Policy Documents

Bringing it Home: A Study of the Incentives Surrounding the Repatriation of Foreign Earnings Under the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004

Jennifer L. Blouin and Linda K. Krull –
July 21, 2008

The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (the Act) creates a temporary tax holiday that effectively reduces the U.S. tax rate on repatriations from foreign subsidiaries from 35 percent to 5.25 percent. Firms receive the reduced tax rate by electing to take an 85 percent dividends received deduction on repatriations in 2004 or 2005. This paper investigates the characteristics of firms that repatriate under the Act and how they use the repatriated funds. We find that firms that repatriate under the Act have lower investment opportunities and higher free cash flows than non-repatriating firms. Further, we find that repatriating firms increase share repurchases during 2005 by $55.80 to $60.85 billion more than non-repatriating firms. This increase represents 19.14 to 20.87 percent of the $291.6 billion repatriated under the Act. This paper provides useful information to policy makers about the effect of a temporary tax holiday on firms' investment behavior.