The Effect of ShareholderLevel Capital Gains Taxes on Acquisition Structure Academic Article uri icon


  • This study investigates the effect of shareholder capital gains taxes on the structure of corporate acquisitions. We analyze a sample of large publicly traded firms acquired in taxable cash-for-stock and tax-free stock-for-stock acquisitions from 1975 to 2000. We model acquisition structure (i.e., taxable cash-for-stock acquisitions versus tax-free stock-for-stock acquisitions) as a function of target shareholder capital gains taxes and other economic factors believed to influence acquisition structure. Consistent with expectations, we find a positive association between the capital gains tax rate for individual investors and the use of tax-free stock-for-stock acquisitions. In addition, we find that the effect of the capital gains tax rate for individuals decreases with target institutional ownership (a proxy that represents the likelihood the price-setting shareholder is not subject to the individual capital gains tax rate). We reconcile our analyses with previous studies and identify a plausible explanation for the lack of results in prior research. In supplemental analysis, we also report evidence that corporations time the completion of taxable acquisitions around major tax rate changes to minimize shareholder capital gains taxes. In sum, results suggest that shareholder-level taxes have a significant effect on the choice of taxable cash-for-stock versus tax-free stock-for-stock acquisitions, and this effect varies with the tax status of target shareholders.

published proceedings

  • The Accounting Review

author list (cited authors)

  • Ayers, B. C., Lefanowicz, C. E., & Robinson, J. R.

citation count

  • 60

complete list of authors

  • Ayers, Benjamin C||Lefanowicz, Craig E||Robinson, John R

publication date

  • January 2004