R&D Tax Credits for Civil Engineering

R&D Tax Credits for Civil Engineering
The software underpinning RDRelief was sold to one of the big-4 professional service firms in 2018. Consequently, the brand is no longer in operation.
  • R&D Tax Advisors are invited to find out more about the Inspired.tax claim preparation software.
  • Otherwise, please feel free to continue to browse this website for useful information regarding claiming R&D Tax Credits in the UK. However, beware that none of the information has been updated since 2018.


Civil Engineering deals with the design, construction, maintenance and operations of real-world infrastructure projects and systems including buildings, roads/tunnels/bridges, dams, water supply and treatment. We frequently find projects that qualify for R&D Tax Credits within the Civil Engineering industry.

Eligibility Criteria

Main article: Eligibility Criteria
The UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has defined the types of Civil engineering projects that qualify for R&D Tax Credits. However, the guidelines are generic and apply to all industries, rather than just Civil engineering, but this briefing will help you assess which projects will be eligible and subsequently which of the costs incurred will qualify.
The eligibility criteria that define what it means for a project to qualify as R&D for tax purposes states:

Technological Advance in Civil Engineering

An Advance in Civil Engineering that would be eligible as R&D for tax purposes could be the development of improved design processes to reduce the time and cost or to improve output.
The key point around the Technological Advance is that you must be going forwards from the industry baselines of knowledge and capability, which means that you can't just be coping, or reusing information in the public domain.

Technological Uncertainty in Civil Engineering

The Technological Uncertainty of a Civil Engineering project refers to where a competent professional is uncertain whether the proposed Technology is feasible, or what would be the best way to achieve it in practice.
Civil Engineers typically face Technological Uncertainty relating to climate and geotechnical properties, which mean that conventional solutions are not possible and R&D is required.
Also, lots of projects are being driven by environmental factors, with the aim of reducing carbon footprints, possibly by trying new and untested materials!
For example, the Uncertainty may be that the competent professionals are unsure which design options would be the best taking into account various conflicting requirements and performance concerns. For example, if the engineers are working on non-conventional piling solutions for construction and how to achieve these in practice is unclear.

Includable Activities

A project that qualifies for R&D Tax Credits starts when work to resolve the Technological Uncertainty commences and ends when the Uncertainty is resolved or work otherwise ceases.
On a Civil Engineering project, the includable costs often include concept design, schematic and detailed design phases. Sometimes the R&D can continue into the construction phase if it was not possible to verify the resolution of Uncertainty within the design phases.
Project management of the R&D activities is includable in the claim, where it is for managing the R&D activities (in addition to the time by technicians and administrators working on the R&D projects).

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