Paul L. Caron
Dean


Thursday, April 2, 2020

Wealth Taxes And Capital Markets

John D. Stowe (Ohio University), Wealth Taxes and Capital Markets:

Wealth taxes have been adopted or considered as an adjunct to existing tax systems such as income taxes, property taxes, and consumption taxes. Discussions about a wealth tax are usually a mixture of political, social, and economic issues, with many of the published papers designed to serve an author’s agenda. The purpose of this note is to leave many of these issues behind and to focus on the effects of a wealth tax on capital markets.

Highlights

Continue reading

April 2, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Miller & Maine: Wealth Transfer Tax Planning After The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

John A. Miller (Idaho) & Jeffrey A. Maine (Maine), Wealth Transfer Tax Planning after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, 2020 BYU L. Rev. ___:

On December 17, 2017, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Among its many impacts, the TCJA increased the inflation adjusted estate tax basic exclusion amount to $10,000,000 on a temporary basis. This has dramatic implications for many existing and future estate plans, including a major crossover impact on income tax planning. In this article we explain the operation of the federal wealth transfer taxes (the estate tax, the gift tax and the generation skipping transfer tax) in the wake of the TCJA and of the newly issued regulations interpreting the TCJA changes. We also explain the basic tax planning techniques for wealth transmission. The overall design of this article is to bring the reader into the current wealth transfer tax planning picture while providing references to more detailed treatments of particular topics within this broad field.

Continue reading

April 1, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 30, 2020

Polsky Presents Explaining Choice-Of-Entity Decisions By Silicon Valley Start-Ups Online Today At BYU

Gregg Polsky (Georgia) presents Explaining Choice-of-Entity Decisions by Silicon Valley Start-Ups online at BYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Cliff Fleming and Gladriel Shobe:

Polsky (2018)Perhaps the most fundamental role of a business lawyer is to recommend the optimal entity choice for nascent business enterprises. Nevertheless, even in 2018, the choice-of-entity analysis remains highly muddled. Most business lawyers across the United States consistently recommend flow-through entities, such as limited liability companies and S corporations, to their clients. In contrast, a discrete group of highly sophisticated business lawyers, those who advise start-ups in Silicon Valley and other hotbeds of start-up activity, prefer C corporations.

Prior commentary has described and tried to explain this paradox without finding an adequate explanation. These commentators have noted a host of superficially plausible explanations, all of which they ultimately conclude are not wholly persuasive. The puzzle therefore remains.

Continue reading

March 30, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lesson From The Tax Court: One Plus One Equals One

Tax Court (2017)Author’s Note: Like so many others I am now working from home and climbing various learning curves, some steeper than others.  So please accept my apologies if today’s post contains more errors than normal.  Hopefully they will just be errors of the fingers and not of the brain.  

The case of Sean McNamee v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2020-37 (Mar. 18, 2020) (Judge Lauber) teaches us that taxpayers have only one opportunity to challenge a tax liability in a Collection Due Process (CDP) hearing, even though the Tax Code provides for up to two CDP hearings for any given tax liability.  In today's case the IRS erroneously refused to let Mr. McNamee challenge a tax liability in his first CDP hearing.  He did not obtain Tax Court review of that decision.  Instead, he re-challenged the liability in a second, later, CDP hearing involving the same underlying liability.  Mistake.  The Court held that even though the IRS screwed up the first time, the taxpayer’s failure to obtain judicial review of the first hearing precluded him from challenging the underlying liability in the second.  The lesson here centers on a tricky quirk in the CDP rules.  Details below the fold.   

Continue reading

March 30, 2020 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, March 27, 2020

Auerbach Presents U.S. Inequality And Fiscal Progressivity: An Intragenerational Accounting Online Today At British Columbia

Alan Auerbach (UC-Berkeley) presents U.S. Inequality And Fiscal Progressivity: An Intragenerational Accounting (with Laurence J. Kotlikoff (Boston University) & Darryl Koehler (Economic Security Planning)) online at University of British Columbia Peter A. Allard School of Law as part of its Tax Law and Policy Workshop Speaker Series hosted by Wei Cui:

Auerbach (2020)This study measures inequality and fiscal progressivity. It differs from prior such analyses by measuring inequality based on remaining lifetime spending rather than particular resources, like wealth and current income, that only partially determine lifetime spending, and by considering inequality and progressivity within generations.

To estimate the distribution of remaining lifetime spending, we run the 2016 Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances (after imputing missing data from other surveys) through The Fiscal Analyzer (TFA), a life-cycle consumption-smoothing program that incorporates remaining life-time resources, borrowing constraints and all major federal and state tax and transfer programs.

We find that inequality in wealth and income dramatically overstate inequality in remaining lifetime spending. For example, the richest 1 percent of forty year olds, where resources are measured as the sum of human plus non-human wealth, have 34.1 percent of the cohort’s total non-human wealth, but account for only 14.5 percent of the cohort’s total remaining lifetime spending. The poorest quintile of forty year olds own just 0.6 percent of the cohort’s wealth, but account for 7.3 percent of its remaining lifetime spending.

Continue reading

March 27, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

De La Feria Presents The Impact Of Public Perceptions On VAT Rates Policy Online Today At Indiana

Rita de la Feria (University of Leeds) presents The Impact of Public Perceptions on VAT Rates Policy (with Michael Walpole (University of New South Wales)) online at Indiana today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Leandra Lederman:

Rdlf-brazil2018The traditional view in VAT is that excluding certain products from its base decreases the natural regressivity of the tax. Whilst this traditionally view has been consistently put into question over the last thirty years by economic and legal evidence, public perceptions are still heavily influenced by it. Using the old European VAT system and the newer Australian VAT system as case studies we demonstrate how policy debates and changes as regards VAT rates have been heavily influenced by those public perceptions, against the evidence, and how industry groups, which would be set to lose out from specific policies, are able to use the information asymmetry subjacent to those perceptions to defend their interest in favour or against reform.

Continue reading

March 27, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pepperdine Symposium: The Impact Of The 2017 Tax Act On Income And Wealth Inequality — Lessons For 2020 And Beyond

Symposium Post

Due to the coronavirus, we had to cancel today's Pepperdine Law Review Symposium, The Impact of the 2017 Tax Act on Income and Wealth Inequality: Lessons For 2020 And Beyond. We are incredibly disappointed that we did not get to spend the day with these wonderful tax scholars and show off our beautiful law school, campus, and city. I feel especially bad for 3L Nicole Mitchell, the law review's symposium editor who conceived of the topic (after our Tax Policy class last Spring), selected and invited the speakers, and made all of the travel, hotel, and restaurant arrangements. However, we are delighted that many of the participants will be publishing their papers in the symposium issue of our law review.

