IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Measuring commercial bank profitability: proceed with caution

  • R. Alton Gilbert
  • David C. Wheelock

The federal tax code creates challenges for comparing the profit rates of different banks on a consistent basis. The earnings of banks that elect to operate under subchapter S of the federal tax code are not subject to federal corporate income tax, but shareholders of these "S-banks" are taxed on their pro rata share of the entire earnings of the bank. The number of banks electing subchapter S tax treatment has increased rapidly, especially among small banks. The authors use estimates of the federal corporate income tax that S-banks would pay if they were subject to the tax to show that the difference in the tax treatment of S-banks and other banks has a large impact on measures of U.S. banking system profitability. Further, the article shows that adjustment of S-bank earnings by estimates of federal income taxes to make them comparable with the earnings of other banks can markedly affect conclusions of studies that use net income as a measure of performance. Finally, the article shows that S-banks (even after their earnings are reduced by estimated federal taxes) tend to out-earn their peers; S-banks also tend to have higher earnings rates than their peers in the year before they elect S-bank status.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its journal Review.

Volume (Year): (2007)
Issue (Month): Nov ()
Pages: 515-532

in new window

Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2007:i:nov:p:515-532:n:v.89no.6
Contact details of provider: Postal: P.O. Box 442, St. Louis, MO 63166
Fax: (314)444-8753
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Scott E. Hein & Timothy W. Koch & S. Scott MacDonald, 2005. "On the uniqueness of community banks," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q 1, pages 15-36.
  2. Robert DeYoung & William C. Hunter & Gregory F. Udell, 2003. "The past, present, and probable future for community banks," Working Paper Series WP-03-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  3. Keeton, William & Kahn, George A. & Schroeder, Linda & Weiner, Stuart E., 2003. "The role of community banks in the U.S. economy," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q II, pages 15-43.
  4. James Harvey & Jane Padget, 2000. "Subchapter S : a new tool for enhancing the value of community banks," Financial Industry Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Dec, pages 17-32.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2007:i:nov:p:515-532:n:v.89no.6. 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: (Anna Xiao)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.