Who regulates the advisory practice? Do they adhere to PCRT (Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation)?

This is becoming an increasingly important question to ask as HMRC announced in the Autumn Budget that there is a concern over the quality of R&D tax advice. That’s why choosing a consultant who is PCRT compliant and regulated by the Chartered Institute of Taxation is incredibly important to alleviate risk.

How much experience does the practice have in your sector? Do they employ sector specialists?

Do ask about the seniority of the engagement team that will be working directly with you (not just ‘overseeing your claim’), how much R&D experience do they have, and – crucially – what experience they have in the your sector. Liberty Collins will always provide you with a sector specialist with 6 years R&D tax experience. Furthermore, that specialist will be supported by a Chartered Tax Advisor with 5 years R&D Tax experience.

What is the level of involvement that the advisors will deliver? Can they estimate that in hours? What is the level of seniority that your team can expect?

Your involvement is crucial to the success and value of your claim. However, this does not mean it should require excessive input. The point of advisors is for them to use their industry and tax knowledge to deliver the work for you. Liberty Collins would expect to spend around 20-25 hours of time on your claim and this would all come from senior staff.

Will work be done virtually or face-to-face?

It is worth checking this with your advisor about this. If done virtually, there is a time saving for the advisor and that ought to be passed on to you in the form of preferential rates.

How much time should you dedicate to the claim? Will you be expected to write anything or fill out spreadsheets?

You should be aiming to spend around 4-6 hours of your time on the claims, and you shouldn’t expect to write anything or fill out any spreadsheets/forms. 

What is the Quality Assurance process? What happens in the event of an HMRC enquiry? What happens if the Enquiry is after you have received your benefit?

This is extremely important and you should take pains to have this addressed in writing. You should check what Quality Assurance process your advisor has in place.

Liberty Collins provides a 3-step QA process that is industry leading. Firstly, we work collaboratively so there is no single point of failure in the preparation of your claim. Secondly, our work is peer-reviewed and signed off. Thirdly, all of our work is then externally reviewed by an ex-HMRC R&D Tax Inspector before final copy is then sent to you. In the event of any enquiry.

Who undertakes the tax calculations and submission to HMRC? Is there any additional cost for this?

This is really up to you to decide but if you want the advisor to do this rather than your accountant, then do make sure that they are a) qualified and b) won’t charge any extra. We offer this as standard to all our clients.

How is a success fee percentage determined and why? What am I paying for? When do I pay?

Success fees work well for clients but do ensure that you are clear about the inputs you will receive from the advisor. Also, it is worth paying attention to the invoice trigger. This ought to be when you receive your benefit from HMRC, not before. Liberty Collins calculates success fee percentages based upon the estimated hourly input. Businesses with multiple sites and multiple stakeholders are more time consuming for advisors.