Rebecca Lester

Associate Professor, Accounting

Rebecca Lester

Associate Professor of Accounting

Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
Academic Area:

Research Statement

Rebecca Lester is an empirical accounting researcher studying the role of corporate reporting and tax policies on companies' investment and employment decisions.

Research Interests

  • Taxation
  • Firm Investment and Employment
  • Multinational Location Decisions
  • Place-based Tax Policies


Rebecca Lester is an Associate Professor of Accounting and one of three inaugural Botha-Chan Faculty Scholars at Stanford Graduate School of Business. She is also a Research Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) and at the Hoover Institution. Her research studies how tax policies affect corporate investment and employment decisions. In particular, she examines the role of reporting incentives, disclosure regimes, and information frictions in facilitating or altering the effectiveness of cross-border, federal, and local tax incentives. Her recent work explores national-level tax benefits, such as U.S. manufacturing tax incentives, European intellectual property tax regimes, and tax loss offsets. Other work examines state, local, and neighborhood-level incentives, including firm-specific tax incentives and the recent Opportunity Zones tax incentive. Professor Lester received her PhD in accounting from the MIT Sloan School of Management, and she has a BA and a Masters of Accountancy from the University of Tennessee. Prior to her studies at MIT, she worked for eight years at Deloitte in Chicago, including five years in the M&A Transaction Services practice.  

Academic Degrees

  • PhD, Accounting, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2015
  • Masters of Accountancy, University of Tennessee, 2002
  • BS, Accounting, University of Tennessee, 2002

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor of Accounting, Stanford GSB, 2019–present
  • Assistant Professor of Accounting, Stanford GSB, 2015–19

Professional Experience

  • Manager, Deloitte M&A Transaction Services, 2003–08
  • Tax Senior Consultant, Deloitte Lead Tax Services, 2001–03
  • CPA, State of Illinois (Inactive), 2003

Awards and Honors

  • Botha-Chan Faculty Scholar, 2022–23
  • 2022 Outstanding Reviewer (1 of 10), The Accounting Review
  • 2022 Outstanding Reviewer (top 15%), Journal of Accounting Research
  • ATA Outstanding Manuscript Award, 2021
  • Stanford MBA Distinguished Teaching Award, Stanford GSB, 2021
  • Botha-Chan Faculty Scholar for 2021–22
  • Best 40 Business School Professors under 40, Poets & Quants, 2018
  • ATA/PwC 2016 Outstanding Tax Dissertation Award
  • MIT Sloan Thesis Prize, First Place
  • Michelle R. Clayman Faculty Scholar for 2018–21
  • R. Michael and Mary Shanahan Faculty Scholar for 2016–17


Journal Articles

Shane Heitzman, Rebecca Lester
The Accounting Review
March 2022 Vol. 97 Issue 2 Pages 267–289
Mary Margaret Frank, Jeffrey L. Hoopes, Rebecca Lester
Journal of Public Economics
February 2022 Vol. 206
Shane Heitzman, Rebecca Lester
National Tax Journal
December 2021 Vol. 74 Issue 4 Pages 867–893
Lisa De Simone, Rebecca Lester, Kevin Markle
Journal of Accounting Research
November 2019
Rebecca Lester
Journal of Accounting Research
2019 Vol. 57 Issue 4 Pages 1059-1114
Rebecca Lester, Dominika Langenmayr
The Accounting Review
May 2018 Vol. 93 Issue 3 Pages 237-266
Rebecca Lester, Cody Evans, Hanna Tian
State Tax Notes
2018 Vol. 90 Issue 3 Pages 221-235
Rebecca Lester, Ralph Rector
Tax Notes
August 2016 Vol. 152 Issue 9 Pages 1269-1292
Michelle Hanlon, Rebecca Lester, Rodrigo Verdi
Journal of Financial Economics
2015 Vol. 116 Issue 1 Pages 179-196
SP Kothari, Rebecca Lester
Accounting Horizons
2012 Vol. 26 Issue 2 Pages 335-352

Working Papers

Jeffrey L. Hoopes, Daniel Klein, Rebecca Lester, Marcel Olbert October 2023
Christine Dobridge, Rebecca Lester, Andrew Whitten November 2022


Executive Education & Other Non-Degree Programs

Learn how to make better financial management decisions to increase the value of your company in the marketplace.

Stanford Case Studies

Rebecca Lester, Jaclyn Foroughi
Lisa De Simone, Jeff Hoopes, Rebecca Lester, Sheila Melvin
Lisa De Simone, Jeff Hoopes, Rebecca Lester, Sheila Melvin

In the Media

Insights by Stanford Business

April 15, 2024
Sorry, our professors can’t help you do your taxes. But they can help you understand taxation better.
February 22, 2024
Domestic tax policies can have unintended effects around the world.
January 16, 2024
IP-related tax breaks are meant to spur local investment and job creation. Do they?
December 12, 2022
A sampling of the big ideas and timely research produced by Stanford GSB faculty this year.
December 08, 2022
Many soon-to-be public companies are already one step ahead of the tax collector.
May 04, 2022
Political bias has influenced the rollout of the federal Opportunity Zone program, according to a new study.
September 09, 2021
Members of the Stanford GSB faculty recommend some of their favorite programs.
April 19, 2021
A new study finds that corporate decisions to either protect workers or lay them off had a lot to do with ... compassion.
October 28, 2019
Slashing business taxes brings some local investment but fewer overall U.S. jobs, new research finds.
July 22, 2019
A tough new law made it much harder for American tax cheats to hide their money offshore. But a new study shows they haven’t given up.
September 14, 2018
Stanford GSB faculty suggest books and articles related to the theme.
June 01, 2018
Stanford’s Rebecca Lester teams up with two graduate students to find out.
December 04, 2017
A new study by Stanford’s Rebecca Lester suggests that the GOP plan to cut corporate tax rates could also discourage risk-taking.

School News

February 08, 2024
Insights and Bites offers evening sessions with an informal vibe
July 13, 2021
Students in the MBA and PhD programs honored Rebecca Lester and Anne Beyer, respectively, for their outstanding teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.
July 18, 2018
This summer, MBA student Cody Evans is traveling to low-income areas targeted by a new federal program for economic investment to see how they could succeed.
June 01, 2016
Accounting professors Elizabeth Blankespoor and Ed deHaan, and Marketing Professor Harikesh Nair have been recognized by students for exceptional teaching.
October 06, 2015
New faculty and lecturers offer unique perspectives and experience to augment program offerings.