Does the Tax System Favor Investment in High-Tech or Smoke-Stack Industries?
19 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2001 Last revised: 7 Mar 2015
Date Written: April 1985
When tax rates vary by asset, a "hidden" industrial policy may aid industries that invest in a certain mix of assets. In this paper, we examine whether differential use of depreciable assets gives rise to differential tax treatment of high technology industries relative to other industries. First, we calculate the total effective tax rate on a marginal investment in each of 34 assets. Next, using these asset-specific tax rates and weighting by the use of these assets in each of 73 different industries, we calculate total effective tax rates at the industry level. We find considerable variation within the high-tech sector and within the more traditional sector, but for the case of a taxable firm with a given debt/equity ratio, we do not find any systematic differences between overall rates in the two sectors.
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