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Theft and Taxes

  • Desai, Mihir
  • Dyck, Alexander
  • Zingales, Luigi

This Paper analyses the interaction between corporate taxes and corporate governance. We show that the characteristics of a taxation system affect the extraction of private benefits by company insiders. A higher tax rate increases the amount of income insiders divert and thus worsens governance outcomes. In contrast, stronger tax enforcement reduces diversion and, in so doing, can raise the stock market value of a company in spite of the increase in the tax burden. We also show that the corporate governance system affects the level of tax revenues and the sensitivity of tax revenues to tax changes. When the corporate governance system is ineffective (i.e., when it is easy to divert income), an increase in the tax rate can reduce tax revenues. We test this prediction in a panel of countries. Consistent with the model, we find that corporate tax rate increases have smaller (in fact, negative) effects on revenues when corporate governance is weaker. Finally, this approach provides a novel justification for the existence of a separate corporate tax based on profits.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4816.

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Date of creation: Dec 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4816
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  1. Mihir A. Desai & Alexander Dyck & Luigi Zingales, 2004. "Theft and Taxes," NBER Working Papers 10978, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Mihir Desai & Dhammika Dharmapala, . "Corporate Tax Avoidance and High Powered Incentives," American Law & Economics Association Annual Meetings 1006, American Law & Economics Association.
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  13. Irwin, Douglas A., 1998. "Higher Tariffs, Lower Revenues? Analyzing the Fiscal Aspects of “The Great Tariff Debate of 1888”," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(01), pages 59-72, March.
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  19. Christie, William G & Nanda, Vikram, 1994. " Free Cash Flow, Shareholder Value, and the Undistributed Profits Tax of 1936 and 1937," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(5), pages 1727-54, December.
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  22. Slemrod, Joel, 2004. "Are corporate tax rates, or countries, converging?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(6), pages 1169-1186, June.
  23. Zingales, Luigi, 1995. "Insider Ownership and the Decision to Go Public," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(3), pages 425-48, July.
  24. Randall Morck, 2003. "Why Some Double Taxation Might Make Sense: The Special Case of Inter-corporate Dividends," NBER Working Papers 9651, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Jack Mintz, 1995. "Corporation tax: a survey," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 16(4), pages 23-68, November.
  26. Austan Goolsbee, 1999. "Evidence on the High-Income Laffer Curve from Six Decades of Tax Reform," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 30(2), pages 1-64.
  27. Zingales, Luigi, 1995. "What Determines the Value of Corporate Votes?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(4), pages 1047-73, November.
  28. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-De-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 1999. "Corporate Ownership Around the World," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(2), pages 471-517, 04.
  29. John R. Graham, 2003. "Taxes and Corporate Finance: A Review," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 16(4), pages 1075-1129.
  30. William N. Goetzmann & Matthew I. Spiegel & Andrey Ukhov, 2004. "Modeling and Measuring Russian Corporate Governance: The Case of Russian Preferred and Common Shares (English version)," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm25, Yale School of Management.
  31. Oliver E. Williamson, 2000. "The New Institutional Economics: Taking Stock, Looking Ahead," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 595-613, September.
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