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Financial Leverage and Corporate Taxation: Evidence from German Corporate Tax Return Data

Listed author(s):
  • Nadja Dwenger
  • Viktor Steiner

We estimate the impact of effective profit taxation on the financial leverage of corporations on the basis of a pseudo-panel constructed from corporate tax return micro data for the period 1998-2001, a period which saw the introduction of a major corporate tax reform in Germany. The financial leverage is measured by the ratio of long-term debt to total capital. Endogeneity of the effective corporate tax rate is controlled for by an instrumental variable approach. Our instrument for the observed effective tax rate is the counterfactual tax rate a corporation would face in a particular period had there be no endogenous change of its financial structure. This counterfactual is obtained from a detailed microsimulation model of the corporate sector based on tax return micro data. We find a statistically significant and relatively large positive effect of the tax rate on corporate leverage: on average, an increase of the tax rate by 10 percent would increase the financial leverage by about 5 percent. We also find that the debt ratio is less responsive for small corporations and for corporations that benefit from various other forms of tax shields, in particular depreciation allowances and tax loss carry-forward. However, tax effects do not seem to depend on risk, although the level of economic risk does affect corporate leverage.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.94405.de/dp855.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 855.

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Length: 25 p.
Date of creation: 2009
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp855
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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. Frank Fossen & Stefan Bach, 2008. "Reforming the German Local Business Tax - Lessons from an International Comparison and a Microsimulation Analysis," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 64(2), pages 245-272, June.
  3. Büttner, Thiess & Overesch, Michael & Schreiber, Ulrich & Wamser, Georg, 2008. "The impact of thin-capitalization rules on multinationals' financing and investment decisions," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2008,03, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  4. Reint Gropp, 2002. "Local Taxes and Capital Structure Choice," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 9(1), pages 51-71, January.
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  10. Altshuler, Rosanne & Grubert, Harry, 2003. "Repatriation taxes, repatriation strategies and multinational financial policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 73-107, January.
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  12. Stefan Bach & Giacomo Corneo & Viktor Steiner, 2008. "Effective Taxation of Top Incomes in Germany, 1992 - 2002," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 767, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  13. Jack Mintz & Alfons Weichenrieder, 2005. "Taxation and the Financial Structure of German Outbound FDI," CESifo Working Paper Series 1612, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Ilya A. Strebulaev, 2004. "Do Tests of Capital Structure Theory Mean What They Say?," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 646, Econometric Society.
  15. Stefan Bach & Hermann Buslei & Nadja Dwenger & Frank Fossen, 2008. "Dokumentation des Mikrosimulationsmodells BizTax zur Unternehmensbesteuerung in Deutschland," Data Documentation 29, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  16. Nadja Dwenger & Viktor Steiner, 2008. "Effective Profit Taxation and the Elasticity of the Corporate Income Tax Base: Evidence from German Corporate Tax Return Data," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 829, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  17. Stock, James H & Wright, Jonathan H & Yogo, Motohiro, 2002. "A Survey of Weak Instruments and Weak Identification in Generalized Method of Moments," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(4), pages 518-529, October.
  18. Alfons Weichenrieder & Tina Klautke, 2008. "Taxes and the Efficiency Costs of Capital Distortions," CESifo Working Paper Series 2431, CESifo Group Munich.
  19. Fischer, Edwin O & Heinkel, Robert & Zechner, Josef, 1989. " Dynamic Capital Structure Choice: Theory and Tests," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 44(1), pages 19-40, March.
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