Investor Taxation in Open Economies

(w/ D. Dharmapala)

This paper investigates how dividend taxes influence portfolio choices, using the response to the distinctive treatment of a subset of foreign dividends in the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (JGTRRA) of 2003. An open-economy after-tax capital asset pricing model is used to derive the hypothesis that JGTRRA should lead to a portfolio reallocation by U.S. investors towards equities in tax-favored countries. A difference-in-difference analysis that compares U.S. equity holdings in affected and unaffected countries finds a substantial portfolio reallocation towards the former. This effect cannot be explained by several potential alternative hypotheses, including differential changes to the preferences of American investors, differential changes in investment opportunities, differential time trends in investment, changed tax evasion behavior, or changes in stock prices associated (or contemporaneous) with JGTRRA.