There is an ongoing debate in the literature about the costs and benefits of conforming book and taxable income. Proponents argue that increased book-tax conformity will reduce aggressive financial reporting: managing earnings up increases taxes and will curtail abusive tax shelters because managing taxes down decreases earnings reported to shareholders. We use a panel of 139,536 firm-year observations across 34 countries over the period 1996–2007 to test whether high levels of book-tax conformity are associated with less earnings management. We find that higher book-tax conformity is associated with significantly more, not less, earnings management. We conclude that one of the primary claimed benefits of increasing book-tax conformity, more truthful financial reporting with less earnings management, is unlikely to be as large as previously thought.
Review of Accounting Studies – Springer Journals
Published: May 16, 2014
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