No. 12: Technological Change and Countries’ Tax Policy Design

Abstract

We investigate whether technological change predicts tax policy changes in 34 OECD countries from 1996 to 2016. To examine tax policy reactions, we construct two new country-level indexes, one capturing tax-related investment incentives and one capturing anti-tax avoidance rules in a country. We document a decreasing trend in statutory tax rates, stable capital investment incentives, and a trend toward stricter anti-tax avoidance rules across countries over the last two decades. Our main finding is that country-specific exposure to technological change predicts variation in these trends. We find that, following technological changes, countries tighten their anti-tax avoidance rules. Cross-sectional tests show that smaller countries deviate from this general trend and use less stringent anti-tax avoidance rules. In the competition for firms’ mobile capital, smaller countries thus appear to create indirect investment incentives by opting for less salient tax policy tools (i.e., anti-tax avoidance rules).

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Participating Institutions

TRR 266‘s main locations are Paderborn University (Coordinating University), HU Berlin, and University of Mannheim. All three locations have been centers for accounting and tax research for many years. They are joined by researchers from LMU Munich, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, European School of Management and Technology in Berlin and Goethe University Frankfurt who share the same research agenda.