The Shareholder Response to Corporate Tax Planning Advice Regulation
60 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2020 Last revised: 15 Jul 2020
Date Written: July 14, 2020
We examine the shareholder response to heightened regulation of corporate tax planning advice through the covered opinions rules under U.S. Treasury Department Circular No. 230. These rules imposed extensive due diligence obligations and drafting requirements on tax professionals for a broad range of written tax advice. Despite overwhelming criticism from tax professionals, stock returns reveal a positive shareholder response to the promulgation of the rules, equating to a $12.33 billion increase in aggregate shareholder value. Consistent with shareholders believing that the benefits of the rules—deterrence of excessively risky tax planning and increased monitoring—would offset the burdens, we find that the shareholder response was more positive for firms with higher tax risk, weaker monitoring, and higher tax risk coupled with weaker monitoring. Overall, these findings provide new evidence that shareholders perceive regulations aiming to curtail risky tax planning differently depending on whether they target tax professionals or taxpayers.
Keywords: Circular 230, covered opinion rules, tax professional, tax planning, tax advice, tax avoidance, tax risk, external monitoring
JEL Classification: G10, H25, H26, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation