R&D Tax Incentive – Software Development

R&D Tax Incentive - Software Development

Wondering if your software project qualifies?
Call Bulletpoint on 1300 658 508
to speak with our experts today.


What is the R&D Tax Incentive?

The R&D Tax Incentive is an Australian government program that offers up to a 43.5% rebate on eligible research and development activities, including software development.  

What is the issue with software development?  

The issue with software development in the context of the R&D Tax Incentive is that not all activities qualify, even if they seem innovative. It can be challenging to determine which specific elements of a software project meet the criteria for technical advancements and overcoming uncertainties.  

The creation of a novel product doesn’t instantly qualify it for the incentive. While each piece of software is inherently distinctive, the eligibility lies not merely in its novelty but in the technical advancements within its components. My approach centres around scrutinising these individual elements, rather than focusing solely on the final product or its application.  

50% of software projects are not eligible

About 50% of the software projects that come to me seeking R&D tax incentive rebates are not eligible. This is often because they are either simple apps, involve standard software development practices, or are just about connecting existing systems together. 

These activities do not usually meet the R&D Tax Incentive criteria for substantial technical advancements or resolving significant technological uncertainties.

Not sure if your development

activities are eligible?
Send us a message

and get tailored advice from Bulletpoint.




Top Reasons for Ineligibility

Here are the top reasons why many software projects fail to qualify for the R&D tax incentive:  

  • Simple Apps – Utilise well-established frameworks without significant innovation. Example: Developing a basic mobile app for booking appointments using existing tools and templates.
  • Standard Software Development Practices – Routine coding and implementation tasks that don’t push technological boundaries. Example: Creating a website using standard HTML, CSS, and JavaScript without any novel features.
  • System Integration – Projects focused solely on integrating existing systems. Example: Connecting an e-commerce platform to an existing payment gateway without developing new technologies.
  • Customisation of Off-the-Shelf Software – Customising pre-existing software does not typically qualify as R&D. Example: Customising an ERP system to fit the specific needs of a business.
  • Routine Debugging – Fixing bugs and performing routine maintenance does not constitute R&D. Example: Regular debugging and troubleshooting in a software product.
  • User Interface Improvements – Enhancements to the user interface without underlying technical innovation. Example: Redesigning the UI/UX of an application to improve aesthetics and user experience.
  • Database Optimisation – Standard optimisation tasks that do not involve new or improved technologies. Example: Optimising query performance in an existing database.
  • Migration Projects – Moving data or systems from one platform to another without new technological advancements. Example: Migrating data from an on-premise server to a cloud-based solution.
  • Implementation of Commercial Software – Implementing commercially available software without any custom development. Example: Installing and configuring a CRM system like Salesforce.
  • Compliance-Driven Projects – Projects undertaken solely to meet regulatory or compliance requirements. Example: Updating software to comply with new data protection laws without innovative changes.


But My Other Software Developer Friend Claims the R&D Tax Incentive with No Issue  

You might think;

But my other software developer friend claims the R&D tax incentive and he has no issue.

 The truth is, he just hasn’t been audited yet. We get phone calls all the time from software firms that are being audited. 

Did you know you can be audited up to five years after your claim and have to pay it back with a 50% penalty for being negligent? It’s crucial to ensure your claim meets all the eligibility criteria and is thoroughly documented to avoid these costly consequences.  

Do you want an R&D software expert on your team?

Anybody can slap together and submit an R&D application, but can you put together one that can withstand an audit? At Bulletpoint, we excel in crafting robust, audit-proof R&D tax incentive applications. With over 10 years of experience and more than 500 successful applications, we have a proven track record in defending claims against both the ATO and AusIndustry audits. We know what it takes to identify eligible activities, document them comprehensively, and present your case in a way that stands up to scrutiny.

Our expertise ensures that your application is not only compliant but also maximises your chances of securing the R&D tax incentive. We pride ourselves on our attention to detail and deep understanding of the R&D Tax Incentive program. But don’t just take our word for it – check out our Google reviews and see why we’re Australia’s highest-rated R&D tax consultant with over 250 reviews and a 4.8-star rating.

Don’t risk costly repayments and penalties – let Bulletpoint help you secure your R&D tax incentive with confidence.

Need help with your R&D tax incentive? Reach out to Bulletpoint today.

  • Call Bulletpoint on 1300 658 508
  • Send us a message here
  • Book a meeting now via Calendly

With over 10 years of experience and 500+ successful claims, Bulletpoint is Australia’s highest-rated R&D tax consultant. We have a proven track record in securing claims and defending against audits. Book a meeting now to get started.

Software and the R&D tax incentive
Check out my book on the issues relating to software development and the R&D tax incentive.

