اقتصاد سیاسی هماهنگ سازی مالیات شرکتی - چرا سیاستمداران اروپایی حداقل نرخ مالیات را (نمی)می پسندند ؟
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|5240||2013||20 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||14688 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : European Journal of Political Economy, Volume 29, March 2013, Pages 18–37
Setting minimum tax rates is a well discussed way of mitigating pressure from tax competition. This paper investigates which motives shape the support for a minimum corporate tax among politicians. We make use of a unique data base: a survey among members of the European parliament. Our results confirm that the politicians' ideology as well as individual characteristics such as educational background exert a major influence. Moreover, several predictions regarding national interests are derived from various standard tax competition models. These hypotheses are partly supported by the data; in particular, different national preferences towards social equality shape the support. A comparison with survey results from the German Bundestag reveals that German politicians on the national level do not show different attitudes towards tax rate harmonization.
Corporate tax harmonization is a much discussed subject in politics. Supported by the findings of neoclassical standard tax competition models, political representatives repeatedly argue that globalization might lead to a destructive competition which would result in a “race to the bottom” of tax rates and an insufficient financial endowment of the public authorities. However, an international coordination of corporate tax policies is difficult in practice since individual actors may usually gain from a unilateral deviation of their tax policy. One existing supranational institution which could ensure a coordinated tax policy of a subgroup of nations is the European Union. In Europe, there are pronounced concerns about the consequences of corporate tax competition, especially since the accession of Central and Eastern European countries with low corporate taxes to the EU. Although the Ruding Report on Company Taxation (Commission of the European Communities, 1992) already proposed to introduce an EU-wide obligatory corporate tax rate of 30% in the year 1992, European legislators have been remarkably calm regarding advances in this direction in the past years. Nevertheless, both in the political debate and in the economic literature, it is still a debated issue whether the European level should get involved in this area and restrict tax competition by means of an obligatory minimum corporate tax rate. While there exists a vast theoretical and empirical literature on the controversial issue whether corporate tax coordination is capable of improving welfare or not as compared to unrestricted competition, the positive question on the driving forces of harmonization processes has largely been ignored. Despite the fact that a few authors have formulated certain presumptions on the conditions under which harmonization takes place as well as the probable view of decision makers in parliaments, rigorous empirical tests on such hypotheses are missing. This paper contributes to filling this gap. We want to explore the preference-shaping factors of policy actors with respect to their position on corporate tax coordination in general and on an EU-wide minimum tax in particular. There are a number of factors which can be expected to influence attitudes in this regard, both on the individual and on the country-specific level. Individual factors can mainly be derived from ideological preferences, as it may be assumed that the attitudes towards the role of the government and national sovereignty have an influence; however, they can also be derived from personal background such as education. Country-specific factors arise from different attitudes towards the size of the national welfare state and national tax autonomy, as well as the extent to which a country can benefit from the autonomy to pursue an independent tax policy. In our approach, we rely on the use of an elite survey among parliamentarians,1 an approach which is quite common in political science but has not been applied frequently in public economics (e.g., Ashworth and Heyndels, 1997, Ashworth and Heyndels, 2000 and Heinemann and Janeba, 2011). As it is one of our prime concerns to identify aspects which are related to national characteristics, we chose the Members of the European Parliament (MEP) as our target group. Although these politicians do not have a direct say in the corporate tax policies of today, they constitute an interesting subject of research. In contrast to national parliaments, where all parliamentarians share the same national perspective and analyses can only focus on differences in ideology and individual background of the parliamentarians, in the EP perceptions from all 27 EU member states come together. Compared to analyses involving representatives from several different national parliaments, the focus on MEPs offers the advantage that they operate in the identical institutional environment. For this reason, their attitudes cannot be assumed to be biased due to specific characteristics of national parliaments. Members of different national parliaments might have a different degree of knowledge of the issue (whereas MEPs have similar levels of information due to cooperation in supranational political groups and committees), different national reelection concerns due to asynchronous legislative terms (whereas in the EP elections take place simultaneously in all countries) and constituency-specific interests (whereas all MEPs are elected under proportional representation from party lists, even in countries such as the UK that apply a plurality voting system in national elections). We make use of a unique