SR&ED got you down? Don’t worry, our CPA can help. Preparing your SR&ED claim like a Chartered Public Accountant (CPA) is all about being organized, or so I’m told. I had a conversation recently with our CEO and Technical Lead, who also happens to be a CPA, and he shared with me his mindset and strategy as he prepares a new claim.
This one sounds obvious but all too often it gets missed. Sitting down at the start of the year and identifying all of the projects and their associated challenges (technical uncertainties) lays down a clear path for your team of what you are trying to do and how you plan to do it. Not only should there be documentation from the meeting (agenda, meeting minutes with attendees, white boards, presentation slides, etc) but you should ensure everyone is clear on the documentation they will need.
Throughout the year try to clearly illustrate the systematic investigative approach you will take for each one of your project related technical challenges. Further to that when new projects pop up throughout the year you will have already established a process that your team is familiar with to get things kicked off for the new project and it’s associated technical uncertainties. Did I mention we have templates for all this stuff? We do and we love to share? Contact us and we can help with templates and more.
Outside of first time claimant reviews audits are not an everyday occurrence. While we can’t tell you when or if you will be audited, we can tell you without a shadow of a doubt there is a dedicated team of SR&ED auditors who are conducting audits and reviews daily. Outside of simply being ready, audit preparation serves two main functions: a) ensures your documentation is current and in place making your year end much easier and b) it often results in a stronger claim. Let me explain.
Being fast and loose with how you organize your projects spells trouble. To maximize your claim you will need to provide documentation and support work from the same period. Keep all your SR&ED projects separate and make sure all your supporting documentation matches the period and project. The only thing worse than being disorganized, is being disorganized after your year end. Not only are you facing a claim you are ill prepared for but now you are doing it after the deadline. Unfortunately once you pass that deadline you can no longer amend documents. Plan early, plan often and support every number.
Guess what? Those auditors from the CRA? Not only are they good people, but they are on your side. They believe in the program and they want to ensure businesses that meet the criteria are rightly compensated. They want to close the file and move on to the next audit. If you are contacted for the first (and possibly last) step in the process, which is called a review, clarify exactly what they are looking for. Don’t do it over the phone, have them send it to you.
If you get into the unlikely scenario where they aren’t being responsive simply ask for their supervisor and communicate with them. You have a business to run and the last thing you need is to be running around gathering evidence you don’t need because they weren’t clear on why they are conducting a review/audit. Further information from the CRA on this process is available here.
When it comes time to present the evidence they have requested (which you have in writing) make sure you actually get to present everything you have prepared. With that in mind remember they are auditors. CRA SR&ED auditors are concerned with a few very specific things around eligibility. It isn’t their job to value the potential of your product, service and/or process. They aren’t interested in the project’s commercial viability or when you will see your next round of funding. Think like an auditor and stick to the eligibility criteria and those items that support that criteria. Here is what you need to know about qualifying criteria.
What you need to do is think like an auditor and act like a chartered accountant. Be organized, focus on what matters to the CRA and communicate clearly with your team about SR&ED related expectations. Don’t make it a whole other process just expand the project management processes you already have. Have all the necessary systems ready for your team and ensure they know how to use them. Still facing challenges? Our CPA can help.
Do you have a SRED question? Planning for the future or perhaps you want to know how much your claim might be? Don’t worry, our CPA is always ready to answer any question. Get a SRED expert in your corner.
Have a question? We’d love to help. If you don’t have a SR&ED expert in your corner, doesn’t it make sense to have one?[ninja_form id=4]