The graphics & signage industry is built on innovation. Finding new and more creative ways to express a client’s vision is our bread and butter. This begs the question: why aren’t more of us taking advantage of R&D tax credits when almost everyone qualifies for them?

Vism sat down with Dan Handforth from R&D tax incentive advisors & print and signage industry specialists, Kene Partners, to take a closer look at the scheme and how unbelievably easy it is to take advantage before the year ends.

R&D tax credits explained

Research and development (R&D) tax credits aren’t a new thing—they’ve been around for 17 years and exist with the sole purpose of rewarding UK businesses for their innovation initiatives.

“Through considerable research we’ve discovered that the most overlooked aspect of tax relief is in the area of R&D”, Adam Kene, (MD of Kene Partners) told Image Reports magazine. “Of all the creative enterprises it is, in particular, signage and large-format digital print companies that are the ones most engaged in R&D and which can therefore most benefit from these tax breaks.”

So why aren’t they? The simple fact is that many companies don’t believe they qualify and those who do feel as though the claim process is too complex to deal with. Dan Handforth encourages print & signage companies to reconsider, and here’s why… 

Which activities qualify for R&D tax credits?

Technology in the graphics & signage industries has progressed at an alarming rate in recent years, partly in response to customer demand and partly due to innovation in the wider technology field.

Innovative finishing options, high definition presses, automated processes and more sustainable/environmentally-friendly changes are all initiatives that hold the potential for HMRC tax relief, says Dan. And Kene Partners MD, Adam, agrees:

“If you, as a director of a digital print or signage company, want to be able to meet the demands of any customer, whether they’re asking for apparently straightforward results or far more complex work that requires any change or alteration in the equipment you’re using to produce the best work you can, the R&D tax relief scheme is almost certainly for you.”

According to Dan, if you can prove a project or initiative meets any of the following criteria, you have a solid R&D tax credit claim:

  1. An attempt to make advancement in science or technology
  2. The project was designed to overcome an element of industry uncertainty
  3. The project could not have been carried out readily by competent professionals/industry experts

Much of this should sound familiar and, if it does, you could have a solid tax relief claim on your hands!

How much can I get back with R&D tax credits?

The size of your company determines how much tax relief you can get. Dan gave the following estimations as a guide:

SMEs: Signage & print businesses with less than 500 employees or a turnover of less than €86m can claim up to £33,350 for every £100,000 spent on eligible R&D activities.

Large companies: Larger businesses that have over 500 employees or turnover more than €100m can claim something known as ‘research and development expenditure credits’, which are valued at 11% of the cost of eligible activities. 

Claiming R&D tax credits

Although you can submit a claim through the HMRC website, Dan advises working with an R&D professional so you can get the maximum amount of relief available to you.

Large format printing specialists RMC Digital revealed that they were able to submit a more substantial claim to HMRC in less time by working with Kene Partners. It took a single half-day workshop to collate details from relevant stakeholders, after which time, Kene Partners wrote a detailed report which could be submitted to HMRC:

“It was clear to us from the initial presentation that if we attempted to process the claim ourselves we would not have been able to get the full value of the claim,” RMC said in a recent interview.

The same was true of Signbox, who successfully claimed £125,000 by working with Kene Partners, showing the value of working with a team who really understand the print & signage industries. They recorded a great 2 minute video explaining how.

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“We previously made an R&D tax claim in-house. It was significantly less than the £125,000 that Kene Partners secured for us” Watch how Industry leaders, Signbox secured £125,000 in R&D Tax Credits to invest in the launch of a new e-Store and precision cutter #innovation

R&D tax advisors like Kene Partners work on a success-fee basis, so you won’t be charged anything unless your claim is successful. Dan also advises that you can backdate your claim for the previous two years to maximise your payout. Better yet, initial consultations are free!

So why not give it a try? R&D tax credits are an excellent way to fund even more innovation and to be rewarded for something you do already.