March 27, 2020 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Thomas Presents Taxing Nudges Online Today At Duke

Kathleen Delaney Thomas (North Carolina) presents Taxing Nudges at Duke yesterday as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Richard Schmalbeck and Lawrence Zelenak:

Thomas (2019)Governments are increasingly turning to behavioral economics to inform policy design in areas like health care, the environment, and financial decision-making. Research shows that small behavioral interventions, referred to as “nudges,” often produce significant responses at a low cost. The theory behind nudges is that, rather than mandating certain behaviors or providing costly economic subsidies, modest initiatives may “nudge” individuals to choose desirable outcomes by appealing to their behavioral preferences. For example, automatically enrolling workers into savings plans as a default rather than requiring them to actively sign up has dramatically increased enrollment in such plans. Similarly, allowing individuals to earn “wellness points” from attendance at a gym, redeemable at various retail establishments, may improve exercise habits.

A successful nudge should make a desired choice as simple and painless as possible. Yet one source of friction may counteract an otherwise well-designed nudge: taxation.

Continue reading

March 26, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Taxation Without Immunization: Exercising The Federal Taxing Power To Increase Childhood Vaccination Rates

Nicholas R. Consalvo (J.D. 2020, Florida), Note, Taxation Without Immunization: Exercising the Federal Taxing Power to Increase Childhood Vaccination Rates, 71 Fla. L. Rev. 1513 (2019):

This Note will discuss the need to exercise the taxing power of the federal government in an effort to restore immunization rates to their historically high levels. Recent spikes in unvaccinated children have resulted in global outbreaks of diseases that were near elimination. This Note’s solution to the growing anti-vaccination movement is the implementation of a federal tax plan targeted at parents who—without a valid medical exemption—refuse to vaccinate their children against specific classes of vaccine-preventable diseases. This federal tax plan could take the form of an income-based tax, or loss of child tax credits, enforced against parents based on the age and amount of time their child has remained unvaccinated.

Global efforts to increase vaccination rates and fight outbreaks have already resulted in similar fines and taxes as those advocated in this Note. Currently, the entire public is responsible for the burden of funding initiatives to treat and prevent outbreaks caused by parents who abuse nonmedical exemptions to evade existing vaccination mandates. That burden must shift and fall only upon the individuals who refuse to acknowledge that immunizing against vaccine-preventable diseases is a fundamental necessity for preserving public health.

March 26, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Kamin Presents How Far To Go In Reforming Taxation Of Wealth? Online Today At UC-Irvine

David Kamin (NYU) presents How Far to Go in Reforming Taxation of Wealth? online at UC-Irvine today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Joshua BlankVictor Fleischer, and Omri Marian:

Kamin (2018)Reforming the taxation of wealth of individuals is now one of the leading issues among progressive policymakers. It is being prominently discussed on the presidential campaign trail and in the halls of Congress, as a way of addressing our failure to effectively tax some of the richest Americans. Most of these proposals involve significant changes, but some go much further than others and involve more dramatic reforms. The more fundamental reform options come in two basic varieties—annual wealth taxation and accrual income taxation, sometimes known as mark-to-market income taxation. By contrast, the more incremental reforms focus on more targeted changes to the current system with a focus on two key areas: step-up in basis at death and estate and gift taxation. A key question then is how far to go in reforming the taxation of wealth.

This paper presents a qualified case for pursuing the fundamental reform options at least eventually, either annual wealth taxation or accrual taxation.

Continue reading

March 25, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Brooks Presents Redesigning Education Finance: How Student Loans Outgrew the 'Debt' Paradigm Online Today At Georgetown

John Brooks (Georgetown) presents Redesigning Education Finance: How Student Loans Outgrew the "Debt" Paradigm, 109 Geo. L.J. ___ (2019) (with Adam J. Levitin (Georgetown)), online at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series:

Brooks (John)Federal student loans are fundamentally different from any other type of credit product: they do not require the full repayment of all principal and accrued interest. Instead, borrowers have the contractual right to satisfy their obligations by paying only a percentage of their income for a fixed period of time. In other words, debt forgiveness is contractually baked into the student loan product.

This and other unusual features of federal student loans reveal that the economic structure of student loans has evolved to resemble a federal grant program coupled with a progressive income-based tax on recipients, rather than a true debt product. The education finance system, however, still relies on the legal, financial, and institutional apparatus of “debt” that developed under the pre-2010 structure of the education finance system, which was based on private loans backed by federal government guarantees, rather than today’s direct federal lending program. These legal, financial, and institutional structures are a mismatch with the current program’s economic realities and policy goals.

This Article argues that nearly all of the problems in education finance, including high levels of default, abusive servicing, and even the very idea of a student debt crisis arise from the frictions between the legal and institutional apparatus of “debt” and the economic reality of subsidized finance and progressive, income-based repayment and debt forgiveness.

Accordingly, this Article argues for calling federal student loans what they really are—a tuition grant plus an income surtax on students.

Continue reading

March 24, 2020 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (1)

Avi-Yonah: BEPS And The TCJA

Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan), Constructive Dialogue: BEPS and the TCJA:

US international tax law is commonly conceived as developed in the US and influencing the development of other countries' international tax law. This paper will argue that in the case of the TCJA, the US legislation was heavily influenced by the OECD BEPS project, and that the continuing OECD work in Pillars I and II is likely to have a similar influence on the future development of US international tax law.

March 24, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 23, 2020

Bearer-Friend Presents In-Kind Taxpaying: Lessons And Risks Online Today At BYU

Jeremy Bearer-Friend (George Washington) presents In-Kind Taxpaying: Lessons and Risks online at BYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Cliff Fleming and Gladriel Shobe:

BearerFriend (2020)This Article examines non-cash remittance of tax obligations (ie; paying taxes "in-kind"). It begins by defining in-kind taxpaying, describing the early roots of in-kind taxpaying, and documenting the broad variety of inkind taxpaying in the US. It then discusses the lessons and risks of in-kind taxpaying. In doing so, this Article makes three contributions. First, it improves our definition of taxpaying by identifying the wide variety of inkind remittances that already occur in our current tax system, offering a taxonomy for how to understand in-kind remittances within a modern economy that relies primarily on cash taxes. Second, it refutes the presumption that in-kind remittance of tax obligations is not viable, thus expanding the tax tools available to local, state, and federal governments and demonstrating how narrow presumptions about tax remittance have predetermined core tax policy choices. Third, it confronts the substantial dangers of in-kind taxpaying, using these risks to propose new principles for limiting the design and administration of in-kind taxpaying.

