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Do Repatriation Taxes Matter? Evidence from the Tax Returns of U.S. Multinationals

In: The Effects of Taxation on Multinational Corporations

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  • Rosanne Altshuler

Abstract

An open question in the literature on the taxation of multinational corporations is whether repatriation taxes influence whether the profits of foreign subsidiaries are repatriated or reinvested abroad. Theoretical models suggest that dividend remittances should not be influenced by repatriation taxes. The results of recent empirical work indicate that dividend remittances are sensitive to repatriation taxes. This paper investigates whether the empirical evidence can be reconciled with the theoretical results by recognizing that repatriation taxes on dividends may vary over time and provide firms with an incentive to time repatriations so that they occur in years when repatriation tax rates are relatively low. We use information about cross- country differences in tax rates to separately estimate the influence of permanent tax changes, as would occur due to changes in statutory tax rates, and transitory tax changes on dividend repatriations. Our data contains U.S. tax return information for a large sample of U.S. corporations and their foreign subsidiaries. We find that the permanent tax price effect is significantly different from the transitory price effect and is not significantly different from zero, while the transitory tax price effect is negative and significant. This suggests that repatriation taxes do affect dividend repatriation behavior but only to the extent that they vary over time. Previous empirical work has apparently measured the effect of timing behavior.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Martin Feldstein & James R. Hines Jr. & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1995. "The Effects of Taxation on Multinational Corporations," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feld95-2, October.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 7746.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:7746

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    1. James R. Hines Jr., 1992. "Credit and Deferral as International Investment Incentives," NBER Working Papers 4191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Goodspeed, Timothy & Frisch, Daniel, 1989. "U.S. tax policy and the overseas activities of U.S. multinational corporations: a quantitative assessment," MPRA Paper 39389, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. David F. Bradford, 1979. "The Incidence and Allocation Effects of a Tax on Corporate Distributions," NBER Working Papers 0349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Auerbach, Alan J, 1979. "Wealth Maximization and the Cost of Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 433-46, August.
    5. Leechor, Chad & Mintz, Jack, 1993. "On the taxation of multinational corporate investment when the deferral method is used by the capital exporting country," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 75-96, May.
    6. repec:fth:coluec:478 is not listed on IDEAS
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