Understanding SRED Refunds


Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SRED) is a tax refund program that allows corporations to deduct expenses incurred in performing SRED from their taxable income. 

SRED was designed to encourage companies to engage in research and experiments. The costs taken into account are all routine costs involved in generating or acquiring knowledge, including interest in expenditures related to the project. By definition, the experiments performed must generate new technology, products, processes, or improved management systems for the company. This rule gives some direction on what expenses may be written off as SR&ED.

The need to understand SRED refunds arises from the additional taxes on various income groups, as well as structuring strategies from capital markets.  This article looks at the mechanics of SRED refunds and how it benefits both companies and society as a whole.

What Is SR&ED And The Mechanics Behind It In Businesses?

Scientific research and experimental development (R&D) is an investment in new ideas, practices, and processes that can be used to improve products, services, and processes. R&D activities are typically associated with the development of new or improved goods or services. The goal of R&D is not always to create a finished product but rather to create knowledge that can be used by engineers and scientists to develop new products or processes.

The definition of R&D varies depending on the source and context, but generally, it can be defined as:

A systematic investigation into a problem or issue to understand it better

  • The application of new scientific knowledge for practical ends
  • The development of new or improved products, services, and processes
  • The creation of knowledge by researchers through their work
  • The application of knowledge-based principles to develop new products, services, or processes

Every SR&ED program is based on the idea that companies must invest in research and development (R&D) to stay competitive in an increasingly globalized marketplace. In other words, the program recognizes that R&D is essential for business growth and innovation—and that businesses should not have to pay taxes on their investment.

The way the program works is simple: Companies get back a percentage of their R&D investments by claiming them as deductions on their tax returns.

The government assists companies that are willing to put money into R&D. The assistance comes in the form of a tax credit, which means that businesses do not have to pay taxes on the money they use for this purpose. The R&D tax credit is a great incentive for businesses that want to do more research and development. It can help them improve their products, increase their market share, and add jobs. The credit is available for all companies and industries—from Rust Belt manufacturing firms to Silicon Valley technology start-ups.

The exact amount depends on how much they spend on R&D relative to their total revenue. This percentage ranges from 10% to 40%, depending on how big their business is. SRED credit has been around for a long time, and it has helped many companies become more competitive and profitable. It is also an important part of the multiple governments’ efforts to help businesses innovate and create jobs.

A company can claim its costs for any type of R&D project, including projects related to product development or process improvement; regulatory compliance; environmental protection; energy efficiency; new product discovery; and more.

There are many types of R&D that companies may undertake depending on their needs and objectives. They include:

  • Process R&D: Companies usually conduct process R&D when they want to reduce costs or improve the efficiency of their processes. This can be achieved by finding new ways of doing things, automating certain tasks, or lowering labor costs by replacing human labor with machines.
  • Product Development: Product development is another common type of R&D that companies undertake. This type of project focuses on creating new products and services from scratch or improving existing ones. Companies may engage in R&D in-house or outsource it to other firms. The type of project also determines how much they can claim as a deduction. Most companies that outsource their R&D spend very little on such expenses since they are typically only responsible for the costs associated with their projects. Companies may conduct basic research to determine what needs to be done and how best to accomplish it. They might also conduct applied research, which is aimed at developing new or improved products or processes.
  • Experimental Development: Companies will try out prototypes of new ideas on a small scale before making them available for sale. They may use their employees to conduct this research and development, but they may also hire outside firms. These expenses are generally deductible as long as they meet the requirements for other types of R&D spending.

What Are The Criteria Needed to Apply For SRED Refunds?

If you’re a business owner that is interested in claiming SR&ED deductions, you need to show that your company meets certain criteria:

1) There must be an element of uncertainty associated with your project or idea; if you know exactly what will happen when you start working on something, then it’s probably not eligible for SR&ED assistance.

2) You must be undertaking a genuine research project; if your goal is simply to make money off a product or service that already exists elsewhere (or if you’re working on something that’s already been patented), then this may not qualify as scientific research according to standards – even though it might be scientific.

