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Tax Treatment of Business Investments in Intellectual Assets: An International Comparison

  • Jacek Warda
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    In a knowledge-based economy, business performance and overall levels of economic growth are increasingly dependent on the development and exploitation of intellectual assets. A number of OECD countries offer tax incentives to encourage and reward business expenditures on intellectual assets. This working paper examines the tax treatment of corporate expenditures on selected intellectual assets and develops an indicator of the relative generosity of tax systems in OECD countries to such investments. Five types of intellectual assets are considered: research and development (R&D), patents, workforce training, software and organisational change. The paper shows that although tax incentives have, to date, mainly favoured R&D expenditures, they are gradually embracing other types of intellectual assets, especially in those countries that provide more generous tax treatment of R&D. Nineteen OECD countries had specific R&D tax incentives in place in 2005, up from only 12 in 1996, and 6 offered tax incentives for corporate training. Dans une économie du savoir, la performance des entreprises et les taux de croissance économique globaux dépendent de plus en plus du développement et de l’exploitation d’actifs intellectuels. Un certain nombre de pays de l’OCDE appliquent des mesures d’incitation fiscale afin d’encourager et de valoriser les dépenses des entreprises portant sur des actifs intellectuels. Ce document de travail examine le régime fiscal des dépenses des entreprises portant sur certains actifs intellectuels et définit un indicateur de la générosité relative des systèmes fiscaux des pays de l’OCDE vis-à-vis de ces investissements. Cinq catégories d’actifs intellectuels sont envisagées : recherche et développement (R-D), brevets, formation de la main-d’oeuvre, logiciels et changement organisationnel. La note montre que, si les incitations fiscales ont surtout à ce jour favorisé les dépenses de R-D, elles s’appliquent aussi de plus en plus à d’autres catégories d’actifs intellectuels, surtout dans les pays qui accordent déjà un régime fiscal plus généreux à la R-D. Dix-huit pays de l’OCDE appliquaient des mesures d’incitation fiscale spécifique à la R-D en 2005, au lieu de 12 seulement en 1996, et 6 d’entre eux appliquaient des mesures d’incitation fiscale aux dépenses de formation des entreprises.

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    Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers with number 2006/4.

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    Date of creation: 22 May 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:oec:stiaaa:2006/4-en
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