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Break Time: U.S. Considers Potential “Patent Box”

As the 2016 presidential campaign looms ahead, talk of tax reform and economic growth has already begun. One potential change coming up in the years ahead could be a tax break for corporate innovation.

Competition for patents and other intellectual property continues to increase, and in some parts of the world, this type of RD is not only encouraged but rewarded come tax season. Certain countries have already implemented what is known as the “patent box,” an income tax incentive designed to give corporations a lower tax rate on profits related to patents and intellectual property.

The UK first applied the patent box back in 2013, in an effort to provide relief to companies investing largely in RD and intellectual property. Though controversial, the box significantly reduced corporate tax rates for any patent-related profits to just 10%, nearly half the normal corporate percentage.

Norway also implemented its own incentive called the “innovation box” in 2007, which gave companies earning profits from “technology-based intangible assets” a break. Corporate income tax on these profits dropped from a rate of 25.5% down to 5% in 2010. Qualifying conditions include profits earned from patents, RD certificates and in some cases copyright and trademarks.

Now, supporters from both political parties are pushing for the U.S. to follow suit in the hopes that it will help guide innovation back home and give patent and IP holders even more incentive to create.

In a recent post by the Wall Street Journal, Patent Box supporter Senator Rob Portman (R., Ohio) stated that, “For years, the U.S. has been uncompetitive because we have the highest corporate rate in the developed world. Now, there is another reason that the U.S. is falling behind- patent boxes. By standing still, the U.S. is falling behind…”