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Sorting into outsourcing: Are profits taxed at a gorilla's arm's length?

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  • Bauer, Christian J.
  • Langenmayr, Dominika

Abstract

This article analyzes profit taxation according to the arm's length principle in a model where heterogeneous firms sort into foreign outsourcing. We show that multinational firms are able to shift profits abroad even if they fully comply with the tax code. This is because, in equilibrium, intra-firm transactions occur in firms that are better than the market at input production. Moreover, market input prices include a mark-up that arises from the bargaining between the firm and the independent supplier. Transfer prices set at market values following the arm's length principle thus systematically exceed multinationals' marginal costs, leading to a reduction of tax payments for each unit sold. The optimal organization of firms hence provides a new rationale for the empirically observed lower tax burden of multinational corporations.

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  • Bauer, Christian J. & Langenmayr, Dominika, 2013. "Sorting into outsourcing: Are profits taxed at a gorilla's arm's length?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 326-336.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:90:y:2013:i:2:p:326-336
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jinteco.2012.12.002
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    Cited by:

    1. Sotiris Blanas & Adnan Seric, 2017. "Knowledge Transfer and Intra-Firm Trade," Working Papers 178612931, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    2. Langenmayr, Dominika & Haufler, Andreas & Bauer, Christian J., 2015. "Should tax policy favor high- or low-productivity firms?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 18-34.
    3. Cyril Chalendard, 2016. "Shifting-Profits through Tax Loopholes. Evidence from Ecuador," CESifo Working Paper Series 6240, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Bauer, Christian J. & Langenmayr, Dominika, 2013. "Sorting into outsourcing: Are profits taxed at a gorilla's arm's length?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 326-336.
    5. V. Vicard, 2015. "Profit shifting through transfer pricing: evidence from French firm level trade data," Working papers 555, Banque de France.
    6. Johannes Becker & Ronald B. Davies, 2014. "A Negotiation-Based Model of Tax-Induced Transfer Pricing," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp451, IIIS.
    7. 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.
    8. Søren Bo Nielsen & Dirk Schindler & Guttorm Schjelderup, 2014. "Abusive Transfer Pricing and Economic Activity," CESifo Working Paper Series 4975, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Holzmann, Carolin Maria, 2016. "Transfer pricing as tax avoidance under different legislative schemes," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145929, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    10. Thomas Gresik, 2013. "Allowing Firms to Choose Between Formula Apportionment and Separate Accounting Taxation," CESifo Working Paper Series 4560, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Gresik, Thomas A., 2016. "Allowing firms to choose between separate accounting and formula apportionment taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 32-42.
    12. repec:ces:ifodic:v:12:y:2015:i:4:p:19149986 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Hayato Kato & Hirofumi Okoshi, 2017. "Production Location of Multinational Firms under Transfer Pricing: The Impact of the Arm's Length Principle," Keio-IES Discussion Paper Series 2017-016, Institute for Economics Studies, Keio University.
    14. Sotiris Blanas & Adnan Seric, 2017. "Determinants of Intra-Firm Trade," Working Papers 178118175, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    15. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Outsourcing; Profit taxation; Transfer pricing; Arm's length principle; Multinational firms;

    JEL classification:

    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies

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