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Earnings Shocks and Tax-Motivated Income-Shifting: Evidence from European Multinationals

  • Dhammika Dharmapala
  • Nadine Riedel

This paper presents a new approach to estimating the existence and magnitude of tax-motivated income shifting within multinational corporations. Existing studies of income shifting use changes in corporate tax rates as a source of identification. In contrast, this paper exploits exogenous earnings shocks at the parent firm and investigates how these shocks propagate across low-tax and high-tax multinational subsidiaries. This approach is implemented using a large panel of European multinational affiliates over the period 1995-2005. The central result is that parents’ positive earnings shocks are associated with a significantly positive increase in pretax profits at low-tax affiliates, relative to the effect on the pretax profits of high-tax affiliates. The result is robust to controlling for various other differences between low-tax and high-tax affiliates and for country-pair-year fixed effects. Additional tests suggest that the estimated effect is attributable primarily to the strategic use of debt across affiliates. The magnitude of income shifting estimated using this approach is substantial, but somewhat smaller than that found in the previous literature.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2012/wp-cesifo-2012-04/cesifo1_wp3791.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3791.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3791
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  1. European Commission, 2006. "Taxation trends in the European Union: 2006 edition," Taxation trends 2006, Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission.
  2. Thiess Buettner & Michael Overesch & Ulrich Schreiber & Georg Wamser, 2006. "The Impact of Thin-Capitalization Rules on Multinationals' Financing and Investment Decisions," Working Papers 2006-06, University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.
  3. Marianne Bertrand & Paras Mehta & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "Ferreting Out Tunneling: An Application To Indian Business Groups," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 121-148, February.
  4. Eric J. Bartelsman & Roel Beetsma, 2000. "Why Pay More? Corporate Tax Avoidance through Transfer Pricing in OECD Countries," CESifo Working Paper Series 324, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Eric J. Bartelsman & Roel Beetsma, 2000. "Why pay more? Corporate Tax Avoidance through Transfer Pricing in OECD Countries," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-054/2, Tinbergen Institute.
  6. Thiess Buettner & Georg Wamser, 2007. "Intercompany Loans and Profit Shifting – Evidence from Company-Level Data," CESifo Working Paper Series 1959, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. John W. Budd & Jozef Konings & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2005. "Wages and International Rent Sharing in Multinational Firms," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 73-84, February.
  8. Thiess Büttner & Michael Overesch & Ulrich Schreiber & Georg Wamser, 2006. "The Impact of Thin-Capitalization Rules on Multinationals’ Financing and Investment Decisions," CESifo Working Paper Series 1817, CESifo Group Munich.
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