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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Transparency in State Taxation

Tax AnalystsCara Griffith, Amy Hamilton & Jennifer Carr (all of Tax Analysts), Transparency in State Taxation — Part I: Discretionary Authority, 64 State Tax Notes 189 (Apr. 16, 2012):

Founded by Tom Field, Tax Analysts was created to foster an open and informed debate about taxation. But Tax Analysts quickly realized that these activities required access to information — information that federal tax authorities did not want disclosed. Tax Analysts has fought to obtain access to key documents in tax policy and administration, including private letter rulings and technical advice memoranda. But the need for openness does not end with federal tax law. State taxing authorities should be held to the same standards. Transparency is vital to a dynamic debate on tax issues.

This article is the first in a series that will examine transparency at the state tax level, showing where states are doing things right and where there is room for improvement. This first installment focuses on how states use their discretionary authority and how states provide guidance to taxpayers in circumstances in which states can use that discretionary authority. Later articles will address transparency in the legislative process and how states issue and make available private letter rulings.

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