مالیات چند ملیتی و انتشار تجاری بین المللی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|19062||2006||21 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Resource and Energy Economics, Volume 28, Issue 2, May 2006, Pages 139–159
Many studies have shown that the activities of multinational corporations are quite sensitive to differences in income tax rates across countries. In this paper I explore the interaction between multinational taxation and abatement activities under an international emissions permit trading scheme. Four types of plans are considered: (1) a single domestic permit system with international offsets; (2) separate national permit systems without trade; (3) separate national permit systems with limited offsets; and (4) an international permit trading system. For each plan, I model the incentives for the multinational firm to choose abatement activities at home and abroad and to transfer emissions credits between parent and subsidiary. Limits on trading across countries restrict efficiency gains from abatement, as is well known. But if available offset opportunities are limited to actual abatement activities, those activities are also more susceptible to distortions from incentives to shift taxable income. Transfer-pricing rules can limit but not always eliminate these distortions. In a system of unlimited international trading, abatement is efficiently allocated across countries, but tax shifting can still be achieved through intra-firm transfer pricing. From the basis of efficiency for both environmental and tax policies, the best design is an international permit trading system with transparent, enforceable transfer-pricing rules.
In a world of international capital mobility, national tax policies matter. A large body of literature indicates that corporate income taxation does have significant influence on a wide range of activities, including foreign direct investment, corporate borrowing, transfer pricing, dividend and royalty payments, research and development activity, exports, bribe payments, and location choices (Hines, 1996). A noticeable gap in the tax literature regards activities related to pollution abatement and multinational firms’ responses to environmental policy. While the environmental economics literature has grown to realize the importance of domestic income taxation as it interacts with environmental policy (the “double dividend” debate is a primary example), little attention has been paid to the role of international tax differences. As the idea of global environmental policies in general – and an international strategy for controlling greenhouse gases in particular – comes into serious consideration, the impact of international taxation must be understood. The interaction between environmental and tax policy will influence the location and efficiency of pollution abatement efforts, and it poses critical questions for policy design and enforcement. In proceeding toward compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, participating countries are relying on the promise of some form of international exchange of greenhouse gas emissions reductions to keep costs in check. However, international trade in emissions allowances (permits) carries its own complications. A permit is not a traditional good, service or asset, but rather a license to emit that a government chooses to recognize in its territory. Consequently, traditional rules governing trade and accounting do not necessarily apply. Yet permits will have significant financial value, they and will carry many of the characteristics of property in the eyes of the firms trading them, whether or not the international trade and tax institutions formally recognize them as such.1 In this paper we explore how taxation by different countries of income generated by multinational corporations might impact an international program of emissions permit trading, and vice versa. Two questions are addressed: First, how can multinational taxation affect the location and efficiency of emissions reductions? Second, can one mitigate efficiency losses from multinational responses through judicious policy design? In particular, we consider how emissions offsets arising from activities conducted abroad should be treated for environmental compliance and for tax purposes. These questions are important when designing a domestic environmental policy to combat a global pollutant like greenhouse gases. If lower-cost opportunities for emissions abatement exist elsewhere, provisions for letting activities undertaken abroad offset domestic emissions requirements can create tremendous gains from trade if cheaper abatement. However, for multinational firms, allowing for international offsets can also create opportunities for tax avoidance. Such tax-related incentives may affect real decisions regarding environmental compliance and may diminish some of those efficiency gains from trade, not to mention affect public revenues. The fundamental problem is that international tax rules are not completely neutral, and multinational corporations can save on their tax bills by realizing more of their profits in low-tax countries. This profit shifting can be achieved by relocating real activities like production or investment, or by transferring goods between a parent corporation and one of its subsidiaries at favorable prices. Most countries have designed tax rules for transfer pricing to limit some of this behavior. At issue here is, if a parent company can use the abatement activities of its subsidiary toward its own emissions obligations, how will those emissions offsets be treated for tax purposes? Will they be recognized as transfers of valuable property and subject to appropriate transfer pricing rules? Or will they be considered only a means of environmental compliance, without explicit, taxable value to the firm? The potential for multinational tax shifting can be glimpsed by the scope of the emissions at stake. BP, a multinational energy products firm, has already implemented its own intra-firm greenhouse gas emissions trading program. It has operations in 91 countries and CO2 equivalent emissions of 80 million tonnes annually. Even at permit prices in the low range of current estimates, the value of the emissions could represent a significant share of BP’s annual profits ($13 billion in 2001) and tax payments ($5 billion in 2001).2 To understand how tax shifting might work, suppose firms can use abatement efforts in other countries to directly offset reduction requirements in the United States, without treating the transfer as a permit sale. A U.S. parent could then shift costly abatement activities to its subsidiary in a high-tax country, reducing the more heavily taxed foreign-source income; the offsets then allow less abatement at home, increasing profits in the lower-tax country. A formal international emissions permit trading program would make such transfer-pricing decisions transparent: the subsidiary could create or buy permits at the market price and sell them to the parent at a loss, effectively transferring profits from the high-tax to the low-tax country. A market-price rule for permit transfers then would limit (though not eliminate) such problems, particularly with the advent of a well developed market for emissions permits and a clear “spot” price for permits. On the other hand, any room for interpretation can create leeway for profit shifting. For example, if emissions permits are allocated gratis to firms in a particular country, a precedent for a zero price exists—a particular problem if cost basis (the initial price of acquisition) is allowed to represent market value. Limitations on trade between separate permit systems can also interact with tax incentives. Having distinct market prices apparent at home and abroad can impose some limits on opportunistic transfer pricing, but to the extent that permit prices differ, leeway may still exist for the firm to exploit the price