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How to calculate patent box relief

Gateley Capitus

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What is Patent Box Relief?

The Patent Box is a tax incentive for companies to undertake research and development activities that results in patented products. The UK government encourages businesses to protect their intellectual property (IP) by providing this incentive, which is an important part of the government’s policy to create high-skilled jobs, increase the country’s scientific and technological base and ensure that money from inventing is kept in the UK. Many nations in the global competition for foreign direct investment in research and development offer similar schemes. The UK needs to stay a competitive tax environment and prevent intellectual property created in the UK from being moved offshore.

The Patent Box allows profits derived from patents to be taxed at a corporation tax rate of just 10%, which is significantly lower than the headline rate of 19% (increasing to 25% from April 2023).

Profits are eligible if they fit into the ‘Box’.  That is, they meet the relevant tax definition.

How does a company qualify for Patent Box?

In broad terms, a company will qualify for the Patent Box if it has made a qualifying development on their patents and earns money from those patents.

Profits that are eligible for Patent Box include those from the sale of patented products (including goods that incorporate a patented product), licensing out patent rights, or using a patented process.

The company (or a group company) must also have contributed to the patent in one of two ways. Either, the business created or developed the patent or its invention. Or, the company will have made the patented invention into the product that it became.

Where a company is a member of a group, it may also need to demonstrate that it actively owns the patented invention and takes a significant role in managing its whole portfolio of eligible patents

How does a company claim Patent Box?

If a company has elected into the patent box scheme, they can record the allowance for this on their corporation tax return. The allowance can be recorded on the original return or an amended return filed within statutory time limits.

When calculating the Patent Box relief, it is best to submit details of the calculations to the HMRC alongside the tax return. This way, if something goes wrong, they can be checked without a formal compliance check. Accessing the Patent Box scheme can be done in 2 easy steps. First, make an election in the two years following the fiscal year in which the company earned relevant profits and income. Second, include this income on the tax return. There is no special form of words for the election and no box to fill out on the tax return.

What patents qualify?

Patents granted by the following are eligible where they are owned or exclusively licensed by the company:

  • The UK Intellectual Property Office
  • The European Patent Office
  • Relevant IP authorities in these countries in the European Economic Area: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden. 

How does the calculation work?

The Patent Box benefit calculation follows a complicated series of steps. At a high level, these include the following:

  • Identify relevant IP profits using a ‘streaming’ methodology, which requires a just and reasonable apportionment of a company’s expenses
  • Deduct a ‘routine profit’ which is a notional 10% return on certain operating expenses 
  • Deduct profit derived from the company’s marketing assets/brand 
  • Multiply by the R&D fraction, which limits the benefit of the Patent Box where the company did not carry out all the relevant R&D itself
  • The resulting figure is the amount eligible for the reduced 10% corporate tax rate 

What are the recent Patent Box Statistics?

  • 1405 Companies claimed PB relief
  • £1,129m benefit claimed 
  • 28% of claiming companies are large companies
  • 92% of benefit claimed by large companies
  • 54% of claimant companies from Manufacturing sector
  • Average claim size is £84k for SMEs

    *Figures from HMRC during the 2018 – 2019 period.

Do you need further help calculating patent box relief that you could be eligible for? 

Every company’s situation is slightly different. We recommend checking your claim with an R&D tax specialist listed below and visit our Tax service page for information on all of the services we offer.

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