In this study, we examine the effects of tax avoidance and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities on equity market valuation. Economic theory suggests that managers should avoid taxes through any legal means (Friedman 1970), and that CSR activities are of value to the extent that shareholder wealth is maximized (Hales, Matsumura, Moser, and Payne 2016). We hypothesize that while equity market participants may positively value both CSR and tax avoidance, these two actions are viewed as inconsistent with one another when engaged upon contemporaneously, where increased activity of one diminishes the value of the other. Results, using a sample of U.S. public firms during years 2000–2013, support our expectation and show a negative interaction between CSR and tax avoidance. A series of robustness checks provide additional evidence consistent with investors viewing CSR and tax avoidance as contradictory.
JEL Classifications: G32; M41; M49; M410.
Data Availability: Data are available from the public sources cited in the text.