I am walking away from the law. I’ve resigned my position as a law professor at Ohio State University, and I’ve decided to teach and study at a seminary. Why?
There is no easy answer to this question, and there are times I worry that I have completely lost my mind. Who am I to teach or study at a seminary? I was not raised in a church. And I have generally found more questions than answers in my own religious or spiritual pursuits. But I also know there is something much greater at stake in justice work than we often acknowledge. Solving the crises we face isn’t simply a matter of having the right facts, graphs, policy analyses, or funding. And I no longer believe we can “win” justice simply by filing lawsuits, flexing our political muscles or boosting voter turnout. Yes, we absolutely must do that work, but none of it — not even working for some form of political revolution — will ever be enough on its own. Without a moral or spiritual awakening, we will remain forever trapped in political games fueled by fear, greed and the hunger for power. American history teaches how these games predictably play out within our borders: Time and again, race gets used as the Trump Card, a reliable means of dividing, controlling and misleading the players so a few can win the game.
This week, Ari Glogower (Ohio State) reviews a new paper by Edward Kleinbard (USC), Capital Taxation in an Age of Inequality, the first installment of a two-part project proposing a new tax instrument, the Dual Business Enterprise Income Tax (BEIT). Kleinbard’s current article explores the theory behind the Dual BEIT, while a subsequent follow up article will describe its technical operation.
In brief, the Dual BEIT, which builds on Kleinbard’s priorproposals, operates as a single flat-rate tax on capital income, divided between an investor-level tax on normal returns, and a business-level tax on profits. The investor-level tax is implemented through a tax on deemed normal returns to investments. Businesses deduct a cost of capital allowance of the same normal return (regardless of whether the business is financed by debt or equity), resulting in a business-level tax on profits.
The article begins with a series of arguments justifying capital income taxation in general: First, the classic optimal tax theory result that normal returns to saving should not be taxed has “no practical lessons to teach” in a world with inherited capital and gratuitous transfers. Second, capital income taxation addresses increasing concerns with wealth and income concentration. Third, taxing capital income taxes is necessary to raise revenue for public investment and social insurance programs. Fourth, recent studies, including by the IMF and the OECD, suggest that reducing inequality may increase economic growth.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would levy a 65% tax on the largest estates and make it harder for wealthy people to pass appreciated assets to their heirs without paying taxes, expanding the list of tax increases she would impose on the top sliver of America’s affluent.
In all, Mrs. Clinton would increase taxes by about $1.5 trillion over the next decade, increasing federal revenue by about 4%, though that new burden would be concentrated on relatively few households. There is at least a $6 trillion gap between her plan and the tax cuts proposed by her Republican rival Donald Trump.
The Clinton campaign changed its previous plan—which called for a 45% top rate—by adding three new tax brackets and adopting the structure proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont during the Democratic primaries. She would impose a 50% rate that would apply to estates over $10 million a person, a 55% rate that starts at $50 million a person, and the top rate of 65%, which would affect only those with assets exceeding $500 million for a single person and $1 billion for married couples.
Session #3: Beyond “Spillover”: North-South Dimensions of Tax and Tax Abuse
This panel will situate the discussion of tax abuse and human rights in its geopolitical context, addressing the differentiated responsibilities of the Global North and South for the causes and consequences of tax abuse, and the relationship between cross-border tax abuse and inter-State inequalities. Experts from the fields of tax and human rights will discuss the methodological challenges of assessing the extraterritorial impacts of tax policies and secrecy regimes, some of which were laid bare in recent attempts to conduct “spillover analyses” of laws and regulations in the Global North. How can studies capture the human rights consequences of the policies that enable cross-border tax abuse, including the gendered impacts? Panelists will explore options for enforcing global tax rules and holding actors accountable for tax abuses that affect human rights, including the potential role for domestic courts, as well as regional and international human rights bodies.