Continue reading

March 23, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lesson From The Tax Court: Last Known Address Rules And The Rule Of Law

Dog 2Celebrities are often hard to contact.  “Call my agent” is their standard line.  When do that on their tax returns, they should know that the last known address rules apply to celebrities the same as to regular folk.  That is the lesson in Duane Lee Chapman and Alice E. Smith, Deceased v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2019-110 (Aug. 29, 2019) (Judge Ashford).  There, the taxpayers—famous from the TV reality show Dog the Bounty Hunter—put their agents’ address on their tax returns.  It cost them the opportunity to contest tax liabilities in Tax Court.

The case also shows us another meaning of the term Rule of Law.  That is why I am presenting this case today, as a follow-up on last week’s lesson.  Details below the fold. 

Continue reading

March 23, 2020 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Top Five New Tax Papers

There is a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new paper debuting on the list as #5:

  1. SSRN Logo (2018)[332 Downloads]  A New Global Tax Deal for the Digital Age, by Allison Christians (McGill) & Tarcisio Diniz Magalhaes (McGill)
  2. [154 Downloads]  From Tax Policy to Social Insurance, by Edward Kleinbard (USC)
  3. [149 Downloads]  Important Developments in Federal Income Taxation, by Edward Morse (Creighton)
  4. [142 Downloads]  Wealth Tax Design: Lessons from Estate Tax Avoidance, by Jason Oh (UCLA) & Eric Zolt (UCLA)
  5. [124 Downloads]  The OECD Unified Approach: Nexus, Scope, and Coexisting With DSTs, by Assaf Harpaz (S.J.D. 2020, Duke)

March 22, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Book & Ames: The Morass Of The Anti-Injunction Act

Leslie Book (Villanova) & Marilyn Ames (IRS Office of Chief Counsel (retired)), The Morass of the Anti-Injunction Act: a Review of the Cases and Major Issues, 73 Tax Law. ___ (2020):

ABA Tax Lawyer (2019)As Congress gives the Internal Revenue Service more tasks to perform beyond its function of assessing and collecting taxes, courts, practitioners, and academics are struggling to apply the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA) as the IRS promulgates procedures in the course of fulfilling new mandates. The AIA has its origins in the post-Civil War era when the federal government established new procedures ensuring the assessment and collection of taxes. It may seem odd an over 150-year old provision is fueling a growing number of contested and controversial disputes. Yet, the AIA has taken on renewed importance as courts consider challenges to tax regulations and guidance, fueled in part by the increasing importance of administrative law in issues of tax procedure and administration.

Continue reading

March 21, 2020 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 20, 2020

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Layser Reviews Evaluating Economic And Financial Policy Responses To The Coronavirus

This week, Michelle Layser (Illinois) reviews Hiba Hafiz (Boston College), Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College), Diane Ring (Boston College), & Natalya Shnitser (Boston College), Regulating in Pandemic: Evaluating Economic and Financial Policy Responses to the Coronavirus Crisis, Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 527 (March 2020).

Layser (2018)

News about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has been breaking by the hour, and for people like me who can’t look away from it, the whole situation is positively overwhelming. Fortunately, a team of researchers at Boston College Law School have already pulled together an excellent working paper that provides an analytical framework to bring the key issues into focus. Their paper, which will be “continually updated to reflect current developments,” is a must read for tax and fiscal policy researchers and lawmakers.

The paper begins by describing a trifecta of policy objectives that are relevant to fight the pandemic. The first objective is to provide a social safety net and social insurance for unemployed workers. Unemployment claims are skyrocketing as supply chains are disrupted and businesses are ordered to shut their doors for the purpose of social distancing. The authors identify several choice-of-delivery questions. Should assistance be delivered directly via cash infusions like universal basic income? Should benefits be tied to work? Should aid be provided to individuals or to businesses (to help avoid layoffs)? A central goal of the paper is to explore how these questions might be answered without undermining the other two objectives.

Continue reading

March 20, 2020 in Coronavirus, Michelle Layser, Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Polsky Presents Taxing Buybacks At Duke

Gregg Polsky (Georgia) presented Taxing Buybacks (with Daniel Hemel (Chicago)) at Duke yesterday as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Richard Schmalbeck and Lawrence Zelenak:

Polsky (2018)A recent rise in the volume of corporate share repurchases has prompted calls for changes to the rules governing stock buybacks. These calls for reform are animated by concerns that buybacks enrich corporate executives at the expense of productive investment. This emerging anti-buyback movement includes presidential candidates as well as academics and Republicans as well as Democrats. The primary focus of buyback critics has been on securities law changes to deter repurchases, with only passing mention of potential tax law solutions.

This article critically examines the policy arguments against buybacks and arrives at a mixed verdict. On the one hand, claims that buybacks reduce corporate investment and inappropriately reward executives turn out to be poorly supported. On the other hand, the article identifies legitimate tax-related concerns about the rising buyback tide. Buybacks exacerbate two of the U.S. tax system’s most severe flaws. The first is the “Mark Zuckerberg problem”: the effective nontaxation of firm founders on what is essentially labor income. The second is what we call the “Panama Papers problem”: the use of U.S. capital markets by investors in offshore tax havens to generate tax-free returns.

Continue reading

March 20, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hickman: Justice Gorsuch And Waiving Chevron

Kristin E. Hickman (Minnesota), Justice Gorsuch and Waiving Chevron:

The Supreme Court has denied certiorari in Guedes v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, also known as the bumpstocks case. The D.C. Circuit relied on Chevron deference in upholding the regulations banning bumpstocks. In a statement respecting the denial of certiorari, Justice Gorsuch objected to the D.C. Circuit’s reliance on Chevron deference.

