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Differential taxation and firms' financial leverage: Evidence from the introduction of a flat tax on interest income

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  • Fossen, Frank
  • Simmler, Martin

Abstract

Tax competition for the mobile factor capital has led to a trend in many countries to levy lower taxes on interest income, often introducing differential taxation between interest and business income. In this study, we analyze the effect of such differential taxation on the debt ratio of firms. We exploit a 2009 tax reform in Germany as a quasi-experiment, which introduced a flat final withholding tax and opened a gap of 18 percentage points between the tax rate on income from unincorporated businesses and the new lower tax rate on interest income. We apply a regression adjusted semi-parametric difference-in-difference matching strategy based on firm level panel data. In addition, we implement a more structural approach with a tax rate differential, taking into account its endogeneity by using instrumental variables. The results indicate that firms increase their leverage when the tax rate on interest income decreases, albeit to a small degree.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:fubsbe:20124
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    Cited by:

    1. Serena Fatica & Thomas Hemmelgarn & Gaëtan Nicodème, 2013. "The Debt-Equity Tax Bias: Consequences and Solutions," Reflets et perspectives de la vie économique, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(1), pages 5-18.
    2. Hermann Buslei & Martin Simmler, 2012. "The Impact of Introducing an Interest Barrier: Evidence from the German Corporation Tax Reform 2008," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1215, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    income taxation; capital taxation; financial structure; leverage; matching;

    JEL classification:

    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

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