Session #4: Private Actors and the Public Purse: The Roles of Corporations, Lawyers, and Accountants in Tax Abuse
Consumers and regulators are increasingly scrutinizing the practices of corporations that hide assets to avoid or minimize taxes paid on the benefits they reap from operating in various jurisdictions, and the responsibilities of the law firms (like Mossack Fonseca of Panama Papers fame) and accountants that facilitate such practices. Recent high-profile tax scandals have underscored the reputational risks of tax abuses and have made tax planning an issue of corporate social responsibility and business ethics. Some of the questions panelists will explore include: How realistic is it to expect serious reform of tax practices to come from private actors? Are efforts to encourage ‘good corporate tax behavior’ delaying compulsory measures by suggesting there is voluntary progress? How do human rights principles and policies bear on the ethical obligations of accountants and lawyers who work in the area of taxation? In what ways, if any, should considerations of human rights law affect the ethics of accountants and lawyers in this field?
This Article analyzes the tax law’s capital income preference through the lens of intellectual capital, an increasingly important driver of economic productivity whose value derives primarily from workers’ knowledge, experience and skills. The Article discusses how business owners increasingly are able to “propertize” labor into intellectual capital — to control their workers and appropriate the returns on their labor through the expansive use of intellectual property laws, contract and employment laws, and other legal mechanisms. The Article then shows how the tax law provides significant subsidies to the process of propertization and thereby contributes to the inequitable distribution of returns between business owners and workers. The Article’s analysis further reveals the tax law’s fundamental capital-labor distinction to be questionable, perhaps even illusory, an insight which has profound implications for the tax law.
Session #1: Are Human Rights Really Relevant to Tax?
This panel will ask a range of leading tax scholars and practitioners what relevance human rights law has or could have to the field of tax law. Do human rights matter to tax policy and practice? Are human rights laws and institutions relevant to understanding and regulating the global tax system? How do the core principles of the human rights regime—non-discrimination, equality, and dignity— inform thinking on the power to tax, the design of tax policies, and the implementation and enforcement of tax laws? Can human rights law help trace the line between permissible tax competition and impermissible interference with other States’ tax sovereignty? Panelists will discuss how tax experts are, or whether they should be, grappling with concepts of human rights and corresponding duties as they chart reforms of domestic and global tax policies, and what they need from the human rights community to do so.
In the final weeks of the 2016 Presidential campaign Donald J. Trump faces three lawsuits accusing him of fraud and racketeering. These ongoing cases focus on a series of wealth seminars called “Trump University” which collected over $40 million from consumers seeking to learn Trump’s real estate investing strategies. Although these consumer protection cases are civil proceedings, the underlying legal elements in several counts that plaintiffs seek to prove run parallel to the legal elements of serious crimes under both state and federal law. This essay provides a legal analysis of whether Trump’s alleged behavior would, if proven, rise to the level of impeachable offenses under the presidential impeachment clause of the United States Constitution.
Among the purposes of a tax system, it is generally accepted that one role is to implement a society’s conception of distributive justice. Indeed, if justice is, as John Rawls famously declared, “the first virtue of social institutions,” distributive justice may properly be regarded as the first or sovereign virtue of a society’s tax system – to which a virtuous sovereign should properly attend.
This article reviews Ronald Dworkin’s theory of distributive justice as equality of resources and its implications for redistributive taxation. Part II examines the theory itself in contrast to other prominent theories of distributive justice, arguing that Dworkin’s approach provides a more compelling conception of distributive justice than welfare-based theories that do not take rights and responsibilities seriously, Rawlsian theory which is insufficiently attentive to individual rights and responsibilities, and classical libertarianism which fails to take equality seriously.
Are older generations of Americans using Social Security to enrich themselves at the expense of their children and grandchildren? To listen to the public debate in the United States, one could be forgiven for thinking so. Derogatory labels for older people, such as “greedy geezers,” have become common in the American political debate, with news commentators, politicians, and even the popular culture chiming in with claims that older Americans are the cause of otherwise-solvable budget problems, and more generally that they are a cohort of selfish retirees and near-retirees who refuse to give up their excessive government-provided benefits, which will inevitably lead to disastrous outcomes for the generations to follow.
"Pass-through" businesses like partnerships and S-corporations now generate over half of U.S. business income and account for much of the post-1980 rise in the top-1% income share. We use administrative tax data from 2011 to identify pass-through business owners and estimate how much tax they pay. We present three findings. (1) Relative to traditional business income, pass-through business income is substantially more concentrated among high-earners. (2) Partnership ownership is opaque: 20% of the income goes to unclassifiable partners, and 15% of the income is earned in circularly owned partnerships. (3) The average federal income tax rate on U.S. pass-through business income is 19%--much lower than the average rate on traditional corporations. If pass-through activity had remained at 1980's low level, strong but straightforward assumptions imply that the 2011 average U.S. tax rate on total U.S. business income would have been 28% rather than 24%, and tax revenue would have been approximately $100 billion higher.
