An applied analysis of ACE and CBIT reforms in the EU?


We assess the quantitative impact of two reforms to corporation tax, which would eliminate the differential treatment of debt and equity: the allowance for corporate equity (ACE) and the comprehensive business income tax (CBIT). We explore the impact of these reforms on various decision margins, using an applied general equilibrium model for the EU calibrated with recent empirical estimates of elasticities. The results suggest that, if governments adjust statutory corporate tax rates to balance their budget, profit shifting and discrete location render CBIT more attractive for most individual European countries. European coordination makes a joint ACE more, and a joint CBIT less efficient. A combination of ACE and CBIT is always welfare improving.

Research Highlight 2009

What would be the effects of equalising the treatment of debt and equity?

This project explores two ways in which the treatment of debt and equity could be equalised. Equity could be more generously treated, with an allowance for corporate equity (ACE). Or interest relief could be restricted, as under a comprehensive business income tax (CBIT). This project assesses the effects of each of these reforms if implemented in the EU. The results suggest that ACE would improve welfare if corporate tax rates were not increased to cover the cost of the narrower tax base. By contrast, under the same conditions CBIT would typically reduce welfare by exacerbating marginal investment distortions. However, if the tax rate were adjusted to make either reform revenue-neutral, the CBIT becomes more attractive and the ACE less attractive. European coordination of reforms mitigates tax spillovers within the EU and makes ACE more, and CBIT less, attractive for welfare. A combination of ACE and CBIT reforms can be designed to be revenue- neutral, and which would improve welfare through smaller financial distortions.

Michael Devereux