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Dividend Taxes and Share Prices: Evidence from Real Estate Investment Trusts

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  • William M. Gentry
  • Deen Kemsley
  • Christopher J. Mayer

Abstract

Financial economists have debated the impact of dividend taxes on firm valuation for decades, but existing empirical evidence is mixed. In this study, we avoid certain complications inherent in previous empirical work by exploiting institutional characteristics of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). For REITs, dividend policy is largely non-discretionary, share repurchases are not tax advantaged relative to dividends, and the market value of a firm's assets is relatively transparent to investors. In addition, REITs are exempt from corporate taxes, so their tax deductions flow directly to shareholders as reductions in dividend taxes. Within this environment, we regress the market value of a REIT's equity on the market value of its assets and its tax basis in assets, which creates tax deductions that lower future dividend taxes. We find that tax basis has a positive effect on firm value, which suggests that investors capitalize future dividend taxes into share prices.

Suggested Citation

  • William M. Gentry & Deen Kemsley & Christopher J. Mayer, 2001. "Dividend Taxes and Share Prices: Evidence from Real Estate Investment Trusts," NBER Working Papers 8486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8486
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

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