The Inclusion of General Counsel in Top Management and Tax Avoidance
63 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2014 Last revised: 16 Jul 2018
Date Written: July 8, 2015
We examine whether the inclusion of general counsel in top management is associated with a firm’s tax avoidance. We find that firms with general counsel as part of the top management team have lower GAAP effective tax rate, more uncertain tax positions, a higher likelihood of engaging in tax shelter activities, and more tax haven countries in which the firm reports a significant subsidiary, relative to firms without a general counsel in top management. In addition, we find that among firms with general counsel in top management, tax avoidance is greater when (1) the general counsel has tax-related expertise, (2) the firm hires an external auditor with tax expertise or purchases more tax services from its external auditor, and (3) the CEO has more power over the general counsel.
Keywords: Top management composition, general counsel, tax avoidance
JEL Classification: G34; G38; H26; M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation