IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/bla/joares/v55y2017i3p669-707.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Sharing Risk with the Government: How Taxes Affect Corporate Risk Taking

Author

Listed:
  • ALEXANDER LJUNGQVIST
  • LIANDONG ZHANG
  • LUO ZUO

Abstract

Using 113 staggered changes in corporate income tax rates across U.S. states, we provide evidence on how taxes affect corporate risk‐taking decisions. Higher taxes reduce expected profits more for risky projects than for safe ones, as the government shares in a firm's upside but not in its downside. Consistent with this prediction, we find that risk taking is sensitive to taxes, albeit asymmetrically: the average firm reduces risk in response to a tax increase (primarily by changing its operating cycle and reducing R&D risk) but does not respond to a tax cut. We trace the asymmetry back to constraints on risk taking imposed by creditors. Finally, tax loss‐offset rules moderate firms’ sensitivity to taxes by allowing firms to partly share downside risk with the government.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Ljungqvist & Liandong Zhang & Luo Zuo, 2017. "Sharing Risk with the Government: How Taxes Affect Corporate Risk Taking," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(3), pages 669-707, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:joares:v:55:y:2017:i:3:p:669-707
    DOI: 10.1111/1475-679X.12157
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-679X.12157
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dominika Langenmayr & Rebecca Lester, 2013. "Taxation and corporate risk-taking," Working Papers 1316, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    2. Hassett, Kevin A. & Hubbard, R. Glenn, 2002. "Tax policy and business investment," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 20, pages 1293-1343, Elsevier.
    3. John R. Graham & Mark H. Lang & Douglas A. Shackelford, 2002. "Employee Stock Options, Corporate Taxes and Debt Policy," NBER Working Papers 9289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Huang, Rocco R., 2008. "Evaluating the real effect of bank branching deregulation: Comparing contiguous counties across US state borders," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3), pages 678-705, March.
    5. Chirinko, Robert S. & Wilson, Daniel J., 2008. "State investment tax incentives: A zero-sum game?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(12), pages 2362-2384, December.
    6. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
    7. Heider, Florian & Ljungqvist, Alexander, 2015. "As certain as debt and taxes: Estimating the tax sensitivity of leverage from state tax changes," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(3), pages 684-712.
    8. Hines, James R. & Park, Jongsang, 2019. "Investment ramifications of distortionary tax subsidies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 172(C), pages 36-51.
    9. Green, Richard C & Talmor, Eli, 1985. "The Structure and Incentive Effects of Corporate Tax Liabilities," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1095-1114, September.
    10. Demski, JS & Dye, RA, 1999. "Risk, return, and moral hazard," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(1), pages 27-55.
    11. Gormley, Todd A. & Matsa, David A., 2016. "Playing it safe? Managerial preferences, risk, and agency conflicts," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(3), pages 431-455.
    12. Faccio, Mara & Xu, Jin, 2015. "Taxes and Capital Structure," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(3), pages 277-300, June.
    13. Scholes, Ms & Wilson, Gp & Wolfson, Ma, 1992. "Firms Responses To Anticipated Reductions In Tax Rates - The Tax-Reform Act Of 1986," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30, pages 161-185.
    14. Gow, Ian D. & Larcker, David F. & Reiss, Peter C., 2016. "Causal Inference in Accounting Research," Research Papers 3393, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    15. Daniel J. Wilson, 2009. "Beggar Thy Neighbor? The In-State, Out-of-State, and Aggregate Effects of R&D Tax Credits," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 431-436, May.
    16. Acharya, Viral V. & Amihud, Yakov & Litov, Lubomir, 2011. "Creditor rights and corporate risk-taking," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(1), pages 150-166, October.
    17. Robert M. Solow, 1956. "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 65-94.
    18. David Neumark & Junfu Zhang & Brandon Wall, 2007. "Employment Dynamics and Business Relocation: New Evidence from the National Establishment Time Series," Research in Labor Economics, in: Solomon W. Polachek & Olivier Bargain (ed.), Aspects of Worker Well-Being, volume 26, pages 39-83, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    19. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2010. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes: Estimates Based on a New Measure of Fiscal Shocks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 763-801, June.
