In a bid to give companies more certainty over whether or not their R&D claim will be successful, HMRC introduced an advance assurance process in November 2015. If you pass this new test, HMRC will agree not to enquire into your R&D claims for the first 3 accounting periods of claiming this relief.
So is this a good idea? Statistics show that only 200 applicants have used this facility during its first 10 months, suggesting that it is not very popular.
Those who decide to operate a low risk tax strategy, minimising the uncertainty of their tax affairs being challenged by HMRC at a later date, and perhaps more tax becoming payable, should be encouraged to use this facility. Otherwise, many in the tax profession see using most of the Revenue’s statutory advance clearance processes (eg IR35 employment status reviews) as being indicative of having a weak position and hence highly likely to trigger push-back from the tax authority. You have been warned!