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WBSO: costs and expenses for own R&D

With the Research and Development Promotion Act (WBSO) you can reduce your R&D costs. In order to utilize the full potential of the WBSO, it is important to know that in addition to R&D wage costs, other costs and expenses you incur for R&D may also be eligible for the WBSO.

Afbeelding met computerschermen en toetsenbord, decoratief.

To guide you through this, in this blog I explain the differences between costs and expenditures – in the context of the WBSO – and I discuss which costs and expenditures are eligible for subsidy, and which general and specific exclusions apply. Finally, I give concrete advice on your choice between the flat rate and an application for actual costs and expenses.

WBSO: the difference between costs and expenses

Expenses are payments (investments) that you make for newly manufactured assets for your own R&D. Costs are roughly all other payments for doing your own R&D, for example for consumables, materials or outsourced work (not to be confused with outsourced research or hiring labor).

WBSO: eligible costs and expenses

Only costs and expenses that are directly attributable to own R&D are eligible for the WBSO. This means that costs and expenses must have a causal relationship with R&D. Expenses may be allocated on a pro rata basis, but costs must also exclusively serve the performance of R&D. This means that costs cannot be allocated in part, but must be fully (=100%) attributable to the company's own R&D activities.

However, there are exceptions. Sometimes you cannot determine for a cost item the amount for which these costs have been incurred for your own R&D (for example, for purchased raw materials). In a number of cases, you can therefore use objectively verifiable data to calculate which part of the total cost amount is exclusively used for your own R&D.


Costs are eligible for physical product development, such as the purchase of consumables, materials and parts for testing or making trial batches. In addition, you may claim costs for the purchase of materials and parts for the production of a prototype without productive or commercial significance. Costs for having prototypes manufactured in the context of your own development project are also eligible.

Costs and expenses for ICT?

For IT companies, only a few costs and expenses qualify for the WBSO, because the attribution and serviceability to their own R&D is often not clearly identifiable or cannot be calculated objectively. An example of this is the purchase of licenses for specific software tools that are necessary for the in-house development of technically new software. With such licenses you not only produce technically new software, but also routine programming work that is not eligible for the WBSO.

Costs for the rental of equipment or buildings are eligible if they are exclusively used for the company's own R&D activities. Consider, for example, the rental costs of a server room where specific HSMs or test modules run that are solely aimed at securing or testing technically new software.

WBSO: non-eligible costs and expenses

If costs and expenses do not have a clearly demonstrable causal relationship with your R&D activities, they are not eligible for WBSO. The scheme also has a number of general exclusions, such as costs for market research or applying for and maintaining patents (not R&D in itself). If you develop prototypes that you use for commercial or production purposes, the costs involved (for example, materials) are not eligible. If you scrap the prototype after demonstrating the working principle, the associated costs will be eligible. Indirect costs and expenses, such as training and courses, exhibition and conference visits, computers and licenses for software for general business use are not eligible.

There are also specific exclusions of costs, such as costs of outsourced research, for hiring labor, depreciation costs, financing costs, and costs for purchasing or improving land. Finally, there are specific exclusions of expenses, such as the purchase of second-hand assets, equipment, instruments or facilities for R&D to be performed by third parties, and investments for which an energy investment allowance (EIA) or environmental investment allowance (MIA) has been obtained.

Advice when choosing a flat rate or actual costs and expenses

With your first WBSO application in a calendar year, you can choose between the flat rate and the regime of actual costs and expenditure. The fixed amount is interesting for ICT companies, because only a limited number of costs and expenses qualify for the WBSO. As a result, the qualifying costs and expenses are so low that the fixed amount provides a greater benefit with fewer administrative obligations. If you expect high costs and/or expenses that can be fully related to your R&D project(s), it may be more advantageous to opt for the regime of actual costs and expenses. You must then keep records per project that provide insight into the costs and expenses and associated payments. We at Ugoo are happy to offer you support!

Foto van Peter Laurens van Keulen.

Peter Laurens, Innovation Consultant!

Driven by curiosity about what drives my clients and the future plans they envision, I am responsible for applying for innovation subsidies on behalf of these companies.

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