31ST MAY, 2023

What Is A 'Going Concern' And How Does It Affect R&D Tax Credits?

If you're a UK-based company engaging in research and development, you'll want to know about the importance of being a 'going concern.' In simpler terms, this means that you plan to operate your business for the foreseeable future. Why does this matter if you're claiming R&D tax credits? Let's dive into what it is and how it affects your eligibility for the scheme.

Detailed Explanation of a 'Going Concern'

A 'Going Concern' is a fundamental accounting principle that describes a business that is expected to remain operational and generate profits for the foreseeable future. This principle was created due to the importance of financial stability and transparency and is used by businesses worldwide.

Factors such as access to funds, market demand, competition, and management's competence are used to assess a company's going concern status. A business that can meet its financial obligations and demonstrate a reasonable expectation of continuing operations is classified as a going concern.

In financial reporting, auditors play an essential role in evaluating a company's going concern. Auditors are responsible for reviewing financial statements and assessing the viability of a company's business model. They consider current economic and industry factors and review corporate governance structures to determine whether a company is a going concern. If auditors have any doubts about a company's ability to continue operations, they may issue a disclaimer or qualify the audit report.

Being classified as a going concern has significant implications for a business. It enhances the company's reputation and makes it easier to secure financing and attract investors. On the other hand, if a company is not classified as a going concern, it may face difficulty in receiving credit and opportunities to expand due to financial uncertainty. Also, businesses that do not meet the going concern requirements cannot claim R&D tax credits, which can be a significant incentive for companies that engage in research and development.

Detailed Explanation of R&D Tax Credits

R&D tax credits are a government incentive designed to encourage companies to invest in research and development. These credits are available to businesses of all sizes that are working on innovative projects that seek to advance their respective industries. The purpose of these credits is to encourage companies to pursue new ideas, technologies, and products that will ultimately benefit the economy as a whole.

Qualifying activities for R&D tax credits include experimentation in science or technology, developing new products, processes, or services, and overcoming uncertainties and challenges that arise during R&D projects.

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

Furthermore, the expenses that qualify for these credits include payroll costs for the R&D staff, materials and other resources used in R&D activities, and some types of software or subcontracted work.

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

The process of claiming R&D tax credits involves compiling information that demonstrates the amount of R&D activity that your company has undertaken, as well as the expenses associated with said activity. The claim is then submitted to HMRC for evaluation, a process that involves a technical assessment of the activities and expenses described in the claim. Once it has been determined that a company is eligible, the R&D tax credit is paid out as a refund of a portion of the company's tax liability.

πŸ“– Read our article on The Ultimate Guide to Submitting a Winning R&D Tax Credit Claim for UK SMEs and Small Businesses πŸ“–

It is important to note that claiming R&D tax credits can be a complex process, and it is advisable to seek professional advice from a qualified accountant or tax advisor if you are considering making a claim.

At the same time, it is important to understand that these credits are a valuable opportunity for companies looking to invest in innovative projects, and that they can provide significant financial support to businesses that are pressing ahead with new ideas and technologies.

With careful planning and attention to detail, making a successful claim for R&D tax credits can be an important step in ensuring the long-term viability and growth of your company.

Relationship between a 'Going Concern' and R&D Tax Credits

When it comes to claiming R&D tax credits in the UK, the 'going concern' status of a company plays a crucial role. A company that is not at risk of liquidation and expects to remain in operation for the foreseeable future is more likely to be eligible for R&D tax credits as compared to a company that is in financial trouble.

To qualify for R&D tax credits, a company must demonstrate that it has the resources and ability to meet its financial obligations and no plans to cease trading or go into liquidation.

The impact of a company's 'going concern' status on its eligibility for R&D tax credits can be significant. For example, a company that has been experiencing financial difficulties and is unable to meet its financial obligations may not be considered a going concern, which means it would be ineligible for R&D tax credits. Similarly, if a company is planning to cease trading or enter into liquidation, it would not be eligible for R&D tax credits.

Instances where a company's going concern status has affected its eligibility for R&D tax credits further emphasises the importance of demonstrating financial viability. A case study highlighted that a company that was struggling financially had its R&D tax credit claim rejected as it was deemed a potential risk for insolvency.

Therefore, it is important for companies to take steps to prove their status as a going concern to secure R&D tax credits. Providing relevant documentation like financial statements, business plans, and other evidence that demonstrates financial viability can increase the chances of being compliant with the going concern criteria and improve the probability of a successful R&D tax credit claim.

