About the Program

The R&D Tax Incentive (Incentive) is the largest component of Australian government support for innovation. It encourages industry investment in R&D by offering tax offsets to those undertaking eligible R&D activities. In doing so, the Incentive supports industry to conduct R&D that otherwise might not have been conducted, and which may generate wider benefits to Australian society.

The Incentive provides support to over 14,000 Australian businesses on average each year. In 2017-18 around 14,200 entities registered for the program. Of this, around 11,400 were small businesses, investing over $5.8bn in R&D.

The Incentive is one part of the support available in Australia’s Innovation System. It is deliberately targeted to businesses doing R&D activities, as defined in legislation, rather than innovation more generally, or R&D in the broad sense. This helps the program deliver on its objective of supporting R&D that otherwise would not be conducted.

Focussing on our Customers

The Department of Industry, Innovation & Science (the Department) is committed to supporting innovative Australian businesses, and recognises that the majority of businesses accessing the Incentive each year believe they are eligible for the program. The Department provides education and guidance to businesses to help them self-assess whether they are eligible for the program.

To improve the customer experience of the Incentive, the Department has considered the user’s journey in the program, and has commenced improvements to provide assistance, clarity, and certainty to those accessing the program.

The Integrity Framework user journey

The Integrity Framework takes into account integrity risk and behavioural factors that influence program participants.

Simplified diagram showing steps in the user journey

Not all situations have been covered in this user journey. There may be other options available, depending on your particular circumstances. AusIndustry works with the Australian Taxation Office on the joint administration of the program, including on compliance activities.

Download the Integrity Framework user journey

Improvements being made by the Department include:

  • Re-design of the ‘Application for Registration of R&D Activities’ form.
  • Development of an R&D Tax Incentive customer portal.
  • Re-development of R&D Tax Incentive program guidance.
  • User-friendly updates to business.gov.au.
  • Opportunities to connect with the Department e.g. through events, meetings, our call centre.
  • Broader government initiatives that may support businesses.

The Department’s Incentive Integrity Framework outlines how we ensure the integrity of the Incentive and work with businesses to help them get their Incentive registrations right. The Department is also focussed on assisting businesses that are registering for the program for the first-time, to help them navigate the system and understand the program’s requirements.

The Department’s Incentive Service Commitment outlines our commitment to two-way engagement, open dialogue and transparent decision making. The Department is providing customers with assessment reports with all eligibility decisions, and has been increasing engagement with companies throughout the eligibility examinations.

Download the Integrity Framework

Download our Service Commitment

Upholding the integrity of the Incentive

The Department is committed to ensuring that our customer interactions are open and helpful, and that our advice and decisions are well informed, fact-based and transparent. The Department does not have targets or quotas for identifying or assessing Incentive applications as ineligible, but does have an obligation to uphold the integrity of the program.

The Department undertakes a range of activities to identify the risk of non-compliance as early as possible and also undertakes compliance activities as part of the integrity management of the program. Program integrity risks are identified across all industry sectors and across businesses of all size. For businesses that have decided not to comply, statutory compliance activity may be undertaken. If a business is not satisfied with the Department’s Finding, the business can seek review of the decision through Internal Review and External Review in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.