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Information asymmetry and incentive contracting with the tax department

Horn-chern Lin (Tax Division, Ontario Ministry of Finance, Toronto, Canada)
Tao Zeng (Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada)

Review of Accounting and Finance

ISSN: 1475-7702

Article publication date: 14 August 2017



This paper aims to examine the design of optimal incentives for a firm’s tax department in the presence of information asymmetry.


This paper provides a theoretical model to examine the design of optimal incentives. The focus is on a situation in which a risk-averse tax department has private information about its efficiency type or effort to be exerted before the firm sets the incentive schemes.


This paper shows that a tax department’s risk aversion leads to a decline in the fraction of the cost borne by the tax department. It also shows that the optimal contract schemes should be designed to filter out as much uncontrollable risk as possible by using third-party information relevant to a tax department’s realized cost.

Social implications

It contributes to a better understanding of the impact of corporate incentive plans on firms’ tax practices. This study, by designing a theoretical model, helps explain why there exist differences in tax planning across firms based on the finding that incentives for tax planning activities differ across firms.


This paper is the first study that considers the situation in which tax managers’ risk-averse and types, as well as relevant information collected by the firms, can be used to set up incentive schemes and investigates whether and how the incentive schemes will be affected when firms improve their prior information by acquiring relevant information before the tax department acts.



Lin, H.-c. and Zeng, T. (2017), "Information asymmetry and incentive contracting with the tax department", Review of Accounting and Finance, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 385-402.



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