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Investment, accounting, and the salience of the corporate income tax

  • Jesse Edgerton
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    This paper develops and tests the hypothesis that accounting rules mitigate the impact of tax policy on investment decisions by obscuring the timing of tax payments. I model a firm that maximizes a discounted weighted average of after-tax cash flows and accounting profits. The cost of capital and the impact of tax incentives for investment both depend on the weight placed on accounting profits. I estimate this weight by comparing the effectiveness of tax incentives that do and do not affect accounting profits. Investment tax credits, which do affect accounting profits, have more impact on investment than accelerated depreciation, which does not. This difference in estimated impact is not obviously driven by discounting, cash flow effects, or measurement error. Results thus suggest that the tax burden on corporate capital could be lower than we would otherwise estimate, and accelerated depreciation provisions are less effective than they otherwise would be.

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    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2011-20.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2011-20
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    1. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1145-77, September.
    2. Chamley, Christophe, 1986. "Optimal Taxation of Capital Income in General Equilibrium with Infinite Lives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 607-22, May.
    3. Keating, A. Scott & L. Zimmerman, Jerold, 1999. "Depreciation-policy changes: tax, earnings management, and investment opportunity incentives," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 359-389, December.
    4. Michelle Hanlon & Terry Shevlin, 2005. "Bank-Tax Conformity for Corporate Income: An Introduction to the Issues," NBER Working Papers 11067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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