Businesses applying for R&D tax relief should be wary of a rise in scam warning letters making false claims and offering potentially “damaging” advice, warns ForrestBrown, a specialist R&D tax relief consultancy.
It warned that a number of businesses have started to receive these letters, which attempt to “undermine the recipient’s relationship with their existing R&D tax adviser”.
In light of this, the firm is now keen to educate those unsure about the claims made within these letters on the threats posed by them.
Key things to look out for when receiving letters about R&D tax relief include the sender using poor grammar and overly emotive language or the letter being labelled as ‘urgent’ or ‘important’.
ForrestBrown also said businesses must look out for a personal mobile phone number being provided as the best contact number, rather than an office or landline number, or if the recipient is requested to book in a call or meeting “in confidence” or without anyone else knowing.
In addition, it warned businesses to be wary of the sender states that they work or operate “on behalf” of the industry, without providing any specific details, as well as a lack of mention of regulatory bodies.
James Dudbridge, director and head of the advisory practice at ForrestBrown, said: “Over the years, we’ve witnessed a variety of different approaches that pray on the concerns of businesses and capitalise on the generosity of the R&D tax incentive, but this latest set of letters are not just grossly misleading – they have all the hallmarks of a scam.
“While the aggressive approach and attempt to come across as well-informed and knowledgeable within this letter is certainly a new tactic, there a number of errors that act as red flags to reputable advisers within the industry.”
He added: “It’s important for us to make businesses aware of these tell-tale signs so that we can help prevent them from falling victim to spurious advisers and their poor advice.
“The consequences of following such advice can be costly in the long-run, so I would invite anyone that thinks they might have received one of these letters to speak to their R&D tax adviser, or to get in touch with one of the team at ForrestBrown, who will be happy to assist with any questions or concerns.”