Does Capital Tax Uncertainty Delay Irreversible Risky Investment?

Niemann, Rainer and Sureth-Sloane, Caren (2016) Does Capital Tax Uncertainty Delay Irreversible Risky Investment? WU International Taxation Research Paper Series, 2016-05. WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Universität Wien, Vienna.


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Tax uncertainty is often claimed to be harmful for investments. Capital taxes, such as property and wealth taxes, are particularly exposed to tax uncertainty. Capital tax un- certainty emerges from expected tax reforms, the unclear outcome of future tax audits, and simplified estimates of capital tax bases in investment models. Uncertain returns on investment as well as stochastic taxation contribute to overall uncertainty and may significantly affect investment decisions. Hitherto, it is unknown how capital tax uncertainty affects investment timing. However, it is well known that both uncertainty and capital tax may be harmful for investment and decelerate investment activities. We are the first to study the investment timing effects of stochastic capital taxes in a real options setting with risky investment opportunities. Our results indicate that even risk neutral investors are sensitive with respect to capital tax risk and may react in a surprising manner to a newly introduced stochastic capital tax. As an apparently paradoxical investment e¤ect, we find that increased capital tax uncertainty can accelerate risky investment if such uncertainty is such ciently low compared to cash flow uncertainty. In contrast, high capital tax risk delays high-risk innovative investment projects. To reduce unintended consequences of uncertain tax policy, tax legislators and tax authorities should avoid high levels of cap- ital tax uncertainty. Broadening the capital tax base or increasing the capital tax rate induces ambiguous timing effects. Furthermore, high-growth investments are likely to be postponed if they experience a capital tax cut. Since investment reactions upon tax reforms are well-known to affect income and wealth distribution, reliable estimations of the impact of taxes on economic decisions are necessary. (authors' abstract)

Item Type: Paper
Additional Information: Editors: Eva Eberhartinger, Michael Lang, Rupert Sausgruber and Martin Zagler (Vienna University of Economics and Business), and Erich Kirchler (University of Vienna)
Keywords: property tax / capital tax / investment decisions / real options / timing flexibility / uncertainty
Classification Codes: JEL H25, H21
Depositing User: ePub Administrator
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2016 09:47
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2019 00:41


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