Pool of Deductible SR&ED Expenditures Policy

Date: December 18, 2014

Changes to the Pool of Deductible SR&ED Expenditures Policy

Reasons for revision

This revision accommodates the legislative changes that have been announced.

Revision overview

Expenditures of a capital nature or expenditures for the right to use capital property (lease) do not qualify for scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED) tax incentives if incurred after 2013.

The text of this document has been revised to reflect these changes, see Appendix B.1 Explanation of changes.


1.0 Purpose

The purpose of this document is to clarify the position of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) regarding the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures when administering the SR&ED legislation under the federal Income Tax Act and the Income Tax Regulations.

2.0 Overview

A taxpayer carrying on a business in Canada in a tax year may deduct, in calculating income from the business for the year, expenditures of a current and expenditures of a capital nature for SR&ED carried on in Canada that relate to a business of the taxpayer [note 1]. A taxpayer may also deduct SR&ED lease expenditures or SR&ED capital expenditures if the expenditures were incurred prior to January 1, 2014. For more information, please refer to the SR&ED Lease Expenditure Policy or the SR&ED Capital Expenditures Policy.

Whether a taxpayer is carrying on a business is a question of fact that must be determined on a case-by-case basis. No amount can be deducted in respect of an expenditure to acquire rights in or arising out of SR&ED (see section 4.0).

The SR&ED expenditures must be identified by the taxpayer on Form T661 Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Expenditures Claim, which has to be filed with the taxpayer's return of income for the year. For more information on filing requirements, please refer to the SR&ED Filing Requirements Policy.

For the purpose of this paper, a claimant is a taxpayer who claims SR&ED expenditures.

Expenditures incurred by a claimant for SR&ED carried on in Canada are accumulated in a "pool" of deductible SR&ED expenditures (see section 3.0).

Note 1

Special rules allow claimants to include a portion of permissible salary or wages for SR&ED work carried on outside Canada after February 25, 2008. For more information on salary or wages, please refer to the SR&ED Salary or Wages Policy.

Legislative References Income Tax Act
Subsection 37(1) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures
Subsection 37(1.3) SR&ED in the exclusive economic zone
Subsection 37(1.5) Salary or wages outside Canada – limit determined
Subsection 248(1) Definition of "business"
Subsection 248(1) Definition of "SR&ED"
Subsection 248(1) Definition of "taxpayer"

3.0 The Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures

The pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures is determined in Section C of Part 3 of Form T661, Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Expenditures Claim. The legislation regarding the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures is found in subsection 37(1) of the Income Tax Act. Form T661 and the Act are not structured the same but the end result is the same. Form T661 adds and deducts amounts from the prior-year ending pool balance to arrive at the current year amount available for deduction. The legislation is structured to provide for a pool that accumulates amounts over time, and is recalculated taking into consideration all relevant transactions and adjustments that occur over that time.

The pool concept allows a claimant the option of deducting the entire amount of SR&ED expenditures available for the year or any portion thereof after certain adjustments (see section 3.1 and section 3.2). Any unclaimed balance may be carried forward to be claimed (deducted in calculating the claimant's income from business) in future years (see section 7.0).

Legislative Reference Income Tax Act
Subsection 37(1) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures

3.1 Increases to the Pool

In general, the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures is increased by the following:

Legislative References Income Tax Act
Paragraph 12(1)(v) Income inclusion – research and development deductions
Subsection 37(1) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures
Paragraph 37(1)(a) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures – current expenditures
Paragraph 37(1)(b) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures – capital expenditures [Repealed]
Paragraph 37(1)(c) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures – repayment of government or non-government assistance
Paragraph 37(1)(c.1) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures – amounts included in income because of paragraph 12(1)(v)
Paragraph 37(1)(c.2) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures – amounts added because of an ITC recapture
Paragraph 37(1)(c.3) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures – amounts added because of partnership ITC recapture excess amount

3.2 Decreases to the Pool

Generally, the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures is decreased by the following:

