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Policy Statement 455 - Research and Development Tax Credits

 

Approved by the Infrastructure and Research Policy Committee on March 16, 2017
Approved by the Public Review Committee on June 5, 2017
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 29, 2017

Policy

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:

  • 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 technology on developing projects and the commercialization of processes;
  • Encourage the improvement of structural design standards related to mitigating the effects of man-made and natural hazards;  
  • Apply equally to both large and small corporations;
  • Encourage collaborative research, which leverages federal R&D funds through government-university-industry partnerships; and,
  • Encourage investment in new and upgraded research facilities through more favorable depreciation rules and equipment credits.

Issue

The U.S. position in global markets is threatened by our de-emphasis on engineering R&D and the corresponding emphasis by our global competitors. Tax policies have a powerful influence on business investment decisions. Consequently, U.S. 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 R&D tax credit would add uncertainty to corporations and effectively reduces their willingness to budget for and invest in R&D activities.

Rationale

The competitive position of the United States is compromised because of our limited 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 offering tax and other financial incentives.  

A permanent, meaningful U.S. R&D tax credit is essential to ensure that U.S. corporations keep funding research and development and fully utilize the results on developing projects. Research and development is a legitimate corporate expense which should be encouraged by the federal government.  

ASCE Policy Statement 455
First Approved in 1997

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