It is not so long ago that Research and Development Tax Credits were almost un-heard of. When we first established The Refund Agency to help business tap into what must be one of the most generous gifts ever provided by the British Government a member of the HMRC team which dealt with R & D Tax Credits told us:
“We are sitting on a whole pile of money that we are supposed to give away, but much of it is going unclaimed because businesses either don’t know it’s here, or if they do, they don’t know how to claim it properly.”
But now things have changed. HMRC is overwhelmed with claims, and distributes them all over the country for processing, some more expertly than others. Businesses are inundated with cold calls from the world and his mother offering to secure R & D funding. Some are excellent at what they do, but some are not, and its those we need to be wary of. They will offer their “Do it Yourself” packages at a price that’s hard to resist. A spreadsheet will arrive on your desk with instructions as to how to complete it…bingo your claim is complete! The trouble is they have now stepped back from taking any liability if you fill the form in wrongly and claim money that you shouldn’t have. You are on your own. If the claim is overstated, then huge problems can follow. If a report justifying the expense wasn’t filed at the time, then you could be asked for information to back up your claim. If you can’t provide it, then the money will have to be repaid, possibly with penalties. A fraud case being brought against you is another possibility.
It has become a lottery as to which tax officer assesses your claim, you may have one that simply approves the application without fully checking it because they are so busy. It may fall to someone who is an expert in the field and comes back with very valid questions. You need to be prepared to make the time to answer those questions. Perhaps worsts of all it may land on the desk of a tax inspector who is not an expert in the field but decides to ask a multitude of questions which seem to be relevant. This time, you need to be prepared to spend a great deal of time defending your position, citing the correct legislation upon which each particular part of your claim is based.
If you have the time and the legal knowledge on your hands to do that, then I would suggest that you don’t need to engage anyone at all. There is no need to even bother with those who charge just a tiny percentage. Go the whole hog and do it yourself.
Those in the industry that properly offer services which take their clients right through the process cannot hope to compete with the cut-throat prices of the do-it-yourself market. They earn their fees when the going gets tough.
This isn’t a sales pitch for my company, it is a sales pitch for all in my industry who offer a service that is up to a standard and not down to a price. It is a perfect illustration of “You get what you pay for.“