Tax-exempt debt and the capital structure of nonprofit organizations: An application to hospitals uri icon


  • The availability of tax-exempt financing provides nonprofit (NP) organizations with their own tax-based incentives to issue debt. In this article, we develop a theoretical model in which NPs gain an indirect arbitrage from tax-exempt debt issuance, constrained by: 1) the requirement that fixed investment exceed tax-exempt debt flows (the project financing constraint), and 2) the constraint against share issuance. These constraints cause them to impute tax benefits to projects that afford access to the tax-exempt bond market. Empirical tests indicate that NP hospitals behave as if they have target levels of tax-exempt debt. Debt targeting is constrained by the availability of capital projects, while excess debt capacity stimulates investment.

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Wedig, G. J., Hassan, M., & Morrisey, M. A.

citation count

  • 48