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The Changing Role of Auditors in Corporate Tax Planning

  • Edward L. Maydew
  • Douglas A. Shackelford

This paper examines changes in the role that auditors play in corporate tax planning following recent events, including the well-known accounting scandals, passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and regulatory actions by the SEC and PCAOB. On the whole, these events have increased the sensitivity to and scrutiny of auditor independence. We examine the effects of these events on the market for tax planning, in particular the longstanding link between audit and tax services. While the effects are recent, they are already being seen in the data. Specifically, there has already been a dramatic shift in the market for tax planning away from obtaining tax planning services from one's auditor. We estimate that the ratio of tax fees to audit fees paid to the auditors of firms in the S&P 500 decline from approximately one in 2001 to one-fourth in 2004. At the same time, we find no evidence of a general decline in spending for tax services. In sum, the evidence indicates a decoupling of the longstanding link between audit and tax services, such that firms are shifting their purchase of tax services away from their auditor and towards other providers.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11504.

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Date of creation: Aug 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Auerbach, Alan J., James R. Hines, Jr., and Joel B. Slemrod (eds.) Taxing Corporate Income in the 21st Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11504
Note: PE
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  1. Randall S. Kroszner, 1998. "Rethinking Bank Regulation: A Review Of The Historical Evidence," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 11(2), pages 48-58.
  2. Randall S. Kroszner & Raghuram G. Rajan, 1995. "Organization Structure and Credibility: Evidence from Commercial Bank Securities Activities Before the Glass-Steagall Act," NBER Working Papers 5256, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kroszner, Randall S & Rajan, Raghuram G, 1994. "Is the Glass-Steagall Act Justified? A Study of the U.S. Experience with Universal Banking before 1933," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 810-32, September.
  4. 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.
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