Specialist R&D Tax & Grant Funding Advisors

R&D Tax Credits: Who’s "Competent" To Decide?

How do you know which employees should have an input into your R&D Tax Credits claim? Who is “competent”? Here we help you decide.

Barrie Dowsett

Chief Executive Officer


5 minute read

Who to choose

If you’ve come across R&D Tax Credits before then you may already be familiar with the term ‘Competent Technical Professional’ or ‘Competent Professional’. But if you’re an R&D tax relief novice then you be wondering what on earth we’re talking about - and it’s crucial to know. Read on.

Competent professionals - what you need to know

A competent professional is any company employee who has significant expertise in the field where the research and development took place. What we mean is, who was most involved in the R&D work? Who has thorough knowledge of the project’s inner workings? Perhaps it’s someone who has worked with the company for many years, or has a large amount of wider industry experience. The important thing is they have relevant, detailed knowledge about your R&D work in its entirety.

Sometimes your ‘competent professional’ is pretty obvious but sometimes they’re not. However, HMRC are specific about this. They should:

  • Understand where there are gaps in field knowledge currently
  • Have a thorough understanding around the relevant technological and scientific principles involved
  • Have a recognised, successful track record in their field, having accumulated the relevant experience

In a nutshell

The whole point here is that a successful R&D Tax Credits claim proves that R&D work was undertaken to address a technological or scientific uncertainty. These uncertainties should have underpinned the project at every stage (whether or not the project was ultimately successful). Additionally, the uncertainties themselves should not have been easily deducible by any publicly available information or pre-existing knowledge, thus making the R&D essential.

Basically, your ‘competent professional’ should understand how to move the R&D project forward. They should also be able to tease out what is simply normal, daily business activity, and which activities are relevant to the company’s R&D Tax Credits claim.

Big up their credentials

We strongly recommend including information about your chosen competent professional in your technical report. This would be things like their technical background, time spent at the company, qualifications and previous experience. They should also be a leader in the project - a more senior member of staff - and should have been instrumental in key decision-making within the R&D process.

Remember: Your competent professional will be the one who identifies which parts of the work will be included in an R&D Tax Credits claim. However, the claim itself will likely be a collaborative effort involving multiple individuals from across the company. This is something the Myriad Associates team will be pleased to elaborate on if you need further advice.

Be careful!

Staff members who are not fully qualified project managers or directors are not the ones you should be considering as your ‘competent professional’. This isn’t anything personal, nor is it a slight on their business abilities. It’s simply because HMRC officers could well come back with questions that seek to establish the individual’s technological or scientific background, so their knowledge and experience of the R&D project must be thorough and watertight. After all, you wouldn’t expect the director of IT to know all the intricate details of activities carried out by the marketing team.

How Myriad Associates can help

Picking out the most competent professional for your R&D Tax Credits claim isn’t always straightforward. The risk is that someone who is slightly less qualified to decide what your applicable R&D activities are will be unable to defend the claim against HMRC scrutiny. There’s also the strong possibility of over-claiming or under-claiming, both of which could bring major problems. Plus of course there are many common mistakes that can be made when putting the R&D Tax Credits claim together.

When you work with our specialist team of R&D funding experts at Myriad Associates, we will take the time in understanding both your company and your R&D project down to the last detail. This is an important step, and something we take seriously - particularly when it comes to maximising your claim. It also means we can help you ascertain exactly which ‘competent professional’ to choose for your R&D Tax Credits claim, before guiding you through the claims process as a whole.

Surely I can just go it alone - can’t I?

Well yes, of course. But we very strongly recommend not taking this route as you leave your company vulnerable to HMRC scrutiny.

R&D assessments are also not something that can be left to your usual company accountant. We’re not saying your company accountant is in any way lacking of course, we’re simply pointing out that their knowledge is very diverse and R&D tax relief may not be their forte. However, a specialist advisor like us works solely in R&D tax relief and funding claims, so we can offer the most current, thorough advice rather than a service that’s more general.

Working your way through an R&D Tax Credits claim is also notoriously hard-going. Even if you’re getting on with it okay, it’s a monotonous, intricate process that takes some time to complete. Mistakes can be as simple as adding in a wrong number, or missing off some key information in your technical narrative, which you can guarantee HMRC will pick up on. Unfortunately, even the smallest of errors can mean long delays or even hefty fines, and could lead to HMRC launching an enquiry into your wider tax affairs. This is what makes hiring an R&D tax relief consultancy like us so appealing, as we will handle everything for you.

The Myriad Associates team also has the skills and experience in this very niche tax area to maximise your claim too. This means you know you’re getting every penny of the relief you’re entitled to, backed up by our outstanding proven success rate.

Don’t take on all the worry and hassle of claiming R&D Tax Credits yourself, or of choosing your competent professional on your own. We’re here to make thing straight-forward, taking one more thing off your to-do list.

Call our UK-based R&D tax relief experts today on 0207 118 6045 or use our contact form. It could be the best financial decision you’ve made all year.

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