Nearly all 50 states have lured Hollywood productions with millions of dollars in special tax incentives for filmmaking, but new USC research shows the incentives fail to deliver the long-term economic benefits promised by industry lobbyists and lawmakers.
“The incentives are a bad investment. States pour millions of tax dollars into a program that offers little return,” said lead author Michael Thom, an assistant professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy who specializes in public finance. “We looked at job growth, wage growth, states’ share of the motion picture industry and the industry’s output in each state. On average, the only benefits were short-term wage gains, mostly to people who already work in the industry. Job growth was almost nonexistent. Market share and industry output didn’t budge.” ...
The five states with the greatest cumulative investment in the motion picture tax credits:
This essay evaluates the limits on the U.S. federal government’s powers to restrict the taxing powers of state governments. The essay revisits earlier debates on this question to consider the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius and also academic research on the problem of tax cannibalization.
A growing chorus of policy analysts is calling for an increase in the Social Security retirement age. Even staunch defenders of Social Security have begun to concede that the retirement age of 66 is too low, in light of the increasing longevity, improving health, and expanding work options of older Americans. Still, some progressives worry that the only way to protect disadvantaged workers is to leave the early and full retirement ages as they are. The result is a debate that pits intergenerational fairness against intragenerational fairness: either we shortchange the young (by paying unneeded benefits to the old) or else we shortchange the disadvantaged (by raising the retirement age to levels that are unrealistic for low-earners).
I read with great interest Robert Rhee's 24-page critique of Florida's graduate tax program, the reaction by Florida Law Profs Marty McMahon and Jeff Harrison and a reader of this blog, and Rhee's defense of his letter (as well as the 35 comments, including by Florida Prof Michelle Jacobs; Tax Profs Linda Beale, Erik Jensen, and Mike Livingson; and Law Profs Orin Kerr and Jason Yackee). Although I was a visiting professor at Florida many years ago and have many friends on the Florida tax faculty, I have no first-hand knowledge of the state of affairs in Gainesville. I disagree with several aspects of Rhee's letter (e.g., Rhee claims that Florida is the most expensive high quality graduate tax program in the country because "NYU and Georgetown are 100% online" — like several programs, NYU and Georgetown offer both residential and online tax LL.M.s (NYU and Georgetown dub their online degrees "Executive LL.M.s" to distinguish them from their residential LL.M. degrees); Alabama is the only school to offer an exclusively online tax LL.M.).
I want to focus here on Rhee's criticism of the Florida tax faculty's scholarly bona fides. I have served as associate dean for research at two law schools and have thought quite a bit about the role of law faculty in today's legal education landscape and expressed those views in multiple blog posts, as well as in several law review articles and presentations (listed below). Rhee's discussion of the Florida tax faculty's scholarly performance considers only one of the several metrics for measuring law faculty scholarship and ignores other aspects of faculty contributions to law school success.
Gregg Polsky (Georgia) presents Elite Tax Professionals Behaving Badly: The Sad and Sordid Management Fee Waiver Saga at Florida today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Yariv Brauner:
For at least the past 15 years, many private equity fund managers have used a technique—known as a management fee waiver—to try to claim their salaries as capital gains. Recently, the Treasury and IRS explained that, at least in the government’s view, the vast majority of fee waivers do not actually provide the claimed tax result. Reports of recent audit activity relating to fee waivers suggest that the fee waiver saga may finally be coming to an end, but not before billions of dollars of tax revenues have been permanently lost.
While much has been written on the substantive legal issues surrounding fee waivers, there has been no discussion of the prominent role that leading tax professionals have played in drafting, justifying, and defending fee waivers. This article discusses this sad and sordid aspect of the fee waiver saga. It is not a pretty picture.
This week, Daniel Hemel (Chicago) discusses two articles recently posted to SSRN—one by Yair Listokin (Yale), the other by Thomas Brennan (Harvard) and Alvin Warren (Harvard)—which offer illuminating (and divergent) perspectives on the role of realization and deferral in a low interest rate environment.
