• In-house software

    In-house software is computer software or a right (for example, a licence) to use computer software:

    • that you acquire or develop (or have another entity develop) for your use in performing the functions for which it was developed, and
    • for which no amount is deductible outside the UCA or the STS.

    If expenditure on software is deductible under the ordinary deduction provisions of the income tax law, the software is not in-house software. A deduction for such expenditure is allowable in the income year in which it is incurred.

    Expenditure to develop software for exploitation of the copyright is not in-house software. The copyright is intellectual property which is a depreciating asset and the decline in value would be calculated using an effective life of 25 years and the prime cost method.

    Under the UCA, expenditure on in-house software may be deducted in the following ways:

    • the decline in value of in-house software acquired - such as off the shelf software - is worked out using an effective life of two and a half years and the prime cost method
    • expenditure you incur in developing (or having developed) in-house software may (or may need to be) allocated to a software development pool - see Software development pools.
    • if expenditure incurred in developing (or having developed) in-house software is not allocated to a software development pool, it can be capitalised into the cost of a resulting unit of in-house software - its decline in value can then be worked out using an effective life of two and a half years and the prime cost method from the time the software is first used
    • if in-house software costs $300 or less and it is used mainly for producing non-business assessable income, an immediate deduction may be allowable - see Immediate deduction for certain non-business depreciating assets costing $300 or less.

    The termination value of in-house software you still hold but stop using and expect never to use again or decide never to use is zero. As a result, you can claim an immediate deduction for the cost of the software at that time.

    You can also claim an immediate deduction for expenditure incurred on an in-house software development project (not allocated to a software development pool) if you have not used the software or had it installed ready for use and decide that you will never use it or have it installed ready for use.

    The amount you can deduct is your total expenditure on the software less any amount you derive in relation to the software or a part of it. Your deduction is limited to the extent that, when you incurred the expenditure, you intended to use the software, or have it installed ready for use, for a taxable purpose.

    Software development pools

    Attention

    Warning:

    This information may not apply to the current year. Check the content carefully to ensure it is applicable to your circumstances.

    End of attention

    The choice of allocating expenditure on developing in-house software to a software development pool was available before 1 July 2001 and continues under the UCA.

    Under the UCA rules, you can choose to allocate to a software development pool expenditure you incur on developing (or having developed) in-house software you intend to use solely for a taxable purpose. Once you do allocate expenditure on such in-house software to a pool, all such expenditure incurred in that year or a later year must be allocated to a software development pool. A different pool is created for each income year in which you incur expenditure on developing (or having developed) in-house software.

    Expenditure on developing in-house software you do not intend to use solely for a taxable purpose and expenditure on acquiring in-house software cannot be allocated to a software development pool.

    If you are entitled to claim a GST input tax credit in relation to expenditure allocated to a software development pool, the expenditure in the pool for the income year in which you are entitled to the credit is reduced by the amount of the credit.

    Certain adjustments under the GST legislation in relation to expenditure allocated to a software development pool are treated as an outright deduction or income. Other adjustments reduce or increase the amount of the expenditure that has been allocated to the pool for the adjustment year.

    You do not get any deduction for expenditure in a software development pool in the income year in which you incur it. You are allowed deductions at the rate of 40% in each of the next two years and 20% in the year after that.

    If you have allocated software development expenditure on a project to a software development pool and the project is abandoned, the expenditure remains to be deducted as part of the pool.

    If you have pooled in-house software development expenditure and you receive consideration for the software (for example, insurance proceeds on the destruction of the software), you must include that amount in your assessable income unless you can choose for rollover relief to apply and do so. Choice of rollover relief is only available in this context where a change occurs in the holding of, or of interests in, the software - see Rollover relief.

    Any recoupment of the expenditure must also be included in your assessable income.

    If the receipt arises from a non-arm's length dealing and the amount is less than the market value of what it was for, the amount of the receipt is taken to be that market value.

    Last modified: 31 Oct 2005QC 27521