IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Formula Apportionment: Is it better than the current system and are there better alternatives?

  • Rosanne Altshuler


    (Rutgers University)

  • Harry Grubert


    (U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Tax Analysis)

This analysis of formula apportionment compared to the current system is based on the observation that income shifting has two sources, intangible income and debt. The analysis also recognizes that a major goal of the transfer pricing or income allocation system is to preserve the tax neutrality between arm’s length and related party transactions and between multinational and single jurisdiction companies. It therefore develops a model that highlights these features. Both separate accounts (SA) and formula apportionment (FA) distort behavior but along different margins. Under SA, companies have an incentive to shift high-tech activities and to manipulate transfer prices. Under FA, companies do not manipulate transfer prices but they have an incentive to shift routine activities abroad and to change the degree to which they depend on outside suppliers. Simulations based on the model indicate that FA has no clear advantage over SA even when the model assumes that an unrealistically large amount of resources are devoted to tax planning under SA. Furthermore, straightforward changes could be made in SA that would result in substantial improvements without resorting to full-fledged FA. We also examine the complicating role of financial assets under FA and how ongoing R&D is implicitly allocated. The conceptual basis for the conventional formulas are discussed, particularly ones based on sales. Finally, a static, no behavioral change, estimate of the effect of FA on the tax liabilities of US multinational corporations is presented for 1996 and 2004. The static estimate for 2004 suggests a potentially large revenue gain, but the simulations show that tax revenues under FA and SA are similar when behavioral responses are taken into account.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation in its series Working Papers with number 0901.

in new window

Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:btx:wpaper:0901
Contact details of provider: Postal: Park End Street, Oxford OX1 1HP UK
Phone: +44 (0)1865 288800
Fax: +44 (0)1865 288805
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:btx:wpaper:0901. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dongxian Guo)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.