Life in Innovation Tax as a 12-Month Placement
Say hello to Kyle Dhaliwal, Innovation Tax Associate & 12-Month Placement at Grant Thornton. Kyle answers some questions below to help us understand what life is like in Innovation Tax. We hope you enjoy Kyle's story and it gives you insight into Grant Thornton and the Innovation Tax team.
What is the name of your service line, which office(s) are you in, and when did you join?
I work within the Innovation Tax team based in the Reading office. I joined on the 18th June on a year-long placement as part of my University course and time is flying by!
What does the Innovation team do?
Essentially, the innovation team helps clients who are undertaking Research and Development (R&D) gain corporation tax reliefs from HMRC, in the form of tax deductions for SME’s (SME scheme), and payable credits for larger companies (RDEC scheme).These forms of tax relief were introduced to boost innovation and growth within the UK. Ultimately, we add value to our clients as we extract key qualifying R&D costs from data provided, and conduct technical interviews with lead scientists/engineers to gain really detailed insights into client R&D projects (which is really interesting given you get to see loads of futuristic developments), and finally formalising all this information into a R&D report to be sent to HMRC. This service line is key to the future of the UK economy, so it feels good to be part of this! My team also does Patent Box relief, Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR), and Research and Development Allowances (RDA’s). Although a niche team within Corporate Tax, the team continues to expand as firms continue to innovate.
What do you do in a typical day / week?
The day to day tasks within the Innovation team vary, but the general tasks ranging from client take on to sending the final report to HMRC are as followed: Initially engaging with clients via email to agree on the scope of work we will provide, carrying out meetings and R&D workshops with clients at their premises (often with the CEO/CFO’s of companies), analysing excel spreadsheets sent by the clients and extracting relevant qualifying R&D costs, participating in queries and assumptions discussions, engaging in technical interviews with project leads in order to identify key scientific/technological advances and uncertainties to produce a project narrative, and finally summarising all this information into a R&D report to be sent to HMRC. The exposure I have had has been great, and being involved in every step of the claim process is incredibly satisfying when submitted!
What have you done in the last few days?
In the last few days, I have been producing my first project narrative. By listening to a series of technical interview recordings and analysing client projects, I have been extracting and combining relevant information to produce a project narrative which is clear and understanding to HMRC. This particular project was very interesting to gain a detailed look into, given that I have been able to gain knowledge of the research and development taking place within the field of drilling in the oil and gas industry! Our client base varies so much, ranging from innovations within the software industry to innovations within biological DNA design and optimisation.
Which skills do you think are most important in your stream?
I believe being analytical and having the ability to extract key data are the most important skills within my stream. We are often sent huge spreadsheets consisting of costs of staff, externally provided workers, subcontractors, consumables and software. Therefore, it is key to be able to understand government legislation and extract only qualifying R&D costs. Another key skill is essentially communication, being able to ask appropriate questions to project scientists/engineers and my own team members, so that I can gather the information require to maximise client claims!
What kind of client contact have you had so far?
So far, I’ve been to numerous client meetings across Thames Valley. Being in the same room as the CEO’s and other very high level people was somewhat overwhelming at first, but honestly great exposure to the business world. Throughout my placement, I hope to contribute more within these meetings, eventually being able to take lead within the meeting.
Favourite part of the job so far?
My favourite part of the job is digging into projects and seeing the kinds of things all of our clients are doing in terms of Research and Development. Some of the innovations are fascinating, and this gives me a positive feelings towards the future of science and technology! I do not come from a science and technology background myself (in fact an International Business Degree), however my team consists of engineering specialists, software specialists, and accountants! The synergy created between our specialisms is so valuable, and I have learnt huge amounts only 4 months in. I’m excited to see how much I have developed by the end of my placement.