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Income Shifting in U.S. Multinational Corporations

  • David Harris
  • Randall Morck
  • Joel Slemrod
  • Bernard Yeung

It is often claimed that multinational firms avoid taxes by shifting income from high-tax to low-tax countries. Using a five year panel of data for two hundred large U.S. manufacturing firms, we find that U.S. tax liability, as a fraction either of U.S. sales or U.S. assets, is related to the location of foreign subsidiaries in a way that is consistent with tax-motivated income shifting. Having a subsidiary in a tax haven, Ireland, or one of the "four dragon" Asian countries - all characterized by low tax rates - is associated with lower U.S. tax ratios. Having a subsidiary in a high-tax region is associated with higher U.S. tax ratios. These results suggest that U.S. manufacturing companies shift income out of high-tax countries into the U.S., and from the U.S. to low-tax countries. Such behavior certainly lowers worldwide tax liabilities for larger U.S. manufacturing companies and appears to significantly lower their U.S. tax liabilities as well.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w3924.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3924.

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Date of creation: Dec 1991
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Publication status: published as Studies in Internatioanl Taxationedited by Alberto Giovannini, R. Glenn Hubbard, and Joel Slemrod University of Chicago Press: May 1993
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3924
Note: PE
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  1. Morck, Randall & Yeung, Bernard, 1991. "Why Investors Value Multinationality," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(2), pages 165-87, April.
  2. Hines, J.R. & Rice, E.M., 1990. "Fiscal Paradise: Foreign Tax Havens And American Business," Papers 56, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  3. Grubert, Harry & Mutti, John, 1991. "Taxes, Tariffs and Transfer Pricing in Multinational Corporate Decision Making," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(2), pages 285-93, May.
  4. Morck, Randall & Yeung, Bernard, 1992. "Internalization : An event study test," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1-2), pages 41-56, August.
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