The Effect of Mandatory Financial Statement Disclosures of Tax Uncertainty on Tax Reporting and Collections: The Case of FIN 48 and Multistate Tax Avoidance
44 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2011 Last revised: 12 Oct 2017
Date Written: March 1, 2013
This study investigates the effect of accounting measurement and disclosure requirements on multistate income tax avoidance. The proliferation of sophisticated state tax planning techniques combined with the complexity of varying state tax regimes make multistate taxation an area rampant with uncertainty. The accounting standards contained in FASB Interpretation No. 48 (FIN 48) require firms to record and disclose liabilities for uncertain income tax benefits based on a more-likely-than-not merit threshold of each tax position, assuming tax authorities have full information. Theoretical work and initial practitioner claims suggested that the accounting standards would increase reported tax expense and tax payments. Consistent with this, we find that both firm-level state income tax expense and aggregate state-level income tax collections increased surrounding adoption of FIN 48, providing evidence of the association between mandatory financial reporting disclosures and tax compliance behavior.
Keywords: state taxation, tax reserves, tax avoidance, ASC 740-10, FIN 48, uncertain tax benefits
JEL Classification: H25, H26, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation