If a company faces some form of tax progressivity—that is, its marginal tax rate increases over the firm's expected range of reported taxable income—corporate hedging can reduce the firm's expected tax liability by reducing the volatility of pre‐tax income. In a study described in this article, the authors used simulation methods to investigate the extent to which tax progressivity arises from various provisions of the tax code, such as the AMT and tax carryforwards and carrybacks. Based on their analysis of over 80,000 COMPUSTAT firm‐year observations, the authors find that, in about 50% of the cases, corporations face effective tax functions that exhibit progressivity. The other 50% of cases are about evenly divided between firms that are tax neutral and those facing tax schedules that are “regressive” (again, over the relevant range of expected reported income). For those companies facing progressive tax functions, the authors estimate that the projected average tax savings from a 5% reduction in the volatility of taxable income is about 5.4% of the expected tax liabilities. However, the distribution of expected reductions is highly skewed, in extreme cases exceeding 40% of the total tax liability. Most of these extreme cases are small to medium‐sized companies, since such firms are much more likely to meet the two conditions for achieving large tax benefits: (1) expected pretax income that is close to zero; and (2) sufficiently volatile income that the firm (in the absence of hedging) expects to report losses in some years. In sum, small to medium‐sized companies experience the greatest tax benefits from hedging.
Journal of Applied Corporate Finance – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2000
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