1. Knowledge Base

What R&D records should we keep? (Australia)

In the current climate of increasing audits, you want to make sure your records are up to scratch.

  • For financial records, make sure you’re able to provide any underlying payroll details or copies of external contractor services you’ve used for R&D, for example. As part of Standard Ledger’s ongoing bookkeeping services we include the Receipt Bank App/email to “Snap n Send” your source invoices; you’ll be ready with full documentation should you be faced with an ATO audit.
  • For evidence of R&D activities, you’re going to need to show how you identified and tracked the eligible R&D activities (as well as the basis under which those records have been used to determine the associated R&D spend).

AusIndustry uses a wonderful phrase, contemporaneous records(!), to describe the documentation you should keep as you carry out your R&D activities. It means: In real time. We think that a check-in or two along the way during the year makes a lot of sense — call it insurance if you like — which is why we also suggest an (optional, additional) documentation review service if you’re doing R&D.

The following documents are regularly used for substantiating R&D claims:

  • Staff time sheets (even if you don’t keep them normally, they’re worth it for RDTI claims)
  • Notes from team meetings relating to the R&D project
  • Business plans, information memorandums, investor pitch decks
  • Collections of materials from background research and scoping
  • Technical documents, including testing results
  • Notes and updated records tracking the progress of your R&D project