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What goes into the technical narrative?

by Tom Heslin

The technical narrative in a research and development (R&D) tax credit claim should provide a compelling demonstration of the technological innovation(s) that your company has sought, the challenges you faced, the resources used, and the outcomes achieved. It will usually explain how your R&D activities were assessed – as well as describing your projects.

There is no standard format for presenting the information in a technical narrative to HMRC. However, it will usually begin with a background of your company to explain the context of your R&D work.

The technical narrative 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 narrative should be able to detail how your associated costs have been treated.

Sample projects in an R&D tax credit technical narrative

You should also include case studies that explain some example projects in detail. These demonstrate to HMRC that the guidelines for R&D are being properly applied and have been understood.

The case studies need 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, but be careful to explain the technological complexities you faced in enough detail to support your claim.

As well as explaining the associated costs and some example projects, your technical narrative might include:

  • Some contextual information about your company;
  • Some details of the key individuals who have worked on your projects; and
  • Some of the technical difficulties you encountered in your projects.

At ForrestBrown our team comprises chartered tax advisers, chartered accountants, technical specialists (including a rocket scientist!), and a former HMRC inspector. We work with you to ensure the right information is included in a comprehensive technical narrative, giving you peace of mind that your claim is both robust and defensible.

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This article was last updated on 1 August 2018.

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