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The Uneasy Marriage of Export Incentives and the Income Tax

In: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 15

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

Abstract

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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Suggested Citation

  • Mihir A. Desai & James R. Hines, Jr., 2001. "The Uneasy Marriage of Export Incentives and the Income Tax," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 15, pages 41-94, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:10854
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Desai, Mihir A. & Hines Jr., James R., 2008. "Market reactions to export subsidies," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 459-474, March.
    2. Mihir A. Desai & James R. Hines Jr., 2001. "Exchange Rates and Tax-Based Export Promotion," NBER Working Papers 8121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Davies, Ronald B., 2013. "The silver lining of red tape," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 68-76.
    4. Nuno Limão & Arvind Panagariya, 2003. "Why is there an Anti-trade Bias in Trade Policy?," International Trade 0310003, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Limao, Nuno & Panagariya, Arvind, 2007. "Inequality and endogenous trade policy outcomes," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 292-309, July.
    6. Passas, Nikos, 2005. "Lawful but awful: 'Legal Corporate Crimes'," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 771-786, December.
    7. Rebecca Lester, 2019. "Made in the U.S.A.? A Study of Firm Responses to Domestic Production Incentives," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(4), pages 1059-1114, September.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H87 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - International Fiscal Issues; International Public Goods
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies

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