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Earnings Shocks and Tax-Motivated Income-Shifting: Evidence from European Multinationals

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  • Dhammika Dharmapala

    ()
    (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign)

  • Nadine Riedel

    ()
    (Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation)

Abstract

This paper presents a new approach to estimating the existence and magnitude of tax-motivated income shifting within multinational corporations. Existing studies of income shifting use changes in corporate tax rates as a source of identification. In contrast, this paper exploits exogenous earnings shocks at the parent firm and investigates how these shocks propagate across low-tax and high-tax multinational subsidiaries. This approach is implemented using a large panel of European multinational affiliates over the period 1995 -2005. The central result is that parents’ positive earnings shocks are associated with a significantly positive increase in pretax profits at low-tax affiliates, relative to the effect on the pretax profits of high-tax affiliates. The result is robust to controlling for various other differences between low-tax and high-tax affiliates and for country-pair-year fixed effects. Additional tests suggest that the estimated effect is attributable primarily to the strategic use of debt across affiliates. The magnitude of income shifting estimated using this approach is substantial, but somewhat smaller than that found in the previous literature.

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Paper provided by Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation in its series Working Papers with number 1101.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:btx:wpaper:1101

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  1. Bartelsman, Eric J & Beetsma, Roel, 2000. "Why Pay More? Corporate Tax Avoidance Through Transfer Pricing in OECD Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 2543, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. John W. Budd & Jozef Konings & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2002. "Wages and International Rent Sharing in Multinational Firms," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 522, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  3. Thiess Buettner & Michael Overesch & Ulrich Schreiber & Georg Wamser, 2006. "The Impact of Thin-Capitalization Rules on Multinationals' Financing and Investment Decisions," Working Papers 2006-06, University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.
  4. Marianne Bertrand & Paras Mehta & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2000. "Ferreting Out Tunneling: An Application to Indian Business Groups," NBER Working Papers 7952, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Thiess Buettner & Georg Wamser, 2007. "Intercompany Loans and Profit Shifting – Evidence from Company-Level Data," CESifo Working Paper Series 1959, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. European Commission, 2006. "Taxation trends in the European Union: 2006 edition," Taxation trends 2006, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
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Cited by:
  1. Keser, Claudia & Kimpel, Gerrit & Oestreicher, Andreas, 2014. "The CCCTB option: An experimental study," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 199, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  2. Robert Krämer & Vilen Lipatov, 2013. "The Effect of Corporate Taxation and Ownership on Raising Shareholder Capital," CESifo Working Paper Series 4436, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Claudia Keser & Gerrit Kimpel & Andreas Oestreicher, 2014. "The CCCTB option – an experimental study," CIRANO Working Papers 2014s-24, CIRANO.
  4. Evers, Maria Theresia & Meier, Ina & Spengel, Christoph, 2014. "Transparency in financial reporting: Is country-by-country reporting suitable to combat international profit shifting?," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-015, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  5. Hope, Ole-Kristian & Ma, Mark (Shuai) & Thomas, Wayne B., 2013. "Tax avoidance and geographic earnings disclosure," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 170-189.
  6. Heckemeyer, Jost H. & Overesch, Michael, 2013. "Multinationals' profit response to tax differentials: Effect size and shifting channels," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-045, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  7. Johannes Becker & Ronald B. Davies, 2014. "A Negotiation-Based Model of Tax-Induced Transfer Pricing," CESifo Working Paper Series 4892, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Dirk Schindler & Guttorm Schjelderup, 2013. "Transfer Pricing and Debt Shifting in Multinationals," CESifo Working Paper Series 4381, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. Fuest, Clemens & Spengel, Christoph & Finke, Katharina & Heckemeyer, Jost & Nusser, Hannah, 2013. "Profit shifting and 'aggressive' tax planning by multinational firms: Issues and options for reform," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-044, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  10. Dhammika Dharmapala, 2014. "What Do We Know About Base Erosion and Profit Shifting? A Review of the Empirical Literature," CESifo Working Paper Series 4612, CESifo Group Munich.

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