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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blank Presents Reconsidering Corporate Tax Privacy Today at UNLV

BlankJoshua D. Blank (NYU) presents Reconsidering Corporate Tax Privacy, 11 N.Y.U. J. L. & Bus. ___ (2014), at UNLV today as part of its Faculty Enrichmant Series:

For over a century, politicians, government officials and scholars in the United States have debated whether corporate tax returns, which are currently subject to broad tax privacy protections, should be publicly accessible. The ongoing global discussion of base erosion and profit shifting by multinational corporations has generated calls for greater tax transparency. Throughout this debate, participants have focused exclusively on the potential reactions of a corporation’s managers, shareholders and consumers to a corporation’s disclosure of its own tax return information. There is, however, another perspective: how would the ability of a corporation’s stakeholders and agents to observe other corporations’ tax return information affect the corporation’s compliance with the tax law?

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October 21, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sanchirico Presents International Tax and Ownership Nationality Today at Northwestern

SanchiricoChris Sanchirico (Pennsylvania) presents As American as Apple, Inc.: International Tax and Ownership Nationality, 68 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2014), at Northwestern today as part of its Law and Economics Workshop Series organized by Bernard Black:

The ownership nationality of large US multinational companies plays an implicit but important role in the current debate over how such companies should be taxed. This paper identifies that role and investigates what is actually known about where these companies’ shareholders reside.

October 20, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Heath Presents Taxation as Collective Consumption Today at McGill

HeathJoseph Heath (Toronto) presents Taxation as Collective Consumption? at McGill today as part of its Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Allison Christians and Daniel Weinstock:

Individuals express a surprisingly pervasive error that I refer to as the “government as consumer” fallacy. The picture underlying this fallacy is relatively straightforward. Government services, such as health care, education, national defense, and so on, “cost” us as a society. We are able to pay for them only because of all the wealth that we generate in the private sector, which we transfer to the government in the form of taxes. A government that taxes the economy too heavily stands accused of “killing the goose that lays the golden eggs” by disrupting the mechanism that generates the wealth that it itself relies upon in order to provides its services.

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October 20, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dharmapala Presents Interest Deductions in a Multijurisdictional World Today at Loyola-L.A.

DharmapalaDhammika Dharmapala (Chicago) presents ​Interest Deductions in a Multijurisdictional World at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

The tax treatment of interest expenses in a multijurisdictional setting raises numerous complexities. This paper catalogs these difficulties and highlights the particular problems associated with efforts to achieve ownership neutrality among multinational corporations (MNCs) when debt financing is available. We argue that the differential deductibility of debt entailed by various current tax law provisions leads in general to potential distortions in the patterns of asset ownership across MNCs, and that various proposed solutions have significant limitations. We suggest several alternative regimes to address both the ownership distortions that we highlight, as well as other well-established problems of income-shifting through debt. These alternative regimes are extensions to a multinational setting of two general approaches to the neutral treatment of interest expenses - the CBIT (comprehensive business income tax) and ACC (allowance for corporate capital). These regimes – a worldwide debt cap (WDC) and a net financing deduction (NFD) – provide solutions to income-shifting and ownership distortions. However, they have the potential disadvantage of restricting other policy parameters.

Alexander Wu (UCLA) is the commentator.

October 20, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Borden Presents REIT Stuff at Florida

BordenBradley T. Borden (Brooklyn) presented REIT Stuff at Florida as part of its Graduate Tax Program Colloquium Series:

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) have made headlines recently because they provide favorable tax treatment to corporations that primarily own real estate, which contrasts with the typical double-tax that generally applies to corporations. The media appears to be particularly concerned that existing corporations are spinning off their real estate holdings into REITs, eroding the corporate tax base. It is also concerned that the IRS has extended REIT classification to entities that hold property, such as telecommunications equipment, billboards, mortgages, oil and gas pipeline systems, timber, casinos, and data centers, which do not fit within the traditional definition of real estate. Such extension broadens the scope of favorable REIT tax treatment to property that was not held in real estate trusts when Congress enacted the REIT regime. Despite all of this attention, the effect of REIT spinoffs and the formation of REITs with non-traditional real estate assets may not have a very significant effect on federal tax revenues. This Article will closely examine the revenue effect of REIT spinoffs and the extension of REIT treatment to non-traditional real estate assets. Early work in this are suggests that the revenue effect appears to be nominal, and it is a result of dual, overlapping tax policies—favorable tax treatment of real estate and tax-exempt status for retirement plans. The analysis will set the stage for discussing potential action in this area by recounting the history of REITs and the important events that have directed the course of REIT legislation to its current status. The early analysis appears to suggest that lawmakers should either reconsider the preference for real estate and pensions or consider relaxing the law to provide more efficient ways for corporations to bifurcate real-estate income from operating income and more easily obtain the benefits available under current law.

October 15, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fleischer Presents Curb Your Enthusiasm for Pigouvian Taxes Today at Columbia

Fleischer Vic (2013)Victor Fleischer (San Diego) presents Curb Your Enthusiasm for Pigouvian Taxes at Columbia today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex RaskolnikovDavid Schizer, and Wojciech Kopczuk:

Pigouvian (or "corrective") taxes have been proposed or enacted on dozens of products and activities that may be harmful in excess: carbon, gasoline, fat, sugar, guns, cigarettes, alcohol, traffic, zoning, executive pay, and financial transactions, among others. Academics of all political stripes are mystified by the public’s inability to see the merits of using Pigouvian taxes more frequently to address serious social harms.

This enthusiasm for Pigouvian taxes should be tempered. A Pigouvian tax is easy to design — as a uniform excise tax — if one assumes that each individual causes the same amount of harm with each incremental increase in activity on the margin. This assumption of uniform marginal social cost pairs well with the limited information and enforcement capacity of tax institutions. But when marginal social cost varies significantly, a Pigouvian tax will not lead to an optimal allocation of economic resources. Focusing on carbon emissions, where the assumption of uniform marginal social cost happens to be reasonable, obscures this common design flaw.

Broadly speaking, Pigouvian taxes should be employed only when (1) the harm is (or is properly analogized to) global pollution, and where the harm does not vary based on the source, or (2) the variation in marginal social cost is easily observed and categorized, as with traffic congestion charges.

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October 14, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sanchirico Presents International Tax and Ownership Nationality Today at Florida

SanchiricoChris Sanchirico (Pennsylvania) presents As American as Apple, Inc.: International Tax and Ownership Nationality, 68 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2014), at Florida today as part of its Graduate Tax Program Colloquium Series:

The ownership nationality of large US multinational companies plays an implicit but important role in the current debate over how such companies should be taxed. This paper identifies that role and investigates what is actually known about where these companies’ shareholders reside.

