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Chandrasekhar Krishnamurti ORCID logo, M.S. Narasimhan



Despite the widespread criticism against double taxation of dividends, most countries follow the policy of taxing the same income twice – once when the corporations earn it and a second time when shareholders receive it. Critics of the double taxation policy clamor for its abolition citing the economic inefficiencies it engenders. In 1997, the Indian government eliminated double taxation of dividends by exempting dividend income from personal taxes but requiring the firms to pay a 10% tax on the amount of dividend distributed. Using this rule change as a natural experiment, we examine the impact of this rule change on firm valuation. We show that elimination of double taxation on dividends is not unambiguously beneficial to the stockholders of the firm. We find that tax status and ownership structure play a significant role in explaining the direction of observed changes in valuation. An interesting finding of this paper is that shareholders seem to value visibility. Visible firms are subject to the disciplining effect of more stringent disclosures in the financial press. We do find pervasive evidence that firms increased their dividends subsequent to rule change. We however, do not find any association between the change in dividends and ownership structure.

Keywords: Ownership Structure, Payout Policy, Dividend Taxation

How to cite this paper: Krishnamurti, C., & Narasimhan, M. S. (2007). Dividend taxation, ownership structure and payout policy: Evidence from India. Corporate Ownership & Control, 4(3-2), 287-302. https://doi.org/10.22495/cocv4i3c2p6