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Imperfect tax competition for profits, asymmetric equilibrium and beneficial tax havens

  • Johannesen, Niels

We present a model of tax competition for real investment and profits and show that the presence of tax havens in some cases increases the tax revenue of countries. In the first part of the paper, we argue that tax competition for profits is likely to be imperfect in the sense that the jurisdiction with the lowest tax rate does not necessarily attract all shifted profits. Under this assumption, tax competition between a large number of identical countries may lead to either a symmetric equilibrium with no profit shifting or an asymmetric equilibrium where firms shift profits from high-tax to low-tax countries. In the second part of the paper, we introduce tax havens. Starting from a symmetric equilibrium, tax havens unambiguously reduce the tax revenue of countries due to a 'leakage effect' -- tax havens attract tax base from countries -- and a 'competition effect' -- the optimal response to the increased tax sensitivity of tax bases involves a reduction of tax rates. Starting from an asymmetric equilibrium, however, tax havens also raise the tax revenue of countries through a 'crowding effect' -- tax havens make it less attractive to compete for profits and thus induce low-tax countries to become high-tax countries. We demonstrate that the latter effect may dominate the former effects so that countries, on balance, benefit from the presence of tax havens.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of International Economics.

Volume (Year): 81 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (July)
Pages: 253-264

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Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:81:y:2010:i:2:p:253-264
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505552

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  1. Hines, James R. Jr., 1999. "Lessons from Behavioral Responses to International Taxation," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 305-22, June.
  2. Luc Laeven & Harry Huizinga & Gaetan Nicodeme, 2007. "Capital Structure and International Debt Shifting," IMF Working Papers 07/39, International Monetary Fund.
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  8. 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.
  9. Joel Slemrod & John D. Wilson, 2006. "Tax Competition With Parasitic Tax Havens," NBER Working Papers 12225, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Slemrod, Joel, 2004. "Are corporate tax rates, or countries, converging?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(6), pages 1169-1186, June.
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  12. Bucovetsky, S., 1991. "Asymmetric tax competition," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 167-181, September.
  13. Dhammika Dharmapala & James R. Hines Jr., 2006. "Which Countries Become Tax Havens?," NBER Working Papers 12802, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. PERALTA, Susana & WAUTHY , Xavier & van YPERSELE, Tanguy, 2003. "Should countries control international profit shifting ?," CORE Discussion Papers 2003072, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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