How simple is it to change R&D tax credit providers?

With numerous relief changes in play from 1 April 2023, and more on the horizon, it is now more important than ever your company is confident you are using the correct R&D tax credit advisor.  And if not, it may be time to think about reassessing your choice of provider.

Why would your company think about switching R&D tax credit advisors?

There are a variety of reasons why a company may feel the need to explore different providers, examples can include:

  1. Your current R&D tax credit advisor did not deliver as you would have wanted on your last claim
  2. Your company currently uses their accountant to prepare claims and you want to use a specialist in light of the legislative changes
  3. As you will soon need to declare your choice of advisor to HMRC, you feel more confident in using a regulated consultancy
  4. You have used the same R&D tax credit advisor for years and the service level has dwindled over this time
  5. You have been assigned a new point of contact and there is a personality clash
  6. You feel that money is being left on the table
  7. Your fee has increased

Matthew Jones, managing director, LimestoneGrey, chartered R&D tax credit consultancy

Matthew Jones

Managing Director at LimestoneGrey

Mathew Jones commented: ‘Over the years, I have spoken to numerous companies who have been disappointed with the service they received from their R&D tax credit advisor, however, there are many companies who continue to put up with bad service and bad advice as they believe the barriers to change are too difficult to overcome. The truth is, changing providers is a lot less hassle than you think.

If you are considering searching for alternative providers, your first point of call is to check your contract to see if there is a tie in clause as you may be committed to using your current provider for future claims. If you are tied in, depending on the circumstances as to why you want to end the business relationship, there could be opportunity to break the contract early. It is important to inform your current provider of the change before they start work on your next claim as you may be subject to charges.

The transition process to a new provider should be a smooth one. Your accountant will have all the up to date tax documents needed for your next claim and your new R&D tax credit provider will be able to liaise with your previous provider if needed.’

The importance of choosing the correct R&D tax credit advisor

If you are thinking of looking at other providers, there are a variety of factors to consider before making any decision. You should ask yourself the following questions:

Can they do the job effectively and efficiently?

Can you find evidence on how the supplier has helped others?


Some top tips on what to look out for are:

R&D tax credits is a complex area of tax law, one of which is not offered as standard by mainstream accountants as it is not a compliance service. Due to its highly technical nature, it is imperative that your advisor has the necessary qualifications needed to undertake the work with the highest level of detail and accuracy.  The advisor should be a qualified chartered accountant (ACA or ACCA) or chartered tax advisor (CTA). Having these qualifications will guarantee that they have passed the necessary exams and are regulated by professional bodies, enforcing them to follow strict codes of conduct.

A chartered advisor should have experience in a variety of areas of corporation tax, allowing them to understand how the R&D tax credit claim will impact other aspects of your finances, which is important. For example, a chartered professional can talk you through the options which may be available to you after your claim is made, and advise on the best way to optimise the cash benefits generated.

I would investigate the volume of claims made by the advisor.  Should they only help prepare a handful a year, it is unlikely they will have the detailed knowledge and experience to deal with all aspects of your R&D tax credit claim. The complexity surrounding the ever-evolving rules and regulations dictates that a significant amount of time needs to be dedicated to this discipline.

A full-service consultancy will take you through the entire R&D tax credit journey, from initial consultation, through to submission and beyond. This will not be the case with all suppliers, with some forcing you to rely heavily on your own accountant after the claim has been put together. These advisors tend not to be registered with HMRC and are therefore unable to submit the claims on your behalf.

Check the supplier’s website for any testimonials or case studies providing information on the experiences of other clients. I would also recommend browsing their social media channels to see if they have published any good news stories or successes. Social media is also a good place to investigate whether the supplier has any partnerships/relationships with any reputable organisations that would give you peace of mind on their integrity.

The majority of consultancies will provide a free no obligation assessment of your company’s situation and will provide advice on whether they feel it is worth pursuing a claim. I would recommend getting a second opinion, you have nothing to lose.

When engaging with an R&D tax credit advisor, I would advise to proceed with caution if any of the following situations occur:

  • The advisor alludes to the claim value in the initial meeting
    Without the relevant investigations and detailed calculation exercises, it is impossible to say how much your claim will be worth from an introductory meeting. This approach can sometimes be used to lure a company into signing the contract.
  • The advisor takes a blanket percentage of your employees’ wages to include in a claim.
    Not all employees will spend the same amount of time on R&D activities, so it is important that an advisor looks at each employee separately when calculating costs to include in the claim. Taking a blanket approach will inevitably mean that you are over-claiming/underclaiming on certain employees. Both scenarios could provide issues.
  • An advisor’s fee seems too high or too low.
    We have seen some advisors charging 25% – 35% contingent fees. This cannot be justified. Other advisers charge super low fees. This too should concern you – either they will not spend much time on your claim, or they will have to use low/unqualified staff to prepare it.  A supplier’s fee size should not be used as the sole metric when choosing an adviser. Simply choosing the cheapest option can be a false economy. Quality, security and professionalism must also be of high priority.
  • The advisor ties you in with a long-fixed term contract (usually hidden later in the terms of the contract)
    We have seen companies tied into 5 year contracts with super high fees, and in some cases, some clients being duped into signing for long periods with the tie in clause being hidden in the supplier’s contract. In our view, this is unjustifiable.  They obviously are not confident in retaining you as a client based on the quality of the service.

LimestoneGrey is a specialist R&D tax credit consultancy regulated by the ICAEW and CIOT and its team are chartered tax professionals, providing the highest level of experience and competence. The fact that we are regulated ensures that we follow a strict code of conduct and have the necessary insurance covers in place to provide our clients with the upmost protection.

At LimestoneGrey, we do not mandate that companies must tie into lengthy contracts as we are confident that our clients return to us year after year as they are confident in our ability to do the job correctly and are happy with the claim preparation process we provide.

LimestoneGrey has partnered with a variety of accountants who do not offer this service in house to ensure that their clients have access to the relief and have built relationships with a variety of organisations and universities to promote the benefits of R&D tax credits and explain the eligibility criteria.

Contact us for more information