Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Leslie Robinson (Dartmouth) presents Negotiated Tax Havens (with Kevin Markle (Iowa)) at Pennsylvania today as part of its Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series hosted by Michael Knoll, Chris Sanchirico, and Reed Shuldiner:
The intersection of state aid and international tax has acquired a high profile in Europe. In response, disclosure policies are being proposed. With no empirical evidence, these policies are predicated on rhetoric that pervasive practices by host country governments unfairly benefit foreign-owned companies. Using several novel data sources on tax relief granted in the EU, we find that both domestic- and foreign-owned companies benefit from tax concessions. Our evidence that tax avoidance is a joint production function of business and government suggests that any jurisdiction can operate as a tax haven for a company willing to negotiate. ...
Conclusion. Overall, our results suggest that state aid offers tax benefits to both foreignowned and domestic-owned companies. Aid that is pre-approved appears more likely to benefit domestic-owned companies, perhaps because helping domesticowned companies is more likely to meet a broader EU objective than aiding foreign-owned companies. The recent trend towards enhanced disclosure of tax rulings as well as disclosure of aid granted at the level of the beneficiary are, in our view, necessary steps toward appropriate enforcement of state aid rules in the EU. However, because state aid does appear to benefit domestic-owned companies, the automatic exchange of tax rulings should cover all rulings, not just those issued to foreign-owned companies.
Our study also offers important evidence that state aid is pervasive and has real effects on firms’ profitability and tax burdens. Given this, any country can in fact operate as a tax haven for any company, without greater supervision and transparency surrounding state aid.