patent box

R&D tax credits: Need to know tax tips for entrepreneurs (webinar)

In this free webinar, Steve Livingston (Founder & MD of ip tax solutions) walks Founders and Entrepreneurs through the basics of the UK R&D tax credit incentive.

This is a ‘back to basics’ seminar for company founders / entrepreneurs who would like to learn more about the Research & Development tax incentive and whether it might apply to their business.

We cover:

  1. What it is and why it was introduced
  2. An overview of the (generous) tax benefits
  3. What companies qualify and qualifying costs
  4. The process for making a claim to HM Revenue & Customs
  5. Why you should consider this incentive for any business
  6. Q&A

This free webinar lasts 55mins

Steve Livingston is a chartered accountant and experienced tax advisor to entrepreneurs. He is also the founder of ip tax solutions, specialists in advising fast growth companies.

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When tax planning can be good!

Life is a precious gift. Don't waste it being unhappy, dissatisfied, or anything else you can be

Tax planning is getting a real battering at the moment – in some cases, for all the right reasons – but there are many instances where effective tax planning is essential for fast growth businesses and, in fact, positively encouraged by the government.

Aside from printing money to erode away much of our UK budget deficit (…), the Government appreciates that by encouraging entrepreneurs to build hi-tech companies here in the UK then we might have a fighting chance of seeing a brighter economic picture in the short-medium term.

To help us achieve this, the Government introduced 5 key statutory tax incentives that they absolutely and positively want entrepreneurs to claim:

  1. Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) / Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)
  2. Enterprise Management Incentive Scheme (EMI)
  3. R&D tax credits
  4. Patent Box
  5. Entrepreneur’s Relief 

As a chartered accountant specialising in advising fast growth companies in these areas – you can find plenty more about these tax incentives on this site or by getting in touch – in my view:

If all UK entrepreneurial businesses took advantage of these five statutory tax incentives (where applicable) and used the funds saved to reinvest in new jobs, new marketing channels and new business ventures; then surely we could reinvigorate our economy with fresh, innovative ip rich companies that can compete on a global scale

Enough of the ‘tax bashing’ – let’s make sure that our entrepreneurs have all of the tools necessary at their disposal if they are to get us back on top – an effective and supportive tax regime for entrepreneurs is one of them (and the good news in the UK is that – for now – we have one…).

Image attribution: @Doug88888 via Compfight

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5 essential tax tips for innovative companies in 2013

As an ambitious entrepreneur and founder of a fast growth business you may benefit from reviewing the following generous tax breaks as part of your 2013 planning:

1. Patent box – introduced with effect from 1 April 2013, companies will be able to elect into this new beneficial company tax rate and pay tax at just 10%. This new rate of corporation tax will be phased in over a four year period.

Innovative UK companies should be taking steps now to ensure that their patents qualify and apply across the widest possible range of products and services to maximise tax savings.

2. R&D tax relief – the SME R&D tax relief continues to get better and better with the enhanced corporation tax deduction now at 225% with no de minimus spend nor PAYE cap on repayments.

Average claims are approx £40,000 yet less than 1% of UK SMEs claim it – are you missing out?

3. Entrepreneur’s relief – when you come to sell the shares in your company you could benefit from this preferred rate of capital gains tax of just 10% on the first £10m of lifetime gains. You must be an officer or employee of the trading company and hold at least 5% of the ordinary shares and voting rights for the 12 months leading up to disposal of the shares to qualify.

You must ensure that the qualifying conditions are not (inadvertently) breached especially if a sale is on the cards in the foreseeable future.

4. EMI share options – the Enterprise Management Incentive share option scheme (EMI) has long been an attractive tool for retaining and incentivising key employees, however, it’s about to get even better….

It has been a long running source of frustration that the option holders struggled to satisfy the requirements of entrepreneur’s relief (ie they rarely tick the 5% share holding requirement nor the 12 month minimum  holding period), however, changes are afoot to allow option holders to accrue their 12 month qualifying holding period from the date of grant and for sub 5% holdings to qualify. This promises to be a great development.

5. Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) – raising funding for early stage (< 2 years) trading companies is made a whole lot easier when the investors can receive a 50% income tax break on the funds invested (potentially up to 78% tax relief up until 5 April 2013)!

