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The Significance of Tax Law Asymmetries: An Empirical Investigation

  • Rosanne Altshuler
  • Alan J. Auerbach

This study uses tax return data for U.S. nonfinancial corporations for the period 1971-82 to estimate the importance of restrictions on the ability of firms to use tax credits and to obtain refunds for tax losses. Our results suggest that the incidence of such unused tax benefits increased substantially during the early 1980s, though we do not find these increases attributable to increased investment incentives during that period. Using estimates of a three-state (taxable, not taxable, partially taxable) transition probability model, we calculate the effective tax rates on various types of investments undertaken by firms differing with respect to tax status. We confirm previous findings about the marginal tax rate on interest payments, and that it is important to distinguish current tax payments from marginal tax rates in estimating the incentive to invest.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w2279.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2279.

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Date of creation: Jun 1987
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 105, pp. 63-86, (1990).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2279
Note: PE
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  1. Cordes, Joseph J & Sheffrin, Steven M, 1983. " Estimating the Tax Advantage of Corporate Debt," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 38(1), pages 95-105, March.
  2. Mayer, Colin, 1986. "Corporation Tax, Finance and the Cost of Capital," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(1), pages 93-112, January.
  3. Alan J. Auerbach & David Reishus, 1987. "The Effects of Taxation on the Merger Decision," NBER Working Papers 2192, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jack M. Mintz, 1985. "An Empirical Estimate of Imperfect Loss Offsetting and Effective Tax Rates," Working Papers 634, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  5. Alan J. Auerbach, 1983. "The Dynamic Effects of Tax Law Asymmetries," NBER Working Papers 1152, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
  7. Alan J. Auerbach & James M. Poterba, 1987. "Why Have Corporate Tax Revenues Declined?," NBER Working Papers 2118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Alan J. Auerbach & James M. Poterba, 1986. "Tax Loss Carryforwards and Corporate Tax Incentives," NBER Working Papers 1863, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. DeAngelo, Harry & Masulis, Ronald W., 1980. "Optimal capital structure under corporate and personal taxation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 3-29, March.
  10. Saman Majd & Stewart C. Myers, 1985. "Valuing the Government's Tax Claim on Risky Corporate Assets," NBER Working Papers 1553, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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