Schaefer signs tax bills aiding R&D; companies


Gov. William Donald Schaefer signed into law four bills yesterday that will save research and development companies about $3.75 million in annual sales taxes.

"These new tax bills will give high-tech companies the same tax breaks that manufacturers have enjoyed for decades," said Mark L. Wasserman, secretary of the Department of Economic and Employment Development.

The bills were part of a larger effort announced earlier this year to encourage manufacturing in the state. The effort included streamlining parts of the state's bureaucracy and cutting red tape for companies.

The changes include eliminating duplication in business regulation, consulting with companies before modifying or enacting regulations and giving businesses an opportunity to correct first-time violations without penalties.

The sales tax changes also came after research and development companies complained about aggressive efforts by state employees to collect taxes on business expenses the companies thought were exempted, according to Mitchell Horowitz, technology adviser to the Department of Economic and Employment Development.

The four bills signed by Mr. Schaefer yesterday will:

* Eliminate the sales tax on all materials used in research and development. Previously, only materials that were completely consumed over time were eligible. The measure will save the companies about $1.75 million.

* Eliminate the sales tax on the sale of computer software that is used in other computer products. The measure will save the industry less than $1 million.

* Eliminate sales tax on the purchase of equipment that is used to test finished products. Less than $1 million in sales taxes is affected.

* Give local jurisdictions the option of exempting research and development equipment from personal property taxes. Because the exemption is optional, there is no estimate of its impact on local tax revenues.

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