Tax avoidance at public corporations driven by shareholder taxes: Evidence from changes in dividend tax policy

Dan Amiram, Andrew M. Bauer, Mary Margaret Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We exploit changes in a country's integration of corporate and shareholder taxes to identify the effect of investor-level taxes on costly corporate tax avoidance. Specifically, we rely on European countries eliminating imputation systems in different years in response to supranational judicial rulings. These eliminations, which are exogenous to the firm, remove managers' disincentive to engage in tax avoidance if they consider investor-level taxes. Using a difference-in-differences model with fixed effects, we find that the average firm affected by an elimination reduces its cash effective tax rate by 5.5 percent. Placebo tests support that this effect exists only for countries and years for which eliminations occur. Consistent with our cross-sectional predictions, we find that results are stronger for firms with lower growth opportunities, higher dividend payout, lower foreign income, and higher closely held ownership. Further analysis provides evidence consistent with shifting income to foreign countries as one method of tax avoidance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-55
Number of pages29
JournalAccounting Review
Volume94
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Corporate tax avoidance
  • Imputation
  • Public corporations
  • Shareholder dividend taxes

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