Private Binding Ruling

The ATO publish rulings, Interpretive Decisions and Determinations, as well as Practical Compliance Guidelines and Taxpayer Alerts in their legal database. This database also includes cases won and lost at different levels of the courts and are searchable by topic.

R&DTI is within “Offsets/rebates/credits/benefits”, then “Other offsets/rebates/benefits”

If a taxpayer has a specific set of circumstances that cannot be easily determined through the primary legislation, or by reference to any of these existing public explanations or guides, then the taxpayer can seek a private ruling which is the ATO’s advice in regards to those specific circumstances. It is private as it applies to that taxpayer only (regardless of how similar another taxpayer circumstances may be). It is binding on the ATO in that the position taken cannot be reversed under audit at a later date (even if proven to be incorrect). If the position taken is found to be incorrect and the correction benefits the taxpayer, the taxpayer can ignore the ruling.

Edited versions of prior private rulings are also included in the legal database but are non-binding to any other taxpayers regardless of how similar their circumstances. The ATO also do not consider that the edited private rulings represent an authority for the purposes of establishing a reasonably arguable position, which is a less secure way of preparing against a potential audit.

There is a specific application form and a guidance to what documentation will be required. The ATO process to apply is here.