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The Asset Price Incidence of Capital Gains Taxes: Evidence from the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 and Publicly-Traded Real Estate Firms

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  • Todd Sinai
  • Joseph Gyourko

Abstract

We provide new evidence that corporate-level investment subsidies can be substantially capitalized into asset prices by examining the relative stock price performance of publicly traded companies in the real estate industry that should have been differentially affected by the capital gains tax rate reduction enacted in the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. By comparing real estate firms that have an organizational structure that allow property sellers to defer capital gains taxes and plan to use it to acquire property with those that do not, we isolate the effect of the tax cut from industry trends and firm-level heterogeneity. When we examine the time period surrounding the reduction in the capital gains tax rate, our results suggest the tax change was substantially capitalized into lower share prices for these firms and that the benefit of the seller's capital gains tax deferral accrued mainly to the buyer of an appreciated property. The validity of our estimation strategy is supported by further tests showing that these firms did not experience any relative movement in share prices during the previous year when capital gains tax rates did not change.

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Paper provided by Wharton School Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center, University of Pennsylvania in its series Zell/Lurie Center Working Papers with number 311.

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Handle: RePEc:wop:pennzl:311

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  1. Austan Goolsbee, 1997. "Investment Tax Incentives, Prices, and the Supply of Capital Goods," NBER Working Papers 6192, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gruber, Jonathan & Poterba, James, 1994. "Tax Incentives and the Decision to Purchase Health Insurance: Evidence from the Self-Employed," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 701-33, August.
  3. Landsman, Wayne R. & Shackelford, Douglas A., 1995. "The Lock-In Effect of Capital Gains Taxes: Evidence from the RJR Nabisco Leveraged Buyout," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(2), pages 245-259, June.
  4. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1983. "Some aspects of the taxation of capital gains," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 257-294, July.
  5. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-41, June.
  6. Alan J. Auerbach & Kevin Hassett, 1991. "Tax Policy and Business Fixed Investment in the United States," NBER Working Papers 3619, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Klein, Peter, 1999. "The capital gain lock-in effect and equilibrium returns," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 355-378, March.
  8. Lawrence H. Summers, 1981. "Taxation and Corporate Investment: A q-Theory Approach," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(1), pages 67-140.
  9. Constantinides, George M, 1983. "Capital Market Equilibrium with Personal Tax," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(3), pages 611-36, May.
  10. Trevor S. Harris & R. Glenn Hubbard & Deen Kemsley, 1999. "The Share Price Effects of Dividend Taxes and Tax Imputation Credits," NBER Working Papers 7445, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Mark H. Lang & Douglas A. Shackelford, 1999. "Capitalization of Capital Gains Taxes: Evidence from Stock Price Reactions to the 1997 Rate Reduction," NBER Working Papers 6885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 1993. "Common risk factors in the returns on stocks and bonds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 3-56, February.
  13. James M. Poterba, 1983. "Tax Subsidies to Owner-occupied Housing: An Asset Market Approach," Working papers 339, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  14. Cutler, David M, 1988. "Tax Reform and the Stock Market: An Asset Price Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1107-17, December.
  15. Jason G. Cummins & Kevin A. Hassett & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1994. "A Reconsideration of Investment Behavior Using Tax Reforms as Natural Experiments," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 1-74.
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Cited by:
  1. Knight, Brian, 2006. "Are policy platforms capitalized into equity prices? Evidence from the Bush/Gore 2000 Presidential Election," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(4-5), pages 751-773, May.
  2. Cunningham, Christopher R. & Engelhardt, Gary V., 2008. "Housing capital-gains taxation and homeowner mobility: Evidence from the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 803-815, May.
  3. Han, Bing, 2004. "Insider Ownership and Corporate Value: Evidences from Real Estate Investment Trust," Working Paper Series 2004-1, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  4. Niemann, Rainer & Sureth, Caren, 2009. "Investment effects of capital gains taxation under simultaneous investment and abandonment flexibility," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 77, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
  5. William M. Gentry & Christopher J. Mayer, 2003. "What Can We Learn About the Sensitivity of Investment to Stock Prices with a Better Measure of Tobin's q?," Department of Economics Working Papers 2003-03, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  6. Schneider, Georg & Sureth, Caren, 2010. "The impact of profit taxation on capitalized investment with options to delay and divest," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 97, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
  7. Bing Han, 2006. "Insider Ownership and Firm Value: Evidence from Real Estate Investment Trusts," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 32(4), pages 471-493, June.

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