New: Banks As Tax Planning Intermediaries
We provide the first large-sample evidence of banks playing an important role in facilitating tax planning by client firms. Capturing bank-client relationships using lending contracts and measuring borrower tax avoidance with the three-year cash effective tax rate and the unrecognized tax benefit balance, we document the extent to which banks are associated with tax avoidance by corporate borrowers. In multivariate analyses, we find that the average tax avoidance of a bank’s other borrowers is an economically important determinant of a client firm’s own tax avoidance. In additional tests, we find evidence consistent with this result being driven in part by banks acting as tax planning intermediaries. Finally, we find that clients experience meaningful increases in tax avoidance when they begin a new relationship with a bank whose existing borrowers are substantial tax avoiders. Overall, our results suggest that banks, in addition to being financial intermediaries, also act as tax ...
New: Deposit Insurance and Bank Financial Reporting Transparency
This study examines the effect of deposit insurance on bank financial reporting choices. We exploit a change in the deposit insurance coverage of northeastern U.S. banks during the 2007-09 financial crisis and examine whether banks that experience an increase in deposit insurance coverage alter their financial reporting behavior relative to unaffected banks. We find that the deposit insurance coverage increase leads to greater financial reporting opacity: income smoothing is greater for treatment banks relative to control banks after the coverage increase. Furthermore, we find that the treatment effect is stronger for banks that are more reliant on deposit funding, have a greater proportion of deposits that are uninsured, and have lower capital ratios. These cross-sectional results are consistent with the deposit insurance coverage increase affecting reporting choices by weakening depositors’ demand for transparency. Overall, our findings suggest that deposit insurance affects bank ...
REVISION: The Effect of Corporate Taxation on Bank Transparency: Evidence from Loan Loss Provisions
We examine how the corporate tax system, through the tax treatment of loan losses, affects bank financial reporting choices. Our identification strategy exploits cross-country and intertemporal variation in corporate tax rates and the tax deductibility of loan loss provisions. Using an international sample of banks, we find that the loan loss provision is increasing in the corporate tax rate for countries that permit the tax deduction of general provisions. Furthermore, we show that this effect is driven by the corporate tax system encouraging timelier loan loss recognition: the extent to which future and current loan portfolio quality deteriorations are incorporated in the loan loss provision is increasing in the tax rate when the provision is tax deductible. We also find evidence that the corporate tax system encourages provisioning by banks with capital ratios close to the regulatory requirement and in countries with relatively weak banking supervisors. Finally, we find that the ...
REVISION: The Importance of the Internal Information Environment for Tax Avoidance
We show that firms’ ability to avoid taxes is affected by the quality of their internal information environment, with lower effective tax rates (ETRs) for firms that have high internal information quality. The effect of internal information quality on tax avoidance is stronger for firms in which information is likely to play a more important role. For example, firms with greater coordination needs because of a dispersed geographical presence benefit more from high internal information quality. Similarly, firms operating in a more uncertain environment benefit more from the quality of their internal information in helping them to reduce ETRs. In addition, we provide evidence that high internal information quality allows firms to achieve lower ETRs without increasing the risk of their tax strategies (as measured by ETR volatility). Overall, our study contributes to the literature on tax avoidance by providing evidence that the internal information environment of the firm is important ...
REVISION: Bank Executive Overconfidence and Delayed Expected Loss Recognition
While prior work shows that delayed expected loan loss recognition is related to lending propensity (Beatty and Liao, 2011), bank risk (Bushman and Williams, 2011), and bank risk taking (Bushman and Williams, 2012), we provide evidence that executive overconfidence is a potential driver of delayed expected loan loss recognition. We find that overconfident bank CEOs and CFOs recognize lower loan loss provisions and incorporate current and future deterioration in nonperforming loans in their loan loss provisions less than other bank CEOs and CFOs. Our evidence of delayed expected loss recognition is driven primarily by CFOs, consistent with CFOs being closer to the financial reporting function than CEOs. The study is important because it demonstrates that manager characteristics can have meaningful economic consequences for financial institutions through the reporting of asset risk.
REVISION: The Reputational Costs of Tax Avoidance
We investigate whether firms and their top executives bear reputational costs from engaging in aggressive tax avoidance activities. Prior literature has posited that reputational costs partially explain why so many firms apparently forgo the benefits of tax avoidance, the so-called “under-sheltering puzzle.” We employ a database of 118 firms that were subject to public scrutiny for having engaged in tax shelters, representing the largest sample of publicly identified corporate tax shelters analyzed to date. We examine the reputational costs that prior research has shown that firms and managers face in cases of alleged misconduct: increased CEO and CFO turnover, auditor turnover, lost sales, increased advertising costs, and decreased media reputation. Across a battery of tests, we find little evidence that firms or their top executives bear significant reputational costs as a result of being accused of engaging in tax shelter activities. Moreover, we find no decrease in firms’ tax ...