Paul L. Caron
Dean


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

NY Times: Immigration Tests Sweden's High Tax/Generous Social Safety Net Model

New York Times, The Nordic Model May Be the Best Cushion Against Capitalism. Can It Survive Immigration?:

Swedes have long been willing to pay high taxes for a generous social safety net. But that willingness is being tested by an influx of refugees.

In a global economy increasingly besieged by rage over inequality and the pitfalls of winner-take-all capitalism, Sweden has long stood out as a kinder, gentler sort of country, a potential template for other nations eager to avoid destructive populism.

The so-called Nordic model that prevails in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland has been engineered to protect people from the commonplace economic afflictions assailing many developed countries, and especially the United States. There, the loss of a job can swiftly imperil health care, housing, sustenance and mental well-being. Under the Nordic model, governments typically furnish health care, education and pensions to everyone.

The state delivers subsidized housing and child care. When people lose jobs, they gain unemployment benefits and highly effective job training programs. When children are born, parents avail themselves of paid leave that seems unimaginable in most societies — 480 days in Sweden.

“If you’re born in Sweden, you’ve basically won at life,” says Adam S. Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. ...

But the endurance of the Nordic model has long depended on two crucial elements — the public’s willingness to pay some of the highest taxes on earth, and the understanding that everyone is supposed to work. The state ensures that working-age people are prepared with the skills for high-wage jobs, in industries like technology and advanced manufacturing.

Sweden’s sharp influx of immigrants — the largest of any European nation, as a share of the overall population — directly tests this proposition.

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July 16, 2019 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (1)

Rethinking Normative Principles In International Tax

Shay Shimon Moyal (S.J.D. 2020, Michigan), Back to Basics: Rethinking Normative Principles in International Tax, 73 Tax Law. ___ (2019):

ABA Tax LawyerInternational Tax is a relatively new legal system that lacks clear objectives and principles. These principles, which guide unilateral legislation and multilateral coordination, have not been discussed thoroughly through the lenses of jurisprudence and legal philosophy. This paper offers a unique jurisprudential analysis of normative International Tax principles by redefining them and clarifying several basic assumptions.

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July 16, 2019 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Indiana-Indianapolis Seeks To Hire A Tax Chair

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law is seeking to fill a Chair in Taxation to begin in the 2020-21 academic year:

Indiana Indianapolis LogoThe law school seeks applications from persons with distinguished records of scholarship and teaching who would be eligible for appointment as a full professor with tenure. We are committed to achieving excellence through intellectual diversity and encourage applications from persons of color, women, persons with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community, veterans, and members of other groups that are under-represented on university faculties. The law school is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action institution with a strong commitment to inclusion and offers domestic partner benefits.

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July 16, 2019 in Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Min & Kim: Dual-Class Stock And Corporate Spin-offs

Geeyoung Min (Columbia) & Young Ran (Christine) Kim (Utah), Insulation by Separation: When Dual-Class Stock Met Corporate Spin-offs, 9 UC Irvine L. Rev. ___ (2019):

The recent rise of shareholder engagement has revamped companies’ corporate governance structures so as to empower shareholder rights and to constrain managerial opportunism. Notwithstanding the general trend, this Article uncovers corporate spin-off transactions — which divide a single company into two or more companies — as a unique mechanism that insulates the management from shareholder intervention. In a spin-off, the company’s managers can fundamentally change the governance arrangements of the new spun-off company without being subject to monitoring mechanisms, such as shareholder approval or market check. Those changes often empower managers over shareholders. Furthermore, most spin-off transactions enjoy tax benefits. The potential agency problems associated with the managers’ unilateral governance changes can be further compounded when the managers adopt multiple classes of common stock with unequal voting rights (“dual-class stock”) in the new spun-off company without shareholder approval.

This is the first Article to systematically examine the problem from both corporate and tax law perspectives and to offer possible solutions.

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July 16, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. Investment Since The Tax Cuts And Jobs Act Of 2017

Emanuel Kopp, Daniel Leigh, Susanna Mursula & Suchanan Tambunlertchai (IMF), U.S. Investment Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017:

There is no consensus on how strongly the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has stimulated U.S. private fixed investment. Some argue that the business tax provisions spurred investment by cutting the cost of capital. Others see the TCJA primarily as a windfall for shareholders. We find that U.S. business investment since 2017 has grown strongly compared to pre-TCJA forecasts and that the overriding factor driving it has been the strength of expected aggregate demand. Investment has, so far, fallen short of predictions based on the postwar relation with tax cuts. Model simulations and firm-level data suggest that much of this weaker response reflects a lower sensitivity of investment to tax policy changes in the current environment of greater corporate market power. Economic policy uncertainty in 2018 also subdued investment growth, although to a lesser extent.

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July 16, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Taxes Of San Francisco: Bay Area In Vanguard Of Tax Increase Movement

Bloomberg Tax, The More, the Better: San Francisco Leads New Kind of Tax Revolt:

StreetsSan Francisco is emerging as one of the most receptive places in the country for new taxes.

In recent weeks: 

  • San Francisco leaders supported the proposed overhaul of the city’s gross receipts tax structure, which would be the fourth tax-raising proposal on the city’s November ballot.
  • A San Francisco Superior Court judge upheld an initiative raising commercial lease taxes to fund early childhood education and upheld a Salesforce.com-backed initiative imposing gross receipts taxes on companies earning more than $50 million to support homeless services.
  • A pair of recent court rulings upheld locally passed tax initiatives—including one backing the city’s authority to seek taxes from drivers who use paid parking lots at state universities—which could embolden tax enthusiasts in San Francisco even more.

“I think SF is going to be the poster child, one way or another, for aggressively looking for money from business,” Joseph Bankman, Stanford University professor of law and business, said. ...

San Francisco is emerging as one of the most receptive places in the country for new taxes. In recent weeks: 

  • San Francisco leaders supported the proposed overhaul of the city’s gross receipts tax structure, which would be the fourth tax-raising proposal on the city’s November ballot.
  • A San Francisco Superior Court judge upheld an initiative raising commercial lease taxes to fund early childhood education and upheld a Salesforce.com-backed initiative imposing gross receipts taxes on companies earning more than $50 million to support homeless services.
  • A pair of recent court rulings upheld locally passed tax initiatives—including one backing the city’s authority to seek taxes from drivers who use paid parking lots at state universities—which could embolden tax enthusiasts in San Francisco even more.

“I think SF is going to be the poster child, one way or another, for aggressively looking for money from business,” Joseph Bankman, Stanford University professor of law and business, said. ...

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July 15, 2019 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (2)

UC-Irvine Issues Call For Presentations: Machine Intelligence And The Changing Nature Of Tax Practice

The UC-Irvine Graduate Tax Program has issued a call for presentations at its second annual UCI/Lavar Taylor Tax Symposium on Machine Intelligence and the Changing Nature of Tax Practice on February 24, 2020:

UC Irvine (20192)The purposes of this full-day symposium is to launch an in-depth discussion on how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing or is expected to change the nature of tax practice. We are interested in submissions for proposed presentations on any area related to tax and AI, including any of the relevant subfields such as machine learning, neural networks, big data analytics, natural language processing, etc. The symposium will be attended by tax industry professionals, government officials, and academic researchers. We expect about 150-200 attendees this year. Presenters of accepted submissions will be invited to present at the symposium. The Graduate Tax Program will cover the presenters’ reasonable travel and lodging expenses.   

We accept submissions from:

  • Tax practitioners (in law firms, accounting firms, in-house practices, and tax preparation industry);
  • Entrepreneurs in relevant fields;
  • Government officials, tax policymakers, and tax policy advocates;
  • Academic or industry researchers.

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July 15, 2019 in Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lesson From The Tax Court: Effect Of Lump Sum SSI Election On Premium Tax Credit

Tax Court (2017) Last year I blogged about one unhappy feature of the Affordable Care Act (ACA):  §36B has no wiggle room in it to deal with reasonable taxpayer errors in calculating their Premium Tax Credit (PTC).  As a result, taxpayers sometimes get hit with really big deficiencies, even when the error is someone else’s fault.

Section 36B(f)(2)(B) tries to limit the harshness.  For families whose income is less than 400% of the relevant poverty line, that provision puts a cap on how much an error will cost them.  But that is no help to families who are just outside of the 400% threshold.  Nor does the law permit the Tax Court or the IRS to distinguish between good faith errors and taxpayer negligence.  I like how Christine Speidel put it in this post: “The problem for taxpayers hoping to avoid strict reconciliation is that section 36B simply does not have a mechanism to consider equity in the reconciliation of APTC.”

The good folks at Procedurally Taxing have really been on top of this §36B problem.  Here’s a list of their blog posts on the subject.  In particular, Christine Speidel has a good summary of the law here, and Samantha Galvin illustrates two recent §36B cases here

Two recent Tax Court decisions reveal a new dimension to §36B harshness: it’s interplay with the lump-sum SSI election in §86(e).  In Charles W. Monroe and Rebecca A. Monro v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2019-41 (Apr. 24, 2019) (Judge Ruwe), and in Levon Johnson v. Commissioner, 152 T.C. No. 6 (Mar. 11, 2019) (Judge Gerber), the question was whether an SSI lump sum catch-up payment had to be counted in calculating PTC eligibility when the taxpayers had made an election under §86(e) to reallocate the lump-sum payment from current year into prior years.  The Court looked at the text of §36B and said “yep, gotta include the lump sum.” 

I doubt the Court enjoyed coming to its conclusion because the harsh result turns the tax law into a “gotcha” game that even reasonable taxpayers will lose.  But if you learn the lesson these cases teach, you can at least help your clients who are in similar situations. 

There was an alternative interpretation here, however, that practitioners might press upon the Tax Court in future cases.  A closer look at the §36B language suggests it may well have room for a different "plain language" interpretation consistent with the §86(e) policy.  While the Court's holding was not unreasonable, neither was was it desirable, and it was sure as heck not inevitable.  Details below the fold.

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July 15, 2019 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

IRS Releases Draft 2019 Tax Forms

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, July 14, 2019

WSJ: Biden Made 'Aggressive' Use Of Edwards-Gingrich Sub S Loophole To Skirt $500k In Taxes

Biden Tax Return

Wall Street Journal, Joe Biden Used Tax-Code Loophole Obama Tried to Plug:

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden used a tax loophole that the Obama administration tried and failed to close, substantially lowering his tax bill.

Mr. Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, routed their book and speech income through S corporations, according to tax returns the couple released this week. They paid income taxes on those profits, but the strategy let the couple avoid the 3.8% self-employment tax they would have paid had they been compensated directly instead of through the S corporations.

