The Tax Credit for the Development of E-Business, commonly referred to as “CDAE” – its French-language abbreviation – is a provincial tax credit available in Quebec for businesses developing e-business software solutions in the province.
To be eligible, a business must have a minimum of 6 eligible employees spending 75% or more of their time on technical activities, and 75% of the company’s gross revenue must be coming from IT sector activities.
The funding is structured as a maximum 24% refundable and 6% non-refundable tax credit for each eligible employee’s salary.
This quick overview does not cover every detail of the CDAE tax credit. For more information on the program, read our dedicated blog post.
We often get questions about CDAE, so we’ve asked a member of our team of experts to answer the most common ones for you below.
Sahar Ansary, M. Eng.
Sahar has assisted hundreds of small to large-sized organizations across Canada with SR&ED and E-business tax credit programs for over ten years and has led work on over $50M in related claims.
She specializes in identifying and optimizing the technical and financial aspects of various funding programs, maximizing overall tax credits, and managing major accounts. Sahar has significant experience in the aerospace, medical device, and software industries.
What is meant by “e-business” when it comes to the CDAE credit?
The CDAE Tax Credit criteria defines “e-business” much more broadly than just e-commerce. It is not limited to the transactional side of e-commerce that we traditionally think of; the program guidelines state that it “concerns the organization of work in a company as well as how the company communicates and exchanges data with its customers, subcontractors, suppliers and partners.”
Eligible companies are therefore those who develop software for other businesses to evolve in that direction and digitize their operations at various levels – HR, procurement, accounting, and more. Traditional e-commerce is also eligible if a company is developing a software solution allowing monetary transactions, but the program includes a lot more than this under the umbrella of “e-business.”
Who can be considered an eligible employee?
Eligible employees for the CDAE tax credit are full-time indeterminate salaried employees in Quebec that work a minimum of 26 hours per week and spend over 75% of their time on technical activities.
When an individual is temporarily absent from his or her work for grounds considered to be reasonable (e.g. temporary illness, maternity leave, paternal etc.), Investissement Québec (IQ) may deem that the employee continued to work throughout the period of absence for the purpose of determining tax credit eligibility. For instance, someone who worked 20 weeks during the fiscal year because they were on sick leave during the rest will still be considered as an eligible full-time employee.
What counts as a “technical activity”?
The CDAE eligibility guidelines stipulate that an employee must be devoting at least 75% of his/her time to carrying out, supervising, or directly supporting eligible activities to be eligible. Those activities must be technical and some examples include the following:
- Design and development of e-business solutions
- Quality control (testing, 2nd and 3rd level support)
- Maintenance and evolution of e-business solution
- IT consulting services for e-solution (customization, integration, deployment)
- Technical coaching and supervision of technical employees/team.
If an employee spends more than 25% of their time on non-eligible activities during the fiscal year, then that employee will not be eligible for the CDAE tax credit because they won’t respect the 75% rule (ex. an HR employee or a CEO would not be eligible, because they spend a lot of time on administrative tasks and very likely do not spend 75% of their time on eligible technical work).
Do you need to continuously have 6 technical employees or more to remain eligible for the CDAE credit?
Yes, and no. What you need are 6 eligible positions maintained throughout the year. The requirement is not tied to any individual employee because you obviously do not control if someone leaves the company during the year.
For example – if one back-end developer leaves, and you fall below the 6 required eligible employees, you do not suddenly become ineligible. As long as you have the intention to replace this employee with another back-end developer (i.e. someone in the same position) and do so within around 6 months, everything should work out fine. You will essentially have had two employees in one role in the year, and both will be eligible.
Past the 6 month timeline, you may need to provide stronger arguments to explain why a replacement could not be found. However, note that none of this applies if you “lay off” an employee (i.e. ROE indicates code A in box 16 ) as no replacement can be justified in this case.
Can employees join during the year and still be eligible?
If an employee was hired towards the end of the fiscal year and, as such, worked for less than 40 weeks, they are eligible if they still hold the same position at the company beyond the fiscal year end. If an employee worked less than 40 weeks and quit during the fiscal year, they will only be eligible for the tax credit if the company found a replacement or if the company is still actively looking for one. The rule stating that they must have spent 75% of their time on eligible technical activities also still applies, of course.
How is the CDAE calculated if an employee joins during the year?
When employees join during the year and they meet the 75% rule, their maximum eligible salary cap of $83,333 is prorated based on the number of days they worked in that fiscal year.
For example, if an employee is hired at the beginning of Q3 and worked 100 days before the end of the fiscal year, their salary cap will be prorated by the following ratio: Once we apply it to the maximum cap offered by the program, we get 100/365 x $83,333 = $22,830.
If you have any questions about CDAE that this blog post left unanswered, or if you are considering submitting a claim, don’t hesitate to contact our team at: 1-800-500-7733, ext.102.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to nor can it replace the evaluation of your specific e-business tax credit claim by a dedicated consultant.