How to account for R&D tax credits

If your company is working towards a unique advance in science and technology, you may be able to claim research and development (R&D) tax credits.

The way these are treated in your accounts will be different depending on the type of scheme you claim under.

RDEC vs SME R&D relief

There are two main R&D schemes for businesses: the SME scheme and the R&D expenditure credit (RDEC).

The SME scheme offers a 130% deduction of qualifying R&D costs from your company’s yearly profit, on top of your usual 100% deduction.

To apply under the SME scheme, your company must:

  • have 500 employees or less
  • have a turnover which is less than €100 million or a balance sheet less than €86 million.

It must also meet eligibility requirements relating to external investment, connected companies and notifiable state aid. You cannot claim the SME scheme if you’re carrying out R&D as subcontracted work for a large company.
If your business is not eligible for the SME R&D scheme, you may be able to claim the RDEC instead. This credit is calculated at 13% of your company’s qualifying expenditure.

Accounting for SME R&D tax relief

SME R&D tax credits are not classed as taxable income. They are treated as a ‘below-the-line’ benefit, appearing in your income statement as a corporation tax reduction or credit.

If you are calculating this before you finalise your accounts, you will need to adjust your corporation tax to include the actual figures – or you can make an estimate.

Alternatively, if you don’t know your R&D figures until after you have finalised your accounts, you can make a prior year adjustment once your claim has been processed.

Accounting for RDEC costs

The RDEC, meanwhile, is an ‘above-the-line’ credit, classed as taxable income for accounting purposes.

Typically, you will show this as ‘other income’ in your income statement. Depending on whether your company is profit or loss-making, the R&D credit can be used to discharge a corporation tax liability or result in a cash payment from HMRC.

As with SME tax relief, you can finalise your R&D claim calculation early to show an accurate figure in your accounts, provide a reliable estimate, or wait and include a prior year adjustment.

Thomson Cooper is on hand to help you through the process of calculating R&D tax credits. Get in touch with us.

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