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Earnings shocks and tax-motivated income-shifting: Evidence from European multinationals

  • Dharmapala, Dhammika
  • Riedel, Nadine

This paper presents a new approach to estimating the existence and magnitude of taxmotivated income shifting within multinational corporations. Existing studies of income shifting use changes in corporate tax rates as a source of identification. In contrast, this paper exploits exogenous earnings shocks at the parent firm and investigates how these shocks propagate across low-tax and high-tax multinational subsidiaries. This approach is implemented using a large panel of European multinational affiliates over the period 1995-2005. The central result is that parents' positive earnings shocks are associated with a significantly positive increase in pretax profits at low-tax affiliates, relative to the effect on the pretax profits of high-tax affiliates. The result is robust to controlling for various other differences between low-tax and high-tax affiliates and for country-pair-year fixed effects. Additional tests suggest that the estimated effect is attributable primarily to the strategic use of debt across affiliates. The magnitude of income shifting estimated using this approach is substantial, but somewhat smaller than that found in the previous literature.

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Paper provided by University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID) in its series FZID Discussion Papers with number 24-2011.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:fziddp:242011
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  1. Marianne Bertrand & Paras Mehta & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2000. "Ferreting Out Tunneling: An Application to Indian Business Groups," NBER Working Papers 7952, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. Haufler, Andreas & Schjelderup, Guttorm, 2000. "Corporate Tax Systems and Cross Country Profit Shifting," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(2), pages 306-25, April.
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  9. Mihir Desai & Dhammika Dharmapala, . "Corporate Tax Avoidance and High Powered Incentives," American Law & Economics Association Annual Meetings 1006, American Law & Economics Association.
  10. Harry Huizinga & Luc Laeven, 2006. "International profit shifting within multinationals: a multi-country perspective," European Economy - Economic Papers 2008 - 2015 260, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
  11. Thorsten Beck & Asli Demirgüç-Kunt & Ross Levine, 2010. "Financial Institutions and Markets across Countries and over Time: The Updated Financial Development and Structure Database," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 24(1), pages 77-92, January.
  12. Desai, Mihir A. & Dharmapala, Dhammika, 2009. "Earnings Management, Corporate Tax Shelters, and Book–Tax Alignment," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 62(1), pages 169-86, March.
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  17. Desai, Mihir A. & Foley, C. Fritz & Hines, James Jr., 2006. "The demand for tax haven operations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(3), pages 513-531, February.
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  22. Clausing, Kimberly A., 2003. "Tax-motivated transfer pricing and US intrafirm trade prices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 2207-2223, September.
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