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ABSTRACT

We investigate the joint hypothesis that (1) tax expense contains information about core profitability that is incremental to reported earnings and (2) that information is reflected in stock prices with a delay. We find that seasonally differenced quarterly tax expense, our proxy for tax expense surprise, is related positively to future returns. This anomaly is separate from previously documented pricing anomalies based on financial and tax variables. Additional investigation reveals that tax expense surprise is related positively to changes in future quarterly earnings and tax expense, and both those future changes are related positively to future returns. While the returns to investing in predictable future earnings changes has been documented before, these results suggest that predicting changes in future tax expense also generates incremental future returns.