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Investment under Uncertainty, Debt and Taxes

Andrea Gamba, Gordon A. Sick and Carmen Aranda León

Economic Notes, 2008, vol. 37, issue 1, 31-58

Abstract: It is common practice in financial derivative valuation to use a discount factor based on the riskless debt rate. But, to what extent is this discount factor appropriate for cash flows emerging in capital budgeting? To answer this question, we introduce a framework for real asset valuation that considers both personal and corporate taxation. We first discuss broad circumstances under which personal taxes do not affect valuation. We show that the appropriate discount rate for equity-financed flows in a risk-neutral setting is an equity rate that differs from the riskless debt rate by a tax wedge due to the presence of personal taxation. We extend this result to the valuation of the interest tax shield for exogenous debt policy with default risk. Interest tax shields, which accrue at a net rate corresponding to the difference between the corporate tax rate and a tax rate related to the personal tax rates, can have either positive or negative values. We also provide an illustrative real options application of our valuation approach to the case of an option to delay investment in a project, showing that the application of Black and Scholes formula may be incorrect in presence of personal taxes. Copyright 2008 The Authors Journal compilation 2008 Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA.

Date: 2008
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