Tax Policy and Investment in a Global Economy



This paper combines administrative tax data and a model of global investment behavior to evaluate the investment and firm valuation effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, the largest corporate tax reduction in the history of the United States. We extend the canonical model of Hall and Jorgenson (1967) to a multinational setting in which a firm produces in domestic and international locations. We use the model to characterize and measure four determinants of domestic investment: domestic and foreign marginal tax rates and cost-of-capital subsidies. We estimate elasticities of domestic investment with respect to each and use them to identify the structural parameters of our model, to quantify which parts of the reform mattered most to investment, and to conduct policy counterfactuals. We have five main findings. First, the TCJA caused domestic investment of firms with the mean tax change to increase by roughly 20% relative to firms experiencing no tax change. Second, the TCJA created large incentives for some U.S. multinationals to increase foreign capital, which rose substantially following the law change. Third, domestic invest- ment also increases in response to foreign incentives, indicating complementarity between domestic and foreign capital in production. Fourth, the general equilibrium long-run ef- fects of the TCJA on the domestic and total capital of U.S. firms are around 6% and 9%, respectively. Finally, in our model, the dynamic labor and corporate tax revenue feedback in the first 10 years is less than 2% of baseline corporate revenue, as investment growth causes both higher labor tax revenues from wage growth and offsetting corporate revenue declines from more depreciation deductions. Consequently, the fall in total corporate tax revenue from the tax cut is close to the static effect.

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