Updated: Apr 27
In this blog post, I'll discuss best practices to maximize your SR&ED claim, including tips on identifying, documenting, and managing SR&ED work throughout the year. These practices are based on my extensive (20+ years) experience in software development and leading teams and the insights I've gained while working with SR&ED claims for companies of all sizes.
What is SR&ED and its benefits?
The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentive program is a Canadian government initiative that rewards companies for conducting research and development activities. By providing tax credits or cash refunds, the program encourages innovation and helps businesses grow. Essentially, SR&ED offers "free money" for the work companies are already doing, making it an invaluable resource for businesses engaged in research, development, and innovation.
Best Practices for Maximizing Your SR&ED Claim:
An ongoing effort, not just at the end of the year
Tracking and managing your SR&ED work consistently throughout the year can significantly improve your claim's success. Begin by tagging relevant tasks as SR&ED in your project management system, and make it a habit to update the status of these tasks during daily standups. This ensures accurate tracking and helps maintain transparency.
Education of SR&ED
Education is a key factor in maximizing your SR&ED claim. Discuss the ins and outs of SR&ED with your team, including what qualifies as SR&ED work and what doesn't. This increases the team's understanding of the process and helps identify SR&ED work sooner. Involving your product team in SR&ED discussions can also help identify potential SR&ED work early in the project lifecycle. Encourage your team to view SR&ED as a valuable resource that can help validate their efforts and bring additional funding to the company.
To ensure you don't miss any opportunities for SR&ED work, develop a list of "triggers" that prompt you to consider whether a task might qualify. These triggers could include creating a new EPIC in your project management tool, encountering blocked tickets, identifying impediments related to work, falling behind on a project due to unforeseen technical challenges, or backtracking on a task or project.
When your team needs to conduct research, create documentation outlining the objectives, unknowns, risks, hypotheses, and an empty results area. Update this document with the results once the investigation is complete. This will help you stay organized and make it easier to compile your SR&ED claim.
If it looks like SR&ED and Quacks like SR&ED
Consider some signs that a task might qualify as SR&ED work. These "smells" include uncertainty about how to accomplish a task, conduct a spike, encounter failures, or work on something that could be the subject of a blog post. Conversely, some tasks are less likely to be SR&ED but might qualify as supporting work, such as implementing off-the-shelf solutions, integrating multiple off-the-shelf solutions, copying and pasting code from online sources, applying well-known knowledge, or doing pure frontend work (which the CRA typically doesn't consider as SR&ED).
Maximizing your SR&ED claim is achievable by following best practices and leveraging tools like Serenity from SABI. By keeping your team educated, engaged, and proactive about SR&ED, you'll be better equipped to identify and quantify SR&ED work, ultimately increasing the success of your claim.
About the Author:
As a seasoned technology enthusiast and team leader, I founded Scientifically Advanced Business Intelligence Inc. (SABI) to revolutionize the SR&ED claims process for companies of all sizes. Passionate about empowering teams and streamlining workflows, I leveraged my extensive experience in software development to create innovative solutions for the industry. SABI's flagship product, Serenity, simplifies and automates the SR&ED claims process by integrating with project management tools, making it adaptable to any team size and beneficial for both self-claiming firms and those with existing SR&ED consultants.