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The Impact and Inefficiency of the Corporate Income Tax: Evidence from State Organizational Form Data

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  • Austan Goolsbee

Abstract

By double taxing the income of corporate firms but not unincorporated firms, taxes can play an important role in a firm's choice of organizational form. The sensitivity of the organizational form decision to tax rates can also be used to approximate the efficiency cost of the corporate income tax. This paper uses new cross-sectional data on organizational form across states compiled in the Census of Retail Trade to estimate this sensitivity. The results document a significant impact of the relative taxation of corporate to personal income on the share of economic activity that is done by corporations including sales, employment, and the number of firms. The impacts are substantially larger than those found in the previous empirical literature based on time-series data.

Suggested Citation

  • Austan Goolsbee, 2002. "The Impact and Inefficiency of the Corporate Income Tax: Evidence from State Organizational Form Data," NBER Working Papers 9141, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9141 Note: PE
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    1. Feldstein, Martin & Dicks-Mireaux, Louis & Poterba, James, 1983. "The effective tax rate and the pretax rate of return," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 129-158, July.
    2. Gordon, Roger H. & MacKie-Mason, Jeffrey K., 1994. "Tax distortions to the choice of organizational form," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 279-306.
    3. Goolsbee, Austan & Maydew, Edward L., 2000. "Coveting thy neighbor's manufacturing: the dilemma of state income apportionment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 125-143, January.
    4. Jane G. Gravelle & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1988. "Does the Harberger Model Greatly Understate the Excess Burden of the Corporate Tax? - Another Model Says Yes," NBER Working Papers 2742, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. 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 749-780, August.
    6. Jonathan Levin, 2002. "A Theory of Partnerships," Theory workshop papers 505798000000000002, UCLA Department of Economics.
    7. Gordon, Roger H & Wilson, John Douglas, 1986. "An Examination of Multijurisdictional Corporate Income Taxation under Formula Apportionment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(6), pages 1357-1373, November.
    8. Charles L. Ballard & John B. Shoven & John Whalley, 1982. "The Welfare Cost of Distortions in the United States Tax System: A General Equilibrium Approach," NBER Working Papers 1043, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Goolsbee, Austan, 1998. "Taxes, organizational form, and the deadweight loss of the corporate income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 143-152, July.
    10. Gentry, William M., 1994. "Taxes, financial decisions and organizational form : Evidence from publicly traded partnerships," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 223-244, February.
    11. Myron S. Scholes & Mark A. Wolfson, 1991. "The Role of Tax Rules in the Recent Restructuring of U.S. Corporations," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 5, pages 1-24 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Goolsbee, Austan, 2004. "The impact of the corporate income tax: evidence from state organizational form data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(11), pages 2283-2299, September.
    2. Raj Chetty & Emmanuel Saez, 2005. "Dividend Taxes and Corporate Behavior: Evidence from the 2003 Dividend Tax Cut," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 791-833.
    3. Goolsbee, Austan & Maydew, Edward, 2002. "Taxes and Organizational Form: The Case of REIT Spin-Offs," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 55(3), pages 441-456, September.
    4. Martin D. Dietz & Christian Keuschnigg, 2004. "Corporate Income Tax Reform in Switzerland," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 140(IV), pages 483-519, December.
    5. Reuven Avi-Yonah, 2005. "The Pitfalls of International Integration: A Comment on the Bush Proposal and its Aftermath," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 12(1), pages 87-95, January.
    6. Meh, C├ęsaire A., 2008. "Business risk, credit constraints, and corporate taxation," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 2971-3008, September.
    7. Reuven Avi-Yonah, "undated". "The Pitfalls of International Integration: A Comment on the Bush Proposal and Its Aftermath," University of Michigan John M. Olin Center for Law & Economics Working Paper Series umichlwps-1007, University of Michigan John M. Olin Center for Law & Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure

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