IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/bla/reviec/v28y2020i1p35-61.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

The impact of thin‐capitalization rules on the location of multinational firms’ foreign affiliates

Author

Listed:
  • Valeria Merlo
  • Nadine Riedel
  • Georg Wamser

Abstract

This paper examines how restrictions on the tax deductibility of interest cost affect location choices of multinational corporations (MNCs). Many countries have introduced so‐called thin‐capitalization rules (TCRs) to prevent MNCs from shifting their tax base to countries with lower tax rates. As of 2012, in our sample of 172 countries, 61 countries have implemented a TCR. Using information on nearly all new foreign investments of German MNCs, we provide a number of new and interesting insights in how TCRs affect the decision of where to locate foreign entities. In particular, stricter TCRs are found to negatively affect location choices of MNCs. Our results include estimates of own‐ and cross‐elasticities of location choice and also novel results on the relative importance of tax base vs. tax rate effects. We finally provide estimates for different uncoordinated as well as coordinated policy scenarios.

Suggested Citation

  • Valeria Merlo & Nadine Riedel & Georg Wamser, 2020. "The impact of thin‐capitalization rules on the location of multinational firms’ foreign affiliates," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(1), pages 35-61, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:reviec:v:28:y:2020:i:1:p:35-61
    DOI: 10.1111/roie.12440
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/roie.12440
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1111/roie.12440?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Buettner, Thiess & Wamser, Georg, 2013. "Internal Debt and Multinational Profit Shifting: Empirical Evidence From Firm-Level Panel Data," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 66(1), pages 63-95, March.
    2. Clausing, Kimberly A., 2003. "Tax-motivated transfer pricing and US intrafirm trade prices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 2207-2223, September.
    3. Barrios, Salvador & Huizinga, Harry & Laeven, Luc & Nicodème, Gaëtan, 2012. "International taxation and multinational firm location decisions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 946-958.
    4. Devereux, Michael P. & Griffith, Rachel, 1998. "Taxes and the location of production: evidence from a panel of US multinationals," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 335-367, June.
    5. Dhammika Dharmapala, 2014. "What Do We Know about Base Erosion and Profit Shifting? A Review of the Empirical Literature," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 35, pages 421-448, December.
    6. Sebastian Beer & Jan Loeprick, 2015. "Profit shifting: drivers of transfer (mis)pricing and the potential of countermeasures," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 22(3), pages 426-451, June.
    7. Bartelsman, Eric J. & Beetsma, Roel M. W. J., 2003. "Why pay more? Corporate tax avoidance through transfer pricing in OECD countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 2225-2252, September.
    8. Jennifer Blouin & Harry Huizinga & Luc Laeven & Gaëtan Nicodème, 2013. "Thin capitalization rules and multinational firm capital structure," Working Papers 1323, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    9. Mihir A. Desai & C. Fritz Foley & James R. Hines, 2004. "A Multinational Perspective on Capital Structure Choice and Internal Capital Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(6), pages 2451-2487, December.
    10. Buettner, Thiess & Overesch, Michael & Schreiber, Ulrich & Wamser, Georg, 2012. "The impact of thin-capitalization rules on the capital structure of multinational firms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 930-938.
    11. Michael P. Devereux & Rachel Griffith & Alexander Klemm, 2002. "Corporate income tax reforms and international tax competition [‘Do domestic firms benefit from direct foreign investment? Evidence from Venezuela’]," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 17(35), pages 449-495.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. De Mooij, Ruud & Hebous, Shafik, 2018. "Curbing corporate debt bias: Do limitations to interest deductibility work?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 368-378.
    2. Eichfelder, Sebastian & Kluska, Mike & Knaisch, Jonas & Selle, Juliane, 2021. "Senkung der Unternehmenssteuerlast versus Förderung von Investitionen: Was ist die bessere Strategie zur Förderung der Standortattraktivität Deutschlands?," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 266, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    3. Richard M. Bird, 2016. "Reforming International Taxation: Is the Process the Real Product?," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 217(2), pages 159-180, June.
    4. Zarko Y. Kalamov, 2020. "Safe haven or earnings stripping rules: a prisoner’s dilemma?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 27(1), pages 38-76, February.
    5. Kayis-Kumar, Ann, 2016. "What's BEPS got to do with it? Exploring the effectiveness of thin capitalisation rules," MPRA Paper 75741, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. de Mooij, Ruud & Liu, Li, 2021. "At a cost: The real effects of thin capitalization rules," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 200(C).
    7. Simon Behrendt & Georg Wamser, 2018. "Tax-Response Heterogeneity and the Effects of Double Taxation Treaties on the Location Choices of Multinational Firms," CESifo Working Paper Series 6869, CESifo.
    8. Overesch Michael, 2016. "Steuervermeidung multinationaler Unternehmen," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 17(2), pages 129-143, July.
    9. Feulefack Kemmanang, Ludovic, 2021. "Does resource dependence cushion the impact of thin capitalization rules on foreign investment inflows? Evidence from Africa," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 72(C).

