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

Author

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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 Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6312
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    File URL: https://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp6312.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:wsi:jicepx:v:08:y:2017:i:03:n:s179399331750017x is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Nicola Comincioli & Sergio Vergalli & Paolo M. Panteghini, 2019. "Business Tax Policy under Default Risk," Working Papers 2019.11, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    3. Fatica, Serena & Heynderickx, Wouter & Pagano, Andrea, 2018. "Banks, debt and risk: assessing the spillovers of corporate taxes," Working Papers 2018-09, Joint Research Centre, European Commission (Ispra site).

    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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