University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
Institutional Affiliation: University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|June 2020||Tax Policy and Abnormal Investment Behavior|
with Eric Zwick: w27363
This paper documents tax-minimizing investment, in which firms tilt capital purchases toward fiscal year-end to reduce taxes. Between 1984 and 2013, average investment in fiscal Q4 exceeds the average of fiscal Q1 through Q3 by 37%. Q4 spikes occur in the U.S. and internationally. Research designs using variation in firm tax positions and the 1986 Tax Reform Act show that tax minimization causes spikes. Spikes increase when firms face financial constraints or higher option values of waiting until fiscal year-end. We develop an investment model with tax asymmetries to rationalize these patterns. Models without purchase-year, tax-minimization motives are unlikely to fit the data.