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Taxpayer Alerts for R&D

The Commissioner has just released two taxpayer alerts that relate to the R&D Tax Incentive…

TA 2017/2 Claiming the Research and Development Tax Incentive for construction activities
TA 2017/3 Claiming the Research and Development Tax Incentive for ordinary business activities

These Taxpayer Alerts “provide a summary of our concerns about new or emerging higher risk tax or superannuation arrangements or issues that we have under risk assessment.”

So what are these concerns?

Some or all of the activities registered are broadly described and non-specific. For example, projects may be registered instead of the specific activities undertaken.

Some or all of the activities registered are ordinary business activities that are not eligible for the R&D Tax Incentive.

Some or all of the activities were undertaken in the course of their ordinary business activities and recharacterised as R&D activities at a later time.

So the concern the Commissioner has is that taxpayer’s are incorrectly claiming the R&D Tax Incentive in relation to activities that are not R&D…

So the next time an “R&D advisor” tells you that activities are R&D activities, ask them what will happen if the Commissioner concludes these activities are just “ordinary business activities”. Then read the project description they write as see if you think some or all of the activities in the description “are broadly described and non-specific.”

R&D advisors need to pick up their game or the Commissioner will start asking the Government to limit access to this incentive even more.

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SMSF and accountants… what can they do?

The easy answer is… lots.

ASIC have a great information sheet on this, but in summary and accountant without any AFSL can…

You may provide advice on establishing, operating, structuring and valuing an SMSF, as long as you give your client the appropriate warnings. This includes [stating that the] advice [is] provided for the sole purpose of, and only to the extent reasonably necessary for, ensuring compliance with the superannuation legislation [and the document includes] advice on the process of winding up or exiting an SMSF. You may not recommend that your client acquires or disposes of an interest in an SMSF.

With the right disclaimer I am setting these SMSF beasts up if my client asks me to

You may provide a recommendation or statement of opinion on how your client should distribute their available funds among different categories of investments. You may not advise your client to make particular investments through the SMSF.

I am telling them if they want to image it themselves they need to have a balanced portfolio but not telling them what exact investments to buy.

You may provide tax advice on financial products, such as an interest in an SMSF and underlying investments held by the SMSF, as long as you do not receive a benefit as a result of your client acquiring a financial product (or a financial product that falls within the class of products) mentioned in the advice.

I am telling them what will be the tax consequences of the assets they decide to hold.

So if they come to me and say they want to put their business real property into their SMSF I can pretty much do it all for them.

But also remember, if you do send them off to an AFSL holder, you need to disclose any commission you are getting…