The tax savings were as much as $500,000, compared to what the Bidens would have owed if paid directly or if the Obama proposal had become law.

“There’s no reason for these to be in an S corp—none, other than to save on self-employment tax,” said Tony Nitti, an accountant at RubinBrown LLP who reviewed the returns.

The technique is known in tax circles as the Gingrich-Edwards loophole—for former presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, a Republican, and John Edwards, a Democrat—whose tax strategies were scrutinized and drew calls for policy changes years ago. Other prominent politicians, including former President Barack Obama and fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton, as well as current contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, received their book or speech income differently and paid self-employment taxes. ...

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July 14, 2019 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (2)

Should Governments Tax The Rich And Subsidize The Poor? A Comparative Study Of Muslim And Christian Respondents

Robert W. McGee (Fayetteville State University), Serkan Benk (Inonu University, Turkey) & Bahadir Yuzbasi (Inonu University, Turkey), Should Governments Tax the Rich and Subsidize the Poor? A Comparative Study of Muslim and Christian Respondents:

This study used the most recent World Values Survey dataset to determine whether Christian and Muslim views on the acceptability of taxing the rich and subsidizing the poor was an essential feature of democracy. The sample size included more than 23,000 individuals from more than 50 countries. More than a dozen socioeconomic and attitudinal variables were also examined to determine whether significant differences existed. The study found that differences in viewpoint were often significant.

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July 14, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

SSRN Logo (2018)There is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new #1 paper and a new paper debuting on the list at #4:

  1. [479 Downloads]  The President's Tax Returns, by Andy Grewal (Iowa)
  2. [222 Downloads]  A Tax Professor's Guide to Formative Assessment, by Heather Field (UC-Hastings)
  3. [179 Downloads]  Where Is the Opportunity in Opportunity Zones? Early Indicators of the Opportunity Zone Program’s Impact on Commercial Property Prices, by Alan Sage (MIT), Mike Langen (Maastricht University) & Alex Van de Minne (MIT)
  4. [150 Downloads]  Wayfair, What's Fair, and Undue Burden, by Michael Fatale (Massachusetts Department of Revenue)
  5. [138 Downloads]  The Supreme Court, Due Process and State Income Taxation of Trusts, by Bridget Crawford (Pace) & Michelle Simon (Pace)

July 14, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 13, 2019

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Death Of Jeff Sherman (Chicago-Kent)

ShermanIn Memoriam: Professor Jeffrey G. Sherman:

The Chicago-Kent College of Law community mourns the death of Professor of Law Emeritus Jeffrey G. Sherman, a one-of-a-kind professor who served as an institutional conscience to the law school for 32 years. He passed away recently at the age of 72.

“Jeff Sherman was a gifted teacher, a fabulous colleague and a zealous defender of the integrity of the English language,” says Chicago-Kent Dean Harold J. Krent.

Sherman joined the Chicago-Kent faculty as an associate professor in fall 1978. Over the years, he taught the courses in Estates and Trusts, Gift and Estate Tax, and Employee Benefits Law. Prior to joining the law school, he was an assistant professor of law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1976 to 1978. He also was a visiting professor at Harvard in 1993 and 1995 and also visited at University of California Los Angeles in 1990, the University of Miami in 1987, the University of Illinois in 1983, and the University of Arizona in 1981.

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July 13, 2019 in Legal Education, News, Obituaries, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, July 12, 2019

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Layser Reviews Blank & Osofsky's Legal Calculators And The Tax System

This week, Michelle Layser (Illinois) reviews a new work by Joshua D. Blank (UC-Irvine) and Leigh Osofsky (North Carolina), Legal Calculators and the Tax System, 15 Ohio St. Tech. L.J. ___ (2019).

Layser (2018)

The IRS has long attempted to aid wary taxpayers by publishing informal guidance that translates tax laws into more understandable statements. In previous work, Professors Joshua Blank and Leigh Osofsky have argued that such plain language guidance often oversimplifies complicated tax laws, opening the door to errors. They have called this characteristic “simplexity.” In their newest article on the subject, Blank and Osofsky identify another—potentially more serious—example of tax guidance that reflects simplexity: automated legal calculators like the IRS’s Interactive Tax Assistant.

In the context of tax compliance, legal calculators are essentially algorithmically programmed, automated tax advisors that perform mathematical calculations and attempt to calculate taxpayers’ legal consequences. It sounds technical, but anyone who has ever used TurboTax is familiar with the basic concept. The legal calculator “asks” the user questions about their profile and economic activities, and then it generates advice about what income might be taxable, what deductions or credits may be available, whether it makes sense for a taxpayer to itemize, and so forth.

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July 12, 2019 in Michelle Layser, Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Trump's Taxes And Tax Returns

Big Data And Inheritance Rules In The Modern Family

Shelly Kreiczer-Levy (Emory), Big Data and the Modern Family, 2019 Wis. L. Rev. 349:

Despite numerous reforms over the years, intestate succession rules continue to privilege traditional, white, heterosexual families. It is evident that the one-size-fits-all scheme cannot truly reflect diversity of lifestyles and associations. This Article considers an innovative option that has become increasingly popular in recent years: using big data to create personalized rules, tailored to the personal characteristics of each decedent. This Article explores the promise and drawbacks of personalized intestacy, arguing that personalized default rules fall short in the realm of inheritance, because these rules are personal and inheritance law is inherently relational.

