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Chipmakers might find that US subsidies have fine print

by on01 March 2023

The government might want a share of your profits 

Big Tech hoping to make a killing by having their chip expansion plans financed by the US government might want to look at the small print.

Big chip makers have been looking to the US government which wants to shorten supply chains away from China. The Biden government has promised $52 billion to Big Tech to build high tech fabs under the CHIPS semiconductor subsidy. 

But according to a new document issued by the US Commerce Department companies that receive part of the CHIPS semiconductor subsidy from the US government will have to give up any significant excess profits that they accrue. If companies make much more than they expected, they’ll have to pay money back to the government.

The document said:

“Recipients receiving more than $150 million in CHIPS Direct Funding will be required to share with the U.S. government a portion of any cash flows or returns that exceed the applicant’s projections (above an agreed-upon threshold specified in the award). The Department expects that upside sharing will only be material in instances where the project significantly exceeds its projected cash flows or returns, and will not exceed 75% of the recipient’s direct funding award. Because successful projects will differ considerably in their key attributes, upside sharing arrangements may vary by project, and, in exceptional circumstances, may be waived.”

The Democrats believe it's fair that profits shared from doing exceedingly well are fair recompense for receiving subsidies in the first place. The Republicans have said that the provision exceeds the Commerce Department’s authority granted by Congress.

Ultimately, if the provision allows the government to claw back some of the money it spent in the first place then it will be able to better fund the services it wants to provide and could potentially lead to lower taxes on individuals and businesses.


Last modified on 01 March 2023
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