Fact or fake news: Do German corporations pay only two thirds of the regular tax rate?

Trust is good, control is better – an often-quoted truism that obviously also applies to scientific studies. Hans-Peter Huber and Ralf Maiterth (Humboldt University of Berlin) took this to heart when they scientifically reviewed and ultimately refuted a study that initially brought some explosive news to light. The study “Effective Tax Rates of Multinational Enterprises in the EU” (Janský 2019), commissioned by the Greens in the European Parliament, concluded that companies in Germany pay, on average, only two thirds of the regular tax rate. This news was heavily debated in both the media and political circles when the study was published in early 2019. Hans-Peter Huber and Ralf Maiterth have scrutinized Jansky’s study, and conclude that the difference between the regular tax rate and effective tax rate is, in fact, negligible. They show that Jansky’s study contains considerable methodological deficits and recalculate an effective tax rate of 29.1%, which almost corresponds to the 29.5% statutory tax rate in Germany. We summarized the most important findings and arguments of their paper in our infographic below.

 

 

Our result does not mean, however, that there are no tax arrangements at the expense of the German tax authorities. It is just that these cannot be identified on the basis of companies’ separate financial statements.

Hans-Peter Huber

 

Read the paper “Huber, H., Maiterth, R. (2019). Steuerbelastung deutscher Kapitalgesellschaften von lediglich 20 % – Fakt oder Fake News. Steuer und Wirtschaft (forthcoming).

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