Reviews and referrals have long been an effective method to pick a responsible provider, but if you’re starting from scratch, how can you know what to look for? You would want assurances that your adviser is knowledgeable, ethical, professional, and outfitted with all the resources needed to complete your claim.

Staying ahead of the curve

For a long time, the R&D tax relief scheme didn’t see much in the way of changes. It also wasn’t utilised nearly as much as it is in the present day. Over the past few years, the scheme has seen a much higher volume of claims. Many of these are from honest, hard-working businesses, but some are submitted by irresponsible R&D services looking to make a quick buck. As the rate of fraud and non-compliance increased along with the greater number of claims, HMRC has taken measures to try and weed out these shoddy submissions.

From the introduction of the Additional Information Form (AIF), to new prenotification requirements, these are impactful changes to the scheme which are being pushed through. They aren’t exactly well publicised, either. It was reported by HMRC that after the AIF was made mandatory on the 8th of August, almost 50% of claims submitted in August failed to include one. That is a staggering rate of rejection linked to one single (easily avoided) cause. This is a key upside to being part of a group like The R&D Community. We keep up with all of these changes and ensure that our members aren’t caught on the wrong foot. Our course covering the AIF was available weeks before the measures went in place! We also saw lots of activity in our members-only spaces leading up to the introduction of these new measures, with individuals sharing news and answering questions for each other.

The digital age has transformed the way we collaborate and share knowledge, making online communities a valuable resource for professionals looking to expand their horizons and make meaningful connections. Knowing that your adviser is doing everything they can to stay updated with changes to the scheme can really help put your mind at ease. With all of the resources and information that we make available to our members, and the flurry of messages that the members-only group sees every day, your adviser would need to make a concerted effort not stay up-to-date with everything!

Commitment to best practice

While lots of claims are found to be non-compliant for administrative reasons like the lack of a form, others are rejected due to a failure to thoroughly understand the scheme and its demands. More often than not, this behaviour can be traced back to the adviser preparing the claim rather than the business that undertook the R&D project. It can be as simple as fudging numbers or misappropriating costs, or linked to an earlier root cause like misleading marketing practices. Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that receiving enquiries due to fraudulent claims is a big headache for small businesses.

This bad practice is a huge issue for the industry. It was one of the chief motivators in the foundation of The R&D Community, and we consistently find that the desire to counteract this behaviour is a key motivator for our members. While we can’t independently vouch for everyone that might claim to be a member of The R&D Community, proof that they are a member (either from themselves or a third-party), is a pretty sound assurance that they are committed to acting in the best interest of their clients.

Access to expert assistance

Sometimes, despite their best efforts, a claim is just too much work to handle for your adviser. It could be a particularly tricky claim that they need a second set of eyes to review, or an extra pair of hands to help with preparing an enquiry defence. Other times they might just need a reliable source against which they can check some information. All of these scenarios are readily dealt with by contacting The R&D Community helpline or claim support service. Both of these are manned by our team of R&D tax relief experts. Access to these services is an essential resource and one which makes our members’ R&D services more robust and reliable.

With the R&D Tax Relief landscape undergoing significant changes and heightened scrutiny, being part of The R&D Community provides a distinct advantage. Members benefit from timely access to vital information and peer support, ensuring they stay well-informed and equipped to navigate complex regulations. The R&D Community’s foundation was motivated by a desire to raise standards in the industry, counter fraudulent practices, and promote best practice among and outside its members. This commitment is a strong assurance for businesses seeking knowledgeable, ethical, and professional R&D advisers.

If you are looking to learn more about R&D tax relief, here are some resources to get you started: