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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The impact of personal taxes on two areas in the theory of financial markets Sankarasubramanian, Lakshminarayanan


This thesis considers the impact of taxation on two problems in the theory of financial markets. The first paper deals with the optimal choice of debt made by value-maximising firms. We consider a one-period world with personal and corporate taxation and distinguish between the repayment of principal and the payment of interest on corporate debt. It is shown that at optimum, a value-maximising firm may choose to issue multiple debt contracts with differing seniorities. In addition, the impact of a change in the tax rates (corporate or personal) on the optimum level of debt is seen to be ambiguous. Unambiguous statements can, however, be made about the impact of a change in the corporate tax rate on firm value, the value of the equity and on the required rate of return on risky corporate debt. The analysis borrows heavily on a framework that we develop early in the paper which permits us to visualise the value-maximising firm's choice of an optimal capital structure, graphically. The second essay examines the impact that taxes have on the pricing of call options on corporate stock. It is demonstrated that the process of replication can be influenced by the basis of the stocks used for the replication process as a result of the capital gains taxes involved. Consequently, the equilibrium price for an option is some average of the various costs of replication that different investors face. We find that the equilibrium price for the option can be influenced by investor preferences and by the history of the stock price. The empirical findings of an apparently unpredictable strike-price bias that have been observed in the past literature is examined and duplicated numerically. In addition, one explanation is given for the rationale behind covered option positions that consist of an option position and the corresponding hedge.

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