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

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  • Fuest, Clemens
  • Spengel, Christoph
  • Finke, Katharina
  • Heckemeyer, Jost H.
  • Nusser, Hannah

Abstract

This paper discusses the issue of profit shifting and 'aggressive' tax planning by multinational firms. The paper makes two contributions. First, it provides some background information to the debate by giving a brief overview of 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. Second, 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 H. & Nusser, Hannah, 2013. "Profit shifting and 'aggressive' tax planning by multinational firms: Issues and options for reform," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-078, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:13078
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax avoidance; profit shifting; multinational firms; intellectual property; tax policy; tax reform;
    All these keywords.

    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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