TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Chodorow: Death and Taxes and Zombies

Zombie 2Adam Chodorow (Arizona State), Death and Taxes and Zombies, 98 Iowa L. Rev. 1207 (2013):

The United States stands on the precipice of a financial disaster, and Congress has done nothing but bicker. Of course, I refer to the coming day when the undead walk the earth, feasting upon the living. A zombie apocalypse will create an urgent need for significant government revenues to protect the living, while at the same time rendering a large portion of the taxpaying public dead or undead. The government’s failure to anticipate or plan for this eventuality could cripple its ability to respond effectively, putting us all at risk.

This Essay fills a glaring gap in the academic literature by examining how the estate and income tax laws apply to the undead. It begins by examining the critical question of whether the undead should be considered dead for estate tax purposes; it then addresses income tax issues the undead are likely to raise. In addition to zombies, this Essay considers how estate and income tax laws should apply to vampires and ghosts. Given the difficulties identified herein of applying existing tax law to the undead, new legislation may be warranted. However, any new legislation is certain to raise its own set of problems. The point here is not to identify the appropriate approach. Rather, it is to goad Congress and the Internal Revenue Service into action before it is too late.

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