25TH APRIL, 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Submitting a Winning R&D Tax Credit Claim for UK SMEs and Small Businesses

As a small business owner or SME, finding ways to reduce budget constraints and maximise your profits is always at the forefront of your mind. Luckily, there is a government-backed scheme that can significantly benefit your company's bottom line - R&D tax credits.

Many small businesses and SMEs are unaware of their eligibility for R&D tax credits, resulting in significant missed opportunities. However, for those that choose to take advantage of this scheme, the rewards can be significant.

R&D tax credits provide a crucial lifeline to UK small businesses engaging in innovative activities. These tax credits incentivise innovation by reducing a company's tax bill or offering a cash rebate. Whether you are investing in developing new software or creating eco-friendly manufacturing solutions, R&D tax credits can provide a significant boost to your bottom line.

To help your small business or SME navigate the R&D tax credit scheme, we have created the ultimate guide to submitting a successful claim. Our comprehensive guide helps you understand the eligibility criteria for the scheme, identify qualifying R&D activities and expenditures, and offers tips for accurate record-keeping. We also provide a step-by-step walkthrough of the application process, highlighting common mistakes to avoid, and explaining the importance of working with an R&D tax credit consultant.

Additionally, the blog features real-life testimonials of businesses that have successfully claimed R&D tax credits.

So whether you're considering submitting an R&D tax credit claim or you're simply curious, our guide covers everything you need to know to create a winning submission.

Get started today!

Understanding R&D Tax Credits

Research and Development (R&D) tax credits are a government incentive aimed at encouraging UK businesses to invest in innovation. The scheme is designed to offset the costs associated with R&D activities, providing eligible businesses with a level of tax relief. The purpose of R&D tax credits is to support SMEs and small businesses in their quest to increase innovation, drive economic growth, and improve competitiveness in a global market.

To be eligible for R&D tax credits, UK SMEs and small businesses must meet certain criteria. The company must be a registered UK limited company and actively engaged in R&D activities. Additionally, they should aim to make advancements in science or technology and seek solutions to technical uncertainties where no immediately obvious solution exists. Finally, the business must be able to show that the research carried out is intended to benefit a wider industry or community, not just the organisation.

Examples of qualifying R&D activities and expenditures for R&D tax credits include creating new products or processes, improving existing products or processes, and exploring new methods of production.

πŸ“–Read our latest article on Understanding Qualifying Indirect Activities for R&D Tax Credits in the UK πŸ“–

Additionally, expenses such as staff and subcontractor wages, consumables, and overheads are also eligible. It is important to note that the costs associated with unsuccessful R&D projects can also be claimed under this scheme.

Businesses operating in the UK have the opportunity to access R&D tax credits to support their innovative activities. Understanding the criteria for eligibility and identifying qualifying research and expenditures are essential to successfully submitting a claim for the scheme. For more guidance, businesses are advised to seek the support of an R&D tax credit consultant.

Preparing for Your R&D Tax Credit Claim

Submitting an R&D tax credit claim can be a daunting task, but proper preparation can make a significant difference in ensuring successful outcomes.

One of the most critical factors for a successful R&D tax credit claim is proper record-keeping. Keeping accurate and up-to-date records of all R&D activities and expenditures is essential, as HMRC requires detailed evidence to support your claim.

This includes documentary evidence of costs incurred, such as invoices, receipts, and staff payroll records. By maintaining detailed records of all R&D activities and expenditures, businesses can better demonstrate their eligibility for R&D tax credits.

Identifying and documenting qualifying R&D projects and expenditures is another key step in preparing for an R&D tax credit claim. To claim R&D tax credits, activities must meet HMRC's definition of qualifying R&D.

This involves identifying specific projects and activities that seek to achieve an advance in science or technology through the resolution of scientific or technological uncertainties. To be eligible for the credit, the activities must also be conducted by a UK SME or small business. By documenting eligible projects and expenditures, businesses can build a robust case for their claim and avoid potential challenges from HMRC.