One of Justice Gorsuch’s reasons for objecting to Chevron deference in Guedes is well known to Chevron observers. Specifically, the interpretation of the relevant statute contained in the regulation could lead to criminal penalties in the future. I wrote about this concern many years ago. Since then, Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the Sixth Circuit has written eloquently about this issue, first in Carter v. Welles-Bowen Realty, and subsequently in Esquivel-Quintana v. Lynch, arguing that the rule of lenity should take precedence over Chevron deference. The Supreme Court dodged that issue in Esquivel-Quintana by concluding that the statute in that case was otherwise clear. Oddly, although Justice Gorsuch in his Guedes statement cited Judge Sutton’s opinion in Esquivel-Quintana, Justice Gorsuch did not mention the rule of lenity by name. The Supreme Court’s statements regarding Chevron, civil cases, and the rule of lenity have been mixed over the years. In 2014, in a statement regarding the Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari in Whitman v. United States, Justice Scalia called upon the Court in future to consider whether courts “owe deference to an executive agency’s interpretation of a law that contemplates both criminal and administrative enforcement,” also citing Judge Sutton. Although Esquivel-Quintana did not yield such consideration, perhaps Justice Gorsuch’s statement in Guedes will prompt litigants to try again regarding the relationship between Chevron and lenity. ...

Continue reading

March 20, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Galle Presents Taxing (And Regulating) Mass Fundraising Online At BYU

Brian Galle (Georgetown) presented The Kindness of Strangers: Taxing (and Regulating) Mass Fundraising at BYU yesterday as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Cliff Fleming and Gladriel Shobe:

Galle (2020)This is another story about law and time. Once, the giving of gifts was an intimate act. A gift was a kiss or a handshake in another form: it built trust, cemented alliances, celebrated bonds of love and friendship. Today, money is Popped, it is Zelle’d; it is bundled by ActBlue or Gofundme. Transfers that are unearned by labor or mutual exchange now occur remotely between strangers, and at scales that were unimaginable a few decades ago. Law quite simply has not kept up. My focus here will be on the taxation of gifts, but my analysis will stretch from that humble subject to sweep in global inequality, campaign finance, and the legal architecture of crowdfunding.

Continue reading

March 19, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Avi-Yonah: Why Study Tax History?

Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan), Why Study Tax History? (reviewing Studies in the History of Tax Law, Vol. 9 (Peter Harris (Cambridge) &  Dominic de Cogan (Cambridge) eds. 2019)):

RAYSince the beginning of this century, John Tiley organized an annual tax history conference at Cambridge, a tradition that was continued after his death under the leadership of Peter Harris. These are the papers from the ninth Cambridge Tax Law History Conference, held in July 2018. In the usual manner, the papers have been selected from an oversupply of proposals for their interest and relevance, and scrutinized and edited to the highest standard for inclusion in this prestigious series. The result is an outstanding book, with many high quality contributions to historical tax research.

The papers fall within five basic themes. Four papers focus on tax theory: Bentham; social contract and tax governance; Schumpeter's 'thunder of history'; and the resurgence of the benefits theory. Three involve the history of UK specific interpretational issues: management expenses; anti-avoidance jurisprudence; and identification of professionals. A further three concern specific forms of UK tax on road travel, land and capital gains. One paper considers the formation of HMRC and another explains aspects of nineteenth-century taxation by reference to Jane Austen characters. Four consider aspects of international taxation: development of EU corporate tax policy; history of Dutch tax planning; the important 1942 Canada–US tax treaty; and the 1928 League of Nations model tax treaties on tax evasion. Also included are papers on the effects of WWI on the New Zealand income tax and development of anti-tax avoidance rules in China.

Continue reading

March 19, 2020 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN Logo (2018)SSRN has updated its monthly ranking of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through March 2, 2020) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

    All-Time   Recent
1 Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)  188,632 Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan) 6,685
2 Dan Shaviro (NYU) 120,177 David Kamin (NYU) 5,140
3 David Gamage (Indiana-Bloom.) 116,200 Lily Batchelder (NYU) 5,062
4 Lily Batchelder (NYU) 115,955 Daniel Hemel (Chicago) 4,239
5 Daniel Hemel (Chicago) 115,111 Bridget Crawford (Pace) 3,242
6 Darien Shanske (UC-Davis) 109,563 David Gamage (Indiana-Bloom.) 3,122
7 David Kamin (NYU) 104,519 Dan Shaviro (NYU) 2,604
8 Cliff Fleming (BYU)    104,395 Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)  2,406
9 Manoj Viswanathan (UC-Hastings) 101,715 Manoj Viswanathan (UC-Hastings) 2,284
10 Rebecca Kysar (Fordham) 100,562 Richard Ainsworth (BU) 2,214
11 Ari Glogower (Ohio State) 99,333 Ari Glogower (Ohio State) 2,001
12 Michael Simkovic (USC) 44,042 D. Dharmapala (Chicago) 1,996
13 D. Dharmapala (Chicago) 38,290 Ruth Mason (Virginia) 1,996
14 Paul Caron (Pepperdine) 36,475 Robert Sitkoff (Harvard) 1,947
15 Louis Kaplow (Harvard) 32,829 Louis Kaplow (Harvard) 1,890
16 Richard Ainsworth (BU) 29,228 Rebecca Kysar (Fordham) 1,885
17 Ed Kleinbard (USC) 26,574 Brad Borden (Brooklyn) 1,847
18 Vic Fleischer (UC-Irvine) 25,980 Hugh Ault (Boston College) 1,793
19 Jim Hines (Michigan) 24,912 Yariv Brauner (Florida) 1,788
20 Gladriel Shobe (BYU) 24,117 Cliff Fleming (BYU) 1,757
21 Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.) 24,100 Michael Simkovic (USC) 1,636
22 Brad Borden (Brooklyn) 24,070 Paul Caron (Pepperdine)   1,323
23 Robert Sitkoff (Harvard) 23,785 Margaret Ryznar (Indiana-Indy) 1,282
24 Richard Kaplan (Illinois) 23,652 Leandra Lederman (Indiana Bloom.) 1,207
25 Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.) 23,022 Kyle Rozema (Washington U.) 1,152

Continue reading

March 19, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Kysar Presents Interpreting By the Rules Online At Georgetown

Rebecca M. Kysar (Fordham) presented Interpreting By the Rules online at Georgetown yesterday as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John Brooks and Brian Galle:

Kysar (2018)A promising new school of statutory interpretation has emerged that tries to wed the work of Congress with that of the courts by tying interpretation to congressional process. The primary challenge to this process-based interpretive approach is the difficulty in reconstructing the legislative process. Scholars have proposed leveraging Congress’s procedural frameworks and rules as reliable heuristics to that end. This Article starts from that premise but will add wrinkles to it. The complications stem from the fact that each rule is adopted for distinct reasons and is applied differently across contexts. As investigation into these particularities proceeds, it becomes apparent that the complications are also rooted in something deeper—that Congress’s procedures are often hollow, even fraudulent. Congress, it turns out, breaks its own rules with impunity.

