University of Cincinnati Lindner College of Business

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Do Investors Use Prior Tax Avoidance when Pricing Tax Loss Carryforwards?

Author(s): Adam Olson, Sean McGuire, Stevanie Neuman, Thomas Omer

Status: Published
Year: 2016
Publication Name: Journal of the American Taxation Association
Volume: 38, Issue: 2, Page Number(s): 27-49


The Internal Revenue Code allows firms to carry excess tax losses forward to offset future taxable income and reduce taxes. Consistent with tax loss carryforwards (TLCFs) creating a significant asset, prior research finds investors positively value TLCFs. However, investors face significant uncertainty about whether firms will have sufficient future taxable income to benefit from TLCFs. We hypothesize that investors' valuation of new TLCFs will vary with firms' prior tax avoidance behavior because it signals firms' abilities to generate taxable income to offset TLCFs through tax planning. We confirm that investors assign a positive value to new TLCFs and find that investors' valuation varies with firms' prior tax avoidance behavior. Investors positively value TLCFs when firms exhibit high variability in prior tax avoidance and high levels of prior tax avoidance. Our results are incremental to the effect of changes in the valuation allowance on investors' valuation of new TLCFs.


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