Local tax rebates, corporate tax burdens, and firm migration: Evidence from China

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Conflicts of interest between local governments and the central administration in China have yielded many local policies that only serve the interests of local governments. The policy of first levying and then rebating taxes is an example of how local governments eschew the national tax regulations to boost local economies rather than national interests. In 2001, the Chinese government announced the termination of local tax rebates, which had some expected outcomes. We find that local governments complied with the new tax policy even though it no longer allowed local governments to grant tax incentives. However, some companies found ways to avoid the greater tax burdens by moving their business registration locations to tax havens. We also find that firms controlled by local governments were less likely to change registration locations. Our study examines the national tax regulation in China and explores how tax rules influence company decisions. In addition, we show that non-tax incentives, such as local economic development, may also influence company decisions. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Journal of Accounting and Public Policy