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Investment Tax Incentives and Frequent Tax Reforms

  • Alan J. Auerbach
  • James R. Hines Jr.

Despite the frequency of tax changes and their potential importance to investors, almost all of the analysis of tax-based investment incentives assumes investors never anticipate any tax changes. We depart from this approach by analyzing the historical pattern of U.S. corporate investment incentives over the period 1953-86, incorporating the feature of investor awareness that the tax code may change. Our analysis incorporates a predictive equation for future tax variables into a model of optimal investment subject to adjustment costs and uncertainty. We find that expectations of future tax changes significantly affect the incentive to invest only if adjustment costs are low. In this case, the incentive to invest in 1986 was strong, as investors are estimated to have anticipated the coming reduction in investment incentives.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2492.

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Date of creation: Jan 1988
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as The American Economic Review, Vol. 78, No. 2, pp. 211-216, (May 1988).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2492
Note: PE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Alan J. Auerbach, 1986. "Tax Reform and Adjustment Costs: The Impact on Investment and Market Value," NBER Working Papers 2103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lawrence H. Summers, 1981. "Taxation and Corporate Investment: A q-Theory Approach," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(1), pages 67-140.
  3. Alan J. Auerbach & James R. Hines, Jr., 1987. "Anticipated Tax Changes and the Timing of Investment," NBER Chapters, in: Taxes and Capital Formation, pages 85-88 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Abel, Andrew B, 1983. "Tax Neutrality in the Presence of Adjustment Costs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(4), pages 705-12, November.
  5. 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, March.
  6. Alan J. Auerbach, 1983. "Corporate Taxation in the United States," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 14(2), pages 451-514.
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