An empirical analysis of the changes in tax audit focus on international transfer pricing

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-104
Journal / PublicationJournal of International Accounting, Auditing and Taxation
Online published6 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


International transfer pricing is an important financial management mechanism allowing multinational corporations to maneuver funds internationally. The manipulation of reported profits often triggers investigations from tax authorities. With the increased globalization of economies and changes in the business environment, tax authorities in many countries have refined their enforcement of transfer pricing regulations. In this study, we use archival data in China to examine whether tax authorities have changed their focus on auditing multinational companies over the past two decades. Our results indicate that Chinese tax authorities have significantly reduced their focus on auditing wholly foreign-owned enterprises, and placed more focus on Western multinationals and larger companies in the late 2000s as compared with tax audits in the early 1990s. Tax audits in the late 2000s also focus on export-oriented and loss firms. The findings show that changes in the business environment, regulations and the audit expertise of tax officials can lead to a shift in the focus of tax audits of international transfer pricing.

Research Area(s)

  • Foreign investment enterprises, International transfer pricing, Tax audit focus