Do Swedish Multinationals Pay Less in Taxes than Domestic Firms?

Reprint No. 2018:10

Author(s): Åsa Hansson, Karin Olofsdotter and Susanna ThedeYear: 2018 Title: World Economy Volume (No.): 41 (2) Pages: 393–413
Online article (restrictions may apply)

In recent years, there has been growing concern that multinational enterprises (MNEs) engage in strategic tax planning in order to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions. This common perception is generally confirmed by empirical evidence, which is foremost provided for countries with high corporate taxes and relatively complex tax systems. We investigate whether multinational firms in a country with a comparatively more competitive tax system undertake profit shifting. We do this using detailed census data from corporate income statements and balance sheets filed by Swedish manufacturing firms between 1997 and 2007. We detect profit shifting by comparing MNEs with (purely) domestic firms. In particular, we identify systematic differences in tax payments, earnings (before interest and taxes) and equity ratios between multinational and comparable domestic firms based on propensity score matching. In addition, we examine the tax behavioural impact of acquiring multinational status using difference-in-differences estimations and/or propensity score matching. Our results reveal that the extent to which multinational firms have lower tax payments than their domestic counterparts depends on their production characteristics and foreign market outreach. In particular, we find evidence indicating that firms operating in few foreign markets and firms that become multinational engage in profit shifting from Sweden.

Hansson, Åsa, Karin Olofsdotter and Susanna Thede (2018), "Do Swedish Multinationals Pay Less in Taxes than Domestic Firms?". World Economy 41(2), 393–413.

Åsa Hansson


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