Notes on the Effect of Capital Gains Taxation on Non-Austrian Assets

Daniel J. Kovenock, Michael Rothschild

NBER Working Paper No. 1568
Issued in February 1985
NBER Program(s):Public Economics Program

This paper is an attempt to assess the effect of capital gains taxation on non-Austrian assets, such as claims to profits of continuing enterprises. As compared to taxation on an accrual basis, the capital gains tax discourages sales of appreciated assets. This is the "lock-in" effect. Because assets subject to capital gains taxation are generally held a long time, conventional estimates suggest that the effective rate of capital gains taxation is low. We contend that conventional estimates could seriously underestimate the effective rate of capital gains taxation because they ignore uncertainty. We construct a model which allows us to calculate the value of being able to actively manage a portfolio and use this model to calculate the effective rate of capital gains taxation. For several plausible parameter values the effective rate is significantly higher than estimates under certainty. We also discuss some of the ways in which the lock-in effect may distort the allocation of investment funds and the efficient workings of the capital market.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w1568

Published: Kovenock, Daniel J. and Michael Rothschild. "Notes on the Effect of Capital Gain Taxation on Non-Austrian Assets," Economic Policy in Theory and Practice, ed. by Assaf Razin and Efraim Sadka. Hong Kong: Macmillan Press Ltd. , 1987, pp. 309-339.

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