How Does Stock Liquidity Affect Corporate Tax Avoidance? Evidence from China
54 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2019 Last revised: 4 Aug 2020
Date Written: August 4, 2020
Prior studies show stock liquidity improves price informativeness and strengthens governance. Stock price informativeness offers an incentive for managers with equity-based compensation to avoid tax. Strengthening governance, by contrast, reduces tax avoidance if diverting corporate profits for private benefits complements tax avoidance. Using an exogenous shock that drastically increased the liquidity of stocks listed in China, we find robust evidence that higher liquidity significantly increases the overall level of tax avoidance. The increase is more substantial when controlling shareholders own more shares, and when diversion is less complementary to tax avoidance. Liquidity has no significant impact on tax evasion—the most aggressive and risky tax avoidance—and at the higher ends of the tax avoidance distribution. The positive and significant effects are observed only at lower levels of tax avoidance. We attribute the weaker impact of liquidity on aggressive tax avoidance to diversion being more complementary to higher-risk tax avoidance.
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