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Tax-exempt investors and the asset allocation puzzle

  • Jack Mintz
  • Michael Smart

Investors frequently hold equity in tax-exempt savings vehicles such as pension plans, despite the prediction of the standard model that they hold only bonds. We provide a new explanation for this empirical puzzle based on differences between pensions and taxable assets in the tax treatment of capital losses. We show how limits on refundability of losses on taxable equities leads to diversity of investors' preferences for corporate leverage on the basis of tax rates. In the simplest equilibrium of the model, tax-exempt savers hold risky, highly leveraged equities, while low-bracket taxable savers hold bonds and high-bracket taxpayers hold relatively safe, unleveraged equities. We discuss the implications of tax-exempts for risk taking and agency costs within the firm.

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File URL: http://www.economics.utoronto.ca/public/workingPapers/UT-ECIPA-MSMART-98-04.ps
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Paper provided by University of Toronto, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number msmart-98-04.

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Length: 15 pages
Date of creation: 25 May 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:msmart-98-04
Contact details of provider: Postal: 150 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario
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  1. Auerbach, Alan J. & King, Mervyn A., 1982. "Corporate financial policy with personal and institutional investors," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 259-285, April.
  2. Mark Gertler & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1991. "Corporate Financial Policy, Taxation, and Macroeconomic Risk," NBER Working Papers 3902, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. George M. Constantinides, 1983. "Optimal Stock Trading with Personal Taxes: Implications for Prices and the Abnormal January Returns," NBER Working Papers 1176, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Miller, Merton H, 1977. "Debt and Taxes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 261-75, May.
  5. Milgrom, Paul & Shannon, Chris, 1994. "Monotone Comparative Statics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(1), pages 157-80, January.
  6. James M. Poterba & David A. Wise, 1996. "Individual Financial Decisions in Retirement Saving Plans and The Provision of Resources for Retirement," NBER Working Papers 5762, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Irwin Tepper, 1981. "Taxation and Corporate Pension Policy," NBER Working Papers 0661, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1983. "Some aspects of the taxation of capital gains," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 257-294, July.
  9. DeAngelo, Harry & Masulis, Ronald W., 1980. "Optimal capital structure under corporate and personal taxation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 3-29, March.
  10. James M. Poterba, 1989. "Venture Capital and Capital Gains Taxation," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 3, pages 47-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Burman, Leonard E. & Ricoy, Peter D., 1997. "Capital Gains and the People Who Realize Them," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 50(3), pages 427-51, September.
  12. Poterba, James M., 1989. "Tax reform and the market for tax-exempt debt," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 537-562, August.
  13. Tepper, Irwin, 1981. "Taxation and Corporate Pension Policy," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 36(1), pages 1-13, March.
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