Joint Tax Committee Summary of Section 1401 of House Bill 2488 IH.
Re: extending the R&D tax credit for 5 years, and increasing the alternative incremental credit.
Date: July 13, 1999.
Source: Joint Tax Committee. This document was created by Tech Law Journal by scanning pages 211 through 213 of a paper copy of the JTC summary, and converting into HTML.
XIV. EXTENSION OF EXPIRING PROVISIONS
A. Extension of Research Tax Credit
Section 41 provides for a research tax credit equal to 20 percent of the amount by which a taxpayer's qualified research expenditures for a taxable year exceeded its base amount for that year. The research tax credit expired and generally does not apply to amounts paid or incurred after June 30, 1999.
A 20-percent research tax credit also applied to the excess of (1) 100 percent of corporate cash expenditures (including grants or contributions) paid for basic research conducted by universities (and certain nonprofit scientific research organizations) over (2) the sum of (a) the greater of two minimum basic research floors plus (b) an amount reflecting any decrease in nonresearch giving to universities by the corporation as compared to such giving during a fixed-base period, as adjusted for inflation. This separate credit computation is commonly referred to as the "university basic research credit" (see sec. 41 (e)).
Computation of allowable credit
|134 A special rule is designed to gradually recompute a start-up firm's fixed-base percentage based on its actual research experience. Under this special rule, a start-up firm will be assigned a fixed-base percentage of 3 percent for each of its first five taxable years after 1993 in which it incurs qualified research expenditures. In the event that the research credit is extended beyond the scheduled expiration date, a start-up firm's fixed-based percentage for its sixth through tenth taxable years after 1993 in which it incurs qualified research expenditures will be a phased-in ratio based on its actual research experience. For all subsequent taxable years, the taxpayer's fixed-based percentage will be its actual ratio of qualified research expenditures to gross receipts for any five years selected by the taxpayer from its fifth through tenth taxable years after 1993 (sec. 41(c)(3)(B)).|
Except for certain university basic research payments made by corporations, the research tax credit applies only to the extent that the taxpayer's qualified research expenditures for the current taxable year exceed its base amount. The base amount for the current year generally is computed by multiplying the taxpayer's "fixed-base percentage" by the average amount of the taxpayer's gross receipts for the four preceding years. If a taxpayer both incurred qualified research expenditures and had gross receipts during each of at least three years from 1984 through 1988, then its "percentage" is the ratio that its total qualified research expenditures for the 1984-1988 period bears to its total gross receipts for that period (subject to a maximum ratio of .16). All other taxpayers (so-called "start-up firms") are assigned a fixed-base percentage of 3 percent.134
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In computing the credit, a taxpayer's base amount may not be less than 50 percent of its current-year qualified research expenditures.
Alternative incremental research credit regime
Taxpayers are allowed to elect an alternative incremental research credit regime. If a taxpayer elects to be subject to this alternative regime, the taxpayer is assigned a three-tiered fixed-base percentage (that is lower than the fixed-base percentage otherwise applicable under present law) and the credit rate likewise is reduced. Under the alternative credit regime, a credit rate of 1.65 percent applies to the extent that a taxpayer's current-year research expenses exceed a base amount computed by using a fixed-base percentage of 1 percent (i.e., the base amount equals 1 percent of the taxpayers average gross receipts for the four preceding years) but do not exceed a base amount computed by using a fixed-base percentage of 1.5 percent A credit rate of 2.2 percent applies to the extent that a taxpayer's current-year research expenses exceed a base amount computed by using a fixed-base percentage of 1.5 percent but do not exceed a base amount computed by using a fixed-base percentage of 2 percent. A credit rate of 2.75 percent applies to the extent that a taxpayer's current-year research expenses exceed a base amount computed by using a fixed-base percentage of 2 percent. An election to be subject to this alternative incremental credit regime applies to the taxable year in which the election is made and all subsequent years (in the event that the credit subsequently is extended by Congress) unless revoked with the consent of the Secretary of the Treasury.
|135 Under a special rule, 75 percent of amounts paid or incurred by a taxpayer to a research consortium for qualified research is treated as qualified research expenses eligible for the research credit (rather than 65 percent under the general rule under sec. 41(b)(3) governing contract research expenses) if (1) such research consortium is a tax-exempt organization that is described in section 501(c)(3) (other than a private foundation) or section 501(c)(6) and is organized and operated primarily to conduct scientific research, and (2) such qualified research is conducted by the consortium on behalf of the taxpayer and one or more persons not related to the taxpayer.|
Qualified research expenditures eligible for the research tax credit consist of: (1) "in-house" expenses of the taxpayer for wages and supplies attributable to qualified research; (2) certain time-sharing costs for computer use in qualified research; and (3) 65 percent of amounts paid by the taxpayer for qualified research conducted on the taxpayer's behalf (so-called "contract research expenses").135
To be eligible for the credit, the research must not only satisfy the requirements of present-law section 174 but must be undertaken for the purpose of discovering information that is technological in nature, the application of which is intended to be useful in the development of a new or improved business component of the taxpayer, and must pertain to functional aspects, performance, reliability, or quality of a business component.
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Expenditures attributable to research that is conducted outside the United States do not enter into the credit computation. In addition, the credit is not available for research in the social sciences, arts, or humanities, nor is it available for research to the extent funded by any grant, contract, or otherwise by another person (or governmental entity),
Relation to deduction
Deductions allowed to a taxpayer under section 174 (or any other section) are reduced by an amount equal to 100 percent of the taxpayer's research tax credit determined for the taxable year. Taxpayers may alternatively elect to claim a reduced research tax credit amount under section 41 in lieu of reducing deductions otherwise allowed (sec. 280C(c)(3)).
Description of Proposal
The research tax credit would be extended for five years--i.e., generally, for the period July 1, 1999 through June 30, 2004.
In addition, the credit rate applicable under the alternative incremental credit would be increased by one percentage point per step, that is, from 1.65 percent to 2.65 percent when a taxpayer's current-year research expenses exceed a base amount of 1 percent but do not exceed a base amount of 1.5 percent; from 2.2 percent to 3.2 percent when a taxpayer's current-year research expenses exceed a base amount of 1.5 percent but do not exceed a base amount of 2 percent; and from 2.75 percent to 3.75 percent when a taxpayer's current-year research expenses exceed a base amount of 2 percent.
Extension of the research credit would be effective for qualified research expenditures paid or incurred during the period July 1, 1999, through June 30, 2004. The increase in the credit rate under the alternative incremental credit would be effective for taxable years beginning after June 30, 1999.