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Foreword – The 2017 Tax Cuts: How Polarized Politics Produced Precarious Policy, Michael J. Graetz Jan 2018

Foreword – The 2017 Tax Cuts: How Polarized Politics Produced Precarious Policy, Michael J. Graetz

Faculty Scholarship

By lowering the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, the 2017 tax legislation brought the U.S. statutory rate into closer alignment with the rates applicable in other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations, thereby decreasing the incentive for businesses to locate their deductions in the United States and their income abroad. Its overhaul of the U.S. international income tax rules simultaneously reduced preexisting incentives for U.S. multinationals to reinvest their foreign earnings abroad and put a floor on the benefits of shifting profits to low-tax jurisdictions. The 2017 legislation also added an unprecedented, troublesome ...


The Known Unknowns Of The Business Tax Reforms Proposed In The House Republican Blueprint, Michael J. Graetz Jan 2017

The Known Unknowns Of The Business Tax Reforms Proposed In The House Republican Blueprint, Michael J. Graetz

Faculty Scholarship

In 2002, referring to Iraq and its relationship to terrorism, Donald Rumsfeld declared "that there are known knowns, there are things we know we know. We also know that there are known-unknowns, that is to say we know there are some things that we do not know, but there are also unknown-unknowns – the ones that we don't know we don't know."


A Guide To The Guide To The Republican Better Way Plan, Alex Raskolnikov Jan 2017

A Guide To The Guide To The Republican Better Way Plan, Alex Raskolnikov

Faculty Scholarship

This special Issue of the Columbia Journal of Tax Law is bound to have both an immediate impact and a lasting significance. The immediate impact is assured because the sole focus of this Issue is the tax plan proposed by the Congressional Republicans as part of their broad reform agenda called A Better Way: Our Vision For A Confident America. As this Issue goes to print, the Better Way Plan (or the Plan for short) is being debated in the White House, on Capitol Hill, in the press, in academic circles, think tanks, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and ...


Charitable Subsidies And Nonprofit Governance: Comparing The Charitable Deduction With The Exemption For Endowment Income, David M. Schizer Jan 2017

Charitable Subsidies And Nonprofit Governance: Comparing The Charitable Deduction With The Exemption For Endowment Income, David M. Schizer

Faculty Scholarship

Charitable subsidies are supposed to encourage positive externalities from charity. In principle, the government can pursue this goal by evaluating specific charitable initiatives and deciding how much each should receive. But this Article focuses on two income tax rules that leave the government very little discretion about which charities to fund: the deduction for donations to charity (“the deduction”) and the exemption of a charity’s investment income (“the exemption”). Under each rule, as long as charities satisfy very general criteria, federal dollars flow automatically. While both of these sibling subsidies delegate key decisions to private individuals, they create very ...


Heading Off A Cliff? The Tax Reform Man Cometh, And Goeth, Michael J. Graetz Jan 2017

Heading Off A Cliff? The Tax Reform Man Cometh, And Goeth, Michael J. Graetz

Faculty Scholarship

The major tax policy challenge of the 21st century is the need to address the nation’s fiscal condition fairly and in a manner conducive to economic growth. But since California adopted Proposition 13 nearly forty years ago, antipathy to taxes has served as the glue that has held the Republican coalition together. Even though our taxes as a percentage of our economy are low by OECD standards and low by our own historical experience, anti-tax attitudes have become even more important for Republicans politically, since they now find it hard to agree on almost anything else. So revenue-positive, or ...


Energy Subsidies: Worthy Goals, Competing Priorities, And Flawed Institutional Design, David M. Schizer Jan 2017

Energy Subsidies: Worthy Goals, Competing Priorities, And Flawed Institutional Design, David M. Schizer

Faculty Scholarship

The United States uses on targeted subsidies for both "green" energy and hydrocarbons. These subsidies pursue worthwhile goals. But unfortunately, many have design flaws that make them less effective or even counterproductive. The goal of this Article is to show how to do better.

Specifically, this Article focuses on three sets of issues. First, there often is tension between our environmental and national security goals. Unfortunately, the economics literature on energy largely ignores these trade-offs by omitting national security from the analysis. This Article takes issue with this approach and suggests ways to manage these trade-offs. Second, this Article argues ...


Border Adjustments And The Conservation Of Tax Planning, David M. Schizer Jan 2017

Border Adjustments And The Conservation Of Tax Planning, David M. Schizer

Faculty Scholarship

This article is based on Schizer’s keynote address at the 17th annual NYU-KPMG Tax Symposium on March 10.

In this article, Schizer argues that U.S. corporate and shareholder taxes need to be reformed, and the corporate rate should be much lower. In reforming this dysfunctional regime, according to Schizer, Congress should keep both of these taxes as a form of built-in redundancy; if one tax is avoided, the other can still be collected. More generally, Congress should be wary of Utopian solutions. Tax reform is more likely to change tax planning than to eliminate it entirely, Schizer concludes ...


The Known Unknowns Of The Business Tax Reforms Proposed In The House Republican Blueprint, Michael J. Graetz Jan 2017

The Known Unknowns Of The Business Tax Reforms Proposed In The House Republican Blueprint, Michael J. Graetz

Faculty Scholarship

This set of slides raises important issues and questions concerning the potential effects of a border-adjusted destination-based cash flow tax (DBCFT) as proposed in the 2016 House Blueprint “A Better Way.” These slides reflect the final version published by the Columbia Tax Journal on April 16, 2017 and now include a bibliography. This is the second update since they were first published on February 2.


