Sooner or Later? – Paradoxical Investment Effects of Capital Gains Taxation Under Simultaneous Investment and Abandonment Flexibility
Posted: 20 Feb 2012
Date Written: February 20, 2012
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
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