Continue reading

March 18, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cauble: Time For A Tax Return Filing Fee

Emily Cauble (DePaul), Time for a Tax Return Filing Fee, 57 Harv. J. on Legis.  ___ (2020):

The IRS faces the monumental task of verifying, to the extent possible, the tax consequences reported on the hundreds of millions of tax returns filed each year. It does so with meager and shrinking resources. Some taxpayers burden the filing system more than others. At one extreme, a taxpayer who earns only income that is subject to third-party reporting and withholding and who claims the standard deduction adds very little to the IRS’s burden. At the other end of the extreme, a large business engaged in numerous complex transactions the tax treatment of which are not free from doubt demands significant resources if that taxpayer’s claimed tax outcomes are fully examined. In light of this landscape, this Article makes the novel proposal that Congress require payment of a tax return filing fee by some taxpayers. The amount of the fee would vary based on some of the factors that make each taxpayer more or less difficult to audit, with carveouts for difficult-to-audit items that are disproportionately claimed by lower-income individuals.

Continue reading

March 18, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Regulating In A Pandemic: Evaluating Economic And Financial Policy Responses To The Coronavirus Crisis

Hiba Hafiz, Shu-Yi Oei, Diane M. Ring & Natalya Shnitser (all of Boston College), Regulating in Pandemic: Evaluating Economic and Financial Policy Responses to the Coronavirus Crisis:

CoronavirusThe United States is currently trying to manage a fast-moving public health crisis due to the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19). The economic and financial ramifications of the outbreak are serious. This Working Paper discusses these ramifications and identifies three interrelated but potentially conflicting policy priorities at stake in managing the economic and financial fallout of the COVID-19 crisis: (1) providing social insurance to individuals and families in need; (2) managing systemic economic and financial risk; and (3) encouraging critical spatial behaviors to help contain COVID-19 transmission. The confluence of these three policy considerations and the potential conflicts among them make the outbreak a significant and unique regulatory challenge for policymakers, and one for which the consequences of getting it wrong are dire.

This Working Paper—which will be continually updated to reflect current developments—will analyze the major legislative and other policy initiatives that are being proposed and enacted to manage the economic and financial aspects of the COVID-19 crisis by examining these initiatives through the lens of these three policy priorities.

Continue reading

March 18, 2020 in Coronavirus, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Field: Tax Lawyers As Tax Insurance

Heather M. Field (UC-Hastings), Tax Lawyers as Tax Insurance, 60 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 2111 (2019) (reviewed by Sloan Speck (Colorado) here):

Transactional tax lawyers, by rendering tax opinions, provide a version of insurance to clients. This insurance is clearly incomplete, but by providing a tax opinion, a lawyer conditionally agrees to indemnify the client for at least part of the potential loss the client incurs if the favorable tax treatment described in the opinion is successfully challenged. Although insurance is not the primary function of transactional tax lawyers, and although this Article does not argue that tax opinions should be regulated as insurance, indemnification — a key element of insurance — is an important part of the economic relationship between a client and a lawyer who provides a tax opinion. Surprisingly, this insurance-like function has been largely overlooked in the literature. Thus, by identifying and exploring the insurance-like aspect of the transactional tax lawyer’s role, this Article fills a gap in the literature and offers a new framework for understanding the value of tax lawyers.

Continue reading

March 17, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Homeownership Tax Subsidies And Structural Racism

Victoria J. Haneman (Creighton), Contemplating Homeownership Tax Subsidies and Structural Racism, 54 Wake Forest L. Rev. 363 (2019):

An insidious form of racism is facilitated by those who are heedless of structural inequities — or in this instance, the fact that legal structures have been developed to protect the experiences of those who are white, with an underlying obliviousness to the fact that persons of color may have a different experience. Almost 80% of the United States’ four centuries of existence has involved racialized slavery and extreme racial segregation. The subject of structural discrimination should be almost noncontroversial by this point: established social and political structures have been built upon a foundation of racial inequality, inherently conferring power and privilege to some, while perpetuating the marginalization of others. A system that treats equally those who are positioned unequally will only serve to exacerbate the pre-existing inequalities.

Continue reading

March 17, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hayashi: Countercyclical Property Taxes

Andrew T. Hayashi (Virginia), Countercyclical Property Taxes:

With each economic recession, scholars, pundits, and lawmakers focus on what the Federal government can do to mitigate it. In this Article, I argue that there is an important role for local tax law in managing recessions. Since real property taxes are the most important revenue source for local governments, we should pay special attention to the ways that they help or hurt communities recover. Property taxes have been praised for providing localities with a steady revenue source even during downturns, but this Article uses evidence from Maryland to uncover the burdens placed on households by laws designed to stabilize property tax revenues. These laws increase homeowner mortgage defaults and home sales, increase the use of tax refund anticipation loans, and they reduce discretionary spending by households at the time that it is most needed to prop up the local economy.

Continue reading

March 17, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 16, 2020

McGovern, Brewer & Delaney: 2019 Federal Income Tax Developments

Bruce A. McGovern (South Texas), Cassady V. Brewer (Georgia State) & James M. Delaney (Wyoming), Recent Developments in Federal Income Taxation: The Year 2019, 73 Tax Law. ___ (2020):

ABA Tax Lawyer (2019)This article summarizes and provides context to understand the most important developments in federal income taxation for the year 2019. The items discussed primarily consist of the following: (i) significant amendments to the Internal Revenue Code; (ii) important judicial decisions; and (iii) noteworthy administrative rulings and regulations promulgated by the Service and the Treasury Department. This article primarily focuses on subjects of broad general interest — tax accounting rules, determination of gross income, allowable deductions, treatment of capital gains and losses, corporate and partnership taxation, exempt organizations, and procedure and penalties.

Continue reading

March 16, 2020 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lesson From The Tax Court: The Two Postmark Rule And The Rule Of Law

Tax Court Logo 2Taxpayer petitions must still be filed in hard copy.  So you still need to understand the §7502 mailbox rules and the case of Sara M. Thomas and David A. Thomas v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2020-33 (Mar. 11, 2020) (Judge Vasquez) teaches us a useful lesson.  There, taxpayers mailed their petition on March 5, 2018, the last day of the 90 day period.  When received by the Tax Court the envelope had two postmarks, one from a private postage meter that read “March 5” and one from the USPS that read “March 6.”  Relying on the applicable regulation, the Court said it was the USPS postmark that counted and dismissed the case for being filed late.

