Guide CIR du MESR 2023 : nouvelles recommandations pour constituer le dossier justificatif et précisions sur les agréments

The 2023 vintage of the CIR Guide from the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR), was published at the end of 2023, as part of the government's policy to encourage innovation and research in France.

The CIR 2023 Guide is a support developed jointly by MESR and the tax authorities. Although he has no legal or regulatory valueit provides interesting clarification of the Ministry's interpretation of the Research Tax Credit provisions (CIR). 

In terms of form, this new edition is designed to be intuitive. The medium has been modernized with the addition of QR Codes, which make it easy to navigate between the various media referred to in the guide (BOFIP, forms, links to official websites, etc.).

Basically, the CIR 2023 Guide provides us with details on the section dedicated to approvals as well as recommendations for compiling supporting files.

Our innovation tax experts have analyzed the various points of the CIR 2023 Guide, as well as the subtleties of the text.

Article summary:

Eligible R&D activities: what are the recommendations of the CIR 2023 Guide?

Definition of R&D activity and Frascati Manual criteria

The Guide CIR 2023 provides some brief details on the five criteria of the Frascati Manual. The Frascati Manual criteria are used to qualify an R&D (Research and Development) activity.

The Guide CIR 2023 of the MESR defines each of the five criteria in a few words:

  • The new is defined as "aim for new results
  • The creativity must "be based on original and non-obvious notions and hypotheses".
  • Theuncertainty must "be uncertain about the final outcome".
  • The systematicity must "to be part of a planning and budgeting process".
  • The transferability must The aim is to "produce results that can be reproduced".

Although these details provide little information, they do have the merit of further clarify the Ministry's expectations. We regret the lack of illustrations for each criterion.

Essential documentation of R&D indicators

This edition of the CIR 2023 Guide adds a box to clarify what it means by R&D indicators:

"When the R&D operation has given rise to an action that can be considered as a research indicator, this must be demonstrated in the supporting file by a brief summary or internet links (to a European project, a patent database, a proceedings conference report, etc.) or an attached document (publication in PDF format, CIFRE contract, research collaboration contract, ANR contract, etc.)".

In this way, the Ministry hopes that R&D indicators are documented and not simply cited in the supporting files.

For example: International publication (high indicator) > Project in collaboration with an approved subcontractor (low/medium indicator)

Broadening the notion of "experimental development

With regard to trial production, the 2023 vintage of the CIR Guide adds that :

"Work consisting in carrying out an industrial transposition on a dedicated pilot plant or on a production line temporarily assigned to the project can constitute R&D activities."

This clarification has the merit of broaden the notion of "experimental development".. This could make it possible to expand the range of activities eligible for experimental development and, more broadly, for the tax credit.

Would you like to make your CIR declaration more secure, so that it becomes a sustainable lever for financing your innovation? Now's the time to talk to our experts - make an appointment!

Justification of personnel costs: the CIR 2023 Guide mentions the importance of CVs and time spent per R&D operation.

The Ministry specifies the data expected in the company's supporting documents concerning the conditions of eligibility of personnel for each operation.

These data are presented in the appendix to the CIR 2023 Guide :

In addition toprecisely identify personnelthe Ministry is asking describe everyone's role in the R&D operation (skills, scientific and technical tasks precisely performed to help lift the barriers). It also essential to be able to provide all the necessary supporting documents for each request from the authorities (diplomas, CV and job descriptions).

The CIR 2023 Guide specifies that, in addition to :

  • the highest diploma, with the year obtained and the awarding institution
  • the job description for the position held
  • time spent on the R&D operation

Some of these elements were already requested, but in the calculation summary proposed by MESR.

This granularity is in line with the tax audits we have been carrying out recently. The emphasis is on the role of each employee. We need to be able to identify each employee's real contribution to R&D work. This contribution must be in line with the employee's function, role and degree.

Have you thought about equipping your teams with an R&D time and activity tracking tool?

Discover MyInnoTime, our digital solution specifically developed to keep track of the time spent by your R&D staff and secure your CIR!

CIR 2023 guide to zero-interest loans

The new CIR 2023 Guide deletes the paragraph relating to the Marseille CAA ruling of 11/17/2019, n°17MA00208, which considers that zero-interest loans (PTZ) for innovation granted by Bpifrance (formerly OSEO) constitute public subsidies.

Nevertheless, it is specified that the Ministry's position of requiring that the deduction of the PTZ from the taxpayer's CIR remain unchanged.

When should you declare your 2023 CIR?

This year, companies will have to file their 2023 CIR returns by May 3, 2024.

For a company with a financial year starting between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023 :

"The CIR is calculated on the basis of the calendar year, regardless of the company's fiscal year. The company will file its CIR return for 2023 at the same time:

  • The declaration of income for sole proprietorships by May 3, 2024 at the latest
  • That its balance statement for companies subject to corporate income tax, no later than May 15, 2024."

