An increasing number of firms have restated previously issued financial statements in recent years. Legislators, regulators, and others speculate that restatements are associated with fees received by auditors for nonaudit services (nonaudit fees). The current study provides empirical evidence on the association between firms that restate financial statements and the nonaudit service fees received by incumbent auditors during reporting periods that required restatement.
We identify a sample of 110 firms that restated financial statements previously filed with the SEC for fiscal years 2000 or 2001, and provided relevant audit and nonaudit fee data. The SEC requires firms to disclose these fee data beginning in proxy statements filed on or after February 5, 2001. We compare the fees paid by the restatement sample with fee data for 3,481 firms that filed proxies with the SEC from February 5, 2001 to August 31, 2001 and develop benchmarks for expected nonaudit fees, fee ratio, and total fees. Using these benchmarks, we calculate the unexpected values for these measures and investigate whether restatement firms differ from the control firms. Our findings of no significant differences between the restatement and control samples for unexpected nonaudit fees, fee ratios, and total fees do not support concerns that either nonaudit fees or total fees inappropriately influence the audit and lead to restatements.