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Kenan Institute 2024 Grand Challenge: Business Resilience
Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
Mar 8, 2023

The effect of US tax reform on the taxation of US firms’ domestic and foreign earnings


We quantify the immediate net effect of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) on the tax burden of corporate profits for public US corporations. We find similar reductions in effective tax rates for domestic and multinational firms, yet the entirety of multinational tax savings stemmed from tax savings on their domestic, not foreign, earnings. We find no significant change in the federal tax burden on foreign earnings both on average and specifically for firms most likely to be subject to new anti-abuse provisions. We find some evidence that firms not targeted by anti-abuse provisions saw reductions in their federal tax burden on foreign income. Overall, while the tax burden on domestic income decreased significantly, our findings suggest the tax burden on the foreign earnings of US multinationals is largely unaffected despite the overhaul of the international tax system. Importantly for US multinationals’ investment decisions, while foreign income was heavily tax-favored prior to tax reform, we find that foreign and domestic incomes are similarly taxed after TCJA enactment.

Note: Research papers posted on SSRN, including any findings, may differ from the final version chosen for publication in academic journals.  

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