ABSTRACT

Using a global sample of multinational corporations (MNCs) and their foreign subsidiaries, we find that repatriation taxes impair subsidiary-level investment efficiency. Consistent with internal agency conflicts between the central management of the MNC and the manager of the foreign subsidiary being the driver, we show that this effect is concentrated in subsidiaries with high information asymmetry and in subsidiaries that are weakly monitored. Quasi-natural experiments in the U.K. and Japan establish a causal relationship for our findings and suggest that a repeal of repatriation taxes increases subsidiary-level investment efficiency while reducing the level of investment. Our paper provides timely empirical evidence to inform expectations for the effects of a recent change to the U.S. international tax law that eliminated repatriation taxes from most of the future foreign earnings of U.S. MNCs.

JEL Classifications: H21; H25; F23; G31.

Data Availability: Data are available from the public sources cited in the text.

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