Senators look to make R&D credit permanent

The tech industry ought to like this one.

The bipartisan leadership of the Senate Finance Committee today introduced a bill that would make the tax credit companies enjoy for research and development permanent.

This is a long-simmering issue for tech companies, who maintain — quite reasonably — that greater tax incentives for research and development would help keep the sorts of companies that thrive on shepherding innovation from the lab to the market competitive with their overseas rivals.

“Technology is one of our nation’s leading exports, and firms throughout the U.S. profit from the innovations that are developed here,” Orrin Hatch, the ranking Republican on the committee, said in a statement introducing the bill.

Hatch signed onto the bill as a cosponsor with Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who chairs the committee.

In addition to making the R&D tax credit permanent, the Baucus-Hatch bill would also strengthen the simplified alternative credit, which offers businesses more flexibility in claiming tax breaks for basic research.

The R&D tax credit was written into law in 1981, and has expired 13 times since as Congress has debated multiyear extensions. Making the R&D tax credit permanent was a plank of the technology platforms of both Barack Obama and John McCain in last year’s election.

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