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What goes into the technical documentation?

Ryan Barr - Research associate
Research Manager
(Last updated on )

The technical documentation in a research and development (R&D) tax credit claim should provide a compelling demonstration of the following:

  • Why existing industry knowledge and capability was not sufficient.
  • Technological innovation(s) that your company has sought.
  • The challenges your company faced. 
  • The activities undertaken to overcome these challenges.

What is an R&D technical narrative?

In support of your R&D tax credit claim, you need to provide technical documentation. This is sometimes referred to as an R&D technical narrative. These terms all refer to the write-ups of your R&D projects, which need to include certain specific details listed above. Many businesses submitting their first R&D tax claim themselves are keen to see an R&D technical narrative example to make sure it contains all the required information.

Writing an R&D technical narrative

The required R&D technical documentation describes how a company’s activities and projects have been assessed to determine if they qualify for the R&D tax credit incentives. There may be commercial aspects of a project which cannot be included; these should be isolated. In this way, the R&D tax credit documentation should be able to detail how your associated costs have been treated.

R&D technical narrative example: the need for sample projects

The R&D technical documentation requires case studies that explain some example R&D projects in detail. These demonstrate to HMRC that the guidelines for R&D tax credits are being properly applied and have been understood.

The case studies need to include R&D examples with sufficient detail for an HMRC inspector to understand how the projects you have undertaken have been assessed, and how they align with the R&D guidelines. As far as possible, you should explain your projects in layman’s terms. However, be careful to explain the technological complexities you faced in enough detail to support your R&D tax credit claim.

Since August 2023, HMRC has required this technical narrative to follow a set format for each example project included, detailing:

  • What is the main field of science or technology relating to the innovation?
  • What was the baseline level of science or technology that your company planned to advance?
  • What advance in that scientific or technological knowledge did your company aim to achieve?
  • The scientific or technological uncertainties that your company faced.
  • How did your project seek to overcome these uncertainties?

At ForrestBrown, our team comprises chartered tax advisers, chartered accountants, technical sector specialists, and two former-HMRC inspectors. We work with you to ensure the right information is included in comprehensive R&D technical documentation, so you can be assured that your R&D tax credit claim is both robust and defensible.

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