TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Hanlon, Laplante & Shevlin on Conforming Book Income and Taxable Income

Michelle Hanlon (University of Michigan Business School), Stacie Kelley Laplante (University of Georgia) & Terry J. Shevlin (University of Washington Business School) have published Evidence for the Possible Information Loss of Conforming Book Income and Taxable Income, 48 J.L. & Econ. 407 (2005).  Here is the abstract:

Recent corporate accounting reporting scandals and aggressive corporate tax shelters have led for calls for regulatory reform. One such call is to conform (or reduce the gap between) the calculation of book and taxable income. Proponents of conformity focus on perceived benefits while ignoring possible costs. We examine one possible cost: the loss in information content to investors if one measure is removed from the information set. We provide evidence on this possible loss by examining the relative and incremental information content over the past 20 years of book and (estimated) taxable income for a large sample of firms. We find book income exhibits significantly greater relative explanatory power while both exhibit significant incremental explanatory power. Conforming the two measures at a minimum results in the loss of incremental explanatory power and if book income is conformed to the tax rules, an estimated 50% loss in the explanatory power of earnings.

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