The application of digital technology has a profound impact on government regulation and the business behavior of enterprises. Frontier researches have focused on the effect of digital tax enforcement on micro-enterprise investment and earnings management, but pay little attention to enterprise R&D. On the one hand, digital tax enforcement provides favorable conditions for reducing government information asymmetry and improving R&D supervision. On the other hand, the complexity and uncertainty of R&D activities also raise the difficulty and cost of supervision. In this case, whether digital tax enforcement will inhibit or aggravate enterprise R&D manipulation is an important research topic.
This paper takes A-share listed companies from 2008 to 2019 as the sample, and uses the “Golden Tax-III” project as the proxy of digital tax enforcement to conduct a quasi-natural experiment. The study finds that, digital tax enforcement has a significant positive impact on restraining enterprise R&D manipulation, which is still valid after a series of robustness tests. The mechanism analysis shows that, digital tax enforcement restrains enterprise R&D manipulation by improving the levels of information transparency and normative governance. The moderating effect analysis shows that, the shortsightedness of the management is not conducive to restraining enterprise R&D manipulation, while the positive tone of the management plays a positive role.
The main contributions of this paper are as follows: First, based on the background of the implementation of the “Golden Tax-III” project, it directly tests the inhibitory effect of digital tax enforcement on R&D manipulation, which provides theoretical support and empirical evidence for how to regulate the R&D activities of listed companies, and also enriches the literature on relevant economic consequences. Second, it further enriches the research on the influencing factors of R&D manipulation and provides a new theoretical perspective for guiding the development of micro-economy. Third, it responds to the call of Wei et al. (2022) to “more fully reveal the positive role of digital tax enforcement in the modernization process of tax enforcement”. R&D activities are closely related to the sustainable development of enterprises and high-quality economic development, so the impact of digital tax enforcement on R&D manipulation is an important perspective to effectively evaluate its impact on the healthy development of micro-enterprises. This paper provides a practical reference for reviewing relevant policy tools, promoting the coordinated optimization of tax incentives and digital tax enforcement, and achieving high-quality economic development in the context of the digital economy.