Here’s what it covers:

  • Unicorns are not immune – Even the big guns like Canva and Atlassian have faced their share of challenges with the R&D tax incentive program. 
  • Software Developers’ Challenges – It’s often hard to determine which activities qualify and which don’t. 
  • The Non-Eligible Software Development Activities –  The assumption that all software development activities are eligible for the R&D tax incentive isn’t true. 
  • What’s not R&D? – Just because something hasn’t been done before or involves making a new product, doesn’t automatically make it eligible R&D


Concerned about meeting

R&D tax incentive criteria?

Book a meeting now with Bulletpoint

for a detailed assessment.


So How Do We Do It Differently?

At Bulletpoint, we take a unique approach to assessing eligibility for the R&D tax incentive by speaking directly with the actual developers or CTO, and hopefully avoiding sales, BD, or marketing teams. We don’t care how good the product is, the problem it solves, or the market opportunity. Our focus is purely on identifying eligible R&D activities.

What do we ask software developers?

Here’s what I like to ask software developers to help establish whether the development is eligible for the R&D tax incentive:

  1. What novel or innovative software technologies, methodologies, or algorithms were applied in this project?
    To qualify for the R&D tax incentive, focus on specific technical innovations. Did you create a new algorithm for faster data processing or implement a unique machine learning model that predicts outcomes more accurately?
  2. How did the project create new advancements or improvements in existing technology?
    Detail specific technological improvements. For instance, did you optimise a database system to handle larger datasets with reduced latency or improve an existing API to enhance data integration efficiency?
  3. What significant technical challenges or uncertainties were faced during the project, and how were they resolved?
    Describe technical problems that required innovative solutions. For example, did you encounter compatibility issues with a new API and develop a custom middleware solution to resolve it?
  4. What experiments, tests, or trials were conducted to overcome these challenges? What methodologies were used?
    Provide details about your experimental approach. Did you run A/B tests on different algorithms to determine which was more efficient? Explain the testing framework you used and its role in solving technical challenges.
  5. What were the outcomes of these experiments or trials, and how did they inform further development?
    Share detailed results from your experiments. For example, did your trials show that a particular machine learning model increased prediction accuracy by 15%, leading to its integration into the final product?
  6. How did this project go beyond routine software development?
    Highlight what makes your project technically unique. Did you use a novel approach to encryption beyond standard practice or implement a new data structure to solve a specific problem more efficiently?
  7. What research and references were explored to inform the project’s development?
    Discuss how external research informed your project. Did you base your algorithm on recent academic papers? How did these sources help solve technical problems or inspire innovation?
  8. Can you share instances where the initial approach failed, leading to new strategies?
    Describe specific trial and error instances. Did an initial data analysis approach fail to yield accurate results, prompting you to develop and test a new machine learning model?
  9. What part of the software project was particularly challenging, and why?
    Identify the most challenging technical aspect. Was it developing a real-time processing system that needed to handle high throughput with minimal latency? Explain how overcoming this challenge involved innovative solutions.
  10. What should be excluded when assessing eligibility for the R&D tax incentive in software development?
    Leave out standard development or Business As Usual (BAU) activities, such as changes required by client requests, product manager decisions, or customer feedback. These adjustments typically do not involve significant technical challenges or innovations and are considered routine development activities


What Isn’t the Focus

When assessing eligibility for the R&D tax incentive, certain types of information are typically not relevant. Here’s what to leave out and why:

  • Product Features: Descriptions of the main features of the product and how they differentiate it from others in the market are not relevant for R&D eligibility. Focus on the technical innovations and advancements instead.
  • Customer Identification: Information about the intended customer base and how you have segmented or identified these customers doesn’t impact the assessment of R&D activities. The emphasis should be on the technical challenges and solutions.
  • User Benefits: Details on how the product benefits the user or addresses specific problems are important for marketing but not for determining R&D eligibility. Highlight the technical aspects of the development work rather than user-centric benefits.
  • Market Innovation: Descriptions of how the product is innovative or what market gap it fills are not sufficient on their own to qualify for the R&D tax incentive. The focus should be on the technological advancements and overcoming of technical uncertainties.
  • Competitors: Comparisons with competitors and explanations of how the product stands out in terms of features, functionality, or other factors are not considered when assessing R&D activities. What matters is the technical innovation and problem-solving involved in the project.


Still confused?

