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Vortrag
The Impact of Introducing an Interest Barrier: Evidence from the German Corporation Tax Reform 2008

Hermann Buslei, Martin Simmler


27th Annual Congress of the European Economic Association : EEA 2012
Malaga, Spanien, 27.08.2012 - 31.08.2012


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Abstract:
In this study we investigate the impact of the thin capitalization rule newly introduced in Germany in 2008 on firms' capital structure, investment and profitability. The identification of the causal effects is based on the escape clauses within the regulation using a difference-in-difference approach. Our results suggest that firms strongly react to the new regulation in order to avoid the limited deductibility of interest expenses either by decreasing their debt ratio or by splitting the firms' assets to use the exemption limit. We further show that the effect on firms' investment depends on the firms' financial situation. Thus, negative investment effects are not found in general. With respect to the aim of restricting the profit shifting of multinational firms our results indicate that the sensitivity of investment to corporate income taxes increases for firms, which are affected by the thin capitalization rule. Moreover, our analysis shows that the newly introduced thin capitalization rule is quite successful in broadening the tax base.

Abstract

In this study we investigate the impact of the thin capitalization rule newly introduced in Germany in 2008 on firms' capital structure, investment and profitability. The identification of the causal effects is based on the escape clauses within the regulation using a difference-in-difference approach. Our results suggest that firms strongly react to the new regulation in order to avoid the limited deductibility of interest expenses either by decreasing their debt ratio or by splitting the firms' assets to use the exemption limit. We further show that the effect on firms' investment depends on the firms' financial situation. Thus, negative investment effects are not found in general. With respect to the aim of restricting the profit shifting of multinational firms our results indicate that the sensitivity of investment to corporate income taxes increases for firms, which are affected by the thin capitalization rule. Moreover, our analysis shows that the newly introduced thin capitalization rule is quite successful in broadening the tax base.

Hermann Buslei

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter in der Abteilung Staat



JEL-Classification: H25;H26;G32
Keywords: Thin capitalization, earnings stripping rule, debt ratio, profitability, investment
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