Could higher taxes increase the long-run demand for capital? Theory and evidence for Chile
Is a tax increase always detrimental for capital formation? This paper estimates a long-run demand for capital in Chile, and studies the responsiveness of firms’ desired capital stock to variations in tax rates. We combine the neoclassical model with a cointegration argument to obtain a long-run demand for capital that is valid for a general adjustment-cost structure. On theoretical grounds alone, there is no a priori reason why higher taxes should reduce the desired capital stock. Higher taxes reduce returns but simultaneously increase depreciation and interest payment allowances. When the sum of increased allowances is large enough, a higher corporate tax rate may reduce the cost of capital. We show that this result continues holding when the corporate veil is lifted and firms consider the income tax paid by its stockholders. The model is estimated with a panel of Chilean corporations with annual data between 1985 and 1995. The results we obtain suggest that changes in the corporate tax rate have almost no effect on the long run demand for capital: in 10 of the 11 years in our sample an increase in the corporate tax rate leads to a negligible increase in the desired capital stock. We also find that firms ignore the marginal rates their stockholders pay when they make investment decisions,i.e. there is a corporate veil.
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