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July 12, 2019 in Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

National Taxpayer Advocate Publishes 'Subway Map' Of Taxpayer’s Journey Through The Tax System

Subway

IR-2019-123 (July 10, 2019), National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson Releases Comprehensive Report Intended to Improve EITC Administration; Publishes "Subway Map" of Taxpayer’s Journey Through the Tax System:

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson today released a special report on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which makes recommendations designed to increase the participation rate of eligible taxpayers and reduce overclaims by ineligible taxpayers. Also today, the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) published a subway map that depicts a taxpayer’s “journey” through the tax system to help taxpayers and policymakers better understand the tax administration process.

Special report on Earned Income Tax Credit

The EITC report, Earned Income Tax Credit: Making the EITC Work for Taxpayers and the Government, presents a detailed examination of the strengths and weaknesses of the EITC as currently structured and administered, and makes legislative and administrative recommendations to improve it. The report runs more than 100 pages – roughly half text and half appendices consisting of EITC data tables (page 49) (PDF) and a comprehensive literature review (page 82) (PDF).

“But this report is not just a research document,” Olson wrote in her preface. “It is a call to action. As we show throughout this report, the way the EITC is structured and the way the IRS is administering it often harms the very taxpayers it is intended to serve. We have made specific, common sense recommendations to mitigate that harm and reform the administration of the EITC. All our recommendations are actionable and supported by data and research.”

The report makes both general, conceptual recommendations and specific recommendations. Among the general recommendations:

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July 12, 2019 in IRS News, Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Buchanan: Tax Law Is The Lynchpin Of Civilization

Jotwell (Tax) (2016)Neil H. Buchanan (George Washington), The Law of Taxation Is the Lynchpin of Civilization (JOTWELL) (reviewing John Snape (Warwick) & Dominic de Cogan (Cambridge), Introduction: On the Significance of Revenue Cases, in Landmark Cases in Revenue Law 1 (John Snape & Dominic de Cogan eds. 2019):

John Snape and Dominic de Cogan, two legal scholars from universities in England, have provided a significant contribution to the emerging scholarly discussion in many different countries about the nature and limits of the law—not just tax law, which is their nominal domain in this chapter and book, but of all law. Without being at all polemical, and although they give a fair hearing to those with whom they disagree, they make an undeniable case for the claim that the study of tax law is ultimately the study of, to be honest, everything. ...

Snape and de Cogan’s edited volume is part of the Landmark Cases series, an analogue (which the editors readily acknowledge) to the Law Stories series in the United States that began with Tax Stories. Like its American counterpart, a Landmark Cases volume can serve as an avenue for understanding an area of the law through the study of a small canon of foundational legal decisions that continue to shape our understanding of that particular area of the law. ...

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July 11, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (6)

The Trump Economy Is Leaving Many Americans Behind

New York Times op-ed:  The Trump Economy Is Leaving Many Americans Behind, by Steven Rattner:

2020 presidential candidates should highlight the economic shortcomings that still exist to counter the president’s sunny narrative.

A major new poll released Sunday showed that Donald Trump’s approval rating is on the rise, particularly for his handling of the economy. How can Democrats make their case for why the economy may not be as good as it can appear? Here are three examples of groups of Americans who are being left behind.

It may be common knowledge that African-Americans are not as well-off financially as white Americans, but what is not widely understood is the extent to which black Americans have fallen further behind over the past nearly two decades. In 2002, African-Americans, on average, earned just over 80 percent of what white Americans earned. By the first quarter of this year, after various ups and downs, that figure had fallen to about 76 percent. ...

Rattner 1

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July 11, 2019 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (6)

Clausing: Taxing The Rich

Kimberly Clausing (Reed College), Taxing the Rich:

The Issue: Many Americans have not felt the benefits of strong GDP growth in recent decades, as thirty-five years of rising income inequality have concentrated the income growth at the top of the distribution. While the federal income tax system is progressive, it has failed to counter these trends, and some of our tax policy changes have in fact exacerbated inequality. At present, many feel that the U.S. government needs more revenue for urgent fiscal priorities such as infrastructure, yet the federal government is operating with high budget deficits and debt. Thus, as policy-makers search for new revenues, some are eager to increase tax payments by those at the top of the income distribution.

The Facts: Economic inequality has increased dramatically in the United States, and because of this, gains in real GDP per-capita are often not felt by many in our society. (See chart.)

Clausing

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July 11, 2019 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (2)

NY Times: Can States Just Say No To Corporate Giveaways?

New York Times editorial, Can States Just Say No to Corporate Giveaways?:

No place better illustrates the absurdities of the proliferating use of tax incentives for job creation than the Kansas City metro area, which straddles the Missouri-Kansas state line.

Over the past decade, Missouri and Kansas have offered more than $330 million in tax breaks to lure companies back and forth across State Line Road. More than 100 companies and more than 12,000 workers have moved to new offices, some headed east, some headed west. Missouri poached Swiss Re and Applebee’s; Kansas got JPMorgan Chase and AMC Entertainment.

The net result? No increase in economic activity; no improvement in the lives of workers. Just a few more jobs in Kansas, a few less in Missouri — and a big loss of tax dollars.

