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Corporate taxation and the quality of research and development

  • Ernst, Christof
  • Richter, Katharina
  • Riedel, Nadine

This paper examines the impact of tax incentives on corporate research and development (R&D) activity. Traditionally, R&D tax incentives have been provided in the form of special tax allowances and tax credits. In recent years, several countries moreover reduced their income tax rates on R&D output. Previous papers have shown that all three tax instruments are effective in raising the quantity of R&D related activity. We provide evidence that, beyond this quantity effect, corporate taxation also distorts the quality of R&D projects, i.e. their innovativeness and revenue potential. Using rich data on corporate patent applications to the European patent office, we find that a low tax rate on patent income is instrumental in attracting innovative projects with a high earnings potential and innovation level. The effect is statistically significant and economically relevant and prevails in a number of sensitivity checks. R&D tax credits and tax allowances are in turn not found to exert a statistically significant impact on project quality.

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Paper provided by University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID) in its series FZID Discussion Papers with number 66-2013.

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Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:zbw:fziddp:662013
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  1. Dischinger, Matthias & Riedel, Nadine, 2011. "Corporate taxes and the location of intangible assets within multinational firms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 691-707.
  2. Ernst, Christof & Richter, Katharina & Riedel, Nadine, 2013. "Corporate taxation and the quality of research and development," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-010, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  3. Evers, Lisa & Miller, Helen & Spengel, Christoph, 2013. "Intellectual property box regimes: Effective tax rates and tax policy considerations," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-070 [rev.], ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  4. Dietmar Harhoff & Francis Narin & F. M. Scherer & Katrin Vopel, 1999. "Citation Frequency And The Value Of Patented Inventions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(3), pages 511-515, August.
  5. Bronwyn H. Hall & Grid Thoma & Salvatore Torrisi, 2007. "The market value of patents and R&D: Evidence from European firms," NBER Working Papers 13426, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Hall, Bronwyn & Van Reenen, John, 2000. "How effective are fiscal incentives for R&D? A review of the evidence," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(4-5), pages 449-469, April.
  7. Bloom, Nick & Griffith, Rachel & Van Reenen, John, 2002. "Do R&D tax credits work? Evidence from a panel of countries 1979-1997," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 1-31, July.
  8. Thiess Buettner & Georg Wamser, 2009. "The impact of nonprofit taxes on foreign direct investment: evidence from German multinationals," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 298-320, June.
  9. Karkinsky, Tom & Riedel, Nadine, 2012. "Corporate taxation and the choice of patent location within multinational firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 176-185.
  10. Laura Abramovsky & Rachel Griffith & Gareth Macartney & Helen Miller, 2008. "The location of innovative activity in Europe," IFS Working Papers W08/10, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  11. Paff Lolita A, 2005. "State-Level R&D Tax Credits: A Firm-Level Analysis," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-27, September.
  12. Christoph Ernst & Katharina Richter & Nadine Riedel, 2013. "Corporate taxation and the quality of research & development," Working Papers 1301, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
  13. Theresa Lohse & Nadine Riedel, 2013. "Do Transfer Pricing Laws Limit International Income Shifting? Evidence from European Multinationals," CESifo Working Paper Series 4404, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Becker, Johannes & Fuest, Clemens & Riedel, Nadine, 2012. "Corporate tax effects on the quality and quantity of FDI," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1495-1511.
  15. Devereux, Michael P. & Griffith, Rachel, 2002. "Evaluating Tax Policy for Location Decisions," CEPR Discussion Papers 3247, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Griffith, Rachel & Miller, Helen & O'Connell, Martin, 2011. "Corporate taxes and the location of intellectual property," CEPR Discussion Papers 8424, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Johannes Becker & Clemens Fuest, 2007. "Quality versus Quantity – The Composition Effect of Corporate Taxation on Foreign Direct Investment," CESifo Working Paper Series 2126, CESifo Group Munich.
  18. Jean O. Lanjouw & Mark Schankerman, 2004. "Patent Quality and Research Productivity: Measuring Innovation with Multiple Indicators," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 441-465, 04.
  19. Grid Thoma & Salvatore Torrisi & Alfonso Gambardella & Dominique Guellec & Bronwyn H. Hall & Dietmar Harhoff, 2010. "Harmonizing and Combining Large Datasets - An Application to Firm-Level Patent and Accounting Data," NBER Working Papers 15851, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Theresa Lohse & Nadine Riedel & Christoph Spengel, 2012. "The Increasing Importance of Transfer Pricing Regulations – a Worldwide Overview," Working Papers 1227, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
  21. Joshua Lerner, 1994. "The Importance of Patent Scope: An Empirical Analysis," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(2), pages 319-333, Summer.
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