8 Mistakes Companies Make When Claiming R&D Tax Credits in the UK

The business world in the UK is constantly changing, and Research & Development (R&D) tax credits are a glimmer of hope for innovative companies. The goal of R&D tax credits is to encourage growth and development across various industries by providing crucial financial support to companies, thereby driving progress. However, making a claim can be challenging, and errors can often occur. This article looks at the most common mistakes businesses make when filing for R&D Tax Credits in the UK.

Common Pitfalls

1. Misinterpreting the Definition of R&D

A common mistake made by companies is not understanding the definition of R&D for tax purposes. In the UK, HMRC considers R&D to be projects that aim to advance science or technology. This includes creating new products and improving existing processes or solutions. A clear understanding of this definition is crucial for a successful claim.

2. Inadequate Documentation

Proper documentation is crucial when making R&D claims. It serves as evidence of the work done and expenses incurred. Companies that fail to keep a detailed record of their R&D activities, from brainstorming to project completion, risk having their claims denied. Therefore, it is essential to have robust documentation in place.

3. Overlooking Qualifying Costs

The intricacies of what can and cannot be claimed under R&D tax credits often trip up companies. Costs related to staff wages, subcontractors, materials, utilities, and software can usually be included. Yet, some companies either fail to claim these costs due to oversight or mistakenly claim non-qualifying expenses, leading to complications.

4. Neglecting the Breadth of R&D Roles

A common misconception is that R&D is limited solely to individuals in lab coats conducting experiments. The reality is far from this stereotype. Many roles, from project managers to software developers and even some administrative personnel, can play an integral part in R&D projects. Companies should ensure they recognise the full scope of roles contributing to their R&D efforts.

5. Misjudging the Project's Scope

It is essential for companies to delineate where their R&D project begins and ends. Some businesses either overextend or restrict their project's boundaries, leading to inaccurate claims. It is of paramount importance to identify the exact phases of the project that qualify for R&D credits.

6. Failure to Stay Updated with Legislation

The regulatory landscape for R&D tax credits in the UK is not static. HMRC regularly refines and updates the guidelines to align with contemporary needs and to plug any loopholes. Companies that do not stay abreast of these changes can either miss out on new opportunities or make erroneous claims based on outdated information.

7. Delay in Making Claims

Timing can be everything. Companies have a two-year window following the end of their accounting period to make an R&D tax credit claim. Despite this seemingly generous timeframe, businesses sometimes procrastinate or get ensnared in bureaucratic delays, missing this crucial window.

8. Not Seeking Expert Advice

The process of claiming R&D credits, with its myriad regulations and nuances, can be labyrinthine. Though some companies may believe they can navigate this maze on their own, the expertise of professionals who specialise in R&D tax credit claims can be invaluable. Not seeking their counsel can result in overlooked opportunities or, worse, rejected claims.

Golden Opportunity

R&D Tax Credits present a golden opportunity for companies in the UK to subsidise their innovative endeavours. However, while rewarding, the path to a successful claim can be fraught with potential missteps. By being aware of these common pitfalls and taking proactive measures to avoid them, companies can confidently stake their claim and harness the full potential of R&D credits.

How Tax Cloud Can help

Understanding the intricacies of R&D tax credits is paramount for businesses seeking to innovate and grow. For further insights and guidance on navigating the UK's corporate sector, continue to stay informed with our articles.

Our proficient team stands ready to craft and optimise your claim. Interested in initiating your R&D tax relief process? Begin by exploring our R&D Tax Credits page. If you're keen to gauge potential savings for your innovative project, our R&D tax calculator is at your service.

Should you have any queries or simply wish to discuss matters further, please don't hesitate to contact us at 020 7360 4437 or drop us a note through our contact page. We're always here to assist.

Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA
Author Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA CEO, Tax Cloud
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Barrie Dowsett Barrie Dowsett ACMA CGMA Chief Executive Officer
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