By doing so, companies can benefit from the government's tax relief incentives, whereas at the same time, assuring the government and investors that the business is stable and sustainable in the short and long term.

How to Leverage 'Going Concern' Status for Maximising R&D Tax Credits

Maintaining 'Going Concern' status is crucial for companies looking to secure R&D tax credits in the UK. A company that meets the criteria for being a going concern has a higher chance of qualifying for these tax credits. To achieve a going concern status, companies must demonstrate that they have a reasonable expectation of being able to continue trading for the foreseeable future, have the resources to meet financial obligations and have no indication that they plan to cease trading or enter liquidation.

One way to maintain going concern status is to develop a viable business plan detailing short- and long-term goals. This plan should include how R&D activities will contribute to the company's growth and profitability. Additionally, companies should focus on maintaining good financial health, including regular financial reporting and cash flow management.

It is crucial to plan R&D activities around going concern requirements since it ensures that advancements are made in areas that align with the company's resources and goals. Companies must also document their R&D activities, demonstrating the projects' feasibility and their contributions to the company's growth.

Navigating R&D tax credit and going concern processes can be challenging for companies. Consulting subject matter experts provides businesses with access to a wealth of knowledge and experience to help navigate this complex environment. Expert consultants can advise on how to optimise tax credit applications, make recommendations on sound business practices and identify and mitigate any issues related to going concern status.

Maintaining a going concern status is essential for companies to qualify for R&D tax credits. Planning, proper financial management, and consulting with experts can help companies navigate these processes, increase their chances of success and maximise their tax credit benefits.

Implications for Future Research and Development Initiatives


The 'Going Concern' requirement is an essential aspect of the R&D tax credit scheme in the UK, but changes in regulations regarding the eligibility of businesses in the future could have a significant impact on research and development initiatives. The government may implement more stringent criteria to prove that a company is a 'Going Concern' before it can claim tax credits for its R&D activities. This could mean that businesses will need to prepare more detailed financial statements and business plans to demonstrate their long-term viability. Moreover, companies may need to provide additional evidence, such as proof of their ability to meet their financial obligations in the future, to qualify for R&D tax credits.

The implications of these changes in the eligibility criteria are far-reaching. Companies that are currently eligible for R&D tax credits may no longer meet the new requirements, potentially discouraging them from further investing in research and development activities. The effect could be particularly acute for startups and small businesses, which may struggle to secure funding for their R&D activities if they are not eligible for tax credits.

On the other hand, stricter regulations regarding the 'Going Concern' requirement and R&D tax credits could lead to an increase in the quality of the projects that receive funding. Businesses that put in the effort to meet the necessary requirements to qualify for R&D tax credits are more likely to be serious about their long-term viability, and their R&D activities may be more likely to succeed and benefit society.

While changes in regulations regarding the 'Going Concern' requirement and R&D tax credits may create hurdles for businesses, they could also lead to better-targeted and more successful research and development initiatives. By being aware of the potential changes and preparing to meet the criteria, businesses can increase their chances of accessing tax credits to help fund their R&D activities.


In summary, being a going concern is an important requirement for businesses that are eligible for R&D tax credits in the UK. To be considered a going concern, a company must have a reasonable expectation of being able to continue to trade for the foreseeable future, have the resources and ability to meet its financial obligations, and show no indication of planning to cease trading or entering liquidation.

If a company ceases to be a going concern after making a claim for R&D tax credits, the claim will be treated as if it had not been made. This means that the company will not be able to claim the tax credits that it would otherwise have been entitled to. Therefore, it's essential for businesses to understand the concept of a going concern and its importance for receiving R&D tax credits.

Ensuring that your company is a going concern requires providing financial statements, a business plan, and other evidence that demonstrate that your company is financially viable and has a reasonable expectation of continuing to trade for the foreseeable future.

The concept of a going concern provides an excellent opportunity for businesses to assess their financial stability and future viability. Understanding what it takes to be a going concern allows companies to prepare adequately for future growth and development while reaping the benefits of R&D tax credits.

In conclusion, as we've discussed in this blog post, being a going concern is a crucial requirement for companies that are eligible for R&D tax credits in the UK. By understanding this requirement and taking the necessary steps to ensure that your company meets the criteria, you can increase your chances of success in your claim for R&D tax credits, while setting your business up for future success.

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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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