If you’re still unsure about what qualifies for the R&D tax incentive in software development, here are the top 10 software development issues that may be eligible:

  • Algorithm Development – This involves creating new algorithms that significantly enhance the performance, efficiency, or capabilities of software systems. For instance, if you’re developing a unique sorting algorithm that reduces data processing time by 50%, this could qualify as R&D. The focus here is on the innovation and technical advancement in the algorithm itself.
  • Machine Learning and AI – Developing and training new machine learning models or artificial intelligence systems that push the boundaries of current technology. For example, if you create a new neural network architecture that improves image recognition accuracy by 20% over existing models, this demonstrates substantial innovation and technical challenge.
  • Advanced Data Analytics – Implementing innovative methods to process and analyse large datasets to derive new insights or capabilities. For instance, developing a proprietary data mining technique that uncovers patterns in terabytes of data faster than any existing method would be considered significant technical progress.
  • Cybersecurity Enhancements – Developing new methods for detecting and preventing cyber threats to enhance the security of software systems. An example could be creating a novel encryption algorithm that provides a new level of data security, making it significantly harder for cyber attacks to succeed.
  • Software Architecture Innovation – Designing novel software architectures that lead to significant improvements in system performance or scalability. For instance, creating a new microservices architecture that optimises resource allocation and reduces system latency by 30% could be a qualifying R&D activity.
  • Cloud Computing Solutions – Creating new cloud-based services or platforms with unique functionalities or efficiencies. For example, developing a new load balancing technique for cloud environments that enhances service reliability and performance, leading to a 25% increase in uptime, would qualify.
  • Blockchain Technology – Developing applications or systems that leverage blockchain for new use cases such as secure transactions or decentralised finance. An example might be creating a blockchain-based system for transparent and secure supply chain management, solving issues of traceability and fraud.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) – Creating new AR/VR technologies or applications that offer unique experiences or solve complex problems. For instance, developing a new VR training simulator for medical professionals that provides highly realistic and interactive scenarios could be eligible if it involves significant technical challenges.
  • Optimisation Techniques – Developing new techniques to optimise software performance, such as reducing processing time or resource consumption. For example, creating a new compiler optimisation that speeds up code execution by 40% would demonstrate substantial technical advancement.
  • Embedded Systems Development – Innovating in the development of embedded systems that integrate software and hardware in new and unique ways. This could include developing new firmware for IoT devices that improves power efficiency and data processing capabilities, representing a significant technical challenge.


Need expert guidance on
your R&D tax claim?
Contact Bulletpoint to ensure
your application is robust and audit-proof.



Why Choose Bulletpoint for Your R&D Tax Incentive Needs?

Navigating the complexities of the R&D tax incentive can be daunting. Many software projects fail to qualify due to unclear documentation or misunderstanding of what constitutes eligible R&D activities. This is where Bulletpoint shines.

With over a decade of experience, we have successfully lodged more than 500 R&D applications, helping clients secure their incentives and avoid costly audits. Our team understands the intricacies of the R&D tax incentive program and knows how to build a strong case that can withstand scrutiny from both the ATO and AusIndustry.


What Sets Us Apart?

  • Proven Expertise: We have over 10 years of experience in the field, ensuring that your application is in expert hands.
  • High Success Rate: With more than 500 successful R&D lodgements, we know what it takes to secure your incentive.
  • Audit Defense: We have a robust track record of defending claims against both ATO and AusIndustry reviews and audits, protecting our clients from costly repayments and penalties.
  • Client Satisfaction: Our commitment to excellence is reflected in our Google reviews, where we have over 250 reviews and a 4.8-star rating, making us Australia’s highest-rated R&D tax consultant.

Take the Next Step with Confidence

At Bulletpoint, we don’t just help you submit an application; we ensure it’s audit-proof. Our meticulous approach and deep understanding of the R&D tax incentive program mean you can be confident in securing your claim.

Need help with your R&D tax incentive? Reach out to Bulletpoint today.

  • Call Bulletpoint on 1300 658 508
  • Send us a message here
  • Book a meeting now via Calendly


The R&D Tax Incentive is an Australian government program that offers up to a 43.5% rebate on eligible research and development activities, including software development.

Yes, software development projects can qualify if they involve substantial technical advancements or solve significant technical uncertainties.

Projects involving algorithm development, machine learning, data analytics, cybersecurity enhancements, and new software architectures often qualify.

No, routine software development, simple apps, and system integration typically do not qualify as they lack significant technical innovation.

Focus on the technical advancements and challenges in your project. Activities that push the boundaries of current technology are more likely to be eligible.

Detailed records of experiments, technical challenges, and advancements are crucial. Documenting how you addressed technical uncertainties is key.

Yes, if the project involves developing new technologies or solving significant technical challenges beyond standard customisation.

Bulletpoint specialises in identifying eligible activities, documenting them comprehensively, and ensuring your claim is audit-proof. Contact Bulletpoint for expert assistance.

  • If audited, you need to provide evidence of your R&D activities and their eligibility. Bulletpoint can help prepare and defend your claim to withstand scrutiny.

With over 10 years of experience and 500+ successful claims, Bulletpoint is Australia’s highest-rated R&D tax consultant. We have a proven track record in securing claims and defending against audits. Book a meeting now to get started.


What is the #1 grant for start-ups?

12,000+ companies access the R&D tax incentive per year that yields a CASH REBATE of up to 43.5%.
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