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Reviewed by Akshay Thaman, IP & Policy Lead | 23 April 2024

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R&D tax relief for R&D intensive SMEs

The new merged R&D expenditure credit scheme applies to accounting periods beginning on or after 1 April 2024. This brings both SMEs and large businesses under the same scheme and applies the same above-the-line credit rate of 20%.

Against a concern that the merged scheme could negatively impact the most innovative SMEs, there is a second ‘scheme’ or ‘rate’ for loss-making R&D intensive businesses, called the Enhanced R&D Intensive Support (ERIS) scheme. The ERIS rate equates to a credit rate of up to 27% and an ‘intensive’ SME is defined as an SME whose qualifying R&D expenditure represents 30% or more of their total expenditure.


To qualify for the Enhanced R&D Intensive Support Scheme companies will need to be:

  • Recognised as an SME. You, and your connected companies, must employ fewer than 500 employees with either an annual turnover under €100 million or a balance sheet under €86 million.
  • Loss making
  • Have qualifying R&D expenditure which represents 30% or more of your total expenditure.

The ERIS scheme applies, with the merged R&D expenditure credit, for tax years beginning on or 1 April 2024.

No, an assessment is made as part of your R&D claim where qualifying expenditure and total expenditure are reported.

Once you have claimed under the ERIS scheme in a single year then you can continue to qualify under that scheme for one further year, whether you reach the 30% target or not. This recognises the value of stability and consistency for SMEs.

If your qualifying R&D expenditure does not reach 30% of your total expenditure, then the merged R&D expenditure credit will apply (add details here on rates and above the line).

If you are a loss-making SME that invests heavily in R&D you should speak to your current advisor to confirm if you’re previous R&D spend would achieve the 30% figure and also establish the forecast ratio for your tax year starting on or after 1 April 2024. If your forecasted ratio is on the threshold of the 30% figure then it is more important than ever to make sure that you document your R&D projects and costs so that you can evidence and optimise your qualifying R&D expenditure. Tracking that through the year will help you understand which scheme will likely apply to you.

Contact us to find out how you can make the most of your claim

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