Paul L. Caron

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hasen: Taxation And Innovation

David Hasen (Colorado), Taxation and Innovation: A Sectorial Approach, 2017 U. Ill. L. Rev. 1043:

A number of tax rules have been adopted or proposed to promote innovation. The primary justification for these rules is that they can be effective in reducing or eliminating chronic market failure in the innovation sector. This paper argues that special tax rules for innovation generally are inappropriate.

The basic circumstance giving rise to market failure in the innovation sector is the positive externality associated with information production. Special tax rules do not correct the externality; they merely compensate for it through other mechanisms that themselves create deadweight loss. In place of special tax rules that promote innovation, policy makers should adopt rules that counteract disproportionately large tax-induced distortions in the innovation sector. Among these distortions is excess risk-taking, a phenomenon attributable to the lognormal nature of returns to risk-bearing.

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