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Tax Distortions to the Choice of Organizational Form

  • Roger H. Gordon
  • Jeffrey K. MacKie-Mason

Income from corporate and noncorporate firms is treated very differently under the tax law. To what degree do firms change their form of organization in response? Since the relative tax treatment depends on the tax bracket of the investor, the answer will vary by the bracket of the owners. To estimate the role of taxes, we estimate what size the nontax advantage to incorporating must take in each industry so that forecasted choices for organizational form, aggregated over investors in different tax brackets, are consistent with the aggregate evidence. While these nontax costs can be large, noncorporate activity tends to be concentrated in industries where these costs are small, leading to little excess burden from the tax distortion to organizational form.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4227.

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Date of creation: Dec 1992
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 55, no. 2, pp. 279-306, October 1994
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4227
Note: PE
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  1. Martin Feldstein & Joel Slemrod, 1980. "Personal Taxation, Portfolio Choice and The Effect of the Corporation Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 0241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kotlikoff, Laurence J. & Summers, Lawrence H., 1987. "Tax incidence," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 16, pages 1043-1092 Elsevier.
  3. Merton, Robert C., 1980. "On estimating the expected return on the market : An exploratory investigation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 323-361, December.
  4. Gravelle, Jane G & Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1989. "The Incidence and Efficiency Costs of Corporate Taxation When Corporate and Noncorporate Firms Produce the Same Good," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 749-80, August.
  5. Martin Feldstein & Lawrence Summers, 1977. "Is the Rate of Profit Falling?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 8(1), pages 211-228.
  6. Fama, Eugene F & Jensen, Michael C, 1983. "Agency Problems and Residual Claims," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 327-49, June.
  7. Gravelle, Jane G & Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1993. "Corporate Tax Incidence and Inefficiency When Corporate and Noncorporate Goods Are Close Substitutes," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(4), pages 501-16, October.
  8. Fama, Eugene F & Jensen, Michael C, 1983. "Separation of Ownership and Control," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 301-25, June.
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