13 December 2022


Recent coverage in the press highlights the fraudulent activities of some ‘R&D Tax Credit specialists’. Quite rightly, HMRC are taking action to identify these companies and curtail the bad advice they’re offering to naïve clients and consequently, bringing prosecutions to both individuals and the fraudulent R&D ‘boutiques’.

Continually keen to support HMRC, our Fortus team are working with our clients to ensure…

  • They receive the best possible service
  • They receive the R&D tax credits they’re entitled to
  • That their claim’s correct and meets the criteria set by HMRC

So, how do you know for sure the tax specialist you’re currently working with is giving you the right information and not making a fraudulent claim on your behalf?

Here are a few things to look out for…

Their website’s convincing and they have pictures of lots of staff

Websites are cheap and easy to produce, anyone can create one fast. Some companies don’t even have physical offices. They may just have a rented ‘service office’ and the group photos you see on their website contain many who don’t work there anymore.

Ask yourself, have you ever met any of the staff working on your claim in person or was it compiled over email and telephone calls?

They quote a high number of clients and money claimed

This is all well and good if you’ve got the proof to back it up. Sometimes a quick look on Companies House will reveal they haven’t been trading long enough to generate the numbers they’re stating.

Also, there are many other websites that give information about companies and their trading activities, so it’s worth doing some research.

“We can get you £30k!”

Many of our accounts clients at Fortus, including small retailers, hairdressers and even Will Writers, have been approached by ‘Tax Specialists’ offering to claim R&D tax credits of circa £30k on their behalf. Their service even includes a report written with no input from the client!

Clearly this is just one example of the fraudulent activities the ‘specialists’ are engaging in, leaving the unsuspecting client with potential fines and penalties.

“Our technical reports are approved by HMRC…”

HMRC doesn’t ‘approve’ any tax agents’ technical reports and as such these can be the subject of a compliance check even after the claim’s been paid. If your provider or a new provider claims this, ask them to provide you with the proof that HMRC have ‘approved’ their technical reports… they won’t be able to do it!

This is an example of another attempt to mislead naïve and innocent clients. If they’re claiming this, what else can’t they substantiate?

If you have any doubts, are worried about making an R&D claim, or continuing with your current provider, then you should…

  1. Get a second opinion from a credible specialist – for example a member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (like Fortus). We’re always happy to help businesses who have problems and issues with regard to past or existing R&D tax credits claims. Just give us a call or drop us an email, any time.
  2. Ensure your R&D specialist takes the time to explain the scheme, the qualifying criteria and what evidence you must have for a successful claim in words and phrases you understand and can relate to your industry.
  3. Ensure your provider shares the report and the financial information used to make your claim – check you’re comfortable and understand all the information used BEFORE your claim is submitted to HMRC. Fortus offer a service to help and support R&D tax credit claimants who are unsure of what information’s being used in their claim, providing the necessary advice and guidance (in plain English!)
  4. Keep good records of money spent on qualifying R&D activities, including the people, the work they carried out, and their time. Also record money spent on subcontractors, materials and any other costs associated with the work done. Good records equal better claims.
  5. Remember you’re ultimately responsible – if you’re ever in any doubt, seek our advice.