Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Small business financing - tapping into Ottawa's R&D tax incentive program

SRED is known as the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Credit program. According to the Canadian Revenue Agency – the SRED program is meant for the businesses that conduct research and development in Canada. It is the largest source of funds from the government in regards to R&D programs that supports industrial research.

In terms of the amount of credit received, the SRED program offers:

• For a Canadian controlled private corporation (CCPC), they can earn a 35% federal credit on their first $3 million in R&D expenditures.

• For large companies that exceed certain taxable income or capital limits, the federal credit drops to 20%.

For a small business, this means that you can claim up to 65% of your engineering team’s overhead – especially those involved in R&D. As an example - if you spend $2 million in salaries for your R&D team, you receive $1.35 million refundable tax credit, when the overhead rate is included in the calculation. So when you are considering outsourcing your R&D, consider that the government will pay YOU money to keep the intellectual research in-house!

What qualifies for the tax credit?

To determine whether your company qualifies for the tax credit, ask yourself these questions:

• Do you deal with challenges of a technical nature – software, hardware or industrial.

• Did you spend money to solve the technical obstacles?

If you said yes to both questions, you qualify for the credits. They can also be claimed on any work that meets these criteria:

• Experimental Development- to create or improve materials, products or processes.

• Applied Research- to advance knowledge with a specific application.

• Basic Research – to advance knowledge without a specific application.

• Support work for the above.

As you can see, the scope of what can be claimed is broad and could probably apply to most Canadian business.

Tech company start-ups know that they can file for the SRED claims, and for many, these refunds help them get through to the early stages of the company. Almost all of a start-up’s expenses can be claimed for R&D credit and are highly encouraged. This doesn’t mean that engineering, architectural, and programming firms cannot apply for the SRED credit, even if they are under contract from clients. They should be filing their claims immediately if they have been contracted to provide R&D services.

Check the Canadian Revenue Agency site, as it has all the information regarding contracting for services, including contract requirements. The best way to determine if you qualify is to download one of their industry specific guides that will outline the SRED application process.