Eller College professor tightens reigns on corporate tax evasion, wins top accounting award
Lillian Mills’ research on reconciling corporate income led to significant changes in IRS income reporting and in January won the American Accounting Association’s distinguished Wildman Award.
TUCSON, Ariz. – February 10, 2005 – The University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management associate accounting professor and Stevie Eller Fellow Lillian Mills is no friend to corporate tax evaders. Her 2003 research led to one of the biggest non-legislated changes to income reporting in IRS history, winning Mills and collaborator George Plesko (University of Connecticut) the American Accounting Association’s distinguished 2005 Deloitte Wildman Medal for “the most significant contribution to the advancement of the practice of accounting.”
Mills’ award-winning paper, “Bridging the reporting gap: A proposal for more informative reconciling of book and tax income” (National Tax Journal, 2003), tightened the reigns on a growing disparity between net and taxable income U.S. businesses were reporting in the 1990s, a disparity that Congress and the U.S. Treasury attributed to galloping tax shelter abuse.
Based on extensive research, Mills and Plesko argued that the existing form for reconciling net and taxable income, IRS Schedule M-1, was crudely inadequate. The team made several suggestions for bringing the form up to snuff for the complexities of modern business, finance, and accounting. In 2004, the IRS channeled those suggestions into the Schedule M-3, replacing the M-1 for all U.S. businesses reporting more than $10 million in assets.
In presenting the annual Wildman Award, the selection committee reviews not only research published in the preceding year but in the preceding five years. The committee for the 2005 award noted that the government and non-government collaboration that resulted in the Schedule M-3 is unprecedented in recent years. Mills wrote the Wildman-winning paper at the invitation of the Brookings Institution and the University of North Carolina.
Since 1997, Mills has acted as a consultant to the IRS, presenting numerous briefings on corporate tax compliance issues. She is the author and co-author of multiple research articles and her work has been reported in The Economist, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications and media channels. Before joining the Eller College of Management, Mills was a Tax Senior Manager with Price Waterhouse.
The Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona is internationally recognized for pioneering research, innovative curriculum, distinguished faculty, excellence in management information systems, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller undergraduate program No. 11 among public business schools and two of its programs are among the top 20 — Entrepreneurship and MIS. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller MBA Full-Time program No. 48 in the U.S. In addition to a Full-Time MBA program, the Eller College offers the No. 25-ranked Evening MBA program, the Eller Executive MBA and the Online MBA. The Eller College of Management supports more than 5,800 undergraduate and 800 graduate students on the UA campus in beautiful Tucson, Arizona, and on its satellite campus in downtown Phoenix.
Liz Warren-Pederson, Eller College of Management
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