At one level this case is a straightforward lesson about the mailbox rules.  But it also illustrates one meaning of the phrase “Rule of Law.”  You would not think Tax Court opinions would deal with legal philosophy.  But they sometimes so.  Details below the fold.

Continue reading

March 16, 2020 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Brunson: God Is My Roommate? Tax Exemptions For Parsonages

Samuel D. Brunson (Loyola-Chicago), God Is My Roommate? Tax Exemptions for Parsonages Yesterday, Today, and (if Constitutional) Tomorrow:

In 2019, the Seventh Circuit decided an Establishment Clause question that had been percolating through the courts for two decades [Gaylor v. Mnuchin]. It held that the parsonage allowance, which permits “ministers of the gospel” to receive an untaxed housing allowance, does not violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. It grounded its conclusion in part on the “historical significance” test the Supreme Court established in its Town of Greece v. Galloway decision.

In coming to that conclusion, the Seventh Circuit cited a 200-year unbroken history of property tax exemptions for religious property. According to the Seventh Circuit, that history demonstrated that both the Founders and subsequent generations of Americans recognized that there was no constitutional problem with exempting parsonages.

The court’s historical significance analysis was fundamentally flawed, however.

Continue reading

March 15, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

This week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads is the same as last week's list, with some shuffling of the order within the Top 5:

  1. SSRN Logo (2018)[327 Downloads]  A New Global Tax Deal for the Digital Age, by Allison Christians (McGill) & Tarcisio Diniz Magalhaes (McGill)
  2. [153 Downloads]  From Tax Policy to Social Insurance, by Edward Kleinbard (USC)
  3. [141 Downloads]  Important Developments in Federal Income Taxation, by Edward Morse (Creighton)
  4. [136 Downloads]  Wealth Tax Design: Lessons from Estate Tax Avoidance, by Jason Oh (UCLA) & Eric Zolt (UCLA)
  5. [128 Downloads]  Reversing the Fortunes of Active Funds, by Adi Libson (Bar-Ilan) & Gideon Parchomovsky (Pennsylvania)

March 15, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Shaviro: Literature And Inequality

Daniel Shaviro (NYU), Literature and Inequality: Nine Perspectives from the Napoleonic Era Through the First Gilded Age (Anthem Press 2020):

Shaviro 2We are an intensely social species, and often a rivalrous one, prone to measuring ourselves in terms of others, and often directly against others. Accordingly, relative position matters to our sense of wellbeing, although excluded from standard economic models that look only at the utility derived from own consumption of commodities plus leisure. For example, people can have deep-seated psychological responses to inequality and social hierarchy, creating the potential for extreme wealth differences to invoked feelings of superiority and inferiority, or dominance and subordination, that may powerfully affect how we relate to each other.

The tools that one needs to understand how and why this matters include the sociological and the qualitative. I use the particular tool of in-depth studies of particular classic works of literature (from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice through Theodore Dreiser’s The Financier and The Titan) that offer suggestive insights regarding the felt experiences around high-end inequality at different times and from different perspectives.

Continue reading

March 14, 2020 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 13, 2020

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Kim Reviews Shakow's Taxing Bitcoin And Blockchains

This week, Young Ran (Christine) Kim (Utah) reviews a new work by David J. Shakow (Pennsylavania), Taxing Bitcoin and Blockchains—What the IRS Told Us (and Didn't), 166 Tax Notes Fed. 241 (Jan. 13, 2020).

6a00d8341c4eab53ef022ad3a74c80200d-300wi (1)The IRS has issued two new guidance on tax issues related to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies–Notice 2014-21 and Rev. Rul. 2019-24. However, by no means, has the guidance answered all questions surrounding the tax treatment of cryptocurrencies. David Shakow's new work, Taxing Bitcoin and Blockchains—What the IRS Told Us (and Didn't), offers an excellent roadmap for those who would like to understand the tax issues of cryptocurrencies along with the recent IRS guidance.

To offer basic knowledge of the blockchain structure, Shakow starts with comparing a "Proof of Work" (PoW) structure with a "Proof of Stake" (PoS) structure. These two structures are used to confirm transactions of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin uses a PoW consensus process, recording transactions in a "block," which is verified by miners through their work. That work requires the use of substantial computer and electric power. 

Continue reading

March 13, 2020 in Christine Kim, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Knoll & Mason: The Dormant Foreign Commerce Clause After Wynne

Michael S. Knoll (Pennsylvania) & Ruth Mason (Virginia), The Dormant Foreign Commerce Clause After Wynne, 41 Va. Tax Rev. ___ (2020):

This Article surveys dormant foreign Commerce Clause doctrine to determine what limits it places on state taxation of international income, both income earned by foreigners in a U.S. state, and income earned by U.S. residents abroad. Among our conclusions is that, just as the dormant interstate Commerce Clause forbids states from discriminating against interstate commerce, the dormant foreign Commerce Clause forbids states from discriminating against international commerce. We also consider differences between the interstate and foreign commerce contexts, including differences in the nationality of affected taxpayers and differences in the impact of state taxes on federal international tax policy goals.

Continue reading

March 13, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Hayashi & Hynes: Protectionist Property Taxes

Andrew T. Hayashi (Virginia) & Richard M. Hynes (Virginia), Protectionist Property Taxes:

National restrictions on trade and immigration are the most salient illustrations of the current protectionist moment, but cities have played their part too, taxing foreign investors in local real estate and imposing second or vacant home taxes that indirectly burden foreign investment. Although these protectionist property taxes are new, they draw from an old well of suspicion about foreign ownership. We provide economic and historical context for the recent wave of protectionist property taxes and evaluate their legality under U.S. law. We conclude that taxes on second or vacant homes would likely survive constitutional challenge but facially protectionist property taxes probably would not. We then assess the policy merits of these taxes using an economic framework that highlights how law affects housing risk.

Continue reading

March 12, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Haneman: Tax Incentives For Green Burial

Victoria J. Haneman (Creighton), Tax Incentives for Green Burial:

Every living being is doomed to decay and die and decay some more. Death is inevitable, and the disposal of our dead is a fundamental global activity with the potential to have significant environmental impact. In the United States, the environmental toxicity of “traditional” modern burial is stark. A cosmeticized body is pumped with three gallons of embalming fluid (containing chemicals such as formaldehyde) that eventually leaches through metal and wood and into the ground. An estimated 5.3 million gallons of embalming chemicals are buried annually in what are essentially luxury landfill-slash-golf-courses, with landscaping and grass to maintain and mow, in coffins that are typically constructed of nonbiodegradable chipboard. And while cremation is a more environmentally friendly alternative, incineration cremation falls short of being labeled “green.” Fire-based cremation utilizes significant resources and energy, attributable to the substantial quantity of fossil fuel required to burn human remains at 1,562° F (850° C) to reduce a corpse to ash. Pollutants are generated in doing so, including an average of 250,000 tons per year of carbon emissions and an estimated 320 to 6,000 pounds of mercury (from incineration of dental fillings) per year.

