Oftentimes when the CRA is reviewing an SR&ED claim, a reviewer will call the claimant either to get more information or set up an onsite visit. CRA reviewers will often re-assure the claimant that nothing is wrong at this stage, and they are simply gathering information. This is not entirely accurate, and as a claimant you should be concerned. If a CRA reviewer calls you about your SR&ED claim, it means that the claim has been selected for review. At this stage it is unlikely that the CRA will tell you whether you are subject to a desk, onsite technical or financial review. Consequently, it is important to make sure you plan to set aside some time to answer any queries the CRA reviewer(s) may have in regards to your claim. Here are some simple things you can do to help organize the process and determine who and how much time will be required to address the requests of the CRA.
- Don’t panic! In our experience, CRA reviewers are trying to determine the likelihood of errors in your claim, and if you understand the criteria of the program.
- Ask if any reviewers have been assigned to your claim, what are their roles/titles are and their contact information. This will help you gauge what type of review is being undertaken, and the corresponding resources at your organization that will be required. If a financial reviewer is assigned, then you will likely need the time of your bookkeeper to gather up GL, subcontract, material and payroll details. If a technical reviewer is also assigned, you will need your (lead) technical staff to address any technical questions about the work performed as well as how the eligible hours were determined.
- If the CRA reviewer is looking to schedule an onsite visit, ask them who will be attending, and ask them to propose some dates. It is not necessary to immediately agree upon a date when the CRA calls, but you should make this a priority once you have determined the availability of your internal resources (including your SR&ED consultants).
- Ask for an agenda. In our experience, the CRA is not always forthcoming with a meeting agenda when scheduling an onsite visit. An agenda from the CRA will again help you determine how much time to set aside for the visit – anywhere from a few hours for an FTCAS visit, to a full day (or more) for a full review. It will also help you determine what information will need to be gathered to make their visit as efficient and fruitful as possible.
Ideally, your SR&ED consultant will quarterback this process for you. When the CRA calls, let your consultants know about the call, and provide them with any information you received during the call. Your consultant should then contact the CRA to move the process along. At MCN, we provide comprehensive SR&ED audit support services. If you have questions about a review, even if we have not prepared your claim, please feel free to contact us.