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Heads I win, tails you lose: Asymmetric taxes, risk taking, and innovation

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  • Albertus, James F.
  • Glover, Brent
  • Levine, Oliver

Abstract

When multinationals face lower tax rates abroad than in the US, transfer pricing strategies generate an asymmetry in the tax rates on a project’s profits and losses. We show that the tax savings from transfer pricing can be expressed as a long position in a call option. We use a model to show that this transfer pricing call option leads a firm to choose riskier and larger projects than it would otherwise. Thus, transfer pricing strategies do not simply reduce a firm’s taxes, they can influence the scale and types of projects undertaken.

Suggested Citation

  • Albertus, James F. & Glover, Brent & Levine, Oliver, 2019. "Heads I win, tails you lose: Asymmetric taxes, risk taking, and innovation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 24-40.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:105:y:2019:i:c:p:24-40
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jmoneco.2019.04.010
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Keywords

    Corporate risk taking; Multinational corporations; Transfer pricing; Taxation; Profit shifting; Tax avoidance; R&D; Intellectual property; Corporate investment;

    JEL classification:

    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • K34 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Tax Law
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy

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