SR&ED Compliance for Service Companies: Pitfalls to Avoid

Welcome to G6 Consulting Inc! We are experts in handling Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) claims and are recognized as leaders in this field in Canada. With more than 15 years of experience and thousands of successful claims across different industries, we know all about the challenges of SR&ED compliance. This blog will help service companies avoid common mistakes that could harm their claims.

Common Pitfalls in SR&ED Claims for Service Companies

Our extensive experience has allowed us to identify key areas where service companies often stumble in their SR&ED claims:

Pitfall 1: Misinterpreting Eligible Activities

Understanding what constitutes eligible SR&ED activities is foundational for any company seeking to capitalize on these tax incentives, especially in service industries where the applicability might not be as obvious as in manufacturing or software development. Here’s a closer look:

What Constitutes SR&ED Activities?

Eligible SR&ED activities must meet the following criteria:

  • Technological Advancement: The work must aim for technological advancement to create new, or improve existing, materials, products, devices, or processes. 
  • Technological Uncertainties: You must demonstrate that there were technological uncertainties—an unknown that your team’s standard practices couldn’t resolve.
  • Systematic Investigation: The process must be carried out through systematic investigation or research, which could include formulating and testing hypotheses via experimentation or analysis.

Pitfall 2: Inadequate Documentation

For SR&ED claims, thorough and accurate documentation is not just beneficial—it’s essential. Documentation serves as the backbone of a successful claim by substantiating the work that has been carried out under the SR&ED program. Here’s why it’s important and how best to manage it:

Importance of Documentation

Proper documentation proves that the claimed SR&ED activities meet the necessary criteria set by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). It helps establish that the work conducted involved technological advancements or was performed in an attempt to resolve technological uncertainties through systematic investigation. Moreover, good documentation can be the deciding factor in the event of an audit.

Pitfall 3: Misallocation of Expenses

Accurately allocating expenses to SR&ED projects is crucial for maximizing the claimable amount and ensuring compliance with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) guidelines. Misallocation of expenses, whether for employee time, overhead, or material costs, can lead to claim reductions or denials during an audit. Here’s how service companies can avoid these pitfalls and ensure proper expense allocation.

Allocating Employee Time and Resources

Employee time and resources are often the largest components of SR&ED claims. Accurate allocation is essential, and errors here can be costly.

By carefully tracking and correctly allocating expenses, service companies can strengthen their SR&ED claims, making them more robust against scrutiny and more likely to succeed. This approach not only optimizes the financial return but also aligns with compliance requirements, safeguarding against potential issues during an audit.

Pitfall 4: Lack of Technical Narratives

Technical narratives are crucial components of SR&ED claims, serving as detailed descriptions that articulate the nature of the research, the technological uncertainties involved, and the systematic investigations undertaken to resolve these uncertainties. A well-crafted technical narrative can significantly enhance the credibility of an SR&ED claim, ensuring that reviewers clearly understand the innovative aspects and compliance with SR&ED criteria.

By crafting detailed, clear, and compelling technical narratives, service companies can effectively communicate the essence of their SR&ED activities, significantly enhancing the likelihood of a favorable assessment of their claims. These narratives not only serve to justify the SR&ED claim but also document valuable corporate knowledge and innovation progress.

Pitfall 5: Overlooking Subcontracted Work

Subcontracted work can play a crucial role in SR&ED projects, particularly when specialized expertise or additional resources are needed. However, overlooking the proper documentation and claim procedures for subcontracted work is a common pitfall that can lead to missed opportunities for tax credits or even jeopardize the validity of the entire SR&ED claim.

Challenges with Claims Involving Third-Party Contractors

When subcontractors are involved in SR&ED projects, the challenges primarily revolve around establishing that the work performed by the subcontractors qualifies as SR&ED activities and proving control and payment for these activities.

Pitfall 6: Poor Project Tracking

Effective project tracking is critical in the management of SR&ED claims. The absence of a robust system for tracking both the progress and expenditures of SR&ED projects can lead to significant challenges in substantiating claims and ultimately in securing SR&ED incentives. Proper tracking not only ensures compliance with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requirements but also enhances the accuracy and efficiency of the claim process.

Implementing robust tools and practices for effective project tracking is not just about compliance—it’s also about maximizing the return on investment in research and development activities. By ensuring that every aspect of SR&ED projects is meticulously documented and tracked, companies can enhance their ability to make successful claims and reduce the risks associated with audits.

Pitfall 7: Ignoring Eligibility Updates

Staying informed about the latest updates in SR&ED policies and criteria is crucial for companies engaged in scientific research and experimental development. Changes to these guidelines can significantly affect the eligibility, documentation requirements, and potential benefits of SR&ED claims. Not staying updated with changes can cause you to miss out or face problems that might risk your claim’s success.

Pitfall 8: Filing Late Claims

Filing SR&ED claims within the stipulated deadlines is crucial for eligibility and successful reimbursement. Late submissions can lead to significant risks and challenges, potentially impacting the financial health and research capacity of a company.

Adhering to these practices not only helps avoid the risks associated with late filings but also maximizes the potential benefits from Canada’s SR&ED tax incentive program. It promotes a disciplined approach to both project management and financial oversight, crucial for any research-intensive organization.

Pitfall 9: Insufficient Collaboration Between Departments

Effective collaboration between technical and financial teams is crucial in the administration of SR&ED claims. Insufficient coordination can lead to miscommunication, inaccuracies in claims, and ultimately, compliance issues that might jeopardize the approval and maximization of tax credits. Strengthening interdepartmental communication ensures that all aspects of an SR&ED project are accurately captured and reported.

Pitfall 10: Underutilizing Expert Advice

In the complex landscape of Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) claims, navigating the requirements, documentation, and proper filing procedures can be daunting for many companies. The underutilization of expert advice from SR&ED consultants or tax experts can significantly impact the success and maximization of these claims. Understanding the disadvantages of going it alone and recognizing the benefits of professional guidance is crucial for businesses involved in R&D.

To fully leverage the benefits of SR&ED tax incentives, companies should consider the engagement of consultants as a strategic investment rather than an unnecessary expense. The expertise these professionals bring can significantly enhance the likelihood of success and the financial return from SR&ED claims. Companies looking to optimize their SR&ED efforts would do well to prioritize expert involvement early in their project planning phases.


Avoiding these common pitfalls and engaging with seasoned experts like G6 Consulting can significantly enhance the success of your SR&ED claims. Trust your SR&ED submissions to the best in the business.

Ready to ensure your SR&ED claim is successful? Contact G6 Consulting today to schedule a consultation and maximize your potential benefits. Trust your claim with the experts—let us help you navigate the complexities of SR&ED compliance.

Get your SR&ED done right with G6 Consulting Inc – Canada’s R&D Tax Credit Experts!

G6 Consulting can work with you to build your claim, co-ordinate with your accountant, submit your claim and get you your cheque. No cost until you get paid

Check out our SR&ED overview page to learn more about SR&ED and how to qualify

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SR&ED Compliance for Service Companies: Pitfalls to Avoid
SR&ED Compliance for Service Companies: Pitfalls to Avoid