OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

English, French

International tax planning, competition and market structure

This paper investigates if tax planning by large multinationals distorts competition in their favour and allows them to crowd out other firms. The competitive implications of tax planning are frequently mentioned in the tax policy debate, but not yet documented empirically to our knowledge. This paper aims to fill this gap. Drawing on firm-level data from the ORBIS database, it compares price-cost mark-up rates of firms with different tax planning opportunities, using several proxy measures of these opportunities, such as links to tax havens. Tax-planning multinationals are found to have higher mark-up rates than other firms, even after controlling for other factors influencing mark-ups. However, the direction of causality is difficult to establish since a high mark-up can be a factor encouraging a firm to engage in tax planning. Based on a new indicator of industry concentration, the empirical analysis also shows that industries with a strong presence of tax-planning multinationals tend to be more concentrated than other industries, but less so when strong rules against tax planning are in place. Overall, the results support the hypothesis that large multinationals use their tax savings to crowd out other firms and ultimately obtain higher mark-ups.


Keywords: multinational tax planning, competition, corporate tax
JEL: F23: International Economics / International Factor Movements and International Business / Multinational Firms; International Business; L11: Industrial Organization / Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance / Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms; D43: Microeconomics / Market Structure, Pricing, and Design / Market Structure, Pricing, and Design: Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection; H26: Public Economics / Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue / Tax Evasion and Avoidance
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error