Sooner or Later? – Paradoxical Investment Effects of Capital Gains Taxation Under Simultaneous Investment and Abandonment Flexibility

Posted: 20 Feb 2012

See all articles by Rainer Niemann

Rainer Niemann

University of Graz, Center for Accounting Research; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Caren Sureth-Sloane

Paderborn University; Vienna University of Economics and Business

Date Written: February 20, 2012

Abstract

This paper analyzes the impact of capital gains taxation on investment timing decisions for risky investment projects with entry and exit flexibility under differential tax rates for ordinary income and capital gains. We investigate whether capital gains taxation influences immediate and delayed investments asymmetrically, given the optimal abandonment decision. If capital gains taxation induces a lock-in effect, this effect is anticipated in the investment timing decision. In contrast to prior research, our numerical simulations show that this lock-in effect of capital gains taxation can induce normal as well as paradoxical effects on investment timing under simultaneous entry and exit flexibility. A paradoxical timing effect, i.e., investment accelerated by capital gains taxation, especially emerges for high liquidation proceeds or, more conservative tax accounting, low interest rates, and low volatilities. In these cases, capital gains taxation reduces the value of the option to invest and hereby increases the propensity to invest immediately. As a second paradoxical tax effect, capital gains taxation may favor delayed real investment over financial investment. Facing these results, tax legislators should not use capital gains taxation as a short-term tax policy instrument to influence investors’ timing decisions.

Keywords: capital gains tax, investment decisions, real options, timing flexibility, uncertainty, conservative accounting

JEL Classification: H25, H21

Suggested Citation

Niemann, Rainer and Sureth-Sloane, Caren, Sooner or Later? – Paradoxical Investment Effects of Capital Gains Taxation Under Simultaneous Investment and Abandonment Flexibility (February 20, 2012). European Accounting Review Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2008153

Rainer Niemann (Contact Author)

University of Graz, Center for Accounting Research ( email )

Universitätsstr. 15 / G2
Graz, 8010
Austria
+43-316-380-6444 (Phone)
+43-316-380-9595 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.uni-graz.at/steuer

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Caren Sureth-Sloane

Paderborn University ( email )

Warburger Str. 100
Paderborn, 33098
Germany

Vienna University of Economics and Business ( email )

Welthandelsplatz 1
Vienna, Wien 1020
Austria

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