The Economics of Managerial Taxes and Corporate Risk-Taking
68 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2017 Last revised: 12 Jan 2019
Date Written: July 10, 2017
We examine the relation between managers’ personal income tax rates and their corporate investment decisions. Using plausibly exogenous variation in federal and state tax rates, we find a positive relation between managers’ personal tax rates and their corporate risk-taking. Moreover — and consistent with our theoretical predictions — we find that this relation is stronger among firms with investment opportunities that have a relatively high rate of return per unit of risk, and stronger among CEOs who have a relatively low marginal disutility of risk. Importantly, our results are unique to senior managers’ tax rates — we do not find similar relations for middle-income tax rates. We also find that the tax-induced risk-taking relates to idiosyncratic rather than systematic risk, suggesting that it will not be priced by well-diversified shareholders. Collectively, our findings provide evidence that managers’ personal income taxes influence their corporate risk-taking.
Keywords: Corporate risk-taking; risky investment; risk-taking incentives; personal income taxes; federal income taxes; state income taxes; agency conflict
JEL Classification: G32, H24, J33, M52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation