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Why Is the Corporate Tax Rate Lower than the Personal Tax Rate?

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  • Clemens Fuest
  • Bernd Huber
  • Søren Bo Nielsen

Abstract

In many OECD countries, statutory corporate tax rates are lower than personal income tax rates. The present paper argues that this tax rate differentiation is an optimal tax policy if there are problems of asymmetric information between investors and firms in the capital market. The reduction of the corporate tax rate below the personale tax rate encourages equity financing and thus mitigates the excessive use of debt financing induced by asymmetric information. Our main theoretical result stands in marked contrast to the traditional view of corporate taxation and corporate finance theory, according to which there is a tax disadvantage to equity financing. More recent empirical evidence on this issue, however, is in line with our result.

Suggested Citation

  • Clemens Fuest & Bernd Huber & Søren Bo Nielsen, "undated". "Why Is the Corporate Tax Rate Lower than the Personal Tax Rate?," EPRU Working Paper Series 00-17, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:00-17
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    File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/epru/files/wp/00-17.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicolás S., 1945-, 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Working papers 1523-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
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    5. Gordon, Roger H & Bovenberg, A Lans, 1996. "Why Is Capital So Immobile Internationally? Possible Explanations and Implications for Capital Income Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1057-1075, December.
    6. Graham, John R., 1999. "Do personal taxes affect corporate financing decisions?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 147-185, August.
    7. Gordon, Roger H. & Lee, Young, 2001. "Do taxes affect corporate debt policy? Evidence from U.S. corporate tax return data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 195-224, November.
    8. Roger H. Gordon & Jeffrey K. MacKie-Mason, 1990. "Effects of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 on Corporate Financial Policy and Organizational Form," NBER Working Papers 3222, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fossen, Frank & Simmler, Martin, 2012. "Differential taxation and firms' financial leverage: Evidence from the introduction of a flat tax on interest income," Discussion Papers 2012/4, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    2. Michael Pfaffermayr & Matthias Stöckl & Hannes Winner, 2013. "Capital Structure, Corporate Taxation and Firm Age," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 34(1), pages 109-135, March.
    3. Frank Fossen & Martin Simmler, 2016. "Personal taxation of capital income and the financial leverage of firms," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 23(1), pages 48-81, February.
    4. Haufler, Andreas & Norbäck, Pehr-Johan & Persson, Lars, 2014. "Entrepreneurial innovations and taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 13-31.
    5. Simon C. Parker, 2010. "Contracting Out, Public Policy And Entrepreneurship," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 57(2), pages 119-144, May.
    6. Clemens Fuest & Alfons J. Weichenrieder, 2002. "Tax Competition and Profit Shifting: On the Relationship between Personal and Corporate Tax Rates," CESifo Working Paper Series 781, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Clemens Fuest & Bernd Huber & Philipp Tillessen, 2003. "Tax Policy and Entrepreneurship in the Presence of Asymmetric Information in Capital Markets," CESifo Working Paper Series 872, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Félix Domínguez Barrero & Julio López Laborda & Fernando Rodrigo Sauco, 2005. "Do Corporate and Personal Income Taxes Affect Incorporation?," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 174(3), pages 55-86, September.

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