Research and Development Tax Incentive

A Tax Incentive is now available to businesses conducting eligible research and development in New Zealand.

The R&D Tax Incentive will help more businesses innovate and contribute to a stronger, more productive economy that benefits all New Zealanders.

Main features of the Incentive

The main features of the R&D Tax Incentive include:

  • a credit rate of 15%
  • a $120 million cap on eligible expenditure
  • a minimum R&D expenditure threshold of $50,000 per year, unless the expenditure related to R&D contracted out to an Approved Research Provider
  • a definition of R&D that ensures the credit can be accessed more easily across all sectors, including the technology sector
  • the inclusion of state-owned enterprises, industry research cooperatives, levy bodies, and minority-owned subsidiaries of select Crown entities
  • a limited form of refundability is in place for the first year of the scheme that will mirror the R&D tax-loss cash-out scheme run by Inland Revenue. A more comprehensive policy will be in place for the second year of the scheme

Find out more about using an approved research provider(external link)

Find out more about becoming an approved research provider(external link)

When and how can I apply?

The Taxation (Research and Development Tax Credits) Act 2019 (The Act) introduced a Tax Incentive for businesses conducting eligible R&D in New Zealand that is available from the 2019/2020 tax year.

For most businesses, eligible expenditure on R&D undertaken from 1 April 2019 will qualify for the R&D Tax Incentive. Businesses should be recording their R&D expenditure now to ensure records are ready to file at the end of the 2019/2020 tax year.

An online tool has also been developed by Inland Revenue to help businesses assess their eligibility: Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive eligibility tool(external link) - Inland Revenue website.

More information about eligibility and record keeping obligations can be found in Inland Revenue’s R&D Tax Incentive guidance material(external link).

Businesses that intend to claim the Tax Incentive will be able to enrol via MyIR in mid 2019 before they officially apply by submitting a supplementary return at the end of the financial year. Enrolment will provide businesses with an initial assessment of their eligibility and key information about how to apply. 

Businesses will be able to begin uploading supporting documentation to MyIR in late 2019 ahead of filing.

Implementation review

In 2020, MBIE commissioned an independent review of the early implementation of the scheme to identify how it was working so far and whether any parts of the process could be improved.  The review comprised interviews with a range of stakeholders and focused on the experience of businesses and their advisors through the application process for the RDTI.

The review highlighted some important changes needed, which the implementing agencies (MBIE, IRD and Callaghan Innovation) have begun to implement.

MBIE, IRD and Callaghan Innovation’s joint statement

Research and Development Tax Incentive: Review of implementation [PDF, 238 KB]

Briefing: Research & Development Tax Incentive - Early implementation review [PDF, 365 KB]

Aide memoire: Research & Development Tax Incentive update – 9 April 2021 [PDF, 117 KB]

Providing Transitional Support to R&D Performing Businesses [PDF, 268 KB]

Changes from 1 April 2020

From the 2020/2021 income year (1 April for most businesses) an in-year approval process will be introduced to help increase business certainty about eligibility for the Incentive. The Government is also proposing broader refundability rules (see below).

Policy development – broader refundability

In 2019/20, there is limited refundability available for pre-profit businesses. They can “cash out” their credits (up to a maximum limit of $255k) - this will help smaller businesses with cash-flow challenges. They can also carry their R&D tax credits forward into future years.

The Taxation (KiwiSaver, Student Loans, and Remedial Matters) Bill has recently been introduced to the House. It proposes changes that would make refunds of R&D tax credits broadly available. A business’s refund would generally be capped at the amount of payroll-related taxes such as PAYE and FBT, paid in the same year.

The proposed changes will enable more pre-profit and loss-making businesses to access the benefit of their credits sooner.

This achieves the goal of supporting as much eligible R&D as possible while maintaining the integrity of the tax system.

The intention is that these provisions be in place for the 2020/2021 tax year.

The Taxation (KiwiSaver, Student Loans, and Remedial Matters) Bill(external link)

The Taxation (Research and Development Tax Credits) Act 2019

The Act which introduced the Tax Incentive was passed into law in early May 2019. The following related documents track the progress of the legislation through Parliament and the policy development process:

The Taxation (Research and Development Tax Credits) Bill(external link)

Regulatory impact statement: Research and development Tax Incentive [PDF, 161 KB]

Commentary on the Taxation (R&D Tax Credits) Bill [PDF 851KB](external link)

Policy changes from the discussion document

Read how the proposed policies changed following feedback:

New Zealand R&D Tax Incentive: Policy changes from the Discussion Document [PDF, 326 KB]

Briefing documents for download

Ministerial Direction to Callaghan Innovation on the administration of a RDTI transitional support mechanism [PDF, 885 KB]

Cover note for release of R&D tax incentive briefings 14 June – 29 August 2018 [PDF, 216 KB] 

Approach to the R&D tax incentive bill (redacted)  [PDF, 72 KB]

R&D Tax Incentive - Summary of Submissions (redacted)  [PDF, 1.5 MB]

Report on UK and Norway R&D Tax Credit Schemes (redacted) [PDF, 180 KB] 

R&D tax incentive for implementation (redacted) [PDF, 113 KB] 

R&D Tax Incentive Support for loss-making firms and transition arrangements (redacted)  [PDF, 123 KB]

Cabinet paper R&D tax incentive for implementation (redacted) [PDF, 113 KB] 

Options to expedite transition of Growth Grant customers to R&D Tax Incentive (redacted) [PDF, 107 KB] 

R&D Tax Incentive Extensions to Growth Grant contracts (redacted)  [PDF, 74 KB]

Cabinet Paper R&D tax incentive for implementation (redacted)  [PDF, 328 KB]

Science and Innovation Briefings on the R&D Tax Incentive, 2 November 2017 – 15 May 2018 (redacted) [PDF, 6.9 MB] 

Submissions received

View the submissions for the R&D Tax Incentive consultation.

Visit our R&D Tax Incentive hub (external link)

Last updated: 06 July 2021