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International Debt Shifting: Do Multinationals Shift Internal or External Debt?

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  • Schindler, Dirk
  • Møen, Jarle
  • Schjelderup, Guttorm
  • Tropina, Julia

Abstract

Multinational companies can exploit the tax advantage of debt more aggressively than national companies. Besides utilizing the standard debt tax shield, multinationals can shift debt from affiliates in low-tax countries to affiliates in high-tax countries. We study the capital structure of multinationals and expand previous theory by incorporating debt tax shield effects from both internal and external capital markets. A main finding is that firm value is maximized if both internal and external debt is used, and that internal lending should be conducted through a financial center in the lowest-taxed affiliate. Testing our model using a large panel of German multinationals, we identify all three debt tax shields. Our estimates suggest that internal and external debt shifting are of about equal relevance.

Suggested Citation

  • Schindler, Dirk & Møen, Jarle & Schjelderup, Guttorm & Tropina, Julia, 2013. "International Debt Shifting: Do Multinationals Shift Internal or External Debt?," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79749, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc13:79749
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    Cited by:

    1. Mardan, Mohammed, 2017. "Why countries differ in thin capitalization rules: The role of financial development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 1-14.
    2. Feld, Lars P. & Heckemeyer, Jost H. & Overesch, Michael, 2013. "Capital structure choice and company taxation: A meta-study," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 2850-2866.
    3. Martin Simmler, 2014. "Do multinational firms invest more? On the impact of internal debt financing on capital accumulation," Working Papers 1424, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    4. Gresik, Thomas A. & Schindler, Dirk & Schjelderup, Guttorm, 2017. "Immobilizing corporate income shifting: Should it be safe to strip in the harbor?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 68-78.
    5. Arnt Ove Hopland & Petro Lisowsky & Mohammed Mardan & Dirk Schindler, 2014. "Income Shifting under Losses," CESifo Working Paper Series 5130, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Georg Wamser, 2014. "The Impact of Thin-Capitalization Rules on External Debt Usage – A Propensity Score Matching Approach," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 76(5), pages 764-781, October.
    7. Overesch Michael, 2016. "Steuervermeidung multinationaler Unternehmen," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 17(2), pages 129-143, July.
    8. Scheuering, Uwe, 2013. "M&A and the Tax Benefits of Debt Financing," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79817, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    9. Reiter, Franz, 2017. "Avoiding Taxes: Banks' Use of Internal Debt," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168115, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    10. Guttorm Schjelderup, 2016. "The Tax Sensitivity of Debt in Multinationals: A Review," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(1), pages 109-121, February.
    11. Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der Gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung (ed.), 2015. "Zukunftsfähigkeit in den Mittelpunkt. Jahresgutachten 2015/16," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 201516.
    12. Peter Birch Sørensen, 2014. "Taxation and the Optimal Constraint on Corporate Debt Finance," CESifo Working Paper Series 5101, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. Dirk Schindler & Guttorm Schjelderup, 2013. "Transfer Pricing and Debt Shifting in Multinationals," CESifo Working Paper Series 4381, CESifo Group Munich.
    14. Peter Birch Sørensen, 2014. "Taxation and the optimal constraint on corporate debt finance," Working Papers 1427, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    15. repec:kap:itaxpf:v:24:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s10797-016-9432-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Belén Gill de Albornoz Noguer & Simona Rusanescu, 2017. "Foreign ownership and financial reporting quality in private subsidiaries," Working Papers. Serie EC 2017-02, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).

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    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business

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