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Book-tax conformity: Empirical evidence from Germany

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  • Zinn, Benedikt
  • Spengel, Christoph

Abstract

We use a unique matched tax return-financial statement data set to examine the magnitude and sources of book-tax differences in Germany. For the first time, the data set enables us to evaluate the extent to which financial and tax accounting differ in Germany in the most accurate manner. Despite the close link between financial and tax accounting in Germany, we find that corporate taxable income and income reported to shareholders diverge considerably. Regression results suggest that this reporting gap is largely attributable to legal differences between financial and tax accounting and we cannot provide evidence that tax aggressive reporting adds to it. However, further analyses show that firms actively engaged in corporate restructuring exhibit larger book-tax differences than other firms. We interpret this result as evidence of firms willing to give up the administrative advantages of a one-book accounting system in order to achieve desired tax or financial accounting result, if book-tax conformity is not required. Thus, the results not only provide insights into the relatively unexplored area of behavioral response to changes in the degree of book-tax conformity, but also add a new perspective to the discussion surrounding the implementation of the German Accounting Law Modernization Act (BilMoG) in 2010.

Suggested Citation

  • Zinn, Benedikt & Spengel, Christoph, 2012. "Book-tax conformity: Empirical evidence from Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 12-051, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:12051
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    Cited by:

    1. Evers, Maria Theresia & Finke, Katharina & Matenaer, Sebastian & Meier, Ina & Zinn, Benedikt, 2014. "Evidence on book-tax differences and disclosure quality based on the notes to the financial statements," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-047, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    2. Gebhardt Heinz & Siemers Lars-H. R., 2017. "Die relative Steuerbelastung mittelständischer Kapitalgesellschaften: Evidenz von handelsbilanziellen Mikrodaten," Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 66(1), pages 1-35, April.
    3. Dreßler, Daniel & Scheuering, Uwe, 2015. "Empirical evaluation of interest barrier effects," ZEW Discussion Papers 12-046 [rev.], ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    4. repec:spr:busres:v:11:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s40685-017-0057-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Eichfelder, Sebastian & Vaillancourt, François, 2014. "Tax compliance costs: A review of cost burdens and cost structures," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 178, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
    6. Evers, Maria Theresia, 2015. "Evidence on Book-tax Differences and Disclosure Quality Based on the Notes to the Financial Statements," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113127, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    book-tax conformity; book-tax differences; tax planning;

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting

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