StartupAus Continues R&D Tax Incentive Advocacy Ahead of Delayed Federal Budget

September 28th, 2020

The federal budget, traditionally in May each year was deferred by the government until 6 October 2020 due to COVID.

In comments to Smartcompany.com.au, this week, StartupAus chief Alex McCauley has continued his strong advocacy for the R&D Tax Incentive. Key highlights of Alex’s position include:
  • This year’s budget can be somewhat be considered as two budgets together, in a seven month period;
  • the R&D Tax Incentive is the “number one priority” for this year’s budget;
  • whatever the merits were of amending the R&D Tax Incentive to make it more efficient and to reduce the cost, it’s pretty clear that now is not the time to be reducing investment in Australia’s economic future, which literally is what a cut to the R&D Tax Incentive is;
  • the proposed legislative changes are unlikely to pass parliament, and Alex would love to see these put on hold indefinitely, or scrapped.
The proposed legislative changes Alex refers to is a slightly modified version of a previous reform bill (Treasury Laws Amendment (Making Sure Multinationals Pay Their Fair Share of Tax in Australia and Other Measures) Bill 2018), which did not pass through the Senate at that time. A Senate Economics Legislation Committee recommended in February 2019 that the initial bill should be deferred from consideration until further analysis of the bill’s impact was undertaken, particularly with respect to concerns around the proposed intensity threshold and refundable offset cap.

The R&D Tax Reform bill has been uniformly criticised by companies, industry groups and R&D tax professionals, with concerns particularly directed at the “Intensity Threshold” proposal, which would punish companies with large cost bases, such as local manufacturers.

The governments’ insistence of pursuing the reform should also be contrasted against Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s headline in the AFR this week which stated that there would be “No budget deficit repair until jobless rate is below 6pc”.

Swanson Reed calls on all sides of politics to commit to a stable R&D Tax Incentive, and are of the view that the programme would be most effective in achieving its policy objectives if not subject to further proposed changes.  

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