Listokin’s contribution, How To Think About Income Tax When Interest Rates Are Zero, 151 Tax Notes 959 (May 16, 2016), begins with the observation that “[t]he significance of many of income tax law’s core concepts depends on the interest rate.” One example is the realization requirement: Listokin writes that “[w]ith interest rates at zero, the government is indifferent as to whether a taxpayer realizes income now or in the future—as long as the taxpayer’s tax rate is constant across years.” As a result, Listokin says, the tax curriculum and tax law scholarship should focus less on doctrines like the realization requirement that affect the timing of tax payments, and more on doctrines like stepped-up basis that affect the rate at which (and amount on which) tax is paid.
Harvard Business School (HBS) launched the U.S. Competitiveness Project in 2011 as a multi-year, fact-based effort to understand the disappointing performance of the American economy, its causes, and the steps needed by business and government to restore economic growth and prosperity shared across all Americans. We draw on surveys of HBS alumni and the general public to solicit views about the state of U.S. competitiveness as well as the steps needed to restore it.
This report provides an overview of our findings on the evolution of the U.S. economy, the state of U.S. competitiveness in 2016, and priorities for the next President and Congress, drawing on our research and the May–June 2016 surveys of alumni and the general public.
While a slow recovery is underway, fundamentally weak U.S. economic performance continues and is leaving many Americans behind. The federal government has made no meaningful progress on the critical policy steps to restore U.S. competitiveness in the last decade or more. ...
Governments commonly use deterrence methods, such as audits and the imposition of penalties, to foster compliance with tax laws. Although this approach is consistent with economic modeling of tax compliance, some scholars caution that deterrence may backfire, “crowding out” intrinsic motivations to pay taxes and thus reducing compliance. This article analyzes the evidence to date to determine the extent of such an effect. Field studies suggest that deterrence tools, such as audits, generally are highly effective at increasing tax collections but that crowding out may occur in some contexts, with respect to certain subgroups of taxpayers. The article argues that more field studies on compliant taxpayers are needed but that the existing evidence suggests that tax collectors should be careful with the explicit and implicit messages they give taxpayers, so as not to undermine the generally positive effects on compliance of enforcement of the tax laws.
How do the one percent hold on to their wealth? And how do they keep getting richer, despite financial crises and the myriad of taxes on income, capital gains, and inheritance? Capital Without Borders takes a novel approach to these questions by looking at professionals who specialize in protecting the fortunes of the world’s richest people: wealth managers. Brooke Harrington spent nearly eight years studying this little-known group—including two years training to become a wealth manager herself. She then “followed the money” to the eighteen most popular tax havens in the world, interviewing practitioners to understand how they helped their high-net-worth clients avoid taxes, creditors, and disgruntled heirs—all while staying just within the letter of the law.
Capital Without Borders reveals how wealth managers use offshore banks, shell corporations, and trusts to shield billions in private wealth not only from taxation but from all manner of legal obligations. And it shows how practitioners justify their work, despite evidence that it erodes government authority and contributes to global inequality.
The standard view in the U.S. tax law academy remains that capital income taxation is both a poor idea in theory and completely infeasible in practice. But this ignores the first-order importance of political economy issues in the design of tax instruments. The pervasive presence of gifts and bequests renders moot the claim that the results obtained by Atkinson and Stiglitz (1976) counsel against taxing capital income in practice.
Taxing capital income is responsive to important political economy exigencies confronting the United States, including substantial tax revenue shortfalls relative to realistic government spending targets, increasing income and wealth inequality at the top end of distributions, and the surprising persistence of dynastic wealth. It also responds to a new strand of economic literature that argues that “inclusive growth” leads to higher growth.
The U.S. system of corporate taxation is in desperate need of reform. Observers note that both the high statutory rate (35 percent) and the purported “worldwide” nature of our system place the U.S. system out of line with those of our trading partners. This characterization is misleading because it contradicts the underlying reality. Under the current U.S. corporate tax system, effective tax rates are far lower than statutory rates, and the foreign incomes of multinational firms often face a lighter burden than they would under the tax systems of our trading partners. A key goal of potential reforms to U.S. corporate taxation should be to better align the tax system’s stated features with its true characteristics.
