Date of Award

5-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Economics

Major Professor

William F. Fox and William S. Neilson

Committee Members

Donald J. Bruce, LeAnn Luna

Abstract

The dissertation focuses on the incentives and economic effects of gross receipts taxes (GRTs) versus corporate income taxes (CITs). Conventional wisdom holds that GRTs are very poor tax instruments; however, several states have shown renewed interest in GRTs since 2002. An interesting question to ask is why states are reconsidering GRTs in spite of all criticisms. Are GRTs really as bad as what conventional wisdom says? There is little rigorous theoretical or empirical work on GRTs. My dissertation aims to help fill this gap by providing both theoretical and empirical analysis on the comparative advantages and disadvantages of GRTs versus CITs.

Essay one provides the first systematic theoretical analysis to compare and contrast the incentives and economic effects of gross receipts taxes versus corporate income taxes. Specifically, it focuses on the incentives for vertical integration in the sense of make-or-buy decisions, the effects on profit shifting between out-of-state and in-state firms, the incentives to change organizational form for tax purposes, and the incentives for cost-saving innovation under each tax system. Several results contradict conventional wisdom and deepen our understanding of GRTs. Based on Essay one, Essay two empirically tests the theoretical prediction that GRTs eliminate the distortion on organizational form choice, increasing the chance for a firm to incorporate. The analysis uses state-industry panel data from Nonemployer Statistics during the period 2002- 2008. The results show that states with a GRT have a higher share of corporate firms. Further, by replacing the CIT with a GRT, states may promote the real activity of C corporations.

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