Sunday, September 7, 2008

Greg Mankiw's Blog: Post-Partisan Tax Policy

Greg Mankiw's Blog: Post-Partisan Tax Policy


CONSUMPTION VS. SAVING When the tax system depresses the return on a major asset class like corporate equities, households have less incentive to save for the future. Reduced saving means less funds for capital accumulation, which in turn impedes economic growth.

HOUSING VS. BUSINESS CAPITAL Wealth invested in your own home has several tax advantages. These include the mortgage interest deduction and the absence of any tax on imputed rent (the value that homeowners earn implicitly by getting a place to live). By taxing business capital highly, the tax laws induce people to invest too much in housing and too little in businesses.

NONCORPORATE VS. CORPORATE Because noncorporate businesses like partnerships are taxed only once, they have an advantage over twice-taxed corporations. As a result, too much of the economy’s capital stock ends up in the noncorporate sector.

DEBT VS. EQUITY FINANCE Because interest payments on corporate debt are deductible for corporate income tax calculations, this capital income is taxed only once. This asymmetric treatment of debt and equity finance induces companies to issue more debt than they otherwise would, increasing leverage and the economy’s financial fragility.

RETAINED EARNINGS VS. DIVIDENDS Companies can avoid the dividend tax by retaining earnings rather than paying dividends. Excessive retained earnings, however, impede the movement of capital from older cash-generating companies to newer ones with better prospects.
Greg Mankiw's Blog: Post-Partisan Tax Policy

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