NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Why Some Double Taxation Might Make Sense: The Special Case of Inter-corporate Dividends

Randall Morck

NBER Working Paper No. 9651
Issued in April 2003
NBER Program(s):   CF   PE

Arguments for eliminating the double taxation of dividends apply only to dividends paid by corporations to individuals. The double (and multiple) taxation of dividends paid by one firm to another intercorporate dividends - was explicitly included in the 1930s to eliminate pyramidal corporate groups. These structures exist elsewhere, and are associated with corporate governance problems, corporate tax avoidance, and a greater concentration of economic power than is currently possible in the United States. Current US tax reform proposals do not distinguish dividends paid to individuals from intercorporate dividends and, by eliminating double taxation on both sorts of dividends, may allow pyramidal groups in the US again for the first time since the 1930s.

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