The fact that incumbent firms can immediately deduct research and development (R&D) investments from taxable income is generally believed to give them a strategic advantage over new firms that cannot deduct the investment cost, but instead generate a net operating tax loss carryover. Using an analytical model, we show that this conventional wisdom need not hold in a competitive environment. We examine operating and investment decisions in a duopolistic industry in which an initial investment in R&D yields an immediate tax benefit for one firm, but creates a net operating loss carryover for the other firm. If both firms invest in R&D, the firm with the net operating loss carryover makes more aggressive capital investment decisions following successful R&D. This may deter the incumbent firm from investing in R&D despite the lower aftertax costs of this investment. Changing the tax loss carryover rules would thus not only affects start-up or loss firms, but would also affect the investment decisions of profitable firms in the same industry.
- net operating loss carryovers
- D investments
- capital expenditures