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What can first-time SR&ED claimants expect?

Companies claiming SR&ED tax credits are not always sure what exactly the FTCAS program is. In this article, we’ll look at some concerns and questions that companies often have with the FTCAS. We’ll also look at how you can prepare for the CRA asking for supplementary SR&ED documentation.

What is an FTCAS Review?

First-Time Claimant Advisory Service (FTCAS) reviews were introduced in 2014 as a complimentary service the CRA provides for companies claiming SR&ED tax credits for the first time. This discussion with all first-time filers about the SR&ED program is free and must be attended by all first-time claimants.
Claimants who haven’t filed a claim in the past 3 years or who have never filed an SR&ED claim before are eligible for the service. If your company has been selected for the FTCAS, you will be contacted telephonically to arrange a meeting.
The discussion aims to assist applicants when they prepare future SR&ED claims irrespective of whether they use a consultant or file in-house. They are aimed at being conversational and educational so that all new claimants gain a better understanding of what the CRA will be looking for in SR&ED claims.

  • According to the CRA, an SR&ED reviewer will visit the company and provide advice on:
  • Identifying allowable expenditures
  • Identifying potential eligible work in the business context
  • Completing and filing future SR&ED claims

Documents and other evidence types that can be used to support a claim

FTCAS meetings are different than CRA Reviews. A CRA Review is much more detailed as it is used to determine whether to deny or approve portions of the SR&ED claim.

What To Expect

This is what you should expect before, during, and after the FTCAS meeting.

Before: The CRA will schedule a time for an SR&ED Reviewer to visit you and meet with the team and the SR&ED consultant if applicable.
During: The meeting typically lasts between 2 and 4 hours. SR&ED Reviewers may be an advanced SR&ED Reviewer who has been with the CRA for more than 10 years or a recently employed employee.

  • The reviewer typically covers 4 the following:
  • Review the extent of eligible work and the SR&ED’s technical requirements
  • Review your SR&ED claim’s financials
  • Discuss your current project(s) as it relates to SR&ED work, to understand the business and the type of expenditures and work claimed better
  • Deliver an information session about the SR&ED Program which will be tailored to your business

Answer all questions asked by the Reviewer as directly as possible. You don’t have to discuss the process or technology in elaborate detail unless they ask for this information. If they require more information, they’ll ask.

After: After the meeting, the Reviewer will send you a written report.

This report will typically contain:

  • A meeting summary
  • Guidance and recommendations for your SR&ED related expenditures and work
  • Advice on how to improve future claims

Once you have received the report, an official Notice of Assessment (NOA) for your SR&ED claim will be issued.

How to Prepare

  • Review the technical challenges and hypothesis with the team
  • Review what was unknown and what was known when the team started the project. This should include methodologies, tools, etc.
  • Discuss the claim you have submitted with your SR&ED advisor.

How Long Does The FTCAS Meeting Take?

  • Before COVID-19, an FTCAS meeting was done in-person at the company’s location that lasted anywhere from 4 hours to a full day. Due to COVID-19, the process is currently either a teleconference or telephone review that takes anywhere from 2 to 4 hours.

Who Conducts The FTCAS?

  • The FTCAS is typically conducted by 2 reviewers - a Financial RTA, and a Technical RTA. The Financial RTA will review the SR&ED project’s costing information. The Technical RTA will review the company’s SR&ED project and also provide recommendations for future claims. The Financial reviewer wants to ensure companies are not claiming double with other subsidies or grant applications.

Can Consultants Attend The FTCAS?

  • Consultants may attend the FTCAS meeting, either by teleconference, by phone, or in person. The consultant is however not allowed to speak on the company’s behalf. The CRA only wants to speak to the client directly on their SR&ED projects to ensure that they understand the SR&ED process clearly.

When Will I Receive The SR&ED Funds?

  • Once the FTCAS has been, it normally takes CRA between 4 and 6 weeks to process the claim and provide recommendations on future SR&ED claims, if required. The credit return or cash will be awarded during that timeframe.

 Written by: 

Shivam Bajaj  

Business Development

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Warren Wilansky
CEO, Plank
  Montréal, Québec
Learn how we helped an award-winning digital design studio utilize the SR&ED cycle to grow their team from 5 to over 24 employees

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