Have Critical Audit Matter Disclosures Indirectly Benefitted Investors by Constraining Earnings Management? Evidence from Tax Accounts
50 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2020 Last revised: 8 Oct 2020
Date Written: October 8, 2020
Prior research indicates that expanded audit reports, which disclose financial statement matters that involved especially challenging, subjective, or complex auditor judgment (known as critical audit matters [CAMs] in the U.S.), have fallen short of their objective to provide investors with useful information. In this study, we investigate whether the disclosure of tax-related CAMs indirectly benefits investors by constraining tax-related earnings management. Such a finding would indicate that CAM disclosure has increased auditor and/or management scrutiny of the underlying financial statement areas. We find that tax-related CAM disclosures are associated with (1) a lower likelihood that the audited company uses tax expense to meet analysts’ consensus forecasts, and (2) increases in the reported reserve for prior-period unrecognized tax benefits (UTBs). Our findings should assist the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) with their post-implementation review of the new U.S. auditor reporting requirement.
Keywords: Critical Audit Matters, Earnings Management, Tax Expense, Uncertain Tax Benefits
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