Tax avoidance and firm risk: evidence from China

Yuqiang Cao, Zhuoan Feng, Meiting Lu, Yaowen Shan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Prior literature documents puzzling evidence revealing that tax avoidance activities do not affect firm‐specific risk. Using an extended US sample, we find that lower cash effective tax rates (ETRs) are associated with higher future return volatility, supporting the traditional view of tax risk–return trade‐off. In sharp contrast to the US evidence, our analysis of Chinese firms suggests that Chinese state‐owned enterprises (SOEs) with lower cash and GAAP ETRs tend to have lower future risk. In addition, we adopt a difference‐in‐differences approach based on the variations generated by two exogenous, anti‐tax avoidance regulations in China but find no evidence suggesting a causal relationship between tax avoidance and firm risk. Overall, our results suggest that the relationship between tax avoidance and risk varies across countries, sample periods and tax aggressiveness measures, and we highlight the importance of addressing the endogenous nature in future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4967-5000
Number of pages34
JournalAccounting & Finance
Issue number3
Early online date3 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


  • Effective tax rates
  • Tax avoidance
  • Firm risk


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