Uncertainty and Firm Dividend Policy - A Natural Experiment

Bonnie Buchanan, Xuying Cao, Eva Liljeblom, Susan Weihrich

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

Abstract

We examine how firms respond to uncertainty around U.S. tax policy changes, namely the individual level tax rate increases set to take effect on January 1, 2011 and January 1, 2013. We provide evidence that firms time the uncertainty in the tax environment and revise their dividend policy to an expected tax increase. We find that firms are likely to initiate their dividends or intensively increase their existing dividend amount one year before the expected tax increase. In addition, in 2012 when there is much less uncertainty on dividend tax changes than in 2010, firms are less likely to initiate a regular dividend but are more likely to initiate special dividends. The results suggest that firms facing less tax uncertainty are less likely to make long-term commitments on regular dividend payments but are more likely to take advantage of the last-minute low tax benefits by issuing special dividends. Furthermore, the response to the possible elimination of tax cut was strongest in firms with high levels of tax-affected ownership, supporting the argument that when facing policy uncertainty, firms behave to prepare for the worst scenarios, where the worst scenario in our case is a tax increase.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMultinational Finance Society : 23rd Annual Conference, Stockholm, June 26-29, 2016
Number of pages52
Publication date01.06.2016
Pages1-52
Publication statusPublished - 01.06.2016
MoE publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings
Event23rd Annual Conference of the Multinational Finance Society (MFS) - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 26.06.201629.06.2016
Conference number: 23

Keywords

  • 511 Economics
  • 512 Business and Management
  • Dividends
  • Tax reform
  • Payout policy

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Uncertainty and Firm Dividend Policy - A Natural Experiment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Buchanan, B., Cao, X., Liljeblom, E., & Weihrich, S. (2016). Uncertainty and Firm Dividend Policy - A Natural Experiment. In Multinational Finance Society: 23rd Annual Conference, Stockholm, June 26-29, 2016 (pp. 1-52) http://www.fma.org/Helsinki/Papers/TaxDivPaper_01_12_BB.pdf