. Your R&D project team may include the R&D Manager, a Lead Developer, Engineers, Project Co-ordinators, Quality Control and Testing specialists, and Cost Accountants, as well as members of the senior management team

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