    20. Acharya, Viral V. & Almeida, Heitor & Campello, Murillo, 2007. "Is cash negative debt? A hedging perspective on corporate financial policies," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 515-554, October.
    21. Maydew, Edward L. & Schipper, Katherine & Vincent, Linda, 1999. "The impact of taxes on the choice of divestiture method," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 117-150, December.
    22. Coles, Jeffrey L. & Daniel, Naveen D. & Naveen, Lalitha, 2006. "Managerial incentives and risk-taking," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 431-468, February.
    23. Shackelford, Douglas A. & Shevlin, Terry, 2001. "Empirical tax research in accounting," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-3), pages 321-387, September.
    24. Barry T. Hirsch & David A. MacPherson, 2003. "Union Membership and Coverage Database from the Current Population Survey: Note," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(2), pages 349-354, January.
    25. John R. Graham & Daniel A. Rogers, 2002. "Do Firms Hedge in Response to Tax Incentives?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(2), pages 815-839, April.
    26. Mitchell A. Petersen, 2009. "Estimating Standard Errors in Finance Panel Data Sets: Comparing Approaches," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(1), pages 435-480, January.
    27. Ian D. Gow & David F. Larcker & Peter C. Reiss, 2016. "Causal Inference in Accounting Research," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2), pages 477-523, May.
    28. Mandelker, Gershon N. & Rhee, S. Ghon, 1984. "The Impact of the Degrees of Operating and Financial Leverage on Systematic Risk of Common Stock," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 45-57, March.
    29. May, Don O, 1995. "Do Managerial Motives Influence Firm Risk Reduction Strategies?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1291-1308, September.
    30. Mara Faccio & Maria-Teresa Marchica & Roberto Mura, 2011. "Large Shareholder Diversification and Corporate Risk-Taking," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(11), pages 3601-3641.
    31. Erickson, M, 1998. "The effect of taxes on the structure of corporate acquisitions," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(2), pages 279-298.
    32. Feldstein, Martin S, 1969. "The Effects on Taxation on Risk Taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(5), pages 755-764, Sept./Oct.
    33. John R. Graham & Mark H. Lang & Douglas A. Shackelford, 2004. "Employee Stock Options, Corporate Taxes, and Debt Policy," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(4), pages 1585-1618, August.
    34. 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.
    35. Maydew, EL, 1997. "Tax-induced earnings management by firms with net operating losses," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(1), pages 83-96.
    36. Moser, William J., 2007. "The Effect of Shareholder Taxes on Corporate Payout Choice," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(4), pages 991-1019, December.
    37. Graham, John R., 2006. "A Review of Taxes and Corporate Finance," Foundations and Trends(R) in Finance, now publishers, vol. 1(7), pages 573-691, September.
    38. Nerissa C. Brown & Han Stice & Roger M. White, 2015. "Mobile Communication and Local Information Flow: Evidence from Distracted Driving Laws," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(2), pages 275-329, May.
    39. Thomas J. Holmes, 1998. "The Effect of State Policies on the Location of Manufacturing: Evidence from State Borders," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(4), pages 667-705, August.
    40. Christian Leuz & Peter D. Wysocki, 2016. "The Economics of Disclosure and Financial Reporting Regulation: Evidence and Suggestions for Future Research," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2), pages 525-622, May.
    41. Margarita Tsoutsoura, 2015. "The Effect of Succession Taxes on Family Firm Investment: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(2), pages 649-688, April.
    42. David Neumark & Diego Grijalva, 2013. "The Employment Effects of State Hiring Credits During and After the Great Recession," NBER Working Papers 18928, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    43. Kose John & Lubomir Litov & Bernard Yeung, 2008. "Corporate Governance and Risk‐Taking," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(4), pages 1679-1728, August.
    44. John R. Graham & Clifford W. Smith, 1999. "Tax Incentives to Hedge," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(6), pages 2241-2262, December.
