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Capital income taxation incentives during economic downturns: re-thinking theory and evidence

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  • Longobardi, Ernesto
  • Polito, Vito

    ()
    (Cardiff Business School)

Abstract

This paper studies the effectiveness of corporate tax incentives in reducing the effective tax rate (ETR) on income from capital to stimulate business investment during economic downturns. We focus on tax rate incentives (TRIs), such as corporate tax rate cuts, and tax base incentives (TBIs), such as increased capital allowances. The standard economic theory states that TRIs reduce the ETR by decreasing tax payments on corporate profits. TBIs instead reduce the ETR as they defer firms tax payments, in turn increasing the present value of dividend distribution. However, this theory does not consider that, in reality, firms face accounting constraints preventing any distribution of cash flows arising from TBIs. For this reason, the standard economic analysis overstates the benefit of any TBI relative to that of TRIs. The paper incorporates accounting constraints on dividend policy into the model for the computation of the ETR and employs the new model to recalculate ETRs in the US and in the UK during 1980-2010. The empirical results confirm that the benefit of TBIs is significantly overstated by the standard theory, and tax rate cuts are more effective in reducing the ETR. We show that this result holds regardless of the form of investment finance (retained earning, new equity and debt), the type capital asset (building and plant and machinery), the level of capital income taxation (corporate and shareholders), and the value of accounting depreciation relative to economic depreciation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Cardiff University, Cardiff Business School, Economics Section in its series Cardiff Economics Working Papers with number E2011/15.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cdf:wpaper:2011/15

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Keywords: Capital income taxation; dividend policy; effective marginal tax rates; financial constraints;

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  1. Ruud A. de Mooij & Sjef Ederveen, 2001. "Taxation and Foreign Direct Investment: A Synthesis of Empirical Research," CESifo Working Paper Series 588, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Vito Polito, 2009. "Measuring the Effective Tax Burden in the Real World," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 30(2), pages 247-278, 06.
  3. Kanniainen, Vesa & Sodersten, Jan, 1994. "Costs of monitoring and corporate taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 307-321, October.
  4. Backus, David & Henriksen, Espen & Storesletten, Kjetil, 2008. "Taxes and the global allocation of capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 48-61, January.
  5. Devereux, Michael P & Lockwood, Ben & Redoano, Michela, 2002. "Do Countries Compete Over Corporate Tax Rates?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 642, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  6. Boadway, R. W. & Bruce, N., 1979. "Depreciation and interest deductions and the effect of the corporation income tax on investment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 93-105, February.
  7. Devereux, Michael P & Griffith, Rachel, 2003. "Evaluating Tax Policy for Location Decisions," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 107-26, March.
  8. Kanniainen, Vesa & Sodersten, Jan, 1995. "The importance of reporting conventions for the theory of corporate taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 417-430, July.
  9. Mervyn A. King & Don Fullerton, 1984. "The Taxation of Income from Capital: A Comparative Study of the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Germany," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number king84-1.
  10. Michael P. Devereux & Rachel Griffith & Alexander Klemm, 2002. "Corporate income tax reforms and international tax competition," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 17(35), pages 449-495, October.
  11. Mills, Lillian F., 2006. "Five Things Economists and Lawyers Can Learn from Accountants: An Illustration Using the Domestic Production Activities Deduction," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 59(3), pages 585-97, September.
  12. King, Mervyn A, 1974. "Taxation and the Cost of Capital," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 21-35, January.
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