Continue reading

March 12, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Blank & Osofsky: Automated Legal Guidance

Joshua D. Blank (UC-Irvine) & Leigh Osofsky (North Carolina), Automated Legal Guidance, 106 Cornell L. Rev. ___ (2021):

Through online tools, virtual assistants and other technology, governments increasingly rely on artificial intelligence to help the public understand and apply the law. The Internal Revenue Service, for example, encourages taxpayers to seek answers regarding various tax credits and deductions through its online “Interactive Tax Assistant.” The U.S. Army directs individuals with questions about enlistment to its virtual guide, “Sgt. Star.” And the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services suggests that potential green card holders and citizens speak with its interactive chatbot, “Emma.” Through such automated legal guidance, the government seeks to provide advice to the public at a fraction of the cost of employing human beings to perform these same tasks.

This Article offers one of the first critiques of these new systems of artificial intelligence.

Continue reading

March 12, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Kim Presents The Digital Services Tax: A Cross-Border Variation Of The Consumption Tax Debate? At UC-Irvine

Young Ran (Christine) Kim (Utah) presented Digital Services Tax: A Cross-border Variation of Consumption Tax Debate? at UC-Irvine today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Joshua BlankVictor Fleischer, and Omri Marian:

KimThe rise of highly digitalized businesses, such as Google and Amazon, has strained the traditional income tax rules on nexus and profit allocation. Traditionally, profit is allocated to market countries where consumers are located only if the business has physical presence. However, in the digital economy, profits can be easily generated in market countries without a physical presence, resulting in tax revenue loss for market countries.

In response, market countries have started imposing a new tax, called the digital services tax (“DST”), on certain digital business models, which has ignited heated debate across the globe. Supporters defend the DST, designed as a turnover style consumption tax, as an effective measure to make up the foregone revenue in the digital economy because it is not bound by the traditional rules of income taxation. Opponents criticize DST as “ring-fencing” or segregating certain digital business models, discriminating against American tech giants, and arguably imposing a disguised income tax. The debate has been focused on the imminent impact, such as who is the immediate winner and loser, but the discussion lacks efforts to understand the fundamentals of DST, especially with regard to the consumption tax aspect.

Continue reading

March 11, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ring Presents Falling Short In The Data Age Today At UCLA

Diane Ring (Boston College) presents Falling Short in the Data Age (with Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College)) at UCLA today as part of its Colloquium on Tax Policy and Public Finance hosted by Kirk Stark and Jason Oh:

Ring (2017)Humans are imperfect and do not always comply with the law, but the reality is that we are sometimes permitted to fall short of law’s requirements without consequences. This informal space to fall short and not be held accountable—which may arise from a confluence of information imperfections, resource constraints, politics, or luck—exists in addition to formal legal provisions that allow flexibility and discretion (such as tiered penalties or equitable provisions allowing leniency under specified circumstances). Fall-short spaces often pass unnoticed, but are in fact quite significant in intermediating the relationship between humans and the law.

This Article examines how the increasing access to data and information will change the availability and shape of law’s fall-short spaces. We introduce a taxonomy of how leeway arises, outlining the reasons it exists and the different ways it is deployed. Applying this taxonomy, we show how increasingly ubiquitous data and information have caused and will continue to cause the availability of leeway to contract, and we highlight the risk that we will see disparate contraction for different populations.

Continue reading

March 11, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fordham Symposium: The Future Of The New International Tax Regime

Symposium, The Future of the New International Tax Regime, 24 Fordham J. Corp. & Fin. L. 219-319 (2019):

  • Fordham Logo (2019)Rosanne Altshuler (Rutgers)
  • Jeffrey Colon (Fordham)
  • Fadi Shaheen (Rutgers)
  • Steven Dean (NYU)
  • Michael Graetz (Columbia)
  • Rebecca Kysar (Fordham)
  • Susan Morse (Texas)
  • Daniel Shaviro (NYU)

Continue reading

March 11, 2020 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Haslehner Presents A Framework For International Tax Reform Today At Florida

Werner Haslehner (ATOZ Chair for European and International Taxation, University of Luxembourg) presents Taxation and Value Creation: A Framework for International Tax Reform? at Florida today as part of its Tax Colloquium Series hosted by Yariv Brauner and sponsored by the Marshall M. Criser Distinguished Lecture Series:

HaslenherDigitalization of the global economy forces a rethink of the allocation of taxing rights along the lines of ‘value creation’. The current international tax system relies on a vast network of double taxation conventions (‘DTCs’) intended to allocate taxing rights between States and avoid double taxation. However, the system’s logic is rooted in the early 20th century and not fitting the modern global economy. Today, the traditional thresholds for giving taxing rights to ‘States of source’ hardly reflect the reality of business activity that strongly relies on intangible assets and the provision of remote services, which are not easy to pin down at any particular place. Calls for fundamental changes crystalized in the OECD and G20 initiated BEPS Project launched in 2013 to reform the international tax system with one overall objective: To “ensure that profits are taxed where economic activities take place and value is created.” Yet despite virtual unanimity on that objective and great number of measures already taken purportedly contributing to that objective, there is no clarity on its actual meaning. . . .

Continue reading

March 10, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Layser: How Place-Based Tax Incentives Can Reduce Geographic Inequality

Michelle D. Layser (Illinois), How Place-Based Tax Incentives Can Reduce Geographic Inequality:

Place-based tax incentives are frequently used by governments to encourage investment in low-income areas. But no standard exists to describe the ideal place-based tax incentive, making evaluation of these programs nearly impossible. This Article provides the necessary baseline by explaining when, where, and how to design place-based tax incentives that can benefit low-income communities by reducing geographic inequality. Using Geospatial Information System (GIS) mapping methods, this Article demonstrates how lawmakers can use public data to map spatial disadvantage. It then draws on tax theory to show how to design place-based tax incentives to reduce geographic inequality in targeted areas. The result is not a one-size-fits-all prescription, but a place-specific approach that can help place-based tax incentives become an effective vehicle for reducing underlying, geographic causes of neighborhood disadvantage. Comparing current place-based tax incentives to this baseline reveals that a significant weakness of current approaches is their failure to target places with geographic inequality or promote activities that could reduce it.

