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Up or Down? Capital Income Taxation in the United States and the United Kingdom

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  • Vito Polito

Abstract

Empirical evidence suggests that the Effective Marginal Tax Rate (EMTR) on income from capital has increased considerably in both the United States and the United Kingdom over the period 1982-2005. This evidence contradicts the corporate tax literature which predicts that the EMTR should instead fall over time as a result of increasing international capital mobility and higher tax competition between governments. This paper argues that this inconsistency is entirely due to the fact that EMTRs on income from capital are currently computed from versions of the neoclassical investment model which do not take into account financial constraints on dividend policy faced by firms investing in both the United States and the United Kingdom. The paper incorporates financial constraints on dividend policy into the analytical framework for the computation of the EMTR and employs the new model to re-calculate time series of the EMTRs in both countries. The new empirical results show that, in contrast to the existing evidence, the EMTR on investment financed by either retained earnings or new equity has indeed declined over time in both countries, while the EMTR on debt-financed investment has remained relatively stable.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3260.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3260

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

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  1. David Backus & Espen Henriksen & Kjetil Storesletten, 2007. "Taxes and the Global Allocation of Capital," NBER Working Papers 13624, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Devereux, Michael P & Griffith, Rachel, 2002. "Evaluating Tax Policy for Location Decisions," CEPR Discussion Papers 3247, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. 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.
  4. 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, October.
  5. Devereux, Michael P & Lockwood, Ben & Redoano, Michela, 2002. "Do Countries Compete over Corporate Tax Rates?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3400, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  7. Kanniainen, Vesa & Sodersten, Jan, 1994. "Costs of monitoring and corporate taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 307-321, October.
  8. de Mooij, Ruud A & Ederveen, Sjef, 2003. "Taxation and Foreign Direct Investment: A Synthesis of Empirical Research," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 10(6), pages 673-93, November.
  9. 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.
  10. Wilson, John Douglas, 1999. "Theories of Tax Competition," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 269-304, June Cita.
  11. Clemens Fuest & Bernd Huber & Jack Mintz, 2003. "Capital Mobility and Tax Competition: A Survey," CESifo Working Paper Series 956, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. 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.
  13. M. Bordignon & S. Giannini & P. Panteghini, 1998. "Corporate Taxation in Italy: an Analysis of the 1998 Reform," Working Papers 328, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  14. 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.
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