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Claiming the R&D Tax Incentive for International Activities

GlobeThe R&D Tax Incentive is one of the most effective methods of support for research in Australia and provides companies with up to 43.5 cents back for every eligible dollar – even in cases where start-up firms aren’t yet paying tax. Start-ups can indeed qualify for the incentive too. In essence, any firm developing or improving products, processes or software, for example, may be eligible.

However, one of the key features of the R&D Tax Incentive is that activities usually concern only R&D activities conducted in Australia. Despite this, in particular circumstances, companies can claim the incentive for activities undertaken overseas.

It is important to note that whilst companies may be able to claim overseas activities, this is typically only reserved to support companies that can prove they could not have conducted the R&D locally.  In addition, the deadline for these applications is different – firms must apply within the same financial year as the activities were undertaken.

To elaborate, overseas R&D is classified by the location of where the R&D activity was undertaken. For instance, in software development, this usually means where the developer is sitting in the world when they undertake R&D. This means that even if an Australian company employs the developer and they are a resident for tax purposes, the R&D would still be overseas-based if they happened to be overseas at the time that they created it. This is a region that you need to be particularly cautious of when employing development contractors who may employ overseas developers or outsource development overseas.

In cases where a company wants to claim notional deductions for overseas R&D activities, then they must pass a positive ‘Advanced Overseas Finding’ by AusIndustry.  To provide context, an Advanced Finding is a binding decision from Innovation Australia about the eligibility of a company’s activities under the R&D Tax Incentive. It operates similar to a private ruling request and has the intention to provide certainty for companies. Similarly, an Overseas Finding is a binding decision that relates to overseas activities and expenditure. There are specific rules surrounding the inclusion of overseas expenditure within a company’s Australian R&D Tax Claim. Notably, June year end companies intending to claim overseas costs in the current year’s R&D claim must submit the activities relating to those costs through an Advanced Finding by 30 June.

As can be seen from above, the many rules and regulations adjoining overseas R&D activities may be perplexing for some. Therefore, a company may wish to seek external assistance to help identify their R&D eligible activities and avoid inaccurate judgements. If you think your company may be eligible, have a chat to our R&D tax specialists who will be able to answer any further questions or help you make your claim. The earlier you get the ball running and submit your application, the sooner your company will receive their refund.

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