Companies are limited to £150,000 in total under SEIS whereas individuals have a £100,000 annual investment allowance.

These are just a handful of potentially lucrative tax breaks that should be high on your agenda if you are to release much needed cash into your business and get off to a cracking start in 2013!

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SMEs could miss out on £1bn Patent Box tax relief

Green packagingIn the same way that £ms are potentially being lost on R&D tax credit claims across the north west, it also appears from my discussions with companies that too few businesses are aware of the forthcoming Patent Box company tax relief.

Admittedly, the Patent Box is a brand new tax incentive to be introduced with effect from 1 April 2013 but some companies will already be in financial accounting period ends that straddle this date so are effectively already potentially eligible.

The Patent Box will allow for worldwide income derived from qualifying registered patents to be subject to a reduced UK corporation tax rate of just 10%. This will result in a 50%+ reduction in the rate of corporation tax suffered – so a company with say £1m of taxable profits of which 50% is derived from patents could save over £30,000 in tax per year!

The scope of the Patent Box is also extremely wide in that a product need only physically incorporate a single patented invention for the income from the entire product to fall within the Patent Box.

HM Revenue & Customs have budgeted that this tax relief will be worth over £1bn to the UK economy yet many companies may unwittingly miss out on claiming their share if they are unaware of this new Patent Box tax incentive.

If you have either registered patents; patents pending or have simply held off registering any patents – now might be a good time to assess your eligibility for the Patent Box as there are a few hoops you need to jump through if you are to have a qualifying claim.

We can help you model the potential tax savings for your company and assist you in preparing your systems to maximise your Patent Box claim.

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10 need to know facts about the UK Patent Box

Patents are only for the old machine

You may already be successfully claiming R&D tax credits for your fast growth company. If so, you might be wondering what’s next in terms of tax incentives to assist your business once you have gone beyond the research and development phase and into the phase of commercial exploitation?

Up until now, there hasn’t been much….

However, we now have the latest UK tax incentive for intellectual property rich companies – the Patent Box, which kicks in from 1 April 2013.

The UK Patent Box is a £1bn+ tax incentive that represents potentially one of the most significant tax incentives ever introduced in the UK.

Here are 10 facts to get you started – plenty more detail to come in future posts:

  1. 10% corporation tax rate will apply to company income falling within the Patent Box – this more than slashes the corporation tax rate in half!
  2. Applies to qualifying patent derived profits generated from 1 April 2013 – 10% tax rate phased in over four years
  3. Companies must satisfy specific ownership requirements to one or more patents to fall within this regime
  4. Patents must be granted for the relief to apply. For patents pending, you can track the relevant income for six years and claim the tax relief upon grant
  5. Patent must be granted by certain designated patent offices to qualify: the UK Intellectual Property Office; the European Patent Office or other patent offices within certain designated EU countries
  6. Companies must take an active role in developing the invention to which the patent applies to qualify – passive ownership will not suffice.
  7. For groups, the company that holds the patent must carry out an active role to manage the IP
  8. Relevant patent profits are calculated by applying either an apportionment or streaming methodology – apportionment is the default calculation methodology
  9. Disappointingly the calculations are complex as you must run through a six stage process to reach the qualifying relevant patent profits –  but this is where we can help.
  10. You enter the patent box regime by election – it is not automatic.

Given that this relief kicks in from 1 April 2013, your company may already fall within this regime if your financial year end falls after this date e.g. those with an April, May or June  year end!

If you already have patents or are considering filing patents, you need to start planning now to maximise this opportunity. 

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Ticking the UK patent box

The Patent Box lands in the UK on 1 April 2013 as part of the government’s bid to make the UK a more attractive and globally competitive place to do business.

I won’t dish out the detail of the patent box right now suffice to say that it will provide a lower rate of UK corporation tax for patent income (10%). The main rate of corporation tax is currently 26% and will be 24% at the time of the introduction of this new relief.

The patent box is not new – other countries have successfully piloted similar schemes (some EU countries with more attractive patent box rates than our proposed rate) and now the US is taking a serious look.

We already have the R&D tax credit in the UK to reward companies engaged in pushing the envelope of knowledge in the areas of science and technology although some 12 years post intro there are still many companies that are struggling to get to grips with this increasingly attractive tax incentive and many who have yet to make a claim (much to my frustration!).

