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July 9, 2021

FORRESTBROWN WARNS BUSINESSES AGAINST SCAM ‘WARNING’ LETTERS

By Zoya Malik

Businesses applying for R&D tax relief need to be aware of ‘warning’ letters making false claims and offering potentially damaging advice, according to ForrestBrown, the UK’s largest specialist R&D tax relief consultancy.

A number of businesses have started to receive the letters, which attempt to undermine the recipient’s relationship with their existing R&D tax adviser. ForrestBrown is keen to educate anyone unsure about the claims made within these letters about the threat that spurious advisers – and the poor advice they provide – may pose to them.

Key things for businesses to look out for when receiving letters about R&D tax relief include:

  • The sender using poor grammar and overly emotive language.
  • A personal mobile phone number being provided as the best contact number, rather than an office or landline number.
  • The letter being labelled as ‘urgent’ or ‘important’.
  • The recipient being requested to book in a call or meeting ‘in confidence’ or without anyone else knowing.
  • The sender stating that they work or operate ‘on behalf’ of the industry, without providing any specific details.
  • Any mention of regulatory bodies – or lack thereof. Spurious advisers will likely not make reference to regulation, as they are likely unregulated.

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. 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.”

For more information and advice about the ‘warning’ letters, please contact the team at ForrestBrown on hello@forrestbrown.co.uk.

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