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The impact of thin-capitalization rules on multinationals' financing and investment decisions

  • Büttner, Thiess
  • Overesch, Michael
  • Schreiber, Ulrich
  • Wamser, Georg

This paper analyzes the effectiveness of thin-capitalization rules in preventing debt finance by intercompany loans and explores their consequences for corporate decisions. A theoretical discussion emphasizes that limitations of the deduction of interest owed to foreign affiliates would not only affect multinationals' capital structure choice but also investment. An empirical investigation exploits a large firm-level panel dataset of multinationals in order to analyze the impact of thin-capitalization rules on capital structure choice and investment in the OECD and some further European countries in the time period between 1996 and 2004. The results indicate that thin-capitalization rules are effective in curbing tax planning via intercompany loans. However, investment is found to be adversely affected.

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Paper provided by Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre in its series Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies with number 2008,03.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:bubdp1:7114
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  1. Auerbach, Alan J., 2002. "Taxation and corporate financial policy," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 19, pages 1251-1292 Elsevier.
  2. Janeba, Eckhard & Smart, Michael, 2003. "Is Targeted Tax Competition Less Harmful Than Its Remedies?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 259-80, May.
  3. Roger H. Gordon & Young Lee, 1999. "Do Taxes Affect Corporate Debt Policy? Evidence from US Corporate Tax Return Data," NBER Working Papers 7433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Mintz, Jack & Smart, Michael, 2004. "Income shifting, investment, and tax competition: theory and evidence from provincial taxation in Canada," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(6), pages 1149-1168, June.
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  6. Keen, Michael, 2001. "Preferential Regimes Can Make Tax Competition Less Harmful," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(n. 4), pages 757-62, December.
  7. Gravelle, Jane G., 2004. "The Corporate Tax: Where Has It Been and Where Is It Going?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 57(4), pages 903-23, December.
  8. Huizinga, Harry & Laeven, Luc & Nicodème, Gaëtan, 2006. "Capital Structure and International Debt Shifting," CEPR Discussion Papers 5882, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Sam Bucovetsky & Andreas Haufler, 2005. "Tax Competition when Firms Choose their Organizational Form: Should Tax Loopholes for Multinationals be Closed?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1625, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Peralta, Susana & Wauthy, Xavier & van Ypersele, Tanguy, 2006. "Should countries control international profit shifting?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 24-37, January.
  11. Mihir A. Desai & C. Fritz Foley & James R. Hines, Jr., 2003. "A Multinational Perspective on Capital Structure Choice and Internal Capital Markets," NBER Working Papers 9715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Paolo Panteghini, 2009. "The capital structure of multinational companies under tax competition," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 59-81, February.
  13. Thomas A. Gresik, 2001. "The Taxing Task of Taxing Transnationals," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 800-838, September.
  14. Büttner, Thiess & Overesch, Michael & Schreiber, Ulrich & Wamser, Georg, 2006. "Taxation and capital structure choice: evidence from a panel of German multinationals," ZEW Discussion Papers 06-67, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  15. Mihir A. Desai, 2005. "The Degradation of Reported Corporate Profits," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 171-192, Fall.
  16. Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, 1988. "Do Taxes Affect Corporate Financing Decisions?," NBER Working Papers 2632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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