Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Tax Profs Shine at Critical Tax Conference

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

After two days spent reporting the lack of Tax Prof participation in the Law & Society Association and Asssociation for the Study of Law, Cultre and Humanties annual conferences, I am delighted to carry Neil Buchanan's report of the glittering array of Tax Profs who presented pathbreaking work at the Critical Tax Conference at Rutgers-Newark in April:

On April 2, 3, and 4, the Rutgers School of Law - Newark hosted the 2004 edition of the Critical Tax Conference. Tax Analysts generously provided funding for the conference. The Critical Tax Conference was started by Prof. Nancy Staudt in 1995, when she was at Buffalo. In the years since then, the not-quite-annual conference has been held at Wisconsin, Washington University (St. Louis), Michigan, and Tulane.

This year's conference brought together over 30 tax scholars from 21 law schools, discussing fifteen papers as well as nascent ideas for future work. In addition, two keynote speakers provided their insights on current issues in tax law: David Cay Johnston (New York Times) and Lee Sheppard (Tax Analysts).

One of the unique aspects of this year's conference was the emphasis on "draft panels" (as opposed to "formal panels"), which we defined as providing an opportunity for authors to present "papers that are in the early stages of development, where the author has made a substantial start on the paper but where some sections might not yet have been written or some concepts might not yet be fully worked through. The authors of these papers will benefit from constructive criticism and suggestions, allowing them to iron out and discuss difficult and unresolved issues in the drafts." Four of the five panels at the conference were designated as draft panels, which made the conference especially fertile ground for helpful interaction among colleagues at the most critical stage of writing.

Another feature of the conference designed to assist in the development of research projects wasthe "incubator sessions." These sessions provided those participants who were not presenting papers with an opportunity to discuss research ideas in their earliest stages. Depending on time constraints, future authors were given 10-20 minutes to present their ideas and receive feedback from others.

The only drawback to these sessions--indeed, the only unfortunate part of the entire conference--was that there was far too little time to discuss everyone's projects. With that much talent and creativity gathered in one place, something had to give. (As the person responsible for keeping the trains running on time, I was only too aware that every paper, and every idea, deserved more time for discussion than was available.)

The list of presenters and the titles of their papers appears below, with links that will allow you to download copies of some of the papers that were presented. Because the "incubator" sessions were informal, presenters and titles for those sessions are not available. For a copy of the entire program, see here.

It is surely a good sign that, at the end of the conference, there were several participants who expressed interest in hosting future versions of this gathering. Although nothing is set in stone, the tentative plan for future conferences is: 2005--Seattle University (Prof. Lily Kahng), 2006--Mercer University (David Brennen), 2007--UCLA (Steve Bank), and 2008--Florida State (Joe Dodge).

On behalf of my colleagues Charles Davenport and Cynthia Blum, we thank everyone who came to Newark in April for lively discussions of tax policy.

Draft Session Moderator: Ajay Mehrotra (Indiana-Bloomington)
• Sagit Leviner, S.J.D. candidate (Michigan): The case for redistribution in a modern democracy: theological and consequentialist perspectives
• Michael Livingston (Rutgers-Camden): Progressive taxation and social justice in four democracies
• Ann Thomas (New York Law School): Religious reform and the income tax in the 19th century

Draft Session Moderator: Richard Schmalbeck (Duke)
• William Blatt (Miami): Why did Congress repeal the estate tax but not the gift tax?
• David Brennen (Mercer): A normative rationale for tax exemptions for charities
• Michael McIntyre (Wayne State): Limitations on Congressional Power under the Commerce Clause to Constrain State Taxing Power

Formal Session Moderator: Neil Buchanan (Rutgers-Newark)
• Daniel Shaviro (NYU): The Bush tax cuts as steps toward bigger government
• Joseph Dodge (Florida State) & Jay Soled (Rutgers-Newark): The misreporting of tax basis
• Nancy Staudt (Washington University): Models of statutory interpretation: an empirical analysis of Supreme Court tax cases

Draft Sessions Moderator: Cynthia Blum (Rutgers-Newark)
• Dorothy Brown (Washington & Lee): Employer-provided pension plans: a race, class, and gender analysis
• Maureen Cavanaugh (Washington & Lee): Are Tax Shelters the necessary consequences of the rule of law?
• Diane Ring (Harvard): Analyzing international tax issues through the lens of international relations theory

Draft Session Moderator: Maureen Cavanaugh (Washington & Lee)
• Steven Bank (UCLA): An empirical analysis of tax and other factors affecting dividends in the United Kingdom, 1949-2002
• Leandra Lederman (George Mason): An empirical analysis of the effect of taxpayer representation in Tax Court cases on case resolution time and IRS recovery rate
• Lawrence Zelenak (Duke): The income tax and the equity risk premium

Watch here for future blogging of these pieces in the coming weeks.

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