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

Listed author(s):
  • Fuest, Clemens
  • Spengel, Christoph
  • Finke, Katharina
  • Heckemeyer, Jost
  • Nusser, Hannah

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.

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File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/78621/1/756742072.pdf
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Paper provided by ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research in its series ZEW Discussion Papers with number 13-044.

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Date of creation: 2013
Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:13044
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  1. Hines Jr., James R., 2010. "Income misattribution under formula apportionment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 108-120, January.
  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.
  3. 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.
  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, vol. 63(4), pages 1145-1184, December.
  6. Mihir A. Desai & C. Fritz Foley & James R. Hines, 2004. "A Multinational Perspective on Capital Structure Choice and Internal Capital Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(6), pages 2451-2487, December.
  7. Egger, Peter & Eggert, Wolfgang & Winner, Hannes, 2010. "Saving taxes through foreign plant ownership," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 99-108, May.
  8. Fuest, Clemens & Hebous, Shafik & Riedel, Nadine, 2011. "International debt shifting and multinational firms in developing economies," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 113(2), pages 135-138.
  9. Grubert, Harry, 2003. "Intangible Income, Intercompany Transactions, Income Shifting, and the Choice of Location," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 56(1), pages 221-242, March.
  10. Lars P. Feld & Jost H. Heckemeyer, 2011. "Fdi And Taxation: A Meta‐Study," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(2), pages 233-272, April.
  11. Dharmapala, Dhammika & Riedel, Nadine, 2013. "Earnings shocks and tax-motivated income-shifting: Evidence from European multinationals," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 95-107.
  12. Clausing, Kimberly A., 2009. "Multinational Firm Tax Avoidance and Tax Policy," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 62(4), pages 703-725, December.
  13. Dischinger, Matthias & Riedel, Nadine, 2011. "Corporate taxes and the location of intangible assets within multinational firms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 691-707, August.
  14. Jost H. Heckemeyer & Christoph Spengel, 2008. "Ausmaß der Gewinnverlagerung multinationaler Unternehmen - empirische Evidenz und Implikationen für die deutsche Steuerpolitik," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 9(1), pages 37-61, February.
  15. Alan Auerbach & Michael P. Devereux & Helen Simpson, 2007. "Taxing Corporate Income," CESifo Working Paper Series 2139, CESifo Group Munich.
  16. Bond, Stephen Roy & Devereux, Michael P., 2002. "Cash Flow Taxes in an Open Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 3401, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Huizinga, Harry & Laeven, Luc, 2008. "International profit shifting within multinationals: A multi-country perspective," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1164-1182, June.
  18. Heckemeyer, Jost H. & Overesch, Michael, 2013. "Multinationals' profit response to tax differentials: Effect size and shifting channels," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-045, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  19. Clemens Fuest & Nadine Riedel, 2010. "Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance in Developing Countries: The Role of International Profit Shifting," Working Papers 1012, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
  20. James R. Hines & Eric M. Rice, 1994. "Fiscal Paradise: Foreign Tax Havens and American Business," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(1), pages 149-182.
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