A new Director General for the SR&ED program
has been appointed by the CRA.
Tara Cosgrove is the newly appointed Director General for The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program.
Ms. Cosgrove has built an impressive CV over her career. Formerly, she was the Director of Program Services at the Canadian Border Services Agency (2009) as well as a CRA corporate secretary in 2014. While not a CPA, Ms. Cosgrove’s immense experience and personal drive will surely make her an essential addition to the SR&ED team.
However, she is walking into an admittedly challenging position; at the time of writing, over 150 SR&ED cases are being looked at by the Tax Court of Canada. Millions of dollars in research and development expenditures are currently under dispute. Representatives from the industry have made their displeasure readily known.
Industry representatives are not only dissatisfied with the CRA, they are calling for the CRA to relinquish all oversight of research and development expenditures and scientific eligibility entirely. However, there is some hope that Ms. Cosgrove will be more than capable of resolving this situation quickly: new CRA regulations require that large claims be dealt with by a panel of industry professionals in conjunction with the CRA proper. Yet, it is unclear at this time whether or not this regulation will satisfy the grievances that the industry has with the organization.
Lucie Bergevin, the previous Director General, left the position with mixed feelings but an overall optimism regarding her future career and the direction that Ms. Cosgrove will take the program in. The interim Director General, Helene Marquis, expressed similar sentiments as she moves forward towards her new position as Senior Director of Fisheries Protection Operations and Major Projects, at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Ms. Cosgrove is the first outsider to the CRA to direct the SR&ED program in more than 10 years. The last such individual, Norine Heselton, was a former communications specialist who resigned from the directorate in 2003. Heselton’s term lends hope to the issues that Ms. Cosgrove is taking on as a result of Heselton being capable of resolving deep-seated industry dissatisfaction with the CRA back in 1998. Ms. Cosgrove is walking into a very similar situation, though by some metrics it does seem to be a worse one.
Yet, one thing is very clear: Ms. Cosgrove will need to bring reform to SR&ED’s administration. The seething animosity brewing between industry professionals and the department cannot be ignored, and this will need to be settled amicably in order to prevent an escalating dispute. Ms. Cosgrove’s prior record lends itself to an optimistic forecast.