The cost of compliance: FIN 48 and audit fees

Matthew J. Erickson, Nathan C. Goldman, James Stekelberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2006, FIN 48 significantly altered uncertain tax benefit (UTB) recognition and disclosure requirements relative to its predecessor standard, FAS 5. We examine the effect of the new standard on audit pricing. We first document that UTB-related audit fees increased following the implementation of FIN 48. However, we also find that this increase is primarily driven by a spike in the audit pricing of UTBs in 2007. Indeed, we find that the audit pricing of UTBs in the 2008–2012 period is not significantly different from that of the 2002–2006 period. We interpret these results to indicate that although firms incurred significant FIN 48 implementation costs, the ongoing audit pricing of UTBs under FIN 48 is similar to that of FAS 5. Our findings suggest that any potential benefits of FIN 48 may outweigh associated costs related to a temporary increase in audit fees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-85
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the American Taxation Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Audit fees
  • FIN 48
  • Uncertain tax positions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance


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