Corporate tax incentives are a dubious business. The giveaways frequently serve no higher purpose than rewarding businesses for moving where they already plan to move or creating jobs they already plan to create. And even when incentives prove motivational, there is often reason to question whether governments are getting value for the money.

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July 11, 2019 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Symposium: Feminist Judgments — Rewritten Tax Opinions

Pittsburgh Tax Review (2017)The Pittsburgh Tax Review has published Symposium, Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions, 16 Pitt. Tax Rev. 115-208 (2019):

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July 10, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ring: International Tax Reform And Improved Wealth Distribution Across The Globe

Jotwell (Tax) (2016)Diane Ring (Boston College), A Path to International Tax Reform and Improved Wealth Distribution Across the Globe (JOTWELL) (reviewing Tarcísio Diniz Magalhães (International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation), What Is Really Wrong with Global Tax Governance and How to Properly Fix It, 10 World Tax J. (2018)):

Thomas Piketty’s work brought the reality of unequal distributions of wealth into mainstream media and popular discourse. In the tax world, the conversation now regularly turns to a consideration of whether and how the international tax regime contributes to existing patterns of wealth and income distribution across nations. Certainly, the tax norms and rules that shape the basic roadmap of international tax (including source, residence and permanent establishment provisions) contribute to existing distributions of wealth—and relatedly taxable income—across jurisdictions. Why do these patterns persist? And perhaps more importantly, what would it take for change?

recent article by Tarcísio Diniz Magalhães aims to develop answers to both questions.

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July 10, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Business Tax Symposium Today At Oxford

Oxford Business Tax (2019)The Centre for Business Taxation's annual three-day summer symposium concludes today at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford (program):

Thiess Buettner (FAU), Sales and Price Effects of Pre-announced Consumption Tax Reforms: Microlevel Evidence from European VAT (with Boryana Madzharova (FAU))
Discussant: Paul Baker (Bath)

Chris Evans (New South Wales), Diagnosing the VAT Compliance Burden: A Cross-Country Assessment (with Richard Highfield, Binh Tran-Nam & Michael Walpole (New South Wales))
Discussant: Alice Pirlot (Oxford)

Enda Hargaden (Tennessee), Does Statutory Incidence Matter? Earnings Responses to Social Security Contributions (with Barra Roantree (Economic and Social Research Institute))
Discussant: Michael Stimmelmayr (ETH Zurich)

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July 10, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gianni: Partnership Audit Rules After The Final Regulations

Monica Gianni (California State University Northridge), Partnership Audit Rules: After the Final Regulations, 128 J. Tax'n 9 (June 2019):

As part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA), Congress repealed the TEFRA audit rules and the audit rules for electing large partnerships and replaced them with a new audit regime (the BBA audit rules). The BBA audit rules generally are effective for audits of partnership returns for tax years beginning after 2017. Although the TEFRA audit rules were enacted in 1982 to address issues with partnership audits, particularly tax shelters, they proved difficult to implement. In a 1990 report to Congress, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Treasury concluded that large partnership audits were an inefficient and time-intensive use of limited resources. The BBA audit rules address the deficiencies of the TEFRA audit rules through a centralized audit system that requires partnership adjustments to be determined at the partnership level and any tax attributable to the adjustments to be assessed and collected at the partnership level. The rules allow for a small-partnership opt-out and an elective alternative to “push out” the audit adjustments made and tax paid to the partners. The audit process is streamlined by limiting the right to notices and participation in the audit to one “partnership representative” who has the “sole authority” to act for the partnership in an audit.

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July 10, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Choi: The Substantive Canons Of Tax Law

Jonathan H. Choi (NYU), The Substantive Canons of Tax Law, 72 Stan. L. Rev. ___ (2019):

Anti-abuse doctrines in tax law have traditionally been formulated as multi-factor tests that weigh the facts of the taxpayer’s case but ignore the tax statute at issue. This approach has proven problematic: some judges import statutory considerations regardless, creating inconsistency and confusion, and some scholars criticize the doctrines as antitextual violations of the separation of powers.

This Article argues that anti-abuse doctrines should be considered substantive canons of construction, interpretive presumptions that can be rebutted by statutory text or purpose. This resolves apparent arbitrariness in the doctrines’ application as simply the rebuttal of presumptions and reconciles them to textualists as constitutionally permissible background norms. It also provides a framework to test the validity of disputed doctrines and allows them to be more flexible and intuitive.

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July 9, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Business Tax Symposium Today At Oxford

Oxford Business Tax (2019)The Centre for Business Taxation's annual three-day summer symposium continues today at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford (program):

Katarzyna Bilicka (Utah State), Debt Shifting Restrictions and Reallocation of Debt (with Yaxuan Qi (City University of Hong Kong) & Jing Xing (Shanghai Jiao Tong))
Discussant: Tim Goodspeed (CUNY)

Jennifer Blouin (Pennsylvania), Double Trouble: How Much of U.S. Multinationals' Profits are Really in Tax Havens? (with Leslie Robinson (Dartmouth College))
Discussant: Travis Chow (Singapore Management University)

Jacob Goldin (Stanford), Ironing Out the Tax Code (with Edward Fox (Michigan))
Discussant: Anzhela Cedelle (Oxford)

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July 9, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Johnson: No Orchard, No Capital Gain

Calvin H. Johnson (Texas), No Orchard, No Capital Gain, 72 Tax Law. 501 (2019):

ABA Tax LawyerAs a matter of principle, capital gain is the gain from invested capital or basis. If the taxpayer has no basis in something of value it sells, there is no capital gain.

