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You are a research and development contractor if you carry out R&D activity on behalf of another person or principal who runs their business through a fixed establishment in New Zealand. 

You cannot claim the R&D tax incentive in relation to that activity. This is because the principal to the contract may be eligible to claim.

You are only eligible for the R&D tax credit if:

  • your principal does not run a business based in New Zealand
  • you can satisfy the eligible entity criteria in your own right.

If you are an R&D contractor but the principal to the contract does not carry on business through a fixed establishment in New Zealand, you may be eligible to claim the tax incentive provided you meet the other eligibility requirements. 

Determine if you are an R&D contractor 

Your status as a contractor depends on your relationship with the principal and the nature of the contract itself.

If you have been engaged to undertake something which the principal knows is R&D with an uncertain result, it is likely you are an R&D contractor and ineligible to claim for that activity.

Your R&D activities do not have to be successful in order to be eligible. If you are contracted to deliver a successful outcome which requires you to do some R&D on your own account, it is unlikely you are an R&D contractor in relation to the activity.

Determining whether you are an R&D contractor requires consideration of who funds, controls and own the results of an R&D activity.  

Example: Acting as a contractor

A Co and C Co are both R&D businesses based in New Zealand. They enter into a contract under which C Co is to carry out specified services that qualify as eligible R&D activities. A Co has no expertise in that particular R&D field but has briefed C Co about what it wants achieved. A Co is obliged to pay C Co for the cost of those services, regardless of the results.

Although A Co owns intellectual property arising from the R&D activities, C Co can use the intellectual property for its own commercial purposes for no extra cost.

C Co conducts the R&D activities on behalf of A Co. C Co is an R&D contractor and is not eligible to claim the R&D tax credits in relation to those activities

Last updated: 28 Apr 2021
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