The Incentive Effects of R&D Tax Credits: An Empirical Examination in an Emerging Economy
47 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2010
Date Written: March 7, 2010
This paper investigates whether an increase in the R&D tax credit rate stimulates firms’ incremental R&D spending, and whether firms plan their R&D spending to take advantage of additional tax credits for incremental R&D spending. We find that the increase in the credit rate has a positive effect on the R&D spending of high-tech firms with taxable status, but does not have the same positive effect on non-high tech firms. In magnitude terms, the increased R&D spending for high-tech (non-high tech) firms is about 27% (6.6%), or 16.78% for the overall sample, which translates into credit-induced increase in R&D spending in Taiwan at $4.58 per dollar of revenue forgone. These results indicate that tax incentives alone may not be effective to increase R&D spending if firms do not have profitable innovation opportunities. Further, we find that when the tax incentive is structured as a credit based on incremental R&D spending over a moving-average base, firms opportunistically time their R&D spending patterns to obtain additional tax credits, resulting in greater variability in R&D spending and potentially unintended loss of tax revenues. This study contributes to the ongoing global debate about the efficacy of tax policies towards R&D, especially in emerging economies, by providing first-time firm-level evidence from a large cross-section of Taiwanese firms.
JEL Classification: H25, M41, M47
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation