Changes to SR&ED Tax Credit in 2012 Federal Budget – Are they impactful and meaningful?

The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program was one of the long-anticipated and highly debated areas expected to be addressed in the 2012 Federal budget. Politically, the government needed to show they were listening to their taxpayers over a number of recent years given the amount of consultations, the amount of press and discussion about the SR&ED program and, certainly, Innovation Canada: A Call to Action (also known as the Jenkins Report). The biggest change introduced relates to the tax credit rate available to SR&ED claimants who are not Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (CCPC’s). The tax credit rate for non-CCPC’s will decrease from 20% to 15%. This is a significant reduction. The government’s view is that the reduction of the corporate income tax rate since 2007 along with the corporate tax restructuring of non-CCPC’s has resulted in growing pools of unused tax credits; these corporations are not generating enough taxable income in Canada to make use of all the SR&ED investment tax credits that they are generating. Therefore, the government reasons that they can reduce the rate from 20% to 15% without much impact. While this may be true in many cases, there are definitely large taxpayers in Canada who will be significantly impacted by this reduction.  Only time will tell how this change will impact the amount of R&D performed in Canada by multi-national corporations or even medium-sized corporations who do not qualify for the CCPC enhanced rate. The other changes proposed are categorized as follows:

  1. Simplifying the tax credit base
  2. Increasing the cost effectiveness of the program
  3. Enhancing Predictability

I further discuss these points in an article that can be found here.

– Terry Lavineway Director of Business Incentives Welch LLP 

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