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Why Is the Corporate Tax Rate Lower than the Personal Tax Rate?

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  • Clemens Fuest
  • Bernd Huber
  • Søren Bo Nielsen

Abstract

In many OECD countries, statutory corporate tax rates are lower than personal income tax rates. The present paper argues that this tax rate differentiation is an optimal tax policy if there are problems of asymmetric information between investors and firms in the capital market. The reduction of the corporate tax rate below the personale tax rate encourages equity financing and thus mitigates the excessive use of debt financing induced by asymmetric information. Our main theoretical result stands in marked contrast to the traditional view of corporate taxation and corporate finance theory, according to which there is a tax disadvantage to equity financing. More recent empirical evidence on this issue, however, is in line with our result.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series EPRU Working Paper Series with number 00-17.

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Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:00-17

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  1. Feldstein, Martin S & Slemrod, Joel, 1980. "Personal Taxation, Portfolio Choice, and the Effect of the Corporation Income Tax," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(5), pages 854-66, October.
  2. Razin, A. & Sadka, E. & Yuen, C.-W., 1998. "An Information-Based Model of Foreign Direct Investment: the Gains from Trade Revisited," Papers 28-98, Tel Aviv.
  3. Roger H. Gordon & Jeffrey K. MacKie-Mason, 1992. "Tax Distortions to the Choice of Organizational Form," NBER Working Papers 4227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gordon, Roger H & Bovenberg, A Lans, 1996. "Why Is Capital So Immobile Internationally? Possible Explanations and Implications for Capital Income Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1057-75, December.
  5. Graham, John R., 1999. "Do personal taxes affect corporate financing decisions?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 147-185, August.
  6. MacKie-Mason, Jeffrey K, 1990. " Do Taxes Affect Corporate Financing Decisions?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(5), pages 1471-93, December.
  7. Roger H. Gordon & Joel Slemrod, 1998. "Are "Real" Responses to Taxes Simply Income Shifting Between Corporate and Personal Tax Bases?," NBER Working Papers 6576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicolás S., 1945-, 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Working papers 1523-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  9. Roger H. Gordon & Young Lee, 1999. "Do Taxes Affect Corporate Debt Policy? Evidence from US Corporate Tax Return Data," NBER Working Papers 7433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Gordon, Roger H, 1986. "Taxation of Investment and Savings in a World Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1086-1102, December.
  11. Roger H. Gordon, 1998. "Can High Personal Tax Rates Encourage Entrepreneurial Activity?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 45(1), pages 49-80, March.
  12. Klein, Peter, 1999. "The capital gain lock-in effect and equilibrium returns," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 355-378, March.
  13. Roger H. Gordon & Jeffrey K. MacKie-Mason, 1990. "Effects of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 on Corporate Financial Policy and Organizational Form," NBER Working Papers 3222, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Félix Domínguez Barrero & Julio López Laborda & Fernando Rodrigo Sauco, 2005. "Do Corporate and Personal Income Taxes Affect Incorporation?," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 174(3), pages 55-86, September.
  2. Michael Pfaffermayr & Matthias Stöckl & Hannes Winner, 2012. "Capital Structure, Corporate Taxation and Firm Age," WIFO Working Papers 424, WIFO.
  3. Haufler, Andreas & Norbäck, Pehr-Johan & Persson, Lars, 2012. "Entrepreneurial Innovations and Taxation," Working Paper Series 896, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  4. Clemens Fuest & Alfons Weichenrieder, 2002. "Tax Competition and Profit Shifting: On the Relationship between Personal and Corporate Tax Rates," CESifo Working Paper Series 781, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Clemens Fuest & Bernd Huber & Philipp Tillessen, 2003. "Tax Policy and Entrepreneurship in the Presence of Asymmetric Information in Capital Markets," CESifo Working Paper Series 872, CESifo Group Munich.

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