Lastly, estimating and allocating costs accurately is crucial when preparing for an R&D tax credit claim. Businesses must accurately identify and allocate costs associated with R&D activities, including staff costs, consumables, and subcontractor costs. Accurate cost estimation ensures that businesses can claim a realistic and justifiable amount of R&D expenditure, which can boost their chances of success.

πŸ“–Read our article on What Costs Can Be Claimed Through R&D Tax Credits πŸ“–

Proper preparation is key to a successful R&D tax credit claim. Businesses must maintain detailed records, identify and document qualifying R&D projects and expenditures, and estimate and allocate costs accurately. By following these steps, businesses can increase their chances of a successful claim and maximise their entitlement to R&D tax credits.

Navigating the R&D Tax Credit Application Process

Whether you are a first-time applicant or seeking to maximise your tax relief from previous claims, understanding the R&D tax credit application process is key to a successful claim. This guide will provide a step-by-step walkthrough to help make your application smoother and provide tips for avoiding common mistakes.


Understand the eligibility criteria - Before you submit an R&D application, you should ensure your business meets the eligibility criteria. The most fundamental criteria include engaging in a project that solves a scientific or technological advance in your field, and experiencing uncertainty surrounding the project.

Identify qualifying R&D activities and expenditures - You will need to identify the R&D activities undertaken in the eligible period and the expenditure incurred on them. This process requires a detailed analysis of your business's activities and costs, which could include expenses covering staffing, materials, and certain overheads.

Accurate Record-keeping - Proper record-keeping is critical, as it will help substantiate your claim in case HMRC requests additional information. Ensure your records provide details about the R&D activities undertaken, the related expenditure, and the relevant dates.

Select the appropriate R&D tax relief scheme - There are different R&D tax relief schemes that cater to different businesses. The most common schemes are the SME scheme and the RDEC scheme. Ensure you choose the appropriate scheme.

Complete and Submit the Claim - After selecting the correct scheme, you will need to complete the relevant forms and submit them to HMRC. You may also choose to seek the services of a specialist R&D tax credit consultant who can assist with your submission.

Don't miss out on this valuable opportunity, and unlock your full potential today!


To successfully submit an R&D tax credit claim, you will need to complete the following forms:

CT600 - This form is the Corporation Tax return, and it includes specific sections for claiming R&D credits.

Technical reports - Describing the scientific or technological advance and uncertainty is an essential part of an R&D tax credit claim. Ensuring the technical reports align with the expenditure figures will increase the chances of a successful claim.

πŸ“– Read our guide on R&D Tax Credits: A quick guide to technical reports πŸ“–

Pre-notification form - This form is filled in online and has to be completed by new claimants (or those who have not claimed in the last 3 accounting periods) This is for all claims with accounting periods starting on or after 1st April 2023. 

Online Claim Form (G-form): This online claim form is compulsory from the 1st August 2023.

To learn more about all the new forms and changes from 1st April 2023. Watch the following video of us explaining the changes:

πŸš€ April 2023 R&D Tax Credit Update for Startups & New Claimants πŸš€


Lack of evidence - Proper record-keeping is crucial to a successful R&D tax credit claim. Without adequate evidence, your claim will be rejected.

Margin for error - Be meticulous with your record-keeping and ensure that the figures in your tax credit claim match the technical reports. HMRC scrutinises these figures to ensure there are no margin for errors.

Inaccurate Costs - Ensure that the costs you claim align with the R&D project's actual costs. HMRC will reject any discrepancies.


HMRC typically processes R&D tax credit claims within six weeks from submission, although some claims may take longer. Claims submitted as part of your corporation tax return will receive the credit as part of your routine tax position. Companies that submit claims as standalone claims will receive the payment as a credit to their bank account or a corporation tax refund.

Successfully applying for R&D tax credit requires thorough knowledge of the entire application process, patience, and attention to detail. Follow these guidelines, and you will give yourself the best chance of achieving a successful claim.

