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Tax Competition and Profit Shifting: On the Relationship between Personal and Corporate Tax Rates

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  • Clemens Fuest
  • Alfons J. Weichenrieder

Abstract

The residence-based taxation of interest income in the EU faces the difficulty that taxpayers may evade taxation by holding bank accounts in other countries. The EU therefore makes considerable efforts to achieve cooperation among EU member states in order to improve tax enforcement. The present paper argues that international cooperation in tax enforcement may not be sufficient to implement an effective taxation of interest income. The reason is that taxpayers may also avoid income taxes by holding financial assets in the corporate sector. If corporate tax competition reduces corporate income tax rates below personal income tax rates, taxpayers will increasingly shift income from the personal to the corporate sphere. We show that this type of income shifting is empirically important. According to our results, a one percentage point increase in the personal income tax rate increases the fraction of private savings held within corporations by approximately 2.6 percentage points.

Suggested Citation

  • Clemens Fuest & Alfons J. Weichenrieder, 2002. "Tax Competition and Profit Shifting: On the Relationship between Personal and Corporate Tax Rates," CESifo Working Paper Series 781, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_781
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gordon, Roger H. & MacKie-Mason, Jeffrey K., 1994. "Tax distortions to the choice of organizational form," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 279-306.
    2. Haufler, Andreas & Schjelderup, Guttorm, 2000. "Corporate Tax Systems and Cross Country Profit Shifting," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, pages 306-325.
    3. Altshuler, Rosanne & Grubert, Harry, 2003. "Repatriation taxes, repatriation strategies and multinational financial policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 73-107, January.
    4. Sijbren Cnossen, 1999. "Taxing Capital Income in the Nordic Countries: A Model for the European Union?," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 56(1), pages 18-50, March.
    5. Clemens Fuest & Bernd Huber & Søren Bo Nielsen, "undated". "Why Is the Corporate Tax Rate Lower than the Personal Tax Rate?," EPRU Working Paper Series 00-17, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    6. Alfons Weichenrieder, 1996. "Anti-tax-avoidance provisions and the size of foreign direct investment," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 3(1), pages 67-81, January.
    7. Bagwell, Laurie Simon & Shoven, John B, 1989. "Cash Distributions to Shareholders," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 129-140, Summer.
    8. Mackie-Mason, Jeffrey K & Gordon, Roger H, 1997. " How Much Do Taxes Discourage Incorporation?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(2), pages 477-505, June.
    9. Wellisch,Dietmar, 2000. "Theory of Public Finance in a Federal State," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521630351, December.
    10. Michael Keen, 1993. "The welfare economics of tax co-ordination in the European Community : a survey," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 14(2), pages 15-36, February.
    11. Roger H. Gordon & Joel Slemrod, 1998. "Are "Real" Responses to Taxes Simply Income Shifting Between Corporate and Personal Tax Bases?," NBER Working Papers 6576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Alfons Weichenrieder, 1996. "Fighting international tax avoidance," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 17(1), pages 37-58, February.
    13. Roger H. Gordon, 1998. "Can High Personal Tax Rates Encourage Entrepreneurial Activity?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 45(1), pages 49-80, March.
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