SYNOPSIS

This paper proposes a voluntary income-reporting regime, in which firms could choose whether to publish an income statement. Firms choosing not to issue it would report fund flows in a cash flow statement employing the direct method, similar to the cash flow statement advocated by Ohlson et al. (2010). Voluntary income reporting is motivated by managers' numerous motives to manipulate earnings, recent research challenging the value relevance of earnings compared to cash flows, and costs of auditing income, including litigation risk. Another motivation for voluntary income reporting is rising investor dissatisfaction with reported earnings, but unlike many critics in the investing community, the paper does not claim that earnings do not have significant information value. Rather, given recent developments, it is worth reconsidering whether the benefits of reporting accrual earnings exceed the costs for all firms.

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