Friday, January 27, 2023
This week, Tracey Roberts (Cumberland; Google Scholar) reviews a new work by David A. Weisbach (Chicago; Google Scholar), Samuel S. Kortum (Yale; Google Scholar), Yujia Yao (IMF) and Michael Wang (Northwestern), Trade, Leakage, and the Design of a Carbon Tax (Jan. 20, 2023):
Communities throughout the world are facing extreme weather events, including heat waves, droughts, wildfires, severe storms events, tornados, hurricanes/ tropical cyclones, storm surges and floods. Important and unique ecosystems are suffering irreparable harm, including polar and high mountain areas, tropical systems, and coral reefs. The risks of large-scale climate shifts, such as deglaciation, ice sheet loss, rapid sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and changes in thermohaline circulation system are rising. We are currently witnessing secondary effects of these processes including biodiversity loss, fishery collapse, deforestation, conflicts over natural resources, global migration, and threats to economic, social and political stability. All countries have a stake in these outcomes. Ideally, all countries would coordinate their efforts to address climate change.
January 27, 2023 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tracey Roberts, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink
Friday, December 9, 2022
This week, Tracey Roberts (Cumberland; Google Scholar) reviews Roberta Mann (Oregon), Targeting Plastic Pollution with Taxes, 37 J. Land Use & Envtl. L. __ (2022).
In the 1967 film, The Graduate, Benjamin Braddock has just finished college and, having returned to his parents' Pasadena home, he is trying to avoid the one question everyone keeps asking: "What are you going to do with your life?" One of his father’s business partners, Mr. McGuire, pulls Ben aside to make a recommendation: "I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. ... Are you listening?... Plastics.... There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?... Enough said. That's a deal."
It’s a deal Americans took and ran with. Since the 1970s, plastics have come to define our way of life. Plastic seemed to be the ideal substance; it is strong, light-weight, durable, and cheap. Now, decades later, we realize that durability has a cost that belies the adjective “cheap.”
December 9, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tracey Roberts, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink
Friday, October 28, 2022
This week, Tracey Roberts (Cumberland; Google Scholar) reviews Tsilly Dagan (Oxford; Google Scholar), Tax Justice in the Era of Mobility and Fragmentation, 4 Revue européenne du droit, Paris: Groupe d’études géopolitiques (Summer 2022).
At a recent Oxford University Philosophy, Law, and Politics Colloquium at All Souls College, Dr. Liam Murphy (NYU) presented his paper, “Why Tax Wealth?” to a large assembly of students and scholars hailing from countries all over the globe and bringing insights from an array of disciplinary fields. He acknowledged that taxing wealth may be an effective and efficient means to tax income from capital (which largely escapes taxation in the United States), but noted that his focus in this article was on the role wealth taxation plays in securing economic justice; he asked whether wealth, itself, contributes to welfare. As some of the colloquium participants noted, Murphy’s fellow political philosopher, Professor Martha Fineman (Emory), would argue that human beings experience an array of vulnerabilities in this material world, that we have differing levels of resilience, that wealth provides an important form of resilience, and that the state has an important role in ensuring our resilience.
October 28, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tracey Roberts, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink
Tuesday, August 23, 2022
This week, Tracey Roberts (Cumberland; Google Scholar) reviews Ryan Rafaty (Oxford; Google Scholar), Geoffroy Dolphin (Cambridge) & Felix Pretis (Victoria; Google Scholar), Carbon Pricing and the Elasticity of Co2 Emissions, (Aug. 12, 2022).
In December of 2014, at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, nearly 200 countries agreed to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.” These temperature goals are designed to avoid the extraordinary economic, social, and ecological damage likely to occur if we fail to address climate change in an effective way. To meet these goals, all countries will need to transform their economies to change their power generation and transmission systems, transportation systems, their industrial processes, their built environments, including heating and cooling systems, and land use policies for timberlands, grasslands, and farms. It will also require that we change our consumption habits. The next question was: “How can we do all of that?”
August 23, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tracey Roberts, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink
Friday, June 3, 2022
This week, Tracey Roberts (Cumberland; Google Scholar) reviews A Half Century with the Internal Revenue Code, The Memoirs of Stanley S. Surrey (Carolina Academic Press 2022), edited by Lawrence A. Zelenak (Duke) and Ajay K. Mehrotra (Northwestern; Google Scholar).
