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Dividend and Corporate Taxation in an Agency Model of the Firm

  • Raj Chetty
  • Emmanuel Saez

Recent evidence on the effect of dividend taxes on firm behavior is inconsistent with neoclassical theories of dividend and corporate taxation. We develop a simple agency model in which managers and shareholders have conflicting interests to explain the evidence. In this model, dividend taxation induces managers to undertake unproductive investments by retaining earnings, and creates a first-order deadweight cost. In contrast, corporate taxes do not distort the manager's payout decision and may only create second-order efficiency costs. Corporate income taxation may therefore be a more efficient way to generate revenue than dividend taxation, challenging existing intuitions based on neoclassical models. (JEL D21, G35, H25, H32)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/pol.2.3.1
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 2 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 1-31

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:2:y:2010:i:3:p:1-31
Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.2.3.1
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  1. Chetty, Raj & Saez, Emmanuel, 2004. "Dividend Taxes and Corporate Behaviour: Evidence from the 2003 Dividend Tax Cut," CEPR Discussion Papers 4722, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Roger Gordon & Martin Dietz, 2006. "Dividends and Taxes," NBER Working Papers 12292, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Rajan, Raghuram G & Servaes, Henri & Zingales, Luigi, 1998. "The Cost of Diversity: The Diversification Discount and Inefficient Investment," CEPR Discussion Papers 1801, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. David F. Bradford, 1979. "The Incidence and Allocation Effects of a Tax on Corporate Distributions," NBER Working Papers 0349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1998. "Agency Problems and Dividend Policies Around the World," NBER Working Papers 6594, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jeffrey R. Brown & Nellie Liang & Scott Weisbenner, 2006. "Executive financial incentives and payout policy: firm responses to the 2003 dividend tax cut," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2006-14, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Raj Chetty & Emmanuel Saez, 2007. "An Agency Theory of Dividend Taxation," NBER Working Papers 13538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Robert S. Chirinko, 1992. "Business Fixed Investment Spending: A Critical survey of Modeling Strategies, Empirical Results, and Policy Implications," Working Papers 9213, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  9. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2003. "Enjoying the Quiet Life? Corporate Governance and Managerial Preferences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(5), pages 1043-1075, October.
  10. Lawrence H. Goulder & Roberton C. Williams III, 2003. "The Substantial Bias from Ignoring General Equilibrium Effects in Estimating Excess Burden, and a Practical Solution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(4), pages 898-927, August.
  11. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521870221 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. David S. Scharfstein & Jeremy C. Stein, 1997. "The Dark Side of Internal Capital Markets: Divisional Rent-Seeking and Inefficient Investment," NBER Working Papers 5969, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Christie, William G & Nanda, Vikram, 1994. " Free Cash Flow, Shareholder Value, and the Undistributed Profits Tax of 1936 and 1937," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(5), pages 1727-54, December.
  14. Feldstein, Martin S, 1970. "Corporate Taxation and Dividend Behaviour," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(1), pages 57-72, January.
  15. Gustavo Grullon & Roni Michaely & Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 2005. "Dividend Changes Do Not Signal Changes in Future Profitability," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(5), pages 1659-1682, September.
  16. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1991. "The vanishing harberger triangle," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 271-300, August.
  17. Fenn, George W. & Liang, Nellie, 2001. "Corporate payout policy and managerial stock incentives," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 45-72, April.
  18. Chirinko, Robert S, 1993. "Business Fixed Investment Spending: Modeling Strategies, Empirical Results, and Policy Implications," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1875-1911, December.
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