Research Staff Bonuses: What they are and how and when to apply them

A 40% discount on business contributions can be applied to SS quotas for common contingencies with respect to research staff hired on the payroll.

As we have already detailed in the blog, companies that have R&D activities - and also technological innovation - can benefit from some grants and subsidies.

However, these are not the only advantages that exist when a company decides to bet on research as part of its DNA. There is a non-tax incentive more aimed at the number of dedicated personnel within the company to these R+D+i tasks. We talk about the Social Security contribution bonuses for research staff attached to R+D+i activities, established by Royal Decree 475/2014, of June 13. These tax incentives mean that companies can enjoy a 40% discount on business contributions to Social Security contributions due to common contingencies with respect to research staff determined in article 2.

Overview of the bonuses

  • They represent 40% savings in the cost of common contingencies for your technical workers in Social Security.
  • They apply to all the R+D+i staff you have within the company who dedicate more than 85% of their time to R+D+i activities.
  • They can be applied automatically.
  • For less than 10 R+D+i workers, it is not necessary to certify, so it will be enough for the company to justify the process on its own, through a technical report and time control. At least 10 R+D+i workers must be certified by means of a Binding Motivated Report, for which the company must undergo an audit of the project, including interviews with the personnel to be rewarded, etc.

Who is entitled to research staff bonuses?

Article 2 establishes that employees who are included in groups 1,2,3 and 4 of contributions to the General Social Security Scheme shall be entitled to them. It is important that they develop their research and development activity and technological innovation exclusively and for the entirety of its time.

Technically, it does not need to be 100% of the time, since it can be admitted that 15% of the time is dedicated to training, outreach or similar tasks.

What is irrelevant is the type of contract, since the bonus can be requested for permanent workers, who are in internships or with a contract for work or service. In the latter case, however, it is necessary that its duration be extended for more than 3 months.

Requirements of the entities receiving the bonuses

Companies receiving Research Staff bonuses must meet the following two requirements:

  • Comply with the general conditions required for the acquisition and maintenance of Social Security contribution benefits.
  • Not to have been excluded from access to the benefits derived from the application of employment programs due to the commission of very serious non-prescribed violations.

Beneficiary entities or companies may automatically apply the bonuses to the corresponding contribution documents, without prejudice to their control and review by the Labour and Social Security Inspectorate and the General Social Security Treasury.

Bonificaciones Por Personal Investigador

How do you need to certify the dedication of research staff?

To carry out certain control and avoid fraudulent practices, companies or entities are asked to apply this bonus if they have a dozen or more researchers. This company must provide a Binding Motivated Report (IMV) to be issued by the Ministry of Science and Innovation or the Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI). Any company, of any size, carrying out R+D+i activities can request the report. The deadline for applying for an IMV is July 25 of each year in the case of the natural tax year, or 6 months and 25 calendar days after the end of the tax period.

In this case, the interested party must first request a certification body to certify that the staff for which the organization has been subsidized is dedicated exclusively to R+D+i tasks.

For their part, applicant companies must also meet a series of requirements, as mentioned above.

Eligible activities by research staff, according to their sector

Eligible activities for Industrial personnel are:

  • Analysis and preliminary draft
  • Study and specifications
  • Mechanical design
  • Fabrication and assembly (prototype)
  • Setup and testing
  • Evolutionary maintenance

The activities eligible for ICT personnel are:

  • Analysis and design
  • Development and construction
  • Evolutionary and preventive development
  • Tests (unit tests, integration...)
  • Technological renewal
  • Integration
  • Migration
  • Training or knowledge management

Benefits of Research Staff Bonuses

Companies and entities that can benefit from such bonuses can enjoy some significant advantages.

The first, and most obvious, is that spending on research staff dedicated to R+D+i activities will be reduced.

On the other hand, obtaining these bonuses is incompatible with the tax deductions for R+D+i that can be obtained in the case of 'innovative SMEs'. In other organizations, this compatibility may exist as long as both incentives do not apply to the same researcher.

What other tax incentives are there besides research staff bonuses?

Tax Lease or Tax Equity, is a financing instrument capable of channeling private investment to the research sector.

Tax deductions for R+D+i. Reduction of the corporate tax rate for carrying out R+D+i activities within the company.

Innovative SME Seal. It is not a tax incentive in itself, but it allows the compatibility of two tax incentives for the same workers: Bonuses for Research Staff and Tax Deductions for R+D+i. This is a recognition by MINECINN for companies that have an innovative character.

Patent Box, this is a tax incentive for the transfer of patents. It is also known as the reduction of income from certain intangible assets. It is a fiscal stimulus to reward innovation and encourage creation and new designs.

More: Deductions for R+D+i for startups and SMEs