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Why is the corporate tax rate lower than the personal tax rate?: The role of new firms

  • Fuest, Clemens
  • Huber, Bernd
  • Nielsen, Soren B.

In many OECD countries, statutory corporate tax rates are lower than personal income tax rates. This tax rate difference is often particularly large for small firms. The present paper argues that a reduction of the corporate tax rate below the personal tax rate is an optimal tax policy if there are problems of asymmetric information between investors and firms in the capital market. The reduction of the corporate tax rate below the personal tax rate encourages equity financing and thus mitigates the excessive use of debt financing induced by asymmetric information. Our main theoretical result stands in marked contrast to the traditional view of corporate taxation and corporate finance theory, according to which there is a tax disadvantage to equity financing. More recent empirical evidence on this issue, however, is in line with our result.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 87 (2003)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 157-174

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:87:y:2003:i:1:p:157-174
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, 1988. "Do Taxes Affect Corporate Financing Decisions?," NBER Working Papers 2632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Razin, A & Sadka, E & Yuen, C-W, 1997. "A Pecking Order of Capital Inflows and International Tax Principles," Papers 12-97, Tel Aviv - the Sackler Institute of Economic Studies.
  3. Roger H. Gordon & A. Lans Bovenberg, 1994. "Why is Capital so Immobile Internationally?: Possible Explanations and Implications for Capital Income Taxation," NBER Working Papers 4796, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gordon, Roger H. & Lee, Young, 2001. "Do taxes affect corporate debt policy? Evidence from U.S. corporate tax return data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 195-224, November.
  5. Poterba, J.M., 1989. "Tax Reform And The Market For Tax-Exempt Debt," Working papers 514, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Graham, John R., 1999. "Do personal taxes affect corporate financing decisions?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 147-185, August.
  7. Martin Feldstein & Joel Slemrod, 1980. "Personal Taxation, Portfolio Choice and The Effect of the Corporation Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 0241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Assaf Razin & Efraim Sadka & Chi-Wa Yuen, 1999. "An Information-Based Model of Foreign Direct Investment: The Gains from Trade Revisited," NBER Working Papers 6884, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Gordon, Roger H. & MacKie-Mason, Jeffrey K., 1994. "Tax distortions to the choice of organizational form," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 279-306, October.
  10. Roger H. Gordon, 1998. "Can High Personal Tax Rates Encourage Entrepreneurial Activity?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 45(1), pages 49-80, March.
  11. Roger H. Gordon & Joel Slemrod, 1998. "Are "Real" Responses to Taxes Simply Income Shifting Between Corporate and Personal Tax Bases?," NBER Working Papers 6576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicholas S., 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 187-221, June.
  13. Klein, Peter, 1999. "The capital gain lock-in effect and equilibrium returns," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 355-378, March.
  14. Stewart C. Myers & Nicholas S. Majluf, 1984. "Corporate Financing and Investment Decisions When Firms Have InformationThat Investors Do Not Have," NBER Working Papers 1396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Bovenberg, A.L. & Gordon, R.H., 1996. "Why is capital so immobile internationally? Possible explanation and implications for capital income taxation," Other publications TiSEM 6a131c21-fd9a-4d83-8d9a-7, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  16. Roger H. Gordon & Jeffrey K. MacKie-Mason, 1990. "Effects of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 on Corporate Financial Policy and Organizational Form," NBER Working Papers 3222, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicolás S., 1945-, 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Working papers 1523-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
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