Repatriation Taxes and Dividend Distortions

42 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2001 Last revised: 2 Jan 2010

See all articles by Mihir A. Desai

Mihir A. Desai

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

C. Fritz Foley

Harvard Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

James R. Hines Jr.

University of Michigan; NBER

Date Written: October 2001

Abstract

This paper analyzes the effect of repatriation taxes on dividend payments by the foreign affiliates of American multinational firms. The United States taxes the foreign incomes of American companies, grants credits for any foreign income taxes paid, and defers any taxes due on the unrepatriated earnings for those affiliates that are separately incorporated abroad. This system thereby imposes repatriation taxes that vary inversely with foreign tax rates and that differ across organizational forms. As a consequence, it is possible to measure the effect of repatriation taxes by comparing the behavior of foreign subsidiaries that are subject to different tax rates and by comparing the behavior of foreign incorporated and unincorporated affiliates. Evidence from a large panel of foreign affiliates of U.S. firms from 1982 to 1997 indicates that one percent lower repatriation tax rates are associated with one percent higher dividends. This implies that repatriation taxes reduce aggregate dividend payouts by 12.8 percent, and, in the process, generate annual efficiency losses equal to 2.5 percent of dividends. These effects would disappear if the United States were to exempt foreign income from taxation.

Suggested Citation

Desai, Mihir A. and Foley, C. Fritz and Hines, James Rodger, Repatriation Taxes and Dividend Distortions (October 2001). NBER Working Paper No. w8507. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=285632

Mihir A. Desai (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6693 (Phone)
617-496-6592 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
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C. Fritz Foley

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6375 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

James Rodger Hines

University of Michigan ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

NBER

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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