Called to Account: The tax bill is making the fourth-quarter earnings season a muddle

The U.S. tax bill signed into law in December has made the fourth-quarter earnings season a muddle, as companies take wildly different approaches to their disclosures of its impact.

The Securities and Exchange Commission issued guidance on how companies should reflect the impact of lower corporate tax rates in the quarter ending Dec. 31, and the changes to the value of deferred tax assets or liabilities, directing them to report charges or benefits based on a “reasonable estimate” that can be adjusted later.

Read also:Tax bill lowered corporate tax rate, so why are some companies announcing charges?

All of the companies that have reported earnings so far have included tax-law-related disclosures, and many have posted multibillion-dollar charges or benefits.

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