Working Paper: Do Tax Experts Play a Monitoring Role in Audit Engagements?

Paper Authors: Ally Zimmerman, Miguel Minutti-Meza, Saad Siddiqui, and Andrew Bauer

Abstract: Using proprietary data, this study is among the first to provide evidence on the monitoring role of auditors’ in-house tax experts. This role is important due to the relatively high frequency and proportion of tax expert hours in audits, and the salience of tax-related accruals in financial reporting. We show that tax expert effort is associated with client complexity and auditor characteristics. Next, we demonstrate that tax expert effort is associated with the incidence of tax-related internal control weaknesses, but it is not enough to fully mitigate the risk of material misstatements. We also find that tax expert effort is costly, resulting in higher audit fees and lower realization rates. Finally, tax expert effort is associated with conservative tax accruals but not with aggressive tax planning. Overall, although tax expert effort is associated with audit quality and financial reporting quality, it is not a seamless solution to audit tax-related accruals.

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