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Financial leverage and corporate taxation: Evidence from German corporate tax return data

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  • Dwenger, Nadja
  • Steiner, Viktor

Abstract

We estimate the impact of effective profit taxation on the financial leverage of corporations on the basis of a pseudo-panel constructed from corporate tax return micro data for the period 1998-2001, a period which saw the introduction of a major corporate tax reform in Germany. The financial leverage is measured by the ratio of long-term debt to total capital. Endogeneity of the effective corporate tax rate is controlled for by an instrumental variable approach. Our instrument for the observed effective tax rate is the counterfactual tax rate a corporation would face in a particular period had there been no endogenous change of its financial structure. This counterfactual is obtained from a detailed microsimulation model of the corporate sector based on tax return micro data. We find a statistically significant and relatively large positive effect of the tax rate on corporate leverage: on average, an increase of the tax rate by 10 percent would increase the financial leverage by about 5 percent. We also find that the debt ratio is less responsive for small corporations and for corporations that benefit from various other forms of tax shields, in particular depreciation allowances and tax loss carry-forward. However, tax effects do not seem to depend on risk, although the level of economic risk does affect corporate leverage.

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  • Dwenger, Nadja & Steiner, Viktor, 2009. "Financial leverage and corporate taxation: Evidence from German corporate tax return data," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 61, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:arqudp:61
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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. Ligia Alba Melo-Becerra & Javier Ávila Mahecha & Jorge Enrique Ramos-Forero, 2017. "The effect of corporate taxes on investment: Evidence from the Colombian firms," Borradores de Economia 1001, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    3. Fossen, Frank & Simmler, Martin, 2012. "Differential taxation and firms' financial leverage: Evidence from the introduction of a flat tax on interest income," Discussion Papers 2012/4, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    4. Dwenger, Nadja & Steiner, Viktor, 2012. "Profit Taxation and the Elasticity of the Corporate Income Tax Base: Evidence From German Corporate Tax Return Data," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 65(1), pages 118-150, March.
    5. repec:eee:jbfina:v:88:y:2018:i:c:p:250-266 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Nils aus dem Moore, 2014. "Taxes and Corporate Financing Decisions – Evidence from the Belgian ACE Reform," Ruhr Economic Papers 0533, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    7. Frank Fossen & Martin Simmler, 2016. "Personal taxation of capital income and the financial leverage of firms," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 23(1), pages 48-81, February.
    8. aus dem Moore, Nils, 2014. "Taxes and Corporate Financing Decisions – Evidence from the Belgian ACE Reform," Ruhr Economic Papers 533, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    9. Stöckl Matthias & Winner Hannes, 2013. "Körperschaftsbesteuerung und Unternehmensverschuldung: Evidenz aus einem Europäischen Firmenpanel / Capital Structure and Corporate Taxation: Empirical Evidence from European Panel Data," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 233(2), pages 188-205, April.
    10. repec:zbw:rwirep:0533 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Matthias Stöckl & Hannes Winner, 2012. "Capital Structure and Corporate Taxation. Empirical Evidence from European Panel Data," WIFO Working Papers 422, WIFO.
    12. repec:eco:journ1:2017-02-10 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Temimi, Akram & Zeitun, Rami & Mimouni, Karim, 2016. "How does the tax status of a country impact capital structure? Evidence from the GCC region," Journal of Multinational Financial Management, Elsevier, vol. 37, pages 71-89.
    14. Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der Gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung (ed.), 2015. "Zukunftsfähigkeit in den Mittelpunkt. Jahresgutachten 2015/16," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 201516, April.
    15. Jarkko Harju & Ilpo Kauppinen & Olli Ropponen, 2017. "Firm Responses to an Interest Barrier: Empirical Evidence," EconPol Working Paper 3, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    financial leverage; financial structure; debt ratio; corporate income taxation; corporate;

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm

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