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The investment effect of taxation: evidence from a corporate tax kink

  • Anne Brockmeyer


    (London School of Economics)

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    This paper exploits bunching of firms at a tax kink as quasi-experimental variation to identify the effect of a tax rate change on investment, and explore how this effect interacts with variation in capital depreciation rates. The idea is that firms with a taxable income slightly above the kink have an incentive to reduce their income to bunch at the kink, and increasing investment is one possible strategy for that. This means that bunching of firms should be accompanied by a spike in investment at the kink. Building on the standard bunching framework, I estimate the frequency distribution of firms around the kink, and the share of bunchers with excess investments at the extensive and intensive margin. I apply this approach to administrative tax return data for the universe of UK firms from 2001-2007, and show that investment by small firms significantly responds to a tax rate change. I find large and significant spikes in the share of capital investors and median capital costs at the 10k kink. The spikes are larger in 2002-2005 when the kink is larger, and for quickly depreciating capital items, which yield larger tax reductions. I estimate that extensive margin investments explain 7.7-19.2% of bunching and intensive margin investments explain 4.3-16.8% of bunching. Evidence from subsample analysis supports the interpretation of the observed behaviour as real investment rather than evasion or avoidance.

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    Paper provided by Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation in its series Working Papers with number 1317.

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    Date of creation: 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:btx:wpaper:1317
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    1. Michael Devereux & Li Liu & Simon Loretz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Corporate Taxable Income: New Evidence from UK Tax Records," Working Papers 1223, Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.
    2. Dina Pomeranz, 2013. "No Taxation without Information: Deterrence and Self-Enforcement in the Value Added Tax," NBER Working Papers 19199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. repec:oup:qjecon:v:126:y:2011:i:2:p:749-804 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Jason G. Cummins & Kevin A. Hassett & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1994. "A Reconsideration of Investment Behavior Using Tax Reforms as Natural Experiments," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 1-74.
    5. Christopher L. House & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2008. "Temporary Investment Tax Incentives: Theory with Evidence from Bonus Depreciation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 737-68, June.
    6. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Tore Olsen & Luigi Pistaferri, 2009. "Adjustment Costs, Firm Responses, and Micro vs. Macro Labor Supply Elasticities: Evidence from Danish Tax Records," NBER Working Papers 15617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Do Taxpayers Bunch at Kink Points?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 180-212, August.
    8. Best, Michael & Brockmeyer, Anne & Kleven, Henrik & Spinnewijn, Johannes & Waseem, Mazhar, 2013. "Production vs Revenue Efficiency With Limited Tax Capacity: Theory and Evidence From Pakistan," CEPR Discussion Papers 9717, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Alan J. Auerbach & Michael P. Devereux & Helen Simpson, 2008. "Taxing Corporate Income," NBER Working Papers 14494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. repec:oup:qjecon:v:128:y:2013:i:2:p:669-723 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Almunia, Miguel & Lopez-Rodriguez, David, 2012. "The efficiency cost of tax enforcement: evidence from a panel of spanish firms," MPRA Paper 44153, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Cummins, J.G. & Hassett, K.A. & Hubbard, R.G., 1995. "tax Reforms and Investment: A Cross-Country Comparison," Working Papers 95-28, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
    13. Gordon, Roger & Li, Wei, 2009. "Tax structures in developing countries: Many puzzles and a possible explanation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 855-866, August.
    14. Henrik Jacobsen Kleven & Claus Thustrup Kreiner & Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "Why Can Modern Governments Tax So Much? An Agency Model of Firms as Fiscal Intermediaries," NBER Working Papers 15218, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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