Spain’s R&D Tax credit is generally set at a 25% of qualified R&D expenses. Additionally, when the expenditure exceeds the average of the 2 previous years, that incremental QE receives a 42% benefit. A monetised tax credit is also available, at a slightly lower benefit, which also requires pre-approval and usually has a 2 year wait to receive the benefit.
The definition of R&D applied for the evaluation of projects is rather tight, with a higher degree of novelty required.
There is another possible qualification for projects as ‘Technological Innovation’. This type of project is eligible for a 12% tax credit and the evaluation criteria are lighter, and allows many more projects to qualify.
|Spain all Companies
||R&D project requirements can be hard to meet due to the level of novelty required, which is generally understood to be at an international rather than company or domestic level. There is another category “Technological Innovation (TI)” which does not require the same level of “ground-breaking achievements” and has easier evaluation criteria.
Although not mandatory, pre-approval is generally advisable especially for larger projects and for monetization of the tax credit (cashback) is a must. There are two options, public cashback, where claimed 80% of the total tax credit with two years wait to receive the credits with some requirements about employment maintenance and reinvestment. Second option is private cashback or technological patronage, where the rights are transferred to a private third party through a commercial operation. This mechanism is known as Tax Lease.
|Eligible Claim Period
||Whenever pre-approval is sought, claims must be submitted before 6 months and 25 days after the end of the company’s financial year; companies can only look back one financial year. The external certification process typically takes 2 months and this process should be completed before placing the claim. The Ministry of Economy can take up to 2-3 years to respond.
Tax relief without pre-approval is declared in the company’s tax statement, and requires additional documentation only in the case of tax audit. Claims without pre-approval may include many previous financial years.
Following the law closely, up to 18 previous fiscal years can be considered to claim the credit. However, it is quite common for companies with greater aversion to risk to limit to the last 4 years.
||The first definition of R&D based tax relief dates back to 1978, but numerous revisions have improved the mechanism. The Law 27/2014, including all modifications up to this date, regulates the current benefit.|
||Spanish R&D claims are looked over by Government Tax Agency, where the claim is examined by a technical expert almost immediately. Pre-approval is voluntary, and generally indicated for large projects. However, all applicants can be asked to present a full technical justification or report in case of tax audit.|
|Regulating Body Policies
||If no pre-approval is claimed, tax relief is evaluated by the Tax Agency only in case of a general tax audit. Pre-approval is given by the Ministry of Economy, and even in the cases when it is mandatory, this report is not binding for the Tax Agency that might apply different criteria.|
|Consultations for binding rulings can be placed at the Tax Agency, and while restrictive, their result is absolutely binding in case of audit. Previous binding rulings for similar projects are public (and thus jeopardise any sensitive IP) and can be used to argue in favour of a project in case of audit.|
||The following are counted as eligible costs:
|Issues to Consider