Do personal taxes affect capital structure? Evidence from the 2003 tax cut
Leming Lin and
Journal of Financial Economics, 2013, vol. 109, issue 2, 549-565
Because the personal tax treatments of interest and dividend income likely affect the relative cost of debt and equity financing, a sharp change in tax treatment could affect firms' optimal leverage. This paper examines the effect of the 2003 equity income tax cut on firms' debt usage. Because this tax cut affected only individual investors, we can use a difference-in-differences method to identify the effect of personal tax on firms' leverage. Previous research has found that the 2003 tax cut encouraged dividend payouts and reduced the cost of equity, but it provides no link to equilibrium leverage ratios. We estimate that the tax cut causes the affected firms' leverage to decrease by about 5 percentage points. Furthermore, we show that the effects of the tax cut are stronger for firms with lower marginal corporate tax rates and for firms that are not financially constrained, consistent with our theoretical predictions. Overall, we find strong evidence that personal tax is an important determinant of firms' optimal leverage.
Keywords: Capital structure; Personal taxes; Individual ownership (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: G32 H24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (9) Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:109:y:2013:i:2:p:549-565
Access Statistics for this article
Journal of Financial Economics is currently edited by G. William Schwert
More articles in Journal of Financial Economics from Elsevier
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Haili He ().