Policymakers actively marginalized the manufacturing sector by saddling them with cost recovery rules that prevent them from deducting the full cost of investment in physical plant and equipment. Going forward, policymakers should avoid haphazard fixes, targeted measures, and protectionism.
We estimate that moving to permanent full expensing and neutral cost recovery for structures would add more than 1 million full-time equivalent jobs to the long-run economy and boost the long-run capital stock by $4.8 trillion.
Cost recovery is the way the tax code permits firms to recover (or deduct) the cost of making investments. Cost recovery plays an important role in defining a business’ taxable income and can impact investment decisions.
Studies have shown that accelerated depreciation helps increase wage growth. A recent report found that states that implemented accelerated depreciation in their tax codes led to a 2.5 percent increase in compensation per employee in manufacturing, relative to states that did not.
While tax rates matter to businesses, so too does the measure of income to which those tax rates apply. The corporate income tax is a tax on profits, normally defined as revenue minus costs. However, under the current tax code, businesses are unable to deduct the full cost of certain expenses—their capital investments—meaning the tax code is not neutral and actually increases the cost of investment.
Permanent full expensing for all types of investment is an effective policy change lawmakers can use to encourage additional investment and economic growth.
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The ideal treatment is to match the tax code to a firm’s cash flow—allow immediate deductions for all expenses, including all forms of investment, while taxing the resulting returns from the investments.
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