Why Every Start-up Should Understand R&D Tax Credits


Starting a business is not easy. Taking the plunge to set out on your own takes courage, commitment, and a reasonable amount of self-confidence.

It’s also a financial risk and carries with it a chance of failure so anything that helps a start-up survive those early years has got to be welcome. And for those that are developing innovative ideas, claiming R&D tax credits could be a lifesaver.

A financial boost from R&D tax credits

There are many reasons why a start-up may fail, but especially for innovative companies there can be a long period of product or service development before the company sees any revenue.

And this pre-revenue period can often turn out to be a lot longer than expected if the development proves to be more difficult than anticipated. In these circumstances, any financial help a company can get can be a lifeline.

The qualifying criteria for making an R&D tax credit claim can be hard to decipher but never assume that the work you are doing doesn’t qualify for relief. Always ask an expert – they may be able to identify some part of what you are doing that can attract help.

Crucially, the work does not have to have been successful to qualify.

What costs can be re-claimed?

What does the relief cover? The costs you can claim for include salaries, national insurance and pension contributions of staff directly involved in the R&D or indirectly supporting it, including supervisors and managers.  You can also include agency staff and subcontractors.

It also includes materials used on unsuccessful prototypes, a proportion of your utility bills and software purchased.

How much is it worth to my business?

Most start-ups would come under the SME scheme, which allows you to deduct 130% of your qualifying costs from your annual profits, on top of the normal 100% to make a total of 230%.

If the company is loss making it can claim 14.5% of the loss as a tax credit.  This equates to up to 33p for every £1 spent on R&D as a cash payment from HMRC.

No start-up doing R&D work that might qualify can afford to ignore that sort of assistance.

What should I do to investigate the relief?

Our advice to you would be to seek advice from one of our specialists to see if you are eligible, and we can tailor a package that suits you and your company.

LimestoneGrey are Chartered Tax Advisers that specialise exclusively in R&D tax credits, therefore we have a thorough understanding of the tax legislation and HMRC practice, as a result, we are able to offer a service which helps to:

  • Ease complexity
  • Minimise your time and effort
  • Minimise HMRC risk
  • Maximise claim acceptance

We offer free consultations so there is no risk in exploring the possibility of submitting an R&D tax credit claim. Call us today on 0330 223 4 223 or email [email protected].


Over the past 6 years, Rachel has been working specifically within the digital marketing space and has worked with some of the country’s top brands. During this time, Rachel was a key attribute to the success of our sister product, Recruitment Buzz, which has firmly established itself as one of the leading publications within the Recruitment sector. Drawing on her knowledge and experience, Rachel has developed a genuine understanding of how content can engage and compel an audience.

Having a passion for travel and culture, Rachel left her hometown of Cardiff to pursue studies and travel and after several years away, Rachel returned to Cardiff and firmly established herself within the development of Business News Wales. Rachel is now responsible for every aspect of web management, marketing and overall production of the Business News Wales brand.

Having learnt some invaluable skills within the marketing industry, Rachel is often called upon for her skills and knowledge of WordPress, HTML, email marketing software, Photoshop design and social media tools.


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