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Employee Stock Options, Corporate Taxes and Debt Policy

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  • John R. Graham
  • Mark H. Lang
  • Douglas A. Shackelford

Abstract

We find that employee stock option deductions lead to large aggregate tax savings for Nasdaq 100 and S&P 100 firms and also affect corporate marginal tax rates. For Nasdaq firms, the median marginal tax rate is 31 percent when option deductions are ignored but falls to 5 percent when one accounts for the deductions. For S&P firms, however, option deductions do not affect marginal tax rates to a large degree. In the spirit of DeAngelo and Masulis (1980), option deductions are important nondebt tax shields that can affect corporate policies. We find evidence consistent with option deductions substituting for interest deductions in corporate capital structure decisions. This evidence explains in part why some firms appear to be underlevered.

Suggested Citation

  • John R. Graham & Mark H. Lang & Douglas A. Shackelford, 2002. "Employee Stock Options, Corporate Taxes and Debt Policy," NBER Working Papers 9289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9289
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    Cited by:

    1. Feld, Lars P. & Heckemeyer, Jost H. & Overesch, Michael, 2013. "Capital structure choice and company taxation: A meta-study," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 2850-2866.
    2. Bergman, Nittai K. & Jenter, Dirk, 2007. "Employee sentiment and stock option compensation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 667-712, June.
    3. Graham, John R. & Mills, Lillian F., 2008. "Using tax return data to simulate corporate marginal tax rates," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2-3), pages 366-388, December.
    4. Mihir A Desai & Dhammika Dharmapala, 2009. "Corporate Tax Avoidance and Firm Value," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 537-546, August.
    5. McDonald, Robert L., 2004. "The tax (dis)advantage of a firm issuing options on its own stock," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(5), pages 925-955, April.
    6. Mills, Lillian F. & Plesko, George A., 2003. "Bridging the Reporting Gap: A Proposal for More Informative Reconciling of Book and Tax Income," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 56(4), pages 865-893, December.
    7. Mindy X. Zhang & Qi Sun, 2016. "Financing Intangible Capital," 2016 Meeting Papers 230, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Frydman, Carola & Molloy, Raven S., 2011. "Does tax policy affect executive compensation? Evidence from postwar tax reforms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1425-1437.
    9. Sudip Ghosh & Christine Harrington & Walter Smith, 2011. "Do windfall non-debt tax shields from acquisitions affect corporate debt issues?," Managerial Finance, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 37(6), pages 537-552, May.
    10. Julie H. Collins & Douglas A. Shackelford, 2003. "Do US Multinationals Face Different Tax Burdens than Do Other Companies?," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 17, pages 141-168, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Hanlon, Michelle, 2003. "What Can We Infer About a Firm’s Taxable Income From Its Financial Statements?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 56(4), pages 831-863, December.
    12. Desai, Mihir A. & Dharmapala, Dhammika, 2006. "Corporate tax avoidance and high-powered incentives," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 145-179, January.
    13. Benjamin C. Ayers & Jeri K. Seidman & Erin M. Towery, 2019. "Tax Reporting Behavior Under Audit Certainty," Contemporary Accounting Research, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 36(1), pages 326-358, March.
    14. Graham, John R. & Raedy, Jana S. & Shackelford, Douglas A., 2012. "Research in accounting for income taxes," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 412-434.
    15. Kenneth J. Kopecky & Zhichuan (Frank) Li & Timothy F. Sugrue & Alan L. Tucker, 2018. "Revisiting M&M with Taxes: An Alternative Equilibrating Process," IJFS, MDPI, vol. 6(1), pages 1-12, January.
    16. Dr. Faris Nasif AL- Shubiri, 2012. "Determinants Of Changes Dividend Behavior Policy: Evidence From The Amman Stock Exchange," Far East Journal of Marketing and Management, Far East Research Centre, vol. 2(1), pages 1-13, August.
    17. Alexander Ljungqvist & Liandong Zhang & Luo Zuo, 2017. "Sharing Risk with the Government: How Taxes Affect Corporate Risk Taking," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(3), pages 669-707, June.
    18. Azhagaiah Ramachandran & Veeramuthu Packkirisamy, 2010. "The Impact of Firm Size on Dividend Behaviour: A Study With Reference to Corporate Firms across Industries in India," Managing Global Transitions, University of Primorska, Faculty of Management Koper, vol. 8(1), pages 049-078.
    19. Hamid Mehran & Joshua V. Rosenberg, 2007. "The effect of employee stock options on bank investment choice, borrowing, and capital," Staff Reports 305, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    20. Amromin, Gene & Liang, Nellie, 2003. "Hedging Employee Stock Options, Corporate Taxes, and Debt," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 56(3), pages 513-533, September.
    21. Utkir Kholbadalov, 2012. "The relationship of corporate tax avoidance, cost of debt and institutional ownership: evidence from Malaysia," Economic Analysis Working Papers (2002-2010). Atlantic Review of Economics (2011-2016), Colexio de Economistas de A Coruña, Spain and Fundación Una Galicia Moderna, vol. 2, pages 1-1, December.

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