For the research and development industry in Canada, claiming SR&ED is an essential part of operations; the tax refunds and credits you earn are key savings that may be small, but largely useful in funding the next phase of your research. In reality, though, claiming SR&ED for the first time, or on your own can be overwhelming, especially if you’re uncertain if the work you did is eligible under SR&ED, or the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) asks for a lot of supporting documentation when your claim is audited. For this, it helps to work with SR&ED consultants in preparing, filing, and processing your claim.
But how do you ensure that you get the best advice and assistance from your SR&ED consultant in Toronto? It’s true that not all SR&ED consulting firms offer the same level of service, so it’s best to look at these factors when considering working with a SR&ED consultant
When shopping for SR&ED consulting firms, it’s easy to be drawn towards larger consultancies due to their sheer size, publicized track record, and name recognition; but many claimants don’t take into account what goes on in the background, which they’re not usually privy to.
During the initial consultation, you will likely meet with a senior consultant to walk you through the process, but afterwards, your claim may be handed off to a junior representative with less experience, or in some cases, may even be outsourced. If this is the firm’s process, it’s in your best interest to follow up with questions regarding the types of quality assurance processes the firm has in place to ensure that your claim meets the highest quality standards, and is more likely to be approved by the CRA. Additionally, it helps to ask about the senior consultant’s level of involvement in preparing your SR&ED claim as a safeguard.
SR&ED consulting firms typically have two consultants preparing your claim – one to accomplish the technical writing, and the other to handle the financials. To ensure a smooth and transparent claims process, you will want to know who prepares both aspects of your claim, and be certain that they are not just accountants who have little to no SR&ED knowledge, as well as an outsourced technical writer overseas.
Also, to ensure quality and professional standards, you will want your claim to be prepared in-house, as opposed to freelancers. Basically, you will want your claim to be treated with the utmost care, and without a long custody chain of people who will have nothing to do with the process once the claim is submitted to the CRA.
More importantly, it’s best to learn about the claims your SR&ED consultants have accomplished in the past. It’s important to have a track record that backs up their work, ensuring that they have successfully processed and defended claims in the past, especially when selected for an audit or review by the CRA.
Before signing on with an SR&ED consultant, check to see if they can make a case for your claim without just banking on their past successes. For this, you will want to see if they can walk you through the SR&ED claims process, as outlined by the CRA, and tell you what to expect.
Ask them about what happens should your claim be selected for an audit, as well as their mechanism for providing ongoing support throughout the process.
Another way to learn about their work and the level of service you can count on is to ask to see their written work – check for evidence of inattention and errors, all indicators that you, too, may fall thousands of dollars short on your SR&ED refund.
More than a SR&ED consulting firm’s record number of successful claims, it’s important to get acquainted with what their clients in the past have to say, and if they are willing to stand as references for the firm. As everything’s online these days, look into their online reviews and client testimonials – not just those published on their site, but on other forums as well, and case studies they’ve conducted in the past.
Additionally, your peers in the industry may also be able to provide useful feedback about their experience, as well as better recommendations. With the future of your research and scientific breakthroughs at stake, it doesn’t hurt to call, ask questions, and investigate feedback.