This paper presents an empirical investigation of the impact of capital gains taxes on stock return volatility. We predict that the more stock returns are subject to capital gains taxation, the greater the increase in return volatility following a capital gains tax rate cut due to reduced risk-sharing in firms' cash flows between shareholders and the government. Consistent with this prediction, we find larger increases in the return volatility for more appreciated stocks than for less appreciated stocks and for non-dividend-paying stocks than for dividend-paying stocks after both 1978 and 1997 capital gains tax rate reductions. The findings imply that capital gains taxes convey a heretofore overlooked benefit of lower stock return volatility.

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