Take Action

Home | Faculty & Research Overview | Research

Research Details

How big is the tax advantage to debt, Journal of Finance


This paper uses an option valuation model of the firm to answer the question, "What magnitude tax advantage to debt is consistent with the range of observed corporate debt ratios?" We incorporate into the model differential personal tax rates on capital gains and ordinary income. We conclude that variations in the magnitude of bankruptcy costs across firms can not by itself account for the simultaneous existence of levered and unlevered firms. When it is possible for the value of the underlying assets to jump discretely to zero, differences across firms in the probability of this jump can account for the simultaneous existence of levered and unlevered firms. Moreover, if the tax advantage to debt is small, the annual rate of return advantage offered by optimal leverage may be so small as to make the firm indifferent about debt policy over a wide range of debt-to-firm value ratios.




Alex Kane, Alan J. Marcus, Robert L. McDonald

Date Published



Kane, Alex, Alan J. Marcus, and Robert L. McDonald. 1984. How big is the tax advantage to debt. Journal of Finance. 39(3): 841-853.


Explore leading research and ideas

Find articles, podcast episodes, and videos that spark ideas in lifelong learners, and inspire those looking to advance in their careers.
learn more


Review Courses & Schedules

Access information about specific courses and their schedules by viewing the interactive course scheduler tool.


Discover the path to your goals

Whether you choose our Full-Time, Part-Time or Executive MBA program, you’ll enjoy the same unparalleled education, exceptional faculty and distinctive culture.
learn more

Take Action