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Curbing Corporate Debt Bias: Do Limitations to Interest Deductibility Work?

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  • Ruud A. De Mooij
  • Shafik Hebous

Abstract

Tax provisions favoring corporate debt over equity finance (“debt bias”) are widely recognized as a risk to financial stability. This paper explores whether and how thin-capitalization rules, which restrict interest deductibility beyond a certain amount, affect corporate debt ratios and mitigate financial stability risk. We find that rules targeted at related party borrowing (the majority of today’s rules) have no significant impact on debt bias—which relates to third-party borrowing. Also, these rules have no effect on broader indicators of firm financial distress. Rules applying to all debt, in contrast, turn out to be effective: the presence of such a rule reduces the debt-asset ratio in an average company by 5 percentage points; and they reduce the probability for a firm to be in financial distress by 5 percent. Debt ratios are found to be more responsive to thin capitalization rules in industries characterized by a high share of tangible assets.

Suggested Citation

  • Ruud A. De Mooij & Shafik Hebous, 2017. "Curbing Corporate Debt Bias: Do Limitations to Interest Deductibility Work?," CESifo Working Paper Series 6312, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6312
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Stephanie Guichard, 2017. "10 Years after the Global Financial Crisis: What Have We Learnt About International Capital Flows?," Journal of International Commerce, Economics and Policy (JICEP), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 8(03), pages 1-30, October.
    2. Kalcheva, Ivalina & Plečnik, James M. & Tran, Hai & Turkiela, Jason, 2020. "(Un)intended consequences? The impact of the 2017 tax cuts and jobs act on shareholder wealth," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 118(C).
    3. Nicola Comincioli & Sergio Vergalli & Paolo Panteghini, 2019. "Business tax policy under default risk," CESifo Working Paper Series 7664, CESifo.
    4. Serena Fatica & Wouter Heynderickx & Andrea Pagano, 2020. "Banks, Debt And Risk: Assessing The Spillovers Of Corporate Taxes," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 58(2), pages 1023-1044, April.
    5. Dave Goyvaerts & Annelies Roggeman, 2020. "The Impact of Thin Capitalization Rules on Subsidiary Financing: Evidence from Belgium," De Economist, Springer, vol. 168(1), pages 23-51, March.
    6. Ruud Mooij & Li Liu, 2020. "At a Cost: The Real Effects of Transfer Pricing Regulations," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 68(1), pages 268-306, March.
    7. Diego Andrés Correa-Mejía & Mauricio Lopera-Castaño, 2020. "Financial ratios as a powerful instrument to predict insolvency; a study using boosting algorithms in Colombian firms," Estudios Gerenciales, Universidad Icesi, vol. 36(155), pages 229-238, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    corporate tax; capital structure; debt bias; thin capitalization rule;

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies

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