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Chains of Ownership, Regional Tax Competition, and Foreign Direct Investment

Author

Listed:
  • Mihir A. Desai
  • C. Fritz Foley
  • James R. Hines Jr.

Abstract

This paper considers the effect of taxation on the location of foreign direct investment (FDI) and taxable income reported by multinational firms with particular attention to the regional dynamics of tax competition and the role of chains of ownership. Confidential affiliate-level data are used to compare the investment and income-reporting behavior of American-owned foreign affiliates across ownership forms and regions. Ten percent higher tax rates are associated with 5.0 percent lower FDI, controlling for parent company and observable aspects of local economies, and 0.9 percent lower returns on assets, controlling for parent company and level of FDI. Tax effects are particularly strong within Europe, where ten percent higher tax rates are associated with 7.7 percent lower FDI and 1.7 percent lower returns on assets. Indirectly owned foreign affiliates also exhibit strong tax effects, ten percent higher tax rates being associated with 12.0 percent lower FDI and 1.4 percent lower returns on assets. American firms finance a growing fraction of their foreign operations indirectly through chains of ownership, which now account for more than 30 percent of aggregate foreign assets and sales. Ownership chains are particularly concentrated among European affiliates. Since multinational firms from countries other than the United States face tax environments similar to those faced by indirectly owned affiliates of American companies, these results suggest a greater sensitivity of FDI to taxes for non-American firms. The results also suggest that European economic integration may have the effect of intensifying tax competition between European jurisdictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Mihir A. Desai & C. Fritz Foley & James R. Hines Jr., 2002. "Chains of Ownership, Regional Tax Competition, and Foreign Direct Investment," NBER Working Papers 9224, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9224
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Swenson, Deborah L., 2001. "Tax Reforms and Evidence of Transfer Pricing," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 54(1), pages 7-26, March.
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    6. 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 285-293, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Holger Görg & Eric Strobl, 2015. "Does Corporate Taxation Deter Multinationals? Evidence from a Historic Event in Ireland," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(5), pages 788-804, May.
    2. Luca Colombo & Paola Labrecciosa & Patrick Paul Walsh, 2005. "Optimal Corporation Tax: An I.O. Approach," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp97, IIIS.
    3. Desai, Mihir A. & Hines, James R. Jr., 2002. "Expectations and Expatriations: Tracing the Causes and Consequences of Corporate Inversions," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 55(3), pages 409-440, September.
    4. Andrew Haughwout & Robert Inman & Steven Craig & Thomas Luce, 2004. "Local Revenue Hills: Evidence from Four U.S. Cities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 570-585, May.
    5. Oldenski, Lindsay, 2012. "Export Versus FDI and the Communication of Complex Information," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 312-322.
    6. Mihir A. Desai & C. Fritz Foley & James R. Hines, 2004. "Economic Effects of Regional Tax Havens," NBER Working Papers 10806, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Görg, Holger & Molana, Hassan & Montagna, Catia, 2009. "Foreign direct investment, tax competition and social expenditure," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 31-37, January.
    8. Holger Görg, 2003. "Fancy a stay at the "Hotel California "?Foreign Direct Investment,Taxation and Exit Costs," DNB Staff Reports (discontinued) 96, Netherlands Central Bank.
    9. Robert E. Lipsey, 2009. "Measuring International Trade in Services," NBER Chapters,in: International Trade in Services and Intangibles in the Era of Globalization, pages 27-70 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Frank Barry, 2006. "Foreign direct investment and institutional co-evolution in Ireland," Working Papers 200603, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    11. Mark A. Planting & Jiemin Guo, 2002. "Increasing the Timeliness of U.S. Annual I-O Accounts," BEA Papers 0022, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
    12. Duy Vu, 2018. "To Settle or to Fight to the end? Case-level Determinants of Early Settlement of Investor-State Disputes," GREDEG Working Papers 2018-36, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
    13. Matthew D. Atkinson, 2003. "A Computational Routine for Disaggregating Industry Margin Data to Estimate Product Margin Rates," BEA Papers 0031, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
    14. Robert E. Lipsey, 2007. "Defining and Measuring the Location of FDI Output," NBER Working Papers 12996, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Barry, Frank, 2004. "Export-platform foreign direct investment: the Irish experience," EIB Papers 6/2004, European Investment Bank, Economics Department.
    16. Auerbach, Alan J., 2006. "The U.S. Tax System in International Perspective: A Review of the 2006 Economic Report of the PresidentiÌ s Tax Chapter," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt23b9n6bp, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H87 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - International Fiscal Issues; International Public Goods
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies

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