Debt, Taxes, and Banks

32 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2012

See all articles by Ruud A. De Mooij

Ruud A. De Mooij

International Monetary Fund (IMF); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation

Michael Keen

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Fiscal Affairs Department; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

Date Written: February 2012

Abstract

Understanding the impact of the asymmetric tax treatment of debt and equity on the capital structures of financial institutions is critical to shaping and assessing responses to the problem of excessive leverage that underlay the 2009 financial crisis - but there is no empirical evidence to draw on. Guided by a simple model of banks? financing decisions in the presence of both regulatory constraints and tax asymmetries, this paper explores the impact of corporate tax bias on bank leverage, the use of hybrid instruments and regulatory capital ratios for a panel of over 14,000 commercial banks in 82 countries over nine years. On average, the sensitivity of banks? debt choices proves very similar to that of non-financial firms, consistent with rough offsetting of two opposing effects suggested by the theory. As the model predicts, somewhat counter-intuitively, the impact of tax on hybrids is generally weak or insignificant. Responsiveness to taxation varies significantly across banks, however: those holding smaller equity buffers, and larger banks, are noticeably less sensitive to tax.

Keywords: Bank Taxation, Corporate Tax, Debt Bias, Leverage, Commercial Banks, Corporate Taxes, Economic Models

JEL Classification: G21, G32, H25

Suggested Citation

De Mooij, Ruud A. and Keen, Michael, Debt, Taxes, and Banks (February 2012). IMF Working Paper No. NO.12/48. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2012233

Ruud A. De Mooij (Contact Author)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20431
United States

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://people.few.eur.nl/demooij/

Michael Keen

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Fiscal Affairs Department ( email )

700 19th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20431
United States

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.CESifo.de

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

7 Ridgmount Street
London, WC1E 7AE
United Kingdom

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