Inside View: Can ‘Shredder’ help grow your business?

November 30, 2008
Written by Gary Jones
Another great Canadian Greenhouse Conference draws to a close. The organizers did a fantastic job, yet again. Trade exhibits are packed into trucks for their next show. Conference speakers have returned to their “day jobs.” Delegates returned home eager to apply a gem of new-found knowledge.

So why do most of us go to such events? For some it’s a chance to meet with friends and colleagues in an informal setting, and catch up with news over a coffee (or something stronger). For others, it’s a chance to showcase new products, or to see what competitors are offering. For still others, conferences are about listening to great speakers discuss new findings on old topics or helping us to expand our thinking on new ideas.

But ultimately, I guess most people attend such events to pick up something new. A new piece of equipment, new plants or a new idea/thought. Indeed, the overall theme for the Canadian Greenhouse Conference this year was “Just One Thing” – just that one thing that can lead to greater success or better profits. Here are just a few things from this year:
  • In Europe, economics dictate that there will be far fewer greenhouse vegetables grown under lights in 2009 (Derek Hargreaves, speaker).
  • Internal fruit rot of greenhouse peppers has been isolated as Fusarium lactis, apparently a new disease in Canada (Mohyuddin Mirza, speaker).
  • New species of thrips are becoming increasingly difficult to control in all greenhouse crops (a representative of a biological control supplier).
  • Having only accessed membership in the World Trade Organization seven years ago, China alone is now responsible for 50 per cent of the world’s energy demand growth (Lawrence Schembri, speaker).
  • Polar ice caps are freezing earlier in winter and covering more area than previously, even though we’re only told that they are “disappearing” in the summer (Dr. Patrick Moore, keynote speaker).
So, it’s all new: new insect pests, new disease species, new production techniques, new energy sources, new global markets, and new economic challenges.

All of this set in a week of the most nerve-wracking, helter-skelter financial crashes in the financial markets for decades plus an impending federal election just days later. A “perfect storm,” perhaps. It seems that even what we know is changed by the
influence of new circumstances as soon as we learn it. It is all so very insecure, very uncertain.

Apparently death and taxes are the only two certainties in life (if death can be thought of as a certainty in life). So it’s only fitting that at election time, one’s thoughts turn to taxes. Or specifically in the context of the previous paragraphs, how can growers get answers to technical uncertainties and get taxes back from government?

Have you considered applying for “Shred Grants,” or more accurately, “Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Credits?” According to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), these tax credits are available for projects that “must advance the understanding of scientific relations or technologies, address scientific or technological uncertainty and incorporate a systematic investigation by qualified personnel,” for example, experimental development, applied or basic research. For more, and for examples of work that does not qualify, check out the CRA website (www.cra.gc.ca).

For Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (CCPC) such funds are worth 35 per cent “Investment Tax Credit” (ITC) on the first $2 million of qualified expenditure, and 20 per cent on any excess amount. For other types of businesses (e.g., proprietorships, partnerships), eligible work is worth 20 per cent ITCs. What’s more, these tax credits are paid back to you as cash. So, it’s money in your pocket.

Claims are made by completing form T661 (“Claim for Scientific Research and Experimental Development in Canada”) and either Schedule T2SCH31 or Form T2038 (IND) with your income tax return.

SR&ED Tax credits are not new, but have been vastly under-utilized. Talk to your accountant and your local CRA consultant to ensure your works are eligible. This might just be some certain tax money back for you. Certain, of course, if the government has not cut the program by now. ■

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