Do Tax Policies Drive Innovation by SMEs in China?
Journal of Small Business Management, 2020, Forthcoming
54 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2017 Last revised: 18 Mar 2020
Date Written: June 28, 2017
There is little empirical evidence showing how innovation by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is impacted by tax policies, especially SMEs from developing countries. We study the economic rationales for R&D tax incentives and explore how targeted policies of corporate tax credits (firm-specific) and value-added tax credits (product-specific) in China impact the domestic SMEs’ R&D investment and R&D output. The “finance gap” theory can explain the R&D increase by SMEs induced by corporate tax credits but cannot explain the effectiveness or the ineffectiveness of value-added tax credits on R&D incentives. We find a stringent corporate tax policy with narrowly tailored R&D thresholds for tax credits can positively incentivize R&D and patent applications by SMEs. We also find that a value-added tax policy without any R&D thresholds is overinclusive in terms of its impact on the subsidized SMEs’ innovation. Value-added tax credits cannot induce R&D when they do not confer subsidies or a competitive advantage on SMEs. However, we find that the value-added tax policy creates a spillover effect on R&D by SMEs in other technology sectors who may choose to qualify for these value-added tax credits.
Keywords: Small and medium enterprise, Corporate tax credits, Value-added tax credits, Innovation
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