Crédit d’impôt recherche: which staff expenses are eligible?

The tax authorities have clarified whether expenses relating to temporary and support staff should be considered in the calculation of the Crédit d’impôt de recherche (CIR), the research tax credit. Commercial, industrial, craft or agricultural companies, which are taxed according to a real regime, can benefit from a research tax credit (CIR) for the research and development (R&D) expenses they incur. This tax advantage also benefits certain companies exempt from income tax as well as commercial companies carrying out a non-commercial activity.

Note: the research tax credit amounts, per calendar year, to 30% of eligible expenses. This rate is reduced to 5% for expenses incurred above € 100 million. Innovation expenses incurred by SMEs are eligible for a tax credit equal to 20% of eligible expenses, up to an overall limit of €400,000 per year.

Among the expenses to be considered are staff expenses. These are mainly the salaries, and the corresponding compulsory Cotisations sociales of researchers and research technicians who are directly and exclusively assigned to R&D operations. In this respect, the tax authorities have specified that expenses relating to temporary workers are also eligible if they are research staff directly and exclusively assigned to R&D operations.

On the other hand, according to the administration, expenses related to support staff must be excluded. In this respect, the administration has indicated that support activities are those that are not directly related to the scientific and technical tasks of R&D and that are not carried out by staff qualified for R&D. These include, for example, administrative, management, legal, regulatory, commercial, transportation, warehousing, maintenance, security, and quality activities. It considers that these expenses are covered by the lump sum for operating expenses.

Clarification: operating expenses are part of the expenses eligible for the CIR. In principle, they are evaluated at a flat rate of 43% of eligible staff expenses and 75% of the depreciation allowance for fixed assets allocated to research.

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