No. 80: Do personal income taxes affect corporate tax–motivated profit shifting?


This paper examines the role of personal income taxes in multinationals’ corporate tax–induced profit shifting. As required by corporate tax rules in most countries, firms need economic substance in low–corporate tax countries to justify profit shifting to these countries. Because higher personal income taxes increase the cost of labor and thus the cost of providing economic substance, we argue that personal income taxes can mute corporate tax–induced profit shifting. Using data on personal and corporate income taxes from 26 European countries, we find that personal income taxes substantially mute profit shifting to low–corporate tax countries. This effect is stronger if the parent country has strict economic substance requirements to curb tax avoidance. Our results show important interactions between personal and corporate income taxes that shape multinationals’ profit-shifting decisions.

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, ESMT Berlin, Goethe University Frankfurt and Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg who share the same research agenda.