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Earnings Persistence and Stock Market Reactions to the Different Information in Book-Tax Differences: Evidence from China


  • Tang, Tanya Y.H.
  • Firth, Michael


Prior studies document that book-tax differences (BTDs) reflect divergent reporting rules for book and tax purposes, and contain information about earnings management and tax planning. In this paper, we investigate whether the regulatory and opportunistic information impounded in BTDs differentially influences earnings persistence and the earnings–returns relation. Using BTD data from China, we separate BTDs into normal BTDs (NBTDs) and abnormal BTDs (ABTDs). NBTDs are more likely driven by regulatory differences between accounting and tax rules and ABTDs are more likely driven by earnings and tax management activities. We find that firms with large positive and negative ABTDs (NBTDs) exhibit less earnings persistence compared to firms with small ABTDs (NBTDs). However, the level of earnings persistence for large unsigned ABTD firms is significantly lower than it is for large unsigned NBTD firms. While large unsigned NBTDs appear to enhance the earnings–returns relation, we find no evidence that large unsigned ABTDs affect the earnings–returns relation. Overall, the results suggest that the differing components of BTDs have differential implications for earnings quality. Additional tests show that ABTDs and NBTDs can provide incremental information about earnings persistence beyond the information in discretionary accruals and total accruals, suggesting that the investigation of BTDs adds value to financial analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Tang, Tanya Y.H. & Firth, Michael, 2012. "Earnings Persistence and Stock Market Reactions to the Different Information in Book-Tax Differences: Evidence from China," The International Journal of Accounting, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 369-397.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:accoun:v:47:y:2012:i:3:p:369-397
    DOI: 10.1016/j.intacc.2012.07.004

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tang, Tanya & Firth, Michael, 2011. "Can book-tax differences capture earnings management and tax Management? Empirical evidence from China," The International Journal of Accounting, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 175-204, June.
    2. Mary E. Barth & Wayne R. Landsman & Mark H. Lang, 2008. "International Accounting Standards and Accounting Quality," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(3), pages 467-498, June.
    3. Chen, Gongmeng & Firth, Michael & Gao, Daniel N. & Rui, Oliver M., 2005. "Is China's securities regulatory agency a toothless tiger? Evidence from enforcement actions," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 451-488.
    4. Subramanyam, K. R., 1996. "The pricing of discretionary accruals," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1-3), pages 249-281, October.
    5. Dechow, Patricia & Ge, Weili & Schrand, Catherine, 2010. "Understanding earnings quality: A review of the proxies, their determinants and their consequences," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2-3), pages 344-401, December.
    6. Atwood, T.J. & Drake, Michael S. & Myers, Linda A., 2010. "Book-tax conformity, earnings persistence and the association between earnings and future cash flows," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 111-125, May.
    7. Hanlon, Michelle & Laplante, Stacie Kelley & Shevlin, Terry, 2005. "Evidence for the Possible Information Loss of Conforming Book Income and Taxable Income," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(2), pages 407-442, October.
    8. Graham, John R. & Raedy, Jana S. & Shackelford, Douglas A., 2012. "Research in accounting for income taxes," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 412-434.
    9. Sami, Heibatollah & Zhou, Haiyan, 2004. "A comparison of value relevance of accounting information in different segments of the Chinese stock market," The International Journal of Accounting, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 403-427.
    10. repec:bla:joares:v:38:y:2000:i:1:p:103-126 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Hanlon, Michelle & Heitzman, Shane, 2010. "A review of tax research," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2-3), pages 127-178, December.
    12. Hanlon, Michelle & Maydew, Edward L. & Shevlin, Terry, 2008. "An unintended consequence of book-tax conformity: A loss of earnings informativeness," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2-3), pages 294-311, December.
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    More about this item


    Book-tax differences; Earnings and tax management; Earnings persistence; Earnings quality; Stock returns;

    JEL classification:

    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)


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