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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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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. Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, 1988. "Do Taxes Affect Corporate Financing Decisions?," NBER Working Papers 2632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Roger H. Gordon, 1998. "Can High Personal Tax Rates Encourage Entrepreneurial Activity?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 45(1), pages 49-80, March.
  3. Gordon, Roger H. & Lee, Young, 2001. "Do taxes affect corporate debt policy? Evidence from U.S. corporate tax return data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 195-224, November.
  4. 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.
  5. Assaf Razin & Efraim Sadka & Chi-Wa Yuen, 1999. "An Information-Based Model of Foreign Direct Investment: The Gains from Trade Revisited," NBER Working Papers 6884, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Martin Feldstein & Joel Slemrod, 1980. "Personal Taxation, Portfolio Choice and The Effect of the Corporation Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 0241, 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 & 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.
  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. Gordon, R.H. & Bovenberg, A.L., 1994. "Why is capital so immobile internationally?: Possible explanations and implications for capital income taxation," Discussion Paper 1994-63, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  12. Graham, John R., 1999. "Do personal taxes affect corporate financing decisions?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 147-185, August.
  13. Klein, Peter, 1999. "The capital gain lock-in effect and equilibrium returns," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 355-378, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Haufler, Andreas & Norbäck, Pehr-Johan & Persson, Lars, 2014. "Entrepreneurial innovations and taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 13-31.
  2. Michael Pfaffermayr & Matthias Stöckl & Hannes Winner, 2012. "Capital Structure, Corporate Taxation and Firm Age," WIFO Working Papers 424, WIFO.
  3. 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.
  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. 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.

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