  • the amount of government assistance or non-government assistance that the claimant has received, is entitled to receive, or can reasonably be expected to receive, for SR&ED expenditures included in the pool. For more information, please refer to the Assistance and Contract Payments Policy;
  • a "super-allowance benefit amount" for the year or for preceding taxation years in respect of a province. For more information, please refer to the Assistance and Contract Payments Policy;
  • ITCs applied and / or refunded in a preceding year. For more information, please refer to the SR&ED Investment Tax Credit Policy;
  • amounts deducted from the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures in previous years; and
  • amounts the claimant has deducted with respect to insolvency in preceding years, to the extent these amounts did not exceed the balance of the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures in the year in which the amount was claimed.

A corporation's pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures is reduced to nil at the time when control of the corporation is acquired (see section 8.0). Similarly, after March 20, 2013, a trust’s pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures is reduced to nil at the time there is a new majority-interest beneficiary. In either case the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures may be reinstated in a subsequent tax year (see section 8.0).

Legislative References Income Tax Act
Subsection 37(1) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures
Paragraph 37(1)(d) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures - government or non-government assistance
Paragraph 37(1)(d.1) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures - super-allowance benefit
Paragraph 37(1)(e) Reduction of the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures
Paragraph 37(1)(f) Amounts deducted under subsection 37(1) in preceding years
Paragraph 37(1)(f.1) Amounts the taxpayer has deducted under section 61.3 in preceding years
Paragraph 37(1)(h) Amount determined under subsection 37(6.1) due to a loss restriction event
Section 61.3 Deduction for insolvency

4.0 No deduction is allowed for an expenditure made to acquire rights in, or arising out of SR&ED

SR&ED tax credits are granted to Canadian companies that bring their technology base to a higher level through work, which meets the requirements of SR&ED. If a company's technology base is raised by acquiring third-party know-how, then the expenditure related to this purchase is not allowable for SR&ED purposes.

The underlying reasons for not allowing expenditures involving the acquisition of rights in, or arising out of SR&ED to be included in the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures is twofold:

  • Only one claimant should receive SR&ED tax incentives on the SR&ED work. Since the performer is entitled to the SR&ED tax incentive, allowing the incentive to the purchaser of the rights would effectively result in duplication.
  • The aim of the SR&ED tax incentive is to encourage research and development in Canada. If the SR&ED, from which the rights resulted, was performed outside Canada, allowing the SR&ED tax incentive to the purchaser of the rights would be contrary to this goal.

An expenditure made to acquire rights, in or arising out of, SR&ED is prohibited from being deducted as an SR&ED expenditure. Furthermore, no investment tax credit (ITC) will be allowed for these expenditures. It does not matter if the work was claimed as SR&ED in the past or if it was done by a non-resident entity. It does not matter also if the performer actually claimed or even was entitled to claim an SR&ED tax credit.

The provision denying the acquisition of rights includes expenditures made by a claimant to purchase or to entitle the claimant to use, the results of an SR&ED program in which the claimant did not participate, and is not limited to software expenditures. Such expenditures would include a royalty or other similar payments for products or processes that have use beyond the SR&ED stage, for example in marketing or sales. The restriction also applies in cases where intellectual property is acquired from a foreign source.

However, the provision will generally not apply to deny a deduction for an expenditure on something that is used for nothing more than a tool in performing SR&ED. For example, an expenditure to acquire capital property such as the right to use software [note 2], which may have resulted from the SR&ED efforts of others, and is required in the claimant's SR&ED efforts but will not be incorporated into the end product. Whether it is used as a tool is a question of fact that must be determined on a case-by-case basis. For more information on what constitutes SR&ED, please refer to the Eligibility of Work for SR&ED Investment Tax Credits Policy.

Note 2

An expenditure of a capital nature or an expenditure for the right to use capital property does not qualify for SR&ED tax incentives after 2013.

