On January 27, 2014 CRA released it’s Self Assessment & Learning Tool (SALT). Formerly known as the Eligibility Self Assessment Tool (ESAT) this new tool is comprised of two downloadable PDF files. The reason behind the two downloadable files is that no information will be transferred to CRA by using the tool. I.e. the CRA will have no ability to collect any data on those using the new tool.
The first tool is supposed to help the user understand the eligibility requirements for SR&ED work and determine if your company might be doing SR&ED work. The second tool is supposed to help you identify the extent of the work performed during the course of your project and attempt to estimate your eligible expenditure and your ITCs.
Our thoughts on this service
As you walk through the documents there is a lot of information to digest and for those who understand all the terminology of the SR&ED program, it’s relatively easy to navigate the documents towards a favourable result. That being said, without knowledge of the SR&ED terminology typically used, these documents include a significant enough amount of reading that someone could become overwhelmed in their attempt to understand the program and to move through the documents successfully. In addition, we find that this tool focuses much too heavily on the “hard core” science by mentioning words like “hypothesis” and “scientific method” that could possibly scare companies away from claiming when they very well may be performing experimental development.
It appears that CRA is attempting to take the information contained in the T4088 Expenditures Claim – Guide to Form T661 and express it in a tool that helps you navigate that document in an easier way. We think this is an excellent tool for the business that wants to claim SR&ED on their own and attempt to understand the program better. However, for a new company or business this process can still be daunting, intimidating or time consuming especially when typically there are more important things to get done.
We feel this tool is excellent for education on the program, however, for our clients, who typically are already busy enough, we feel this tool will not necessarily serve their needs. We feel our clients depend on us to understand the program and its nuances and we feel this service won’t change their opinion.
Everyone learns in different ways, some by reading (this service might help them) and others by face to face meetings (the FTCAS service might help them), but at the end of the day, many companies just want to work on what they’re already good at, and that’s advancing technology, developing cool products and working with their clients.
Most people wouldn’t attempt to replace a transmission in their car on their own, they’d hire an expert, however for those that do, there are plenty of manuals and YouTube videos to help them do it. And we give them kudos for trying.