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Profit Shifting by Multinationals and the Ownership Share: Evidence from European Micro Data


  • Dischinger, Matthias


We provide indirect empirical evidence of profit shifting behavior by multinational enterprises (MNEs) employing a panel study for the years 1995 to 2005, while controlling for unobservable fixed firm effects. We use a large micro database of European MNEs which includes detailed accounting and ownership information. Our results show a strongly negative relationship between an affiliated company's statutory corporate tax rate difference to its foreign parent firm and the affiliate's gross profits. Quantitatively, a 10 percentage points decrease in the tax rate of the affiliate (relative to the parent) increases its pre-tax profitability by 7%, other things being equal. Various robustness checks support this profit shifting inference. Furthermore, we provide evidence that a higher parent's ownership share of its subsidiary leads to intensified shifting activities between these two affiliates.

Suggested Citation

  • Dischinger, Matthias, 2008. "Profit Shifting by Multinationals and the Ownership Share: Evidence from European Micro Data," Discussion Papers in Economics 5661, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:5661

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Swenson, Deborah L., 2001. "Tax Reforms and Evidence of Transfer Pricing," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(1), pages 7-26, March.
    3. Grubert, Harry, 2003. "Intangible Income, Intercompany Transactions, Income Shifting, and the Choice of Location," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 56(1), pages 221-242, March.
    4. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Peter K. Schott, 2006. "Transfer Pricing by U.S.-Based Multinational Firms," NBER Working Papers 12493, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Mintz, Jack & Smart, Michael, 2004. "Income shifting, investment, and tax competition: theory and evidence from provincial taxation in Canada," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(6), pages 1149-1168, June.
    6. Clemens Fuest, 2008. "The European Commission's proposal for a common consolidated corporate tax base," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(4), pages 720-739, winter.
    7. Alfons Weichenrieder, 2009. "Profit shifting in the EU: evidence from Germany," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 16(3), pages 281-297, June.
    8. Johannes Becker & Clemens Fuest, 2007. "Quality versus Quantity – The Composition Effect of Corporate Taxation on Foreign Direct Investment," CESifo Working Paper Series 2126, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Swenson, Deborah L., 2001. "Tax Reforms and Evidence of Transfer Pricing," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(n. 1), pages 7-26, March.
    10. Hines, James R. Jr., 1999. "Lessons from Behavioral Responses to International Taxation," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 305-22, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Eidenmüller, Horst & Engert, Andreas & Hornuf, Lars, 2015. "Where do firms issue debt? An empirical analysis of issuer location and regulatory competition in Europe," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 103-115.
    2. Becker, Johannes & Fuest, Clemens & Riedel, Nadine, 2012. "Corporate tax effects on the quality and quantity of FDI," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1495-1511.
    3. Dischinger, Matthias & Riedel, Nadine, 2010. "The Role of Headquarters Firms in Multinational Profit Shifting Strategies," Discussion Papers in Economics 11352, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    4. Matthias Dischinger & Nadine Riedel, 2010. "The Role of Headquarters in Multinational Profit Shifting Strategies," Working Papers 1003, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.

    More about this item


    corporate taxation; multinational enterprise; profit shifting; share ownership ratio; micro level data;

    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models


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