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The Effect of Taxes on Corporate Financing Decisions: Evidence from a Panel of Italian Firms

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  • Julian Alworth
  • Giampaolo Arachi

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Abstract

This paper provides additional evidence on the relationship between corporate taxes and debt using panel data on Italian companies. The panel covers 1054 companies for the years 1982–1994. The paper follows the Graham-Shevlin methodology for calculating company specific marginal tax rates (MTR) relying on the non-linearity of corporate tax schedules resulting from company losses and the ensuing tax provisions (carry-forward and backward rules). In the period covered by the panel there were in Italy two taxes on corporate income (IRPEG and ILOR), with different loss carry-forward rules, whose statutory tax rates and tax bases changed several times. For these reasons the simulated MTRs display both cross-sectional and time-series variation. The paper tests whether taxes encourage the use of debt by analysing incremental financing decisions. In order to cope with the endogeneity of the MTR the paper considers two different specifications. The first uses the lagged value of the simulated MTR. The second employs the estimate of before-financing MTR proposed by Graham et al. (1998). Significant cross-sectional tax effects are identified under both specifications whereas time-series variation cannot be identified if due account is taken of firm-fixed tax effects. The paper also investigates whether personal taxes affect corporate financing decisions. The MTR may either overstate or understate the fiscal benefit of debt financing according to whether, at the personal level, interest income is taxed at a rate that is higher or lower than the tax rate on returns from common stocks. Differences in the dividend-payout ratio across companies and several reforms in interest, dividend and capital gains taxation provide sufficient cross-section and time-series variations to identify the effect of personal taxes on debt usage. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Suggested Citation

  • Julian Alworth & Giampaolo Arachi, 2001. "The Effect of Taxes on Corporate Financing Decisions: Evidence from a Panel of Italian Firms," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 8(4), pages 353-376, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:itaxpf:v:8:y:2001:i:4:p:353-376
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1011258605504
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. MacKie-Mason, Jeffrey K, 1990. " Do Taxes Affect Corporate Financing Decisions?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(5), pages 1471-1493, December.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    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. Kale, Jayant R & Noe, Thomas H & Ramirez, Gabriel G, 1991. " The Effect of Business Risk on Corporate Capital Structure: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(5), pages 1693-1715, December.
    6. Patrick Bolton & Xavier Freixas, 2000. "Equity, Bonds, and Bank Debt: Capital Structure and Financial Market Equilibrium under Asymmetric Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 324-351, April.
    7. 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.
    8. Titman, Sheridan & Wessels, Roberto, 1988. " The Determinants of Capital Structure Choice," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(1), pages 1-19, March.
    9. DeAngelo, Harry & Masulis, Ronald W., 1980. "Optimal capital structure under corporate and personal taxation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 3-29, March.
    10. Graham, John R., 1999. "Do personal taxes affect corporate financing decisions?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 147-185, August.
    11. Pauline M. Shum, 1996. "Taxes and Corporate Debt Policy in Canada: An Empirical Investigation," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(3), pages 556-572, August.
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    Keywords

    debt; capital structure; marginal tax rate; taxes;

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