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Questions to ask when choosing your R&D tax credits adviser.

Have you ever Googled ‘R&D’ and felt lost browsing through the endless list of advisers? If not, try it. The list is almost never-ending. In the face of so many options, you might be put you off seeking advice all together.

About the author

+44 (0)20 7556 1343
butleri@buzzacott.co.uk

Perhaps you've found yourself considering whether to prepare R&D tax credits claims yourself. But think about it this way - you probably wouldn’t give up on finding a lawyer and write all of your contracts yourself. A legal specialist has training, professional knowledge and extensive experience in order to achieve the best outcome - and the same applies to R&D tax credits. 

The expertise of an experienced adviser can provide invaluable support when preparing successful R&D claims. But choose wisely! The decision shouldn’t be made lightly and there are some key considerations to be aware of before you sign on the dotted line.

1. Is the team you meet during the sales process the team that will be preparing the claim?

We hear of numerous companies who were promised amazing benefits from the R&D tax credits scheme during the sales process, only to find out that when the work starts and they invest time in the claim, most of their projects don’t qualify. 

Don’t get caught up by the sales team promising you tens of thousands of pounds in benefit and extensive R&D claims, when they don’t have the specialist knowledge to know how your business can benefit from the scheme. You wouldn’t hire a new member of staff by only meeting the recruitment agent. Speak to the team of experts you will be working with before signing on the dotted line to ensure that they acknowledge the areas where you could be successful when claiming R&D tax credits.

2. Are you being offered a one size fits all claims process? 

Your business is unique and you should look for a bespoke service to match the needs and skills of your team. Buying a suit off the peg might be right in certain circumstances but if all you need is a jacket you’ll be wasting your money. If you’re looking for assistance with the eligibility assessment process, then it’s essential that your adviser recognises this and adjusts their offering to spend more time in the area where you need help, rather than sticking to a set time allocation for each stage of the claim.

If you already have a strong team for the assessment, perhaps you need an adviser to focus on putting the claim together and aligning it with HMRC’s guidance. Rather than paying for a standardised process, look for an adviser who understands your requirements and provides you with the extra care on the areas right for you. 

3. Does your adviser want you to sign up for an excessively long or indefinite contract? 

Think back to the mobile phone contract that you had 5 years ago. I’m sure your 50 texts, 30 minutes of call time and 200mb of data wouldn’t work well for you in this day and age. Now imagine having to remain in that contract for years to come. Over time your needs will change and so will the amount of work required to prepare your successful R&D claims. Your adviser should be flexible to your requirements and willing to adapt their contract and terms to suit your business.

Advisers that rely on long contracts are not incentivised to innovative and improve customer service. You should choose an adviser who is planning to continue developing their offering to improve your experience over time and is looking to keep you as a client through good service, rather than a contractual agreement. 

4. Will your claims be prepared in-house or outsourced by your adviser?

Many advisers will use external contractors or overseas processing teams rather than providing a dedicated team for your claim. These teams chop and change and will spend a very limited time with you during the claim process. If the team you meet does not prepare the claims, how do they know whether the benefits are optimised? We see other advisers using forms and apps to replace human interaction altogether but we find these system typically respond with “the computer says no”.

A good adviser focuses on emotional intelligence rather than artificial intelligence. Meeting face to face will help with communication, building trust and the understanding of your business. In order to detect your eligible work, this understanding is crucial when it comes to R&D tax credits.  

5. Is your adviser transparent with your claim?

It's amazing how many advisers don’t share their documents with their clients. The excuse we hear is that the spreadsheets and reports are the IP of the adviser, even though the claim quickly becomes the responsibility of the client when anything goes wrong. Your R&D claim is part of your companies self-assessment return and HMRC will expect you to know exactly what has been submitted and why. I am sure you would never submit a tax return without checking the numbers, or submit a set of accounts without a thorough review, so why would you submit a claim that you have never seen? Your adviser should work collaboratively with you so there are no surprises.

With the amount of potential benefit available, it’s crucial for businesses to prepare robust and accurate claims that align with what HMRC are looking for, without taking up to much time and resource – and an R&D tax credits adviser is the solution. Considering the five questions above will help you to choose a great adviser well suited to your business.

How we can help

My team of R&D specialists comply with all of the adviser criteria mentioned above. We want to meet you in person to fully understand your business and detect all of your eligible projects for maximised claims. As well as the full claims process, we offer tailored solutions including training for your business, so if you do have the resource and want to learn how to do a part of the claiming process in-house, we’ll support you all the way. We’ll be completely transparent and keep you updated regularly on each stage of the process – and of course you’ll be presented with the full detail of the final claim before we submit it to HMRC.  

Fill out the form below and our specialists will be in touch to discuss your requirements and how we can work together to prepare your successful R&D claims.

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