The Usefulness Of The Tax Avoidance Proxy: Evidence From Korea

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Hyun-Ah Lee


Tax Avoidance, Earnings Management, Book-Tax Accruals, Book-Only Accruals


This study aims to verify the usefulness of the tax avoidance proxy developed by Desai and Dharmapala (2006) in the setting where accounting-tax alignment is relatively high and aggressive tax planning is restricted. By using a large set of firms in Korea, I empirically test whether the tax avoidance proxy detects the management of book-tax and book-only accruals. My findings show that downward management of book-tax accruals for tax reporting purposes is not detected by the tax avoidance proxy. However, upward management of book-only accruals for financial reporting purposes is captured by the tax avoidance proxy. In addition, the tax avoidance proxy better detects simultaneous management of two accrual components than management of book-tax accruals alone. Lastly, the tax avoidance proxy is more powerful in detecting tax avoidance activities in a sample of firms with high tax and financial reporting costs than in firms that carry high tax costs but low financial reporting costs. The results of this study imply that the tax avoidance proxy can be a good indicator only when used for firms that are conscious of their financial reporting costs and have incentive to manage both taxable and book income at the same time under the setting where book-tax conformity is high and aggressive tax shelters are restricted. This study sheds light on the usefulness of the tax avoidance proxy which has been widely used in the accounting studies and provides a caveat to researchers that the proxy should be employed with caution and in appropriate setting. 


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