Corporate Governance, Incentives, and Tax Avoidance
This paper examines the link between corporate governance, managerial incentives, and tax avoidance. Similar to other investment opportunities, unresolved agency problems may cause managers to over- or under-invest in tax avoidance relative to the preferences of shareholders. Using quantile regression, we find that the impact of corporate governance on tax avoidance is most pronounced in the upper and lower tails of the tax avoidance distribution, but not at the mean or median of this distribution. Specifically, we find a positive relation between the financial sophistication and independence of boards and tax avoidance in the upper tail of the tax avoidance distribution, but a negative relation in the lower tail of the tax avoidance distribution. However, we find no relation between corporate governance and tax avoidance and either the conditional mean or median of the tax avoidance distribution. These results suggest that corporate governance tends to decrease extremely high levels of tax avoidance and increase extremely low levels of tax avoidance, which may be symptomatic of over- and under-investment, respectively, by managers. Our results also suggest that inferences about these relations that are drawn from the conditional mean and median and unlikely to be representative across the entire tax avoidance distribution.
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