IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Does tax policy affect executive compensation? evidence from postwar tax reforms

Listed author(s):
  • Carola Frydman
  • Raven S. Molloy

Evidence since the 1980s suggests that the level and structure of executive compensation in U.S. public corporations are largely unresponsive to tax incentives. However, the relative tax advantage of different forms of pay has been relatively small during this period. Using a sample of top executives in large firms from 1946 to 2005, we find little response of salaries, qualified stock options, long-term incentive pay, or bonuses paid after retirement to changes in tax rates on labor income--even though tax rates were significantly higher and more heterogeneous across individuals in the first several decades following WWII. To explain this lack of response, we find suggestive evidence that concerns about within-firm equality may have limited firms' ability to differentiate top executives' compensation packages based on their marginal income tax rates.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2009/200930/200930abs.html
Download Restriction: no

File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2009/200930/200930pap.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2009-30.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: 2009
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2009-30
Contact details of provider: Postal:
20th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20551

Web page: http://www.federalreserve.gov/

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/fedsorder.html

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as
in new window


  1. Rajan, Raghuram G. & Wulf, Julie, 2006. "Are perks purely managerial excess?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 1-33, January.
  2. Carola Frydman & Raven E. Saks, 2010. "Executive Compensation: A New View from a Long-Term Perspective, 1936--2005," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(5), pages 2099-2138.
  3. Gruber, Jon & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The elasticity of taxable income: evidence and implications," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-32, April.
  4. Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2008. "Why has CEO Pay Increased So Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 49-100.
  5. Smith, Clifford Jr. & Watts, Ross L., 1992. "The investment opportunity set and corporate financing, dividend, and compensation policies," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 263-292, December.
  6. Graham, John R. & Mills, Lillian F., 2008. "Using tax return data to simulate corporate marginal tax rates," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2-3), pages 366-388, December.
  7. Joel Slemrod, 1998. "The Economics of Taxing the Rich," NBER Working Papers 6584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Alberto Alesina & George-Marios Angeletos, 2005. "Fairness and Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 960-980, September.
  9. 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.
  10. Austan Goolsbee, 2000. "What Happens When You Tax the Rich? Evidence from Executive Compensation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 352-378, April.
  11. Plesko, George A., 2003. "An evaluation of alternative measures of corporate tax rates," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 201-226, June.
  12. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality in the United States, 1913–1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-41.
  13. Slemrod, Joel, 1995. "Income Creation or Income Shifting? Behavioral Responses to the Tax Reform Act of 1986," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 175-180, May.
  14. Bizjak, John M. & Brickley, James A. & Coles, Jeffrey L., 1993. "Stock-based incentive compensation and investment behavior," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1-3), pages 349-372, April.
  15. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Scholarly Articles 2766676, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. John R. Graham & Mark H. Lang & Douglas A. Shackelford, 2004. "Employee Stock Options, Corporate Taxes, and Debt Policy," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(4), pages 1585-1618, 08.
  17. Lindsey, Lawrence B., 1987. "Individual taxpayer response to tax cuts: 1982-1984 : With implications for the revenue maximizing tax rate," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 173-206, July.
  18. Kevin J. Murphy & Ján Zábojník, 2004. "CEO Pay and Appointments: A Market-Based Explanation for Recent Trends," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 192-196, May.
  19. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "The Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 551-572, June.
  20. Core, John E. & Guay, Wayne R., 2001. "Stock option plans for non-executive employees," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 253-287, August.
  21. Carola Frydman & Dirk Jenter, 2010. "CEO Compensation," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 75-102, December.
  22. Lucian A. Bebchuk & Robert J. Jackson, Jr., 2005. "Executive Pensions," NBER Working Papers 11907, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Dhaliwal, Dan & Erickson, Merle & Heitzman, Shane, 2009. "Taxes and the backdating of stock option exercise dates," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1-2), pages 27-49, March.
  24. Jensen, Michael C & Murphy, Kevin J, 1990. "Performance Pay and Top-Management Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(2), pages 225-264, April.
  25. Frank Levy & Peter Temin, 2007. "Inequality and Institutions in 20th Century America," NBER Working Papers 13106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Emmanuel Saez & Joel Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2012. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(1), pages 3-50, March.
  27. Saez, Emmanuel, 2003. "The effect of marginal tax rates on income: a panel study of 'bracket creep'," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(5-6), pages 1231-1258, May.
  28. Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1998. "Are CEOs Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 653-691.
  29. Joel Slemrod, 1996. "High-Income Families and the Tax Changes of the 1980s: The Anatomy of Behavioral Response," NBER Chapters,in: Empirical Foundations of Household Taxation, pages 169-192 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Core, John E. & Guay, Wayne & Larcker, David F., 2008. "The power of the pen and executive compensation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 1-25, April.
  31. Emmanuel Saez, 2004. "Reported Incomes and Marginal Tax Rates, 1960-2000: Evidence and Policy Implications," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 18, pages 117-174 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  32. Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2000. "The Taxation of Executive Compensation," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 14, pages 1-44 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  33. 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.
  34. Core, John & Guay, Wayne, 1999. "The use of equity grants to manage optimal equity incentive levels," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 151-184, December.
  35. Wilbur G. Lewellen, 1968. "Executive Compensation in Large Industrial Corporations," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lewe68-1, December.
  36. Wilbur G. Lewellen, 1968. "Introduction, "Executive Compensation in Large Industrial Corporations"," NBER Chapters,in: Executive Compensation in Large Industrial Corporations, pages 1-9 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  37. Rangarajan K. Sundaram & David L. Yermack, 2007. "Pay Me Later: Inside Debt and Its Role in Managerial Compensation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(4), pages 1551-1588, 08.
  38. Slemrod, Joel, 1992. "Do Taxes Matter? Lessons from the 1980's," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 250-256, May.
  39. Hite, Gailen L. & Long, Michael S., 1982. "Taxes and executive stock options," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 3-14, July.
  40. Murphy, Kevin J., 1999. "Executive compensation," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 38, pages 2485-2563 Elsevier.
  41. Graham, John R., 1996. "Proxies for the corporate marginal tax rate," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 187-221, October.
  42. Perry, Tod & Zenner, Marc, 2001. "Pay for performance? Government regulation and the structure of compensation contracts," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 453-488, December.
  43. Sundaram, Rangarajan K. & Yermack, David, 2006. "Pay Me Later: Inside Debt and Its Role in Managerial Compensation," SIFR Research Report Series 43, Institute for Financial Research.
  44. Yermack, David, 2006. "Flights of fancy: Corporate jets, CEO perquisites, and inferior shareholder returns," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 211-242, April.
  45. John R. Graham, 2003. "Taxes and Corporate Finance: A Review," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 16(4), pages 1075-1129.
  46. Patton, Arch, 1994. "The making of multimillion-dollar executives," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 32-39.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2009-30. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Franz Osorio)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.