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  3. I’ve heard the phrase ‘competent professional’. What is this?

I've heard the phrase 'competent professional'. What is this?

A competent professional is someone in your business who has a successful track record, notable experience and skills or qualifications in your relevant area of science or technology. For software projects, this may be a developer; or, in a manufacturing business it might be an engineer.

The competent professional(s) is the person in your business who is best placed to assess which of your business activities count as research and development (R&D). Based on their knowledge, skills and experience, they will be able to assess the technically challenging aspects of your work, as well as a project’s routine elements which do not count as R&D.

If your business has furloughed workers during the coronavirus crisis, including competent professionals, read our blog which covers furloughed workers and R&D tax credits to understand what this might mean for your R&D tax credit claims.


If you are preparing a R&D tax credit claim yourself, your competent professional will need to identify your qualifying projects, the boundaries of those projects, and the specific activities that contributed to your advance. They will then need to attribute and apportion your qualifying expenditure to these activities.

You should include biographical details of your competent professional in your technical narrative. This shows HMRC that proper boundaries are being drawn across your claim. It also demonstrates that the competent professional has applied their relevant expertise in their assessment of what was straightforward and routine at the outset; as well as defining the project’s uncertain, difficult elements.

Have a question for our team?

It can be complicated to submit an R&D tax credit claim to HMRC’s exacting standards.

Get in touch with our team of chartered tax advisers, chartered accountants, lawyers, sector specialists, former HMRC inspectors and quality assurance experts to access expert guidance for your claims.

At ForrestBrown our team of chartered tax advisers, sector specialists, and former HMRC inspectors will help you identify the full extent of your qualifying activities and expenditure – this will maximise the value of your claim. We work with you to ensure the right information is included in our comprehensive supporting documentation, giving you peace of mind that your claim is both robust and defensible.

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