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Chains of Ownership, Regional Tax Competition, and Foreign Direct Investment

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  • Mihir A. Desai
  • C. Fritz Foley
  • James R. Hines Jr.

Abstract

This paper considers the effect of taxation on the location of foreign direct investment (FDI) and taxable income reported by multinational firms with particular attention to the regional dynamics of tax competition and the role of chains of ownership. Confidential affiliate-level data are used to compare the investment and income-reporting behavior of American-owned foreign affiliates across ownership forms and regions. Ten percent higher tax rates are associated with 5.0 percent lower FDI, controlling for parent company and observable aspects of local economies, and 0.9 percent lower returns on assets, controlling for parent company and level of FDI. Tax effects are particularly strong within Europe, where ten percent higher tax rates are associated with 7.7 percent lower FDI and 1.7 percent lower returns on assets. Indirectly owned foreign affiliates also exhibit strong tax effects, ten percent higher tax rates being associated with 12.0 percent lower FDI and 1.4 percent lower returns on assets. American firms finance a growing fraction of their foreign operations indirectly through chains of ownership, which now account for more than 30 percent of aggregate foreign assets and sales. Ownership chains are particularly concentrated among European affiliates. Since multinational firms from countries other than the United States face tax environments similar to those faced by indirectly owned affiliates of American companies, these results suggest a greater sensitivity of FDI to taxes for non-American firms. The results also suggest that European economic integration may have the effect of intensifying tax competition between European jurisdictions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9224.

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Date of creation: Sep 2002
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9224

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  1. Roger H. Gordon & James R. Hines Jr., 2002. "International Taxation," NBER Working Papers 8854, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hines, James R, Jr & Rice, Eric M, 1994. "Fiscal Paradise: Foreign Tax Havens and American Business," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(1), pages 149-82, February.
  3. Grubert, Harry & Mutti, John, 1991. "Taxes, Tariffs and Transfer Pricing in Multinational Corporate Decision Making," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(2), pages 285-93, May.
  4. Joel B. Slemrod, 1990. "Tax Effects on Foreign Direct Investment in the United States: Evidence from a Cross-Country Comparison," NBER Chapters, in: Taxation in the Global Economy, pages 79-122 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Rosanne Altshuler & Harry Grubert, 2001. "Repatriation Taxes, Repatriation Strategies and Multinational Financial Policy," NBER Working Papers 8144, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Mihir A. Desai & C. Fritz Foley & James R. Hines Jr., 2001. "Repatriation Taxes and Dividend Distortions," NBER Working Papers 8507, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Swenson, Deborah L., 2001. "Tax Reforms and Evidence of Transfer Pricing," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(n. 1), pages 7-26, March Cit.
  8. Michael J. Boskin & William G. Gale, 1988. "New Results on the Effects of Tax Policy on the International Location of Investment," NBER Working Papers 1862, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. David Harris & Randall Morck & Joel B. Slemrod, 1993. "Income Shifting in U.S. Multinational Corporations," NBER Chapters, in: Studies in International Taxation, pages 277-308 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. James R. Hines, Jr. & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1990. "Coming Home To America: Dividend Repatriations By U.S. Multinationals," NBER Chapters, in: Taxation in the Global Economy, pages 161-208 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Mihir A. Desai & C. Fritz Foley & James R. Hines Jr., 2002. "Dividend Policy inside the Firm," NBER Working Papers 8698, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Rosanne Altshuler & Harry Grubert & T. Scott Newlon, 1998. "Has U.S. Investment Abroad Become More Sensitive to Tax Rates?," NBER Working Papers 6383, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Andrew F. Haughwout & Robert P. Inman & Steven Craig & Thomas Luce, 2003. "Local Revenue Hills: Evidence from Four U.S. Cities," NBER Working Papers 9686, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Robert E. Lipsey, 2009. "Measuring International Trade in Services," NBER Chapters, in: International Trade in Services and Intangibles in the Era of Globalization, pages 27-70 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Görg, Holger & Molana, Hassan & Montagna, Catia, 2009. "Foreign direct investment, tax competition and social expenditure," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 31-37, January.
  4. Holger Görg, 2003. "Fancy a stay at the "Hotel California "?Foreign Direct Investment,Taxation and Exit Costs," DNB Staff Reports (discontinued) 96, Netherlands Central Bank.
  5. Oldenski, Lindsay, 2012. "Export Versus FDI and the Communication of Complex Information," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 312-322.
  6. Robert E. Lipsey, 2007. "Defining and Measuring the Location of FDI Output," NBER Working Papers 12996, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Luca Colombo & Paola Labrecciosa & Patrick Paul Walsh, 2006. "Optimal Corporation Tax: An I.O. Approach," STICERD - Economics of Industry Papers 42, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  8. Barry, Frank, 2003. "Tax Policy, FDI and the Irish Economic Boom of the 1990s," Economic Analysis and Policy (EAP), Queensland University of Technology (QUT), School of Economics and Finance, vol. 33(2), pages 221-236, September.
  9. Matthew D. Atkinson, 2003. "A Computational Routine for Disaggregating Industry Margin Data to Estimate Product Margin Rates," BEA Papers 0031, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  10. Mark A. Planting & Jiemin Guo, 2002. "Increasing the Timeliness of U.S. Annual I-O Accounts," BEA Papers 0022, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  11. Frank Barry, 2006. "Foreign Direct Investment and Institutional Co-Evolution in Ireland," Working Papers 200603, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  12. Mihir A. Desai & C. Fritz Foley & James R. Hines, 2004. "Economic Effects of Regional Tax Havens," NBER Working Papers 10806, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Barry, Frank, 2004. "Export-platform foreign direct investment: the Irish experience," EIB Papers 6/2004, European Investment Bank, Economics Department.

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