This article, prepared for presentation on September 23, 2016 at a conference at NYU Law School, organized by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and entitled Human Rights and Tax in an Unequal World, mainly takes the form of a dialogue between two fictional individuals. The conclusions that the discussants reach (insofar as they are able to agree) can be summarized as follows:
Large-scale tax avoidance by wealthy individuals and large companies that is legally defensible under relevant national tax laws can nonetheless have major adverse effects on social justice and/or public morale. However, its legal defensibility complicates analyzing its ethical implications, as compared to the more straightforward case of committing tax fraud. Legal defensibility also complicates the analysis of the extent to which human rights advocates should focus on such desiderata as “good corporate tax behavior” and the ethics of tax professionals.
For the thirteenth year in a row, I will organize sessions for the the Law, Society, and Taxation group (Collaborative Research Network 31). New this year, I am joined in my organizational efforts by Professors Jennifer Bird-Pollan and Mirit Eyal-Cohen.
Although there is an official call for papers, please remember that you are not bound by the official theme of the conference. We will give full consideration to proposals in any area of tax law, tax policy, distributive justice, interdisciplinary approaches to tax issues, and so on.
Good news: Law & Society now only requires a 1500- to 3000-character description of your topic. This is less demanding than last year’s new 6000 character requirement, which was the subject of many (well founded) complaints.
The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, October 19, 2016. To submit your proposal, please follow the instructions immediately below.
Cliff effects in the Internal Revenue Code trigger a sudden increase of federal tax liability when some attribute of a taxpayer—most commonly income—exceeds a particular threshold value. As a result, two taxpayers in nearly identical economic situations can face considerably different tax liabilities depending on which side of the triggering criterion they fall. The magnitude of the equity and efficiency costs associated with cliff effects is significant: cliff effects are attached to tax provisions amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars, the majority of which are targeted at low- and moderate-income taxpayers.
Over the past several years, economic inequality has risen to the forefront of American political consciousness. Politicians, pundits, and academics paint a picture of a new Gilded Age in which a hereditary American gentry becomes ever richer, while the vast majority of Americans toil away in near-Dickensian poverty. As economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman puts it, “Describing our current era as a new Gilded Age or Belle Époque isn’t hyperbole; it’s the simple truth.” Political candidates have leapt on the issue. ...
It’s a compelling political narrative, one that can be used to advance any number of policy agendas, from higher taxes and increases in the minimum wage to trade barriers and immigration restrictions. But it is fundamentally wrong, based on a series of myths that sound good and play to our emotions and sense of fairness, but that don’t hold up under close scrutiny.
Les Book (Villanova) presents Thinking About Taxpayer Rights and Social Psychology to Improve Administration of the EITC at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Ellen Aprill and Katherine Pratt:
The IRS is a reluctant but key player in delivering social benefits to the nation’s working poor. The earned income tax credit (EITC) is generally praised for its role in reducing poverty and incentivizing low-wage work. While the EITC has generally received bipartisan support, the IRS faces strong criticism over EITC compliance issues. Opponents focus on headline-generating reports of improper payments and a characterization of errors as likely due to fraud. Advocates look to the intersection of legal complexity and the characteristics of recipients as the main driver of error and the relatively low share of the tax gap that is attributable to refundable credits in general and the EITC in particular.
The current compliance challenge presents an opportunity to think about the compliance problem differently than before.
since 2000, U.S. economic output has inched along at a rate of 1.8% a year, an astoundingly low number almost half of the long-term average of over 3%. This is not the way America is supposed to be. The United States has regularly achieved more than 3% economic growth as a matter of course, as it has led the global industrial and technological revolutions with millions of new jobs, entrepreneurial wonders and mass prosperity in tow.
The two greatest political figures in America since World War II staked their presidencies on economic growth: John F. Kennedy in the 1960s and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Kennedy was the pioneer. When Reagan rallied to the cause of growth 20 years later, he did so explicitly following Kennedy’s “a rising tide lifts all boats” model. ...
This study examines the effect of information about tax credits for college using a sample of over 1 million students or prospective students in Texas. We sent emails and letters to students that described tax credits for college and tracked college outcomes. We find that for all three of our samples—already enrolled students, students who had previously applied to college but were not currently enrolled, and rising high school seniors—that information about tax credits for college did not affect reenrollment, application, and enrollment respectively.
