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Economic Effects of Combined Reporting for State Tax Purposes: Evidence from Recent Changes Using a New Data Source

Advances in Taxation

ISBN: 978-1-78441-120-6, eISBN: 978-1-78441-119-0

Publication date: 18 November 2014



A number of states have recently either adopted, or have considered adopting, combined reporting accounting for state income tax purposes. Proponents claim that this policy increases state revenues by obviating certain tax panning techniques, while critics claim this policy causes firms to avoid locating in a state, or to downsize. There has been mixed empirical evidence to support either position. The purpose of this paper is to provide more convincing empirical evidence, which is enabled by a new dataset.


The study uses regression analysis and a new dataset available through Dun & Bradstreet. The analysis employs a firm-specific, difference-in-differences design which controls for trends and specifically identifies multistate firms which might be affected by combined reporting. Specifically, the study examines the economic impacts of the recent adoption of combined reporting by four states in terms of sales and employment changes, moves, births, and deaths. The theoretical scope of the paper uses the economics literature on location choice, combined with traditional tax optimization concepts from the accounting and economics literature.


The results suggest that combined reporting does in fact reduce investment in a state in terms of employment and births, deaths, and moves, and this effect is largest for in-state-based firms. From a policy perspective, this may imply that (ceteris paribus) there is an incentive for firms to move their headquarters/major operations out of combined reporting states and into separate reporting states. Given the recent trend for states to adopt combined reporting, the findings may be important. While imposition of combined reporting may increase state tax revenues, states should also consider that such policies may hurt locally based firms and reduce employment, much more so than for out-of-state-based firms. While firms’ location/expansion decisions are clearly also a function of nontax factors, the results here are broadly consistent with literature reviews which conclude that state business taxes do have an impact on business decision-making.


In addition to contributing to the literature on the economic effects of combined reporting for state income tax purposes, this study also introduces the tax research community to a newly available dataset from Dun and Bradstreet that contains precise locational firm and establishment data for public and private firms, as well as data on births, deaths, and moves. The data allows clear identification of firms that are multistate, as well as affiliate information (including exact name and location of parent); type of legal entity; employment; sales; CEO minority information; government contract data; import/export status; foreign ownership; credit data from D&B and Paydex; and other useful data.



Swenson, C.W. (2014), "Economic Effects of Combined Reporting for State Tax Purposes: Evidence from Recent Changes Using a New Data Source", Advances in Taxation (Advances in Taxation, Vol. 21), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 201-233.



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