Annual Forum Papers

How Responsive is Capital Formation to its User Cost?

  • Year: 2004
  • Author(s): Albert de Wet and Steven F. Koch
  • Countries and Regions: South Africa

The responsiveness of business investment spending to price changes is central in economic analysis. Despite the key role played by the user cost of capital in economic analysis, there is less supporting evidence for the existence of a substantial user cost elasticity. This study investigates the empirical user cost of capital with specific focus on the contribution that corporate taxes has on the price elasticity of investment in the South African economy. Making use of a disaggregated data set of corporate tax revenues we are able to get better understanding of how firms perceive their tax burden. Using vector auto regression and cointegration techniques we estimate the long run user cost elasticity to be 0.18%. Average total elasticity of companies with respect to effective corporate taxes is estimated at 0.09% implying that taxes plays a very important role in the price determination of capital. We have also shown that additional taxes placed on companies like secondary taxes, are perceived in a different light than normal profit taxes inducing more and bigger changes investment behaviour.