Friday, July 19, 2019
Behavioral Biases and Political Actors: Three Examples from US International Taxation (with Kaijie Wu):
The literature on behavioral public finance has tended to focus on the biases of taxpayers. However, politicians and government agents are human as well and can be expected to show the same biases that we are all subject to. This chapter will examine three examples of availability heuristic arguably influencing political actors and the unintended consequences of their reactions. The examples are all from US international tax rules: the foreign investment in real property tax act (FIRPTA) (1980), the exit tax on US citizens who expatriate (2008) and the enforcement of withholding tax on dividend equivalents (2010).
A Break in the Dam? India’s New Profit Attribution Proposal and the Arm’s Length Standard (with Ajitesh Kir):
On April 18, 2019, the Indian Central Board of Direct Taxes released a public consultation document on amending India’s rules for profit attribution to permanent establishments. This remarkable document is the first time a national government has proposed what in essence amounts to an abandonment of the arm’s length standard (ALS), the governing standard in transfer pricing for over 80 years, in favor of a formulary system. Given that the OECD has also raised the option of using formulas to allocate profits to market jurisdictions, India’s unilateral move may signal the proverbial break in the ALS dam, with the potential of leading to an abandonment of the ALS in favor of a unitary tax system.
Stanley Surrey, the Code and the Regime (with Nir Fishbien and Gianluca Mazzoni):
Stanley Surrey (1910-1984) was arguably the most important tax scholar of his generation. Surrey was a rare combination of an academic (Berkeley and Harvard law schools, 1947-1961 and 1969-1981) and a government official (Tax Legislative Counsel, 1942-1947; Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, 1961-1969). Today he is mostly remembered for inventing the concept of tax expenditures and the tax expenditure budget. This paper will argue that while Surrey was influential in shaping domestic tax policy for a generation and had an impact after his death on the Tax Reform Act of 1986, his longest lasting contributions were in shaping the international tax regime, since the concept of the single tax principle that shapes contemporary international tax reform efforts can be traced directly to his writing and activities both in academia and in the government.