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Issues in the Measurement and Interpretation of Effective Tax Rates

  • David F. Bradford
  • Charles Stuart

Marginal effective tax rates on investment that are derived from the user cost of capital are nowadays widely used practically to assess the effects of capital taxation. In this paper, we examine several troublesome issues in the construction and use of marginal effective tax rates and user costs of capital. Our comments fall into two classes. In the first are concerns about the adequacy of the current generation of models of capital-market equilibrium, into which marginal effective tax rates (user costs) are incorporated. In the second are concerns about the appropriateness of the assumption, implicit and nearly universal in marginal effective tax rate calculations, that investors expect a given tax code to remain unchanged forever. We show that effects of current changes in the law on expectations about future changes may undo or even reverse the effects predicted by traditionally calculated effective tax rates.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1975.

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Date of creation: Jul 1986
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Publication status: published as Bradford, David and Charles Stuart. "Issues in the Measurement and Interpretation of Effective Tax Rates." National Tax Journal, Vol. 39, No. 3, (September 1986), pp. 307-316.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1975
Note: PE
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  1. King, Mervyn A. & Fullerton, Don, 2010. "The Taxation of Income from Capital," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780226436319, May.
  2. Martin Feldstein, 1983. "Inflation, Income Taxes, and the Rate of Interest: A Theoretical Analysis," NBER Chapters, in: Inflation, Tax Rules, and Capital Formation, pages 28-43 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Miller, Merton H, 1977. "Debt and Taxes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 261-75, May.
  4. Don Fullerton, 1985. "The Indexation of Interest, Depreciation, and Capital Gains: A Model ofInvestment Incentives," NBER Working Papers 1655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  6. Darby, Michael R, 1975. "The Financial and Tax Effects of Monetary Policy on Interest Rates," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 13(2), pages 266-76, June.
  7. Alan J. Auerbach & James R. Hines Jr., 1986. "Tax Reform, Investment, and the Value of the Firm," NBER Working Papers 1803, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Bulow, Jeremy I & Summers, Lawrence H, 1984. "The Taxation of Risky Assets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 20-39, February.
  9. Hansson, Ingemar & Stuart, Charles, 1986. "The Fisher Hypothesis and International Capital Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(6), pages 1330-37, December.
  10. 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.
  11. Gordon, Roger H, 1985. "Taxation of Corporate Capital Income: Tax Revenues versus Tax Distortions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(1), pages 1-27, February.
  12. Auerbach, Alan J, 1983. "Taxation, Corporate Financial Policy and the Cost of Capital," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 905-40, September.
  13. Don Fullerton, 1983. "Which Effective Tax Rate?," NBER Working Papers 1123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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