Financial reporting and book-tax conformity: A review of the issues
Luca Menicacci / Financial Reporting / 1-2022
This work reviews accounting research on book-tax conformity (BTC) with specific reference to financial reporting issues. There is an ongoing debate in the accounting literature about the impact of BTC levels (weak/strong) on accounting quality and on tax avoidance. Policymakers have discussed at length the opportunity to reform BTC as well. Proponents of a strong BTC argue that it can deter both financial reporting manipulation and aggressive tax planning by creating contrasting incentives between book earnings maximisation and taxable income minimisation. Further controls on book earnings assured by taxing authorities will reinforce such beneficial effects. Opponents of a strong BTC suggest that financial accounting decisions should not interfere with tax accounting and vice versa, as financial reporting and tax reporting have different purposes. Furthermore, under a strong BTC, managers will tend to smooth earnings to minimise income taxes, thus reducing earnings in-formativeness. Even if a strand of research based on the Tax Reform Act (TRA 86) in the US corroborates the position of opponents, a large body of literature formed in international settings has not yet reached a consensus over the consequences of BTC. This circumstance makes BTC a relevant topic to the current de-bate on financial reporting quality.