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Corporate taxes and the location of intangible assets within multinational firms

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  • Dischinger, Matthias
  • Riedel, Nadine

Abstract

Intangible assets, like patents and trademarks, are increasingly seen as the key to competitive success and as the drivers of corporate profit. Moreover, they constitute a major source of profit shifting opportunities in multinational enterprises (MNEs) due to a highly intransparent transfer pricing process. This paper argues that, for both reasons, MNEs have an incentive to locate intangible property at affiliates with a relatively low corporate tax rate. Using panel data on European MNEs and controlling for unobserved time-constant heterogeneity between affiliates, we find that the lower a subsidiary's corporate tax rate relative to other affiliates of the multinational group the higher is its level of intangible asset investment. This effect is statistically and economically significant, even after controlling for subsidiary size and accounting for a dynamic intangible investment pattern.

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  • Dischinger, Matthias & Riedel, Nadine, 2011. "Corporate taxes and the location of intangible assets within multinational firms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 691-707, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:7-8:p:691-707
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    Keywords

    Multinational enterprise Intangible assets Tax planning Micro data;

    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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