Tax Arbitrage Definition

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Tax Arbitrage Definition

What Is Tax Arbitrage?

Tax arbitrage is the practice of benefitting from discrepancies in the taxation of different forms of income, capital gains, and transactions. Because of the complexities of many nations’ tax rules, people might seek legal loopholes or restructure their transactions in order to pay the least amount of tax.

Key Takeaways

  • Tax arbitrage is the practice of benefitting from discrepancies in the taxation of different forms of income, capital gains, and transactions.
  • Individuals and companies both want to pay the least amount of tax possible; they may do it in a variety of ways.
  • A company may benefit from tax regimes by, for example, reporting income in a low-tax jurisdiction and spending in a high-tax region.

Understanding Tax Arbitrage

Tax arbitrage refers to transactions undertaken into to benefit from differences in tax systems, tax regimes, or tax rates. Individuals and companies both want to pay the least amount of tax possible; they may do it in a variety of ways.

A company may benefit from tax regimes by, for example, reporting income in a low-tax jurisdiction and spending in a high-tax region. Such a strategy would reduce the tax burden by increasing deductions while decreasing taxes paid on profits. A company may also benefit from price discrepancies in the same security caused by various tax regimes in the nations or jurisdictions where the asset is traded. For example, capital gains from cryptocurrency trading are taxed in the United States but not in certain other nations. A cryptocurrency trader may buy a cryptocurrency at a lower price from a US exchange, move their tokens to a cryptocurrency exchange in one of the crypto tax haven nations, sell at a higher price, and avoid paying taxes in the foreign jurisdiction.

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Tax arbitrage occurs when an individual or institutional investor buys a stock before the ex-dividend date and then sells it subsequently. In general, the price of shares before the ex-dividend date is greater than the price after the date. On the ex-dividend day, a company’s stock price falls by about the same amount as the stated dividend. Purchasing a stock before selling it will result in a short-term capital loss (which can be used to offset any short-term capital gain earned by the investor).Because short-term profits are taxed as regular income, most investors benefit by reducing a gain as much as feasible.

Tax arbitrage occurs when a firm employs tax-exempt bonds as a short-term corporate cash management strategy. The federal government and, in many circumstances, state governments do not tax the interest paid on these bonds (e.g., municipal bonds). As a result, a company may purchase these bonds, earn greater interest than savings accounts, and then sell them after a short period of time without the government taxation their interest revenue.

Obviously, certain kinds of tax arbitrage are permissible, while others are not. Because there is a delicate line between tax evasion and tax avoidance, individuals and corporations should speak with a certified tax expert before engaging in a tax arbitrage transaction. Tax arbitrage is considered to be quite common, however because of its nature, it is impossible to provide specific numbers on the degree to which tax arbitrage is used.

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