Consumer Responses to Corporate Tax Planning

Wednesday August 15, 2018
  • Working Paper


Prior research examines practitioner, investor, and executive perceptions of corporate tax planning. However, little is known about how the typical U.S. consumer views corporate tax planning. We examine consumers’ perceptions of corporate tax planning using both survey and experimental methods. First, we survey U.S. consumers and find that while most express negative preferences for tax planning, they rank it at the bottom of purchase decision factors. Few consumers recall ever seeing a negative media article about taxes. Thus, while consumers state a preference against corporate tax planning, that preference is not particularly strong. However, for the minority of consumers who have read negative articles about a firm’s tax planning, a significant portion claim to have changed their purchasing behavior accordingly. Second, we use an experiment to investigate the consumer effects of tax planning, randomly treating consumers with exposure to news about tax planning and imposing real economic consequences on the participants. We find that consumers exposed to negative tax information about a firm are significantly less likely to prefer receiving a gift card from that firm, suggesting that there is an effect of tax planning on consumer preferences even in the presence of a real economic consequence.

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Asay, H. S., Hoopes, J. L., Thornock, J. R., & Wilde, J. H. (2018). Consumer responses to corporate tax planning. (Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise Research Paper No. 18-19). Available at SSRN: