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Going to Haven? Corporate Social Responsibility and Tax Avoidance

Research paper by Burcin Col, Saurin Patel

Indexed on: 31 Dec '16Published on: 09 Dec '16Published in: Journal of Business Ethics



Abstract

Abstract This study examines the endogenous relation between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and tax avoidance by focusing on a common strategy of corporate tax avoidance, i.e., establishing entities in offshore tax havens. Using hand-collected data on a sample of U.S. firms, we find that firms’ CSR ratings increase substantially in the two years after they first open tax haven affiliates. We provide evidence by using the controlled foreign corporations (CFC) look-through rule enacted by Congress in 2006 that facilitates offshore profit shifting. We find that firms that are affected by the CFC legislation increase their CSR practices in response. Overall, our results are consistent with the risk management theory, which argues that firms hedge against the potential negative consequences of aggressive tax avoidance practices through an increase in positive CSR activities.AbstractThis study examines the endogenous relation between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and tax avoidance by focusing on a common strategy of corporate tax avoidance, i.e., establishing entities in offshore tax havens. Using hand-collected data on a sample of U.S. firms, we find that firms’ CSR ratings increase substantially in the two years after they first open tax haven affiliates. We provide evidence by using the controlled foreign corporations (CFC) look-through rule enacted by Congress in 2006 that facilitates offshore profit shifting. We find that firms that are affected by the CFC legislation increase their CSR practices in response. Overall, our results are consistent with the risk management theory, which argues that firms hedge against the potential negative consequences of aggressive tax avoidance practices through an increase in positive CSR activities.