Cornell University

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CSES Colloquium Series "Do Socially Responsible Firms Pay Taxes? CSR and Effective Tax Rates"

Friday, November 15, 2019 at 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Uris Hall, G08

The social responsibilities of for-profit corporations have gained importance recently, and CSR has become both a goal and a set of guidelines for various corporate activities. CSR typically encompasses a number of aspects, including environmental impacts and sustainability, equitable treatment of employees, and relations to local communities. Here we consider the relationship between CSR and taxes: do firms that are “good citizens” also pay higher taxes? Is it the social responsibility of firms to help pay for public services? Focusing on the percentile rank of effective tax rates, and using random effects panel regression of a data set of publicly-traded U.S. firms that includes measures of CSR and many financial variables, we find that the relationship between CSR and taxation is complicated and warrants further investigation. However, strong corporate governance, a typical component of CSR, is associated with lower tax rates, suggesting that responsibility to shareholders conflicts with broader social responsibilities.

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Bruce Carruthers

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