We document that tax considerations influence whether and when a firm withdraws excess assets in its defined benefit pension plan through a reversion. Since a reversion impacts taxable income over many years and alternative methods of withdrawing excess assets exist, we argue that the economically relevant tax-based decision criterion is its ‘differential tax benefit’, defined as the difference between the discounted tax savings of reversion versus those of the best alternative withdrawal method. We develop a technique for directly estimating this decision criterion and document that differential tax benefits are strongly correlated with the reversion decision and its timing.
Journal of Accounting and Economics – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 1996
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