Changes for research and development tax breaks


Changes for research and development tax breaks

This page was last updated on August 8, 2023
Businesses may need to rethink their processes to accommodate changes to tax relief on research and development (R&D). Here’s a brief breakdown of what to be aware of. It includes the changes announced in The Chancellor's Spring Budget 2023, and the requirement for businesses to complete an additional information form from 8 August 2023.


From 1 April 2023, businesses must inform HMRC online that they will be making an R&D claim within six months of the end of the accounting period to which the claim relates.

Failure to notify could lead to disallowance of the R&D claims. However, businesses that have claimed R&D in one of the preceding three periods do not need to pre-notify.

Companies have to inform HMRC of their intention to make a claim for R&D relief using a new digital form, unless they have claimed R&D reliefs in the previous three years.

A new digital additional information form

A digital additional information form will have to accompany claims made on or after 8 August 2023, in order for HMRC to process the claim and apply it to the Company Tax Return. Be aware that HMRC has warned that, if the form isn’t completed, it will write confirming that it has removed the claim for research and development (R&D) tax relief from your Company Tax Return.

Information to supply in the form:

Your company’s contact details – your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) which must match the one shown in your Company Tax Return, your employer PAYE reference number, your VAT registration number, and your business type – such as your current SIC (Standard Industrial Classification).

A contact for the business – this can be the main senior internal R&D contact in the company who is responsible for the R&D claim (such as a company director), or an agent involved in the R&D claim.

The accounting period start and end date for which you’re claiming the tax relief. This must match the one shown in your Company Tax Return.

Qualifying expenditure details – You also have to include details of the qualifying expenditure for your claim and demonstrate you meet the conditions for either or both of:

You can find an overview of the qualifying expenditure (including an explanation of qualifying direct and indirect activities) for the form on the Gov.uk website or do contact one of our team for more information.

The project(s) details – This is the number of all the projects that you’re claiming for in the accounting period and their details. Note though, if you’re claiming for these volumes of projects, you need to include the following level of information:

Again, the Gov.uk site gives guidance on what the project descriptions need to include. Alternatively, contact our team for help.

Overseas activities

R&D tax relief will be restricted to activities undertaken in the UK with only very limited scope for claiming any overseas activities. This restriction on some overseas expenditure will now come into effect from 1 April 2024 instead of 1 April 2023 (as previously announced).

From April 2024, UK companies that currently claim R&D costs paid to, for example, overseas group companies or overseas third parties may no longer be able to include these costs in their claims.

Externally provided workers

From 1 April 2023, payments to externally provided workers to carry out R&D only qualify for relief to the extent that those workers’ earnings are taxed through the pay as you earn (PAYE) system.

Cloud and data expenditure

Spending related to cloud computing and data can be included in R&D tax relief claims from 1 April 2023 – a change that will be particularly beneficial for businesses working in the tech and media sectors.

For example, businesses that pay licence fees to rent cloud computer space or pay for data in the context of R&D will be able to incorporate these costs into their claims.

Cash refund cap

It is also worth remembering that the cash refund cap is now in effect for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 April 2021.

From 1 April 2021 the amount of research and development tax relief credit that a business can receive was capped at £20,000 plus 300% of its total Pay as you Earn (PAYE) and National Insurance Contributions (NIC) liability for the period.

However, a business is exempt from the cap if:

This change does not affect the 130% relief on qualifying annual R&D costs, just the amount which you can surrender for cash. So, if the cash refund is restricted, you can still carry forward the rest to claim as part of trading loss in future years.

Credit rate changes

For R&D expenditure after 31 March 2023:

Loss-making companies

From 1 April 2023, a new credit rate will be available to loss-making companies whose R&D expenditure constitutes at least 40% of their total expenditure. Qualifying companies can claim a payable credit rate of 14.5% for qualifying R&D expenditure instead of the 10% rate under the existing R&D small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) scheme.

Can we help?

If you would like to know more about how we can help with applications and compliance regarding R&D tax relief, please speak with your Shipleys contact or one of our specialists shown on this page.

Specific advice should be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, in relation to this summary. If you would like advice or further information, please speak to your usual Shipleys contact.

Copyright © Shipleys LLP 2023

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