Working with R&D Tax Credit Consultants

Partnering with an experienced R&D tax credit consultant or using using an R&D tax platform like Tax Cloud which gives you access to specialist tech & costing consultants, can greatly benefit your business.

Here are some key advantages of working with a consultant:

The Benefits of Partnering with a Consultant

Expertise and Knowledge: R&D tax credit consultants are experts in their field and have in-depth knowledge of tax legislation and regulations. They are familiar with the latest eligibility criteria and guidelines and can help you identify qualifying R&D activities and expenditures.

Maximising Benefits: R&D tax credit consultants can maximise the benefits you receive from the tax credit scheme. They can help you leverage all eligible R&D expenditures, such as staff costs, consumables, and subcontractor costs.

Cost-Effective: Partnering with a consultant can be cost-effective in the long-term. They can help you secure a larger tax credit benefit, which can offset the cost of their services. Even cheaper still is using Tax Cloud, Tax Cloid gives you access to consultants at a fraction of the cost of typical R&D tax consultancy prices.

πŸ—οΈπŸ—οΈTo book a a free demo of Tax Cloud at your earliest convenince, simply click here πŸ—οΈπŸ—οΈ

How to Choose the Right Consultant for Your Business

Experience: Look for a consultant with experience in working with businesses in your industry. They should also have a good track record of successful R&D tax credit claims. See thier Google reviews for a a closer look at what cformer clients are saying about thier experience.

Knowledge: Ensure that the consultant has up-to-date knowledge of tax legislation and guidelines. They should also have a deep understanding of the eligibility criteria and qualifying R&D activities.

Communication: Choose a consultant who communicates well and can explain complex tax concepts and requirements in simple terms. They should be responsive to your questions and concerns and keep you updated on the progress of your claim.

Availability: Consider the availability of the consultant and whether they can work around your schedule. You want a consultant who is accessible and can provide timely support.

Tips for a Successful Collaboration with Your Consultant

Provide Clear Information: Provide your consultant with clear and accurate information on your R&D activities and expenditures. This will enable them to prepare a comprehensive and accurate claim. Avoid leaving out any relevant details or making assumptions.

Maintain Accurate Records: Keep accurate and detailed records of your R&D activities and expenditures. This will help your consultant identify eligible items and maximise your tax credit benefit.

Review and Sign Off: Ensure that you review and sign off on your claim before submission. This is your opportunity to double-check the accuracy of the information and ensure that everything is in order.

Working with an R&D tax credit consultant or using R&D tax credit portals like Tax Cloud, can be highly beneficial for small businesses and SMEs. It can save time and money, maximise your tax credit benefit, and ensure that your claim is submitted correctly and on time.

When choosing a consultant, look for experience, knowledge, and good communication skills. To ensure a successful collaboration, provide clear information, maintain accurate records, stay involved, and review and sign off on your claim before submission.

Case Studies: Successful R&D Tax Credit Claims

In this section, we'll feature real-life case studies of UK SMEs and small businesses that have successfully claimed R&D tax credits using Tax Cloud.

These examples will offer valuable insights into the R&D tax credit claim process, highlighting what worked well for these businesses and key lessons and takeaways for other businesses.

InsideTrak Ltd, Fiona Watson: "Tax Cloud is good ! Seriously good .. And so are the Team that work with you through it all .. Do not be daunted by doing your eligible R&D Claim(s). It's a well thought out and straight forward process with Tax Cloud. They will guide you and advise you along the way. An excellent addition of a 'chat tool' too, so there is always someone to respond to your queries. A fantastic partnership, and we have had 3 successful claims so far ! This has resulted in further development, growing our company's and creating new jobs. Thank you from all of us to Tax Cloud - you are the best - and we look forward to working with you in the future."

