Underreporting Chargeable Time: A Continuing Problem For Public Accounting Firms

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Michael D. Akers
Tim V. Eaton


underreporting chargeable time, unethical, ethical perceptions


Prior research shows that underreporting chargeable time has been a concern for public accounting firms even though many of these firms have policies and procedures that prohibit eating time. The purpose of this study is to examine the current state of this problem and to provide recommendations to manage the problem more effectively. Practicing public accountants at all professional levels were surveyed to determine the extent, opportunity, ethical perception and perceived benefits of underreporting time. The results show that although the majority of the respondents believe underreporting time is unethical, the majority of them did not report all of their chargeable hours in the prior year. The main reasons for such behavior stem from the desire to: (1) receive better periodic performance evaluations, (2) be viewed as competent by superiors, and (3) receive promotions.


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