Decomposing Changes in Deferred Tax Assets and Liabilities to Isolate Earnings Management Activities
Journal of the American Taxation Association, 2004
Posted: 18 Oct 2008
Date Written: April 2004
This paper provides evidence on the types of accounts that reveal earnings management activities. We build on Burgstahler and Dichev's (1997) evidence of earnings management to avoid an earnings decline and Phillips et al.'s (2003) findings that deferred tax expense (DTE) can be used to detect such earnings management. In particular, we investigate the relation between changes in annual earnings and changes in deferred tax asset and liability components using data hand-collected from firms' income tax footnote disclosures.
Our evidence indicates that changes in the net deferred tax liability (DTL) component related to revenue and expense accruals and reserves can be used to detect earnings management to avoid an earnings decline. In addition, we build on Joos et al.'s (2003) results and partition our sample into firm-years with positive and negative changes in net DTLs and repeat our analyses. In contrast to the Joos et al. finding that DTE can be used to detect earnings management only for firm-years in which DTE is negative, we find that both sub-samples reflect earnings management of revenue and expense accruals and reserves to report earnings increases.
Keywords: Deferred tax liabilities, Deferred tax expense, Earnings management
JEL Classification: M41, M49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation