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Income Shifting under Losses

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This paper examines the flexibility of multinational firms to use income-shifting strategies within a tax year to react to operating losses. We develop a theoretical model that considers how affiliate losses can be adjusted ex post (i.e., after financial outcomes are revealed) or ex ante (i.e., before financial outcomes are revealed) by using transfer prices and internal debt. Our model predicts that under ex-post income shifting, loss affiliates have lower transfer prices and internal leverage than profitable affiliates, whereas under ex-ante income shifting, affiliates feature the same transfer prices and internal capital structure, regardless of making losses. Using data on direct transfer payments and internal debt of Norwegian affiliates, we find empirical evidence that, under losses, transfer pricing provides flexibility to adjust income shifting ex post, while we do not find evidence for flexibility in the use of internal debt to shift income ex post. Our study extends prior literature on income shifting that focuses largely on profitable firms and does not consider transfer pricing and internal debt shifting concurrently.

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  • Hopland, Arnt O. & Lisowsky, Petro & Mardan, Mohammed & Schindler, Dirk, 2015. "Income Shifting under Losses," Discussion Papers 2015/21, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Business and Management Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:nhhfms:2015_021
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    Cited by:

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    3. Hasan, Iftekhar & Karavitis, Panagiotis & Kazakis, Pantelis & Leung, Woon Sau, 2019. "Corporate Social Responsibility and Profit Shifting," MPRA Paper 91580, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Kalamov, Zarko Y. & Runkel, Marco, 2016. "On the implications of introducing cross-border loss-offset in the European Union," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 78-89.
    5. Bakke, Julia Tropina & Hopland, Arnt Ove & Møen, Jarle, 2019. "Profit shifting and the effect of stricter transfer pricing regulation on tax revenue," Discussion Papers 2019/11, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Business and Management Science.
    6. Ludvig Wier & Hayley Reynolds, 2018. "Big and 'unprofitable': How 10 per cent of multinational firms do 98 per cent of profit shifting," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2018-111, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    7. Ludvig Wier, 2018. "Tax-motivated transfer mispricing in South Africa: Direct evidence using transaction data," WIDER Working Paper Series 123, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    8. Rishi R. Sharma & Joel Slemrod & Michael Stimmelmayr, 2021. "Tax Losses and Ex-Ante Offshore Transfer of Intellectual Property," CESifo Working Paper Series 9262, CESifo.
    9. Dominika Langenmayr & Li Liu, 2020. "Where Does Multinational Profit Go with Territorial Taxation? Evidence from the UK," CESifo Working Paper Series 8047, CESifo.
    10. Koethenbuerger, Marko & Mardan, Mohammed & Stimmelmayr, Michael, 2019. "Profit shifting and investment effects: The implications of zero-taxable profits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 173(C), pages 96-112.
    11. Wier, Ludvig, 2020. "Tax-motivated transfer mispricing in South Africa: Direct evidence using transaction data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 184(C).
    12. Zero Deng, 2020. "Foreign Exchange Risk, Hedging, and Tax‐Motivated Outbound Income Shifting," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(4), pages 953-987, September.
    13. Pranvera Shehaj & Alfons Weichenrieder, 2021. "Corporate Income Tax, IP Boxes and the Location of R&D," CESifo Working Paper Series 9397, CESifo.
    14. Jay Pil CHOI & ISHIKAWA Jota & OKOSHI Hirofumi, 2019. "Tax Havens and Cross-border Licensing," Discussion papers 19105, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    15. Peter Vaz da Fonseca & Michele Nascimento Juca, 2020. "The Influence of Taxes on Foreign Direct Investment: Systematic Literature Review and Bibliometric Analysis," European Research Studies Journal, European Research Studies Journal, vol. 0(2), pages 55-77.
    16. Nicolay, Katharina & Nusser, Hannah & Pfeiffer, Olena, 2017. "On the interdependency of profit shifting channels and the effectiveness of anti-avoidance legislation," ZEW Discussion Papers 17-066, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    17. Peter Egger & Michael Stimmelmayr, 2017. "Taxation and the Multinational Firm," CESifo Working Paper Series 6384, CESifo.
    18. Ludvig Wier & Hayley Reynolds, 2018. "Big and ‘unprofitable’: How 10% of multinational firms do 98% of profit shifting," WIDER Working Paper Series 111, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    19. Bornemann, Tobias, 2018. "Do transfer pricing rules distort R&D investment decisions?," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 233, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    20. Arnt Ove Hopland & Petro Lisowsky & Mohammed Mardan & Dirk Schindler, 2021. "Inflexibility in Income Shifting: Implications, Detection and Remedies," CESifo Working Paper Series 9384, CESifo.
    21. Bodo Knoll & Nadine Riedel, 2020. "Patent Shifing and Anti-Tax Avoidance Legislation," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 17(04), pages 25-29, January.
    22. Ludvig Wier, 2018. "Tax-motivated transfer mispricing in South Africa: Direct evidence using transaction data," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2018-123, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Income shifting; losses; debt shifting; transfer prices;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H87 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - International Fiscal Issues; International Public Goods

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