Stanley Surrey devoted five decades to shaping and elucidating the structures of the income tax, to decrying its use as a mechanism to grant unwarranted financial favors to select interest groups, and to training generations of students and lawyers for leadership in government, in academia, and in private practice in the U.S. and internationally. Surrey served as an advisor and Tax Legislative Counsel to the Department of Treasury from 1937 to 1947, as the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury from 1961 to 1969, and as a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law and at Harvard Law School, where he founded the International Tax Program. Surrey saw himself as an activist scholar. In their introduction to their edited edition of Surrey’s memoirs, Larry Zelenak and Ajay Mehrotra survey Surrey’s extraordinary career as largely one of unified thought and action in service to fairness, equity, the integrity nation’s tax system, and its effectiveness in securing the federal fisc.
June 3, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tracey Roberts, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink
Friday, April 8, 2022
This week, Tracey Roberts (Cumberland; Google Scholar) reviews new works by:
Recently, ProPublica uncovered troves of tax information for the wealthiest Americans, revealing numerous pathways by which they avoid taxes. Last year the Department of the Treasury estimated that the tax gap, the difference between taxes that are owed and the taxes that have been paid, has increased to approximately $600 billion per year. Over the next ten years, this comes to $7 trillion in lost tax revenue, important resources that might be used to reduce the federal debt, for those concerned about such matters, and to address other needs as COVID 19 recedes and we recover from its impacts. Using tax data, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman have estimated that the top one percent of taxpayers are responsible for one-third of that tax gap. These recent reports demonstrate that the federal income tax and the estate and gift taxes are inadequate in ensuring that the ultrawealthy in the United States pay their fair share. Two recent papers delve into historical resources, constitutional caselaw, and constitutional history to underscore that concerns about adequate taxation of the wealthy are not new, but are instead central to our nation’s founding, to the periods in which our country has faced its greatest challenges, and to democracy.
April 8, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tracey Roberts, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink
Friday, February 11, 2022
This week, Tracey Roberts (Cumberland; Google Scholar) reviews a new work by Michael Love (Berkeley), Where in the World Does Partnership Income Go? Evidence of a Growing Use of Tax Havens.
In 2016, in The Hidden Wealth of Nations, UC Berkeley Associate Professor of Economics Gabriel Zucman quantified the amount of the world’s assets held in tax havens, clarified the ways large-scale tax evasion undermined global markets, and explained the connection between tax evasion and financial, budgetary and democratic crises occurring throughout the world. He argued that tax evasion can be stopped, but only if we have statistics to measure it, if we implement policies and penalties to address it, and if we monitor our progress. In his recent research, Michael Love has made important progress in measuring the flow of partnership income to tax havens and monitoring the effects of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in improving reporting and compliance by U.S. investors.
February 11, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tracey Roberts, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink
Friday, January 7, 2022
This week, Tracey Roberts (Cumberland; Google Scholar) reviews a new work by Edward A. Zelinsky (Cardozo), Comments to the Department of Labor Proposed ERISA Regulations, “Prudence and Loyalty in Selecting Plan Investments and Exercising Shareholder Rights,” amending and restating 29 CFR §2550.404a-1.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) protects retirement plan participants and beneficiaries in a variety of ways. Under ERISA, pension plans must meet certain standards with respect to (i) participation, identifying who may participate, (ii) vesting, establishing how long those individuals must work to receive retirement funds, (iii) funding, determining the minimum amount of funds that must be set aside to pay future plan participants, (iv) management, requiring fund managers to adhere to a fiduciary standards, handling funds prudently and in the best interests of plan participants, and (v) disclosure, requiring plan managers to inform participants of their rights and the financial status of the plan. The Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service oversee plan participation, vesting, and funding. Participants in qualifying plans enjoy tax deduction and deferral benefits. They also retain the right to sue to recover earned benefits. The Department of Labor regulates fiduciary standards and requirements for reporting and disclosure of financial information.
January 7, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tracey Roberts, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink
Friday, October 1, 2021
This week, Tracey Roberts (Cumberland; Google Scholar) reviews a new work by K. King Burnett, John D. Leshy (UC-Hastings), and Nancy A. McLaughlin (Utah), Building Better Conservation Easements for America the Beautiful, 45 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. Online ___ (2021).
In May, the Biden Administration released a report developed by the Departments of Commerce, Interior, and Agriculture, and the Council on Environmental Quality, “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful,” which announced a new initiative to conserve 30 percent of the nation’s land and waters by 2030. Professors Arthur Middleton (UC Berkeley) and Justin Brashares (UC Berkeley), note in their New York Times op/ed, that additional lands twice the size of Texas will need to be conserved to achieve this goal. Given that more than half of U.S. forests and two-thirds of the species on the Endangered Species List have their primary habitat on private lands, they argue that conservation easements provide the key pathway to conservation at this scale.
October 1, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tracey Roberts, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink
Friday, August 20, 2021
This week, Tracey Roberts (Cumberland; Google Scholar) reviews a new work by Christopher G. Bradley (Kentucky) & Cameron Baskett (J.D. 2021, Kentucky), Property Tax Privateers, 40 Va. Tax Rev. __ (2021).
