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The arm's length principle and distortions to multinational firm organization

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  • Keuschnigg, Christian
  • Devereux, Michael P.

Abstract

To prevent profit shifting by manipulation of transfer prices, tax authorities typically apply the arm's length principle in corporate taxation and use comparable market prices to ‘correctly’ assess the value of intracompany trade and royalty income of multinationals. We develop a model of firms subject to financing frictions and offshoring of intermediate inputs. We find that arm's length prices systematically differ from prices set by independent agents. Application of the principle distorts multinational activity by reducing debt capacity and investment of foreign affiliates. Although it raises tax revenue and welfare in the headquarter country, welfare losses may be larger in the subsidiary location, leading to a loss in world welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Keuschnigg, Christian & Devereux, Michael P., 2013. "The arm's length principle and distortions to multinational firm organization," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2), pages 432-440.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:89:y:2013:i:2:p:432-440
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jinteco.2012.08.007
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    3. Petra Doleželová, 2020. "Impact Of Unilateral Preferences On Export Structure Of The Least Developed Countries," Medzinarodne vztahy (Journal of International Relations), Ekonomická univerzita, Fakulta medzinárodných vzťahov, vol. 18(1), pages 57-70.
    4. Haufler, Andreas & Mardan, Mohammed & Schindler, Dirk, 2016. "Optimal Policies against Profit Shifting: The Role of Controlled-Foreign-Company Rules," Discussion Papers in Economics 27745, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    5. Ronald B. Davies & Julien Martin & Mathieu Parenti & Farid Toubal, 2018. "Knocking on Tax Haven’s Door: Multinational Firms and Transfer Pricing," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 100(1), pages 120-134, March.
    6. Gresik, Thomas A. & Schindler, Dirk & Schjelderup, Guttorm, 2015. "The Effect of Tax Havens on Host Country Welfare," Discussion Papers 2015/19, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Business and Management Science.
    7. Keuschnigg, Christian & Loretz, Simon & Winner, Hannes, 2014. "Tax Competition and Tax Coordination in the European Union: A Survey," Economics Working Paper Series 1427, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    8. Anca D. Cristea & Daniel X. Nguyen, 2016. "Transfer Pricing by Multinational Firms: New Evidence from Foreign Firm Ownerships," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 170-202, August.
    9. Michael P. Devereux & John Vella, 2015. "Are We Heading towards a Corporate Tax System Fit for the 21st Century?," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 12(04), pages 03-07, January.
    10. Kato, Hayato & Okoshi, Hiofumi, 2019. "Economic Integration and Agglomeration of Multinational Production with Transfer Pricing," Discussion Papers in Economics 62013, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    11. repec:ces:ifodic:v:12:y:2015:i:4:p:19149986 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Bodo Knoll & Nadine Riedel, 2015. "Transfer Pricing Laws," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 12(04), pages 22-26, January.
    13. Hayato Kato & Hirofumi Okoshi, 2019. "Production location of multinational firms under transfer pricing: the impact of the arm’s length principle," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 26(4), pages 835-871, August.
    14. Johannes Becker & Ronald B Davies, 2014. "A negotiation-based model of tax-induced transfer pricing," Working Papers 1409, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    15. Mariia Ermilova, 2020. "International Experience Of Regulation Of Controlled Transactions Of Transnational Companies," Medzinarodne vztahy (Journal of International Relations), Ekonomická univerzita, Fakulta medzinárodných vzťahov, vol. 18(1), pages 71-88.
    16. Tetiana Kaminska & Ihor Okhrimenko & Natalia Wasilewska, 2020. "Method For Implementing The Macroeconomic Analysis Of The Agricultural Market Of The European Union," Medzinarodne vztahy (Journal of International Relations), Ekonomická univerzita, Fakulta medzinárodných vzťahov, vol. 18(1), pages 5-20.
    17. Marcel Kordoš, 2020. "The Synergy Of Eu Competition And Industry Policies Within The Industry 4.0 Concept: Parallels And Challenges," Medzinarodne vztahy (Journal of International Relations), Ekonomická univerzita, Fakulta medzinárodných vzťahov, vol. 18(1), pages 21-35.
    18. Dominik Boddin & Frank Stähler, 2018. "The Organization of International Trade," CESifo Working Paper Series 7378, CESifo.
    19. František Škvrnda, 2020. "On Contradictory Of Multipolarity Creation Process In The International Relations In The 21st Century," Medzinarodne vztahy (Journal of International Relations), Ekonomická univerzita, Fakulta medzinárodných vzťahov, vol. 18(1), pages 36-56.
    20. Haufler, Andreas & Mardan, Mohammed & Schindler, Dirk, 2018. "Double tax discrimination to attract FDI and fight profit shifting: The role of CFC rules," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 25-43.
    21. Sotiris Blanas & Adnan Seric, 2017. "Determinants of Intra-Firm Trade," Working Papers 178118175, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    22. Bodo Knoll & Nadine Riedel, 2015. "Transfer Pricing Laws," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 12(4), pages 22-26, 01.
    23. Ioana NEACSU & Liliana FELEAGA, 2017. "Evolutions and tendencies regarding the Romanian transfer pricing legislation: is there a need for change?," The Audit Financiar journal, Chamber of Financial Auditors of Romania, vol. 15(145), pages 1-65, February.
    24. Egger, Peter & Seidel, Tobias, 2013. "Corporate taxes and intra-firm trade," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 225-242.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Corporate tax; Transfer prices; Arm's length principle; Corporate finance;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business

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