HMRC recently held a meeting outlining the new patent box relief (slides here). I am not the only one left thinking that once companies have gone to the hassle of calculating the profits attributable to this lower rate, there may not be much eligible for the special 10% tax rate!

This is a good initiative but yet again the implementation of this tax incentive leaves a headache for companies and their advisors. What are your thoughts on what you’ve seen so far?

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7 tax incentives for UK digital & technology startups

HOT OFF THE PRESS: We’ve just launched a brand new online course that shows you exactly how to complete and file your SEIS / EIS advance assurance application with HMRC. We walk you through every stage of filling out the form plus share some additional resources to help ensure a smoother passage through HMRC. Access it by clicking here. [Use the code: SEISAA2017 to get 50% off in January]

Having taken the risk and side-stepped the typical job route to become a tech entrepreneur and wealth-creator, its a good job that there are still some tempting UK tax incentives out there to support you.

Here are just 7 tax ideas or tips that you should be thinking about for your digital technology start-up:

  1. Entrepreneur’s Relief – if you hold 5% or more of the shares in your startup for 12 months and work as an officer /  director or employee, then when you come to sell the shares your effective tax rate will be just 10% on the gain. This is limited to the first £10m of gain over your lifetime . Sure beats an income tax top rate of 45%! Make sure you take this into account when setting up your company to ensure founders (and key employees) maximise this essential tax relief. You’d be gutted if you unwittingly held just 4% of the shares!
  2. R&D tax credits – get rewarded by the tax man for innovating in your sector by claiming this lucrative tax relief. Many entrepreneurs mistakenly believe that this tax incentive relates solely to industries with scientists wearing white lab coats but this couldn’t be further from the truth. This relief applies across industries – I have enjoyed particular success in the tech sector, for example, I have secured a £250k tax refund for a tech startup that had been (wrongly) advised by its accountants that it wouldn’t qualify for this relief! Most repayments are processed by HMRC within 30 days of a claim and you only have 2 years to make a claim before you’re time-barred. Don’t leave this cash on the table.
  3. Enterprise Investment Scheme – angel investors and private individuals are incentivised to invest in (perceived) higher risk investments like early stage start-up companies with tax breaks like the Enterprise Investment Scheme (or EIS as its more commonly called). Now is not the time for the exact detail suffice to say that many tech or digital startups would fall within the qualifying criteria thereby allowing smart investors to reclaim 30% income tax relief subject to certain limits. Just be aware for now that this is out there to tempt investors. [Update: Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) introduced since this post]
  4. Temporary National Insurance Holiday – for new businesses there is a recently announced temporary NI holiday for the first 10 employees limited to £5,000 per employee or £50,000 overall. The scheme officially kicks off in September 2010 however there should be relief for businesses started post 22 June 2010. This relief is location specific with most of the South East barred so you need to check qualifying locations. Startups across the North will qualify so now is a good time to start building your team.[Update: Now gone – there is an Employer’s NIC £3,000 annual allowance at the time of writing Jan 2017]
  5. Get paid at mouthwatering tax rates compared to most employees – once you get past the pre-revenue stage and start making profits, shareholders of small companies have the flexibility to structure their remuneration package to optimise take-home pay. Why pay up over 20%, 40% or even 45% income tax and incur huge National Insurance costs on employee salaries when you can pay yourself a combination of a small salary, dividends (and pension contributions) which, if carefully managed, can result in £nil income tax or NI for c£40k of remuneration. [Update: Dividend tax rule changes since 6 April 2016 reduce benefits]
  6. Get 100% tax relief on your new equipment – so you need to invest in new Macbooks, laptops, servers and other gadgets for your business. You can claim 100% tax writing down allowances (‘Annual Investment Allowance‘) against profits on your ‘first’ £200,000 (!) of capital expenditure each year [note: this relief has bounced around in recent years since; be wary of timing – it is £200,000 at the time of this update (Jan 2017)]
  7. Patent innovation box – coming soon (allegedly) will be a ‘patent box’ which will allow income or profits on registered patents to attract lower company tax rates of c10% (as opposed to a current lowest corporation tax rate of 20%.

If you’d like to discuss how any of these tax incentives could be applied in your business, please drop me a line via the contact page or you can find professional specialist advice and help at ip tax solutions. Happy to discuss.

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