Short-term incentive effects of a reduction in the NOL carryback period

Susan M. Albring, Dan S. Dhaliwal, Inder K. Khurana, Raynolde Pereira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We examine whether the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (TRA 1997), which reduced the net operating loss (NOL) carryback period from three to two years, created a short-term incentive effect to shift income to accelerate loss recognition in the tax year 1997. We find that our sample of NOL firms in the treatment year of 1997 display higher (lower) levels of income-decreasing (-increasing) earnings management, compared to a control sample of loss firms. When we focus strictly on the NOL firms in the transition year, we find that firms with higher reported income tax expense in fiscal year 1995 display greater income shifting to accelerate loss recognition. We also find that income shifting is greater for treatment NOL firms that expect to report losses in the post-TRA 1997 regime. Overall, our study highlights how changes in tax law provisions (as opposed to tax rate changes) affect firms' reporting behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-88
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the American Taxation Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2011


  • Discretionary accruals
  • Loss firms
  • NOL
  • Net operating loss
  • TRA 1997
  • Taxpayer relief act of 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance


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