Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Jianping Qi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel Bradley, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christos Pantzalis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ninon Sutton, Ph.D.


Tax Aggressiveness, Informational Opacity, External Monitoring, Investor Attention, Insider Trading


In the first essay I examine the relation between firm advertising and tax aggressiveness. Advertising increases firm visibility in both the product and the financial market. While investors would appreciate more tax savings, they are aware of the negative impact of tax aggressiveness on consumers’ views of the firm and hence its competitive positions in the product market. We find that firms that spend more on advertising have fewer tax sheltering activities, lower book-tax differences, and higher cash effective tax rates. Specifically, an increase of 1% on Advertisingi,t (ADVGPi,t), the firm pays an additional tax of $0.70 million ($10.92 million). However, the negative impact of advertising on tax aggressiveness becomes weaker (and even reverses) for firms having great transparency, more public scrutiny, or strong external monitoring. We control for endogeneity using propensity score matching and an instrumental variable approach. Our findings are consistent with the argument that advertising enhances corporate reputation and is an important determinant in firms’ tax planning.

In the second essay I document a significant increase in opportunistic insider trades when retail investors are paying greater attention to the stock. Using Google SVI to proxy for their level of attention, we find that a higher (lower) SVI on a stock is associated with more insider sales (purchases) of the stock and greater abnormal returns on the sales (purchases). A value-weighted long-short portfolio mimicking insider trades would earn an abnormal return of 1.19% per month (14.28% per year), excluding transaction costs. We also fund that the SVI-related insider traders tend to be non-independent directors who have long tenures but no senior executive positions in their firm and the firm tends to exhibit weaker governance, lower reputation, and poorer social responsibility. Our results are more pronounced for lottery-type stocks but are weaker for stocks with large attention of local investors. Interestingly, the risk of SEC investigation and litigation is lower on SVI-related insider sales and this type of sales actually rises following an increase in news releases of SEC enforcement action. Overall, certain insiders appear to engage in trades to take advantage of variations of retail investors’ attention to their stock.