The R&D Tax Credits Definition of Science

The R&D Tax Credits Definition of Science
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 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.


Most individuals undertaking projects in science and technology have their own thoughts and definitions on what 'Science' actually means. To overcome this ambiguity the government's BEIS guidelines specifically define 'Science' for the purpose of R&D Tax Credits.

BEIS Definition

"Science is the systematic study of the nature and behaviour of the physical and material universe. Work in the arts, humanities and social sciences, including economics, is not science for the purpose of these Guidelines. Mathematical techniques are frequently used in science, but mathematical advances in and of themselves are not science unless they are advances in representing the nature and behaviour of the physical and material universe."
"These Guidelines apply equally to work in any branch or field of science."


Any preconception of the meaning of the term 'Science' is often unhelpful for making a claim - as the government have clearly defined the term.
As seen above, this definition requires the systematic study of the physical or material universe and excludes a number of fields that many industries may have incorrectly thought would potentially be eligible as R&D for Tax Purposes.
At RD Relief, we find it unfortunate that Social Sciences and Mathematical projects in particular cannot be directly included within an R&D Tax Credits claim. However, in the case of Maths, we most often find that clients are still able to claim for the costs of their activities when they consider their wider R&D project - as frequently the maths is required as a part of a wider science (or technology) project.

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