Nxt Digital Solutions, Peter Hinchcliffe: "5* advice and support for R&D Tax credits and grants. My business has been working with the Myriad Associates team for over 4 years now to support our R&D Tax claims via their self-service tool - Tax Cloud. We use Tax Cloud to complete our claim examples, submit related costs via our accountancy tool - Xero and the team help us validate and refine our claim to be successful. They're a great team and I would highly recommend their services."

Ian Cooper, My FD Limited: "Tax Cloud have helped me with R&D claims for a couple of clients and I would highly recommend them. Both claims were successful and Tax Cloud added value not only in terms of managing the whole process but also increasing the overall value of the claim using their expert knowledge. I will definitely use them again"

Key lessons and takeaways from these testimonials

The testimonials above highlight several key lessons and takeaways for small businesses looking to successfully claim R&D tax credits:

Work with an R&D tax credit consultant - All the businesses above successfully claimed R&D tax credits because they worked with a qualified R&D tax credit consultant who helped them identify eligible costs and activities.

Keep detailed records - It's essential to keep detailed records of all R&D activities and eligible costs to ensure you can claim the maximum tax credit. This includes things like employee salaries, materials and supplies, subcontractor costs, and overheads.

Identify all eligible costs and activities - Often, businesses miss out on eligible R&D tax credit claims because they fail to identify all qualifying costs and activities. Working with an R&D tax credit consultant can help ensure you don't miss out on any eligible claims.

Any industry can be eligible for R&D tax credits - The above case studies show that businesses in a range of industries can qualify for R&D tax credits. Whether you're in the healthcare, technology or education industries or have any other industry-specific challenge you need to solve, you may be eligible for R&D tax credits.

The R&D does not need to be successful - R&D tax credits aim to fund research and development activities that are needed to advance a company's current or future services or products. So, even if the project is not successful, it can still be eligible for R&D tax credits.

By following these lessons and takeaways, your small business can maximise your chances of a successful R&D tax credit claim. Remember, every eligible expenditure you claim back will strengthen your business's financial position, enabling you to invest more effectively in future R&D projects.


In conclusion, submitting a well-prepared R&D tax credit claim can bring significant financial benefits to UK SMEs and small businesses. With the right guidance, it is possible to identify qualifying activities and expenditures, keep accurate records, and overcome common mistakes in the application process. By working with an experienced R&D tax credit consultant, businesses can maximise their chances of success and unlock valuable funding to invest in their growth and innovation.

We strongly encourage our readers to utilise the comprehensive guide and resources provided in this blog to gain a deeper understanding of R&D tax credits and optimise their claim. By learning from real-life case studies and following our step-by-step advice, businesses can access the funding they need to turn their innovative ideas into reality. Remember, every successful R&D tax credit claim is a vital investment in the future of your business. So, don't hesitate to take advantage of this valuable opportunity and secure your financial future today!

Get in touch

If you would like to discuss any aspect of R&D Tax Credits or the Tax Cloud portal, feel free to contact our friendly expert team on 020 7360 4437 or send us a message.

Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA
Author Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA CEO, Tax Cloud
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Myriad are the creators of Tax Cloud, we help enterprises navigate, apply and secure tax incentives and grants. We specialise in R&D Tax Credits, Creative Tax Reliefs, Innovate UK grants, Horizon Europe grants, and R&D Capital Allowance Claims.

  • Submitting R&D tax claims since 2001
  • Strong track record spanning 20+ years delivering R&D tax credit claims
  • Over Β£70m claimed and counting
  • Industry leading specialists
  • We employ technical, costing and tax experts and tax experts
  • Confident of delivering value to our clients, we offer our R&D tax services on a success fee-only basis.

Meet some of the team behind Tax Cloud

Barrie Dowsett Barrie Dowsett ACMA CGMA Chief Executive Officer
Jillian Chambers Jillian Chambers Technical Analyst/Writer
Lauren Olson Lauren Olson Technical Analyst Manager
Rabia Mohammad Rabia Mohammad Corporate Tax Associate