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Income Misattribution under Formula Apportionment

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  • James R. Hines, Jr.

Abstract

Alternatives to the current system of separate tax accounting, such as the proposed Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base in Europe, would apportion a firm's worldwide profits using formulas based on the location of employment, capital or sales. This paper offers a new method of evaluating the accuracy of these apportionment rules and the ownership distortions they create. Evidence from European company accounts indicates that apportionment formulas significantly misattribute income, since employment and other factors on which they are based do a very poor job of explaining a firm's profits. For example, the magnitude of property, employment and sales explains less than 22 percent of the variation in profits between firms, and the prediction estimates from using such a formula exceed half of predicted profits 64% of the time, and exceed twice predicted income 11% of the time. As a result, the use of formulas rewards or punishes international mergers and divestitures by reallocating taxable income between operations in jurisdictions with differing tax rates. The associated ownership distortion is minimized by choosing factor weights to minimize weighted squared prediction errors, for which, based on the European evidence, labor inputs should play little if any role in allocation formulas. But even a distortion-minimizing formula creates large incentives for inefficient ownership reallocation due to the enormous variation in profitability that is unexplained by formulary factors, implying that significant resource allocation costs would accompany European adoption of formulary apportionment methods.

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  • James R. Hines, Jr., 2009. "Income Misattribution under Formula Apportionment," NBER Working Papers 15185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15185
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    Cited by:

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    2. Raymond Mataloni & Kim Ruhl & Dylan Rassier & Fatih Guvenen, 2016. "Offshore Profit Shifting and Domestic Productivity Measurement," 2016 Meeting Papers 1382, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Fuest, Clemens & Spengel, Christoph & Finke, Katharina & Heckemeyer, Jost H. & Nusser, Hannah, 2013. "Profit shifting and 'aggressive' tax planning by multinational firms: Issues and options for reform," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-078, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    4. Ruud De Mooij & Li Liu & Dinar Prihardini, 2021. "An Assessment of Global Formula Apportionment," National Tax Journal, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74(2), pages 431-465.
    5. Fatih Guvenen & Raymond J. Mataloni Jr. & Dylan G. Rassier & Kim J. Ruhl, 2022. "Offshore Profit Shifting and Aggregate Measurement: Balance of Payments, Foreign Investment, Productivity, and the Labor Share," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 112(6), pages 1848-1884, June.
    6. Martini, Jan Thomas & Niemann, Rainer & Simons, Dirk, 2016. "Tax-induced distortions of effort and compensation in a principal-agent setting," Journal of International Accounting, Auditing and Taxation, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 26-39.
    7. Marion, Justin & Muehlegger, Erich, 2018. "Tax compliance and fiscal externalities: Evidence from U.S. diesel taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 1-13.
    8. Gabriel Zucman, 2014. "Taxing across Borders: Tracking Personal Wealth and Corporate Profits," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(4), pages 121-148, Fall.
    9. Eichfelder, Sebastian & Hechtner, Frank & Hundsdoerfer, Jochen, 2015. "Formula apportionment: Factor allocation and tax avoidance," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 199, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    10. Gabriel Zucman, 2015. "Grenzüberschreitende Besteuerung: Wie Privatvermögen und Unternehmensgewinne erfasst werden können," Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft - WuG, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik, vol. 41(1), pages 13-48.
    11. Jennifer Bruner & Dylan G. Rassier & Kim J. Ruhl, 2018. "Multinational Profit Shifting and Measures throughout Economic Accounts," NBER Chapters, in: Challenges of Globalization in the Measurement of National Accounts, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Ronald B. Davies, 2012. "CCCTB 4 EU? SA vs. FA w/ FTA," Working Papers 201224, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    13. Dirk Kiesewetter & Tobias Steigenberger & Matthias Stier, 2018. "Can formula apportionment really prevent multinational enterprises from profit shifting? The role of asset valuation, intragroup debt, and leases," Journal of Business Economics, Springer, vol. 88(9), pages 1029-1060, December.
    14. Becker, Johannes & Runkel, Marco, 2013. "Corporate tax regime and international allocation of ownership," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 8-15.
    15. 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.
    16. Clausing, Kimberly A. & Lahav, Yaron, 2011. "Corporate tax payments under formulary apportionment: Evidence from the financial reports of 50 major U.S. multinational firms," Journal of International Accounting, Auditing and Taxation, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 97-105.
    17. Evers, Andrea & Hundsdoerfer, Jochen, 2014. "Country-by-Country Reporting: Eine neue Rechnungslegung über länderspezifische Wertschöpfung und Ertragsteuern?," Discussion Papers 2014/20, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    18. Hulya Celebi & Sabina Hodžić, 2017. "The Impact of Corporate Income Tax on R&D of Multinational Entities: An Impact Analysis of Separate Taxation and CCCTB," European Financial and Accounting Journal, Prague University of Economics and Business, vol. 2017(3), pages 17-31.
    19. Eichfelder, Sebastian & Hechtner, Frank & Hundsdoerfer, Jochen, 2015. "Formula apportionment: Factor allocation and tax avoidance," Discussion Papers 2015/30, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    20. Dyreng, Scott D. & Lindsey, Bradley P. & Thornock, Jacob R., 2013. "Exploring the role Delaware plays as a domestic tax haven," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(3), pages 751-772.
    21. Kunka Petkova & Alfons J. Weichenrieder, 2020. "The relevance of depreciation allowances as a fiscal policy instrument: A hybrid approach to CCCTB?," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 47(3), pages 579-610, August.
    22. Ronald B. Davies, 2013. "Tariff-induced transfer pricing and the CCCTB," Working Papers 201314, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    23. Jochen Hundsdoerfer & Julia Wagner, 2020. "How accurately does the CCCTB apportionment formula allocate profits? An evaluation of the European Commission proposal," Journal of Business Economics, Springer, vol. 90(4), pages 495-536, May.
    24. Kakpo, Eliakim, 2018. "The corporate tax, apportionment rules and employment: Evidence using policy discontinuity at U.S. state borders," MPRA Paper 94875, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • 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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