Choosing an adviser
Matthew Jones
Director

Research and development tax credits are often worth tens, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds.  It is essential that you choose the right adviser who can support you throughout the process, optimise your claim and give you the greatest chance of success. It doesn’t matter if you are a first-time claimer or have claimed R&D tax credits for years, you should consider all of these points to ensure you are putting your company in the best position to succeed.

There are many forms of adviser who you can engage to help with your claim, and there are several factors you should investigate and consider thoroughly when choosing which one.

Qualifications & Experience
Perhaps the most important starting point is to ascertain an adviser’s tax qualifications and experience.

Are they Chartered Tax Advisers (members of the Chartered Institute of Tax)?

Chartered Tax Adviser status is regarded as the gold standard of tax qualifications in the UK.  HMRC will expect your adviser to know and understand the tax legislation, so it is vitally important that you choose someone qualified in this area.

At Lime R&D, we only employ specialist Chartered Tax Advisers to prepare our clients’ claims – no gimmicks, no compromises.  Our clients know that their R&D tax credit claim is in safe hands.

Why is Chartered Tax Adviser status so important?
The majority of tax disciplines overlap.  An R&D tax credit claim can impact other areas of your tax return.  As an example, we often witness claims where the adviser has elected to receive a repayable tax credit from HMRC, whereas it would have been more beneficial to use an alternative strategy and produce a bigger cash payment.  Taking the repayable tax credit option is almost always the last resort, and should only be used if there are no alternative strategies available.  Failure to consider how the claim can interact with other corporation tax considerations could cost you money. If the R&D adviser does not fully understand these interactions, they may need to work with your general tax adviser to get support.  This would most likely cost you money, as your general adviser may need to charge for this additional work.

Many R&D tax credit consultants prepare the calculation and then hand it over to you to arrange submission and to work out the best way to integrate the claim into your tax return.

Lime R&D are different as we handle the whole process in house, from initial consultation, determining the optimal strategy to maximise cash back, to submission and handling any queries from HMRC. 

How often do they do R&D?
Experience is just as important as tax knowledge.  Many firms who offer this service in-house may only prepare a handful of claims a year, scattered in and amongst all the other bookkeeping, accounts preparation and tax work.  In contrast, Lime R&D only do R&D tax credit claims, all day every day.  We do not do anything else.

This experience is vitally important to improving your chances of success.  Would your adviser know exactly what evidence is required to support your claim, and crucially how this should be presented to maximise acceptance? If this is not done correctly you are risking an HMRC investigation and potentially having your claim challenged.  You do not want to be in this situation.

In addition, inexperience can lead to a lower value claim.  Are they aware of all the indirect activities which can validly be included in your claim?

Support
How much support will your adviser provide?  Some advisers claim to be able to prepare your claim remotely, all handled over the phone or by email.  R&D tax credits is not a simple area of tax.  Anyone who says otherwise is not completely familiar with the process.  Face-to-face contact and support from a Chartered Tax Adviser is essential.  Remember, ultimately it is you who is responsible for your claim.  It is important that you are aware of and agree with what has been included in your claim.

All claims undertaken by Lime R&D receive a single point of contact, who will be there to support you throughout the whole claim process.

Who deals with HMRC enquiries?
Most companies receive their cash benefit from HMRC within 28 days of submission. However, some claims, no matter how well prepared will be randomly selected for spot checks.  This is public money after all.

Some advisers may not assist you with the enquiry unless they are able to charge an additional fee.  This is an important consideration, as this can quickly become very expensive.

Others may encourage or insist that you purchase their tax investigation insurance policies.

Lime R&D is different.  Our proven claim methodology is designed to withstand HMRC scrutiny.  We are so confident that we defend any claim selected for review.  This is all included in our fee – we do not seek to charge you any extra for this.

Terms of engagement
Are there any hidden fees or extras, such as a submission charge?  Do the terms state that it is up to you to submit the claim or instruct your own accountant to do this?  Will they tie you into a fixed term contract, essentially forcing you to use that company for all future R&D tax credit claims within the specified contract period?  If so, ask yourself why.  They cannot be confident of retaining your custom through good service or otherwise there would be no need to tie you in!

Claims are prepared risk free at Lime R&D, if you do not receive a benefit then we won’t charge you anything.

There are no minimum term contracts and you won’t find any upfront or hidden fees in our contract. We trust that our staff will prepare a successful claim and that the service will ensure that you will want to work with us again.

Summary
As a summary, you need to have confidence in your adviser and trust that they will provide a service that meets the needs of your business. Do your research, considering each of the points above, making sure you look out for any previous testimonials to support your decision. If in doubt, look for companies that offer a no obligation consultation like Lime R&D. This way you will be able to chat through the process and answer any outstanding queries or questions, providing you with the information you need to make that informed decision.

Lime R&D

The R&D Tax Credit Specialists

Lime R&D is a trade mark of Lime Accounting Limited.  All rights reserved.

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Lime Accounting is regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

Lime R&D is a firm of Chartered Tax Advisers.

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