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Manufacturers Call for Repeal of Anti-Competitive R&D Tax Policy

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This story can also be found within the NAM’s R&D action center.

In an industry where technology and processes can change quickly, manufacturers in the United States must be able to invest, grow and maintain their edge against foreign competitors. At a time when China is providing extensive support for its manufacturing industry, the NAM is pushing to ensure that the men and women who make things in America have the tools they need to succeed. 

The challenge: Right now, China’s tax policies offer significant incentives for research and development. For example, China offers a super deduction for manufacturers performing R&D by allowing them to deduct 200% of their R&D expenses. This policy makes it more attractive for manufacturers in China to invest in innovation—and to out-compete manufacturers in the United States.

The comparison: Meanwhile, U.S. manufacturers, who drive more innovation than any other sector, face a harmful tax change that if not reversed will hurt jobs, innovation and competitiveness.

  • Up until January 2022, a business in the United States could deduct 100% of their R&D expenses in the year during which those expenses occurred.
  • But a change in the tax code that took effect this year now requires businesses to spread those deductions over a period of years—the so-called amortization requirement—making investment in innovation more expensive to conduct.

Recent action: This week, the NAM rallied the business community to urge Congress to repeal the recent tax change, so that businesses can continue to innovate, bolster the economy and create well-paying jobs.

  • “Failing to reverse this change will cost well-paying jobs and reduce future innovation-directed R&D,” according to the NAM’s letter, which was signed by more than 400 companies and business organizations.
  • “Requiring the amortization of research expenses will reduce R&D spending and lead to a loss of more than 20,000 R&D jobs in the first five years with the number of lost jobs rising to nearly 60,000 over the following five years. Moreover, when accounting for the spillover effect from R&D spending, nearly three times as many jobs will be affected.”
  • “At a time of increasingly fierce global competition for research dollars, this change will make it harder for the next R&D dollar to be spent in the U.S. which will ultimately hurt future U.S. competitiveness.”

What we’re saying: “Research and development is the lifeblood of manufacturing,” said NAM Senior Director of Tax Policy David Eiselsberg. “It is what drives innovation, competitiveness, economic growth and the creation of high-paying jobs. But that is all at risk unless Congress quickly acts to repeal the harmful change in the tax treatment of R&D expenses.”

Finer point: “If Congress and the administration do nothing, small manufacturers will face a huge tax increase at the end of the year,” NAM Executive Vice President Erin Streeter warned. “This will have a crippling effect—and we’re mobilizing support at the NAM across the industry to get another hard-fought priority done.”

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