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Transfer pricing as tax avoidance under different legislative schemes

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  • Holzmann, Carolin Maria

Abstract

This paper investigates transfer pricing as tax avoidance before and after reforms of anti-avoidance legislation. The reforms introduced and tightened obligatory documentation requirements for transfer prices to enforce that multinational enterprises (MNEs) set internal transfer prices at an arm’s-length. Linking data from the Microdatabase Statistics on International Trade in Services that comprehends prices of MNEs’ international service transactions to the Microdatabase Direct Investment, I create a unique, novel data set to obtain information on whether MNEs’ transaction partners are affiliated companies or not. The results provide empirical evidence for tax-motivated transfer pricing during the entire first decade of the 2000s. Interestingly, MNEs target different types of service transactions for profit shifting via transfer pricing depending on the at the time applicable anti-shifting legislation. The findings show transfer pricing legislation to be effective in case of service transactions with observable market values. In contrast, the results clearly reveal the short-comings of transfer pricing legislation in case of intellectual property (IP) where an effective enforcement of the arm’s-length principle is very limited as market values are unobservable. Here, the findings suggest the need for a change in tax policy in order to effectively prevent base erosion in case of IP-related transfer pricing.

Suggested Citation

  • Holzmann, Carolin Maria, 2016. "Transfer pricing as tax avoidance under different legislative schemes," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145929, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc16:145929
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    JEL classification:

    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm

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