In an era where innovation is crucial yet costly, Australian businesses often find themselves struggling to fund research and development (R&D) activities. Recent studies indicate that R&D investment is a significant driver of future growth and competitiveness, but the associated costs can be prohibitively high. Enter the Australian Government’s solution: the R&D Tax Incentive.

This program is designed to reduce the financial burden of conducting R&D activities, offering tax offsets to eligible companies. By supporting core and supporting R&D activities, the incentive aims to boost industry innovation and science across the Australian economy, making it easier for businesses to invest in new technologies and scientific advancements.

Overview of R&D Tax Incentive

The Australian Government, through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), offers the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive to spur innovation across industries. This incentive allows Australian businesses to receive a tax offset for expenses on eligible R&D activities. The incentive is designed to reduce the income tax liability of companies engaging in pioneering research and development, with two types of offsets available: a refundable tax offset for certain small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and a non-refundable tax offset for all other eligible entities.

The R&D Tax Incentive requires completing ATO criteria and conducting activities within the income year to claim. By accurately reporting R&D expenditures in their tax return, businesses can leverage this incentive to innovate while managing their tax rate more effectively.

Eligibility for the R&D Tax Incentive

How to Self-Assess Your Eligibility?

Australian businesses must first determine if their operations are core or supporting R&D to self-assess their R&D Tax Incentive eligibility. Core activities are experimental, aiming to generate new knowledge. In contrast, supporting activities must directly relate to core R&D activities. Review the Income Tax Assessment Act and visit the Australian Government’s Industry Innovation and Science Australia website for guidance. Register your R&D activities with AusIndustry to ensure compliance.

How to Claim R&D Tax Incentive?

To claim the Research And Development Tax Incentive, follow these 5 steps:

  1. Register R&D Activities: Ensure your research and development activities are registered with AusIndustry before claiming the incentive.
  2. Calculate R&D Expenditure: Determine all costs directly related to conducting eligible R&D activities, including both core and supporting R&D activities.
  3. Complete Company Tax Return: Fill out your company tax return, ensuring to include all relevant financial details and tax obligations.
  4. Lodge R&D Tax Incentive Schedule: Detail your R&D expenditure and activities by completing and lodging this Tax Incentive Schedule alongside your tax return.
  5. Use a Tax Agent or R&D Consultant: Consider employing the services of a registered tax agent or R&D consultant familiar with the R&D Tax Incentive program to help navigate the process, ensuring accuracy and compliance with Australian Government regulations.

Tips For Applying in 2024

  • Ensure R&D activities are accurately registered with AusIndustry before claiming.
  • Consult a registered tax agent to navigate complex regulations and maximize your claim.
  • Use the Research And Development Tax Incentive Calculator for an estimate of your potential tax offset.
  • Keep detailed records of all R&D expenditures to support your claim.
  • Visit the Tax Practitioners Board to verify the credentials of any tax agent or R&D consultant you plan to use.
  • Consider both refundable and non-refundable R&D tax offsets based on your company’s tax rate plus any applicable rates, such as 8.5% for certain thresholds.
  • Understand the distinction between core and supporting R&D activities to accurately categorize your research efforts.

How to Calculate R&D Tax Incentive?

Calculating the R&D Tax Incentive involves understanding the corporate tax rate, plus additional rates applicable for R&D activities. Australian businesses can benefit significantly from this incentive, aimed at boosting industry innovation and science. To claim the R&D tax incentive, entities must first register their eligible R&D activities with AusIndustry. The incentive offers two types of offsets: a refundable R&D tax offset for companies with aggregated turnover of less than $20 million, and a non-refundable offset for all other businesses.

  • Refundable R&D Tax Offset: The company’s tax rate plus 18.5%. This is available for R&D entities with an aggregated turnover of less than $20 million. The mathematical expression for calculating this offset is: Refundable Offset = Eligible R&D Expenditure x (Company’s Tax Rate + 18.5%)
  • Non-Refundable R&D Tax Offset: For entities with an aggregated turnover of $20 million or more, the offset is the company’s tax rate plus 8.5%. The calculation formula is: Non-Refundable Offset = Eligible R&D Expenditure x (Company’s Tax Rate + 8.5%)

Australian businesses must self-assess their eligibility and follow Industry Innovation and Science Australia R&D guidelines. Using a tax agent or R&D consultant can help navigate the process, ensuring the R&D tax incentive schedule is accurately completed within the income tax return. The R&D Tax Incentive Calculator, provided by the Australian Government, is a valuable tool for estimating your potential tax offset.

Using a Tax Agent to Navigate the R&D Tax Incentive

Utilizing a tax agent to navigate this Tax Incentive offers several benefits. A registered tax agent with experience in R&D claims can provide expert advice on complex aspects of the application process. They ensure that your claim complies with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) requirements and the Australian Government’s guidelines. Tax agents can also assist in self-assessing eligibility, calculating your potential tax benefits, and preparing documentation for both the Income Tax Return and the R&D Tax Incentive Schedule. Their expertise can be invaluable in maximizing your claim and avoiding common pitfalls.

Wrapping Up

The R&D Tax Incentive stands as a beacon of support for Australian businesses committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation and science. It not only eases the financial pressures associated with R&D activities but also encourages a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. By taking advantage of this program, companies can significantly offset their R&D expenditure, fostering growth and advancement in their respective fields.

As we look towards a future driven by innovation, one must ask: how will your business leverage the R&D Tax Incentive to fuel its next breakthrough?


1. Can small businesses claim the R&D Tax Incentive?
Yes, businesses of all sizes with eligible R&D activities can claim the incentive, with specific benefits for those with aggregated turnover below $20 million.

2. How do I register my R&D activities with AusIndustry?
You must submit an application to register your R&D activities with AusIndustry within 10 months after the end of your company’s income year.

3. What is the difference between refundable and non-refundable R&D tax offsets?
Smaller entities can receive cash refunds from refundable offsets, while non-refundable offsets reduce tax obligations and can be carried forward.

4. Can overseas R&D activities qualify for the incentive?
Yes, but only under specific conditions where the activity cannot be conducted in Australia and with prior approval from AusIndustry.

5. How does the R&D Tax Incentive affect my company tax return?
You must include your R&D activities and expenditures in your company tax return, along with its Schedule.