The principle that capital gain is gain from capital is embedded in the ordinary English language meaning of “capital gain,” which reflects the long history of the English property system going back into feudal tenures. Property purchased by expenses charged to the income interest remains part of the income interest and does not become capital gain reserved for the next heir.

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July 9, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 8, 2019

Tax Policy Conference Today At Cambridge

Cambridge Centre for Tax LawThe two-day Cambridge Tax Policy Conference hosted by the Centre for Tax Law kicks off today at the University of Cambridge.  U.S. Tax Profs presenting papers include:

Henry Ordower (St Louis), Immigration, Emigration, Fungible Labor and the Retreat from Progressive Taxation

Darien Shanske (UC-Davis), Public Finance and Tax Policy in the World of Goldilocks (or, a Theory of When a System of Public Finance Becomes Disgraceful)

Other U.S. Tax Profs chairing panels include:

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July 8, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Johnston: How To Fix A Big Problem With The Trump-Radical Republican Tax Law

David Cay Johnston, How To Fix A Big Problem With The Trump-Radical Republican Tax Law:

Five Questions Congress Needs to Ask About the Impact of the Lopsided Rewrite of the Tax Code

The American people got a highly misleading June 24 report from Congressional staff about the effect of repealing Donald Trump’s $10,000 limit on state and local tax deductions, known as SALT.

Millionaires and billionaires get most of the benefits if the limitation is repealed, the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation reported [Background On The Itemized Deduction For State And Local Taxes].

Duh. ...

The tax committee staff report showed that households reporting incomes of $1 million or more this year would get almost a third of the tax savings if the $10,000 limit is repealed. That’s not surprising in a nation where some people earn multi-billion-dollar annual incomes and hundreds of people report making more than $100 million per year. ...

The tax committee analysis, released last week, was flawed in several ways. That’s no slight on the committee staff, who are serious experts on tax policy. The committee staff responds to questions from lawmakers and in this case, the questions asked were too narrow. The tax committee staff was simply asked the wrong question. We think members of Congress should ask for a new study, asking the five questions below. ...

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July 8, 2019 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Lesson From The Tax Court: When Does A Business Start?

Tax Court (2017)It takes money to make money.  Generally Congress allows taxpayers to deduct the money it takes from the money they make.  That’s the idea in §162.  But §162’s deceptively simple language----allowing a deduction for all “the ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred in carrying on a trade or business”---has gaps, to be filled by other statutes.  For example, §§183 and 212 apply the §162 idea to activities that are not a “trade or business” but still produce income and have associated costs.  And then there is that pesky timing issue: which costs are “expenses” that should be deducted in the current year and which costs should only allowed to be deducted over a longer period of time?  Sections 168(k) and 179 allow taxpayers to accelerate deductions of certain capital costs that otherwise would not qualify as “expenses” under §162’s simple language.

Section 195 deals with another gap:  how to treat the costs of starting a business.  Section 162 does not permit deductions until such time as the taxpayer is actually “carrying on” the business.  Section 195 allows taxpayers to reach back to the time before the business started and deduct their start up costs.  But to get to use §195 a taxpayer must actually start their business.  Last week’s case of Steven Austin Smith v. Commissioner, T.C. Sum. Op. 2019-12 (July 1, 2019) (Judge Vasquez) teaches a nice lesson about what it means to start a business.  There, the court found that a taxpayer was indeed carrying on his business even in a year where he had no sales income.  To be sure, he still lost because he was unable to substantiate his expenses.  There’s a bit of a lesson there as well.  But the main lesson is about when a business starts.

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July 8, 2019 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (4)

Business Tax Symposium Today At Oxford

Oxford Business Tax (2019)The Centre for Business Taxation's annual three-day summer symposium kicks off today at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford (program):

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan), Bridging the Red-Blue Divide: A Proposal for U.S. Regional Tax Relief (with Orli Avi-Yonah, Nir Fishbien, Gianluca Mazzoni & Haiyan Xu (Michigan))
Discussant: Jennifer Blouin (Pennsylvania)

Lucie Gadenne (Warwick), Taxation and Supplier Networks: Evidence from India (with Tushar K. Nandi (Center for Studies in Social Sciences) & Roland Rathelot (Warwick))
Discussant: Eddy Tam (Oxford)

Itai Grinberg (Georgetown), Stabilizing 'Pillar One': Corporate Profit Reallocation in an Uncertain Environment
Discussant: Michael Devereux (Oxford)

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July 8, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Aprill: 2019 Overview Of Tax Issues For Synagogues And Other Religious Congregations

Ellen P. Aprill (Loyola-L.A.), 2019 Overview of Tax Issues for Synagogues and other Religious Congregations:

The attached revises the guides for synagogues and other religions congregations that I posted in 2010. These new versions reflect applicable law as of June, 2019. They summarize the rules I have been most often asked in the many years I have given advice on these matters, primarily with the Jewish community. One guide is directed specifically at synagogues; the other to religious congregations generally. (I use the term “religious congregations” rather than “churches” to be more inclusive.)

