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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?," VfS 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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    More about this item

    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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