Reminder of CIR control procedures

Request for information from MESR and response time

The MESR CIR 2023 Guide reminds us that reimbursement of the CIR does not constitute validation of the CIR. And specifies that "Without referral to the MESR, the R&D nature of the work cannot be validated.

On the subject of instruction by MESRI, the guide states that :

 "Before drawing up the final opinion, the Ministry of Higher Education and Research may send the audited company a request for further information, to which it must reply within thirty days. If the information provided by the company in response to this request does not enable the assessment to be completed, the officer in charge of the inspection may send the inspected company a second request for information, to which it must reply within thirty days. must respond within thirty days.

The previous guide did not set a time limit. We advise you to prepare your file as you go along, so as to anticipate these requests and meet these deadlines.

Technical file to be provided in the event of a request from the tax authorities

The Ministry has removed the requirement for technical documents to be drafted in English. The guide now provides for this possibility on an exceptional basis, with the agreement of the MESR. In addition, for appendices in a foreign language (contracts, for example), a translation may be requested. Thus technical documents must be written in French, except in exceptional cases.

This withdrawal can be explained by a desire to facilitate the processing of files. We note, however, that the state of the art requested from companies must be based on the entirety of international knowledge. When translating texts, studies or articles, it's not impossible for technical elements to lose their clarity or even their meaning.


Having trouble compiling your state of the art? This is the point most often challenged by the tax authorities in the event of an inspection of the technical file.

Meet us and find out more

In the context of a tax audit, the Ministry's services indicate that they can organize a meeting with the company and that beforehand the service can send a pre-report to better prepare for the audit. exchanges "and then provide additional information. If, at the end of the scientific appraisal, the company has not provided the supporting documents needed to assess the R&D work and the expenditure devoted to it, the MESR officials find that the allocation of expenditure is not justified. A final, advisory opinion will be sent to the company and to the tax authorities, who alone are competent to draw all the necessary conclusions.

It is therefore up to the administration to draw conclusions from the MESR's opinion.

In its CIR 2023 Guide, the French Ministry draws companies' attention to the need to describe R&D operations scientifically ". The guide also specifies thatdon't limit yourself to a commercial approach to your company's project the company shall :

"Identify and justify precisely the scientific or technical challenge of the R&D operation, its scientific approach and expected results. It will also describe the precise role of each of the personnel involved in the R&D operation, as well as the materials and equipment used."

What about Young Innovative Company tax credits in the CIR 2023 Guide?

File to provide in case of rescrit

On the subject of the file, the Ministry has wiped the slate clean from the previous list, which could be found in 2022. From now on, the Ministry "draws companies' attention to the need for a scientific description of the R&D operation, as it will be examined by the independent scientific experts he appoints. It is therefore important not to confine oneself to a commercial approach to the company's project. ". The guide then refers to the Bulletin Officiel des Impôts to obtain and comply with the model.


Two new features have been added to the 2023 vintage:

  1. "The scientific opinion issued by the MESR as part of the JEI rescript does not validate all the work that the company could declare for the CIR, but only that presented in its application.
  2. A company can meet the condition of a minimum share of 15% research expenditure and thus obtain JEI status without being able to declare CIR if it does not carry out in-house research and development expenditure".

The first remark is reminiscent of the decision of the Nantes Administrative Court of Appeal (1time chambre du 26/05/2023, 21NT03506) in which the judges clarify that Bercy's favorable opinion on obtaining JEI status does not constitute a formal position on the eligibility of the work for the CIR. See our previous article on this subject: Obtaining JEI status does not guarantee that the work carried out is eligible for the CIR..

Overhaul of CIR approval procedures

This part of the CIR 2023 Guide has been revised. The new guide sets out modalities expected for each type of structure (private organizations, individual experts, special structures, public bodies).

It also considers the possibility of changing the name (without changing the SIREN number) of the organization. In this case, a request must be sent to the MESR, enclosing a copy of the Kbis extract confirming the change of name. 

The guide indicates that organizations with valid approval that have undergone a merger, takeover, buyout or universal transfer of assets (TUP) will see their approval lapse..

What's more, in its new version, the Ministry no longer envisages the possibility of transferring approval, but simply states that approval is granted after examination of the file.

We also note :

  • That there is no timetable for special structures.
  • An expert's CIR approval does not in fact entitle him to be approved for the CII..

Looking at the CIR 2023 Guide, we note that the ministry places particular emphasis on human and material resources. Thus, an individual expert applying for accreditation must demonstrate his or her important role and research capabilities.

Article co-edited by :

Sarah CHERFI, Tax Consultant, G.A.C Group


Innovation tax consultant

Maxime MANCIER, Innovation Manager, CIR expert


Innovation Manager, CIR expert

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