October 13, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mayer Presents Taxing Politics Today at Loyola-L.A.

MayerLloyd Hitoshi Mayer (Notre Dame) presents Taxing Politics at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

This draft Article addresses two key questions relating to the interaction between federal tax law and political activity. First, is it advisable as a policy matter for Congress to use the tax law to regulate the flows of money in politics in furtherance of non-tax goals such as combatting corruption, promoting equality, and encouraging democratic participation? I answer this first question generally no, in significant part because the tax law and the IRS are poorly suited for this role and suffer significant collateral damage when their poor fit becomes evident, as the ongoing controversy over the IRS’ handling of exemption applications filed by Tea Party and other conservative groups reveals. Second, does tax law in its current form treat political activity properly based on longstanding tax policies relating to what constitutes income, what expenses should be deductible, what constitutes a taxable gift, and what characteristics organizations should have in order to qualify for tax exemption? I answer this second question generally yes, but identify several areas where the tax law needs to be changed to achieve greater consistency with such policies, including with respect to reducing the amount of political activity that is deemed permissible for most types of tax-exempt organizations.

Ellen Aprill (Loyola-L.A.) and Justin Levitt (Loyola-L.A.) are the commentators.

October 13, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Shackelford Presents The Taxation of Foreign Investors in U.S. REITs Today at Columbia

ShackelfordDouglas Schackelford (North Carolina) presents Taxes, Investors, and Managers: Exploring the Taxation of Foreign Investors in U.S. REITs (with Margot Howard (North Carolina) & Katherine Pancak (Connecticut)) at Columbia today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex RaskolnikovDavid Schizer, and Wojciech Kopczuk:

Exploiting a 2004 reduction in a unique capital gains withholding tax for foreign investors in U.S. REITs, this paper explores both the sensitivity of real estate investors to changes in their own taxes and the reaction of real estate managers to changes in their investors’ taxes. We find that both foreign investors and REIT managers responded to the tax change. This is consistent with taxes both restricting the flow of foreign capital into U.S. REITs and affecting the management of their real estate properties. To our knowledge, this is the first paper documenting that U.S. managers change their U.S. operations in response to the tax positions of foreign investors. This work should spur further study of the interplay between real estate and income taxes, the role of taxes on foreign portfolio investment, and the role of taxes on real managerial decisions. It also should aid policymakers who are considering further relaxing the discriminatory tax treatment for foreign investors in U.S. real estate.

October 7, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Norman Presents Corporate Tax and Beyond: Compliance Norms Today at McGill

Norman 2Wayne Norman (Duke University, Department of Philosophy) presents Corporate Tax and Beyond: Compliance Norms at McGill today as part of its Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium hosted by Allison Christians and Daniel Weinstock:

Using the media's recent coverage of Apple's tax avoidance strategies as a case study, Professor Norman will discuss how we ought to understand and rationalize corporate social responsibility and self-regulation norms emerging around the taxation of multinationals, and whether these rationalizations are, or should be, different than the rationalization of corporate tax regulation.

October 6, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Galle Presents The Price of Knowledge: Regulatory Design in an Uncertain World Today at Florida

GalleBrian Galle (Boston College) presents The Price of Knowledge: Regulatory Design in an Uncertain World at Florida today as part of its Graduate Tax Program Colloquium Series:

I examine a regulator’s choice of how and when to regulate when marginal costs and marginal social benefits of compliance vary across regulated parties and are costly to observe. Recent commentary suggests that heterogeneity of marginal cost favors “carrots” over “sticks.” Other commentary argues that heterogeneity of marginal social benefit may favor ex post over ex ante regulation, or may weigh in favor of “command and control” regulation rather than either sticks or carrots. While these recent papers add important nuance to the regulatory design literature, I argue here that their analysis overlooks several other critical factors that may alter their final policy recommendations. For example, I show that when marginal cost varies and moral hazard is possible, optimal government policy is a mix of stick and carrot, much as the optimal insurance contract provides for some co-payment by the insured. Ex post regulation does provide useful additional information when regulated parties are heterogeneous, but also carries significant and sometimes prohibitive social cost, especially when externalities are produced by limited-liability firms. Further, drawing on results from mathematical simulations, I show that the costs of heterogeneity can be sharply reduced even with a small degree of government flexibility. I apply these insights to a series of examples, including the pending U.S. cap-and-trade regulations, fat taxes, and the regulation of systemic risk in the banking sector.

October 6, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

McMahon Presents Reforming Taxation of Privately Held Businesses Today at Loyola-L.A.

McMahon (Marty)Martin J. McMahon Jr. (Florida) presents Reforming Taxation of Privately Held Businesses at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

This article proposes the repeal of current Subchapters K and S, as well as the removal from the ambit of Subchapter C of all privately held corporations and the replacement of the current tax regime for privately held business with a new regime under which all privately held businesses (including wholly owned corporations and limited liability companies, and unorganized sole proprietorships) would be taxed at the entity level under a uniform rate schedule, regardless of the form of organization. (All publicly traded companies, and their controlled corporate subsidiaries, would continue to be governed by all of the structural rules of Subchapter C (and any other relevant Code sections outside of Subchapter C.))

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October 6, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Zolt Presents Fiscal Contracting in Latin America Today at Harvard

Zolt (2014)Eric M. Zolt (UCLA) presents Fiscal Contracting in Latin America (with Richard M. Bird (Toronto)) at Harvard today as part of its Tax Law, Policy and Practice Workshop Series hosted by Daniel Halperin and Stephen Shay:

Latin America has long been characterized as a region of high income inequality. In recent years, however, many countries have seen a decrease in income inequality and poverty levels and an increase in economic mobility. Fiscal policies have played a role in achieving these results. One important explanation for changing fiscal policies is the increasing economic and political role played by the growing middle class in shaping the level and quality of collective goods and services and the types of taxes and relative tax burdens to fund these expenditures. Through a process we call “fiscal contracting,” less unequal societies may be willing to pay more in taxes for expanded, relatively universal public services.

October 1, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Schön Presents International Taxation of Risk Today at Toronto

SchoenWolfgang Schön (Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance) presents International Taxation of Risk at Toronto today as part of its James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series:

The allocation of risk and of the income from risky investment and activities belongs to the central topics of international tax policy today. This fact is highlighted by the current BEPS initiative of G20 and OECD which casts doubt on the recognition of contractual risk allocation within multinational groups and its impact on profit allocation between separate entities within these groups. It is largely felt that “risk shifting” provides the basis for “profit shifting” by multinationals to the detriment of states and domestic competitors.

