ABSTRACT

We investigate whether politically sensitive contractors pay higher taxes and whether their bargaining power reduces these tax costs. Using federal contractor data, we develop a new composite measure of political sensitivity that captures both the political visibility arising from federal contracts and the importance of federal contracts to the firm. We proxy for bargaining power using the firm-level proportion of contract revenues not subject to competition, the firm-level proportion of contract revenues arising from defense contracts, and industry-level concentration ratios. We find that politically sensitive firms pay higher federal taxes, all else equal. However, firms with greater bargaining power incur fewer tax-related political costs. Our study provides new evidence on the political cost hypothesis in a tax setting and the first evidence of the interactive effects of a firm's political sensitivity and bargaining power on tax-related political costs.

JEL Classifications: M41; H26

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