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Tax Policy and Lumpy Investment Behavior: Evidence from China's VAT Reform

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Listed:
  • Zhao Chen
  • Xian Jiang
  • Zhikuo Liu
  • Juan Carlos Suárez Serrato
  • Daniel Xu

Abstract

We incorporate the lumpy nature of firm-level investment into the study of how tax policy affects investment behavior. We show that tax policies can directly impact the lumpiness of investment. Extensive-margin responses to tax policy are key to understanding the effects of different tax reforms and to designing effective stimulus policies. We illustrate these results by studying China's 2009 VAT reform, which lowered the tax cost of investment and reduced partial irreversibility|the price gap between new and used capital. Using administrative tax data and a difference-in-differences design, we estimate a 36% investment increase. This effect is driven by investment spikes, which is consistent with the reduction of VAT-induced partial irreversibility. Using a dynamic investment model that fits the reduced-form effects of the reform, we show that policies that directly reduce the likelihood of firm inaction are more effective at stimulating investment.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhao Chen & Xian Jiang & Zhikuo Liu & Juan Carlos Suárez Serrato & Daniel Xu, 2019. "Tax Policy and Lumpy Investment Behavior: Evidence from China's VAT Reform," NBER Working Papers 26336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26336
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andrea Lanteri, 2018. "The Market for Used Capital: Endogenous Irreversibility and Reallocation over the Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(9), pages 2383-2419, September.
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    3. Isaac Baley & Julio Blanco, 2019. "Aggregate Dynamics in Lumpy Economies," 2019 Meeting Papers 903, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Yongzheng Liu & Jie Mao, 2019. "How Do Tax Incentives Affect Investment and Productivity? Firm-Level Evidence from China," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 261-291, August.
    5. Rao, Nirupama, 2016. "Do tax credits stimulate R&D spending? The effect of the R&D tax credit in its first decade," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 1-12.
    6. Eric Zwick & James Mahon, 2017. "Tax Policy and Heterogeneous Investment Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(1), pages 217-248, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wei Chen & Xilu Chen & Chang-Tai Hsieh & Zheng Song, 2019. "A Forensic Examination of China's National Accounts," NBER Working Papers 25754, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Fan, Ziying & Liu, Yu, 2020. "Tax Compliance and Investment Incentives: Firm Responses to Accelerated Depreciation in China," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 1-17.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D25 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice: Investment, Capacity, and Financing
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies

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