Personal taxes, endogenous default, and corporate bond yield spreads

Sheen X. Liu, Howard Qi, Chunchi Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Term structure models have often been criticized for failing to explain satisfactorily the yield spread between corporate and Treasury bonds. A potential problem is that the personal tax effect is ignored in these models. In this paper, we employ a structural model to investigate the role of personal taxes on both debt and equity returns in capital structure decisions and assess their impact on corporate bond yield spreads. It is shown that personal taxes affect the firm's optimal capital structure, and the tax premium explains a substantial portion of yield spreads, especially for high-grade bonds. The predictive ability of the model for yield spreads is much improved when personal tax effects are accounted for. In controlling for the liquidity effect, we obtain implied personal income tax rates closely in line with Graham's (1999) estimates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)939-954
Number of pages16
JournalManagement Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Endogenous default
  • Personal taxes
  • Risk neutrality
  • Structural approach
  • Yield spread

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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