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Why is the Response of Multinationals' Capital-Structure Choice to Tax Incentives That Low? Some Possible Explanations

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  • Martin Ruf

Abstract

This paper evaluates three possible explanations for why empirical studies have found a quite moderate response of multinationals' capital structure to tax incentives. Firstly, by concentrating on debt decisions by operating subsidiaries, previous studies may have overlooked the importance of holding companies. Secondly, international transfer-pricing guidelines may reduce the tax incentives for debt financing. And thirdly, debt as a tax planning tool may be especially used by large multinationals. Whereas I do not find empirical evidence in favor of the third hypothesis, I do find empirical evidence for the first and the second hypothesis.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Ruf, 2011. "Why is the Response of Multinationals' Capital-Structure Choice to Tax Incentives That Low? Some Possible Explanations," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 67(2), pages 123-144, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:finarc:urn:sici:0015-2218(291106)67:2_123:witrom_2.0.tx_2-4
    DOI: 10.1628/001522108X588763
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Julian Alworth & Giampaolo Arachi, 2001. "The Effect of Taxes on Corporate Financing Decisions: Evidence from a Panel of Italian Firms," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 8(4), pages 353-376, August.
    2. Buettner, Thiess & Overesch, Michael & Schreiber, Ulrich & Wamser, Georg, 2009. "Taxation and capital structure choice--Evidence from a panel of German multinationals," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(3), pages 309-311, December.
    3. Gopalan, Radhakrishnan & Nanda, Vikram & Seru, Amit, 2007. "Affiliated firms and financial support: Evidence from Indian business groups," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(3), pages 759-795, December.
    4. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1989. "The financial structure of the firm and the problem of control," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(2-3), pages 286-293, March.
    5. Mihir A. Desai & C. Fritz Foley & James R. Hines, 2004. "A Multinational Perspective on Capital Structure Choice and Internal Capital Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(6), pages 2451-2487, December.
    6. Graham, John R. & Harvey, Campbell R., 2001. "The theory and practice of corporate finance: evidence from the field," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2-3), pages 187-243, May.
    7. Graham, John R. & Tucker, Alan L., 2006. "Tax shelters and corporate debt policy," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(3), pages 563-594, September.
    8. Buettner, Thiess & Wamser, Georg, 2013. "Internal Debt and Multinational Profit Shifting: Empirical Evidence From Firm-Level Panel Data," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 66(1), pages 63-95, March.
    9. Schreiber, Ulrich & Overesch, Michael & Büttner, Thiess & Wamser, Georg, 2006. "The Impact of Thin-Capitalization Rules on Multinationals? Financing and Investment Decisions," ZEW Discussion Papers 06-068, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    10. DeAngelo, Harry & Masulis, Ronald W., 1980. "Optimal capital structure under corporate and personal taxation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 3-29, March.
    11. David Harris & Randall Morck & Joel B. Slemrod, 1993. "Income Shifting in U.S. Multinational Corporations," NBER Chapters,in: Studies in International Taxation, pages 277-308 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Thiess Büttner & Michael Overesch & Ulrich Schreiber & Georg Wamser, 2006. "Taxation and Capital Structure Choice – Evidence from a Panel of German Multinationals," CESifo Working Paper Series 1841, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. John R. Graham, 2003. "Taxes and Corporate Finance: A Review," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 16(4), pages 1075-1129.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Egger & Christian Keuschnigg & Valeria Merlo & Georg Wamser, 2014. "Corporate Taxes and Internal Borrowing within Multinational Firms," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 54-93, May.
    2. repec:spr:sptbec:978-3-642-36306-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Guttorm Schjelderup, 2016. "The Tax Sensitivity of Debt in Multinationals: A Review," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(1), pages 109-121, February.
    4. Dinkel, Andreas, 2015. "Tax attractiveness and the allocation of risk within multinationals," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 189, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    business taxation; tax planning; leverage; corporate finance;

    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business

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