We examine the incidence, valuation and management of tax-related reputational costs during 2011, a year of extensive social protest that temporarily increased scrutiny of corporate tax avoidance. We report three main results. First, tax avoidance is positively associated with negative media sentiment during the protest period (i.e., 2011). Second, a hedge portfolio long (short) in low (high) tax avoidance firms generates positive abnormal returns during the protest period. Third, firms experiencing the largest reputational costs during the protest period report higher tax rates in subsequent years. Supplemental analyses indicate tax-related media coverage increased during the protest period, and that the results are unlikely driven by political costs or other time-invariant firm characteristics. Our findings suggest that tax-related reputational costs are not pervasive. Instead, these costs only occur during periods of unusually high scrutiny, which helps explain prior studies' difficulties in providing large-sample evidence of tax-related reputational costs.

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