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Working paper

Estimating firm-level effective tax rates and the user cost of capital in New Zealand [Revised version published 26 Nov 2014] (WP 13/29)

Issue date: 
Monday, 18 November 2013
View point: 
Publication category: 
JEL classification: 
D22 - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
G30 - Corporate Finance and Governance: General
H25 - Business Taxes and Subsidies including sales and value-added (VAT)


Effective marginal tax rates (EMTRs) can be very different from the statutory rate and vary across firms, reflecting such factors as the extent and nature of taxable deductions (losses, depreciation), asset and ownership structures, and debt/equity financing. We estimate firm-specific EMTRs and related user cost of capital (UCC) measures allowing for shareholder-level taxation using data for 1999/2000-2009/10 from the Longitudinal Business Database. Examining distributions of various UCC measures we find substantial firm-level heterogeneity, systematic changes as a result of tax reforms between 2004 and 2012, and systematic differences between foreign-owned and domestically-owned firms. Choices among alternative UCC measures make a difference to interpretations.

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We are grateful to Statistics New Zealand for providing access to the data used in this study, and to John Creedy, Stephen Gale, Dieter Katz, Simon Loretz and participants at the New Zealand Association of Economists Annual Conference, Wellington, July 2013, for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


The views, opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Working Paper are strictly those of the author(s). They do not necessarily reflect the views of the New Zealand Treasury or the New Zealand Government. The New Zealand Treasury and the New Zealand Government take no responsibility for any errors or omissions in, or for the correctness of, the information contained in these working papers. The paper is presented not as policy, but with a view to inform and stimulate wider debate.

This paper was undertaken while Richard Fabling and Lynda Sanderson were on secondment to Statistics New Zealand. The results in this paper are not official statistics, they have been created for research purposes from the Integrated Data Infrastructure prototype (IDI) managed by Statistics NZ. The opinions, findings, recommendations and conclusions expressed in this paper are those of the authors. Statistics NZ, the New Zealand Treasury, Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Nottingham and Motu take no responsibility for any omissions or errors in the information contained here.

Access to the data used in this study was provided by Statistics NZ in accordance with security and confidentiality provisions of the Statistics Act 1975. Only people authorised by the Statistics Act 1975 are allowed to see data about a particular person, business or organisation. The results in this paper have been confidentialised to protect individual people and businesses from identification.

Careful consideration has been given to the privacy, security and confidentiality issues associated with using administrative data in the IDI. Further detail can be found in the Privacy Impact Assessment for the IDI available from

The results are based in part on tax data supplied by Inland Revenue to Statistics NZ under the Tax Administration Act 1994. This tax data must be used only for statistical purposes, and no individual information may be published or disclosed in any other form, or provided to Inland Revenue for administrative or regulatory purposes. Any person who has had access to the unit-record data has certified that they have been shown, have read, and have understood section 81 of the Tax Administration Act 1994, which relates to privacy and confidentiality. Any discussion of data limitations or weaknesses is in the context of using the IDI for statistical purposes, and is not related to the data's ability to support Inland Revenue's core operational requirements.

Last updated: 
Wednesday, 26 November 2014