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How Much Do Taxes Discourage Incorporation?

  • Jeffrey K. MacKie-Mason

    (University of Michigan, Dept of Economics)

  • Roger H. Gordon

One of the most basic distortions created by the double taxation of corporate income is the disincentive to incorporate. In this paper, we investigate the extent to which the aggregate allocation of assets and taxable income in the U.S. between corporate vs. non-corporate forms of organization during the period 1959--86 has responded to the size of the tax distortion discouraging firms from incorporating. In theory, profitable firms should shift out of the corporate sector when the tax distortion to incorporating is larger, and conversely for firms with tax losses. Our empirical results provide strong support for these theoretical forecasts, and hold consistently across a wide variety of specifications and measures of the tax variables. The economic magnitudes of the effects are small, however, throwing doubt on the economic importance of tax--induced changes in organizational form.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 9401002.

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Date of creation: 18 Jan 1994
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Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:9401002
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  1. Gordon, Roger H. & Bradford, David F., 1980. "Taxation and the stock market valuation of capital gains and dividends : Theory and emphirical results," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 109-136, October.
  2. Poterba, J.M., 1989. "Tax Reform And The Market For Tax-Exempt Debt," Working papers 514, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Roger H. Gordon & Jeffrey K. MacKie-Mason, 1992. "Tax Distortions to the Choice of Organizational Form," NBER Working Papers 4227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Kochin, Levis A & Parks, Richard W, 1988. " Was the Tax-Exempt Bond Market Inefficient or Were Future Expected Tax Rates Negative?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(4), pages 913-31, September.
  6. Myron S. Scholes & Mark A. Wolfson, 1989. "The Effects of Changes in Tax Laws on Corporate Reorganization Activity," NBER Working Papers 3095, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Altshuler, Rosanne & Auerbach, Alan J, 1990. "The Significance of Tax Law Asymmetries: An Empirical Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 61-86, February.
  8. 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.
  9. Kevin J. Murphy, 1986. "Incentives, Learning, and Compensation: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation of Managerial Labor Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 59-76, Spring.
  10. Jane G. Gravelle & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1987. "The Incidence and Efficiency Costs of Corporate Taxation when Corporate and Noncorporate Firms Produce the Same Good," NBER Working Papers 2462, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Miller, Merton H, 1977. "Debt and Taxes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 261-75, May.
  12. Kotlikoff, Laurence J. & Summers, Lawrence H., 1987. "Tax incidence," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 16, pages 1043-1092 Elsevier.
  13. Alan J. Auerbach, 1983. "Corporate Taxation in the United States," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 14(2), pages 451-514.
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