This is always a tricky topic to cover. Anyone who attempts it tends to come across as saying that they are “good” and the competition in part, or as a whole, is “bad”. It is a very self-serving sales message.
I am going to attempt not to do that. As the Compliance Director of RandDTax I do believe in what we do and that we get things right. That is what I can control.
I am a member of a professional body subject to a code of conduct the PCRT (Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation). Some providing R&D tax credit services are and some are not. It would be wrong to suggest that being subject to the PCRT guarantees a good service. Audit is one of the most regulated sectors of tax advice, but most people will have seen several high-profile scandals in this area involving the very large and very qualified accountancy firms. But at least if you are subject to a professional code if things go wrong an avenue of complaint exists to the professional body. If things repeatedly go wrong in one area then it can be looked at in terms of guidance, qualification, training, and Continual Professional Development (CPD).
The government is so concerned about standards in the tax advice market, as a whole, that they have launched a consultation. In recent years we have seen high profile tax issues in relation to audit, tax avoidance (e.g. Directors Loan schemes, and Film industry schemes), and around the impact of IR35. It will be interesting to see if the Government decides to go beyond the self regulation of the PCRT.
PCRT Topical Guidance on R&D tax credit services.
To return to the PCRT. Helpfully, the PCRT bodies, all the major UK taxation professional bodies, recently issued specific guidance on R&D Tax Services.
For an objective view on R&D Tax Credit services it is worth having a look at the PCRT R&D Topical Guidance. Ultimately, no matter what the level of regulation in any profession no greater power exists than the judgement of the informed consumer. This guidance, which is intended for “insiders”, is a good basis from which to make a judgement and gives a balanced view on good practise. It should carry more weight than anything any R&D consultancy says about themselves. It also shows a number of areas where R&D claims can go wrong. A good adviser helps avoid these.
I will make my own detailed comments on this important guidance in part two of this blog.
Christopher Toms MA MAAT, Compliance Director – RandDTax.