Accounting expertise is closely related to corporate tax planning, and hence, corporate chief financial officers (CFOs) with accounting expertise may have advantages in exploiting tax planning opportunities. By manually collecting CFOs’ autobiographic information and identifying their accounting-related work experience, we empirically examine whether a CFO with accounting expertise is more likely than a CFO without such expertise to exploit tax planning opportunities, resulting in greater corporate tax avoidance. We find that CFOs with accounting expertise are negatively associated with corporate effective tax rates. The average effective tax rate of firms with accounting expert CFOs is approximately 19.4% lower than that of their counterparts with non-accounting expert CFOs, ceteris paribus. Moreover, the abnormal variable compensation of CFOs with accounting expertise is negatively associated with corporate effective tax rates. The results suggest that the accounting expertise and compensation schemes of CFOs can have a significant effect on the aggressiveness of corporate tax planning.
Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, 54, 273–296