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Interest Allocation Rules, Financing Patterns, and the Operations of U.S. Multinationals

In: The Effects of Taxation on Multinational Corporations

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  • Kenneth A. Froot
  • James R. Hines, Jr.

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of the 1986 change in U.S. interest allocation rules on the investment and financing decisions of American multinationals. The 1986 change reduced the tax deductibility of the interest expenses of firms with excess foreign tax credits. The resulting increase in the cost of debt gives firms incentives to substitute away from using debt finance. Furthermore, to the extent that perfect financing substitutes are not available, the overall cost of capital rises as well. The empirical tests indicate that the loss of tax deductibility of parent-company interest expenses appears to reduce significantly borrowing and investing by firms with excess foreign tax credits. The same firms tend to undertake new lease commitments, which may reflect the use of leases as alternatives to capital ownership. In addition, firms affected by the tax change tend to scale back the scope of their foreign and total operations. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that firms substitute away from debt when debt becomes more expensive, and also with the hypothesis that the loss of interest tax shields increases a firm's cost of capital.
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Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth A. Froot & James R. Hines, Jr., 1995. "Interest Allocation Rules, Financing Patterns, and the Operations of U.S. Multinationals," NBER Chapters,in: The Effects of Taxation on Multinational Corporations, pages 277-312 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:7747
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Assaf Razin & Joel Slemrod, 1990. "Taxation in the Global Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number razi90-1.
    2. James R. Hines, Jr. & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1990. "Coming Home To America: Dividend Repatriations By U.S. Multinationals," NBER Chapters,in: Taxation in the Global Economy, pages 161-208 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Rosanne Altshuler & Jack Mintz, 1995. "U.S. interest-allocation rules: Effects and policy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 2(1), pages 7-35, February.
    4. repec:bla:joares:v:30:y:1992:i::p:103-124 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Andrew B. Lyon & Gerald Silverstein, 1995. "The Alternative Minimum Tax and the Behavior of Multinational Corporations," NBER Chapters,in: The Effects of Taxation on Multinational Corporations, pages 153-180 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Hines, J.R., 1990. "The Flight Paths Of Migratory Corporations," Papers 65, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
    7. Edwards, J. S. S. & Mayer, C. P., 1991. "Leasing, taxes, and the cost of capital," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 173-197, March.
    8. James R. Hines & Eric M. Rice, 1994. "Fiscal Paradise: Foreign Tax Havens and American Business," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(1), pages 149-182.
    9. Miller, Merton H, 1977. "Debt and Taxes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 261-275, May.
    10. Hartman, David G., 1985. "Tax policy and foreign direct investment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 107-121, February.
    11. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1973. "Taxation, corporate financial policy, and the cost of capital," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 1-34, February.
    12. Smith, Clifford W, Jr & Wakeman, L MacDonald, 1985. " Determinants of Corporate Leasing Policy," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(3), pages 895-908, July.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Demirgüç-Kunt, Asli & Huizinga, Harry, 2001. "The taxation of domestic and foreign banking," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 429-453, March.
    2. Huizinga, Harry & Laeven, Luc & Nicodeme, Gaetan, 2008. "Capital structure and international debt shifting," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 80-118, April.
    3. Rosanne Altshuler & Harry Grubert, 1998. "Multinational Financial Policy and the Cost of Capital: The Many Roads Home," Departmental Working Papers 199807, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
    4. Egger, Peter & Eggert, Wolfgang & Winner, Hannes, 2010. "Saving taxes through foreign plant ownership," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 99-108, May.
    5. Egger, Peter & Eggert, Wolfgang & Keuschnigg, Christian & Winner, Hannes, 2010. "Corporate taxation, debt financing and foreign-plant ownership," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 96-107, January.
    6. Rosanne Altshuler & Harry Grubert, 1996. "Balance Sheets, Multinational Financial Policy, and the Cost of Capital at Home and Abroad," NBER Working Papers 5810, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Fritz Foley, C. & Hartzell, Jay C. & Titman, Sheridan & Twite, Garry, 2007. "Why do firms hold so much cash? A tax-based explanation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(3), pages 579-607, December.
    8. Gordon, Roger H. & Hines, James Jr, 2002. "International taxation," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 28, pages 1935-1995 Elsevier.
    9. Bartelsman, Eric J. & Beetsma, Roel M. W. J., 2003. "Why pay more? Corporate tax avoidance through transfer pricing in OECD countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 2225-2252, September.
    10. Serena Fatica & Thomas Hemmelgarn & Gaëtan Nicodème, 2013. "The Debt-Equity Tax Bias: Consequences and Solutions," Reflets et perspectives de la vie économique, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(1), pages 5-18.
    11. Aggarwal, Raj & Kyaw, NyoNyo A., 2008. "Internal capital networks as a source of MNC competitive advantage: Evidence from foreign subsidiary capital structure decisions," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 409-439, September.
    12. Francesca Barion & Raffaele Miniaci & Paolo Panteghini & Maria Laura Parisi, 2010. "Profit Shifting by Debt Financing in Europe," CESifo Working Paper Series 2985, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. R. Miniaci & M. Parisi & P. Panteghini, 2014. "Debt shifting in Europe," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 21(3), pages 397-435, June.
    14. James R. Hines, Jr., 1996. "Tax Policy and the Activities of Multinational Corporations," NBER Working Papers 5589, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Mihir A. Desai & James R. Hines, Jr., 1996. ""Basket" Cases: International Joint Ventures After the Tax Reform Act of 1986," NBER Working Papers 5755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Michael P Devereux, 2007. "The Impact of Taxation on the Location of Capital, Firms and Profit: a Survey of Empirical Evidence," Working Papers 0702, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    17. Joulia Ossokina & Herman Vollebergh, 2000. "The Tax Treatment of Interest Expenditures of Multinational Enterprises," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-047/3, Tinbergen Institute.

    More about this item

    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

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