Credit and Deferral as International Investment Incentives
The US government taxes the foreign income of American firms, using a system that grants credits for foreign taxes paid and permits tax deferral for unrepatriated income. This paper shows that the tax system encourages firms to restrict their equity stakes in new foreign investments, and to finance their new investments with considerable debt. These incentives are strongest for US investments in low-tax foreign countries, and exist even when transfer price regulation effectively limits the profit rates foreign subsidiaries can earn. The behavior of US multinationals in 1984 appears to reflect these tax incentives.