The article begins by reviewing the basics of both water law and tax law, to explain that there are currently only modest interactions. Water rights are indeed taxed, especially by state and local property tax regimes. Yet the article explains that the ways in which water rights are currently taxed do not serve to meaningfully address concerns about inadequate water conservation. The article thus proposes more robustly taxing water rights as a means for achieving better water conservation.
For shareholders of those firms, the tax consequences of inversions are complicated. Some are harmed by the move while others benefit. Individual shareholders, who own shares in taxable accounts, are taxed on the increased value of their shares. This can result in different tax outcomes from inversions for shareholders who have held the stock for a long time prior to the inversion and short-term shareholders (including corporate officers exercising company stock options).
In the summer issue of Regulation, I described a new research paper that investigates 73 inversions that occurred from 1983 to 2014 [Anton Babkin (Wisconsin), Brent Glover (Carnegie Mellon) & Oliver Levine (Wisconsin), Are Corporate Inversions Good for Shareholders?]. For those investors who had owned stock for three years, half of the inversions resulted in a negative return. So if many long-term shareholders lose money on inversions, why do they occur?
The answer appears to be that corporate executives gain from inversions even if shareholders lose.
Labor interests are historically politically weak in our US democracy. They face classic collective action problems. Laborers are great in number, do not have strong political skills, and are unlikely to recoup the cost of participating in labor union activity. Without assistance, we should expect labor interests to engage in limited and sporadic organized political efforts. This presents big problems for a modern democratic state that depends upon organized interests to represent the interests of its citizens. This Article examines the impact of our federal income tax system on labor interests in the context of the provision of tax exemption to labor unions and the deduction of labor union dues.
The last five years have been difficult ones for American legal education. With applications to law schools declining 40% nationally, many schools are struggling to maintain quality in the face of significant budgetary pressures. But one component of the legal-education world has been robust: there is a boom market in books, articles, reports, websites, and blogs filled with criticism and even anger at the current state of legal education. There are many villains in these narratives—greedy universities that suck resources, self-absorbed faculty who are indifferent to their students, and dishonest deans willing to misrepresent their current reality—and many victims—duped college graduates and lawyers leading miserable lives of tedium, long hours, and depression.
Against this dark narrative genre, Carel Stolker’s new book, Rethinking the Law School, stands in sharp contrast. Having been both a law school dean and university president at Leiden University in The Netherlands, Stolker brings the perspective of a dean who has sought to innovate, and of a university president who has dealt with the political, academic, financial, and managerial complications of a modern university. The book offers a broad look at legal education around the world, along with a thoughtful exposition of the challenges facing law schools and law deans. Stolker is no cheerleader for the current state of legal education, but recognizing that “the nature, content and quality of legal education is a subject that flares up frequently and dies down again,” he approaches the issues without the shrillness and anger that characterize some of the current commentary. He also leavens his realism with some welcomed humor, noting, for example that “changing a university is like moving a graveyard, you get no help from the people inside.” ...
Hemel and Rozema ask a question that we thought was well settled: What are the distributional consequences of repealing the mortgage interest deduction (“MID”)? Their conclusion (spoiler alert): It depends.
The article is important in two respects. First, it introduces a more sophisticated analysis of the distributional consequences from repealing (or limiting) the MID and other tax preferences. Through this exercise, the article also adds empirical perspective to the choices for measuring progressivity in tax reforms.
Building on David Kamin’s work on progressivity in tax reforms, the article begins with a result we’ll call the “Tax Burden Paradox”: Repealing a tax preference that provides a larger benefit to high-income taxpayers in dollar terms may in fact decrease those taxpayers’ share of society’s total tax burden. Consider the article’s example of a two-household society, one rich with pretax income of $100, and one poor with pretax income of $50, and progressive rates that tax the first $50 of income at 20%, and additional income at 40%. The rich and poor households pay $12 and $9, respectively, in mortgage interest. With the MID, the rich household pays $25.20 in taxes, or 75.4% of the society’s total $33.40 tax burden. If the MID is repealed, the rich household pays $30 in taxes, for a reduced 75% share of the society’s total $40 tax burden.
