IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Pitfalls in the Construction and Use of Effective Tax Rates


  • David F. Bradford
  • Don Fullerton


A cost of capital formula can be a useful tool in estimating the effective tax rate on a dollar of marginal investment in a particular industry. There are a number of procedural issues, however, which can greatly affect the resulting estimates. First, tax rate estimates vary with the interest rate used in the formula. Second, the nonlinearity of tax rate formulas may lead to anomalous results. For example, an investment that is actually subsidized may appear to bear a positive tax. Or, tax rates may become arbitrarily large when the project's rate of return approaches zero. Third, effective tax rate results depend on the assumed relationship between inflation and nominal interest rates. Our conclusion is that much sensitivity analysis and specificity are required in studies that undertake to estimate effective tax rates.

Suggested Citation

  • David F. Bradford & Don Fullerton, 1981. "Pitfalls in the Construction and Use of Effective Tax Rates," NBER Working Papers 0688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0688
    Note: PE

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Don Fullerton & Roger H. Gordon, 1983. "A Reexamination of Tax Distortions in General Equilibrium Models," NBER Chapters,in: Behavioral Simulation Methods in Tax Policy Analysis, pages 369-426 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Martin Feldstein & Lawrence Summers, 1983. "Inflation, Tax Rules, and the Long-term Interest Rate," NBER Chapters,in: Inflation, Tax Rules, and Capital Formation, pages 153-185 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Shoven, John B, 1976. "The Incidence and Efficiency Effects of Taxes on Income from Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1261-1283, December.
    4. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1980. "On the Almost Neutrality of Inflation: Notes on Taxation and the Welfare Costs of Inflation," NBER Working Papers 0499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Fullerton, Don, et al, 1981. "Corporate Tax Integration in the United States: A General Equilibrium Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 677-691, September.
    6. Martin Feldstein & Lawrence Summers, 1983. "Inflation and the Taxation of Capital Income in the Corporate Sector," NBER Chapters,in: Inflation, Tax Rules, and Capital Formation, pages 116-152 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Roger H. Gordon, 1981. "Taxation of Corporate Capital Income: Tax Revenues vs. Tax Distortions," NBER Working Papers 0687, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Kevin S. Markle & Douglas A. Shackelford, 2011. "Cross-Country Comparisons of Corporate Income Taxes," NBER Working Papers 16839, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Julie Collins & Douglas Shackelford, 1995. "Corporate domicile and average effective tax rates: The cases of Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 2(1), pages 55-83, February.
    3. Roger H. Gordon & James R. Hines, Jr. & Lawrence H. Summers, 1987. "Notes on the Tax Treatment of Structures," NBER Chapters,in: The Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation, pages 223-258 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Raquel Paredes Gómez, 2006. "The Evolving Role of the Corporate Income Tax in Spain," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0605, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    5. José Manuel González-Páramo, 1991. "Imposición personal e incentivos fiscales al ahorro en España," Estudios Económicos, Banco de España;Estudios Económicos Homepage, number 46.
    6. Fullerton, Don & Henderson, Yolanda Kodrzycki, 1985. "Long-run Effects of the Accelerated Cost Recovery System," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(3), pages 363-372, August.
    7. Niemann, Rainer & Bachmann, Mark & Knirsch, Deborah, 2002. "Was leisten die Effektivsteuersätze des European Tax Analyzer?," Tübinger Diskussionsbeiträge 241, University of Tübingen, School of Business and Economics.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0688. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.