Paul L. Caron

Monday, May 13, 2019

The 50 Most-Cited Tax Articles of All Time

Jonathan H. Choi (NYU), The Most-Cited Tax Articles of All Time, 36 Yale J. on Reg.: Notice & Comment (May 11, 2019):

Summer is nearly here, and for fellow tax nerds in need of beach reads, I’ve assembled a list of the 50 most widely cited tax law journal articles. The list is inspired by (and uses the same methodology as) Fred Shapiro and Michelle Pearse’s essay, The Most-Cited Law Review Articles of All Time [110 Mich. L. Rev. 1483 (2012)]

The list below is ordered by number of citations in other law review articles, according to HeinOnline. For comparison, I also list Google Scholar citation counts, which include cites by certain non-law journals, practice publications, books, and courts. 

Most-cited tax articles of all time

  Article HeinOnline Article Cites Google Scholar Cites
1. William D. Andrews (Harvard), A Consumption-Type or Cash Flow Personal Income Tax, 87 Harv. L. Rev. 1113 (1974) 437 783
2. Louis Kaplow (Harvard) & Steven Shavell (Harvard), Why the Legal System Is Less Efficient than the Income Tax in Redistributing Income, 23 J. Legal Stud. 667 (1994) 305 687
3. Boris I. Bittker (Yale), A Comprehensive Tax Base as a Goal of Income Tax Reform, 80 Harv. L. Rev. 925 (1967) 298 464
4. Boris I. Bittker (Yale), Federal Income Taxation and the Family, 27 Stan. L. Rev. 1389 (1975) 284 438
5. Joseph Bankman (Stanford) & Thomas Griffith (USC), Social Welfare and the Rate Structure: A New Look at Progressive Taxation, 75 Cal. L. Rev. 1905 (1987) 227 352
6. Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan), Globalization, Tax Competition, and the Fiscal Crisis of the Welfare State, 113 Harv. L. Rev. 1573 (2000) 226 748
7. William T. Plumb, Jr. (Hogan & Hartson, Washington, D.C.), The Federal Income Tax Significance of Corporate Debt: A Critical Analysis and a Proposal, 26 Tax L. Rev. 369 (1971) 208 355
8. Walter J. Blum (Chicago) & Harry Kalven, Jr. (Chicago), The Uneasy Case for Progressive Taxation, 19 U. Chi. L. Rev. 417 (1952) 200 418
9. Peter D. Enrich (Northeastern), Saving the States from Themselves: Commerce Clause Constraints on State Tax Incentives for Business, 110 Harv. L. Rev. 377 (1996) 193 371
10. Michael J. Graetz (Columbia), To Praise the Estate Tax, Not to Bury It, 93 Yale L.J. 259 (1983) 185 264
11. Erwin N. Griswold (Harvard), The Need for a Court of Tax Appeals, 57 Harv. L. Rev. 1153 (1944) 185 240
12. Mark G. Kelman (Stanford), Personal Deductions Revisited: Why They Fit Poorly in an Ideal Income Tax and Why They Fit Worse in a Far from Ideal World, 31 Stan. L. Rev. 831 (1979) 177 248
13. Daniel I. Halperin (Harvard), Interest in Disguise: Taxing the Time Value of Money, 95 Yale L.J. 506 (1986) 168 259
14. Joseph T. Sneed (Stanford), The Criteria of Federal Income Tax Policy, 17 Stan. L. Rev. 567 (1965) 164 211
15. Michael J. Graetz (Columbia) & Michael M. O’Hear (Marquette), The “Original Intent” of U.S. International Taxation, 46 Duke L.J. 1021 (1997) 162 345
16. Eric A. Posner (Chicago), Law and Social Norms: The Case of Tax Compliance, 86 Va. L. Rev. 1781 (2000) 155 403
17. David A. Weisbach (Chicago) & Jacob Nussim (Bar-Ilan), The Integration of Tax and Spending Programs, 113 Yale L.J. 955 (2004) 150 245
18. Marjorie E. Kornhauser (Tulane), The Rhetoric of the Anti-Progressive Income Tax Movement: A Typical Male Reaction, 86 Mich. L. Rev. 465 (1987) 146 214
19. R.A. Musgrave (Harvard), In Defense of an Income Concept, 81 Harv. L. Rev. 44 (1967) 140 228
20. Marjorie E. Kornhauser (Tulane), Love, Money, and the IRS: Family, Income-Sharing, and the Joint Income Tax Return, 45 Hastings L.J. 63 (1993) 139 216
21. Paul L. Caron (Pepperdine), Tax Myopia, or Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Tax Lawyers, 13 Va. Tax Rev. 517 (1994) 137 155
22. Richard L. Doernberg (Emory) & Fred S. McChesney (Emory), On the Accelerating Rate and Decreasing Durability of Tax Reform, 71 Minn. L. Rev. 913 (1987) 136 183
23. Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan), The Structure of International Taxation: A Proposal for Simplification, 74 Tex. L. Rev. 1301 (1996) 129 285
24. Anne L. Alstott (Yale), Tax Policy and Feminism: Competing Goals and Institutional Choices, 96 Colum. L. Rev. 2001 (1996) 129 192
25. Stanley S. Surrey (Harvard), Federal Taxation of the Family—The Revenue Act of 1948, 61 Harv. L. Rev. 1097 (1948) 127 218

For the complete list of the most-cited tax articles of all time, see here.

Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings, Tax Rankings, Tax Scholarship | Permalink


John--as you predict, the results based on citations by courts would be very different. Among the 50 in the list I posted, the most cited by courts was Stanley Surrey's "Definitional Problems in Capital Gains Taxation," with 24 cites. But many of the articles were never cited by any court according to HeinOnline, especially the more theoretical and less doctrinal pieces.

Mike--the bias in the list toward older articles is because those articles have had more time to accrue citations. My original posting provides a list of the most-cited articles since 2000 as well, and no doubt many more recent articles will eventually become equally highly cited.

Posted by: Jon Choi | May 26, 2019 7:14:31 AM

AMTbuff -- No double tax. Williams' proposal would treat inter vivos gifts as consumption by the transferor and subject to the expenditure tax, but not taxable to the transferee. But the transfers of gifts at death would not be subject to the expenditure tax, but would instead be subject only to the estate and gift tax regimen. I would propose eliminating the estate and gift tax, and instead treat transfers at death as consumption subject to the expenditure tax -- i.e., I would propose treating transfers during life and transfers at death identically. The result would be that a taxpayer's entire lifetime income would be taxed as it is spent.

Posted by: Mike Petrik | May 19, 2019 5:32:29 AM

It tells you something how few of these are recent in nature

Posted by: Mike Livingston | May 15, 2019 2:01:24 AM

Mike, are bequests consumption for both the giver when given and the recipient when spent? If the bequest was already taxed as income, that's triple taxation. Quite a penalty on gifts.

Posted by: AMTbuff | May 14, 2019 6:30:53 PM

I am surprised and pleased that Andrews' proposed graduated rate consumption tax ranks #1. I just wish it had more practical political influence. The only substantial change I would add to it would be to treat non-charitable gifts during lifetime or at death as non-deductible consumption. Doing so would make the tax a true tax on lifetime income as it is consumed. I have never been convinced that bequests are not consumption for purposes of applying principles of horizontal and vertical equity.

Posted by: Mike Petrik | May 13, 2019 8:50:42 AM

What about citations to law review articles in court decisions (including the Tax Court)? That might result in very different results.

Posted by: John Saunders | May 13, 2019 6:42:40 AM