The Vanishing Harberger Triangle

Hans-Werner Sinn

Journal of Public Economics 45, 1991, pp. 271-300; NBER Working Paper Nr. 3225, Oktober 1991.


This paper shows that the double taxation of corporate dividends (or profit repatriations) implies a nucleus theory of the corporation. After the firm is set up with a small stock of original capital, it enters a phase of purely internal growth during which no dividends are paid and no shares are issued. The phase terminates when an efficient stock of capital has been accumulated and dividends are paid. During the growth phases, the tax distortion is inversely related to the tax burden and it is larger than conventional formulae for the cost of internal and external equity finance suggest.