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The Importance of Associate Payments in the R&D Tax Incentive
The Importance of Associate Payments in the R&D Tax Incentive

The Importance of Associate Payments in the R&D Tax Incentive

June 13, 2024
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Australia's R&D Tax Incentive (RDTI) is a powerful program for fostering innovation. A critical aspect for the RDTI is the proper acknowledgement of Associate Payments—expenditures to related entities such as subsidiaries, parent companies, or other controlled entities. Properly accounting for these payments is essential for ensuring compliance, maximising tax benefits, and maintaining financial transparency.

For typical R&D expenses, businesses can claim the expenditure in the income year it is accrued (even if it is paid in the following income year). However, associate payments can only be claimed as an R&D expense in the income year they are paid.

Understanding Associate Payments

  • Associate payments can include salaries, contractor fees, or any other financial transactions linked to R&D activities. Australian tax law refers to an ‘associate’ as various types of relationships, including:
  • Relatives: Spouses, children, parents, siblings.
  • Partner Entities: Partners in a partnership and their immediate family.
  • Trustee-Beneficiary Relationships: Trustees of a trust and any beneficiaries.
  • Companies and Their Directors/Shareholders: Including those within the same group (e.g. if you are a common director of two companies, whether they are consolidated or not, then both companies are “associated” with one another).
  • Influenced Entities: Entities that are influenced or controlled by the company or its associates.

Compliance with Tax Regulations

The ATO mandates that businesses must pay associate expenditures in the same income year to claim it on R&D. If payment is deferred to a subsequent year, the business can either:

  • Claim a deduction under general tax provisions for the year the expense was incurred.
  • Claim a notional R&D deduction in the year the payment ends up being made.

Financial Transparency and Accountability

Documenting all associate payments promotes transparency and accountability within an organisation. Keeping detailed records including invoices, contracts, and payroll documents, supports R&D claims and provides necessary evidence during audits. Importantly, the record of the actual bank transaction substantiates what income year the payment was made in.

Best Practices for Acknowledging Associate Payments

  • Maintain Detailed Records: Keep comprehensive records of all financial transactions related to R&D activities.
  • Timely Payment of Expenses: Ensure associate payments are made within the same income year to qualify for notional deductions.
  • Regular Audits: Conduct regular internal audits to ensure all R&D related expenditures, including associate payments are accurately documented and reported.
  • Seek Professional Advice: Consulting with professionals can help businesses navigate the complexities of the RDTI, and ensure all eligible expenditures are accounted for.

Why are associate payments treated differently from other R&D expenses? This is a fraud prevention mechanism. It prevents companies from claiming invoices and bills from their associates/affiliates on their R&D Tax Incentive application that may be forgiven or cancelled in the following income year, as this would enable the company to receive the benefit on expenses that were never actually made.

To fully benefit from this program, it is crucial to acknowledge and accurately document associate payments. This not only ensures compliance with ATO regulations but also maximises tax benefits and promotes financial transparency. At Sprout Scientific, we understand the complexities of the RDTI and are committed to helping businesses navigate these challenges. Contact us today to learn how we can assist in optimising your R&D claims and drive your innovation forward.

For more detailed information on acknowledging associate payments under the R&D Tax Incentive, please visit the Australian Taxation Office's official page.

If you would like to know more about how we can help, head to our website at or contact us at