"Property tax privateers" are third-party investors that buy property tax liens in bulk, frequently at a steep discount, from local governments. They then foreclose on those liens, often pocketing not only the full value of the lien (plus interest, fees, and costs), but also most of the homeowners' equity in the home. While a homeowner's tax delinquency may initially have been no greater than $100, the impacts to the household include the expulsion of vulnerable individuals from their family home, loss of what is often the family's sole source of wealth, dislocation, and homelessness. In addition, these foreclosures undermine several of the key goals and uses of property taxes: fostering community, stability and support through particular amenities. At the same time, the bulk sales offer very little in the way of local benefit, since the government is likely to have received only a fraction of the value of the lien and foreclosure rarely spurs increased investment. The authors advocate for reforms to limit the foreclosure rights of third parties who purchase tax liens. Under their new rule, privateers would be permitted to foreclose on liens against a homeowner’s primary residence only when the homeowner sells the home or moves out of the home on a long-term basis.
August 20, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tracey Roberts, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink
Friday, June 11, 2021
This week, Tracey Roberts (Cumberland; Google Scholar) reviews new works by Allison Peck (West Virginia) Standard Oil, Consolidation Coal, and the Roots of the Resource Curse in West Virginia, 124 W. Va. L. Rev. ___ (2021); and Philip Hackney (Pittsburgh), Dark Money Darker? IRS Shutters Collection of Donor Data, 25 Fla. Tax Rev. ___ (2021).
In Standard Oil, Consolidation Coal, and the Roots of the Resource Curse in West Virginia, Allison Peck recounts the early 20th Century efforts of Morgantown, West Virginia lawyer, George C. Baker, to pave a pathway for the state to tax its coal, oil, and gas resources. Industrialists initially delayed legislative reform by persuading the legislature to employ a time-honored tactic: setting up a commission to study the matter. Imagine their surprise and chagrin when the commission proposed that the state, in stark need of revenues, issue licenses for extraction and tax the licenses based on volume of production. The commission described the tax as merely sufficient to offset the state’s costs from extraction activities: mine inspections (West Virginia’s safety laws were the nation’s weakest), miner’s hospitals (miners were frequently injured and died from mine collapse, explosions, and fires), the decline in value and harm to the land resulting from extraction activities, and deployment of state militia and national guard to put down civil unrest as miners sought to unionize and strike (a prescient consideration, given the scope of West Virginia’s mine wars from 1912-21). Despite this setback, the industrialists defeated the commission’s proposed bill in a special session of the legislature.
June 11, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tracey Roberts, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink
Friday, April 23, 2021
This week, Tracey Roberts (Cumberland; Google Scholar) reviews a new work by H. Scott Asay (Iowa; Google Scholar), Jeffrey L. Hoopes (North Carolina; Google Scholar), Jacob Thornock (BYU; Google Scholar), and Jaron H. Wilde (Iowa, Google Scholar), Tax Boycotts:
In Tax Boycotts, the authors evaluate the widespread assumption among tax scholars that the key risk deterring corporations from engaging in greater levels of tax planning is the loss of corporate reputation. The authors undertake a systematic set of studies to determine whether U.S. consumers actually respond to news about corporate tax avoidance with boycotts of corporate products and stock purchases. The authors survey a representative sample of U.S. consumers concerning their perceptions of and actions with respect to corporate tax planning and then examine weekly scanner-level data on consumer purchaser, daily data on retail stock purchase activity, and data for ongoing boycotts. The authors conclude that tax planning and tax avoidance are not particularly important drivers of past boycott activity in the U.S. They also conclude that boycotts also pose no threat to future tax avoidance activity.
April 23, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tracey Roberts, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink
Friday, October 23, 2020
This week, Tracey Roberts (Cumberland) reviews a recently posted work by Hayes Holderness (Richmond), Insidious Regulatory Taxes.
In Insidious Regulatory Taxes, Hayes Holderness takes issue with state legislatures’ use of taxes to regulate individual behavior. He clarifies that regulatory taxes are “insidious” when a state legislature chooses to use a tax in order to avoid the level of state and federal constitutional scrutiny imposed on direct regulation. Federal and state courts have generally deferred to legislatures on tax matters because the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions grant legislature the “power of the purse.” Judicial attempts to curtail this power may be viewed as a violation of the separation of powers doctrine. Holderness argues that while judicial deference may be appropriate when the legislators’ goals are to raise revenue, that deference is not justified when legislators are acting with a regulatory purpose and when their goal in using a tax is to skirt the level of scrutiny applied to direct regulation.
October 23, 2020 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tracey Roberts, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink
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