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

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  • Nadja Dwenger
  • Viktor Steiner

Abstract

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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  • Nadja Dwenger & Viktor Steiner, 2009. "Financial Leverage and Corporate Taxation: Evidence from German Corporate Tax Return Data," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 855, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp855
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    Cited by:

    1. Feld, Lars P. & Heckemeyer, Jost H. & Overesch, Michael, 2013. "Capital structure choice and company taxation: A meta-study," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 2850-2866.
    2. Ligia Alba Melo-Becerra & Javier Ávila Mahecha & Jorge Enrique Ramos-Forero, 2017. "The effect of corporate taxes on investment: Evidence from the Colombian firms," Borradores de Economia 1001, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    3. Fossen, Frank & Simmler, Martin, 2012. "Differential taxation and firms' financial leverage: Evidence from the introduction of a flat tax on interest income," Discussion Papers 2012/4, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    4. Luca, Oana & Tieman, Alexander F., 2019. "Financial sector debt bias," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 1-1.
    5. Dwenger, Nadja & Steiner, Viktor, 2012. "Profit Taxation and the Elasticity of the Corporate Income Tax Base: Evidence From German Corporate Tax Return Data," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 65(1), pages 118-150, March.
    6. Nils aus dem Moore, 2014. "Taxes and Corporate Financing Decisions – Evidence from the Belgian ACE Reform," Ruhr Economic Papers 0533, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    7. aus dem Moore, Nils, 2014. "Taxes and Corporate Financing Decisions – Evidence from the Belgian ACE Reform," Ruhr Economic Papers 533, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    8. Stöckl Matthias & Winner Hannes, 2013. "Körperschaftsbesteuerung und Unternehmensverschuldung: Evidenz aus einem Europäischen Firmenpanel / Capital Structure and Corporate Taxation: Empirical Evidence from European Panel Data," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 233(2), pages 188-205, April.
    9. repec:zbw:rwirep:0533 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Fossen, Frank M. & Simmler, Martin, 2016. "Personal Taxation of Capital Income and the Financial Leverage of Firms," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 48-81.
    11. Bofinger, Peter & Schnabel, Isabel & Feld, Lars P. & Schmidt, Christoph M. & Wieland, Volker, 2015. "Zukunftsfähigkeit in den Mittelpunkt. Jahresgutachten 2015/16," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 201516, Fall.
    12. Harju, Jarkko & Kauppinen, Ilpo & Ropponen, Olli, 2017. "Firm Responses to an Interest Barrier: Empirical Evidence," Working Papers 90, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    13. Devereux, Michael P. & Maffini, Giorgia & Xing, Jing, 2018. "Corporate tax incentives and capital structure: New evidence from UK firm-level tax returns," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 250-266.
    14. Peter Vaz da Fonseca & Andrea Decourt Savelli & Michele Nascimento Juca, 2020. "A Systematic Review of the Influence of Taxation on Corporate Capital Structure," International Journal of Economics & Business Administration (IJEBA), International Journal of Economics & Business Administration (IJEBA), vol. 0(2), pages 155-178.
    15. Frank M. Fossen & Martin Simmler, 2016. "Personal taxation of capital income and the financial leverage of firms," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 23(1), pages 48-81, February.
    16. Matthias Stöckl & Hannes Winner, 2012. "Körperschaftsbesteuerung und Unternehmensverschuldung. Evidenz aus einem europäischen Firmenpanel," WIFO Working Papers 422, WIFO.
    17. Suratno & Syahril Djaddang & Imam Ghozali, 2017. "The Role of Business Risk and Non Debt Tax Shields to Debt to Equity Ratio on Pharmacy Listed Companies in Indonesia," International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, Econjournals, vol. 7(2), pages 73-80.
    18. Temimi, Akram & Zeitun, Rami & Mimouni, Karim, 2016. "How does the tax status of a country impact capital structure? Evidence from the GCC region," Journal of Multinational Financial Management, Elsevier, vol. 37, pages 71-89.
    19. Pietro Dallari & Nicolas End & Fedor Miryugin & Alexander F. Tieman & Seyed Reza Yousefi, 2018. "Pouring Oil on Fire: Interest Deductibility and Corporate Debt," IMF Working Papers 18/257, International Monetary Fund.

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    Keywords

    financial leverage; financial structure; debt ratio; corporate income taxation; corporate tax return data;

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm

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