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The impact of tax uncertainty on irreversible investment

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  • Niemann, Rainer
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    Abstract

    Traditional models of capital budgeting including taxes are based on deterministic tax rates and tax bases. In reality, however, there are multiple sources of tax uncertainty. Tax reforms induce frequent changes in both tax rates and tax bases, making future taxation of investments a stochastic process. Fiscal authorities and tax courts create additional tax uncertainty by interpreting current tax laws differently. Apart from fiscal tax uncertainty, there is modelspecific tax uncertainty, because investors use simplified models for computing an investment project's tax base and anticipate the actual tax base incorrectly. I analyze the effects of stochastic taxation on investment behaviour in a real options model. The potential investor holds an option to invest in an irreversible project with stochastic cash flows. To cover the combined effects of tax base and tax rate uncertainty, the investment's tax payment is modelled as a stochastic process that may be correlated with the project's cash flows. I show that increased uncertainty of tax payments has an ambiguous impact on investment timing. Thus, the popular view that tax uncertainty depresses real investment can be rejected. For low tax uncertainty, high cash flow uncertainty and high correlation of cash flows and tax payment, increased tax uncertainty may even accelerate investment. A higher expected tax payment delays investment. Surprisingly, a higher tax rate on interest income affects investment timing ambiguously. --

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre in its series arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research with number 21.

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    Date of creation: 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:arqudp:21

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    1. Alm, James, 1988. "Uncertain Tax Policies, Individual Behavior, and Welfare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 237-45, March.
    2. Paolo M. Panteghini, 2001. "Corporate Tax Asymmetries under Investment Irreversibility," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 58(3), pages 207-, July.
    3. Paolo Panteghini, 2001. "On Corporate Tax Asymmetries and Neutrality," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 2(3), pages 269-286, 08.
    4. Weiss, Laurence, 1976. "The Desirability of Cheating Incentives and Randomness in the Optimal Income Tax," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1343-52, December.
    5. Sialm, Clemens, 2006. "Stochastic taxation and asset pricing in dynamic general equilibrium," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 511-540, March.
    6. Kevin Hassett & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 1994. "Investment with Uncertain Tax Policy: Does Random Tax Policy Discourage Investment?," NBER Working Papers 4780, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Hjalmar Boehm & Michael Funke, 2000. "Optimal Investment Strategies under Demand and Tax Policy Uncertainty," CESifo Working Paper Series 311, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Alvarez, Luis H. R. & Kanniainen, Vesa & Sodersten, Jan, 1998. "Tax policy uncertainty and corporate investment: A theory of tax-induced investment spurts," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 17-48, July.
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