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The Significance of Tax Law Asymmetries: An Empirical Investigation

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  • Rosanne Altshuler
  • Alan J. Auerbach

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Rosanne Altshuler & Alan J. Auerbach, 1987. "The Significance of Tax Law Asymmetries: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 2279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2279
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    1. Alan J. Auerbach & David Reishus, 1988. "The Effects of Taxation on the Merger Decision," NBER Chapters, in: Corporate Takeovers: Causes and Consequences, pages 157-190, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Alan J. Auerbach & James M. Poterba, 1987. "Why Have Corporate Tax Revenues Declined?," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 1, pages 1-28, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Alan J. Auerbach & James M. Poterba, 1987. "Tax-Loss Carryforwards and Corporate Tax Incentives," NBER Chapters, in: Taxes and Capital Formation, pages 89-92, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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