In many countries, tax incentives are a popular means to achieve political, economic and social objectives. Their aim is to reach and accelerate certain activities of public interest. Furthermore, one of the objectives is to accelerate the development of a certain industry and influence the growth of research and investment in foreign capital. Innovation is the key element that helps a company achieve competitive advantage. Global competition is forced to offer unique products with added values on the market. Tax incentives for research and development are an important factor of innovation. This paper aims to present the importance of research and development, as well as the role of tax incentives. States should use their fiscal policy to stimulate investment in research and development through various forms of tax relief. The Republic of Croatia applies tax incentives for research and development, but to a significantly less extent than other European Union countries.