Wealth Tax as Alternative Minimum Tax - the Impact of a Wealth Tax on Business Structure and Strategy
Arqus Quantitative Tax Research Discussion Paper No. 3
32 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2005
Date Written: April 6, 2005
An alternative minimum tax (AMT) is often regarded as desirable. We analyze a wealth tax at corporate and personal level that is designed as an AMT as proposed by the German Green Party. This wealth tax is imputable to profit taxes and is hence intended to prevent multiple (multistage) taxation. Referring to data from annual reports and the German Central Bank we model enterprises of different structure, industry, size and legal status. We show that companies in the service sector which generally maintain rather high gearing rates are more frequently subjected to the wealth tax than capital intensive industries. This result runs counter to well-known effects of a common wealth tax. Capital intensive firms, e.g. in the metal industry, are levied with definitive wealth tax only if they have large loss carry-forwards or extremely volatile profits. Furthermore, partnerships often enjoy wealth tax privileges due to uniform taxation at individual level whereas corporations may suffer from the wealth tax at corporate and personal level caused by imputation backlogs. Obviously, the underlying AMT influences corporate dividend policy evoking a push-out effect. We prove that this kind of wealth taxation usually favors financial rather than real investment and encourages outbound investment. Consequently, introducing an AMT discriminates against many firms and investment projects, especially if economic income is lower than taxable income. This proves that whenever income is taxed correctly, AMT is dispensable.
Keywords: Alternative minimum tax, business strategy, investment decisions, wealth tax
JEL Classification: H25, H21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation