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Empirical evaluation of interest barrier effects

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  • Dreßler, Daniel
  • Scheuering, Uwe

Abstract

We analyze the impact of changes in thin capitalization rules on corporations' capital structure. Thin capitalization rules prevent firms from deducting excessive interest expenses from their tax base. As of 2008, Germany has severely changed its thin capitalization rule by targeting interest payments instead of debt to equity ratios. The new rule has primarily been introduced to prohibit tax avoidance by multinationals. For reasons of non-discrimination, the rule is, however, equally attributable on the national level and it is applicable to both internal and external financing. The theoretical and analytical literature has brought forward many arguments stating that the new interest barrier is harmful to firms, distorting their financing decisions. Four years after its introduction, the time has come to empirically evaluate the interest barrier. The DAFNE database serves as our source of reference. We differentiate by firm characteristics, by industry and by kind of debt. We find that the interest barrier drove firms to lower their debt to assets ratios and their net interest payments. Opposing its original intention, it was, however, also the national firms which adjusted their capital structure, and it was external rather than internal debt which was reduced. Thus, the interest barrier does indeed affect financing decisions, but predominantly not in the intended way and not of the intended firms. Insensitivity analyses we examine highly leveraged and low profitable firms, which are likely to be subject to the interest barrier. The results suggest a debt-reducing interest barrier effect for these companies as well.

Suggested Citation

  • Dreßler, Daniel & Scheuering, Uwe, 2012. "Empirical evaluation of interest barrier effects," ZEW Discussion Papers 12-046, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:12046
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mardan, Mohammed, 2017. "Why countries differ in thin capitalization rules: The role of financial development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 1-14.
    2. Alberternst, Stephan & Sureth-Sloane, Caren, 2016. "Interest barrier and capital structure response," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 206, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    3. Alberternst, Stephan, 2016. "Relevanz der deutschen Zinsschranke für Personenunternehmen: Eine dynamische Analyse der Betroffenheit," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 207, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    4. Nicolay, Katharina & Nusser, Hannah & Pfeiffer, Olena, 2017. "On the interdependency of profit shifting channels and the effectiveness of anti-avoidance legislation," ZEW Discussion Papers 17-066, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    5. Wagner, Julia, 2015. "EBITDA-Vortrag - cui bono? Eine Gesetzesevaluation auf Basis einer Mikrosimulation," Discussion Papers 2015/31, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    6. José A. Clemente-Almendros & Francisco Sogorb-Mira, 2016. "The effect of taxes on the debt policy of spanish listed companies," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 359-391, August.
    7. Alberternst, Stephan & Schwar, Torben, 2015. "Relevanz der Zinsschranke: Eine empirische Untersuchung der betroffenen Unternehmen von 2008 bis 2012," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 200, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    8. Alberternst, Stephan & Sureth, Caren, 2015. "The effect of taxes on corporate financing decisions: Evidence from the German interest barrier," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 182, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    9. 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.
    10. Kalamov, Zarko Y., 2015. "Safe Haven vs. Earnings Stripping Rules: a Prisoner Dilemma?," EconStor Preprints 110895, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Capital Structure; Corporate Taxation; Interest Barrier; Empirical Analysis; Firm-Level Data;

    JEL classification:

    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • 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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