Managing discretionary accruals and book-tax differences in anticipation of tax rate increases : evidence from China

Raymond M. K. WONG, Wai Yee, Agnes LO, Michael Arthur FIRTH

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates how firms manage their earnings to trade off various incentives when tax rates increase. We hypothesize and find that firms generally choose to manage their taxable income upward in a book-tax non-conforming manner rather than in a book-tax conforming manner before a tax rate increment, which in turn reduces the detection risk of aggressive financial reporting. These results suggest that firms give more weight to tax incentives and tax audit or regulatory inspection risks than to boosting financial reporting income in tax management. However, when firms have higher book management incentives or lower tunneling incentives (i.e., non-state-owned enterprises), we find that they manage their taxable income and book income upward together (i.e., in a book-tax conforming manner), whereas their counterparts (i.e., state-owned enterprises) do not. Overall, our paper contributes to the literature by demonstrating the interplay of tax, tunneling and financial reporting incentives in influencing tax management strategies. The findings from our paper should also help government and regulators understand more about firms’ reactions to tax rate increases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-222
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of International Financial Management and Accounting
Issue number2
Early online date7 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

Bibliographical note

This research has benefited from financial support from Lingnan University, Hong Kong (DB14A5). Michael Firth acknowledges financial support from a GRF (GRF390113). Raymond Wong (corresponding author) acknowledges the financial support of grants from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (Project No. CityU 152012 and 195513).

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