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Profit shifting and 'aggressive' tax planning by multinational firms: Issues and options for reform

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Listed:
  • Fuest, Clemens
  • Spengel, Christoph
  • Finke, Katharina
  • Heckemeyer, Jost
  • Nusser, Hannah

Abstract

This paper discusses the issue of profit shifting and 'aggressive' tax planning by multinational firms. The paper makes two contributions. Firstly, we provide some background information to the debate by giving a brief overview over existing empirical studies on profit shifting and by describing arrangements for IP-based profit shifting which are used by the companies currently accused of avoiding taxes. We then show that preventing this type of tax avoidance is, in principle, straightforward. Secondly, we argue that, in the short term, policy makers should focus on extending withholding taxes in an internationally coordinated way. Other measures which are currently being discussed, in particular unilateral measures like limitations on interest and license deduction, fundamental reforms of the international tax system and country-by-country reporting, are either economically harmful or need to be elaborated much further before their introduction can be considered.

Suggested Citation

  • Fuest, Clemens & Spengel, Christoph & Finke, Katharina & Heckemeyer, Jost & Nusser, Hannah, 2013. "Profit shifting and 'aggressive' tax planning by multinational firms: Issues and options for reform," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-044, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:13044
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    2. Karkinsky, Tom & Riedel, Nadine, 2012. "Corporate taxation and the choice of patent location within multinational firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 176-185.
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    4. 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.
    5. Altshuler, Rosanne & Grubert, Harry, 2010. "Formula Apportionment: Is It Better Than the Current System and Are There Better Alternatives?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 63(4), pages 1145-1184, December.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax avoidance; profit shifting; multinational firms; intellectual property; tax policy; tax reform;

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • K34 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Tax Law

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