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Tax Loss Carryforwards and Corporate Tax Incentives

In: The Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation

  • Alan J. Auerbach
  • James M. Poterba

This paper investigates the extent to which loss-offset constraints affect corporate tax incentives. Using data gathered from corporate annual reports, we estimate that in 1984 fifteen percent of the firms in the nonfinancial corporate sector had tax loss carryforwards. When weighted by their market value, however, these firms account for less than three percent of this sector, suggesting that loss carryforwards are concentrated among small firms and affect relatively few large corporations. For those firms with loss carryforwards, however, the incentive effects of the corporate income tax may differ significantly from those facing taxable firms. We demonstrate this by calculating the effective tax rates on equipment and structures for both types of firms. Our results suggest that firms which are currently taxable have a substantially greater incentive for equipment investment than firms with loss carryforwards, but that loss carryforwards have a relatively smaller effect on the tax incentive for investing in structures. Overall, firms with loss carryforwards receive a smaller investment stimulus than taxable firms.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Martin Feldstein, 1987. "The Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feld87-1, December.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11353.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11353
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. 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.
    2. Jack M. Mintz, 1985. "An Empirical Estimate of Imperfect Loss Offsetting and Effective Tax Rates," Working Papers 634, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    3. Alan J. Auerbach, 1983. "Corporate Taxation in the United States," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 14(2), pages 451-514.
    4. Don Fullerton, 1985. "The Indexation of Interest, Depreciation, and Capital Gains: A Model ofInvestment Incentives," NBER Working Papers 1655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Roger H. Gordon & James R. Hines Jr. & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Notes on the Tax Treatment of Structures," NBER Working Papers 1896, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Cooper, Ian & Franks, Julian R, 1983. " The Interaction of Financing and Investment Decisions When the Firm Has Unused Tax Credits," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 38(2), pages 571-83, May.
    7. Cordes, Joseph J & Sheffrin, Steven M, 1983. " Estimating the Tax Advantage of Corporate Debt," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 38(1), pages 95-105, March.
    8. Saman Majd & Stewart C. Myers, 1985. "Valuing the Government's Tax Claim on Risky Corporate Assets," NBER Working Papers 1553, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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