Taxes and Firm Size: Political Cost or Political Power?
Journal of Accounting Literature (42) 2019
43 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2015 Last revised: 21 Feb 2019
Date Written: January 30, 2018
Using a meta-regression analysis, we quantitatively review the empirical literature on the relation between effective tax rate (ETR) and firm size. Accounting literature offers two competing theories on this relation: The political cost theory, suggesting a positive size-ETR relation, and the political power theory, suggesting a negative size-ETR relation. Using a unique data set of 49 studies that do not show a clear tendency towards either of the two theories, we contribute to the discussion on the size-ETR relation in three ways: First, applying meta-regression analysis on a US meta-data set, we provide evidence supporting the political cost theory. Second, our analysis reveals factors that are possible sources of variation and bias in previous empirical studies; these findings can improve future empirical and analytical models. Third, we extend our analysis to a cross-country meta-data set; this extension enables us to investigate explanations for the two competing theories in more detail. We find that Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory, a transparency index and a corruption index explain variation in the size-ETR relation. Independent of the two theories, we also find that tax planning aspects potentially affect the size-ETR relation. To our knowledge, these explanations have not yet been investigated in our research context.
Keywords: Effective tax rate, Firm size, Political cost theory, Political power theory, Meta-regression analysis
JEL Classification: H25, H26, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation