Vincent Aussilloux, Jean-Charles Bricongne, Samuel Delpeuch, Margarita Lopez Forero, 21 September 2021

French multinational enterprises have been expanding their activity abroad, including for profit-shifting purposes. These tax planning activities may alter the measurement and our understanding of their real activity. This column uses French micro-data from 1997 to 2015 to show that firm-measured productivity declines in the years following multinationals’ establishment of tax havens. Had these new presences in tax havens not been established, the annual growth of French aggregate labour productivity would have been 0.06% higher, which is tantamount to 9.7% of the observed annual aggregate labour productivity growth. 

Paolo Acciari, Barbara Bratta, Vera Santomartino, 28 June 2021

G7 finance ministers recently committed to a global minimum tax rate for multinational enterprises. A key objective is to reduce profit shifting by large enterprises. This column uses new microdata to show how the profit-shifting response to tax rate changes depends on tax rate differentials. Profit shifting is significantly more sensitive to tax rate changes in countries with tax rates lower than the world average, and less sensitive in countries close to the average. As a result, policies aimed at guaranteeing a minimum level of taxation may be effective and efficient in curbing profit shifting by reducing tax rate differentials. 

Jay Pil Choi, Jota Ishikawa, Hirofumi Okoshi, 27 July 2020

It is well known that multinational enterprises take advantage of corporate tax systems worldwide to avoid taxation. Transfer pricing is one common method used for profit-shifting, as intra-firm transactions are shielded from the market mechanism. Numerous guidelines and regulations have been implemented to tackle such profit-shifting, but challenges remain. This column theoretically explores how one such regulation, the ‘arm’s length principle’, affects the licensing strategies of multinationals in the presence of a tax haven. It shows that the mere existence of this principle may lead to further profit-shifting and may worsen the welfare of high-tax countries. 

Jay Pil Choi, Taiji Furusawa, Jota Ishikawa, 26 June 2020

To address the issue of tax avoidance by multinational enterprises, governments impose transfer-pricing rules to control transfer-price manipulation. Using a theoretical framework allowing for the possibility of profit shifting, this column explores the interplay between transfer-pricing regulations and tax competition. It finds that the nature of tax competition can depend on the tightness of transfer-pricing regulation, and a tax-haven country does not always prefer lax transfer-pricing regulation. Thus, the incentives of the host and FDI source country can be aligned to set up global regulatory standards for transfer pricing.

Thomas Tørsløv, Ludvig Wier, Gabriel Zucman, 23 July 2018

Between 1985 and 2018, the global average statutory corporate tax rate fell by more than half. This column uses new macroeconomic data to argue that profit shifting is a key driver of this decline. Close to 40% of multinational profits were artificially shifted to tax havens in 2015, and this massive tax avoidance – and the failure to curb it – are in effect leading more and more countries to give up on taxing multinational companies. 

Ronald Davies, Julien Martin, Mathieu Parenti, Farid Toubal, 05 January 2015

Allegations of tax-avoiding transfer pricing by multinational firms are common, but economic evidence is scarce. This column discusses detailed price data for intra-firm and arm’s length transactions that reveals tax-driven transfer pricing, and suggests that it may be reduced by focusing on a small number of large firms in a small number of tax havens. 

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