    45. J. E. Stiglitz, 1969. "The Effects of Income, Wealth, and Capital Gains Taxation on Risk-Taking," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(2), pages 263-283.
    46. John Asker & Joan Farre-Mensa & Alexander Ljungqvist, 2015. "Corporate Investment and Stock Market Listing: A Puzzle?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 28(2), pages 342-390.
    47. Hanlon, Michelle & Heitzman, Shane, 2010. "A review of tax research," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2-3), pages 127-178, December.
    48. Mukherjee, Abhiroop & Singh, Manpreet & Žaldokas, Alminas, 2017. "Do corporate taxes hinder innovation?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 195-221.
    49. Merton H. Miller & Franco Modigliani, 1961. "Dividend Policy, Growth, and the Valuation of Shares," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34, pages 411-411.
    50. Craig Doidge & Alexander Dyck, 2015. "Taxes and Corporate Policies: Evidence from a Quasi Natural Experiment," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(1), pages 45-89, February.
    51. Bargeron, Leonce L. & Lehn, Kenneth M. & Zutter, Chad J., 2010. "Sarbanes-Oxley and corporate risk-taking," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1-2), pages 34-52, February.
    52. Choy, Helen & Lin, Juichia & Officer, Micah S., 2014. "Does freezing a defined benefit pension plan affect firm risk?," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 1-21.
    53. Evsey D. Domar & Richard A. Musgrave, 1944. "Proportional Income Taxation and Risk-Taking," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(3), pages 388-422.
    54. Edgerton, Jesse, 2010. "Investment incentives and corporate tax asymmetries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 936-952, December.
    55. Rajgopal, Shivaram & Shevlin, Terry, 2002. "Empirical evidence on the relation between stock option compensation and risk taking," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 145-171, June.
    56. Kothari, S.P. & Leone, Andrew J. & Wasley, Charles E., 2005. "Performance matched discretionary accrual measures," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 163-197, February.
    57. Cassell, Cory A. & Huang, Shawn X. & Manuel Sanchez, Juan & Stuart, Michael D., 2012. "Seeking safety: The relation between CEO inside debt holdings and the riskiness of firm investment and financial policies," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(3), pages 588-610.
    58. Dhaliwal, Dan & Erickson, Merle & Heitzman, Shane, 2009. "Taxes and the backdating of stock option exercise dates," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1-2), pages 27-49, March.
    59. Arindrajit Dube & T. William Lester & Michael Reich, 2010. "Minimum Wage Effects Across State Borders: Estimates Using Contiguous Counties," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 945-964, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Dominika Langenmayr & Rebecca Lester, 2013. "Taxation and corporate risk-taking," Working Papers 1316, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    2. Becker, Johannes & Johannesen, Niels & Riedel, Nadine, 2020. "Taxation and the allocation of risk inside the multinational firm," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 183(C).
    3. Kogler, Michael, 2019. "Profit Taxation and Bank Risk Taking," VfS Annual Conference 2019 (Leipzig): 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Democracy and Market Economy 203533, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Mehrmann, Annika & Sureth-Sloane, Caren, 2017. "Tax loss offset restrictions and biased perception of risky investments," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 222, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    5. Albertus, James F. & Glover, Brent & Levine, Oliver, 2019. "Heads I win, tails you lose: Asymmetric taxes, risk taking, and innovation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 24-40.
    6. José Alves, 2019. "The impact of tax structure on investment: an empirical assessment for OECD countries," Public Sector Economics, Institute of Public Finance, vol. 43(3), pages 291-309.
    7. Roychowdhury, Sugata & Shroff, Nemit & Verdi, Rodrigo S., 2019. "The effects of financial reporting and disclosure on corporate investment: A review," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2).
    8. Yinghua Li & Yupeng Lin & Liandong Zhang, 2018. "Trade Secrets Law and Corporate Disclosure: Causal Evidence on the Proprietary Cost Hypothesis," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(1), pages 265-308, March.
    9. Cen, Ling & Maydew, Edward L. & Zhang, Liandong & Zuo, Luo, 2017. "Customer–supplier relationships and corporate tax avoidance," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 377-394.