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October 1, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Singhal Presents Firm Misreporting Behavior and Tax Evasion Substitution Today at Columbia

8171Monica Singhal (Harvard) presents Dodging the Taxman: Evidence on Firm Misreporting Behavior and Evasion Substitution (with Paul Carrillo (George Washington) & Dina Pomeranz (Harvard)) at Columbia today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex Raskolnikov, David Schizer, and Wojciech Kopczuk:

Reducing tax evasion is a key priority for many governments, particularly in developing countries. A growing literature has argued that the use of third party information to verify taxpayer self-reports is critical for tax enforcement and the growth of state capacity. However, there may be limits to the effectiveness of third party information if taxpayers can substitute misreporting to less verifiable margins. We present a simple framework to demonstrate the conditions under which substitution will occur and provide strong empirical evidence for substitution behavior by exploiting a natural experiment in Ecuador. We find that when firms are notified by the tax authority about detected revenue discrepancies on previously filed corporate income tax returns, they increase reported revenues, matching the third party estimate when provided. Firms also increase reported costs by 96 cents for every dollar of revenue adjustment, resulting in minor increases in total tax collection.

September 30, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Barry Presents The Foreign Tax Credit and the Limits of Substance Today at Loyola-L.A.

BarryJordan Barry (San Diego) presents The Foreign Tax Credit and the Limits of Substance at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

The foreign income tax credit is a major component of U.S. economic policy and a key provision of the U.S. tax code. Accordingly, when the Supreme Court took up PPL v. Commissioner, which turned on whether a particular tax qualified for the foreign income tax credit, economists and tax experts nationwide paid close attention. Because the Supreme Court decides foreign income tax credit cases so rarely, the Court’s reasoning in PPL will likely influence courts’ thinking—and taxpayers’ pocketbooks—for many years to come. Unfortunately, the Court’s decision in PPL does little to clarify the law and guide taxpayers. Instead, it reveals the fundamentally arbitrary nature of the foreign income tax credit.

The Court justifies its ruling as a triumph of substance over form. But the Court’s opinion itself demonstrates how two taxes can be the same in substance, yet be treated quite differently for purposes of the foreign income tax credit. The Court describes a specific hypothetical tax that would not be creditable—yet there are multiple taxes that are substantively identical to the Court’s hypothetical tax, but qualify for significant foreign income tax credits.

This Article explores these conceptual problems with the foreign income tax credit, as demonstrated by PPL, and suggests several steps that Congress and the IRS might wish to take to ameliorate these problems.

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September 29, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Shay Presents Tax Inversions -- The Problem and Possible Solutions Today at San Diego

Shay (2014)Stephen E. Shay (Harvard) presents Mr. Secretary, Take the Tax Juice Out of Corporate Expatriations, 144 Tax Notes 473 (July 28, 2014), at San Diego today as part of its Tax Law Speaker Series:

This article describes the principal tax benefits companies seek from expatriating and outlines regulatory actions that can be taken without legislative action to materially reduce the tax incentive to expatriate. These proposals for regulations are supported by existing statutory authority. They would be good policy and consistent with, or easily integrated with, publicly proposed tax reform proposals.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

September 26, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blair-Stanek Presents Crisis-Proofing Tax Law Today at Michigan State

Blair-Stanek (2013)Andrew Blair-Stanek (Maryland) presents Crisis-Proofing Tax Law at Michigan State today as part of its Junior Faculty Workshop:

Tax law should borrow from tort law’s doctrine of necessity to respond better to future financial crises. Tort law gives dock owners a “property rule” right to exclude unwanted boats. But when storms arise, dock owners are protected by only a “liability rule”: they cannot exclude an unwanted boat, but the boat’s owner must compensate the dock owner. This rule creates optimal incentives to minimize storm damage, while also preventing windfalls to boat owners.

Tax law also has both property rules and liability rules. When a taxpayer violates a tax-law requirement, the result is either additional tax proportionate to the harm (a liability rule) or a draconian penalty such as losing a favorable tax status entirely (a property rule).

During the 2008-09 financial crisis, a number of financially-distressed taxpayers found themselves unable to meet tax-law requirements protected by property rules. Failing these requirements would have pushed the taxpayers into financial death spirals. Several of the IRS’s ad hoc responses to the crisis unwittingly borrowed from tort law’s doctrine of necessity, moving from a draconian property rule to a proportional liability rule to prevent tax law from worsening the taxpayer’s situation. But other IRS responses simply moved from property rules to non-enforcement, resulting in large windfalls to some taxpayers, to the Treasury’s detriment. Counterintuitively, because non-enforcement created such windfalls, the IRS kept such responses so narrowly tailored that many taxpayers got no relief at all.

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September 26, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Schön Presents International Taxation of Risk Today at Columbia

SchoenWolfgang Schön (Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance) presents International Taxation of Risk at Columbia today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex Raskolnikov, David Schizer, and Wojciech Kopczuk:

The allocation of risk and of the income from risky investment and activities belongs to the central topics of international tax policy today. This fact is highlighted by the current BEPS initiative of G20 and OECD which casts doubt on the recognition of contractual risk allocation within multinational groups and its impact on profit allocation between separate entities within these groups. It is largely felt that “risk shifting” provides the basis for “profit shifting” by multinationals to the detriment of states and domestic competitors.

Continue reading

September 23, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Oei Presents Human Equity? Regulating the New Income Share Agreements Today at Loyola-L.A.

OeiShu-Yi Oei (Tulane) presents Human Equity? Regulating the New Income Share Agreements (with Diane M. Ring (Boston College)) at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

A controversial new financing phenomenon has recently emerged. New “income share agreements” (“ISAs”) enable an individual to raise funds by pledging a percentage of her future earnings to investors for a certain number of years. These contracts, which are offered by entities such as Fantex, Upstart, Pave, and Lumni, raise important questions for the legal system: Are they a form of modern-day indentured servitude or an innovative breakthrough in human financing? How should they be treated under the law?

This Article constitutes the first real attempt in the legal literature to comprehensively address the public policy and legal issues raised by ISAs and to articulate an analytical approach to evaluating and regulating them.

