The taxman cometh: Does tax uncertainty affect corporate cash holdings?

The taxman cometh: Does tax uncertainty affect corporate cash holdings? We examine whether firms hold more cash in the face of tax uncertainty. Because of gray areas in the tax law and aggressive tax avoidance, the total amount of tax that a firm will pay is uncertain at the time it files its returns. The tax authorities can challenge and disallow the firm’s tax positions, demanding additional cash tax payments. We hypothesize that firms facing greater tax uncertainty hold cash to satisfy these potential future demands. We find that both domestic firms and multinational firms hold larger cash balances when subject to greater tax uncertainty. In terms of economic significance, we find that the effect of tax uncertainty on cash holdings is comparable to that of repatriation taxes. Our evidence adds to knowledge about the real effects of tax avoidance and provides a tax-based precautionary explanation for why there is such wide variation in cash holdings across firms. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Review of Accounting Studies Springer Journals

The taxman cometh: Does tax uncertainty affect corporate cash holdings?

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Business and Management; Accounting/Auditing; Corporate Finance; Public Finance
ISSN
1380-6653
eISSN
1573-7136
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11142-017-9398-y
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

We examine whether firms hold more cash in the face of tax uncertainty. Because of gray areas in the tax law and aggressive tax avoidance, the total amount of tax that a firm will pay is uncertain at the time it files its returns. The tax authorities can challenge and disallow the firm’s tax positions, demanding additional cash tax payments. We hypothesize that firms facing greater tax uncertainty hold cash to satisfy these potential future demands. We find that both domestic firms and multinational firms hold larger cash balances when subject to greater tax uncertainty. In terms of economic significance, we find that the effect of tax uncertainty on cash holdings is comparable to that of repatriation taxes. Our evidence adds to knowledge about the real effects of tax avoidance and provides a tax-based precautionary explanation for why there is such wide variation in cash holdings across firms.

Journal

Review of Accounting StudiesSpringer Journals

Published: May 9, 2017

References

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