Where is the productivity benefit in R&D tax credits?
作为参数愤怒了澳大利亚政府削减科研经费 - 当前和酝酿 - 至少有研究机构和大学的一些好消息。
新 研究, examining the impact of investment in research and innovation on Australian market sector productivity, reveals the government gets more bang for its buck from investing public money in research agencies and universities than from the almost A$2 billion in R&D tax concessions it presently provides to industry.
事实上，该报告的作者 - 凯文·福克斯，经济学教授和主任 中心应用经济研究at UNSW Business School, along with postdoctoral research fellow Amani Elnasri – find no evidence of any productivity benefit from indirect public support, such as R&D tax concessions for the business enterprise sector, nor from support for civil sector or defence R&D.
“One is that industry relies on these R&D tax credits,” Fox says. This line of argument brands his evidence as ‘too flimsy’ and claims that by ‘saying [credits] don't matter and the government could remove them … this is going to put us out of business and you should just shut up’.
“Another view is: ‘I don't know what these people are complaining about, we never viewed the R&D tax credit as being core to our business, we just treat it as an end-of-financial-year bonus.’ That was probably not what the government wants to hear, though it may suspect that's what many companies view the R&D tax credit as,” Fox says.
Says Fox: “Talking with management consultants, they give me examples of various companies. Such as a mining company that built an access road and called it R&D, so it could claim a tax credit for that.
“Universities and research agencies such as the CSIRO have to justify how they use public funding, such as through peer review of research grant applications. Often with universities it's block grant funding based on documented past research performance. Whereas with the business R&D tax concession, while there are rules and the possibility of an audit, the companies are allowed to self-declare activities as R&D.”
“I can give many reasons why public spending on the R&D tax concession may actually lower private sector productivity,” he says. “And that includes things such as that it allows small firms to exist. And so new firms come into the industry and they typically have lower productivity than incumbents. So if you look at overall productivity, it will go down.
“But you actually want these new entrants coming in because they may be more productive, or simply more profitable, than the incumbents in the future. They bring in new products, services and ideas that can enhance welfare, and this is all good. So, there are reasons I can give why the R&D tax concession may still be beneficial, but if your policy goal is just to raise productivity, then that may not be the most effective way of doing it.
“Rather than spending A$2 billion a year on R&D tax credits, if raising productivity is the policy goal then it may be better to look at funding schemes that could strengthen the connections between business and universities.”
'Our research asks for a better response from industry regarding why the R&D tax concession should be preferred to other types of industry support'凯文·福克斯
“That 研究 is credited with helping to save the UK science budget by providing evidence that shows what matters for our future prosperity is productivity, and if you cut the R&D budget for science you're killing off our future prosperity,” Fox says.
狐狸和elnasri的工作也发挥到一个持续的政策应力之间分配资金有针对性的应用研究 - 也就是说，我们已经知道进一步检查 - 纯净的研究，而不是做出新的发现可能。
“At a minimum, our research asks for a better response from industry regarding why the R&D tax concession should be preferred to other types of industry support."
“[当时]美国经济和其他经济体从滞胀的痛苦是 - 他们有高失业率，高通胀率和经济基本上是停滞不前。没有公司在新的创新活动由于不确定性从经济环境带来的投资，经济回升当他们投资客场我们Wents。投资高科技股票的收益出现了，最后所有的然后有从生产效率。“
But since the global financial crisis of 2008, many firms appear cautious and are not investing in R&D as they have in the past.
“It appears that a lot of firms are carrying a lot of cash, which is unusual. The ABC reported earlier this year that cash balance holdings of Australian firms were now A$111 billion. That’s a lot of money lying around, money that would previously have been put to productive use – investing in R&D, investing in new assets, and so on. That seems to have stalled due to the uncertain business environment,” Fox says.