Cloud computing — the provision of information technology resources in a virtual environment — has fundamentally changed how companies operate. Companies have quickly adapted by moving their businesses to the cloud, but international tax standards have failed to follow suit. As a result, taxpayers and tax administrations confront significant tax challenges in applying outdated tax principles to this new environment. One particular area that raises perplexing tax issues is the transfer pricing rules. The transfer pricing rules set forth the intercompany price a cloud service provider must charge an affiliate using its cloud services, which ultimately affects in which jurisdiction the company’s profits are taxed. This Article argues that the fundamental features of cloud computing exacerbate some of the more difficult transfer pricing problems that already exist.
The OECD’s International VAT/GST Guidelines, which were released in their consolidated form at the OECD’s Global Forum on VAT in Paris in late 2015, are the culmination of nearly two decades of efforts to provide internationally accepted standards for consumption taxation of cross-border trade, particularly trade in services and intangibles. This article provides a roadmap to the Guidelines, especially for readers who may be unfamiliar with consumption tax principles, in general, or VATs in particular.
If passed into law, the Marketplace Fairness Act would impose a federal duty on out-of-state sellers to collect a state-defined and state-benefitting use tax. This unique exercise of federal power implicates due process. The PACT Act represents the only other instance in which Congress has similarly compelled state law compliance. Two circuit courts of appeals have found the PACT Act vulnerable on concerns of due process. This Article relies on the PACT Act analogue to simulate how the Marketplace Fairness Act would fare under similar scrutiny. To this end and in this uncommon context, two novel constitutional questions are considered: 1) with which sovereign, the federal government or the state, are minimum contacts measured; and 2) if measured with the state, is a single sale sufficient to meet due process thresholds?
Following the ABA’s August 2014 changes in the accreditation standards for law schools requiring the establishment (and assessment) of learning outcomes that include “competency” in knowledge of the law, legal analysis, legal research, problem-solving, effective communication and “the exercise of proper professional and ethical responsibilities,” every law school will now develop competency-based learning outcomes and a curriculum that help each student develop and be able to demonstrate both the listed core competencies and “other professional skills needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession.” These accreditation changes require a greater emphasis on professional and ethical responsibilities and both the articulation of learning outcomes for each student on these responsibilities and assessment of the learning outcomes.
Medical education, following accreditation changes in 1999 that emphasized learning outcomes (and assessment) of core competencies is fifteen years in front of legal education in learning how most effectively to help students achieve competency-based learning outcomes including those emphasizing ethical responsibilities. This article analyzes what legal education can learn from medical education’s experience over these past fifteen years with competency-based learning outcomes, especially ethical competencies.
This is an extended version of a presentation made at TEDx Livermore 2016, the theme of which was The Economics of Empathy. Searching for Our Fiscal Soul argues that democracy is an exercise in empathy towards fellow citizens we do not know, and, if we did, might not like. We express that empathy through government spending, because that is how we actualize values that are important enough that we are willing to pay for them. This is our fiscal soul in action. Whether measured against the values we all routinely recite, or against the social environments achieved by peer countries, the fiscal soul of the United States is in peril. The remedy lies in understanding the value of a complementary economy, in which government spending is properly reframed as purchasing investments and insurance that private markets do not, and cannot, reach.
(Click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate.)
In addition to a list of newly posted papers, we’ll also include a write-up about at least one of the week’s additions. A quick administrative note: The best way to make sure we see your paper is to use the JEL code K34 (Tax Law) when you upload to SSRN. (If your reaction is “what’s a JEL code?”, check out Lea-Rachel Kosnik’s overview. And for a fascinating read on the tangled history of JEL codes, see Beatrice Cherrier’s article.)
If you would like to take over the weekly tax roundup as a service to the tax community, either alone or as part of a group of co-editors, please let me know.
David Hasen's excellent article emphasizes the distinction between an “excise tax,” which “applies to or is triggered by a transfer or other event,” and an “accretion tax,” which “appl[ies] to the ‘same’ item over time.” Examples of “excise taxes” include consumption taxes, realization-based income taxes, and estate and gift taxes. Examples of “accretion taxes” include real property taxes, mark-to-market income taxes, and periodic wealth taxes. Hasen argues that “a federal accretion-type, progressive wealth tax would appropriately supplement either an income tax or a consumption tax and would do so more effectively than our existing excise wealth tax regime, the federal estate and gift tax.” In the following post, I'll walk through (parts of) Hasen's argument and then explain why I'm not entirely persuaded that an accretion-type wealth tax is the way to go.