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Has U.S. Investment Abroad Become More Sensitive to Tax Rates?

  • Rosanne Altshuler

    ()

    (Rutgers University, Department of Economics)

  • T. Scott Newlon

    (U.S. Treasury Department)

  • Harry Grubert

    ()

    (U.S. Treasury Department)

We use data from the U.S. Treasury corporate tax files for 1984 and 1992 to address two related questions concerning the investment decisions of U.S. multinational corporations. First, how sensitive are investment location decisions to tax rate differences across countries? And second, have investment location choices become more sensitive to differences in host country tax rates? We regress a measure of the real capital held in the manufacturing affiliates of U.S. manufacturing firms in each of the 58 countries in our sample on tax rate variables and measures of non-tax characteristics of countries. The availability of two years of data allows us to control for unmeasured country fixed effects. We find large estimated tax elasticities for investment abroad. Our basic estimates yield an elasticity of real capital to after-tax rates of return of close to three in 1992 and about 1.5 in 1984; both the elasticities and the difference between them are significant at standard levels. The increase of more than one in the estimated elasticities from 1984 to 1992 suggests that the allocation of real capital abroad may have become more sensitive to differences in host country taxes in recent years. These results are consistent with increasing mobility of capital and globalization of production.

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Paper provided by Rutgers University, Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 199806.

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Date of creation: 27 Jan 2002
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Handle: RePEc:rut:rutres:199806
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  1. Hines, James R, Jr & Rice, Eric M, 1994. "Fiscal Paradise: Foreign Tax Havens and American Business," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(1), pages 149-82, February.
  2. David G. Hartman, 1981. "Domestic Tax Policy and Foreign Investment: Some Evidence," NBER Working Papers 0784, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Michael J. Boskin & William G. Gale, 1987. "New Results on the Effects of Tax Policy on the International Location of Investment," NBER Chapters, in: The Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation, pages 201-222 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Rosanne Altshuler & Jack Mintz, 1994. "U.S. Interest Allocation Rules: Effects and Policy," NBER Working Papers 4712, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Altshuler, R. & Newlon, T.S., 1991. "The Effects of US Tax Policy on the Income Repatriation Patterns of US Multinational Corporations," Discussion Papers 1991_60, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  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 285-93, May.
  7. James R. Hines, Jr., 1996. "Tax Policy and the Activities of Multinational Corporations," NBER Working Papers 5589, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Gordon, Roger H, 1986. "Taxation of Investment and Savings in a World Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1086-1102, December.
  9. Hartman, David G., 1985. "Tax policy and foreign direct investment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 107-121, February.
  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.
  11. Jason G. Cummins & Kevin A. Hassett & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1995. "Tax Reforms and Investment: A Cross-Country Comparison," NBER Working Papers 5232, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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