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September 22, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Zwick Presents The Effect of Temporary Tax Incentives on Equipment Investment Today at UC-Berkeley

ZwickEric Zwick (Chicago) presents Do Financial Frictions Amplify Fiscal Policy? Evidence from Business Investment Stimulus (with James Mahon (Harvard)) at UC-Berkeley today as part of the Robert D. Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance Seminar:

We estimate the effect of temporary tax incentives on equipment investment using shifts in accelerated depreciation. Analyzing data for over 120,000 firms, we present three findings. First, bonus depreciation raised investment 17.3 percent on average between 2001 and 2004 and 29.5 percent between 2008 and 2010. Second, financially constrained firms respond more than unconstrained firms. Third, firms respond strongly when the policy generates immediate cash flows but not when benefits only come in the future. Implied discount rates are too high to match a frictionless model and cannot be explained entirely by costly finance, unless firms neglect future financial constraints.

September 22, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Johnson Presents Recent Developments Involving Circular 230 and Tax Practitioner Regulation Today at FBA Tax Section Monthly Roundtable

Johnson (Steve)Steve R. Johnson (Florida State) presents Recent Developments Involving Circular 230 and Tax Practitioner Regulation at the Federal Bar Association Tax Section's Federal Tax Practice & Procedure Monthly Roundtable:

The past six months have produced a flood of judicial and agency action involving regulation of tax practitioners by the Service. The courts have suggested substantial limitations upon the Service’s regulatory authority in two recent decisions, and several other cases are pending in which practitioners are challenging other aspects of the Service’s authority. At the same time, the Service has initiated several regulatory efforts to govern practitioners. Professor Johnson, a nationally recognized scholar on tax litigation and procedure, including legislative and administrative law topics in tax, will apprise us of all these developments.

September 22, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Blank Presents Reconsidering Corporate Tax Privacy Today at UC-Irvine

BlankJoshua D. Blank (NYU) presents Reconsidering Corporate Tax Privacy, 11 N.Y.U. J. L. & Bus. ___ (2014), at UC-Irvine today as part of its Faculty Workshop Series:

For over a century, politicians, government officials and scholars in the United States have debated whether corporate tax returns, which are currently subject to broad tax privacy protections, should be publicly accessible. The ongoing global discussion of base erosion and profit shifting by multinational corporations has generated calls for greater “tax transparency.” Throughout this debate, participants have focused narrowly on potential reactions of a corporation’s managers, shareholders and consumers to a requirement that the corporation publish its own tax return information. There is, however, another perspective: how would the ability of a corporation’s stakeholders and agents to observe other corporations’ tax return information affect the corporation’s compliance with the tax law?

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September 16, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Benzarti Presents How Taxing is Tax Filing? Today at UC-Berkeley

UC Berkeley Primary Logo Berkeley BlueYoussef Benzarti (UC-Berkeley, Department of Economics) presents How Taxing is Tax Filing? Leaving Money on the Table Because of Compliance Costs at UC-Berkeley today as part of the Robert D. Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance Seminar:

I use a quasi-experimental design to estimate the burden of complying with the tax code. Employing a sample of US income tax returns, I observe the preferences of taxpayers over itemizing deductions or claiming the standard deduction. Treated taxpayers forgo $800 on average to avoid the cost of itemizing. A revealed preference argument implies that itemizing deductions is as painful as working more than 17 hours at one’s regular job. The amount of foregone benefits is larger for richer households, consistent with the fact that the value of time increases with income. I explore two explanations of the magnitude of the estimates. First, it could be due to an extreme aversion to filing taxes. Such aversion implies that itemizing deductions imposes an aggregate compliance cost of 0.24% of GDP and an extrapolation to filing federal taxes implies that the overall cost of compliance is 1.55% of GDP. Second, if taxpayers are time-inconsistent the revealed preference argument fails, introducing a wedge between foregone benefits and compliance costs. Being present-biased leads taxpayers to forego large benefits even when compliance costs are relatively small. I provide evidence of taxpayers being present-biased. Both explanations - whether driven by preferences or mistakes - suggest that the burden imposed on society by tax compliance is significantly larger than previously estimated. I discuss policy implications of the result.

September 15, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shurtz Presents Long-Term Care and the Tax Code: A Feminist Perspective Today at Loyola-L.A.

ShurtzNancy Shurtz (Oregon) presents Long-Term Care and the Tax Code: A Feminist Perspective at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

Long-term care is a feminist issue. Not only do women live longer but we suffer more from a multitude of degenerative physical and mental ailments that require supervised and concentrated care. We comprise 70% of the unpaid caregiver and over 90% of the paid caregiver. Because of low wages, interruptions in work for care of children and parents, lower pensions, women have fewer resources and thus may not adequately save or plan for expensive future long-term care expenses. Consequently, women are more likely to use social insurance (Medicare, Medicaid) and long term care insurance. From home care, adult care, continuing care to nursing home care, the tax code provides numerous but ineffective and inequitable subsidies. The tax system favors the purchase of long-term care insurance over savings, fails to value the unpaid caregiving services of family members, and inadequately supports the low-wage care worker. This paper suggests tax reform in addition to non tax reform. The Community Living Assistance Support and Services (CLASS) Act of the Affordable Care Act should be reinstated and funded and the Family Medical Leave Act should be modified and expanded. Eventually, the federal government will probably need to institute a Medicare tax on workers to fund the growing problem of financing and supporting elder care in America.

Vivian Wu (USC) is the commentator.

September 15, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Gamage Presents Analyzing the Optimal Choice of Tax Instruments Today at UCLA

Gamage (2014)David Gamage (UC-Berkeley) presents The Case for Levying (all of) Labor-Income Taxes, Value-Added Taxes, Capital-Income Taxes, and Wealth Taxes: Applying a Framework for Analyzing the Optimal Choice of Tax Instruments, 68 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2014), at UCLA today as part of its Faculty Workshop Series:

Economic analyses of taxation have largely focused on the problems of labor-to-leisure and saving-to-spending distortions. Based on these analyses, the prior literature has generally treated labor-income and consumption taxes as being essentially equivalent, and has also treated capital-income and wealth taxes as being essentially equivalent. Further, based on these analyses, the dominant view in the prior literature has been that neither capital income nor wealth should be taxed.

This Article expands on these prior analyses by incorporating a variety of tax-gaming responses and also administrative and compliance costs. By doing so, this Article argues that it is probably optimal for governments to levy some version of (all of) labor-income taxes, value-added taxes, capital-income taxes, and wealth taxes.

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September 12, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Edwards Presents Does Earnings Lockout Make U.S. Multinationals Attractive to Acquirers? Today at Toronto

EdwardsAlex Edwards (University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management) presents Does Earnings Lockout Make U.S. Multinationals Attractive to Acquirers? at Toronto today as part of its James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series:

The ability for deferral of home country taxation on multinationals’ foreign earnings within the U.S. tax code creates an incentive for firms to avoid or delay repatriation of earnings to the U.S. Consistent with this notion, prior research has documented a substantial lockout effect resulting from the current U.S. worldwide tax and financial reporting systems. We hypothesize and find that U.S. domiciled M&A target firms with more locked-out earnings are more attractive M&A targets for foreign bidders and are more likely to be acquired by foreign bidders, compared to domestic bidders. The effect is economically significant; a standard deviation increase in our proxy for locked-out earnings is associated with a 14% relative increase in the likelihood that an acquirer is foreign. We also examine the impact of the home country tax system of the foreign acquirers. Because multinationals facing territorial tax systems are able to shift income to save taxes to a greater extent than firms domiciled in worldwide countries, the advantages for a foreign firm acquiring a U.S. target with locked-out earnings are potentially greater when the foreign firm operates under a territorial tax system. We find that foreign acquirers of U.S. target firms with locked-out earnings are more likely to be residents of countries that use territorial tax systems.

September 10, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Zelinsky Presents The Proposed Minnesota Snowbird Tax Today at Minnesota

ZelinskyEdward Zelinsky (Cardozo) presents Apportioning State Personal Income Taxes to Eliminate the Double Taxation of Dual Residents: Thoughts Provoked by the Proposed Minnesota Snowbird Tax, 15 Fla. Tax Rev. 533 (2014), at Minnesota today as part of its Perspectives on Taxation Lecture Series hosted by Kristin Hickman:

In the last two budget cycles, Governor Mark Dayton has proposed what has become known as the “snowbird tax,” suggesting that Minnesota alter its rules governing state income taxation to allow the state to collect more taxes on income realized by individuals who divide their time between Minnesota and another state. Although the Minnesota legislature has not enacted Governor Dayton’s proposal, Professor Zelinsky will use the proposal as a springboard for arguing that states should revisit the laws governing state personal income tax apportionment. In doing so, Professor Zelinsky will contend that states should tax income with respect to which they have source jurisdiction irrespective of residence and income over which they have only residence-based jurisdiction proportionally, based on the part of the year a dual resident spends in each state.

September 9, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hauer Presents The Virtues of Dual Tier Capital Taxation Today at UC-Berkeley

UC Berkeley Primary Logo Berkeley BlueAndreas Hauer (University of Munich) presents Reforming an Asymmetric Union: On the Virtues of Dual Tier Capital Taxation at UC-Berkeley today as part of the Robert D. Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance Seminar:

The tax competition for mobile capital, in particular the reluctance of small countries to agree on measures of tax coordination, has ongoing political and economic fallouts within Europe. We analyse the e ects of introducing a two tier structure of capital taxation, where the asymmetric member states of a union choose a common, federal tax rate in the rst stage, and then non-cooperatively set local tax rates in the second stage. We show that this mechanism e ectively reduces competition for mobile capital between the members of the union. Moreover, it distributes the gains across the heterogeneous states in a way that yields a strict Pareto improvement over a one tier system of purely local tax choices. Finally, we present simulation results, and show that a dual structure of capital taxation has advantages even when side payments are feasible.

September 8, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Hayashi Presents Phantom Income and the Simple Economics of Paying In Kind at Florida

HayashiAndrew Hayashi (Virginia) presented Phantom Income and the Simple Economics of Paying In Kind at Florida yesterday as part of its Graduate Tax Program Colloquium Series:

Modern tax instruments impose cash taxes on non-cash bases. Property taxes, income taxes, gift taxes and estate taxes all must be paid in cash, even though income, gifts and estates only sometimes take the form of cash, and property never does. If it is costly to convert the tax base into cash, taxpayers may suffer from liquidity problems that require them to make painful adjustments to their savings or consumption. Although concern about taxpayer liquidity has shaped tax law and looms large in current debates about wealth taxation, tax accounting, and mark-to-market reforms, the economic factors that influence the welfare costs of cash tax collection have not been explored in a rigorous way. In this paper I present an economic analysis of the liquidity problem, identifying the factors that determine the welfare costs of cash tax collection. I apply this analysis to the property tax and to the taxation of income that accrues before it is received, sometimes called “phantom income.”

September 6, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Washington & Lee Hosts Tax Roundtable

W&LWashington & Lee Law School hosted a roundtable discussion of works-in-progress by tax professors from mid-Atlantic law schools on July 22-23:

  • Eric Chason (William & Mary), Taxing Losers
  • Michael Doran (Virginia), Tax Legislation in the Contemporary U.S. Congress
  • Michelle Drumbl (Washington & Lee), Enhancing Taxpayer Compliance with the EITC
  • Brant Hellwig (Washington & Lee), The Constitutional Nature of the United States Tax Court
  • Ruth Mason (Virginia), Taxing Citizenship
  • Gregg Polsky (North Carolina), Taxing Partnership Allocations Among Related Parties
  • Ethan Yale (Virginia), Antibasis  

July 24, 2014 in Colloquia, Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Osgood Presents Reform of [the Tax Treatment of] Nonprofit Institutions Today at Washington University

OsgoodRussell K. Osgood (Washington University) presents Reform of [the Tax Treatment of] Nonprofit Institutions at Washington University today as part of its Faculty Workshop Series:

The paper: 1) reviews the growth in many dimensions of the nonprofit sector, 2) discusses the history from 1969 onward of the 1969 Act and the subsequent lack of statutory reform due to Congressional inaction and the reasons for it, and 3) makes six significant proposals, including imposition of 1% excise tax on the endowments of all nonprofits, redrafting and narrowing the definitions of allowable 501(c)(3) purposes and regulating more heavily changes in purposes, expanding the taxation of quasi business income by taxing all income “not closely” related to the exempt purpose(s), eliminating much of the private foundation regime but requiring private foundations to liquidate after ten years and disqualifying them for any violation of core fiduciary duties, and revising the 170 deduction rules by limiting the deductibility (to the higher of adjusted basis or 50% of fair market value) of appreciated property, reducing the estate and gift tax charitable deduction limit to 50% (vs. 100%) of the gifted property, and reducing the regular contribution limits for all property and all taxpayers to a uniform 25% of adjusted gross income with only a one year carry forward.

June 25, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Brauner Presents Prospects of U.S. Corporate Tax Reform in Switzerland

BraunerYariv Brauner (Florida) presented Prospects of Corporate Tax Reform in the United States yesterday at the Université de Lausanne (Switzerland):

At the time that the international tax community focuses on the BEPS initiative, the US is distancing itself from the project that it's MNEs behavior triggered and to which it heavily contributed at first. Instead a large number of corporate tax reform proposals have been promoted over the last few years with what seems to be zero chance of being passed. The political climate stifles progress despite a surprising consensus among the parties over the tax policy that they would be able to implement under current conditions. In any event, any feasible tax reform is unlikely to affect the prospects of any likely Swiss corporate tax reform.

June 14, 2014 in Colloquia, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Blank & Mason Present U.S. National Report on Exchange of Information Today at Annual Congress of European Association of Tax Law Professors

EATLP Logo (2013)Joshua D. Blank (NYU) & Ruth Mason (Virginia) present United States National Report on Exchange of Information at the 2014 Annual Congress of the European Association of Tax Law Professors today in Istanbul, Turkey:

The United States recently has taken an aggressive stance towards non-reporting of offshore income and attendant offshore tax evasion. This National Report discusses administrative and legal mechanisms, including the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), available to the United States to secure offshore tax information. It also discusses the legal regimes under which the United States shares tax information with partner jurisdictions.

See also Joshua D. Blank (NYU) & Ruth Mason (Virginia), Exporting FATCA, 142 Tax Notes 1245 (Mar. 17, 2014).

Update #1:  Tracy Kaye (Seton Hall), Leandra Lederman (Indiana), and Stephen Mazza (Kansas) at the conference:

Photo 2

Update #2:  Joshua Blank (NYU), Tracy Kaye (Seton Hall), Ruth Mason (Virginia), Leandra Lederman (Indiana), Tsilly Dagan (Bar-Ilan), and Steven Mazza (Kansas) at the conference:

EATP

May 28, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Blank Presents Reconsidering Corporate Tax Privacy Today at Bocconi University

BlankJoshua D. Blank (NYU) presents Reconsidering Corporate Tax Privacy, 11 N.Y.U. J. L. & Bus. ___ (2014), at Bocconi University today in Milan, Italy, hosted by Carlo Garbarino.

For over a century, politicians, government officials and scholars in the United States have debated whether corporate tax returns, which are currently subject to broad tax privacy rules, should be made publicly accessible. Throughout this age-old debate, participants have speculated about how corporate managers and the IRS might behave differently if they knew that the public could observe corporations’ tax returns and how investors and the general public would respond if they had access to this information. There is, however, another, unexplored perspective: how could seeing other corporations’ tax returns affect how corporate managers engage in tax planning and tax return preparation for their own corporations?

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May 27, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blank Presents In Defense of Individual Tax Privacy at the University of Milan

Blank Joshua D. Blank (NYU) presented In Defense of Individual Tax Privacy, 61 Emory L.J. 265 (2011), at the University of Milan’s Department of International, Legal, Historical and Politcal Studies yesterday in Milan, Italy, hosted by Giuseppe Marino:

The debate over whether tax privacy—a set of statutory rules that prohibits the federal government from publicly releasing any taxpayer’s tax return— promotes individual tax compliance is as old as the income tax itself. It dates back to the Civil War and resurfaces often, especially when the government seeks innovative ways to collect tax revenue more effectively. For over 150 years, the tax privacy debate has followed predictable patterns. Both sides have fixated on the question of how a taxpayer would comply with the tax system if he knew other taxpayers could see his personal tax return. Neither side, however, has addressed the converse question: How would seeing other taxpayers’ returns affect whether a taxpayer complies? This Article probes that unexplored question and, in doing so, offers a new defense of individual tax privacy: that tax privacy enables the government to influence individuals’ perceptions of its tax-enforcement capabilities by publicizing specific examples of its tax-enforcement strengths without exposing specific examples of its tax enforcement weaknesses. Because salient examples may implicate well-known cognitive biases, this strategic-publicity function of tax privacy can cause individuals to develop an inflated perception of the government’s ability to detect tax offenses, punish their perpetrators, and compel all but a few outliers to comply. Without the curtain of tax privacy, by contrast, individuals could see specific examples of the government’s tax-enforcement weaknesses that would contradict this perception. After considering this new defense of individual tax privacy in the context of deterrence and reciprocity models of taxpayer behavior, I argue that the strategic-publicity function of tax privacy likely encourages individuals to report their taxes properly and that it should be exploited to enhance voluntary compliance.

The commentators were Giuseppe Zizzo (Bocconi University) and Andrea Pedroli (Università della Svizzera italiana).

May 27, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Blank Presents Collateral Compliance Today at Oxford

BlankJoshua D. Blank (NYU) presents Collateral Compliance, 162 U. Pa. L. Rev. 719 (2014), at the University of Oxford Faculty of Law today as part of its Centre for Business Taxation Research Seminar hosted by Judith Freedman:

As most of us are aware, the failure to comply with the tax law can lead to tax penalties, which almost always take the form of monetary sanctions. But tax noncompliance has other consequences as well. Collateral sanctions for tax noncompliance — which apply on top of traditional tax penalties and revoke or deny government-provided benefits — increasingly apply to individuals who have failed to obey the tax law. They range from denial of hunting permits to suspension of driver’s licenses to revocation of passports. Further, as the recent Supreme Court case Kawashima v. Holder demonstrates, some individuals who are subject to tax penalties for committing tax offenses involving “fraud or deceit” may even face deportation from the United States.

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May 14, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Kane Presents Transfer Pricing, Integration and Novel Intangibles Today at NYU

Kane (2014)Mitchell Kane (NYU) presents Transfer Pricing, Integration and Novel Intangibles: A Consensus Approach to the Arm's Length Standard at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Auerbach:

This paper will be organized as follows. In the first part I undertake two basic framing problems, one related to the continuous versus discontinuous nature of arm's length versus formulary methods and the second related to a proposed categorization of intangible value arising from integration of assets. In the second part I describe how the perceived inability of the arm's length standard to handle gains from integration through a comparable analysis could be expected to produce the temptation to introduce novel intangibles into the analysis. In the third part I develop what I refer to as a consensus approach to the arm's length standard. The version of consensus developed here is not the typical one, which suggests that one of the key reasons to embrace the arm's length standard is the existing international consensus regarding its status as the preferred means of income allocation across countries. Rather, the vision of consensus I here is one that should read Article 9 of the OECD Model Convention as stating a preferred methodology for reaching a consensus non-overlapping allocation of a portion of the profit earned by associated enterprises, namely that portion which could have been earned at arm's length. I then use that interpretation to argue affirmatively against the introduction of novel intangibles.

May 6, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gamage Presents A Framework for Analyzing the Optimal Choice of Tax Instruments Today at NYU

Gamage (2014)David Gamage (UC-Berkeley) presents A Framework for Analyzing the Optimal Choice of Tax Instruments, 68 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2014), at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Auerbach:

What mix of policy instruments should governments employ to raise revenues or to promote distribution? The dominant answer to this question in the tax theory and public finance literatures is that (with limited exceptions) governments should rely exclusively on a progressive consumption tax. Thus, among other implications, the dominant view is that governments should not tax capital income or wealth, and that legal rules should not be designed to promote distribution.

In contrast, this Article argues that governments should make use of a number of tax and non-tax policy instruments to raise revenues and to promote distribution. Furthermore, this Article argues that governments may have much greater capacity to raise revenues and to promote distribution at lower efficiency costs than is generally recognized. Whereas the existing theoretical literature focuses on a small number of distortionary costs that result from taxation (in particular, on labor-to-leisure and saving-to-spending distortions), this Article analyzes the implications of taxpayers engaging in a diverse variety of tax-gaming responses. To the extent that taxpayers respond to different tax instruments through different forms of tax gaming, this Article demonstrates that governments can raise revenues and promote distribution more efficiently by employing a variety of different policy instruments.

Continue reading

April 29, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Shaviro, Sullivan Speak on Tax Reform at NYU Today

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Book Discussison (12:30 - 1:50 p.m.):  Daniel Shaviro (NYU), Fixing U.S. International Taxation (Oxford University Press, 2014):

FixingInternational tax rules, which determine how countries tax cross-border investment, are increasingly important with the rise of globalization, but the modern U.S. rules, even more than those in most other countries, are widely recognized as dysfunctional. The existing debate over how to reform the U.S. tax rules is stuck in a sterile dialectic, in which ostensibly the only permissible choices are worldwide or residence-based taxation of U.S. companies with the allowance of foreign tax credits, versus outright exemption of the companies’ foreign source income. In Fixing U.S. International Taxation, Daniel N. Shaviro explains why neither of these solutions addresses the fundamental problem at hand, and he proposes a new reformulation of the existing framework from first principles. He shows that existing international tax policy frameworks are misguided insofar as they treat “double taxation” and “double non-taxation” as the key issues, conflate the distinct questions of what tax rate to impose on foreign source income and how to treat foreign taxes, and use simplistic single-bullet global welfare norms in lieu of a comprehensive analysis. Drawing on tools that are familiar from public economics and trade policy, but that have been under-utilized in the international tax realm, Shaviro offers a better analysis that not only reshapes our understanding of the underlying issues, but might point the way to substantially improving the prevailing rules, both in the U.S. and around the world.”

  • Daniel Shaviro (NYU)
  • Itai Grinberg (Georegtown)
  • Martin Sullivan (Tax Analysts)

Public Lecture (6:00 - 7:30 p.m.):  Martin Sullivan (Tax Analysts), Tax Reform 2017: Incremental or Fundamental?:

Sullivan (2014)Martin Sullivan is the chief economist of Tax Analysts (publisher of Tax Notes) and is a leading expert on federal tax reform. He is a contributing editor for Tax Analysts’ daily and weekly publications. Sullivan has written over 500 economic analyses for Tax Analysts and is the author of two books on tax reform, including the recent Corporate Tax Reform: Taxing Profits in the 21st Century. He is also a regular contributor to Tax Analysts’ blog and Forbes.com. He has testified before Congress on numerous occasions. Previously, Sullivan taught economics at Rutgers University and served as a staff economist at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and later at the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. Sullivan graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and received a PhD in economics from Northwestern University. 

April 28, 2014 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Maynard Presents Reimagining Wealth Taxation as a Tool for Building Wealth at Washington University

MaynardGoldburn P. Maynard, Jr. (Washington University) presented Addressing Wealth Disparities: Reimagining Wealth Taxation as a Tool for Building Wealth, 92 Denv. U. L. Rev. ___ (2014), at Washington University yesterday as part of its Faculty Workshop Series:

In the past three decades, research has indicated that the building of assets can have a sustainable impact on well-being. Yet to the extent that the tax system has incorporated this insight, it has been done in a piecemeal, ad hoc fashion, disproportionately benefiting those with wealth and further reinforcing wealth inequality. This paper argues that while reducing wealth concentrations is im-portant, there should be an increased emphasis on how our tax system can build wealth or, put differently, level up. While the problem of wealth disparities may be too large for any one part of the federal policy toolkit to solve, I argue that the tax system can and should play a vital role.

April 24, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Shackelford Presents The Impact of Foreign Withholding Taxes on REIT Investors and Managers Today at Pennsylvania

ShacklefordDouglas Shackelford (University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School) presents The Impact of Foreign Withholding Taxes on REIT Investors and Managers at Pennsylvania today as part of its Center for Tax Law & Policy Seminar Series hosted by Michael KnollChris Sanchirico, and Reed Shuldiner:

Exploiting a 2004 reduction in a unique capital gains withholding tax for foreign investors in U.S. REITs, this paper explores both the sensitivity of real estate investors to changes in their own taxes and the reaction of real estate managers to changes in their investors’ taxes. We find that both foreign investors and REIT managers responded to the tax change. This is consistent with taxes both restricting the flow of foreign capital into U.S. REITs and affecting the management of their real estate properties. To our knowledge, this is the first paper documenting that U.S. managers change their U.S. operations in response to the tax positions of foreign investors. This work should spur further study of the interplay between real estate and income taxes, the role of taxes on foreign portfolio investment, and the role of taxes on real managerial choices. It also should aid policymakers who are considering further relaxing the discriminatory tax treatment for foreign investors in U.S. real estate.

April 23, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Clausing Presents Lessons for International Tax Reform from Formulary Apportionment Today at NYU

ClausingKimberly Clausing (Reed College) presents Lessons for International Tax Reform from the U.S. State Experience under Formulary Apportionment at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Auerbach:

This work undertakes a comprehensive analysis of the US state experience under formulary apportionment of corporate income. While formulary apportionment eliminates the possibility of shifting income across states through accounting strategies that manipulate where income is booked, it may heighten the tax responsiveness of formula factors. The present analysis uses the substantial variation in corporate tax policy decisions of US states over the period 1986 to 2012 to understand the consequences of formulary apportionment better. It examines the effects of policy choices regarding tax rates, formula weights, and other parameters on economic activity, estimating the tax sensitivity of employment, investment, and sales. With the inclusion of adequate control variables, results indicate that economic activity has not been particularly sensitive to US state corporate tax policy choices, especially in recent years. Still, tax policy choices have important effects on corporate tax revenues. These results suggest important lessons regarding possible international adoption of formulary apportionment.

