CEO Inside Debt Incentives and Corporate Tax Sheltering

Sabrina Chi, Shawn Huang, Juan Manuel Sanchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the relation between CEO inside debt holdings (pension benefits and deferred compensation) and corporate tax sheltering. Because inside debt holdings are generally unsecured and unfunded liabilities of the firm, CEOs are exposed to risk similar to that faced by outside creditors. As such, theory (Jensen and Meckling [1976]) suggests that inside debt holdings negatively impact CEO risk-appetite. To the extent that corporate tax shelters are likely to result in high cash flow volatility in the future, we expect that inside debt holdings will curb CEOs from engaging in tax shelter transactions. Consistent with the prediction, we document a negative association between CEO inside debt holdings and tax sheltering. Additional analyses suggest that the effect of inside debt on tax sheltering is more (less) pronounced in the presence of high default risk and liquidity threats (cash-out options in pension packages). Overall, our results highlight the importance of investiga
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837–876
JournalJournal of Accounting Research
StatePublished - Jul 2017


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