Income smoothing and audit fees

Hsihui Chang, L. C.Jennifer Ho, Zenghui Liu, Bo Ouyang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this study, we examine the effect of income smoothing on auditors' pricing decisions. Analyzing a sample of 12,823 firm-year observations from U.S. companies in non-regulated industries for the period 2000–2018, we find that income smoothing is negatively associated with audit fees, suggesting that auditors favorably view smoothed earnings. This result holds when we control for other variables that have been identified as determinants of audit fees in prior literature, including client-specific (e.g., client size, audit complexity, litigation risk, and corporate governance), auditor-specific (e.g., auditor quality, auditor tenure, and auditor expertise), and engagement-specific (e.g., audit opinion, busy season, reporting lag) factors. Our results also hold across (1) alternative smoothing measures (with and without considering the use of accruals to smooth earnings), (2) different sources of income smoothness (innate vs. discretionary components) and (3) various robustness tests. Overall, our evidence supports the notion that auditors perceive income smoothing as signaling rather than opportunistic behavior, and thus charge lower audit fees. To our knowledge, this is the first study that examines income smoothing directly from the perspective of auditors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100547
JournalAdvances in Accounting
Volume54
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Accounting
  • Finance

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