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How Big is the Tax Advantage to Debt?

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  • Alex Kane
  • Alan J. Marcus
  • Robert L. McDonald

Abstract

This paper uses an option valuation model of the firm to answer the question, "What magnitude tax advantage to debt is consistent with the range of observed corporate debt ratios?" We incorporate into the model differential personal tax rates on capital gains and ordinary income. We conclude that variations in the magnitude of bankruptcy costs across firms can not by itself account for the simultaneous existence of levered and unlevered firms. When it is possible for the value of the underlying assets to junip discretely to zero, differences across firms in the probability of this jump can account for the simultaneous existence of levered and unlevered firms. Moreover, if the tax advantage to debt is small, the annual rate of return advantage offered by optimal leverage may be so small as to make the firm indifferent about debt policy over a wide range of debt-to-firm value ratios.

Suggested Citation

  • Alex Kane & Alan J. Marcus & Robert L. McDonald, 1984. "How Big is the Tax Advantage to Debt?," NBER Working Papers 1286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1286 Note: ME
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:oup:rcorpf:v:4:y:2015:i:1:p:1-42. is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ilya A. Strebulaev, 2007. "Do Tests of Capital Structure Theory Mean What They Say?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(4), pages 1747-1787, August.
    3. Nengjiu Ju & Robert Parrino & Allen M. Poteshman & Michael S. Weisbach, 2002. "Horses and Rabbits? Optimal Dynamic Capital Structure from Shareholder and Manager Perspectives," NBER Working Papers 9327, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Kristoffer J. Glover & Gerhard Hambusch, 2014. "The trade-off theory revisited: on the effect of operating leverage," International Journal of Managerial Finance, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 10(1), pages 2-22, January.
    5. Mehdi Elhaei Sahar & Seyed Ali Vaez, 2013. "Information Asymmetry and Financing Decisions: Evidence from Iran Stock Exchange," International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, vol. 3(3), pages 105-110, July.
    6. Danis, András & Rettl, Daniel A. & Whited, Toni M., 2014. "Refinancing, profitability, and capital structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(3), pages 424-443.
    7. Sinha, Pankaj & Bansal, Vishakha, 2013. "Capital structure puzzle: the interrelationship between leverage, taxes and other micro economic factors," MPRA Paper 49878, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 17 Sep 2013.
    8. repec:eee:rujoec:v:3:y:2017:i:4:p:379-410 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Kane, Alex & Marcus, Alan J. & McDonald, Robert L., 1985. "Debt Policy and the Rate of Return Premium to Leverage," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(04), pages 479-499, December.
    10. Hayne E. Leland, 1998. "Agency Costs, Risk Management, and Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(4), pages 1213-1243, August.
    11. Strebulaev, Ilya A. & Whited, Toni M., 2012. "Dynamic Models and Structural Estimation in Corporate Finance," Foundations and Trends(R) in Finance, now publishers, vol. 6(1–2), pages 1-163, November.
    12. Gabriela Brendea, 2014. "Financing Behavior of Romanian Listed Firms in Adjusting to the Target Capital Structure," Czech Journal of Economics and Finance (Finance a uver), Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, vol. 64(4), pages 312-329, September.
    13. Moyen, Nathalie, 2007. "How big is the debt overhang problem?," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 433-472, February.
    14. Pierre Mella-Barral, 1996. "The Dynamics of Corporate Debt forgiveness and Contract Renegotiation," FMG Discussion Papers dp230, Financial Markets Group.
    15. Andrea Gamba & Gordon A. Sick & Carmen Aranda León, 2008. "Investment under Uncertainty, Debt and Taxes," Economic Notes, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA, vol. 37(1), pages 31-58, February.
    16. DeAngelo, Harry & DeAngelo, Linda & Whited, Toni M., 2011. "Capital structure dynamics and transitory debt," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 235-261, February.
    17. Martin Dòzsa & Karel Janda, 2015. "Corporate asset pricing models and debt contracts," CAMA Working Papers 2015-33, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    18. Martin Dózsa & Jakub Seidler, 2012. "Debt Contracts and Stochastic Default Barrier," Working Papers IES 2012/17, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised Jun 2012.
    19. Pascal Francois, 2006. "Tax loss carry-forwards and optimal leverage," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(14), pages 1075-1083.
    20. Lim, Terence & Lo, Andrew W. & Merton, Robert C. & Scholes, Myron S., 2006. "The Derivatives Sourcebook," Foundations and Trends(R) in Finance, now publishers, vol. 1(5–6), pages 365-572, April.

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