FAQs

  1. Why is the Substantiator free? What is the catch? 
  2. Why should I trust a free service to archive my data? 
  3. How many technical employees can the system handle?
  4. What is the difference between the contemporaneous activity grid and the Surveys?
  5. How can I store the results on my own computers hard drive?
  6. What if our scientists are located remotely?
  7. What are the technical limitations?
  8. We are a startup and not yet profitable, so why would we bother keeping track of “qualified activities” now?
  9. What is the significance of email addresses used in Substantiator?
  10. Is Substantiator a “real-time” system?
  11. Now that I have assembled the substantiation, how do I file for the credit? 
  1. The Substantiator was designed by an experienced former software engineer as proof that “old dogs can learn new tricks”. It is  free to use. 
  2. The Substantiator was designed to be a mission critical system and for this reason it runs on AWS and uses DynamoDB and S3 both of which which are AWS databases. For security reasons it uses Google’s Oauth to ensure that the data it collects is valid. This validity in no way is a judgement about the qualification of the data stored for tax qualification; that judgement is way too complex to be made by a simple record keeping application. We suggest that you consult with a CPA or other advisor prior to filing any tax forms. 
  3. The system allows each administrator to setup and control up to six divisions, subsidiaries, or separate companies, each called a “campaign”. Each campaign can serve up to 200 employees for a total of 1200 employees per administrator. Whether you are tracking 20 scientists at one company or 1200 scientists at 6 companies, the Substantiator works exactly the same. 
  4. The Contemporaneous Grid that is the main screen of the Substantiator Extension is filled out by engineers and scientists on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to record their daily activities in 4 hour increments. Contemporaneous substantiation is considered the “gold standard” of documentation. The Extension allows each engineer to record their own “personal favorites” that can be applied rapidly to the entire grid.  The Survey Grid, on the other hand,  is used to record activities and projects that were performed in previous years. While not ‘perfect substantiation’, it creates records that are certainly better than having no substantiation at all. The administrator of the campaign can specify what years a specific engineer can access. The same business components, projects, and activities are used for both the contemporaneous grid and for the survey grid. An administrator can also set the system to limit the number of surveys that engineers must fill out. This can be useful when trying to conserve resources. This is of course a trade off. Additionally the administrator can set the rules regarding the number and type of other employees that will be assigned the same survey answers. 
  5. At any time, the administrator can download all of their contemporaneous data and their campaign’s survey data to their own PC. The data is automatically inserted into an Excel spreadsheet.
  6. The Substantiator was designed to be used remotely without any negative consequences. 
  7. Because of the close integration with Google Chrome and the use of Google’s OAuth2 authentication, the system requires the engineers/scientists to run Chrome with the Substantiator Extension installed. The Extension can be installed directly from the Chrome Extension Store (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/extensions). The engineers/scientists must use either a gmail account or a G Suite account (https://gsuite.google.com/). The campaign administrator is not limited in this way and can use a non Google email address. See the answer to question 10 in regard to long term storage tradeoffs and resource limitations. 
  8. A new provision of the tax law allows small companies to take the Research Credit against payroll taxes. Additionally, the credit can be carried forward for many, many years. This means that even if you can’t take the credit now, you will not lose the credit, and can use it once you become profitable. Additionally, the past three years of activities might be useful in the calculation. Ask your CPA or tax director. 
  9. The Substantiator uses email addresses to identify users. A campaign is associated with the email address of the Administrator and only a person with that email address (and knows the password) can modify or download information. 
  10. The term “real-time” has special meaning in IT and recordkeeping is a marathon, not a sprint. The long term data storage that we use, while very stable, does not always update instantaneously. It might take a few hours. Moreover, we summarize data on a weekly basis in order reduce data storage costs. 
  11. We suggest that you ask your existing accounting firm for a recommendation of a consultant who can create an R&D study for you from your assembled documentation. We are not able to offer any referrals ourselves. 
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