The Effect of Moving to a Territorial Tax System on Profit Repatriations: Evidence from Japan

Author Name HASEGAWA Makoto (University of Michigan) / KIYOTA Kozo (Faculty Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. May 2013 13-E-047
Research Project Determinants of the Productivity Gap among Firms in Japan
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The design of international tax policies, including whether and how to tax corporate incomes earned in foreign countries, has received a great deal of attention from policymakers and economists. The United States taxes foreign source income upon repatriation under the worldwide tax system and has long discussed changing the current corporate tax system to a territorial tax system that exempts foreign income from home taxation. Japan had a worldwide tax system similar to that in the United States, but moved to a territorial tax system by introducing a foreign dividend exemption in April 2009. This paper examines the effect of dividend exemption on profit repatriations by Japanese multinationals. We find that while the dividend exemption system stimulated dividend payments by foreign affiliates on average, their responses to dividend exemption were heterogeneous. Foreign affiliates not paying dividends under the worldwide tax system did not start to do so as a result of the legislation. On the other hand, dividend exemption increased dividend repatriations by foreign affiliates that had paid dividends under the worldwide tax system. We also find that more profitable firms paid larger amounts of dividends under the worldwide tax system and increased dividend payments further in the first year of the new exemption system.

Published: Hasegawa, Makoto, and Kozo Kiyota, 2017. "The effect of moving to a territorial tax system on profit repatriation: Evidence from Japan," Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 153, pp. 92-110