By Nigel Holmes, Head of R&D Technical Operations at Catax.
A question we, at Catax, face daily.
As a Chartered Accountant, and Chartered Tax Adviser, with nearly 25 years’ experience in an accounting practice, and knowing many accountants, let me tell you my side of the story.
I have been involved with R&D tax relief claims since their introduction in 2000. I have made hundreds and hundreds of claims on behalf of companies. I have lectured widely on the topic and have had articles published both at a local and national level. So I hope you accept my view to be a valid one.
When I decided to specialise in R&D tax relief it was not a decision taken lightly. I shared the same misconception that Catax faces from the marketplace – firms such as these are just a bunch of salesmen. Oh, how wrong I was! Yes, we employ sales people and yes we also have a large number of agents and introducers, but let me tell you about the parts of Catax that are not seen by most and, by doing so, show how we really are experts in R&D tax relief.
Firstly, we use salesmen because there are still far too many companies missing out on this generous relief. We need them to raise awareness and show that the definition of R&D for tax purposes is, to use that old phrase again, “not just for men in white coats”.
Upon a prospect signing engagement terms with us they then receive what we call a “technical call” carried out by one of our Technical Account Managers (TAMs). The TAM will use this opportunity to scope out in more detail the R&D project discussed with our business development managers or agents, to dig deeper into the facts around the project. The TAM will also start discussing costs with the client at this point. Some cases are rejected. That’s right – we often say “no”. This may upset some clients, but we have a reputation to withhold and don’t want to put our client in jeopardy of an HMRC enquiry either. That’s not our marketplace at all. They may be rejected as the project does not meet the HMRC R&D definition strongly enough or because the qualifying costs are too low or nil (such as dividends being drawn rather than salary being taken). In fact around a third of cases do not progress past this stage.
If the TAM agrees that a claim looks likely then an appointment is made with one of our Consultants. I wear this hat along with my Business Development hat, and many other Catax hats too!
The Consultant in the vast majority of cases will conduct a face to face meeting with the client. It will only be done over the phone where the deadline is so tight and there is no practical alternative for a face to face meeting with the technical competent professional. The location of this meeting is nearly always at the client’s premises, wherever that is. Our consultants are based around the UK and put many miles on the clock. The consultants will ask for a tour of the client’s premises, where applicable, to get a feel for the company and the projects, then will ask all the relevant questions to write the report themselves. No forms for the client to fill in, no faceless online automated system to complete, no writing of the report by the client. We do it all. We run through a comprehensive checklist and start gathering qualifying cost data. We have an amazing tool (the CAT – Catax Apportionment Tool) to help clients estimate the time spent on a project, built with tens of thousands of lines of data we’ve gathered from the thousands of successful claims we’ve submitted on behalf of clients and accountants.
After the consultation, the Consultant writes the report and the TAM continues to chase for any outstanding information. The costs are collated by our team of Financial Analysts before the report, with costs, is four-eye reviewed by a Senior Consultant. Another team then submits the claim to HMRC and we collect any repayment due, or we pass the information to the company’s accountant to submit.
A few other points to note:
- Our fees are strictly contingent – we find nothing, our client pays nothing
- We submit up to 200 claims a month – from these our knowledge and expertise is vast
- We estimate a client only commits about half a day of time using our process
- Our team consists of around 100 in-house staff carrying out these roles explained above – with a wide and varied background to bring different skills to the fore
- Our success rate is phenomenal – we currently have only three open enquiries on cases
- Unlike many other providers, especially those online, our contingent fee fully covers clients for dealing with any HMRC investigations – HMRC investigations can be extremely protracted, require detailed responses within the legislatory parameters and lead to intensive enquiries across a business – all our clients have this protection, there are no hidden extra costs
- We sit on HMRC’s R&D Consultative Committee so we are at the cutting edge of knowing what is going on with R&D tax relief
So, after joining Catax, with the experience I already had, I have been amazed at our processes, systems, robustness and top quality service. I have learned so much and I now know what it truly means to be a specialist.
Of course, it is very easy to say all this so let me leave you with three pointers:
Firstly, our recently completed “behind the scenes” video showing our great new offices and our team in action:
Secondly, to date we have uncovered over £230m in benefit for our clients across our three service lines (we do embedded Capital Allowance claims and the Patent Box too) and our R&D tax relief claims gives rise to an average client benefit of £51,000. We have professional partnerships with the ICAEW, the Institute of Financial Accountants and The Law Society – and are the only company within our sector who can boast this!
Finally, this is a testimonial I recently received from a client. I was the seminar presenter, Business Development Manager and Consultant on this case:
I first came across Catax at a presentation they delivered in Teesside. I had already made an R&D tax relief claim for the year ended 31 December 2015 but realised, after listening to the presentation, that the definition of R&D and what you could claim was wider than my accountant or I had appreciated. We instructed Catax in November 2017 to make a revised claim, and they turned this around efficiently and promptly, especially given the tight filing deadline of December 2017. The company received a substantial repayment from HMRC, around 18 times larger than our original claim. We have since made further successful claims in 2016 and 2017. I would strongly recommend Catax.
Andy Stevenson, Managing Director at Ardmore Craig
So, all in all, I hope you now have a better understanding of what Catax looks like, why we are specialists and how our proposition differs.
If you think your company could be eligible to claim, contact us today using the details below.
T 0330 127 8483