How Much Will Firms Pay for Earnings that Do Not Exist? Evidence of Taxes Paid on Allegedly Fraudulent Earnings
Posted: 5 Nov 2003
We analyze a sample of firms accused of fraudulently overstating their earnings and examine the extent, if any, to which they paid additional income taxes on the allegedly fraudulent earnings. Based on restatements of current tax expense adjusted for the tax benefits of stock options, the evidence indicates that many firms included the overstated financial accounting income on their tax returns, thus overpaying their taxes in the process of inflating their accounting earnings. We estimate that the median firm sacrificed eight cents in additional income taxes per dollar of inflated pre-tax earnings. In aggregate, we estimate that the firms in our sample paid $320 million in taxes on overstated earnings of about $3.36 billion. These results indicate how far managers of firms are willing to go to when allegedly inflating earnings.
Keywords: Fraud, tax, earnings
JEL Classification: G30, G32, J33, M41, M43, H25
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation