Monday, April 10, 2017
Sarah Lawsky (Northwestern) presents Formalizing the Code, 70 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2017), at UC-Irvine today as part of its Tax Law and Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Omri Marian:
The Internal Revenue Code is notoriously complex, both substantively and structurally. This article examines one source of structural complexity in the Internal Revenue Code: dependency among sections that stems from defined terms. In particular, the article examines what it describes as the problem of “definitional scope”: when the structure of the Code leaves unclear to what a term refers. The article provides examples of problematic definitional scope and then suggests a general solution: that those who draft tax legislation should “formalize” the proposed statutory language—translate it into logical terms—prior to its enactment. To illustrate this proposal, the article provides formalizations of two provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.