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March 03, 2022 The Tax Lawyer

Incentivizing Innovation

Vol. 75, No. 2 - Winter 2022

by Xuan-Thao Nguyen and Jeffrey A. Maine


This Article advocates for a new approach to incentivizing innovation through the design of ex post tax incentives for research and development (R&D) investment. In contrast to many nations, the United States relies largely on ex ante tax incentives, namely a tax deduction and tax credit for qualified R&D spending. Fundamental design flaws exist with these ex ante incentives; moreover, innovation occurs continuously and yields results at the back end of the innovation cycle. An appropriate framework should take into consideration the key players in the innovation landscape. These players are often treated differently under the tax laws such that incentives for each may be justified. This Article fills a void in the literature, which focuses mostly on ex ante R&D tax incentives, and proposes several new ex post tax incentive options for both corporations and individual inventors. Moreover, this Article redirects the renewed attention focusing on the proper role of government in supporting risky R&D in response to pandemics and the race for future vaccines.

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