High-performing accounting firms focus on providing high-value, specialized services tailored to their clients’ needs. 

But you already knew that. That’s why, to better serve your clientele, you recently decided to help your startup clients claim R&D tax credits. Since you don’t have the competencies in-house, you also decided to partner with a firm that specializes in R&D Tax Credits. 

You know that expanding your offerings through referral partners is a great way to add more value to your clients’ businesses while growing your own revenue. 

But what’s the best way to get started working with a partner and offering these new services to your clients?

Here are 4 steps you can take to get started with these new and expanded offerings:

  1. Find the right partner.
  2. Identify opportunities with your existing clients.
  3. Develop a client service and communication strategy
  4. Define a recurring (annual) relationship and working strategy with your partners and clients.

Let’s take a closer look.

Finding the Right Partner

When looking for a partner, it’s helpful to define your criteria before starting the process. This way you’ll know pretty quickly if you’ve found a good match, or if it just doesn’t fit.

As with any partnership, there are a few key qualities to look out for, especially in the accounting field. To ensure smooth processes and a relationship that benefits all involved parties, you’ll want to partner with an experienced team. A firm possessing both extensive knowledge about the IRS rules and the necessary technical competencies can go a long way to building trust.

These qualifications also lead to quality work, a critical factor in building a great partnership. You need to be able to trust that your partner will do things correctly for you and your clients the first time around. 

A potential partner also needs to demonstrate a good deal of flexibility. You and your clients will be more comfortable with a team that facilitates easy handovers of information and is quick to assess whether it’s in your client’s best interest to pursue the tax credit. 

This partner also needs to be trustworthy and respectful of the relationships you’ve spent years developing with your clients. With Tri-Merit you won’t have to worry that they’ll poach your clients, as they’re focused exclusively on specialty tax topics. 

Test potential partners: It’s a great idea to work with an R&D partner on a trial basis. See how things work over the course of a few projects. Then, gauge the fit for your firm.

Identifying Opportunities With Your Existing Clients

After deciding to expand your service offerings and finding a partner firm, the next step is to identify which of your existing clients could most benefit from this new offering. 

Because of your existing relationship with the clients, it should be relatively easy to determine who might most benefit from the R&D Tax Credit. Look first at clients who are driving innovation, and are likely engaged in significant R&D activities. 

Do they have qualifying research expenses (QREs) in the current or previous tax years (you’ll typically have up to three years to make corrections)?

Are these expenses mainly for work performed in-house, or did they engage large amounts of external support? These answers will determine the level of the credit, as internal activities are favored more by the IRS rules.

Start with your key clients who have qualifying expenses and move on from there. Remember, businesses in virtually any field can qualify for the R&D Tax Credit. It’s not limited to tech startups or manufacturers.

Develop a Client Service & Communication Strategy

When approaching your clients, have a strategy for implementing the proposed service. 

Together with your partner, define exactly what service you’ll provide and how the communication between the three parties will work for all necessary steps of the process. 

These steps include:

  • Gathering information from the client.
  • Communicating the timeline and deadlines.
  • Getting the details and submitting follow-up information to the specialty partner.
  • Handling the deliverables process. 

A quality partner will help you define these steps and handle a lot of this workload so that together you achieve a timely, quality result. 

Recurring Relationship & Work Strategy

When working with a partner, it’s only through good communication that you can develop a long-lasting and mutually beneficial partnership. Part of that communication will involve defining how you will handle changes in your respective businesses year over year. 

How often will you review the relationship and the contracts? What are the processes for resolving issues? 

It’s important to lay the groundwork for a mutually beneficial relationship by answering some of these questions upfront.


We understand what it’s like for CPAs to question whether they have selected the right specialty tax partner. The right partner will have proven expertise and services to enhance the relationship between client and CPA. This is why Tri-Merit serves as an extension of the CPA’s advisory team to reinforce the CPA’s role as a trusted advisor while helping taxpayers increase cash flow through specialty tax incentives. 

Schedule a discovery call at 800.624.1076 to give your clients the best possible experience with a partner you can trust.

R&D tax credit | Cost segregation | 179D | 45L | Employee Retention Credit