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YouGov R&D tax relief research: businesses sleepwalking towards disaster

Director & Head of Policy
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YouGov R&D tax relief research report
Since being introduced at the turn of the millennium, R&D tax relief has gone from strength-to-strength. More businesses than ever are claiming this valuable incentive, and claim values have risen sharply.

For businesses already claiming R&D tax incentives, it’s tempting to view it as a risk-free source of funding. Perhaps you made your first claim some years ago and were surprised by how easy it seemed – or, indeed, the benefit that was received off the back of it.

If this sounds familiar, these research findings are vitally important to you.

R&D tax advice is a (largely) unregulated market and, as the relief has grown in popularity, the sector has attracted spurious advisers looking to exploit the incentive to make a quick buck. Many businesses already claiming R&D tax incentives don’t fully understand the potential risks they’re exposing themselves to.

We commissioned YouGov to carry out this research to gauge businesses’ understanding of the R&D tax advice market and to better measure the cost of bad advice.

And now, it has confirmed our suspicions: 90% of the business decision-makers asked did not know that R&D tax advice is unregulated.

Can you trust your current adviser?

Ensuring your R&D tax relief claims’ accuracy is your responsibility alone, not your adviser’s. Download this report to:

  • Understand the risk for businesses in making a claim based on bad advice, and the potential consequences.
  • Discover expert advice on what sets good advisers apart from bad ones.
  • Find clear and practical guidance on how to protect your business from bad advice.

Packed with data and insight from 351 of your peers already claiming R&D tax relief, download our full report and ensure you’re protecting your business from risk.

Download report

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Some businesses prepare their R&D tax relief claim in-house, but a larger proportion use an external adviser. That’s because R&D tax incentives require a high degree of specialist knowledge to ensure a business’ claim captures the full value of its R&D, and at the same time, protects them from risk.

YouGov R&D tax relief research report

Do you understand the risks of working with an unregulated R&D tax adviser?

Download our report for clear guidance on what separates the best advisers from the bad.

Many of these companies are unknowingly flirting with disaster. YouGov’s research indicates a widespread misunderstanding of how the tax advice market functions. Over two fifths (43%) of respondents incorrectly thought HMRC was responsible for regulation.

The tax authority is not responsible for regulating tax advice, and businesses need to understand their responsibilities. Indeed, YouGov’s research suggested that many businesses aren’t even aware of the risks they face. Only one in five (20%) claiming R&D tax relief is worried about the risk of an HMRC enquiry – despite the very real threat of one.

Businesses need to completely change how they select an R&D tax relief adviser. Currently, 24% of those working with an R&D tax adviser cited ‘convenience’ as the top consideration when picking who to partner with. Instead, companies should approach selecting their R&D tax adviser with the same due diligence applied to all their tax or legal affairs.

HMRC enquiries are becoming more commonplace. According to the National Audit Office, by the end of 2020, HMRC will have hired 100 extra full-time R&D tax compliance staff. We expect more enquiries in the year ahead.

We make no apologies for raising alarm. Our aim is to raise awareness and arm businesses with the knowledge to act. If they do, there is an opportunity to protect against a bad experience or a costly enquiry.

Jenny Tragner CA

Get in touch

At ForrestBrown, our specialist consultancy service can help provide insights into your claim, identifying risks and making practical recommendations to manage them, as well as spotting opportunities to grow your claim or improve your experience. If you are facing a challenge or have questions, please do get in touch.