In addition to an overview, each guide discusses: (a) requirements for setting compensation; (b) lobbying and campaign; (c) substantiation of charitable contributions; (d) charitable fundraising; (e) payroll taxes and withholding for clergy; (f) parsonage and housing allowances; and (g) discretionary funds.

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July 7, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

SSRN Logo (2018)This week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, is the same as last week's list:

  1. [508 Downloads]  International Effective Minimum Taxation – The GLOBE Proposal, by Joachim Englisch (University of Muenster) & Johannes Becker (University of Muenster)
  2. [469 Downloads]  The President's Tax Returns, by Andy Grewal (Iowa)
  3. [220 Downloads]  A Tax Professor's Guide to Formative Assessment, by Heather Field (UC-Hastings)
  4. [162 Downloads]  Where Is the Opportunity in Opportunity Zones? Early Indicators of the Opportunity Zone Program’s Impact on Commercial Property Prices, by Alan Sage (MIT), Mike Langen (Maastricht University) & Alex Van de Minne (MIT)
  5. [137 Downloads]  The Supreme Court, Due Process and State Income Taxation of Trusts, by Bridget Crawford (Pace) & Michelle Simon (Pace)

July 7, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 6, 2019

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Whitelashing: Black Politicians, Taxes, And Violence

Trevon Logan (Ohio State), Whitelashing: Black Politicians, Taxes, and Violence:

This paper provides the first evidence of the effect of tax policy on the likelihood of violent attacks against black politicians. I find a strong positive effect of local tax revenue on subsequent violence against black politicians. A dollar increase in per capita county taxes increases the likelihood of a violent attack by more than 25%. The result is robust to numerous economic, social, historical, and political factors. I also find that counties where black officeholders were attacked had the largest negative tax revenue changes between 1870 and 1880 and that violence against black politicians is unrelated to other forms of post-Reconstruction racial violence. This provides the first quantitative evidence that political violence at Reconstruction's end was related to black political efficacy.

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July 6, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 5, 2019

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Kim Reviews Schön's How To Tax The Digitalized Economy

This week, Young Ran (Christine) Kim (Utah) reviews a new work by Wolfgang Schön (Max Planck), One Answer to Why and How to Tax the Digitalized Economy (June 2019).

KimTaxation of the digitalized economy is without a doubt the most important topic of international taxation in 2019. The G20 and the OECD have already released three documents this year—a Policy Note in January, a Public Consultation Document in February, and a Programme of Work to Develop a Consensus Solution in May—to follow up on the Action 1 of the BEPS Project (Addressing the Tax Challenges of the Digital Economy) released in 2015 and the interim report published in 2018. The February 2019 Public Consultation Document outlines three proposals under its consideration: 1) the User Participation Proposal, 2) the Marketing Intangibles Proposal, and 3) the Significant Economic Presence Proposal. The subsequent May 2010 Programme of Work categorized important differences in the prior three proposals into new nexus rules and new profit allocation rules. In consideration of the new profit allocation rules, the Programme of Work addressed several options under a number of different labels, including the modified residual profit split method, fractional apportionment method, distribution-based approaches, and so on.

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July 5, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Grinberg Presents Corporate Profit Reallocation In An Uncertain Environment Today At Oxford

GrinbergItai Grinberg (Georgetown) presents Stabilizing 'Pillar One': Corporate Profit Reallocation in an Uncertain Environment at the annual summer conference on Taxing the Digitalised Economy: Closing in on Reform (program) today at the Centre for Business Taxation at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford:

This paper is about how the world reestablishes international tax order.

The paper focuses on the OECD’s work on profit reallocation and asks whether this multilateral effort can be successful in stabilizing the international tax system. The analysis centers on the current leading concepts for reallocating profit among jurisdictions under what is known as “Pillar One” of the OECD work programme. To analyze whether any Pillar One concept can be turned into a stable multilateral regime, it is necessary to specify certain elements of what a proposal to reallocate profits might entail. Accordingly, this paper sets out two strawman proposals. One strawman uses a “market intangibles” concept that explicitly separates routine and residual returns. The other strawman might be described, in current OECD parlance, as a “distribution-based” approach.

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July 5, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Goldin & Reck: Revealed Preference Analysis With Framing Effects

Jacob Goldin (Stanford) & Daniel Reck (London School of Economics), Revealed Preference Analysis with Framing Effects:

In many settings, decision-makers’ behavior is observed to vary based on seemingly arbitrary factors. Such framing effects cast doubt on the welfare conclusions drawn from revealed preference analysis. We relax the assumptions underlying that approach to accommodate settings in which framing effects are present. Plausible restrictions of varying strength permit either partial- or point-identification of preferences for the decision-makers who choose consistently across frames. Recovering population preferences requires understanding the empirical relationship between decision-makers’ preferences and their sensitivity to the frame. We develop tools for studying this relationship and illustrate them with data on automatic enrollment into pension plans.

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July 4, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Yale: Mutual Fund Tax Overhang

Ethan Yale (Virginia), Mutual Fund Tax Overhang, 38 Va. Tax Rev. 397 (2019):

The built-in gain in a mutual fund’s portfolio is referred to as “tax overhang.” Tax is imposed on investors who buy shares in mutual funds with tax overhang even though the gain accrued before their investment. The consequence is accelerated tax, increasing the shareholders’ effective tax rate. This article (1) explains why this occurs and why it is a problem, (2) describes the magnitude of the problem, (3) describes and illustrates avoidance strategies funds use to avoid the bad effects of tax overhang, (4) argues that reform is warranted, and (5) describes and evaluates the options for reform.

