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Boost Tax Savings: Smart Use of SR&ED Materials Explained

Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) is a significant incentive program in various countries, designed to encourage innovation and technological advancement within businesses. A critical aspect of SR&ED projects is the identification and documentation of SR&ED materials used in the research and development process. 

SR&ED materials play a crucial role in determining the eligibility of expenditures for tax credits or refunds. Here are what constitutes SR&ED materials, their consumption or transformation, the traditional versus proxy method, and other pertinent factors.

What are Considered SR&ED Materials?

SR&ED materials encompass a broad spectrum of tangible items directly related to the research and development activities undertaken by a business. These materials can include:

Raw Materials

Raw materials constitute the foundational components utilized in the experimental and developmental processes within the scope of SR&ED endeavors. These materials encompass a diverse range of basic substances or components essential for conducting research and innovation activities. 

Examples of raw materials include chemicals, metals, polymers, electronic components, and biological materials, each serving specific functions and contributing to the advancement of scientific knowledge or the development of novel technologies. 


These are the essential items that undergo utilization or transformation throughout experimentation or development in the realm of SR&ED initiatives. Consumables encompass a wide array of materials and supplies that are depleted or altered during the research and innovation processes. 

Examples of consumables include reagents for chemical reactions, solvents for dissolving substances, gases for controlled environments, fuels for energy generation, and various other supplies necessary for conducting experiments or prototypes. 

Prototype Components

Prototype components encompass the diverse array of parts and elements utilized in the fabrication of prototypes or experimental models within the context of SR&ED endeavors. These components serve as the building blocks for constructing tangible representations of innovative concepts or technological advancements. 

Ranging from mechanical components such as gears, shafts, and housings to electronic circuitry including sensors, microcontrollers, and wiring, prototype components play translate theoretical ideas into physical forms for testing and validation purposes.

Tools and Equipment

These are the essential machinery, instruments, and implements utilized throughout the research and development (R&D) processes within the framework of SR&ED endeavors. This category encompasses a broad spectrum of tangible assets ranging from laboratory equipment such as spectrometers, centrifuges, and microscopes to specialized tools including precision machining equipment, 3D printers, and robotic arms. 

Furthermore, tools and equipment also encompass computer hardware such as servers, workstations, and data acquisition systems, as well as software applications and programming tools utilized for data analysis, simulation, and modeling. 

Consumption and Transformation of SR&ED Materials

One of the key considerations in determining SR&ED eligibility is understanding how materials are consumed or transformed during experimental or developmental activities. This consumption or transformation signifies the direct involvement of materials in the advancement of scientific knowledge or the development of new technologies. 

Key points to consider include:


This refers to those items that undergo complete utilization or depletion during experimental activities. This includes substances like chemicals, reagents, or solvents, which are essential components in scientific reactions or processes. 

Additionally, consumable supplies such as laboratory glassware or disposable protective equipment are also considered consumed materials, as they are utilized and often discarded after single or limited use. 


This signifies the alteration of their inherent properties, whether physical or chemical, due to the experimental or developmental procedures undertaken. This transformation encompasses a wide array of changes, ranging from modifications in molecular structures to shifts in mechanical properties or other fundamental characteristics. 

For instance, raw materials may undergo chemical reactions leading to the formation of new compounds, or they might be subjected to physical processes resulting in changes in shape, texture, or conductivity.

Traditional vs. Proxy Method

In documenting SR&ED expenditures related to materials, businesses have the option to choose between the traditional method and the proxy method:

Traditional Method

The traditional method of tracking SR&ED expenditures involves a meticulous approach where businesses directly monitor and document all costs associated with materials used in research and development activities. 

This comprehensive process entails maintaining thorough records of material purchases, consumption levels, and any transformations undergone during the course of experimentation or development. 

Key documentation includes invoices from suppliers, receipts for material purchases, and meticulously kept laboratory notebooks detailing experimental procedures and outcomes. 

This method demands stringent record-keeping practices to effectively demonstrate the direct correlation between material usage and the advancement of scientific knowledge or technological innovation, thus maximizing the eligibility for SR&ED tax incentives.

Proxy Method

The proxy method offers a streamlined alternative for assessing SR&ED expenditures associated with materials by bypassing the need to meticulously track actual material costs. 

Instead, businesses can employ predetermined proxy rates based on factors like direct labor or direct costs to estimate material expenses. 

This method simplifies the documentation process, as it reduces the burden of maintaining detailed records of material purchases, consumption, and transformation. 

However, adherence to specific guidelines and calculations established by tax authorities is essential for the accurate implementation of the proxy method. 

Businesses must ensure that the chosen proxy rates align with the nature and scale of their R&D activities, as inaccuracies could impact the eligibility for SR&ED tax incentives. 

Despite its simplifications, the proxy method necessitates careful consideration and compliance with regulatory requirements to effectively leverage its benefits while minimizing potential risks.

Other Factors to Consider

Beyond the consumption and transformation of materials and the choice between traditional and proxy methods, several other factors may influence the treatment of SR&ED materials:

Documentation and Record-Keeping

Thorough documentation of material usage, experimentation processes, and outcomes is essential for substantiating SR&ED claims. Detailed records serve as evidence of the technical challenges addressed, methodologies employed, and technological advancements achieved.

Compliance and Reporting Requirements

Businesses must ensure compliance with relevant tax laws and regulations governing SR&ED claims. This includes adhering to prescribed guidelines for documenting expenditures, maintaining records, and submitting accurate reports to tax authorities.

Audits and Reviews

Tax authorities may conduct audits or reviews to assess the validity of SR&ED claims, including the documentation of materials. Businesses should be prepared to provide comprehensive documentation and evidence to support their claims during these processes.

Consult with an SR&ED Consultant Today

SR&ED materials play a crucial role in determining the eligibility of expenditures for tax incentives aimed at fostering innovation and technological advancement. 

Understanding what constitutes SR&ED materials, how they are consumed or transformed, and the choice between traditional and proxy methods are essential considerations for businesses engaged in research and development activities. 

By effectively documenting material usage and adhering to compliance requirements, businesses can maximize their eligibility for SR&ED incentives while contributing to ongoing innovation and scientific progress. 

And with the help of an SR&ED consultant, you can easily navigate this program without the stress. 

G6 Consulting is a full-service consulting firm that builds and submits SR&ED claims in Canada. Talk to an SR&ED expert today

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