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Mr. Shafik Hebous, Mr. Alexander D Klemm, and Yuou Wu
Profit shifting by multinational enterprises—through manipulation of transfer prices of related-party trade, intragroup lending, or the location of intangibles—affects international flows, raising the question of its impact on the current account and external balances. This paper approaches this question theoretically and empirically. In theory, profit shifting distorts the components of the current account and bilateral current account balances but leaves a country’s aggregate net balance unaffected. There is, however, a real effect on current account balances, because taxes are paid to different jurisdictions. Moreover—in practice—the measured current account could change, because not all transactions are equally easy to track. Our panel empirical results broadly confirm that the current account balance tends to be, on average, unaffected by profit shifting, but taking heterogeneity into account we find that both the real tax effect and mismeasurement strengthen income balances—and thus the current account—in investment hubs.
Ruud A. de Mooij, Ms. Li Liu, and Dinar Prihardini
Formula apportionment as a way to attribute taxable profits of multinationals across jurisdictions is receiving increased attention. This paper reviews existing literature and discusses experiences in selective federal states to evaluate the economic properties of formula apportionment relative to the current international tax regime that is based on separate accounting. It highlights major advantages, such as the elimination of profit shifting within multinational groups; and it discusses new distortions and the impact on tax competition. The analysis exploits different datasets to assess the direct revenue implications for individual countries under alternative formulas. The distributional effects across countries are found to be large, reflecting major discrepancies between where profits are currently attributed and where factors of production are located or sales take place. The largest losses appear in investment hubs (i.e. countries with a disproportionate ratio of foreign direct investment to GDP), while several large advanced countries are likely to gain. Developing countries gain most likely if employment receives a large weight in the formula; they also tend to benefit, on average, from a formula based on sales by destination.
Mr. Vito Tanzi
Deepening globalization and associated or parallel technological and institutional developments are creating conditions which may reduce the industrial countries’ ability to sustain high levels of taxation. The paper identifies and discusses eight trends which may generate revenue falls. It also discusses some measures that might neutralize or reduce the impact of these trends.
Mr. Jack M. Mintz
The internationalization of business activity has created significant pressures on national corporate tax systems. Rather than abandon the corporate tax field, this paper predicts that governments will develop arrangements to further globalize the corporate income tax. The paper assesses the merits and limitations of allocation methods for attributing income to different jurisdictions according to formulas measuring business activity. Such methods are being used as part of transfer pricing regimes and are likely to be enhanced over time. Whatever international arrangements develop in the future, there is a role for new institutions to improve cooperative discussions among governments.
Yuichi Ikeda
Tax authorities in several countries have intensified their surveillance of intercompany transfer pricing in recent years. This paper examines the legislative and administrative issues related to the treatment of intercompany transfer pricing for tax purposes. It reviews the existing international guidelines and national rules on methods for determining appropriate transfer prices, as well as the issues related to tax administration practices for the implementation of those rules. Various systems, proposed or introduced to improve the predictability of taxation, are also examined. This paper further reviews the recent discussions on the “commensurate-with-income” standard and the pricing methodologies proposed thereunder. It finally reviews some alternative approaches to international income allocation which are proposed or adopted in lieu of the transfer pricing approach.