Continue reading

March 10, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Crawford Reviews Infanti's Our Selfish Tax Laws

Bridget J. Crawford (Pace) & Ashley Unangst (J.D. 2020, Pace), A Picture of Society with Critical Tax Theory As Its Interpreter, 41 J. Am. Tax'n Ass'n 128 (2019) (reviewing Anthony Infanti (Pittsburgh), Our Selfish Tax Laws: Toward Tax Reform That Mirrors Our Better Selves (MIT Press 2018)):

Our Selfish Tax LawsProfessor Infanti's work has long explored issues of bias and difference in the U.S. context, and with this book, he places his study of U.S. tax law in a comparative context with Canada, France and Spain. He uses the lenses of housing policy and the taxable unit to illustrate each country’s different values. Professor Infanti’s book illustrates the myriad ways that the U.S. tax law both supports and is a constituent part of a discriminatory legal system that treats people differently because of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, gender identity, and disability. In that way, the tax laws are a “mirror” of the society we currently have. But Professor Infanti goes a step further and calls readers see, in the reflection of the tax laws, the possibility of our “better selves.” Professor Infanti recognizes the extraordinary expressive value of the tax law; he imagines a system of collection, enforcement and public spending that benefits all people and reflects the nation’s highest and best values of equal opportunity, human dignity and shared community. ...

Continue reading

March 10, 2020 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sabu: Reframing Bitcoin And Tax Compliance

Arvind Sabu (Chicago-Kent), Reframing Bitcoin and Tax Compliance, 64 St. Louis U. L.J. ___ (2020):

This Article argues that, contrary to the common belief that Bitcoin enables tax evasion, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) can increasingly police transactions in Bitcoin. First, commercial and technical intermediaries have emerged as part of Bitcoin’s ecosystem. This diverse set of intermediaries can facilitate tax enforcement, as the litigation over the IRS’s summons on Coinbase—the largest domestic digital asset exchange—and subsequent IRS efforts show. These intermediaries could report transactions to the IRS or even, one day, withhold and remit tax payments. Second, the publicly visible, trustworthy nature of Bitcoin’s blockchain—its unique role as a shared truth—allows tax authorities to observe transaction flows. This renders Bitcoin unusually regulable for tax purposes, as recent efforts by the IRS to rely on Bitcoin’s blockchain to police tax evasion demonstrate.

Continue reading

March 10, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 9, 2020

Viswanathan Presents Retheorizing Progressive Taxation Today At BYU

Manoj Viswanathan (UC-Hastings) presents Retheorizing Progressive Taxation at BYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Cliff Fleming and Gladriel Shobe:

Viswanathan (2017)Tax progressivity is undeniably central to both the detailed analytics of tax policy and the rhetorical arguments commonly used in public discourse. Yet there are surprisingly inconsistent and inaccurate uses of this seemingly objective term. By theorizing progressivity’s constitutive elements and identifying its shortcomings, this Article offers a novel taxonomy of how progressivity is assessed and why contradictory assessments are common.

This Article argues that, as a theoretical matter, accurately characterizing tax provisions as progressive (or regressive) requires assessing their burdens beyond simply the tax payments remitted. By failing to account for effects such as economic incidence and inefficiency costs, traditional progressivity analyses are incomplete. Relatedly, since the spending side of the budget process is functionally indistinguishable from taxation, accurate progressivity analyses must also consider where tax revenues are spent.

Continue reading

March 9, 2020 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lesson From The Tax Court: New Contract Turns Deductible Travel Into Non-Deductible Commute

Tax Court (2017)The case of Deborah Louise Biegalski v. Commissioner, T.C. Summ. Op. 2019-35 (Dec. 3, 2019)(Judge Colvin) teaches a useful lesson in the difference between deductible business travel and non-deductible commuting for taxpayers who work as independent contractors.  The wrinkle in this case was that the taxpayer’s travel was done per two different contracts for different types of work and for two discrete periods, each less than one year.  She thought that made her travel deductible.  The Tax Court disagreed.  Details below the fold.

Continue reading

March 9, 2020 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Crawford & Blattmachr: Basis And Bargain Sales

Bridget J. Crawford (Pace) & Jonathan G. Blattmachr (Milbank, New York), Basis and Bargain Sales: Income Tax and Other Concerns, 73 Tax Law. ___ (2020):

ABA Tax Lawyer (2019)This article explores the income tax consequences of the sale during lifetime and at death of property for less than fair market value. The analysis focuses in particular on the tax consequences of a bargain sale by a transferor who wishes to confer some financial benefit on a family member, but leave the rest of her estate to charity. Generally speaking, death-time bargain sales may be preferable to similar transactions during lifetime, if the assets have a low basis pre-death, because of the step up in income tax basis under section 1014.

Continue reading

March 8, 2020 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

There is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with new papers debuting on the list at #4 and #5:

  1. [323 Downloads]  A New Global Tax Deal for the Digital Age, by Allison Christians (McGill) & Tarcisio Diniz Magalhaes (McGill)
  2. [146 Downloads]  From Tax Policy to Social Insurance, by Edward Kleinbard (USC)
  3. [128 Downloads]  Reversing the Fortunes of Active Funds, by Adi Libson (Bar-Ilan) & Gideon Parchomovsky (Pennsylvania)
  4. [126 Downloads]  Wealth Tax Design: Lessons from Estate Tax Avoidance, by Jason Oh (UCLA) & Eric Zolt (UCLA)
  5. [125 Downloads]  Important Developments in Federal Income Taxation, by Edward Morse (Creighton)

March 8, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 6, 2020

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Kleiman Reviews Shobe's Subsidizing Economic Segregation

This week, Ariel Jurow Kleiman (San Diego) reviews a new work by Gladriel Shobe (BYU), Subsidizing Economic Segregation, 11 UC Irvine L. Rev. ___ (2020).

StevensonIt is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of a good home, must hate property taxes. Happily, their ability to deduct such local taxes for federal tax purposes likely makes these taxes easier to swallow. By mollifying taxpayers, the deduction enables localities to levy higher taxes and provide more and better public services for all residents. Or so the story goes.

As Gladriel Shobe argues in her latest paper, the distribution of this subsidy to local governments may be skewed to homogeneously wealthy communities, rewarding and perhaps even driving economic segregation.   Understanding the first two building blocks of Shobe’s argument is duck soup for a tax-expert audience. 

Continue reading

March 6, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)