ABSTRACT: Under current accounting rules, U.S. multinationals are not required to record liabilities for future taxes on earnings of foreign subsidiaries, as long as those earnings are deemed to be indefinitely reinvested in those subsidiaries. These rules allow considerable flexibility in the designation of earnings deemed permanently reinvested and the reporting of expected repatriation taxes thereon. Some firms disclose amounts for unrecorded taxes on permanently reinvested earnings, but most do not. We show that while estimated repatriation taxes are relevant in explaining share prices of non-disclosing firms, they are less relevant than firm-disclosed amounts are in explaining share prices of disclosing firms. This result is due to estimated repatriation tax amounts exhibiting downward bias, and less accuracy for actual repatriation tax effects, relative to firm-disclosed repatriation tax amounts. We propose new disclosures designed to improve the relevance of estimated repatriation tax amounts.

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