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The Uneasy Marriage of Export Incentives and the Income Tax

In: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 15

  • Mihir A. Desai
  • James R. Hines, Jr.

This paper investigates the economic impact of tax incentives for American exports. These incentives include a partial tax exemption for export profits (available by routing exports through Foreign Sales Corporations), and the allocation of some export profits to foreign source income for purposes of U.S. taxation. The analysis highlights three important aspects of these policies. First, official figures appear to understate dramatically the tax expenditures associated with some U.S. export incentives. Correctly measured, total export benefits provided through the income tax are equivalent to a one percent ad valorem subsidy. Second, the 1984 imposition of more rigorous requirements for obtaining tax benefits through Foreign Sales Corporations is contemporaneous with a significant change in the pattern of U.S. exports. Estimates imply that the 1984 changes reduced U.S. manufacturing exports by 3.1 percent. Third, there were significant market reactions to the 1997 event in which the European Union charged that U.S. income tax provisions are inconsistent with World Trade Organization rules prohibiting export subsidies. Filing of the European complaint coincides with a 0.1 percent fall in the value of the U.S. dollar and steep drops in the share prices of major American exporters.

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This chapter was published in:
  • James M. Poterba, 2001. "Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 15," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pote01-1.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 10854.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:10854
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Donald J. Rousslang & Stephen P. Tokarick, 1994. "The Trade and Welfare Consequences of U.S. Export-Enhancing Tax Provisions," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 41(4), pages 675-683, December.
    2. John Mutti & Harry Grubert, 1984. "The Domestic International Sales Corporation and Its Effects," NBER Chapters, in: The Structure and Evolution of Recent U.S. Trade Policy, pages 279-320 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. James R. Hines, Jr. & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1990. "Coming Home to America: Dividend Repatriations by U.S. Multinationals," NBER Working Papers 2931, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Kimberly A. Clausing, 2000. "The Impact of Transfer Pricing on Intrafirm Trade," NBER Chapters, in: International Taxation and Multinational Activity, pages 173-200 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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. Hines, James Jr., 1994. "Credit and deferral as international investment incentives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 323-347, October.
    7. Rosanne Altshuler & T. Scott Newlon, 1991. "The Effects of U.S. Tax Policy on the Income Repatriation Patterns of U.S. Multinational Corporations," NBER Working Papers 3925, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Hines, James R, Jr & Rice, Eric M, 1994. "Fiscal Paradise: Foreign Tax Havens and American Business," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(1), pages 149-82, February.
    9. Assaf Razin & Joel Slemrod, 1990. "Taxation in the Global Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number razi90-1.
    10. Alberto Giovannini & R. Glenn Hubbard & Joel Slemrod, 1993. "Studies in International Taxation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number giov93-1.
    11. Sawyer, W. Charles & Sprinkle, Richard L., 1997. "The Demand for Imports and Exports in Japan: A Survey," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 247-259, June.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
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