How Effective is Internal Control Reporting under SOX 404? Determinants of the (Non-)Disclosure of Existing Material Weaknesses

June 2012 | Rice, Sarah

We study determinants of internal control reporting decisions under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX 404) using a sample of restating firms whose original misstatements are linked to underlying control weaknesses. We find that only a minority of these firms acknowledge their existing control weaknesses during their misstatement periods, and that this proportion has declined over time. Further, the probability of reporting existing weaknesses is negatively associated with external capital needs, firm size, non-audit fees, and the presence of a large audit firm; it is positively associated with financial distress, auditor effort, previously reported control weaknesses and restatements, and recent auditor and management changes. These results provide evidence that detection and disclosure incentives play a role in whether existing material weaknesses are reported, which has implications for the effectiveness of SOX 404 in providing investors with advance warning of potential accounting problems.



  • David P. Weber


Journal of Accounting Research