AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

Australia’s contribution to achieving global food security: to what extent can reform of the federal research and development tax incentives assist?

by Victoria Roberts

Institution: University of New South Wales
Department: Taxation and Business Law
Year: 2015
Keywords: Global food security; R&D; Research and Development Tax Incentive; Agriculture; Tax policy; Innovation; R&D tax incentive; Pragmatism; Sustainability; Japan; South Africa; United States; Australia; Comparative tax research; Socio-legal; Tax reform; Global social challenge
Record ID: 1065809
Full text PDF: http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/54455


This thesis proposes a legislative model Research and Development Tax Incentive (RDTI) for Australia to stimulate greater private investment in agricultural research and development (R&D), thereby increasing Australia’s contribution to global food security. A review of the food security literature demonstrates that underinvestment in agricultural R&D is diminishing the world’s capacity to sustainably provide food security for all. The international literature on tax policy and reform, whilst generally silent on the specific challenge of food security, does confirm the positive role that taxation measures can potentially play in assisting with contemporary social challenges. Guided by pragmatism, this socio-legal reform orientated thesis undertakes comparative case studies of RDTIs from Japan, South Africa and the United States to elicit their strengths and weaknesses and identify best practice. These findings, together with a critical analysis of the existing Australian RDTI law, are drawn together in developing the proposed legislative model. The merit of the model is also considered in terms of the widely accepted criteria of a good tax system, namely certainty and administrative efficiency (including simplicity and compliance costs), in conjunction with the potential to contribute to global food security. In an attempt to integrate taxation and innovation with other economic objectives, the model RDTI legislatively incorporates national strategic research priorities to produce a more cohesive approach to R&D reform. This approach is designed to direct finite government funding towards targeted areas of national concern. It is envisioned that the model Australian RDTI could be adopted by other tax jurisdictions, or alternatively, adapted to encourage innovative approaches to other social challenges (domestic or global) in a relatively flexible and timely manner. The thesis demonstrates both the potential and merit for innovative tailoring of tax provisions which embrace benevolent aspirations alongside national economic objectives. The model RDTI is an example of how well-drafted legislation underpinned by clear policy intent can drive meaningful and strategic tax reform for the betterment of society as a whole.