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July 3, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Law Of High-Wealth Exceptionalism

Allison Anna Tait (Richmond), The Law of High-Wealth Exceptionalism, 71 Ala. L. Rev. ___ (2019):

No family is an island. But some families would like to be – at least when it comes to wealth preservation – and they depend on what this Article calls the law of high-wealth exceptionalism to facilitate their success. The law of high-wealth exceptionalism has been forged, over the years, from the twinned scripts of wealth management and family wealth law, both of which constitute high-wealth families as sovereign entities capable of self-regulation and deserving of exemption from the rules that govern ordinary-wealth families. Consequently, high-wealth families take advantage of complicated estate planning techniques and highly favorable wealth rules in order build walls around their family fortunes and construct bespoke governance systems. Hiding in plain sight, the law of high-wealth exceptionalism protects, privileges, and enables high-wealth families in their own particular form of organizational sovereignty.

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July 3, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS ‘Black Hole’ Swallows Whistleblower Against Koch, Walmart

Bloomberg Tax, IRS ‘Black Hole’ Swallows Whistleblower Against Koch, Walmart:

Oxbow WalmartCharles Middleton has spent almost 10 years wondering whether becoming a whistleblower to the IRS was worth it.

A former senior tax executive at Walmart and billionaire Bill Koch’s Oxbow Carbon, Middleton in 2009 filed the first of several confidential claims he’s made against his employers. He asserted, in hundreds of pages of documents obtained by Bloomberg Tax, that those companies engaged in questionable practices that he estimated resulted in more than $250 million in tax dodges by Walmart and $350 million by Koch’s business—allegations both companies vehemently deny.

As far as Middleton knows, the claims haven’t been resolved, according to the documents and one of his lawyers. He’s not sure how they’re progressing because the IRS has kept him mostly in the dark, he said in several of the documents.

Middleton’s cases reflect a level of secrecy particular to the IRS’s whistleblower program. Tax code Section 6103 prohibits IRS employees from disclosing tax information about an individual or company—which the IRS, according to reports from its whistleblower office, interprets as a need to limit interaction after claims are filed.

Lawyers say the limited communication can leave hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes uncollected and frustrate people like Middleton who put their careers on the line. “And you don’t want a lot of whistleblowers out there bad-mouthing the program,” because new whistleblowers won’t come forward, said Stephen M. Kohn, an attorney at Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, who represents such individuals.

The agency, in most cases, has a one-interview policy with whistleblowers, according to Kohn and the IRS’s own reports. After that it’s the “Black Hole of Calcutta,” Kohn said, referring to the dungeon in India where British prisoners were held in the mid-1700s.

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July 3, 2019 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times: House Files Lawsuit Seeking Disclosure Of Trump's Tax Returns

New York Times, House Files Lawsuit Seeking Disclosure of Trump Tax Returns:

Trump Tax ReturnsThe House sued the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday, demanding access to President Trump’s tax returns and escalating a fight with an administration that has repeatedly dismissed as illegitimate its attempt to obtain the financial records.

The lawsuit moves the dispute into the federal courts after months of sniping between the Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee, which requested and then subpoenaed the returns, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The case may ultimately go to the Supreme Court, and its outcome is likely to determine whether financial information that Mr. Trump has kept closely guarded in spite of longstanding presidential tradition will be viewed by Congress and, ultimately, the public.

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July 3, 2019 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bend It Like Beckham Bank

Bend it like Bank:

BankSteven Bank is one of the most respected American authorities on the subject of soccer and the law. The Paul Hastings Professor of Business Law at UCLA School of Law, Bank focuses much of his writing and teaching on the law and history of taxation, corporate governance and executive compensation. But he also kicks out scholarly essays on legal issues involving soccer’s governing bodies, including FIFA — the international soccer federation sponsoring the 2019 Women’s World Cup. He teaches classes on soccer and the law, both at UCLA Law and as part of UCLA’s undergraduate Fiat Lux seminar series, and is a prolific writer and tweeter on soccer, soccer law and international sports law. When not at work, Bank, who is also the law school’s vice dean for curricular and academic affairs, is often on the soccer pitch, playing pick-up ball, coaching local youth teams, supporting his four children as they play, and serving as a referee or administrator for youth leagues and club teams.

What makes soccer a compelling subject for your scholarship?

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July 3, 2019 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Blank & Osofsky: Legal Calculators And The Tax System

Joshua D. Blank (UC-Irvine) & Leigh Osofsky (North Carolina), Legal Calculators and the Tax System, 15 Ohio St. Tech. L.J. ___ (2019):

When consumers have questions about companies’ services and products, whether medical insurance, airline tickets or home appliances, they almost always encounter automated agents and other forms of customer service technology. Increasingly, tax authorities have begun to offer online decision-making tools to provide guidance regarding the tax law to taxpayers. The IRS’s “Interactive Tax Assistant,” for instance, asks taxpayers personal questions and then delivers answers on topics such as whether gambling losses are deductible, self-employment tax is owed and exceptions to early IRA retirement account withdrawal penalties apply. These online tools can be described as “legal calculators”: they not only perform mathematical calculations, but they attempt to calculate taxpayers’ legal consequences as well.

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July 2, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)