Dividends, Capital Gains, and the Corporate Veil: Evidence from Britain, Canada, and the United States
NBER Working Paper No. 2975 (Also Reprint No. r1702)
This paper investigates the effects of increased cash dividend payout, and of "forced realizations~ of capital gains in corporate control transactions, on the level of aggregate consumption. The results support the proposition that investors respond differently to cash receipts from firms and to accruing capital gains. Consistent but weak evidence for the United States, Great Britain, and Canada suggests that higher dividend tax rates lower consumption. This is consistent with such tax rates increasing corporate saving, while households fail to completely pierce the corporate veil and therefore reduce their consumption. Time series evidence from the U.S. and the U.K. also suggests that "forced realizations" of capital gains in takeovers may spur consumption, indicating a relatively unexplored link between corporate financial decisions and aggregate consumption.