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Converting Corporations to Partnerships through Leverage: Theoretical and Practical Impediments

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  • Myron S. Scholes
  • Mark A. Wolfson

Abstract

We explore the degree to which debt financing can reduce the corporate-level tax on income in the U.S.. Although we show that debt is capable of shielding the competitive rate of return on projects from the corporate-level tax, debt financing cannot shield the positive net present value portion of project returns. Since nontax factors preclude corporate activities from being 100% debt-financed, a portion of the competitive return to corporate activity is also subject to double taxation. We also consider alternative mechanisms that serve to convert the corporate tax to a personal tax (or a partnership tax). These include other claims that give rise to tax deductible payments to the corporation such as obligations to employees, lessors and suppliers. As we show, all of these alternatives are limited in their ability to eliminate the corporate-level tax.

Suggested Citation

  • Myron S. Scholes & Mark A. Wolfson, 1989. "Converting Corporations to Partnerships through Leverage: Theoretical and Practical Impediments," NBER Working Papers 3092, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3092
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Auerbach, Alan J, 1983. "Taxation, Corporate Financial Policy and the Cost of Capital," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 905-940, September.
    2. Takeo Hoshi & Anil Kashyap & David Scharfstein, 1990. "Bank Monitoring and Investment: Evidence from the Changing Structure of Japanese Corporate Banking Relationships," NBER Chapters,in: Asymmetric Information, Corporate Finance, and Investment, pages 105-126 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Takeo Hoshi & Anil K. Kashyap & David Scharfstein, 1989. "Bank monitoring and investment: evidence from the changing structure of Japanese corporate banking relations," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 86, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    4. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-329, May.
    5. Scholes, Myron S & Wolfson, Mark A, 1990. "The Effects of Changes in Tax Laws on Corporate Reorganization Activity," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63(1), pages 141-164, January.
    6. Myron S. Scholes & Mark A. Wolfson, 1989. "Employee Stock Ownership Plans and Corporate Restructuring: Myths and Realities," NBER Working Papers 3094, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Miller, Merton H, 1977. "Debt and Taxes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 261-275, May.
    8. Alan J. Auerbach, 1979. "Wealth Maximization and the Cost of Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(3), pages 433-446.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hanlon, Michelle & Heitzman, Shane, 2010. "A review of tax research," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2-3), pages 127-178, December.
    2. Harold M. Somers, 1991. "Leverage: The Tax Incentives," UCLA Economics Working Papers 625, UCLA Department of Economics.

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