Claiming R&D Tax Credits for Cosmetic and Aesthetic Effects

Claiming R&D Tax Credits for Cosmetic and Aesthetic Effects

Background

A common question to R&D Tax Credit advisors is whether Cosmetic and Aesthetic effects can be included within an R&D Tax Credits claim. Like many aspects of R&D Tax Relief, the answer is not a straightforward one, as it depends upon the nature of actual work undertaken and how the project links together.

BEIS Definition

"Cosmetic and aesthetic qualities are not of themselves science or technology, and so work to improve the cosmetic or aesthetic appeal of a process, material, device, product or service would not in itself be R&D. However, work to create a desired cosmetic or aesthetic effect through the application of science or technology can require a scientific or technological advance, and resolving the scientific or technological uncertainty associated with such a project would therefore be R&D."

Analysis

The majority of R&D projects undertaken in the UK include Cosmetic and Aesthetic effects, however it can be very complex to determine whether these parts of a project will qualify as R&D for Tax Purposes.
As defined above, if the work is to develop technology (or science) to achieve a cosmetic or aesthetic effect then that work could potentially qualify for R&D Tax Credits, but a cosmetic or aesthetic effect on its own would not qualify.
For example, in software development designing a webpage for to be aesthetically pleasing, or for accessibility etc would not itself qualify as a scientific or technological advance. However, if you are developing a new JavaScript framework to be able to render graphics in a new way to improve the appearance of the site, then this could be qualifying.

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