data base: a self-conducted survey among MEPs, which asked directly for the desirability of EU-wide obligatory minimum corporate tax rates. Moreover, this study makes additional use of an analogous survey, which was directed at members of the German parliament, the Bundestag. This comparison is helpful, since these parliamentarians have, in contrast to the MEPs, the competence to decide on corporate taxation issues. In order to draw more general conclusions which are not only restricted to MEPs, one has to assume that politicians of a given country and party are ‘similar’. The similarity of attitudes towards tax harmonization will be analyzed in the empirical section for German politicians from these different parliaments. Based on these databases our study is the first to shed light on the positive question of how to comprehend the diversity of attitudes of politicians on corporate tax competition and to understand the lack of harmonization even in an integrated economic area such as the EU. The main results of this paper can be summarized as follows. The important role of ideology can be confirmed, but we also demonstrate that both further individual characteristics as well as national interests proxied by country variables are important determinants for the politicians' attitudes towards limiting corporate tax competition by means of minimum tax rates. It is mainly parliamentarians from countries which exhibit a high corporate tax burden today who express their approval for minimum tax rates. Several predictions of theory derived from tax competition models can be confirmed, while others do not find support. However, no evidence can be found that the attitude of German representatives of the Bundestag differs from that of their counterparts in the European Parliament. The structure of our paper is as follows: in Section 2, the theoretical background for our analysis is presented, which is mainly based on the literature on tax competition and on several approaches from the political science literature. On this basis, our testable approach to preference formation is developed in Section 3. In Section 4, the surveys of members of the European Parliament and the German Bundestag are described and descriptive findings are presented. Section 5 presents the empirical analysis and the estimation results. Section 6 concludes.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This paper contributes to filling a serious gap in the tax competition literature. Instead of treating tax policy decision-making as a black box conducted by monolithic “countries”, we focus on important individual policy actors in the Parliaments and their attitudes. Through this political-economic approach we are able to answer the positive question which personal characteristics and interests are the relevant drivers of harmonization processes. We find that ideology is indeed important, as it was anticipated: our hypotheses of the driving motives being connected with ideology can be confirmed by the available data. Politicians on the left side of the political spectrum offer the strongest support for the introduction of minimum tax rates, whereas members from the right – and especially those with a market liberal position – as well as EU-skeptical politicians tend to oppose a harmonization. The analysis based on the measures of individual ideology positions reveals that particularly the left-right dimension shapes the attitude towards tax harmonization. Furthermore, a major influence on attitudes can be ascribed to individual characteristics, referring to the experience of the parliamentarians. It turns out that parliamentarians with an academic background in economics or business administration tend to have a more positive attitude towards tax competition. Politicians with a longer membership in the EP or those who belong to the committee which deals with economic affairs are more supportive of harmonization, which confirms our expectation of a socialization effect. However, in addition to individual characteristics, national interests proxied by country indicators play an important role, as well. This is most notably the case for the current national level of corporate taxation, which has a widespread influence. Politicians from countries with high corporate tax burdens are highly supportive of minimum tax rates, as this protects them against competition with other EU member states. Moreover, one important prediction of tax competition models transpires to have an impact on the politicians' attitude towards tax competition, which is the citizens' preference for social equality. This reflects the fear of politicians from countries with a strong support for social equality of tax competition indeed leading to a “race to the bottom” and putting pressure on the welfare state. However, some other predictions from tax competition models seem to play a minor role in the opinion formation process of politicians. Regardless of this, our EP-Bundestag comparison reveals that, at least for Germany, the attitudes towards the issue follow very similar patterns when studying parliamentarians at the national level. It is not possible to detect divergent attitudes, neither on the aggregate level, nor for any of the German parties. Overall, our results add an important aspect to the tax competition literature which is largely dominated by normative approaches based on welfare theory. We have been able to show that stated preferences of real life policy makers concerning tax harmonization are shaped by a much wider spectrum of factors than theory would suggest, ranging from ideology and individual characteristics to specific national interests. This could help explain why the actual tax policy in Europe and elsewhere regularly follows very different avenues than what is recommended in the public finance literature.