5 top tips for your first R&D Tax Credit Claim

1st July 2020

There are many reasons why a company is yet to claim R&D Tax Relief. You might be a new business, a start-up or a university spin-out; you might have recently come across the scheme for the first time; you may have previously thought you were ineligible, or you may have thought that claiming was too much work and you didn’t want to disturb the HMRC!

We understand that making your first R&D Tax claim can be like navigating uncharted waters. To make the process as easy as possible, here are our 5 top tips for making your first R&D Tax Credit claim:

Keep clear technical documentation

As part of a R&D Tax claim, you’ll need to provide a technical evidence report to showcase that your research and development activities solved non-trivial technical uncertainties; therefore, making them eligible for a claim.

To create a well-evidenced report, we need to present the main R&D activities that were ongoing in the year and justify why their costs can be included in the claim. It’s possible to put this detail together retrospectively, however it really helps to record your work and thought processes as you go. This doesn’t need to be onerous, as often internal documentation already exists (specifications, presentations, drawings etc.) for us to draw on at a later date.

Key bits of information to collect throughout the claim period:

  • Project start and end dates.
  • Timesheets of employees involved (to identify time spent on R&D).
  • Details of any subcontracted R&D or agency staff brought in to help.
  • The key technical uncertainties (challenges) faced and how you overcame them.
  • Why what you’re working on represents an advance on an industry level.

You can find out more about why a technical evidence report is required for your R&D Tax Relief claim in another of our blogs here.

Tag R&D related expenses using your accounting software

Many accounting software platforms allow you to make use of tags or labels.

To make the first claim as simple as possible, make use of this feature to easily identify what costs were attributed to R&D activities. This will allow you to work out how much of your expenditure can be claimed back through the R&D Tax Relief schemes.

Bear in mind, you’ll likely need to apportion some costs. This is to ensure you only claim for the proportion that was used to undertake R&D. For example, utility costs such as heat or power will need to be apportioned to account for how much energy was used to conduct your R&D projects.

Claim early

We encourage businesses to make a R&D Tax Relief claim early into their new financial year, as this allows them to receive the benefit of their claim much earlier.

Our recommendation is to engage your accountant early in Quarter 4 of your current financial year to begin preparing your accounts and your claim. Early in Quarter 1 of your new financial year, you can submit both your accounts and R&D claim to HMRC and receive your benefit in the same quarter – usually within 4-6 weeks of submission.

Make sure your CT600 is filled out correctly

After taking time to document and collate eligible expenses, the last thing that you need is for a simple error on your CT600 form or Tax Computation to mean that you miss out on £1000’s in R&D Tax relief!

Typical errors include wrongly utilising the R&D figures in the tax computation so missing out on the maximum benefit available, simply entering numbers into the wrong box, or confusing Uplifted R&D for Enhanced R&D.

Don’t go it alone

Swift is TBAT’s online R&D Tax portal, which has been specially designed by the expert R&D Tax Consultants at TBAT Innovation to make the process of claiming R&D Tax as easy as possible. The simple 5-step process will help you to build a robust technical and financial report, ready to submit to HMRC.

Your accountant and technical staff enter the required information with our consultant’s support. Our Consultants will review your claim before it’s submitted to ensure that it contains the necessary detail.

What’s next?

You can learn more about the Swift R&D process and how using Swift can help you to build a successful first R&D Tax claim by viewing this short video:

Find out how much your claim could be worth by using our online R&D Tax Calculator.

To begin your first R&D Tax claim, with the guiding hand of Swift, simply register your details here.

Photo of Chris Stuttle

Chris Stuttle