Legislative References Income Tax Act
Subsection 37(1) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures
Subsection 37(4) Acquisition of rights
Subsection 248(1) Definition of "SR&ED"

Legislative Reference Income Tax Regulations
Paragraph 2902(c) Prescribed expenditures – acquisition of rights

5.0 Negative pool balance

A negative balance in the pool at the end of a tax year must be brought into net income for tax purposes, in the year.

The pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures at the beginning of a tax year cannot be a negative amount. When a claimant is required to report an amount in income due to a negative pool balance at the end of the tax year, the amount is also technically added to the pool to remove the negative amount resulting in an opening balance of nil (zero) for the subsequent tax year. Thus no amount would be reported on line 450 of the subsequent tax year Form T661, Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Expenditures Claim.

Legislative References Income Tax Act
Paragraph 12(1)(v) Income inclusion – research and development deductions
Subsection 37(1) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures
Paragraph 37(1)(c.1) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures – amounts included in income because of paragraph 12(1)(v)

6.0 Deduction claimed in the year

In determining income for tax purposes for a particular year, a claimant cannot deduct an amount that is greater than the available balance in the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures at the end of the tax year.

A claimant can deduct all or a portion of their pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures, or they can accumulate their SR&ED expenditures and carry them forward to deduct them in future years (see section 7.0). The deduction is optional, and can be any amount up to the current year's amount available for deduction, subject to the following restrictions:

  • If the claimant is a corporation or trust and there was a loss restriction event, the total amount of the pool may not be deducted in the year or in a subsequent year. Special rules apply to determine the amount that can be deducted (see section 8.0).
  • A partnership cannot carry forward an amount in the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures to a subsequent year. Therefore, the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures at the end of the year of the partnership must be fully deducted in calculating the partnership's net income for tax purposes in the year. For more information on partnerships, please refer to the SR&ED Claims for Partnerships Policy.

Claimants can deduct their SR&ED expenditures in their determination of net income for tax purposes for the year.

Legislative References Income Tax Act
Subsection 37(1) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures
Paragraph 37(1)(h) Amount determined under subsection 37(6.1) due to a loss restriction event
Subsection 37(6.1) Loss restriction event
Subsection 37(11) Filing requirement
Paragraph 96(1)(e.1) Partnership and the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures

7.0 Carry forward

A positive balance in the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures does not expire. It may be carried forward indefinitely and deducted in a subsequent tax year against any business income.

The CRA treats the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures as a running balance; only the total balance carried forward is identified. The year to which each expenditure amount relates is not recorded or tracked. Since amounts in the pool can be carried forward indefinitely, it is not necessary to know the year to which an expenditure relates.

There are some restrictions on the carry forward of the pool after a loss restriction event (see section 8.0).

Legislative Reference Income Tax Act
Subsection 37(1) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures

8.0 Affect of loss restriction event

When there is an acquisition of control, there is a deemed year-end immediately before the acquisition of control and the corporation's pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures is reduced to nil. Similarly, after March 20, 2013, a trust’s pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures is reduced to nil at the time there is a new majority-interest beneficiary. In the subsequent tax year, the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures may be reinstated in cases when the business to which the expenditures relate is carried on for profit or with a reasonable expectation of profit.

In general terms, the undeducted portion of the pool, before control of a corporation is acquired (or in the case of trusts, after March 20, 2013, before there is a new majority-interest beneficiary), may be carried forward and deducted in calculating income for tax purposes for a subsequent tax year only:

  • when the business to which the expenditure related is continued for profit, or with a reasonable expectation of profit; and
  • to the extent that its income for the tax year (before making any deduction from the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures) is from that same business or a similar business.

Legislative References Income Tax Act
Subsection 37(1) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures
Paragraph 37(1)(h) Amount determined under subsection 37(6.1) due to a loss restriction event
Subsection 37(6.1) Loss restriction event

9.0 Donations as SR&ED

When an expenditure in respect of SR&ED could be deductible as an SR&ED expenditure or a charitable donation, the amount must be deducted as an SR&ED expenditure and not as a donation.

