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A Theory of Dividends Based on Tax Clienteles

  • Franklin Allen
  • Antonio Bernardo
  • Ivo Welch

This paper offers a novel explanation for why some firms prefer to pay dividends rather than repurchase shares. It is well-known that institutional investors are relatively less taxed than individual investors, and that this induces "dividend clientele" effects. We argue that these clientele effects are the very reason for the presence of dividends, because institutions have a relative advantage in monitoring firms or in detecting firm quality. Firms paying dividends attract relatively more institutions and perform better. The theory is consistent with some documented regularities, such as a reluctance of firms to cut dividends, and offers novel empirical implications, such as a prediction that is the tax difference between institutions and retail investors that determines dividend payments, not the absolute tax payments.

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Paper provided by Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research in its series Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers with number 15-98.

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Handle: RePEc:fth:pennfi:15-98
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  1. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1986. "Large Shareholders and Corporate Control," Scholarly Articles 3606237, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. A. Admati & P. P├čeiderer & J. Zechner, 2005. "Large shareholder activism, risk sharing, and financial market equilibrium," Public Economics 0502011, EconWPA.
  3. Michael J. Brennan & Anjan V. Thakor, 2004. "Shareholder Preferences and Dividend Policy," Finance 0411017, EconWPA.
  4. Ahron R. Ofer & Anjan V. Thakor, 2004. "A Theory of Stock Price Responses to Alternative Corporate Cash Disbursement Methods: Stock Repurchase and Dividends," Finance 0411031, EconWPA.
  5. Barclay, Michael J. & Smith, Clifford Jr., 1988. "Corporate payout policy : Cash Dividends versus Open-Market Repurchases," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 61-82, October.
  6. Rajan, Raghuram G & Zingales, Luigi, 1995. " What Do We Know about Capital Structure? Some Evidence from International Data," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(5), pages 1421-60, December.
  7. John, Kose & Williams, Joseph, 1985. " Dividends, Dilution, and Taxes: A Signalling Equilibrium," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1053-70, September.
  8. Lucas, Deborah J. & McDonald, Robert L., 1998. "Shareholder Heterogeneity, Adverse Selection, and Payout Policy," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 33(02), pages 233-253, June.
  9. Titman, Sheridan & Trueman, Brett, 1986. "Information quality and the valuation of new issues," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 159-172, June.
  10. Hausch, Donald B & Seward, James K, 1993. "Signaling with Dividends and Share Repurchases: A Choice between Deterministic and Stochastic Cash Disbursements," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 6(1), pages 121-54.
  11. Chowdhry, Bhagwan & Nanda, Vikram, 1994. "Repurchase Premia as a Reason for Dividends: A Dynamic Model of Corporate Payout Policies," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 7(2), pages 321-50.
  12. Ian Ayres & Peter Cramton, 1994. "Relational Investing and Agency Theory," Papers of Peter Cramton 94clr, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 09 Jun 1998.
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