Do Franking Credits Matter? Exploring the Financial Implications of Dividend Imputation
42 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2015
Date Written: June 1, 2015
We examine the implications of the imputation system for stock prices and returns, cost of capital, project evaluation, capital structure, payout policy and investor portfolios. We also discuss potential impacts if the imputation system was dismantled or adjusted, perhaps in conjunction with a reduction in the corporate tax rate. A key theme is that the financial effects of imputation are often contentious. Most notably, the impact of imputation credits on share prices and cost of capital is subject to much debate: the notion that imputation is not priced is an extreme position, and an unreliable basis for policy formulation. More attention should be afforded to how imputation influences the behaviour of investors and companies. In this respect, the incentive that imputation provides for increasing dividend payouts is one of its clearest effects; and a key benefit through enhancing discipline in the use of capital. The effects of any removal of imputation are likely to be felt most strongly among smaller, domestic companies.
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