We study the extent and policy implications of tax competition in the case of a double-competition on both tax rates and provision of public factors. First, we derive the relevant theoretical results in a unified framework where a corporate tax is used to finance a public good which both raises household utility and firm productivity. Then, the relevance of such double competition is tested with FDI data from the United States to the EU. We find ground for the coexistence of high tax/spending countries and low tax/spending ones. International competition could then act as a vector for rising public sector efficiency rather than a standardisation factor.
Tax competition; public factors; public goods; FDI; tax and budget policy
This paper assesses the extent and policy implications of simultaneous competition among countries on both corporate tax rates and the provision of public goods used by firms as production factors (‘public factors’). First, we derive the relevant theoretical results in a unified framework where a corporate tax is used to finance a public good that raises both household utility and firm productivity. Then, the relevance of such simultaneous competition is tested using data on foreign direct investment from the US to EU member states. Both the theoretical analysis and the empirical results presented in this paper suggest that focusing on the tax side of the competition for the location of multinationals is misleading. It shows that there are grounds for the coexistence of high tax/spending countries and low tax/spending ones. Furthermore, provided multinationals are heterogeneous concerning their use of public factors, the competition for attracting them could take the form of a vertical or horizontal specialisation, whereby each government would seek to attract a certain type of activity through the adequate provision of certain public factors. In this framework, international competition could act as a vector for raising public-sector efficiency rather than as a standardisation factor.
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