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Simulating Business Cash Flow Taxation: An Illustration Based on the "Better Way" Corporate Tax Reform

Seth G. Benzell, Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Guillermo LaGarda

NBER Working Paper No. 23675
Issued in August 2017
NBER Program(s):Corporate Finance Program, Economic Fluctuations and Growth Program

The U.S., according to some measures, has one of the highest marginal effective corporate tax rates (METRs) of any developed country. Yet the tax collects less than 2 percent of GDP. This paper studies the impact of replacing the U.S. corporate tax with a Business Cash Flow Tax (BCFT). Our paper studies BCFT reform with reference to a particular, but reasonably generic, proposal, namely the House Republican “Better Way” tax plan. We use the Global Gaidar Model – a 17-region, global, overlapping-generations model, calibrated to U.N. demographic and IMF fiscal data – to simulate the dynamic, general equilibrium impact of this reform. In the short run, the U.S. capital stock, pre-tax wage rates, and GDP rise by roughly 25 percent, 8 percent, and 9 percent, respectively. Over time, the capital stock and wage rates remain significantly above their baseline values. There is a smaller long-run increase in GDP as workers spend some of their higher wages on additional leisure. The tax reform produces enough additional revenues to permit a reduction in personal income tax rates while maintaining the economy's initial debt-to-GDP ratio. The beneficiaries of the House plan are today's and tomorrow's workers. We also simulate a matching METR cut by the rest of the world, which raises the world interest rate. The short-run increases in the capital stock, pre-tax wage rates, and GDP are smaller. However, along the transition path, all U.S. agents experience slightly higher welfare than under the House plan. This reflects the combination of a higher post-corporate tax world interest rate and Americans' disproportionately large holdings of global assets

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23675

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