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Can formula apportionment really prevent multinational enterprises from profit shifting? The role of asset valuation, intragroup debt, and leases

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  • Kiesewetter, Dirk
  • Steigenberger, Tobias
  • Stier, Matthias

Abstract

The European Commission has been supporting a transition from a system of separate accounting to a system of formula apportionment. In 2011, it presented a proposal for a council directive on a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB). Formula apportionment is often considered more resistant to profit shifting and assumed to reduce compliance costs. We use a dynamic model of tax accounting based on neoclassical investment theory and effective tax rates to determine whether, and to what extent, formula apportionment mitigates the efficiency of typical profit-shifting measures. We focus on the roles of transfer pricing and intragroup debt financing (through loans and leases) under both separate accounting and formula apportionment. Our results show that instead of eliminating tax planning strategies, the proposed system will simply induce a shift from manipulating reported profits to influencing the apportionment key. Inside the European Union, the CCCTB may be able to render thin capitalisation rules and transfer pricing documentation redundant. However, formula apportionment invites new forms of tax planning involving manipulating the book value of assets rather than profit shifting.

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  • Kiesewetter, Dirk & Steigenberger, Tobias & Stier, Matthias, 2014. "Can formula apportionment really prevent multinational enterprises from profit shifting? The role of asset valuation, intragroup debt, and leases," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 175, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:arqudp:175
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ortmann, Regina, 2015. "Uncertainty in weighting formulary apportionment factors and its impact on after-tax income of multinational groups," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 184, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    2. Regina Ortmann & Caren Sureth-Sloane, 2016. "Can the CCCTB alleviate tax discrimination against loss-making European multinational groups?," Journal of Business Economics, Springer, vol. 86(5), pages 441-475, July.
    3. Ortmann, Regina & Pummerer, Erich, 2015. "Formula apportionment or separate accounting? Tax-induced distortions of multinationals' locational investment decisions," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 198, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.

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    Keywords

    Effective Tax Rate; CCCTB; Formula Apportionment; Tax Planning; Profit Shifting; Debt Financing; Leasing;

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory

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