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Abusive Transfer Pricing and Economic Activity

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Abstract

This paper investigates how concealment costs of transfer pricing and the probability of detection affect transfer pricing and firm behavior. We find that transfer pricing in intermediate production factors does not affect real activity of a multinational firm if the firm’s concealment effort as well as the probability of being audited by tax authorities are conditioned on the amount of shifted profits. If tax authorities rely on the standard OECD arm’s-length principle instead by reacting to a deviation of the transfer price from the market price, the multinational will for tax reasons adjust its production structure. A policy implication of the paper is that it should be preferable to condition audits on the amount of income shifted rather than on the distortion of the transfer price proper. Another policy finding is that improving the quality of tax law might be superior to higher detection effort. The former reduces profit shifting and concealment effort, whereas the latter leads to more wasteful use of resources on concealment and has an ambiguous effect on profits shifted.

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  • Nielsen, Søren Bo & Schindler, Dirk & Schjelderup, Guttorm, 2014. "Abusive Transfer Pricing and Economic Activity," Discussion Papers 2014/21, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Business and Management Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:nhhfms:2014_021
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/11250/217626
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Johannes Becker & Ronald B. Davies, 2014. "A Negotiation-Based Model of Tax-Induced Transfer Pricing," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp451, IIIS.
    2. Bauer, Christian J. & Langenmayr, Dominika, 2013. "Sorting into outsourcing: Are profits taxed at a gorilla's arm's length?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 326-336.
    3. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
    4. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1976. "The design of tax structure: Direct versus indirect taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 55-75.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gresik, Thomas A. & Schindler, Dirk & Schjelderup, Guttorm, 2017. "Immobilizing corporate income shifting: Should it be safe to strip in the harbor?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 68-78.
    2. Jie Ma & Pascalis Raimondos, 2015. "Competition for FDI and Profit Shifting," CESifo Working Paper Series 5153, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Holzmann, Carolin Maria, 2016. "Transfer pricing as tax avoidance under different legislative schemes," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145929, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. repec:ces:ifodic:v:12:y:2015:i:4:p:19149986 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Guttorm Schjelderup, 2016. "The Tax Sensitivity of Debt in Multinationals: A Review," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(1), pages 109-121, February.
    6. Bodo Knoll & Nadine Riedel, 2015. "Transfer Pricing Laws," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 12(4), pages 22-26, 01.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Transfer Pricing; Firm Behavior; Tax Law;

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General

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