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How did the 2003 dividend tax cut affect stock prices?

  • Eugene Amromin
  • Paul Harrison
  • Steven Sharpe

We test the hypothesis that the 2003 dividend tax cut boosted U.S. stock prices and thus lowered the cost of equity. Using an event- study methodology, we attempt to identify an aggregate stock market effect by comparing the behavior of U.S. common stock prices to that of European stocks and real estate investment trusts. We also examine the relative cross-sectional response of prices on high-dividend versus low-dividend paying stocks. We do not find any imprint of the dividend tax cut news on the value of the aggregate U.S. stock market. On the other hand, high-dividend stocks outperformed low-dividend stocks by a few percentage points over the event windows, suggesting that the tax cut did induce asset reallocation within equity portfolios. Finally, the positive abnormal returns on non-dividend paying U.S. stocks in 2003 do not appear to be tied to tax-cut news.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-06-17.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-06-17
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  1. Alan J. Auerbach & Kevin A. Hassett, 2006. "Dividend Taxes and Firm Valuation: New Evidence," NBER Working Papers 11959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. John R. Graham & Roni Michaely & Michael R. Roberts, 2003. "Do Price Discreteness and Transactions Costs Affect Stock Returns? Comparing Ex-Dividend Pricing before and after Decimalization," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(6), pages 2611-2636, December.
  3. Alan J. Auerbach & Kevin A. Hassett, 2000. "On the Marginal Source of Investment Funds," NBER Working Papers 7821, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Clemens Sialm, 2005. "Tax Changes and Asset Pricing: Time-Series Evidence," NBER Working Papers 11756, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. James Poterba, 2004. "Taxation and Corporate Payout Policy," NBER Working Papers 10321, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Auerbach, Alan J., 2002. "Taxation and corporate financial policy," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 19, pages 1251-1292 Elsevier.
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