margin. The appropriate transfer-pricing rules to cut off such opportunism can differ according to the type of limitation imposed on trade among permit systems. Current climate policies envisage different potential international offset systems, including trading programs within the EU, joint implementation (JI) with other participating countries, and clean development mechanism (CDM) projects in developing countries. Concurrently, certain limitations on offsetting are on the table, to stem the use of “hot air” permits from the former Soviet Union and to ensure good-faith efforts by individual countries. These policies raise important design questions affecting the allocation of abatement effort within multinationals, across countries, and across firms in the presence of tax differentials. The structure of the paper is as follows: Section 2 reviews the existing literature on national tax policies and multinational activities. Section 3 develops the theoretical framework for emissions abatement decisions in the presence of corporate income taxation for likely treatments of offsets and permits. Four different types of potential offset policies are considered, and the implications for tax revenues, trading program efficiency, and abatement location are discussed. The conclusion addresses the methods by which an international emissions trading policy, as well as its corresponding tax treatment, may be designed in order to minimize distortions.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Corporate income tax rates vary significantly across countries (see Table 3 ). Although many countries attempt to implement residence-based taxation for multinational corporations, whichwould create consistent incentives for the location of worldwide activities, in practice this is difficult to achieve and source-based taxation is more often the rule. Consequently, tax considerations may play an important role in the compliance decision making of multinational corporations whose operations are affected by policies to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases—or indeed any pollutant with transboundary compliance options. The question at hand is how to design a national emissions reduction policy with rules allowing for the performance of abatement activities abroad. Of particular concern are opportunities to generate offsets in other countries (such as the system foreseen in the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation): all else equal, the desire to keep profits in lower-tax countries would make multinational firms more reluctant to incur more abatement costs in those countries, unless they are compensated with higher transfer prices. Indeed, without explicit and appropriate transfer-pricing rules, as well as a clear price for emissions, many of the efficiency gains from flexible abatement location mechanisms may be lost to inefficient tax shifting. The treatment of emissions offsets within tax policy will need to be sensitive to the design of the emissions policy, and perhaps vice versa. As is well known, limits on trading across countries restrict the international efficiency gains from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, given any internationally negotiated emissions caps. But those trading limits can also make abatement activities susceptible to incentives to shift taxable income. We considered a limit imposed on the multinational firm itself. Limiting offsets to actual abatement activity would make the treatment of joint implementation projects (in countries with their own permit or other regulatory system) consistent with those under the Clean Development Mechanism (in countries without a national emissions permit program). With this type of offset limitation, the multinational firm will choose its abatement everywhere not just according to the highest price for emissions permits among the countries of its operations, but also according to relative tax rates. If offsets are free, the firm prefers to incur more abatement costs in higher-tax countries in exchange for valuable permits in lower-tax countries. If foreign operations in a higher-tax country faces higher emissions prices, the parent will not take full advantage of abatement opportunities, as sending permits would also be sending profits to face higher taxes. To mitigate, though not eliminate, these incentives, a transfer price using the importing country’s price as the rule could be imposed. On the other hand, a supplementary provision might restrict the share of an individual national source’s net emissions that can be covered by foreign offsets. This type of restriction would suggest using the permit price in the country of export as the transfer price rule. Only in a system of unlimited international trading would abatement be efficiently allocated across countries. However, even in this regime, tax shifting can still be achieved through unrestricted intrafirm transfer pricing. For efficiency in both environmental and tax policies, the best design is an international permit trading system with transparent, enforceable transfer- pricing rules. Furthermore, to eliminate all of the arbitrage opportunities, these transfer-pricing rules must be implemented by all countries whose multinational corporations are engaged in emissions trading or offsetting. In the absence of an environmental policy that creates a clear international price for emissions, transfer pricing will be much easier to manipulate. The general standard is that appropriate transfer prices equal those prices that unrelated parties would have used in a transaction. 13 Without an international market price for emissions, such a price will be hard to determine andharder to enforce. However, even in the best of circumstances, valuation may be a challenge. At what point is the transaction deemed to take place—when abatement effort occurs, when the reductions are realized, or when the permits or offsets are actually redeemed or sold? Market prices can vary over time, and firms might choose to time the reporting of their transactions accordingly, with tax avoidance in mind. Does the home price or the foreign price prevail if differences exist? Can cost basis be used to measure value? This latter option would be especially problematic if emissions permits are allocated gratis to firms, creating a precedent for a zero price. This issue is of relevance to trading programs, as in the EU, that offer gratis grandfathering allocation to national subsidiaries and allow trade among covered enterprises throughout the program, including subsidiaries. One option, with or without overall trading limitations, would be to disallow direct offsets and require international trade to be conducted through a national or international clearinghouse. Sales to the clearinghouse would bear the clearinghouse price and be taxed accordingly. If other policy goals mandate the use of restrictions to international trade in emissions permits, those limits could be achieved by a national auction of import quotas for permits. Purchases from the clearinghouse would bear the clearinghouse price and the cost of the import quota, which would equalize the differential with the domestic permit price, and these costs would be deducted accordingly. Abatementdecisionsandpermitpurchaseswouldthenfollow thepricesintheparticularcountryof operation, but prices would tend to converge through the pressures of the clearinghouse. A‘‘righttopollute’’isanunorthodoxasset,butrecognizingthevalueofemissionsisimportantto using flexibility in environmental compliance to its best advantage. The designers of emissions tradingsystemsmustworktogetherwithtaxpolicydesignerstoprovidegoodincentivesforusingthe new asset. International trade in abatement offers great opportunities to lower the costs of reducing globalpollutants.Italsoraisestheimportanceofnotjustregulating,butalsodefining,allocating,and taxing emissions permits in a manner consistent with the treatment of other valuable assets.