“瞒天过海” : 企业避税与大股东掏空

“Crossing the sea under camouflage” : Corporate tax avoidance and tunneling

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

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Detail(s)

Original languageChinese (Simplified)
Pages (from-to)21-33
Journal / Publication管理工程学报
Volume34
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

Abstract

本文在控股股东与中小股东的委托代理框架下, 检验了控股股东是否会将避税作为开展复杂关联交易的理由, 从而掩盖其掏空意图。以2008-2016年我国A股上市公司为样本, 本文发现避税活动能够增加公司财务和业务的复杂性, 为公司控制人的利益侵占提供掩盖。在采用公司实际税率作为避税活动的工具变量以控制潜在内生性问题的情况下, 本文结论依旧稳健。进一步, 本文发现避税活动与掏空行为的关系在治理环境较差的公司中更加显著。具体而言, 当公司机构投资者持股比例较低, 或者较少受到分析师关注时, 避税与控股股东掏空行为的关系更显著。后续证据发现, 避税活动较为激进的公司进行了更频繁的关联交易, 公司也更加不透明。最后, 本文从公司现金持有价值角度探究了普通投资者对公司避税活动和掏空行为的反应, 发现出于对避税活动掩盖下的控股股东掏空行为的担忧, 仅在掏空威胁较低的公司中, 普通投资者愿意为公司避税活动节省的现金赋予更高的价值。
Traditional tax studies regard tax avoidance as a value-creating activity that transfers resources from government agencies to firms. A critical assumption under this argument is that the interest between shareholders and managers is well aligned. However, when the agency problem exists, Desai and Dharmapala (2006) propose that tax avoiding activities will not necessarily create value to shareholders but can also be used to serve managers’ own interests. This is because successful tax avoidance requires to confuse tax regulators, and thus conducting such activities would inevitably introduce complexity to corporate operations and reporting. Such complexity resulting from tax avoiding activities also provide shields for managerial self-serving behaviors. From this perspective, prior studies have documented extensively how managers use tax avoiding activities to pursue their interests. Nonetheless, little attention has been paid to exploring the role that tax avoidance plays in assisting controlling shareholders in exploiting other stock owners. This study aims at filling this gap by investigating the role of tax avoidance under the principal agency-principal framework.
Unlike the sophisticated markets where corporate ownership is diversified and firms are actually controlled by management, concentrated ownership is highly widespread in emerging markets like China. The highly concentrated ownership not only provides enough motivation for controlling shareholders to monitor managers, but also directly endow them great power to appoint or fire senior managers. In this respect, the interests between controlling shareholders and managers can be well aligned, and the traditional principal-agent conflict is no longer a serious concern given the existence of controlling shareholders. However, new agency problem would arise. The highly concentrated ownership allows the controlling shareholders to easily divert corporate resources to places where they have higher cash flow rights, which is the so-called tunneling problem. Tunneling activities from controlling shareholders place great threats on the interests of minority shareholders. Considering the universality of ownership concentration in emerging markets, the conflict of interests between controlling shareholders and other stock owners, i.e. the principal agency-principal conflict, would be the most serious agency problem in such markets (Jiang et al. 2010; Wang et al. 2011).
Under the principal agency-principal framework, we believe that, although tax avoidance itself does not directly transfer company resources, it could be used as a pretext to engage in complicated transactions. The complexity resulting from such activities can help controlling shareholders conceal their tunneling intent and resources diversion practices. To test this argument, this paper takes all China's A-share companies as a sample to perform empirical analyses. The sample period covers 2008 to 2016. After controlling for heteroscedasticity and auto-correlation issues, both our OLS analyses and Fama-MacBeth regressions find that tax avoidance can increase the complexity of a corporate businesses, and thereby provides shields for controllers’ resource diversion behaviors. Taking the actual tax rate as an instrumental variable, the results from 2SLS estimations confirm the robustness of our findings. Further, cross-sectional analyses reveal that the relationship between tax avoiding activities and tunneling is more pronounced in companies with poorer governance environments. Specifically, when institutional shareholding or analyst following is lower, the relationship between tax avoidance and tunneling is stronger. Subsequent evidence indicates that companies with more aggressive tax avoiding do engage in more related-party transactions, which has been proved to be a channel for controllers to divers corporate resources. The transparency in such companies are also poorer. Finally, we explore the responses of investors to corporate tax avoiding and tunneling activities from the perspective of corporate cash holding value, and find that investors are willing to attach higher value to the cash saved from tax avoidance activities only when the cash are less likely to be tunneled out subsequently.
This study examines the consequences of tax avoidance under the principal agency-principal framework, which sheds lights on the role that tax avoidance could play in the China's capital market. Moreover, Wang (2009) finds that greater opacity facilitates the engagement of tunneling. Our findings can extend his study by showing that tax avoidance is one possible tool that enables controllers to achieve high opacity environment. Finally, this study can add to the literature investigating the influence of corporate tax avoidance on firm value. We find that only when the tunneling threat is low will investors attach higher value on the cash saved from corporate tax avoiding. This conclusion is consistent with the proposition of Desai and Dharmapala (2009).

Research Area(s)

  • Tax avoidance, Tunneling, Instrumental variables, Value of cash holding, Related-party transactions, 避税, 掏空, 工具变量, 关联交易, 现金持有价值

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