Debt and taxes: Evidence from the real estate industry
Compelling empirical evidence documenting a material effect of corporate taxes on leverage decisions is limited, in part because of difficulties in constructing an effective proxy for the firm's tax benefit of debt. We examine leverage decisions across taxable and nontaxable real estate firms—firms for which we can measure the relative tax benefit of debt with little error. The tax hypothesis implies that for firms with similar asset portfolios, taxable firms should have more debt than their nontaxable counterparts. Consistent with this, leverage ratios of taxable real estate firms are higher than their nontaxable counterparts, but the magnitude of this difference is at most one-half of that implied by studies that employ simulated marginal tax rates.
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