An analysis of earnings management by European private firms

E. Peek, L.P.L.G. Coppens

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This paper addresses the questions of whether private firms in eight european countries engage in earnings management, and if so, whether tax incentives affect such practices. To measure earnings management, we analyze the earnings distributions of private firms and compare these distributions with those of public firms in the same countries. The empirical evidence suggests that in absence of capital market pressures, firms still have incentives to manage earnings, as we find that private firms avoid reporting small losses. We further find that private firms in some countries where tax regulation strongly influences financial accounting do not avoid reporting small losses. We attribute this finding to tax incentives reducing firms’ benefits of (upward) earnings management. Finally, our results suggest that some types of earnings management are due to capital market pressures and are specific to public firms since we do not find evidence that private firms avoid earnings decreases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of International Accounting, Auditing & Taxation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005

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