The Impact Of Taxation On Dividends

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Abstract:

This research paper attempts to analyze the different tax systems and their impact on the dividend distributions. It is explained that the dividend payout is monotonically distributed across tax regimes as the firms in double taxation (classical) system have significantly lower payouts than companies in the partial-imputation system, while companies in the full imputation system pay the highest payouts. Our results hold when the other fundamental determinants of dividends are held through Lintner’s model and the actual payout ratio. Overall, it is reported that the type of dividend tax system affect the dividend payout.

Introduction:

The tax burden on dividends depends on corporate and personal income tax systems. In a classical system, the total tax is the sum of the corporation tax, the effective capital gains tax and the tax on dividends. Typically the tax on dividends exceeds the gains tax creating an incentive to reduce dividends. In an imputation system on the other hand, the total tax is given by the corporation tax plus the effective gains tax plus the reduced dividend tax. If the reduction in the tax on dividend is large enough to make reduced tax dividend lower than the effective capital gains tax, an incentive to increase dividends is created. Understanding the impact of taxes on dividend policy is important for both academicians and practitioners. From academic perspective, the relevance of taxation will highlight the extent to which companies consider the after tax return of their shareholders and how any tax reform will affect the firm’s dividend payouts. For practitioners, knowing how taxation affects dividends is also of considerable interest. Since shareholders are taxed differently, if stock prices reflect the tax status of one particular group of investors, other groups can take advantage of these differences by, namely trading around the ex-dividend dates to capture/avoid dividends. Moreover, understanding the impact of dividend taxation will be important for fund managers and analysts as changes in tax codes could affect the net returns and the relative pricing of securities. Most countries around the world adopt different systems of taxing dividends. Some follow a classical tax system where corporate income is treated differently from personal income in terms of statutory tax rate and deduction rules, others use some level of integration between corporate and personal income. The important distinction between these two different systems is the taxation of dividends. Countries that follow the classical system separate shareholders income from the income of their corporations. As a result the same unit of earning in the company is taxed twice when it is paid as dividend: first at the corporate level and then at the personal level; a disadvantage known as “double taxation�. In contrast, countries that follow a more integrated system usually have a full or partial relieve from dividend tax in consideration of the fact that the same unit of earning has been taxed at the corporate level. In Pakistan, the system of double taxation (classical system) is implemented i.e. the dividends are taxed on corporate level and then the same unit of earning is taxed at shareholder level.

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