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The taxation of equity, dividends, and stock prices

  • Richard W. Kopcke
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    The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA) essentially halved the tax rate on dividends and reduced the top tax rate on capital gains. This paper explores the likely effect of JGTRRA on the composition of returns on corporations’ common stock. Both larger corporations’ past behavior and theory suggest that the recent tax cuts are not likely to increase dividend payouts significantly. Instead, in the short run, dividends will continue to rise in the customary way in response to the recovery in earnings. In the longer run, the tax cuts will principally reduce companies’ cost of capital, fostering capital deepening, when the economy is at full employment. With constant returns to scale prevailing at full employment, capital deepening reduces corporations’ average gross return on assets and equity. Because the tax cuts increase the value of each dollar of earnings for shareholders, they could raise price-earnings ratios by more than 10 percent and stock prices by more than 6 percent. By fostering capital deepening, the tax cuts also tend to increase the real compensation of labor at full employment.

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    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Public Policy Discussion Paper with number 05-1.

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    Date of creation: 2005
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbpp:05-1
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    1. Shefrin, Hersh M. & Statman, Meir, 1984. "Explaining investor preference for cash dividends," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 253-282, June.
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    4. Harry DeAngelo & Linda DeAngelo & Rene Stulz, 2004. "Dividend Policy, Agency Costs, and Earned Equity," NBER Working Papers 10599, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Antras, Pol, 2004. "Is the U.S. Aggregate Production Function Cobb-Douglas? New Estimates of the Elasticity of Substitution," Scholarly Articles 3196325, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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    9. Carroll, Robert & Hassett, Kevin A. & Mackie, James B. III, 2003. "The Effect of Dividend Tax Relief on Investment Incentives," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 56(3), pages 629-51, September.
    10. Eugene F. Fama & Kenneth R. French, . "Disappearing Dividends: Changing Firm Characteristics or Lower Propensity to Pay?."," CRSP working papers 509, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
    11. Richard W. Kopcke & Matthew S. Rutledge, 2004. "Stock prices and the equity premium during the recent bull and bear markets," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, pages 63-85.
    12. Miller, Merton H, 1977. "Debt and Taxes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 261-75, May.
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    14. Gravelle, Jane G., 2003. "Effects of Dividend Relief on Economic Growth, the Stock Market, and Corporate Tax Preferences," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 56(3), pages 653-72, September.
    15. DeAngelo, Harry & DeAngelo, Linda & Skinner, Douglas J., 2004. "Are dividends disappearing? Dividend concentration and the consolidation of earnings," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 425-456, June.
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