Approved by the Infrastructure and Research Policy Committee on April 6, 2023
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on June 15, 2023
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 22, 2023
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports a permanent research and development (R&D) investment tax credit for corporations. The tax credit should be applied to total R&D spending. To be most effective, tax policy should:
- Foster innovation
- Motivate industry to adopt a longer-term view of return on investment in engineering R&D and encourage the reinvestment of profits
- Encourage risk taking in the use of new technologies and innovation strategies to develop projects and the commercialization processes
- Encourage the improvement of design standards related to mitigating the effects of human-induced and natural hazards
- Apply equally to all corporations
- Encourage collaborative research, which leverages partnerships involving government, university, industry, and non-profit organizations
- Encourage investment in new and upgraded research facilities through more favorable depreciation rules and equipment credits
The US position in global markets is threatened by our inadequate emphasis on engineering R&D and the corresponding increase in this emphasis by our global competitors. Tax policies have a powerful influence on business investment decisions. Consequently, US R&D tax policy has a tremendous impact on R&D investment.
The R&D tax credit was first established in 1981 and was extended and revised repeatedly until made permanent in 2015. Failure to maintain a permanent and meaningful R&D tax credit would add uncertainty to corporate R&D investment planning and effectively reduces their willingness to budget for and invest in R&D activities.
The competitive position of the US is compromised because of our inadequate R&D investment which is partially due to limited tax credits for R&D. Additionally, foreign companies compete fiercely for engineering projects with the assistance of their governments that offer other financial incentives.
A permanent, meaningful US R&D tax credit is essential to ensure that US corporations keep investing in research and development and fully utilize the results during product development. These credits are vital not only to the US maintaining and improving its position as a global leader, but also to provide greater benefits to society at large, corporations, public sector entities, and not-for-profit organizations. R&D investments are legitimate corporate expenses which should be encouraged by the federal government.
ASCE Policy Statement 455
First Approved in 1997