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Why Manufacturers Need R&D Tax Certainty

This story can also be found within the NAM’s R&D action center.

For companies like O-I Glass, Inc.—a glass manufacturing company headquartered in Perrysburg, Ohio—research and development just got a lot more expensive.

Until the beginning of 2022, businesses including manufacturers could deduct 100% of their R&D expenses in the same year they incurred the expenses—but a change in the tax law that took effect this year required businesses to spread deductions over a five-year timeframe. O-I Vice President of Global Tax and Business Services Scott Gedris explained how that impacts the company.

The scale: With 17 plants in 13 states around the country—and 70 plants in 19 countries around the world—O-I has a significant reach, serving both large multinational companies and smaller customers like microbrewers and small batch spirits manufacturers.

  • The scale of the operation means that O-I invests significantly in R&D, working to develop innovative processes and specific product designs to meet individual customer needs.
  • “If you look at our public financial statements, we spent $82 million in 2021 on R&D—primarily in the U.S.—and that is a significant investment for us,” said Gedris.

Case in point: In the past decade, O-I has invested heavily in developing more effective, efficient and sustainable processes. In 2011, it built a 24,000-square-foot R&D facility on its Perrysburg, Ohio, campus and has announced plans for a new glass manufacturing facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky, using technology developed at the Ohio facility.

  • Because the company spends so much of its resources on R&D, a significant increase in the cost of investment would require it to make difficult decisions.
  • “Anything that comes out of this in terms of tax dollars … creates a choice within our organization about where we allocate our capital,” said Gedris.

Environmental effects: At a time when O-I is making important investments in sustainability, a significant reduction in available resources could present obstacles to the company’s environmental goals.

  • “When we rebuild a glass manufacturing furnace, that is a multimillion-dollar investment. The cost continues to increase with inflation and investment in modern technology that we need in order to meet our corporate sustainability goals,” said Gedris.
  • “With the cost of that equipment increasing, if we’ve got $10 million less because of increased taxes, we need to evaluate whether we are going to rebuild a glass furnace in one of our 17 U.S. plants, or are we going to defer that? Alternatively, those dollars could come out of our R&D spend, which will impact what we are able to invest in future technology improvements.”

Human impact: Investments in innovation and R&D don’t just create better products and processes for consumers; they also support local economies across the country.

  • “When we invest in a glass manufacturing furnace in these towns, it’s an investment in the community,” said Gedris. “We’ve got multigenerational glass manufacturers in those facilities. It’s a project that people depend on, and they have a lot of pride in the product and the processes at their facility.”

The last word: “When you’re investing in R&D, you’re investing long term—and that means you need certainty in the tax policy,” said Gedris.

Visit the NAM’s R&D Action Center for critical R&D policy updates, industry stories and an opportunity to engage directly with your members of Congress.

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