Legislative References Income Tax Act
Subsection 37(5) Where no deduction allowed under sections 110.1 and 118.1
Section 110.1 Gifts – computation of taxable income
Section 118.1 Charitable gifts – computation of tax

Appendix A - References

A.1 Legislative references

List of provisions
Income Tax Act Description
Paragraph 12(1)(v) Income inclusion – research and development deductions
Subsection 37(1) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures
Paragraph 37(1)(a) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures – current expenditures
Paragraph 37(1)(b) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures – capital expenditures [Repealed]
Paragraph 37(1)(c) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures – repayment of government or non-government assistance
Paragraph 37(1)(c.1) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures – amounts included in income because of paragraph 12(1)(v)
Paragraph 37(1)(c.2) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures – amounts added because of an ITC recapture
Paragraph 37(1)(c.3) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures – amounts added because of partnership ITC recapture excess amount
Paragraph 37(1)(d) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures – government or non-government assistance
Paragraph 37(1)(d.1) Pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures – super-allowance benefit
Paragraph 37(1)(e) Reduction of the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures
Paragraph 37(1)(f) Amounts deducted under subsection 37(1) in preceding years
Paragraph 37(1)(f.1) Amounts the taxpayer has deducted under section 61.3 in preceding years
Paragraph 37(1)(h) Amount determined under subsection 37(6.1) due to a loss restriction event
Subsection 37(1.3) SR&ED in the exclusive economic zone
Subsection 37(1.5) Salary or wages outside Canada – limit determined
Subsection 37(4) Acquisition of rights
Subsection 37(5) Where no deduction allowed under sections 110.1 and 118.1
Subsection 37(6) Expenditures of a capital nature
Subsection 37(6.1) Loss restriction event
Subsection 37(11) Filing requirement
Section 61.3 Deduction for insolvency
Paragraph 96(1)(e.1) Partnership and the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures
Section 110.1 Gifts – computation of taxable income
Section 118.1 Charitable gifts – computation of tax
Subsection 248(1) Definition of "business"
Subsection 248(1) Definition of "SR&ED"
Subsection 248(1) Definition of "taxpayer"
List of regulations
Income Tax Regulations Description
Paragraph 2902(c) Prescribed expenditures – acquisition of rights

A.2 Jurisprudence

List of court cases
Case number Case name
89 DTC 531 Halak v. Minister of National Revenue

Appendix B – Revisions

B.1 Explanation of changes

The following are the explanation of changes to the Pool of Deductible SR&ED Expenditures Policy as part of the revision of December 18, 2014:

Section 1.0 has been revised to delete the first sentence of the previous policy which mentioned that this policy document was a consolidation of the CRA publications.

Section 2.0 has been revised to reflect the legislative changes resulting from the 2012 federal budget measures with respect to SR&ED lease and capital SR&ED expenditures.

Section 3.1 has been revised to reflect the legislative changes resulting from the 2012 federal budget measures with respect to SR&ED lease and capital SR&ED expenditures.

Section 3.2 has been revised to indicate that after March 20, 2013, a trust’s pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures is reduced to nil at the time there is a new majority-interest beneficiary. If certain conditions are met the pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures may be reinstated in a subsequent tax year.

Section 6.0 and section 7.0 have been revised to refer to a loss restriction event rather than an acquisition of control so that after March 20, 2013 both corporations and trusts may lose the ability to deduct the pool or are restricted on the carry forward of the pool.

Section 8.0 has been renamed to Affect of loss restriction event” to recognize the change in legislation whereby a corporation who has undergone an acquisition of control or a trust who has a new majority-interest beneficiary, may have their pool of deductible SR&ED expenditures reinstated in the subsequent tax year if certain conditions are met.

Appendix A.2 "CRA publications" has been removed.

Appendix A.3 "Jurisprudence" has been renumbered Appendix A.2.

Appendix A.4 "Other reference" has been removed.

Other minor formatting and editing corrections were made throughout the document.

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