The Separation of Ownership and Control and Corporate Tax Avoidance
University of Notre Dame
Sharon P. Katz
Columbia Business School - Accounting, Business Law & Taxation
Sonja O. Rego
Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Accounting
August 22, 2013
Journal of Accounting and Economics, Forthcoming
Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 13-64
We examine whether variation in the separation of ownership and control influences the tax practices of private firms with different ownership structures. Fama and Jensen (1983) assert that when equity ownership and corporate decision-making are concentrated in just a small number of decision-makers, these owner-managers will likely be more risk averse and thus less willing to invest in risky projects. Because tax avoidance is a risky activity that can impose significant costs on a firm, we predict that firms with greater concentrations of ownership and control, and thus more risk averse managers, avoid less income tax than firms with less concentrated ownership and control. Our results are consistent with these expectations. However, we also consider a competing explanation for these findings. In particular, we examine whether certain private firms enjoy lower marginal costs of tax planning, which facilitate greater income tax avoidance. Our results are consistent with the marginal costs of tax avoidance and the separation of ownership and control both influencing corporate tax practices.
Keywords: Private equity, ownership structure, tax avoidance, tax planning, book-tax differences, cash effective tax rates, marginal tax rates
JEL Classification: M41, G32, H25
Date posted: February 6, 2009 ; Last revised: May 14, 2014
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