Calcbench is always happy to hear from users putting our financial data to good use, so today we’re delighted to feature this interview with Bridget Stomberg, Associate Professor of Accounting at Indiana University. She uses Calcbench for research on corporate income taxes.
Q: How did you come to find Calcbench?
A. Several years ago I was working on a research project where I needed to get information from the tax footnotes of 10-Ks. I worked with an outside firm to scrape financial data from public company SEC filings. It was a disaster. Out of frustration, I reached out to our data librarian for help. He recommended that I try Calcbench. I contacted Calcbench and the team walked me through how to get the information on my own. The rest is history.
Q. Can you tell us about the research that you do and how you use Calcbench data?
A. I have a few pieces of research that use Calcbench data.
The first is around effective tax rates. Historically companies were subject to a 35 percent statutory tax rate in the United States, but companies record tax expenses at different effective tax rates. I used Calcbench to identify reconciling items to understand why the effective tax rate differs from 35 percent.
I’m also studying the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that Congress passed in 2017. I have two projects associated with the TCJA that use Calcbench data. The first examines how accurately companies predicted the impact of some key TCJA provisions shortly after the law was passed. The second examines whether firms are modifying executive compensation in response to substantial changes in the deductibility of executive comp. On that latter project, Calcbench provided a first-mover advantage by giving me faster access to compensation data than other data providers.
Q. Are there advantages to using Calcbench over competitors?
A. Calcbench gives me lots of flexibility. I require custom data sets for my research. What I like about Calcbench is that any item a company tags can be found in the raw data pulls. This feature allows Calcbench to provide data that other providers don’t. Plus, I can see the data exactly as the company tagged it.
Q. What are the challenges associated with using the data?
A. Calcbench pulls any tagged information in financial statements. In some cases, companies use non-intuitive tags that can lead to footing issues. I know that’s something that Calcbench is working on — and when you find errors, you report them.
Q. You mentioned that you like the flexibility of Calcbench. What Calcbench tools do you use?
A. My favorite Calcbench tool is the Excel Add-in. It saves me valuable time in data collection — sometimes hours on a project — and gives me the confidence that the data I pull is accurate.
In addition, the biggest time saver is that I don’t have to search for the unit. Calcbench’s Excel Add-in automatically converts the numbers to actual dollar amounts. Especially in the tax footnotes, finding the unit isn’t always obvious.
Q. How do you recommend future Calcbench users get started?
A. I really like the YouTube ‘How to’ videos that you post. The video about using XBRL tags to identify the effect of the recent tax law resonated with me, and showed me the possibilities of using Calcbench to get financial statement information.
Q: What data are you excited to dive into?
A. I’m going to be spending some time looking into CEO pay ratios for another project. Companies only recently started reporting this ratio so it will be interesting to better understand this information (and of course, how it relates to corporate income taxes).