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What Does the Corporate Income Tax Tax? A Simple Model Without Capital

Author

Listed:
  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff

    (Department of Economics, Boston University)

  • Jianjun Miao

    (Department of Economics, Boston University
    CEMA, Central University of Finance and Economics
    AFR, Zhejiang University)

Abstract

This paper challenges the traditional view of the corporate tax as taxing corporate capital rather than the act of incorporating. Our model has no capital. Entrepreneurs pay to go public to diversify their risk. In discouraging incorporation, the tax keeps more entrepreneurs private and exposed to more risk. The tax falls primarily on high-skilled entrepreneurs and to a lesser extent on labor, who experience less demand for their services. The wage reduction also induces marginal entrepreneurs to set up shop and experience more risk. Hence, the answer to the title’s question is that the corporate tax taxes risk-sharing.

Suggested Citation

  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Jianjun Miao, 2013. "What Does the Corporate Income Tax Tax? A Simple Model Without Capital," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(1), pages 1-19, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:cuf:journl:y:2013:v:14:i:1:n:1:kotlikoff
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gordon, Roger H. & MacKie-Mason, Jeffrey K., 1994. "Tax distortions to the choice of organizational form," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 279-306.
    2. Hui Chen & Jianjun Miao & Neng Wang, 2010. "Entrepreneurial Finance and Nondiversifiable Risk," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, pages 4348-4388.
    3. Bradford, David F., 1978. "Factor prices may be constant but factor returns are not," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 199-203.
    4. Arnold C. Harberger, 1962. "The Incidence of the Corporation Income Tax," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 215-215.
    5. Mackie-Mason, Jeffrey K & Gordon, Roger H, 1997. " How Much Do Taxes Discourage Incorporation?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(2), pages 477-505, June.
    6. Kihlstrom, Richard E & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1979. "A General Equilibrium Entrepreneurial Theory of Firm Formation Based on Risk Aversion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 719-748, August.
    7. Kotlikoff, Laurence J. & Summers, Lawrence H., 1987. "Tax incidence," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 16, pages 1043-1092 Elsevier.
    8. Christophe Chamley, 1983. "Entrepreneurial Abilities and Liabilities in a Model of Self-Selection," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(1), pages 70-80, Spring.
    9. Gravelle, Jane G & Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1989. "The Incidence and Efficiency Costs of Corporate Taxation When Corporate and Noncorporate Firms Produce the Same Good," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 749-780, August.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Daphne & Qi, Shi & Schlagenhauf, Don E., 2014. "Corporate income tax, legal form of organization, and employment," Working Papers 2014-18, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    2. Kalamov, Zarko Y., 2015. "Safe Haven vs. Earnings Stripping Rules: a Prisoner Dilemma?," EconStor Preprints 110895, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Corporate tax; Risk taking; Tax incidence; Entrepreneurship;

    JEL classification:

    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm

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