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Business Tax  •  Coronavirus Advice  •  R&D Tax Credits  •  Tax Planning

How do government loans and furlough affect R&D claims?

By RJP LLP on 11 February 2021

The quick roll-out of government loans and the ability to ‘furlough’ employees have certainly been useful to businesses and have indeed kept many businesses afloat during the past year.

It is however becoming apparent that R&D tax credit relief claims made by companies that have claimed CBILS and/ or have claimed the CJRS for employees may be affected.

This article outlines the position.

Government Loans

The SME R&D tax credit relief is classed as State Aid and claims to relief are affected if other State Aid is received in the period of claim. The coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) is also classified as State Aid and so it needs to be considered when making an R&D claim.

As an R&D project must have only one source of Notified State Aid, any project that is even partly funded by CBILS will not be eligible for the SME R&D relief and the company will need to submit its claim under the less generous large company (RDEC) scheme which is not classed as State Aid.

HMRC will usually assume that Notified State Aid claimed by a company is apportioned to all expenses and projects on a ‘just and reasonable’ basis, which would mean that all R&D projects undertaken are ineligible for SME R&D relief where the company has claimed CBILS. HMRC have however issued a statement which suggests that where a CBILS loan is claimed for general business support, it will not necessarily preclude making a claim. Of course if the loan has been claimed specifically to support R&D projects, those projects will not qualify for R&D relief under the SME scheme.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS or ‘Furlough’)

HMRC has published guidance on whether furloughed employees can still conduct R&D activities and qualify for R&D tax credits.

Normally staffing costs for directors or employees directly and actively engaged in relevant research and development (R&D) are qualifying expenditure for the purposes of R&D tax credit relief.

However, as one of the conditions for claiming  CJRS is that all work ceased during a claim period, HMRC considers those employees cannot be regarded as directly or actively engaged in relevant R&D during times when a claim is made for them. This applies equally to any payments met under the CJRS and to any ‘top-up’ from the company itself.

The good news however is that HMRC has confirmed that the CJRS grant is not considered to be  State Aid because it is available to all businesses, which means that the SME R&D tax credit relief can be claimed where this grant has also been claimed, subject of course to the above provisos.

What is available if my company is unable to claim SME R&D tax credit relief?

The large company R&D scheme, RDEC (Research & Development Expenditure Credit) is not deemed State Aid due to the less generous relief it provides. This means claims can be made without being impacted by CBILS.

Therefore, where an R&D project is not eligible for relief under the SME tax relief scheme, relief can be claimed under RDEC, albeit at a much reduced rate. There is also an additional impact when claiming this lesser relief which is that whilst R&D activity that has been subcontracted by the company to a third party company is eligible under SME R&D tax relief rules it is not unfortunately eligible under RDEC.

If you need help with R&D tax credit claims, contact partners@rjp.co.uk

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