The Role of Audit Firm Expertise and Knowledge Spillover in Mitigating Earnings Management through the Tax Accounts
57 Pages Posted: 26 May 2013 Last revised: 1 Jun 2016
Date Written: March 20, 2014
Tax-related accounts are complex and often the last accounts finalized in the financial reporting process. Accordingly, these accounts can be used as a ‘last chance’ earnings management tool (Dhaliwal, Gleason, and Mills 2004). We investigate the extent to which an audit firm’s industry expertise constrains earnings management through the tax accounts. We find that national industry audit experts constrain earnings management through the tax accounts. We also find that audit firm tax expertise constrains earnings management through the tax accounts when the audit firm is not considered an industry audit expert. Finally, we find evidence that providing both audit and tax services facilitates a non-expert firm’s ability to constrain earnings management through the tax accounts, which suggests that knowledge spillover plays an important role in reducing ‘last chance’ earnings management. All findings hold among smaller clients and when the extent of earnings management is below quantitative materiality thresholds.
Keywords: Earnings Management, Non-Audit Services, Audit Expertise, Knowledge Spillover, Effective Tax Rate, Tax Expertise
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