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The Unified R&D Tax Credit Scheme

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The UK government has announced reforms to its Research and Development (R&D) tax credit system. This transformation seeks to combine the Research and Development Expenditure Credit (RDEC) and the SME relief into a singular scheme, effective from accounting periods beginning on or after 1 April 2024.


The new “merged approach” intends to streamline the system by introducing a single set of qualifying rules. The merging of these two schemes may raise concerns about the scheme's overall effectiveness compared to the older, higher-rate SME scheme. The new unified scheme's impact on fostering R&D investment and innovation, especially for smaller enterprises, remains to be fully identified.


The key changes in the UK's new unified R&D tax relief scheme include:

  • The introduction of a single set of qualifying rules, rather than separate rules for SME and RDEC claims.
  • The scheme allows companies making R&D decisions and bearing risks to claim relief for subcontracted R&D.
  • Subsidised expenditure rules from the SME scheme will not be carried forward to the new scheme, meaning external funding won't reduce the available support. Grant funded projects remain claimable, which is a welcome announcement.
    The rate under the new scheme is set at the current RDEC rate of 20%. This credit will be subject to corporation tax.
    See: [Research & Development (R&D) tax relief reforms - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)](https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/research-development-rd-tax-relief-reforms)
April 17, 2024
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