Corporate taxation and capital accumulation: Evidence from sectoral panel data for 14 OECD countries


We present new empirical evidence that sector-level capital–output ratios are strongly influenced by corporate tax incentives, as summarised by the tax component of a standard user cost of capital measure. We use sectoral panel data for the USA, Japan, Australia and eleven EU countries over the period 1982–2007. Our panel combines internationally consistent data on capital stocks, value-added and relative prices from the EU KLEMS database with corporate tax measures from the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation. Our results for equipment investment are particularly robust, and strikingly consistent with the basic economic theory of corporate investment.

Research Highlight 2011

Corporate Taxation and Capital Accumulation

This research project studies the impact of corporate taxation on investment and capital accumulation. This relationship is central to any evaluation of the effects, and welfare implications, of fiscal incentives that are intended to stimulate private sector investment, such as enhanced capital allowances (accelerated depreciation), an Allowance for Corporate Equity, or a reduction in the statutory corporate income tax rate. We use sectoral data for the USA, Japan, Australia and ten EU countries over the period 1982- 2007, which combines data on capital stocks, value-added and relative prices with measures of effective corporate tax rates. Our main findings suggest large effects of tax incentives on long-run capital accumulation. We find broadly similar effects when we decompose the variation in the cost of capital into its tax and non-tax components, so that these results are not simply driven by trends in the relative price of capital goods.

Stephen Bond