April 22, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Barry Presents PPL and the Arbitrary Foreign Income Tax Credit Today at Pepperdine

BarryJordan M. Barry (San Diego) presents PPL and the Arbitrary Foreign Income Tax Credit at Pepperdine today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Paul Caron:

Last year, the Supreme Court decided PPL v. Commissioner, ruling that the United Kingdom’s windfall tax qualifies for a U.S. foreign income tax credit. Even though the windfall tax only applies to a handful of taxpayers, economists and tax experts nationwide closely followed the PPL litigation: The foreign income tax credit a key provision of the U.S. tax code and a major component of U.S. economic policy. The rules surrounding the foreign income tax credit are quite intricate, and there is relatively little authoritative guidance to help taxpayers navigate them. And since the Supreme Court decides foreign income tax credit cases so rarely, the Court’s reasoning in PPL will likely influence courts’ thinking—and taxpayers’ pocketbooks—for many years to come.

Unfortunately, the Court’s decision in PPL does little to clarify the law and guide taxpayers. Instead, it reveals the fundamentally arbitrary nature of the foreign income tax credit.

The Court justifies its ruling as a triumph of substance over form. But the Court’s opinion itself demonstrates how two taxes can be the same in substance, yet be treated quite differently for purposes of the foreign income tax credit. The Court describes a specific hypothetical tax that would not be creditable—yet there are multiple taxes that are substantively identical to the Court’s hypothetical tax, but qualify for significant foreign income tax credits.

This Article explores these conceptual problems with the foreign income tax credit, as demonstrated by PPL, and suggests several ways in which Congress and the IRS might wish to ameliorate them.

Update: Post-presentation lunch:

Lunch

April 21, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gamage Presents A Framework for Analyzing the Optimal Choice of Tax Instruments Today at Indiana

Gamage (2014)David Gamage (UC-Berkeley) presents A Framework for Analyzing the Optimal Choice of Tax Instruments, 68 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2014), at Indiana-Bloomington today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Leandra Lederman:

What mix of policy instruments should governments employ to raise revenues or to promote distribution? The dominant answer to this question in the tax theory and public finance literatures is that (with limited exceptions) governments should rely exclusively on a progressive consumption tax. Thus, among other implications, the dominant view is that governments should not tax capital income or wealth, and that legal rules should not be designed to promote distribution.

In contrast, this Article argues that governments should make use of a number of tax and non-tax policy instruments to raise revenues and to promote distribution. Furthermore, this Article argues that governments may have much greater capacity to raise revenues and to promote distribution at lower efficiency costs than is generally recognized. Whereas the existing theoretical literature focuses on a small number of distortionary costs that result from taxation (in particular, on labor-to-leisure and saving-to-spending distortions), this Article analyzes the implications of taxpayers engaging in a diverse variety of tax-gaming responses. To the extent that taxpayers respond to different tax instruments through different forms of tax gaming, this Article demonstrates that governments can raise revenues and promote distribution more efficiently by employing a variety of different policy instruments.

Continue reading

April 17, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fleischer Presents The Inferiority of Pigouvian Taxes Today at Washington

Fleischer Vic (2013)Victor Fleischer (San Diego) presents The Inferiority of Pigouvian Taxes at the University of Washington today as part of its Graduate Tax Program Colloquium Series:

Pigouvian (or "corrective") taxes have become the favored policy instrument to address activities that cause negative externalities. There is considerable academic support for Pigouvian taxes on a wide range of products and activities, including carbon, gasoline, fat, high fructose corn syrup, financial transactions, executive pay, excessive zoning, and SUVs. Economists of all political stripes are therefore mystified by our politicians’ collective inability to see the merits of using Pigouvian taxes more frequently to address serious social harms.

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April 17, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Solomon Presents Tax Policymaking in the United States Today at Temple

SolomonEric Solomon (Director of National Tax Practice, Ernst & Young, Washington, D.C.) presents The Process for Making Tax Policy in the United States: A System Full of Friction, 67 Tax Law. ___ (2014), at Temple today as part of its Tax Policy & Administration Colloquium Series hosted by Alice Abreu and Andrea Monroe:

The paper, first presented to the Canadian Tax Foundation Roundtable ..., acknowledges the roles of multiple participants in the formation of tax policy, including the Treasury, IRS, and courts, but focuses on the legislative process and describes both the roles of the various players in it. It emphasizes the operation of the checks and balances in the system and the ways in which they influence tax legislation and tax policy. The Colloquium will also include a discussion of the tax gap drawn from testimony presented to the Senate Finance Committee on April 18, 2007 by Eric Solomon and Henry Paulsen.

April 17, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mazur Presents Tax Policy and the Economy Today at Florida

Mazur 2Mark Mazur (Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, U.S. Treasury Department) presents Tax Policy and the Economy at Florida today as the Fourth Annual Ellen Bellet Gelberg Tax Policy Lecture in the Graduate Tax Program.  Prior lectures:

April 17, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Roin Presents Planning Past Pensions Today at Duke

RoinJulie Roin (Chicago) presents Planning Past Pensions at Duke today as part of its Tax Policy Seminar hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

Evidence of state and local government dysfunction surfaces in many areas. One is the operation of their employee pension plans. Free from the strictures of ERISA, some governments failed to fund their pension promises and with the imminent retirement of the baby boom generation, are facing what appear to be insurmountable pension debts. The state of Illinois is one of the worst-hit states, with grossly underfunded pension plans, a state constitutional prohibition on reducing pension benefits, and a sizeable non-pension related budget deficit. Recently passed pension “reforms” likely will be struck down by its courts. There are no easy solutions to its pension woes, but this article seeks to lay out a few steps that Illinois can take now, under current law, and suggests more long-term policy and legal changes that it should consider for the future. Ultimately, though, the same dysfunctions that led to the current crisis might make these suggestions impractical.

April 16, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Peroni Presents Formulary Apportionment in the U.S. at UNLV

PeroniRobert J. Peroni (Texas) presented Formulary Apportionment in the U.S. International Income Tax System: Putting Lipstick on a Pig? (with J. Clifton Fleming (BYU) & Stephen E. Shay (Harvard)) at UNLV yesterday as part of its Faculty Enrichment Series:

[T]he authors argue that formulary apportionment and the current standard, arm's length transfer pricing, are just two shades of lipstick on the pig that is the US international tax system, with its twin features of deferral and cross-crediting. They conclude that formulary apportionment might be the less offensive shade, but in effect the whole discussion is a diversion from a broad reform that is sorely needed on the pig itself.

April 16, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)