End the Corporate Income Tax!

This is one of Megan McArdle’s ideas for “fixing the world”. She goes on to argue that:

“At 35 percent, America’s levy on corporate income is one of the highest in the developed world. In 2007, about 2.5 million companies prepared lengthy returns at great expense, yet the tax generated only about 15 percent of total federal tax revenue. The tax on corporate profits discourages capital formation, targets shareholders regardless of their wealth, and fuels frantic, and costly, business efforts to dodge it. Among experts who study its effects, support for the tax is at best sort of sheepish.”

The risk management literature actually has much to say about how the corporate tax code discourages capital formation.  Specifically, the asymmetric nature of the corporate income tax creates disincentives for firms to bear risk.  Tax asymmetries derive from two important features of the corporate income tax; specifically, tax rate progressivity and incomplete tax loss offsets.  Thus tax asymmetries incentivize firms  underinvest in risky (but potentially profitable) assets, which in turn limits the economy’s prospective growth potential. 

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