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Repatriation Taxes and Dividend Distortions

  • Desai, Mihir A.
  • Foley, C. Fritz
  • Hines, James R. Jr.

This paper analyzes the effect of repatriation taxes on dividend payments by the foreign affiliates of American multinational firms. The United States taxes the foreign incomes of American companies, grants credits for any foreign income taxes paid, and defers any taxes due on the unrepatriated earnings for those affiliates that are separately incorporated abroad. This system thereby imposes repatriation taxes that vary inversely with foreign tax rates and that differ across organizational forms. As a consequence, it is possible to measure the effect of repatriation taxes by comparing the behavior of foreign subsidiaries that are subject to different tax rates and by comparing the behavior of foreign incorporated and unincorporated affiliates. Evidence from a large panel of foreign affiliates of U.S. firms from 1982 to 1997 indicates that 1 percent lower repatriation tax rates are associated with 1 percent higher dividends. This implies that repatriation taxes reduce aggregate dividend payouts by 12.8 percent, and, in the process, generate annual efficiency losses equal to 2.5 percent of dividends. These effects would disappear if the United States were to exempt foreign income from taxation.

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Article provided by National Tax Association in its journal National Tax Journal.

Volume (Year): 54 (2001)
Issue (Month): n. 4 (December)
Pages: 829-51

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Handle: RePEc:ntj:journl:v:54:y:2001:i:n._4:p:829-51
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  1. David F. Bradford, 1979. "The Incidence and Allocation Effects of a Tax on Corporate Distributions," NBER Working Papers 0349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hines, J.R.J. & Hubbard, R.G., 1989. "Coming Home To America - Devidend Repatriations By U.S. Multinationals," Papers 146, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  3. Rosanne Altshuler & Harry Grubert, 2002. "Repatriation Taxes, Repatriation Strategies and Multinational Financial Policy," Departmental Working Papers 200009, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  4. Desai, Mihir A. & Hines Jr., James R., 1999. ""Basket cases": Tax incentives and international joint venture participation by American multinational firms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 379-402, March.
  5. Rosanne Altshuler & T. Scott Newlon & William Randolph, 1996. "Do Repatriation Taxes Matter? Evidence from the Tax Returns of U.S. Multinationals," Departmental Working Papers 199405, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  6. Rosanne Altshuler & Harry Grubert, 2002. "Where will they go if we go territorial? Dividend exemption and the location decisions of U.S. multinational corporations," Departmental Working Papers 200201, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  7. Auerbach, Alan J, 1979. "Wealth Maximization and the Cost of Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 433-46, August.
  8. James R. Hines, Jr., 1998. "Three Sides of Harberger Triangles," NBER Working Papers 6852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Hines, James Jr., 1994. "Credit and deferral as international investment incentives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 323-347, October.
  10. Grubert, Harry, 1998. "Taxes and the division of foreign operating income among royalties, interest, dividends and retained earnings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 269-290, May.
  11. Assaf Razin & Joel Slemrod, 1990. "Taxation in the Global Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number razi90-1, December.
  12. James R. Hines, Jr., 1995. "Taxes, Technology Transfer, and the R&D Activities of Multinational Firms," NBER Chapters, in: The Effects of Taxation on Multinational Corporations, pages 225-252 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Hartman, David G., 1985. "Tax policy and foreign direct investment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 107-121, February.
  14. Auerbach, Alan J. & Hines, James Jr., 2002. "Taxation and economic efficiency," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 21, pages 1347-1421 Elsevier.
  15. Donald W. K. Andrews & Moshe Buchinsky, 2000. "A Three-Step Method for Choosing the Number of Bootstrap Repetitions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(1), pages 23-52, January.
  16. Hines, James R. Jr., 1999. "The Case against Deferral: A Deferential Reconsideration," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 3), pages 385-404, September.
  17. Hines, James R. Jr., 1999. "Lessons from Behavioral Responses to International Taxation," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 305-22, June.
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