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Ropponen, Olli, 2021. "Interest Limitation Rules and Business Cycles: Empirical Evidence," ETLA Working Papers 90, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    2. Overesch Michael, 2016. "Steuervermeidung multinationaler Unternehmen," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 17(2), pages 129-143, July.
    3. Sabine Schenkelberg, 2020. "The Cadbury Schweppes judgment and its implications on profit shifting activities within Europe," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 27(1), pages 1-31, February.
    4. Keller, Sara & Schanz, Deborah, 2013. "Measuring tax attractiveness across countries," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 143, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    5. Thiess Buettner & Michael Overesch & Georg Wamser, 2018. "Anti profit-shifting rules and foreign direct investment," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 25(3), pages 553-580, June.
    6. Sebastian Beer & Ruud de Mooij & Li Liu, 2020. "International Corporate Tax Avoidance: A Review Of The Channels, Magnitudes, And Blind Spots," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(3), pages 660-688, July.
    7. Ruud Mooij & Li Liu, 2020. "At a Cost: The Real Effects of Transfer Pricing Regulations," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 68(1), pages 268-306, March.
    8. Deborah Schanz & Andreas Dinkel & Sara Keller, 2017. "Tax attractiveness and the location of German-controlled subsidiaries," Review of Managerial Science, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 251-297, January.
    9. Cooper, Maggie & Nguyen, Quyen T.K., 2020. "Multinational enterprises and corporate tax planning: A review of literature and suggestions for a future research agenda," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(3).
    10. Gaëtan Nicodème, 2008. "Corporate Income Tax and Economic Distortions," Working Papers CEB 08-033.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    11. Franz Reiter & Dominika Langenmayr & Svea Holtmann, 2021. "Avoiding taxes: banks’ use of internal debt," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 28(3), pages 717-745, June.
    12. Egger, Peter H. & Merlo, Valeria & Wamser, Georg, 2014. "Unobserved tax avoidance and the tax elasticity of FDI," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 1-18.
    13. Jarkko Harju & Ilpo Kauppinen & Olli Ropponen, 2017. "Firm Responses to an Interest Barrier: Empirical Evidence," EconPol Working Paper 3, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    14. Finér, Lauri & Ylönen, Matti, 2017. "Tax-driven wealth chains: A multiple case study of tax avoidance in the finnish mining sector," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 53-81.
    15. Martin Simmler, 2014. "Do multinational firms invest more? On the impact of internal debt financing on capital accumulation," Working Papers 1424, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    16. Cyril Chalendard, 2016. "Shifting-Profits through Tax Loopholes. Evidence from Ecuador," CESifo Working Paper Series 6240, CESifo.
    17. Holzmann, Carolin Maria, 2016. "Transfer pricing as tax avoidance under different legislative schemes," VfS Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145929, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    18. Michael P Devereux, 2007. "The Impact of Taxation on the Location of Capital, Firms and Profit: a Survey of Empirical Evidence," Working Papers 0702, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    19. Nicolay, Katharina & Nusser, Hannah & Pfeiffer, Olena, 2017. "On the interdependency of profit shifting channels and the effectiveness of anti-avoidance legislation," ZEW Discussion Papers 17-066, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    20. Kari Seppo, 2015. "Corporate tax in an international environment – Problems and possible remedies," Nordic Tax Journal, Sciendo, vol. 2015(1), pages 1-16, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:reviec:v:28:y:2020:i:1:p:35-61. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0965-7576 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Wiley Content Delivery (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0965-7576 .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.