The Economics of Research and Development: How Research and Development Capital Affects Production and Markets and is Affected by Tax Incentives

98 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2006


The authors propose four economic principles for use in deciding taxing responsibilities for various levels of government. These are: 1) efficiency of the internal common market - for efficiency in internal common market, taxes on mobile factors and tradable goods should either be assigned to the national government or coordinated among subnational governments; 2) national equity - progressive redistributive taxes ought to be assigned to the level of government having responsibility for redistribution, usually the national government. Subnational governments could levy supplementary flat rates on the federal tax base; 3) administrative costs - to minimize collection, administration, and compliance costs, a tax should be assigned to the level likely to be best informed about its base. This suggests assigning real property taxation to local governments and corporate income taxation to the national government; and 4) fiscal need - to ensure accountability, revenue means should be matched as closely as possible to revenue needs. Thus tax instruments intended to further specific policy objectives should be assigned to the level of government having the responsibility for such a service. Thus progressive redistributive taxes, stabilization instruments, and resource rent taxes would be suitable for assignment to national government; while tolls on intermunicipal roads are suitably assigned to state governments. Some resource taxes, such as royalties and fees and severance taxes on production and/or output, are designed to cover costs of local service provision and could be assigned to subnational governments. In addition, subnational governments could also impose taxes to discourage local environmental degradation. In countries with a federal level VAT, it may be too cumbersome to have subnational sales taxes. In such circumstances, the fiscal need criterion would suggest allowing subnational governments access to taxes which are traditionally regarded as suitable for national administration, such as personal income taxes. The authors also stress the importance of tax harmonization and coordination in preserving internal common market, reducing collection and compliance costs and helping to achieve national equity objectives and suggest methods of achieving such coordination vertically (between the federal and subnational governments) and horizontally (among subnational governments).

Keywords: public finance, tax policy, municipal finance, fiscal federalism

JEL Classification: E62, H23, O32

Suggested Citation

Shah, Anwar, The Economics of Research and Development: How Research and Development Capital Affects Production and Markets and is Affected by Tax Incentives. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 1325. Available at SSRN:

Anwar Shah (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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