Monday, August 19, 2019
Yoojin Lee (California State University, Long Beach), Terry J. Shevlin (UC-Irvine) & Aruhn Venkat (UC-Irvine), The Effect of Tax Avoidance on Capital Structure Choices:
In this study, we examine whether tax avoidance affects firm-level external financing choices. We hypothesize that firms marginally choose equity over debt because tax avoidance generates incremental cash flows but is likely risky. Consequently, we predict that tax avoidance induces a relative price increase in debt relative to equity. Our results are consistent with tax avoidance inducing firms to choose equity over debt. Importantly, our theory and results are distinct from the effects of marginal tax rates on capital structure (e.g., Modigliani and Miller 1963) and we control for marginal tax rates in all specifications. From an identification standpoint, we use path analyses, a plausibly exogenous 9th Circuit decision and cross-sectional tests to support our main results.
To our knowledge, our study is the first to examine the relationship between capital structure decisions and tax avoidance.