Checklist for claiming R&D tax incentive
Use our checklist to make sure you claim the R&D tax incentive correctly.
On this page
Self-assess the eligibility of your company
The R&D tax incentive provides targeted tax offsets designed to encourage more companies to engage in R&D activities.
To take advantage of the R&D tax offsets you need to be an R&D entity. An R&D entity is either a corporation that is incorporated under an Australian law or, in some circumstances, a foreign corporation.
You can self-assess the eligibility of your company at Eligible R&D entities or by contacting AusIndustry.
The AusIndustry Program SnapshotExternal Link and R&D tax incentive customer information guideExternal Link provide an overview of the R&D tax incentive program. This includes information on R&D tax incentive topics such as eligibility, self-assessment, how to register and some helpful advice on keeping good records.
For more details, see the R&D tax incentive guide to interpretationExternal Link.
Self-assess the eligibility of the R&D activities
Your research and development activities must meet certain criteria to be eligible for the R&D tax incentive. They must be classified as either ‘core R&D’ activities or ‘supporting R&D’ activities.
Broadly, core R&D activities are experimental activities that:
- are based on principles of established science
- proceed from hypothesis to experiment, observation and evaluation, and lead to logical conclusions.
Importantly, core R&D activities must be conducted for the purpose of generating new knowledge. This includes the creation of improved materials, products, devices, processes or services.
A supporting activity is one that is directly related to core R&D activities or, for certain activities, has been undertaken for the dominant purpose of supporting core R&D activities.
You can learn more about the different types of eligible R&D activities.
If you are unsure about the eligibility of your R&D activities, there are different types of Findings you can apply for through AusIndustry. Findings provide practical certainty to program participants and allow the regulators to determine the eligibility of activities.
For more information, refer to information on the business.gov.au website:
Keep accurate records to substantiate and demonstrate the eligibility of the activities and associated expenditure.
To help you with your record-keeping requirements under the R&D tax incentive, the ATO, together with AusIndustry provide information about what records you should keepExternal Link to support your R&D claim.
Maintenance of good records will help you comply and receive the maximum benefit from the R&D tax incentive and will also minimise the costs that may be associated with a compliance review, risk review or finding.
See the Compliance readiness guide on record keeping for the R&D Tax IncentiveExternal Link.
Apply for registration of activities
Where you have self-assessed that you have undertaken eligible R&D activities and wish to claim the R&D tax incentive, you must register your R&D activities with AusIndustry and receive your unique registration number:
- for every income year you want to claim the offset
- within 10 months of the end of your company's income year
- prior to claiming the R&D tax offset in your company tax return.
To register, submit your application in the R&D Tax Incentive customer portalExternal Link.
Registration of activities by AusIndustry is not a verification of eligibility or an approval of the payment of a tax offset.
AusIndustry and the ATO share information and work closely to ensure the integrity of the R&D tax incentive. Make sure you provide accurate and consistent details of the activities and expenses in your registration and to us in your R&D schedules.
For further assistance in registering or accessing the customer portal, contact AusIndustry through business.gov.auExternal Link or phone 13 28 46.
You may need to make adjustments to your tax return if:
- you have received a government recoupment
- your R&D activities have produced either marketable products or products that have been applied to your own use
- you are registered for GST.
For more information on adjustments, see:
Lodging your claim for the income year
After registration with AusIndustry, you claim the R&D tax incentive tax offset by completing an R&D tax incentive schedule and relevant labels of the company tax return and lodging them with the ATO. The R&D tax incentive calculator will help you to calculate your entitlement.
Making incorrect claims may result in penalties. Ensure you only include expenditure in an R&D claim that is actually incurred on R&D activities, not other ordinary business activities. It is important that the information you supply to both AusIndustry and ATO is accurate, consistent and supported by evidence and records.
Significant discrepancies in the information provided will increase the likelihood of your company’s claim being reviewed.
Check Steps for claiming the R&D tax offset to calculate and lodge your R&D claim.
Correcting mistakes and challenging decisions
Once you have lodged your registration, or your claim for the R&D tax incentive, you may find you need to:
- amend your tax return:
- if you have entered into any type of aggressive R&D arrangement, or have otherwise claimed the R&D tax incentive in relation to your normal business activities, you may want to seek independent professional advice, make a voluntary disclosure to us or amend your tax return
- if AusIndustry makes a finding on your registration or the ATO conducts a review on your R&D claim, and it is determined that all or part of your R&D activities are not eligible, then your tax return will be amended and penalties and interest charges may be applied
- object to decisions made by the ATO or AusIndustry.
If you want to dispute the law as we have applied it to your case, or if you are dissatisfied with the amount of R&D tax offset we have allowed, you can object to the assessment (within certain time limits).
When we or AusIndustry makes a decision on your registration or claim, we will tell you how you may request a review if you are dissatisfied with the decision.
Using a tax agent or R&D consultant
If you are going to pay someone to help you with your tax return or R&D tax incentive schedule, you should first make sure they are a registered tax agent. Ask to see their Certificate of Registration or visit the Tax Practitioners Board websiteExternal Link and search the tax agent register.
Although they are usually helpful, using the services of an R&D consultant to assist with the preparation of a registration application and offset claim does not guarantee your claim will meet the eligibility criteria.
Penalties may apply to participants and promoters of aggressive R&D arrangements. Registered tax agents involved in the promotion of any type of aggressive R&D arrangement may be referred to the Tax Practitioners Board to consider whether there has been a breach of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009.
Red flags of risky behaviour
It is important for users and regulators of the R&D tax incentive work together to ensure the R&D tax incentive is benefiting the right people.
As a claimant:
- If you have not sought or received independent advice about your R&D claim, you should discuss with your tax agent. Ask your agent to check:
- your claim against the AusIndustry eligibility guidelines
- the quantum of the claim by reference to the expenditure you have actually incurred on your registered R&D activities
- that you have kept adequate records.
- Be wary if you are approached by a new tax agent, or R&D consultant, proposing a potential R&D claim that seems too good to be true, for example:
- they can triple your claim
- they know how to get ordinary business expenses into an R&D claim
- as a general proposition they contend that all of the cost of developing your new products qualify as R&D.
Discuss any R&D claim with your tax agent, and report behaviours that concern you to AusIndustry or to us.
To provide information about an R&D or another arrangement or a promoter of an R&D or another arrangement, you can:
- phone us on 1800 177 006 (after the initial messages, wait for the Taxpayer Alert option then press 1)
- complete the ATO tip-off form, which is also available in the Contact us section of the ATO app.
Useful tools and documents for your claim
Refer to the following guidance information on business.gov.au:
If you need more information about whether your activities are eligible, you can ask AusIndustry for advice by:
If you need more information about whether the expenditure you are claiming is eligible for the research and development (R&D) tax incentive, you can contact us on the phone numbers listed on our Phone us page.
Use our checklist to make sure you claim the R&D tax incentive correctly.