CATAAlliance SR&ED Update (July 2008): Submission to Finance, Program Improvements, CATAnet TV, Open Mic Conference Calls, and the SR&ED Best Practices Forum
July 21, 2008

-Submission to Finance

-Program Improvements: CRA Responses

-CATAnet TV on SR&ED

-Open Mic Conference Call, and the

 SR&ED Best Practices Forum

-SR&ED Alert  

CATAAlliance: Follow-up Submission to Finance

 

In our pre-budget submission, CATAAlliance called for clearer legislation in the following areas:

  • definition of SR&ED,
  • treatment of contracts
  • for more reasonable application of the 18 month filing deadline,
  • requirements for how a claim can be supported.

The Budget focused on administrative solutions, not on how the legislation could be clarified to help both CRA and their clients. 

 

Members can review the detailed Pre-Budget submission at:

http://www.cata.ca/Media_and_Events/Press_Releases/cata_pr11150601.html

 

As follow-up, a team of leading practitioners and lawyers led by CATA’s Senior VP of Tax and Finance, Russ Roberts, have submitted a detailed analysis of the legislation, its historical intent, how difficulties arise in its application, the consequences and potential solutions.  The Post-Budget Submissions stressed the difference between the type of tax legislation that is needed to support an incentive program and that for normal tax matter where interpretive certainty is normally on achieved over years of rulings and jurisprudence. Specifically, that from the beginning, CRA and their clients need a clear and stable understanding of what is in and out for the incentive to be effective from a business perspective. 

  

++  Action item:  please contact jreid@cata.ca with SR&ED in the header for a copy of the detailed Post-Budget Submission.  Of particular interest may be the fundamental problem of making the current approach to contracts work well in light of the realities of how business contracts are normally written, whether for SR&ED or not.


Government Commitments to Program Improvements and CRA’s Response

 

Responses to the Post-Budget Submission have emphasized solutions primarily through clearer policy and reasonableness form CRA—certainly a desirable outcome and one consistent with the Budget commitments.  At the same time we are hearing some very constructive discussion on how the legislative intent could be more clearly articulated, and where the legislation seems clear and could be better supported by CRA.  We see this as an ongoing dialogue and we will be working with our colleagues in other associations on this agenda item. 

 

In our discussions, the Government Officials have emphasized their strong commitment to the program and that this commitment is strongly reflected in the budgetary commitment to improvements by CRA.

 

CRA, formally reiterated the budget commitment at the end of June. Of particular importance was their indication that a review of the policies and procedures, “including the dispute resolution process," is underway.

 

Observation: Certainly CRA’s focus on the procedures and dispute resolution is needed and welcome.  Our members are reporting that the current system is too self reinforcing to effectively promote sober, neutral, objective second opinions.  “Consensus/support” rather then true practice knowledge leadership in CRA seems to be one source of the problem from the examples we have heard.

 

The emphasis we are hearing from CRA on training and consistent policy application is encouraging.  On the other-hand, the development of the training and the ongoing review itself is occurring in relative isolation from community leaders.  This is troublesome to many and certainly a departure from the past.

 

We have been assured that no policy changes are being implemented, just clarification and simplification for certainty.

 

However, there is a significant lack of confidence in the integrity of this process.  We have brought forward to CRA and Finance this concern.

 

Somehow CRA needs to find a way to effectively obtain community support and leadership for its actions.

 

Ironically, some of the new products like the New Guide to the T661 (http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/tg/t4088/README.html) contain some very clear explanations of existing policies on how to recognize eligibility. If they were understood and applied by CRA reviewers consistently, it is conceivable that many of the problems we're hearing of might have been avoided.

 

There is certainly a need for some sort of joint management and/or advisory body of senior independent leaders to provide confidence building advice and/or oversight.  We would appreciate feedback on these matters and your ideas.

 

CATAnet TV on SR&ED

 

For further perspective on CATAAlliance tax advocacy, please view TV SR&ED interviews with Russ Roberts:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDrQE9zwrJ0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1Ekv3XqtDA

 

CATA will also be producing training videos to assist companies with the SR&ED claiming process.


“Open Mic” SR&ED Conference Calls and the
 SR &ED Best Practices Forum

 

Members can now benefit from by invitation only Conference calls moderated by Dr. Roberts and including peers and advisors concerned with problem solving and facilitation of SR&ED Claims.

 

We have also set up an SR&ED Best Practices Forum, to assist companies with their SR&ED Claims. The Forum, private and by invitation only, is captioned below:

 

The CATAAlliance, SR&ED Best Practices Forum is where the community can bring forward their experiences and seek suggestions and advice from others on practices that are more or less effective with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Our aim is two-fold: to encourage the identification of best practices; and to identify and track administrative issues that we need to highlight in our discussions with the CRA.

Additionally, we will be posting updates on our discussions about changes to legislation. As well, advocacy is underway to change the terms and conditions of SR&ED claims.

Welcome to the new CATAAlliance SR&ED Best Practices Forum!

 

SR&ED Alert

With the amount change occurring in CRA, it is important for all of those involved in developing clams to monitor the regional public sessions and to attend those that are focused  on providing information on what are CRA’s evolving expectations. Visit  http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/txcrdt/sred-rsde/smnr-eng.html


++ Action Item: executives with an interest in any of CATA’s SR&ED activities should contact John Reid at jreid@cata.ca; we will then assist you with gaining access to support resources, private Forums and expertise.