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Rhode Island: Basic Business Taxes 2011
Rhode Island's economic development, finance, and tax organizations provide a range of incentive programs to initiate new business and commercial investment. Specific programs include corporate income taxes, a sales tax abatement, and the Job Growth Act.
Area Development Online Research Desk (March 2011)
 
Corporate income and apportionment:
Corporations pay only one business tax to the state that uses the U.S. Form 1120 as a basis. Rhode Island's apportionment formula only uses sales shipped to Rhode Island in the sales portion of the gross receipts part of the formula. For tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2004, when calculating income tax payable to the state, a manufacturer with income from business partially within the state may elect to apportion its net income by means of an equal weighted formula or with an increased sales allocation fraction. Beginning on or after January 1, 2005, the alternate formula allows for 25 percent of the property factor, 25 percent of the payroll factor, and 50 percent of the sales factor. Affiliated multistate corporations may file single separate Rhode Island corporate returns or file a consolidated return. In either case, the net income is subject to apportionment.

Rhode Island has a 7 percent Sales or Use Tax, Unemployment Compensation fund tax, and local property taxes. There are no county taxes or governments in Rhode Island.

Sales Tax Abatement:
Firms using bond financing programs offered through the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation or which are given "Project Status" by the RIEDC are exempt from Rhode Island sales tax on construction materials and equipment, furniture, fixtures, machinery, computers and equipment for the facility that are not already exempt from sales tax under other provisions of the state law, e.g.: pollution control equipment. To be considered for project status, a project must result in firms wages exceeding the median annual wage by 5 percent (105 percent of median annual wage) for full-time jobs (minimum of 30 hours per week) and gain approval by the RIEDC.

Job Growth Act - Income tax reduction on performance-based income:
The jobs Growth Act of 2005 (RIGL 42-64.11-1) allows eligible businesses in any industry to offer their employees an exclusion of 50 percent of performance-based compensation from their Rhode Island gross income. In return, the company pays a 5 percent tax each year on the performance-based income paid that year. In order to qualify, a company must hire 100 new employees in the state and add at least $10 million to its state payroll. Those new workers must earn at least 125 percent of the state's annual average compensation. Employees must be hired or relocated after June 1, 2005 and cannot have been previously employed by the company. The tax cut applies only to bonus or incentive income, not base salary.

Corporate income tax rate reduction:
The Rhode Island Jobs Development Act grants incremental income tax reductions to companies that create new employment in Rhode Island after July 1, 1995. The new jobs reduce a company's corporate income tax rate (currently 9 percent) by a quarter percentage point (0.25) for each 50 new jobs created during a three-year period. For companies with fewer than 100 employees, the tax reduction occurs if at least 10 jobs are added during a three-year period. The maximum reduction is 6 percent, allowing the present state income tax to be reduced to as low as 3 percent. New employees must be paid at least 250 percent of the state minimum wage, which is presently $7.40 per hour. The rate reduction is permanent as long as the company maintains the same level of employment that it had at the end of the third year following the election of the base period.

Investment tax credits:
A manufacturer is allowed 4 percent tax credit against the Rhode Island business corporation tax and the personal income tax on new facilities and machinery and equipment used in the production process.

The 4 percent investment tax credit may not reduce the taxpayer's liability below minimum tax ($250). Unused credits may be carried forward for up to seven years. Manufacturers may elect to use a three-factor equal weight apportionment or a three-factor with sales double weighted. They may elect the apportionment formula that benefits them the most each year.

"High performance" manufacturers are allowed a 10 percent credit against the Rhode Island business corporation tax and the personal income tax on newly purchased or constructed facilities or structural components, and machinery and equipment used in the production process. The 10 percent investment tax credit may not reduce the taxpayer's liability below 50 percent of the taxpayers total tax liability before credits for that year. Unused credits may be carried forward for up to seven years. Manufacturers may not take the 10 percent and the 4 percent tax credits on the same items.

"Qualified taxpayers" (firms paying above average wages or investing significantly in worker training) are able to take a 10 percent credit on leased or tangible personal property and other tangible property acquired, constructed, reconstructed, or erected on or after January 1, 1998. To qualify, the firm must be a "qualified taxpayer" and meet one of the four "high performance" criteria. The 10 percent investment tax credit applies to items acquired after January 1, 1998. The credit is not allowed on office equipment, trucks, vehicles, and miscellaneous workshop tools. Except for "high performance" manufacturers, the investment tax credit may not reduce the taxpayer's liability below 50 percent of the taxpayers total tax liability before credits for that year. Unused credits may be carried forward for up to seven years.

Research and development:
A 22.5 percent tax credit is allowed for increases in qualified research expenses - the highest rate in America. If the increase above base period expenditures exceeds $111,111, the credit equals 16.9 percent of the excess. The credit is available to corporations, sole proprietors or passed through from partnerships, joint ventures, or subchapter S-corporations. Unused credit may be carried forward for up to seven years.

A taxpayer is allowed 10 percent tax credit for expenditures paid or incurred during the taxable year for the construction, reconstruction, erection, or acquisition of any property that is used or to be used for the purpose of research and development in the experimental or laboratory sense. The property must be depreciable and have a useful life of three years or more. The credit is available to corporations, sole proprietors or passed through from partnerships, joint ventures, or subchapter S-corporations. Unused credit may be carried forward for up to seven years.

In lieu of depreciation or investment tax, a taxpayer is allowed a one-year write-off for expenditures paid or incurred during the taxable year for the construction, reconstruction, erection, or acquisition of any property that is used or to be used for the purpose of research and development in the experimental or laboratory sense.

Sales of scientific equipment, computers, software and related items to a qualifying firm to be used predominantly by that firm for research and development purposes are exempt from Rhode Island Sales Tax.

Job training tax credit:
The job training tax credit grants a credit against the corporate income tax (or the insurance premium tax in the case of insurance companies) equal to 50 percent of the actual training spending, whether for new or existing employees, by companies in accordance with an approved training plan. Plans must be filed with the Rhode Island Human Resources Investment Council for approval prior to the training. The credit allowed is capped at $5,000 for each employee in any three-year period.

 
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