The paper provides estimates of the long-run, tax-adjusted, user cost elasticity of capital (UCE) in a small open economy, exploiting three sources of variation in Canadian tax policy: across provinces, industries, and years. Estimates of the UCE with Canadian data are less prone to the endogeneity problems arising from the effects of tax policy changes on the interest rate or on the price of capital equipment. Reductions in the federal corporate income tax rate during the early 2000s for service industries but not for manufacturing, which already benefited from a preferential tax rate, contribute to the identification of the UCE. To capture the long-run relationship between the capital stock and the user cost of capital, an error correction model (ECM) is estimated. Supplementary results are obtained from a distributed lag model in first differences (DLM). With the ECM, our baseline UCE for machinery and equipment (M&E) is -1.312. The corresponding semi-elasticity of the stock of M&E with respect to the METR is about -0.2, suggesting, for example, that a 5 percentage point reduction in the METR, say from 15 to 10 percent, would in the long run generate an increase of 1.0 percent in the stock of M&E. The UCE for non-residential construction is statistically insignificantly different from zero.
Sebastian Beer, Ruud A. de Mooij, Mr. Shafik Hebous, Mr. Michael Keen, and Ms. Li Liu
Schemes of residual profit allocation (RPA) tax multinationals by allocating their ‘routine’ profits
to countries in which their activities take place and sharing their remaining ‘residual’ profit across
countries on some formulaic basis. They have recently and rapidly come to prominence in policy
discussions, yet almost nothing is known about their impact on revenue, investment and
efficiency. This paper explores these issues, conceptually and empirically. It finds residual profits
to be substantial, but concentrated in a relatively few MNEs, headquartered in few countries. The
impact on tax revenue of reallocating excess profits under RPA, while adverse for investment
hubs, appears beneficial for lower income countries even when the formula allocates by
destination-based sales. The impact on investment incentives is ambiguous and specific both to
countries and MNE groups; only if the rate of tax on routine profits is low does aggregate
efficiency seem likely to increase.
Risks to macroeconomic stability posed by excessive private leverage are significantly amplified by tax distortions. ‘Debt bias’ (tax provisions favoring finance by debt rather than equity) has increased leverage in both the household and corporate sectors, and is now widely recognized as a significant macroeconomic concern.
This paper presents new evidence of the extent of debt bias, including estimates for banks and non-bank financial institutions both before and after the global financial crisis. It presents policy options to alleviate debt bias, and assesses their effectiveness. The paper finds that thin capitalization rules restricting interest deductibility have only partially been able to address debt bias, but that an allowance for corporate equity has generally proved effective. The paper concludes that debt bias should feature prominently in countries’ tax reform plans in the coming years.
Staff Discussion Notes showcase the latest policy-related analysis and research being developed by individual IMF staff and are published to elicit comment and to further debate. These papers are generally brief and written in nontechnical language, and so are aimed at a broad audience interested in economic policy issues. This Web-only series replaced Staff Position Notes in January 2011.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
IMF and low-income countries; De Rato in Tokyo; U.K. poverty initiative; Palau, Lithuania, Ethiopia, Kuwait; Volatility in Latin America; U.S. home equity withdrawal; Botswana: avoiding the resource curse; India: tax reform; U.S corporate cash balances.
This paper compares the effective rates of taxation faced by a representative investor located in a major capital-exporting country for investments in machinery and buildings in nine capital-importing European countries. Poland and Hungary are found to have relatively high effective tax rates on equity-financed investment. The analysis suggests that both countries would benefit from streamlining capital cost recovery allowances and possibly lowering statutory corporate tax rates—as permitted by the revenue constraint—rather than providing tax preferences for foreign investors.