From time to time we receive queries about particular HMRC regulations and whether we cover claims that arise from them under Essential Business Legal and our other commercial products.

The topic of self-employed contractors, who provide their services through a service company and are subject to “IR35” comes up from time to time. (The answer is “yes”, we will deal with HMRC enquiries and disputes for self- employed contractors provided that the conditions of the policy have been met). Last week, we had a query that hasn’t come up before - about Research & Development (R&D) tax credits.

If you have clients that engage in innovative projects in science and technology, you may be interested in this.

About R&D Tax Credits

R&D tax credits can be claimed by companies which have incurred expenditure on innovative projects in science and technology. They can be claimed by a range of companies that seek to research or develop an advance in their field. HMRC define the types of project that qualify for R&D credits. E.G:

  • The work must be part of a specific project to make an advance in science or technology.
  • It can't be an advance within a social science like economics or a theoretical field like pure mathematics.
  • The project must relate to the company's trade - either and existing one, or one that they intend to start up based on the results of the R&D.

To get R&D relief the business must explain how a project:

  • looked for an advance in science and technology
  • had to overcome uncertainty
  • tried to overcome this uncertainty
  • couldn't be easily worked out by a professional in the field

SME R&D relief allows companies with up to 500 employees 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
  • claim a tax credit if the company is loss making, worth up to 145% of the surrenderable loss

A different significantly less generous scheme applies for larger firms and I‘ve included a link below for more information:

According to a post by one lawyer firm, the HMRC’s large business directorate is challenging more tax relief claims and the sum being disputed in relation to R&D tax credit claims nearly quadrupled in 2017, up from £90m to £425m for large businesses.

Claiming R&D Tax Credits

Businesses can make a claim for R&D Tax credits when they fill in their Corporation Tax self- assessment return by calculating their expenditure on R&D and supporting their claim with suitable information.

Does Cover Apply If HMRC Challenge R&D Tax Credits Claimed?

Good news! Essential Business legal will come to the rescue if HMRC investigate the insured’s Corporation Tax self-assessment return and raise a challenge about a tax credit claim provided that fraud has not been alleged of course, and that the return has been submitted to HMRC on time.

One innovation deserves another. We hope that your innovative clients enjoy the peace of mind provided by our innovative (relaunched) Essential Business Legal and other Commercial legal expenses insurance products!

Lesley Attu Blog

Disclaimer - all information in this article was correct at time of publishing.

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