Top publication by Arnt Ove Hopland and Dirk Schindler

10 July 2017 11:41

Top publication by Arnt Ove Hopland and Dirk Schindler

The article "Flexibility in Income Shifting under Losses" has been accepted for publication in The Accounting Review.

The Accounting Review is included on the Financial Times research rank journal list, as well as the NHH Bonus list, and it is also on level 4 in the ABS Academic Journal Guide.

Hopland, Arnt Ove, Petro Lisowsky, Mohammed Mardan, and Dirk Schindler: Flexibility in Income Shifting under Losses, The Accounting Review, forthcoming.


This study examines the flexibility of multinational firms to adjust their income-shifting strategies – whether using transfer pricing or internal debt – during the tax year to react to affiliates' operating losses. We develop the concept that under flexibility, multinationals can adjust their inter-affiliate payments ex post (i.e., after financial outcomes are revealed, but before the end of the tax year), to minimize worldwide tax payments.

Without flexibility, multinationals must commit to their affiliates' income-shifting strategies ex ante (i.e., before  financial outcomes are revealed). Our central prediction is that under ex-post income shifting, loss affiliates report lower transfer prices and internal leverage than profitable affiliates; under ex-ante income shifting, affiliates report the same transfer prices and internal capital structure, regardless of making losses.

Using novel data on direct transfer payments and internal debt of Norwegian affiliates, we find empirical evidence that transfer pricing, particularly related to user fees, but not internal debt, provides flexibility to adjust income shifting ex post. In additional tests, we confirm that our results reflect flexibility rather than loss affiliates' poor performance.

Our study should interest tax policymakers and researchers by identifying how various mechanisms allow multinational firms to shift income when they face losses.