Tax Policy and the Dividend Puzzle
This article offers a new explanation of the dividend puzzle, based upon a model in which firms signal profitability by distributing cash to shareholders. I assume that dividends and repurchases are identical, except that dividends are taxed more heavily. Nevertheless, I demonstrate that under certain plausible conditions, corporations will pay dividends. Indeed, some firms will actually pay dividends and then retrieve a portion of these payments by issuing new equity (perhaps through a dividend reinvestment plan), despite the fact that this appears to create gratuitous tax liabilities. In addition to providing an explanation for the dividend puzzle, I derive a number of strong results concerning corporate payout decisions and government tax policy. Some of these results are surprising. For example, the relationship between repurchases and firm quality is hump-shaped. Moreover, despite the fact that a higher dividend tax rate depresses dividend payments, it does not affect either government revenue or welfare.
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Volume (Year): 22 (1991)
Issue (Month): 4 (Winter)
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References listed on IDEAS
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- Constantinides, George M & Scholes, Myron S, 1980. " Optimal Liquidation of Assets in the Presence of Personal Taxes: Implications for Asset Pricing," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 35(2), pages 439-449, May.
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- James M. Poterba & Lawrence H. Summers, 1984.
"The Economic Effects of Dividend Taxation,"
343, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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"Dividend Taxes, Corporate Investment, and "Q","
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- John, Kose & Williams, Joseph, 1985. " Dividends, Dilution, and Taxes: A Signalling Equilibrium," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1053-1070, September.
- Sudipto Bhattacharya, 1979. "Imperfect Information, Dividend Policy, and "The Bird in the Hand" Fallacy," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 259-270, Spring.
- Asquith, Paul & Mullins, David Jr., 1986. "Equity issues and offering dilution," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1-2), pages 61-89.
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