Is the Canada Revenue Agency listening? Recap of SR&ED Practitioners Session

CRA Listening

Are you frustrated with the CRA’s administration of the SR&ED program? Do you have issues with how the review of your last SR&ED claim turned out? You are not alone and there is hope! The CRA is listening, now lets see if they follow through.

The Boast Capital team had the privilege of attending a SR&ED practitioners’ session hosted by the CRA and had the opportunity to listen to directors of the SR&ED department from Ottawa and regional directors and managers within the SR&ED department. SR&ED practitioners from many different firms were invited to listen to the CRA and participate in a Q&A session.

It was refreshing to hear that the CRA is listening to the concerns of claimants and practitioners and is taking steps to improve the program. There was a consistent message presented by each speaker from the SR&ED department. The message that came across is that the guiding principles of the program are:

  • Fairness
  • Communication
  • Consistency
  • Predictability
  • Low administrative burden

The SR&ED headquarters division (based in Ottawa) is working to ensure that reviews are being conducted fairly. Reviewers are being trained to come into onsite meetings with claimants without any preconceived notions about eligibility with the objective to seek to understand.

Bonus: click here to download this 20-page SR&ED Guide to learn everything you need to know to prepare a successful claim.

We heard that reviewers are being trained to conduct reviews with an open mind, with more transparency and improved communication with claimants throughout the review process. Reviewers are being instructed to share their assessments of the claim as soon as possible – either during the onsite meeting or before sending a proposal letter to the claimant. The goal of the SR&ED division is to not leave claimants feeling positive about how the review went only to then receive a proposal with an unexpected result. If disputes do arise, reviewers and their managers are being instructed to be open minded and meet with claimants face to face to discuss issues and concerns.

In 2016, the SR&ED department will work to improve consistency and additional training will be given to reviewers to ensure that there is consistency from region to region and reviewer to reviewer across the entire department.

SR&ED headquarters identified that there is a goal to improve predictability. The CRA indicated that there is a need for claimants to have more certainty before submitting claims that the claim will indeed be accepted. To address this, new programs and services will be offered in 2016 – these should be announced in the coming weeks.

In order to reduce the administrative burden, reviewers are being asked to reduce the amount of information requested in the request for information (RFI) requests during the review process. In addition, reviewers will no longer send RFIs prior to onsite meetings.

All in all it was a positive meeting. It is good to hear that the SR&ED division is listening to the concerns about the administration of the program and is taking steps to improve the review process. We are optimistic about the future of the program, but only time will tell if the talk turns into reality!

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