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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Infanti: Anonymous Tax Publishing

Anthony C. Infanti (Pittsburgh) has published Foreword: On Publishing Anonymously, 8 Pitt. Tax Rev. 1 (2010). Here is the abstract:

In this foreword to the fall 2010 issue of the Pittsburgh Tax Review, I explain the troubling set of circumstances that led to our decision to publish one of the articles anonymously. All of the articles in this issue share a focus on suggestions for state and local tax reform in Pennsylvania. The circumstances surrounding the decision to publish this one article anonymously raise a host of questions regarding the extent to which tax professionals are free to make suggestions for tax reform without being subject to employer censorship.

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Read what you wrote. Very interesting. Why wouldn't a private sector employer not want its employees to write about subject matters not covered by the firm? Wouldn't the article, in itself, be a rainmaking potential? (We don't do this, but look at how smart we are so send your business to us.)

Unfortunately, I think the explanation leaves more unanswered questions that simply publishing it as anonymous and noting that the authors are anonymous. This is a moral stand that you (Mr. Infanti) is taking and at the same time he is withholding essential information from readers to make conclusions. And if you are going to get on a moral pedestal, don't you have the obligation to give us the facts to make the moral judgments as to the correctness of your or the employer's position? And if you had such moral qualms with publishing the article anonymously, why did you publish it at all other than to get on a pedestal? Is it such an important and insightful article that no one else has never thought of or addressed these issues? And if it reached this level, well now you know about it and you could write about it and thank the "anonymous authors" for their inspiration, and there is nothing the employer could do about that. seemingly. or you could circulate the ideas presented in the article to the academy at large, and let someone else write it from scratch with no discernible attachment to the original authors.

the more I think about it, the more questions I have about the whole propriety of the matter. An private employer can censor you as much as they want. they are entitled. to excoriate this anonymous employer for heartlessly preventing the anonymous authors from publishing in this way seems to present an intolerance of the rights of employers to control their image, their employees, and their business.

argh. i am torn at all side, having been myself censored from publishing something by my employer. and no one made such a stink about it like this. perhaps this is the stink that needs to be made for all of those like me who had no stink made for them. perhaps airing the greivance of this just ain't right and it seems un-American (and Mr. Infanti does a wonderful job of explaining the psuedo-1st amendment issue that so many laymen just don't get). It almost seems as though an all or nothing policy might be better than a haggling and article by article, piece by piece, section by section, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, word by word fight. but absolutism, although easy, is not the best policy in my mind.

i don't know. apparently, the authors insisted on publishing, albeit anonymously, and the journal relented. the authors could have withdrawn the article. the there be a forward by Mr. Infanti about an article being withdrawn due to publishing issues with the authors' employer? if the authors insisted on publlication, was Mr. Infanti obliged to publish it knowing that anonymity would be required? By publishing, didn't Mr. Infanti create the very problem, anonymous publishing and the sordid details, he excoriates? He imply could have not published the article, and let someone else write on the subject or let the authors try to publish elsewhere. Also, because this was a special issue, there were bound to be time pressures unlike those at another journal (move it back an issue) or at Tax Notes (move it back a few weeks). So the time pressure was also a creation of the publication.

Again, I can see both sides, byut I hardly think the writers or Mr. Infanti are anything near martyrs, which the forward seems to imply (or conclude).

Posted by: tax guy | Feb 23, 2011 6:25:03 PM