    10. Bao, Yangming & Goetz, Martin, 2018. "Local peer effects and corporate investment," SAFE Working Paper Series 220, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE.
    11. Li, Bing & Liu, Chang & Sun, Stephen Teng, 2021. "Do corporate income tax cuts decrease labor share? Regression discontinuity evidence from China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(C).
    12. Osswald, Benjamin & Sureth, Caren, 2018. "Do country risk factors attenuate the effect of taxes on corporate risk-taking?," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 235, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    13. Glaeser, Stephen, 2018. "The effects of proprietary information on corporate disclosure and transparency: Evidence from trade secrets," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 163-193.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Dominika Langenmayr & Rebecca Lester, 2013. "Taxation and corporate risk-taking," Working Papers 1316, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    2. Osswald, Benjamin & Sureth, Caren, 2018. "Do country risk factors attenuate the effect of taxes on corporate risk-taking?," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 235, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    3. Hanlon, Michelle & Heitzman, Shane, 2010. "A review of tax research," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2-3), pages 127-178, December.
    4. Alexander Ljungqvist & Michael Smolyansky, 2014. "To Cut or Not to Cut? On the Impact of Corporate Taxes on Employment and Income," NBER Working Papers 20753, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jiang, Tianjiao & Levine, Ross & Lin, Chen & Wei, Lai, 2020. "Bank deregulation and corporate risk," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 60(C).
    6. Serfling, Matthew A., 2014. "CEO age and the riskiness of corporate policies," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 251-273.
    7. Becker, Johannes & Johannesen, Niels & Riedel, Nadine, 2020. "Taxation and the allocation of risk inside the multinational firm," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 183(C).
    8. Imhof, Michael J. & Seavey, Scott E., 2014. "Corporate risk-taking, firm value and high levels of managerial earnings forecasts," Advances in accounting, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 328-337.
    9. Graham, John R. & Raedy, Jana S. & Shackelford, Douglas A., 2012. "Research in accounting for income taxes," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 412-434.
    10. Gupta, Kartick & Krishnamurti, Chandrasekhar, 2018. "Do macroeconomic conditions and oil prices influence corporate risk-taking?," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 65-86.
    11. Dinkel, Andreas, 2015. "Tax attractiveness and the allocation of risk within multinationals," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 189, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    12. Maydew, Edward L., 2001. "Empirical tax research in accounting: A discussion," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-3), pages 389-403, September.
    13. Kristoffer Milonas, 2018. "Bank Taxes, Leverage, and Risk," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 54(2), pages 145-177, October.
    14. Ferris, Stephen P. & Javakhadze, David & Rajkovic, Tijana, 2017. "CEO social capital, risk-taking and corporate policies," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 46-71.
    15. Sabri Boubaker & Pascal Nguyen & Wael Rouatbi, 2016. "Multiple Large Shareholders and Corporate Risk†taking: Evidence from French Family Firms," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 22(4), pages 697-745, September.
    16. Cassell, Cory A. & Huang, Shawn X. & Manuel Sanchez, Juan & Stuart, Michael D., 2012. "Seeking safety: The relation between CEO inside debt holdings and the riskiness of firm investment and financial policies," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(3), pages 588-610.
    17. Maretno Harjoto & Indrarini Laksmana, 2018. "The Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on Risk Taking and Firm Value," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 151(2), pages 353-373, August.
    18. Masanori Orihara, "undated". "Corporate tax asymmetries and R&D: Evidence from a tax reform for business groups in Japan," Discussion papers ron273, Policy Research Institute, Ministry of Finance Japan.
    19. Donohoe, Michael P., 2015. "The economic effects of financial derivatives on corporate tax avoidance," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 1-24.
    20. Heider, Florian & Ljungqvist, Alexander, 2015. "As certain as debt and taxes: Estimating the tax sensitivity of leverage from state tax changes," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(3), pages 684-712.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:joares:v:55:y:2017:i:3:p:669-707. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley Content Delivery). General contact details of provider: http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0021-8456 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.