A Comprehensive Guide to the Canadian SR&ED Program

Understanding SR&ED

The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program is a federal tax incentive program designed to encourage Canadian businesses to conduct research and development (R&D) in Canada. The program provides tax credits and refunds for eligible R&D expenditures, helping to offset the costs associated with innovation and technological advancement.

Determining SR&ED Eligibility

To determine eligibility for the SR&ED program, businesses must ensure that their projects meet the following criteria:

  • Scientific or Technological Advancement: The project must achieve a scientific or technological advancement.
  • Uncertainty: There must be a technological uncertainty that cannot be resolved using standard practices.
  • Systematic Investigation: The project must involve a systematic investigation, including hypothesis formulation, experimentation, and analysis.

Identifying Qualifying Activities

Qualifying SR&ED activities include:

  •  Basic research
  •  Applied research
  •  Experimental development
  • Support work directly related to the core SR&ED activities, such as engineering, design, operations research, mathematical analysis, computer programming, data collection, testing, and psychological research.

 Who Can Submit an SR&ED Tax Credit Claim?

Any Canadian business regardless of size or industry, undertakes eligible R&D activities can submit an SR&ED tax credit claim. This includes corporations, partnerships, and proprietorships.

Applicable Industries for SR&ED

The SR&ED program applies to various industries, supporting innovation and development across diverse fields. These industries include manufacturing, where advancements in processes and products are continually pursued, and information and communication technology, which drives technological innovations. The biotechnology sector also benefits from SR&ED, fostering developments in medical and agricultural biotechnology. In agriculture, SR&ED supports research into sustainable practices and crop improvement. Additionally, the environmental technology industry utilizes SR&ED incentives to develop solutions for environmental challenges and promote sustainable development.

 Calculating SR&ED Expenditures

SR&ED expenditures can include:

  •  Salary and wages
  •  Material costs
  •  Overhead and other expenditures
  •  Third Party payments
  •  Contract payments

 The SR&ED Claim Process

The SR&ED claim process involves the following steps:

1. Identify and Document SR&ED Projects: Maintain detailed records of all R&D activities.

2. Prepare the SR&ED Claim: Complete the necessary forms and gather supporting documentation.

3. Submit the Claim: File the claim with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as part of the company’s income tax return.

Preparing Your SR&ED Claim

To prepare a successful SR&ED claim, businesses should keep comprehensive and contemporaneous documentation of all R&D activities. This thorough record-keeping ensures that every aspect of the research and development process is well-documented and verifiable. Additionally, it is crucial to ensure that all expenditures are accurately recorded and categorized, providing clear and organized financial records that support the claim. Finally, preparing detailed technical narratives is essential. These narratives should clearly explain the projects and their advancements, highlighting the scientific or technological progress made and addressing the specific criteria set by the SR&ED program.

Tools to Simplify SR&ED Claim Preparation

Project Management Systems

Project management systems can help organize and track SR&ED projects, ensuring that all activities and expenditures are properly documented.

Scheduling and Tracking Systems

Scheduling and tracking systems can assist in monitoring project timelines and resource allocation, crucial for accurate SR&ED claims.

Communication Tools

Effective communication tools facilitate collaboration among team members, ensuring that all relevant information is shared and recorded.

Boast’s SR&ED Refund Calculator

Boast’s SR&ED refund calculator can estimate the potential tax credits and refunds, helping businesses plan their R&D investments more effectively.

Best Practices for Time Tracking During the SR&ED Claim Process

Implementing robust time tracking practices ensures that all hours spent on SR&ED activities are accurately recorded, which is essential for substantiating claims.

Understanding SR&ED Forms (T661 & T2SCH31)

 Form T661: Used to provide detailed information about SR&ED projects and related expenditures.

 Form T2SCH31: Used to calculate the investment tax credit for SR&ED expenditures.

Technical Documentation Requirements

Technical documentation should include detailed descriptions of the R&D activities, methodologies, hypotheses, experiments, results, and conclusions.

After Submitting Your SR&ED Claim

After submitting an SR&ED claim, businesses should:

  •  Be prepared for a possible review or audit by the CRA.
  •  Respond promptly to any CRA requests for additional information or clarification.

Improving Your SR&ED Process for Next Year

To improve the SR&ED process for future claims:

  •  Review feedback from the CRA.
  • Implement best practices for documentation and recordkeeping.
  • Continuously monitor and refine R&D project management.

Exploring SR&ED Financing Options

Definition of SR&ED Financing

SR&ED financing involves obtaining funds against anticipated SR&ED tax credits, providing immediate cash flow for ongoing R&D activities.

Advantages of SR&ED Financing

SR&ED financing offers several significant benefits. First, it provides immediate access to capital, allowing businesses to continue their R&D activities without financial interruption. This immediate influx of funds helps improve cash flow management, ensuring that companies can meet their ongoing operational and developmental expenses. Additionally, SR&ED financing allows businesses to sustain their investment in R&D without experiencing financial strain, enabling continuous innovation and growth.

Where to Find SR&ED Financing?

SR&ED financing can be obtained from specialized financial institutions, banks, and private lenders.

Boast Quickfund

Boast Quickfund offers immediate financing solutions to businesses anticipating SR&ED tax credits, helping them maintain momentum in their R&D activities.

SR&ED Examples


Developing new robotic technologies and systems that address technological uncertainties and advance the field.


Creating innovative financial software and systems that solve complex problems and improve industry standards.

Education (ELearning)

Designing and developing elearning platforms that enhance educational outcomes through technological advancements.

Managing an SR&ED Audit

To manage an SR&ED audit effectively:

  •  Ensure all documentation is thorough and uptodate.
  •  Be prepared to explain and justify all aspects of the SR&ED projects and expenditures.
  •  Consider seeking assistance from SR&ED consultants.

Automating Your SR&ED Claim

Automation tools can streamline the SR&ED claim process by:

  •  Simplifying data collection and documentation.
  •  Reducing the risk of errors.
  •  Improving efficiency and accuracy.

Working with SR&ED Consultants

SR&ED consultants can provide expert guidance and support, ensuring that claims are accurate, complete, and compliant with CRA requirements.


How does SR&ED work in Canada?

The SR&ED program provides tax incentives to encourage Canadian businesses to conduct R&D. Eligible expenditures are claimed on the business’s tax return, resulting in tax credits and refunds.

What is the percentage for SR&ED?

The percentage of SR&ED tax credits varies depending on the type of business and province. Generally, small businesses can receive a federal credit of 35% on qualified expenditures, while larger businesses receive 15%.

How much do students get back in taxes in Canada?

Students in Canada can claim various credits and deductions, such as tuition, education, and textbook amounts. The exact refund depends on individual circumstances and provincial regulations.

What expenses can qualify for R&D credit?

Qualifying expenses for R&D credits include salaries and wages, material costs, overhead expenses, third-party payments, and contract payments associated with eligible R&D activities.