3) You must be engaged in work that’s “unlikely to be undertaken by a person who is not seeking financial assistance”. If your goal is simply to make money, then SR&ED may not apply.

4) You need to show that your project or idea has some kind of commercial application; it can’t just be an academic pursuit or something that can only benefit science as a whole – there needs to be some way for the results of your research project to be used by businesses, consumers and other organizations in real-world scenarios be considered research-based by the general public.

5) You must be doing work that advances science and technology; if you’re simply improving an existing product or service, then this does not qualify as scientific research under SR&ED rules.

6) You must be working on something new to the world – generally speaking, this means that your project has never been done before in any way that could be considered similar to what you’re doing now.

7) You must be doing work that is of benefit to a large number of people; if your project is only applicable to a small subsection of the population, then it probably won’t qualify as SR&ED.

What Are Some Tips For Claiming SR&ED?

1) If you’re not sure whether your project qualifies as SR&ED, then consulting with a tax accountant or lawyer who is familiar with SR&ED rules can help you determine whether this type of project will qualify.

2) If you’re unsure whether your project is new to the world, then consider how many people would be able to do it if they wanted to. If there are many companies that already offer similar products or services and have been doing so for years, then that’s probably not new enough.

3) Ask yourself where your project fits into the marketplace – if it doesn’t improve upon anything else out there or add any value that wasn’t there before, then does this mean it isn’t useful?

4) Is your project truly a new invention? If it’s not, then you may want to consider whether there are other ways of doing what you’re trying to do that would qualify as SR&ED projects.

5) Remember that the government wants to encourage innovation, so if you’re working on something truly groundbreaking and innovative then that will help your case.

4) If your project is new and valuable, then go ahead and apply. SR & ED claims are audited by an authorized/governing agency, so you may need to submit documentation such as blueprints or prototypes to prove they were created before filing.

4) If your project does qualify as new, then make sure to keep it that way – keep up with the latest developments in your field and be sure to incorporate them into your work.

What Are The Benefits Associated With Claiming SR&ED Refunds?

In the past few decades, SR&ED has played an important role in helping companies become leaders in many industries including aerospace, biotechnology, information technology, life sciences, and clean technology industries.

It has also helped create jobs by allowing businesses to hire more scientists and engineers as well as purchase new equipment needed for research experiments.

R&D is always a key factor in the innovation process, which is essential to the development of any economy. SR&ED refunds are often used to encourage organizations to invest in R&D activities. However, many other benefits can also be gained from these tax incentives.

These include:

  • Increased employment opportunities for graduates who have undergone training in this area of study
  • The creation of new businesses and start-ups based on the results obtained from scientific research and experimental development programs conducted by established companies
  • An increase in exports due to the transfer of technology obtained through scientific research programs into products and services that are developed for international markets
  • The creation of new products and services that can be marketed at home or abroad
  • Improved infrastructure and the development of new technologies that can be used in a variety of industries, including transport and communications
  • The creation of new products and services that are based on the results obtained from scientific research programs, can then be commercialized by established companies.
  • An increase in the quality, quantity, and availability of goods and services available to consumers
  • An increase in the number of companies that can develop new products, services, and systems that meet international standards
  • The development of new technologies and processes for the benefit of society at large


In short, it should be clear that all companies should view SRED refunds as a valuable means for encouraging investment in R&D and for promoting economic growth.

As noted above, the cost of developing new products or processes that are a part of the overall business operating costs can be deducted from a company’s taxable income.

In this respect, efforts to acquire SRED refunds must be treated the same way as many other business expenditures, such as office rent, advertising costs, or supplies. It is to the business owner to prove the existence and cost of an R&D project (as well as any other claimed deductions) to prove that they are making huge advancements for the benefit of both their individual interests and the society at large.

Author’s Bio:

Shelly Solis is one of the women behind SaaSLaunchr, a website specializing in SaaS SEO and blog outreach services. She is a versatile writer who covers topics on digital marketing, health,  technology, and business.


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