The Relation Among Trapped Cash, Permanently Reinvested Earnings, and Foreign Cash
59 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017
Date Written: March 22, 2017
We investigate the relation among trapped cash, permanently reinvested earnings, and foreign cash. We define trapped cash as cash and cash equivalents generated by foreign earnings and held by U.S. MNC’s foreign subsidiaries due to concerns over repatriation taxes, and explain why trapped cash, permanently reinvested earnings, and foreign cash are not synonymous. We exploit the one-time tax rate reduction on repatriated earnings provided for under the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 to construct a proxy to identify firms with trapped cash. We find R&D intensity, capital intensity, foreign growth opportunities and tax haven subsidiaries are significant indicators of trapped cash. Interestingly, we find firms with tax haven operations are less likely to have trapped cash. These findings highlight the joint role of tax havens as low-tax jurisdictions and offshore financial hubs. Finally, we investigate the relation between firm value and trapped cash. Controlling for excess cash, we find that trapped cash is negatively related to firm value, but primarily for firms with poor governance. Overall, results suggest that our measure is a parsimonious way to estimate the likelihood of having trapped cash that can be applied to a large sample of firms.
Keywords: trapped cash, permanently reinvested earnings, foreign cash, tax planning
JEL Classification: G38, H25, H32, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation