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Equilibrium audit strategies against tax treaty shopping

Sunghoon Hong

Journal of Public Economic Theory, 2019, vol. 21, issue 4, 754-770

Abstract: This paper examines game‐theoretic models of tax treaty shopping. An investor can choose a direct or indirect investment route across countries to minimize tax. A tax agency can audit the investor. The audit is costly but it can give additional revenue to the tax agency. In simultaneous‐move games, regardless of whether incomplete information exists and whether a home country allows foreign tax credits, there are mixed‐strategy equilibria where the investor may choose tax‐minimizing indirect routes and the tax agency may audit the investor. This equilibrium random audit strategy helps the tax agency raise revenue and reduce treaty shopping. Comparative statics yields an implication consistent with empirical evidence. However, if the home country has a foreign tax credit system with a high tax rate, or if the tax agency observes the investor's action in a sequential‐move game, the investor always chooses the direct route, and no treaty shopping occurs in equilibrium.

Date: 2019
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