An illustration of an accountant, stylistically based on the poster of the film "Nightmare Before Christmas".

The ‘Nightmare before Christmas’ is over for Accountants

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January is unquestionably the most challenging month for accountants due to personal tax returns, but the run-up isn’t any easier. Between September and December, accountants are struggling to manage various upcoming deadlines, such as R&D Tax Relief claims and Financial Year Ends. Accounting firms are often under pressure to submit claims in a timely manner, which can lead to omitting important information in the process, potentially straining client relationships. Instead,  the accountant’s workload is made easier and the client’s experience is improved with a streamlined, yet standardised process, in combination with cloud-based technology.

The Burden of Looming Deadlines 

It’s commonly known that from September to December, accountants are under a lot of pressure. The majority of tax bills are due in September, which accountants need to offset with R&D Tax Claims if their clients have qualifying work. Financial year ends are also approaching, as are hard deadlines for December 2020 R&D Tax Relief claims, which must be submitted to HMRC by midnight on December 31st. Furthermore, everyone forgets that the country closes down around the 20th of December each year, leaving accountants with added stress and even less time to complete their work.

If accountants fail to meet these deadlines, it could cause customers to lose out on important claims, making January even more difficult than it already was. Given current cash flow constraints, a client will not be appreciative of an accountant who has gained a reputation as a reliable business counsel, but then fails to file an R&D Tax Relief Claim on time or submits an incomplete claim that could result in an HMRC investigation. Equally, clients won’t appreciate being harassed for information when at home during the pre-Christmas holidays. 

A Robust, Repeatable Process

Accountants must, therefore, implement reliable processes for handling tax relief claims. The procedure does not have to be tailored to each individual client. Instead, accountants can improve the consistency and quality of the client experience by implementing a strong, repeatable process.

By supporting this process with a solid technology platform, additional efficiencies can be realised. For example, in order to avoid errors from occurring, it is fundamental to know what claims are due and when, as well as their current status, at the beginning of each month. The platform can help accountants quickly and efficiently produce the supporting paperwork and HMRC report, while guiding them through the necessary questions for an R&D Tax Relief claim. Additionally, for clients who have filed a claim in the past, updating the new claim with pertinent data from the previous year is simpler and cuts down on the amount of time needed to submit a claim.

Cloud-Based Technology 

It’s also critical to maximise applicable skill sets. When everyone in the office has full access to the necessary information, including claim status, it is possible to effectively divide the workload between financial and technical experts. Accounting professionals can also address the persistent issue of getting clients to disclose relevant information by using cloud-based solutions. Clients may self-serve if necessary, answering a subset of the entire question list at their leisure and reviewing supporting materials such as HMRC demands and R&D Tax Claims. As a result, clients can upload data confidently in the evenings or on weekends without having to contact an accountant directly, preventing last minute stress and improving data timeliness.


Combining a robust process with intelligent software-based support and R&D tax expertise from the software vendor completely transforms the time it takes to create an R&D Tax Claim—freeing accountants up to concentrate on the numerous other issues that need to be addressed to meet all deadlines. 

Even if an accountant is working right up until the last minute, the report is available within seconds of pressing the button. There will be no last-minute number crunching; no need to get the basics to HMRC by midnight to meet the deadline and then hope to have enough time to finish the report by the first week of January.

As a result, accountants can focus on providing a high level of service and experience that builds the reputation as trusted advisers as the deadline season becomes less stressful for both the client and the accountant through an effective, dependable, and quick approach to R&D Tax Claims.

How to write an R&D tax relief technical narrative

With HMRC’s new mandatory requirement for project descriptions on all submissions, we wanted to share our experiences to help others to write their best possible technical narratives.

Available to download here.

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