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A nation without a corporate income tax: Evidence from nineteenth century Japan

Author

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  • Kazuki Onji

    (Graduate School of Economics, Osaka University)

  • John P. Tang

    (Research School of Economics, Australian National University)

Abstract

This study provides evidence on tax distortion to organizational choices of firm using historical data. We utilize the 1887 introduction of a personal income tax (PIT) in Japan as a quasi-experiment to examine tax-motivated incorporation. We circumvent the data limitation in the 19 th century by drawing on a firm-level dataset constructed from genealogies of Japanese corporations. The sample is 3,203 firm- year observations spanning 1880-1892. We find that the introduction of PIT affected the adoption of simpler types of corporations and increased the corporate share of establishments by about 3 percentage points. The evidence indicates the role of a corporate income tax as a backstop to maintain revenue performance of PIT.

Suggested Citation

  • Kazuki Onji & John P. Tang, 2015. "A nation without a corporate income tax: Evidence from nineteenth century Japan," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 15-12, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:osk:wpaper:1512
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    Cited by:

    1. Sergi Basco & John P. Tang, 2021. "Banks, Credit Supply, and the Life Cycle of Firms: Theory and Evidence from Late Nineteenth Century Japan," CEH Discussion Papers 02, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    2. Tang, John P., 2017. "The Engine And The Reaper: Industrialization And Mortality In Late Nineteenth Century Japan," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 145-162.
    3. Wojciech Kopczuk & Eric Zwick, 2020. "Business Incomes at the Top," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 34(4), pages 27-51, Fall.
    4. Tazhitdinova, Alisa, 2020. "Are changes of organizational form costly? Income shifting and business entry responses to taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 186(C).
    5. Tang, John P., 2015. "The Engine And The Reaper: Industrialization And Mortality In Early Modern Japan," RCESR Discussion Paper Series DP15-10, Research Center for Economic and Social Risks, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Tax Avoidance; Organizational Form; Business Incorporation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • K34 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Tax Law

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