R&D Tax Incentive – Competent Professional

What is a Competent Professional


Understanding the concept of a “Competent Professional” is crucial in the context of Australia’s R&D tax incentive legislation. It plays a vital role in determining the eligibility of R&D activities. This post delves into the definition, importance, legislative references, government guidance, examples, and documentation processes concerning the Competent Professional.


What is a Competent Professional

A Competent Professional is an individual who possesses extensive knowledge, experience, and qualifications in a specific field of work. This person has not only demonstrated expertise through education and skills but also maintains a keen awareness of current developments within their domain.


Importance within the R&D Tax Incentive Framework

The concept of a Competent Professional is pivotal in the context of Australia’s Research & Development (R&D) tax incentive scheme. It plays a significant role in several key areas:

  • Eligibility Assessment: For an R&D activity to be eligible for tax incentives, the outcome must be uncertain to a Competent Professional in the relevant field. This criterion ensures that only genuine, innovative activities can benefit from the incentive.
  • Compliance with Legislation: A clear understanding of what constitutes a Competent Professional aids entities in adhering to the legal parameters surrounding the R&D tax incentive, thus mitigating risks of non-compliance.
  • Optimisation of Benefits: By discerning the characteristics and standards of a Competent Professional, businesses can effectively navigate the R&D tax incentive process, ensuring that they capitalise on all eligible benefits.


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What Does the Legislation Say?

Section 355-25 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 underlines the requirements for Core R&D activities and the notion of a Competent Professional. The outcomes of Core R&D activities must be unknown to a Competent Professional, using the current knowledge, information, and experience.


What Does the Government Guidance Say?

According to the Australian government, a Competent Professional:

  • Has Knowledge and Experience: Demonstrates expertise in the field.
  • Has Appropriate Qualifications or Can Act with Skill: Holds necessary credentials or shows adequate skill level.
  • Keeps Up to Date with Developments: Actively engages in continuous professional development.
  • Has Access to Knowledge and Resources Globally: Utilises the internet, journals, and other professionals to maintain a global perspective.


Examples of What Is a Competent Professional

  • A software engineer with a master’s degree and 10 years of industry experience, specialising in artificial intelligence.
  • A biomedical scientist with a Ph.D., published papers, and ongoing participation in global conferences.
  • A mechanical engineer with an undergraduate degree and 15 years of relevant experience in automotive design.
  • A food scientist with a postgraduate degree and significant contributions to innovative food processing techniques.
  • A renewable energy researcher with an advanced degree, numerous patents, and collaboration with global experts.


Examples of What Is NOT a Competent Professional

  • A recent graduate with no industry experience or specialisation.
  • An experienced professional working outside their area of expertise.
  • A retired expert not keeping up with current developments.
  • A self-proclaimed expert without formal education or proven experience.
  • An individual relying solely on general internet information without specialised knowledge or resources.


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Documenting It in Your R&D Tax Incentive Application

When applying for the R&D tax incentive, detailing the Competent Professional is vital. Documentation should include:

  • Years of Relevant Experience: Highlighting practical industry involvement.
  • Undergraduate and Postgraduate Study: Detailing relevant educational achievements.
  • Key Area of Expertise: Specifying the specialised field relevant to the R&D activity.


How would AusIndustry Assess this?

AusIndustry typically looks for several pieces of evidence to affirm the status of a competent professional:

  1. Qualifications: Copies of relevant educational credentials like undergraduate or postgraduate degrees in the specific field of expertise.
  2. Work Experience: Documentation of relevant work history, including roles, responsibilities, and the duration of employment in the field related to the R&D activities. Years of relevant experience may play a significant role in this assessment.
  3. Professional Development: Evidence of ongoing professional development, such as participation in workshops, conferences, or additional training related to the field of expertise.
  4. Publications and Contributions: If applicable, a list of publications, research, or contributions to the industry, such as presentations at professional associations, articles, or patents.
  5. Professional Affiliations: Memberships and affiliations with relevant professional bodies or industry associations that demonstrate a commitment to maintaining professional standards in the field.
  6. External Recognition: Recognition or endorsements from other professionals in the field, which might include testimonials or references that support the individual’s standing as an expert in the relevant area.
  7. Compliance with Industry Standards: Adherence to industry standards, codes of practice, or other guidelines that might demonstrate professional competence.
  8. Research Methodology: In the context of a specific R&D project, an explanation of the methodology and why the professional’s expertise is needed to test the hypothesis may be considered.
  9. Consultation with Other Professionals: Evidence that the professional has sought out and considered the knowledge and expertise of others in the field, especially if the individual is deemed the pre-eminent authority in that area.

AusIndustry would likely conduct a comprehensive review of these factors to determine whether an individual fits the definition of a competent professional as per the government’s guidance and legislative requirements. In practice, it would be advisable to


Bulletpoint’s Expert Guidance

Are you seeking assistance in aligning your R&D activities with the Competent Professional criteria? Let Bulletpoint, Melbourne’s premier R&D tax consultancy, guide you. Schedule a chat at https://calendly.com/bencusack/rdtax to ensure that your R&D efforts align with government standards, securing the benefits you deserve..

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