Published on 01 Sep 13
by "AUSTRALIAN TAX FORUM" JOURNAL ARTICLE
This paper examines the tax strategy of publicly-traded Australian companies in a dividend imputation system where corporate profits, if distributed as dividends, are ultimately taxed at the tax rates of Australian investors and corporate tax is a prepayment of investors’ tax. The study adopts the ratios of two effective tax rate measures to the corporate tax rate as the proxies for tax strategy and tests four hypotheses using the data for the period 1999 to 2003 when the corporate tax rate fell in two steps from 36% to 30%.
The results show that companies distributing franked dividends adopt a more conservative tax strategy than those that are not. Managers remunerated with share options adopt conservative tax strategies. They also do not respond to opportunities to save tax in the years before reductions of corporate tax rate. Further, closer scrutiny by the Australian Taxation Office leads to more conservative tax strategies. The findings have important theoretical and policy implications.