This study investigates whether corporations consider shareholder-level taxes when setting corporate distribution policy. I investigate the relation between the tax-rate differential on dividend and capital gains income and its effect on firms’ distribution policies. I find that firms consider shareholder-level taxes and that this association varies with the percentage of the firm owned by individual shareholders. Hence, firms increase share repurchases and decrease the percentage of total corporate payout in the form of a dividend as the tax-rate differential increases. Thus, an increased substitution effect occurs as capital gains become relatively more tax-advantaged compared to dividends. Furthermore, I find a positive association between the percentage of the firm owned by individual investors and the percentage of total corporate payout distributed as a repurchase. These findings are consistent with personal income taxes influencing managerial decisions regarding the payout of excess corporate funds.
Lightner, T. (2008), "An analysis of dividend and capital gains tax rate differentials and their effect on the structure of corporate payouts", Luttman, S. (Ed.) Advances in Taxation (Advances in Taxation, Vol. 18), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 29-51. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1058-7497(08)18002-4
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