The Degradation of Reported Corporate Profits
AbstractRecent corporate scandals have highlighted abuses by firms overstating profits to capital markets. In a related but less noticed vein, the reporting of profits to tax authorities has come under increased scrutiny with heightened concerns over the spread of tax avoidance activities. How could firms simultaneously be inflating profits reported to the capital markets and understating profits reported to tax authorities? The practical answer is that American firms keep two sets of financial statements: a financial statement that reports "book profits" to the capital markets and a separate financial statement that reports "tax profits" to the government. These two profit reports can bear little resemblance to each other and follow distinct rules. This paper argues that the latitude afforded managers by the dual nature of corporate profit reporting has contributed to the simultaneous degradation of profit reporting to capital markets and tax authorities. The distinction between book and tax profits allows managers the ability to mischaracterize tax savings to capital markets and to mischaracterize profits to tax authorities. Examination of three high-profile cases of managerial misreporting of profits and tax avoidance—at Enron, Tyco and Xerox—reveals how the drive to improve reported book profits fosters tax avoidance and how the drive to limit taxes gives rise to the manipulation of accounting profits and managerial malfeasance.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.
Volume (Year): 19 (2005)
Issue (Month): 4 (Fall)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Mihir A. Desai & James R. Hines Jr., 2002.
"Expectations and Expatriations: Tracing the Causes and Consequences of Corporate Inversions,"
NBER Working Papers
9057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Desai, Mihir A. & Hines, James R. Jr., 2002. "Expectations and Expatriations: Tracing the Causes and Consequences of Corporate Inversions," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 55(3), pages 409-40, September.
- Shackelford, Douglas A. & Shevlin, Terry, 2001. "Empirical tax research in accounting," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-3), pages 321-387, September.
- Lenter, David & Slemrod, Joel & Shackelford, Douglas A., 2003. "Public Disclosure of Corporate Tax Return Information: Accounting, Economics, and Legal Perspectives," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 56(4), pages 803-30, December .
- Desai, Mihir A. & Dyck, Alexander & Zingales, Luigi, 2007.
"Theft and taxes,"
Journal of Financial Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 591-623, June.
- Desai, Mihir & Dyck, Alexander & Zingales, Luigi, 2004. "Theft and Taxes," CEPR Discussion Papers 4816, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Mihir A. Desai & Alexander Dyck & Luigi Zingales, 2003. "Theft and Taxes," International Tax Program Papers 0501, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, revised Dec 2004.
- Mihir A. Desai & Alexander Dyck & Luigi Zingales, 2004. "Theft and Taxes," NBER Working Papers 10978, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Mihir A. Desai, 2003. "The Divergence between Book Income and Tax Income," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 17, pages 169-208 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Michelle Hanlon & Terry Shevlin, 2005. "Book-Tax Conformity for Corporate Income: An Introduction to the Issues," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 19, pages 101-134 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Ball, Ray & Kothari, S. P. & Robin, Ashok, 2000. "The effect of international institutional factors on properties of accounting earnings," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-51, February.
- Bergstresser, Daniel & Philippon, Thomas, 2006.
"CEO incentives and earnings management,"
Journal of Financial Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 511-529, June.
- Ball, Ray & Robin, Ashok & Wu, Joanna Shuang, 2003. "Incentives versus standards: properties of accounting income in four East Asian countries," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1-3), pages 235-270, December.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros) or (Michael P. Albert).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.