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Debt, Taxes, and Banks

  • Michael Keen
  • Ruud A. de Mooij

Understanding the impact of the asymmetric tax treatment of debt and equity on the capital structures of financial institutions is critical to shaping and assessing responses to the problem of excessive leverage that underlay the 2009 financial crisis - but there is no empirical evidence to draw on. Guided by a simple model of banks? financing decisions in the presence of both regulatory constraints and tax asymmetries, this paper explores the impact of corporate tax bias on bank leverage, the use of hybrid instruments and regulatory capital ratios for a panel of over 14,000 commercial banks in 82 countries over nine years. On average, the sensitivity of banks? debt choices proves very similar to that of non-financial firms, consistent with rough offsetting of two opposing effects suggested by the theory. As the model predicts, somewhat counter-intuitively, the impact of tax on hybrids is generally weak or insignificant. Responsiveness to taxation varies significantly across banks, however: those holding smaller equity buffers, and larger banks, are noticeably less sensitive to tax.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 12/48.

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Length: 32
Date of creation: 01 Feb 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:12/48
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  1. Lars P. Feld & Jost Henrich Heckemeyer & Michael Overesch, 2011. "Capital Structure Choice and Company Taxation: A Meta-Study," CESifo Working Paper Series 3400, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Asl? Demirgüç-Kunt & Edward J. Kane & Luc Laeven (ed.), 2008. "Deposit Insurance around the World: Issues of Design and Implementation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262042541, June.
  3. Jacob de Haan & Tigran Poghosyan, 2011. "Bank Size, Market Concentration, and Bank Earnings Volatility in the US," DNB Working Papers 282, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  4. R Blundell & Steven Bond, . "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data model," Economics Papers W14&104., Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  5. Gropp, Reint & Heider, Florian, 2009. "The determinants of bank capital structure," Working Paper Series 1096, European Central Bank.
  6. Alfons Weichenrieder & Tina Klautke, 2008. "Taxes and the Efficiency Costs of Capital Distortions," CESifo Working Paper Series 2431, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Frank, Murray Z. & Goyal, Vidhan K., 2009. "Capital Structure Decisions: Which Factors are Reliably Important?," MPRA Paper 22525, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Karacaovali, Baybars & Laeven, Luc, 2005. "Deposit insurance around the world : a comprehensive database," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3628, The World Bank.
  9. Gordon, Roger H., 2010. "Taxation And Corporate Use Of Debt: Implications For Tax Policy," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 63(1), pages 151-74, March.
  10. Huang, Rongbing & Ritter, Jay R., 2009. "Testing Theories of Capital Structure and Estimating the Speed of Adjustment," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(02), pages 237-271, April.
  11. Slemrod, Joel, 2009. "Lessons for Tax Policy in the Great Recession," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 62(3), pages 387-97, September.
  12. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 8973, March.
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