Claim Review Manual for Research and Technology Advisors

SR&ED Program

Chapter 3.0 Guidelines for coordinated review

Table of contents

3.1.0 Summary of chapter

This chapter introduces and discusses guidelines linked to a coordinated review between the research and technology advisor (RTA) and financial reviewer (FR). Specifically:

  1. A definition is provided.
  2. Its characteristics are discussed.
  3. Ways to coordinate are discussed.
  4. The benefits for both the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and the claimant are discussed.

3.2.0 Requirements of chapter

Following from Chapter 1.6.0, there are two requirements that apply equally to both the RTA and the FR:

1. All reviews must be coordinated between the RTA and the FR.

2. Relevant interactions must be documented.

3.3.0 Background

The underlying principles of coordination between the RTA(s) and the FR also apply to SR&ED claims that have been assigned to both an RTA and an FR. The principles also apply to other situations where consultation and sharing of information leads to more effective and more efficient services, such as process review, pre-claim project review, first-time claimant advisory service (FTCAS), account executive service, or outreach services (such as information seminars).  FTCAS in particular is deigned to be provided jointly by the RTA and FR.

In general, depending upon the specific issues identified in the review plan, a coordinated review may be done by applying the relevant guidelines outlined below. Most of the guidelines reinforce the need for discussion with the other reviewer (the RTA or FR) for the purposes of planning reviews, coordinating activities, and monitoring progress on the file. When appropriate, the research and technology manager (RTM) and / or financial review manager (FRM) may need to participate in the discussion and resolution of issues related to the claim.

It is preferable if the FR and the RTA can receive the file at the same time to facilitate timely planning and coordination of efforts.

3.3.1 Definition of coordinated review

A coordinated review is one which is undertaken using an approach whereby the RTA and FR and, when needed, their respective managers, discuss and determine the principal issues of the claim and arrange to coordinate their respective activities throughout the review. For example, when a review is coordinated, the RTA and FR will consult and communicate with each other on the following relevant items:

Coordinated reviews are required in all cases when both the RTA and the FR receive their parts of the file at the same time. A coordinated review allows both reviewers more flexibility in how and when to perform their work. 

A joint review, on the other hand, is one where the FR and RTA work in tandem, and all work on the file, including meetings with the claimant, planning and correspondence is conducted with the concurrent participation of both reviewers. Joint reviews are encouraged, especially with large files, but are not required. The CRM does not discuss procedures for a joint review as they are considered part of the more general coordinated review.

In summary, a coordinated review is a collaborative and supportive process using on-going communication as its primary tool, which resolves joint or overlapping issues and assists each reviewer to manage and meet their own review objectives efficiently and effectively.

3.3.2 Characteristics of coordinated review

There are two objectives of performing a coordinated review:

Each reviewer should undertake to assist the other reviewer on joint issues identified in the review plan, and to inform the other reviewer of all relevant developments that could affect the other reviewer's review process. These responsibilities to one another and ultimately to the overall review process would normally be evident in the file through documentation showing that sufficient relevant interactions occurred to meet the two stated objectives of a coordinated review.

Typical interactions of a coordinated review:

When an issue in the file is strictly financial or technical, the RTA or FR will resolve the issue without involving the other reviewer. However, coordination is particularly useful for the review of a number of joint issues and situations, for example: Working with claimants in the coordinated review


Working with claimants in the coordinated review

All of the coordinated review practices discussed in Chapter 3 act to benefit both the CRA and the claimant. From the claimant's perspective, coordinated reviews are more coherent, timely and less burdensome. An integral part of ensuring that coordinated reviews work for both the CRA and the claimant is to solicit the claimant's input to ensure that the review can be completed efficiently. This is even more important in situations requiring significant travel by the RTA, FR, or employees and representatives of the claimant.

A number of specific practices are noted below that will help to demonstrate the CRA's commitment to working with the claimant in order to ensure that all parties benefit from a coordinated review.

If either the RTA or the FR is familiar with the claimant, either through previous reviews or preliminary research, they must share that information as it may affect the review plan or the quality of service to be provided. Sharing this information between the RTA and the FR reduces the number of questions that the claimant is asked. Prior to the meeting, once the RTA and the FR have agreed upon the review plan, they together can plan the initial contact with the claimant, either by phone or via the initial contact letter, to determine or confirm:

  • the timelines and anticipated on-site time requirements to complete the review;
  • the means (letter or telephone) by which the CRA will request information, and to whom in the claimant's company the request will be sent;
  • time frames for responding to any CRA request or query, so that the timeline for completing the review can be met;
  • how and when updates on the progress and outstanding issues will be communicated between the CRA and the claimant; and
  • mechanisms for resolving any concerns of the claimant.

During the review, when deficiencies in documentation or understanding of eligibility of work are noted, the RTA and FR should offer the claimant suggestions for improvements to their documentation thus providing them with a consistent message on the expectations of the CRA. A consistent message will enhance the claimant's understanding of the SR&ED program and improve their working relationship with the CRA.

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