Between Scylla And Charybdis: Taxing Corporations Or Shareholders (Or Both), David M. Schizer Jan 2016

Between Scylla And Charybdis: Taxing Corporations Or Shareholders (Or Both), David M. Schizer

Faculty Scholarship

The United States taxes both corporations and shareholders on corporate profits. In principle, the United States could rely on only one of these taxes, as many commentators have suggested. Although choosing to tax the corporation or its owners may seem like taking money from one pocket or the other, this Essay emphasizes a key difference: These taxes prompt different planning. Relying on one or the other mitigates some distortions and leaks, while exacerbating others. As a result, choosing which to impose is like navigating between Scylla and Charybdis.

In response, this Essay recommends using both taxes for three reasons. First ...


Six Degrees Of Graduation: Law And Economics Of Variable Sanctions, Alex Raskolnikov Jan 2016

Six Degrees Of Graduation: Law And Economics Of Variable Sanctions, Alex Raskolnikov

Faculty Scholarship

From parking tickets to tax fines and punitive damages, legal sanctions matter in people's lives. Yet neither the legal nor the economics literature offers a comprehensive treatment of sanctions. Their practical complexity is not well understood, and their theoretical analysis is fragmented. This Essay addresses both limitations using tax law as a primary example. Sanctions are complex because they vary along at least six different dimensions: aggressiveness, magnitude, culpability, effort to comply, likelihood of detection, and offense history. These six degrees of sanction graduation are distinct, and potentially independent, but often intertwined in obscure and perplexing ways. After clarifying ...


"Death Tax" Politics, Michael J. Graetz Jan 2016

"Death Tax" Politics, Michael J. Graetz

Faculty Scholarship

In his Keynote Address "Death Tax" Politics at the October 2, 2015 Boston College Law School and American College of Trust and Estate Counsel Symposium, The Centennial of the Estate and Gift Tax: Perspectives and Recommendations, Michael Graetz describes the fight over the repeal of the estate tax and its current diminished state. Graetz argues that the political battle over the repeal of the estate tax reflects a fundamental challenge to our nation's progressive tax system. This Address concludes that a revitalized estate tax is important for managing the national debt and reducing massive inequalities in wealth.


Between Scylla And Charybdis: Taxing Corporations Or Shareholders (Or Both), David M. Schizer Jan 2016

Between Scylla And Charybdis: Taxing Corporations Or Shareholders (Or Both), David M. Schizer

Faculty Scholarship

The US taxes both corporations and shareholders on corporate profits. In principle, the U.S. could rely on only one of these taxes, as many commentators have suggested. Although choosing to tax the corporation or its owners may seem like taking money from one pocket or the other, this Essay emphasizes a key difference: corporate and shareholder taxes prompt different tax planning. Relying on one or the other mitigates some distortions and leaks, while exacerbating others. As a result, choosing which tax to impose is like navigating between Scylla and Charybdis.

In response to these dualing distortions, this Essay recommends ...


Bringing International Tax Policy Into The 21st Century, Michael J. Graetz Jan 2016

Bringing International Tax Policy Into The 21st Century, Michael J. Graetz

Faculty Scholarship

Michael J. Graetz delivered the following remarks at the Tax Policy Center's "A Corporate Tax for the 21st Century" conference on July 14 in Washington. These remarks are substantially taken from his April 2015 Ross Parsons Lecture at the University of Sydney Law School.


Follow The Money: Essays On International Taxation – Introduction, Michael J. Graetz Jan 2016

Follow The Money: Essays On International Taxation – Introduction, Michael J. Graetz

Faculty Scholarship

Publicity about tax avoidance techniques of multinational corporations and wealthy individuals has moved discussion of international income taxation from the backrooms of law and accounting firms to the front pages of news organizations around the world. In the words of a top Australian tax official, international tax law has now become a topic of barbeque conversations. Public anger has, in turn, brought previously arcane issues of international taxation onto the agenda of heads of government around the world.

Despite all the attention, however, issues of international income taxation are often not well understood. This Introduction outlines a collection of essays ...


Integration Of Corporate And Shareholder Taxes, Michael J. Graetz, Alvin C. Warren Jan 2016

Integration Of Corporate And Shareholder Taxes, Michael J. Graetz, Alvin C. Warren

Faculty Scholarship

Integration of the corporate and individual income taxes can be achieved by providing shareholders a credit for corporate taxes paid with respect to corporate earnings distributed as dividends. When such integration was previously considered in the U.S., proponents emphasized that it could reduce or eliminate many of the familiar distortions of a classical corporate income tax. Integration would also provide a framework for addressing current concerns for tax incentives for U.S. companies to shift income to foreign affiliates in lower-taxed countries or to expatriate in "inversion" transactions. A recent Congressional proposal for a corporate dividend deduction coupled with ...


"Death Tax" Politics, Michael J. Graetz Jan 2016

"Death Tax" Politics, Michael J. Graetz

Faculty Scholarship

In his Keynote Address “Death Tax” Politics at the October 2, 2015 Boston College Law School and American College of Trust and Estate Counsel Symposium, The Centennial of the Estate and Gift Tax: Perspectives and Recommendations, Michael Graetz describes the fight over the repeal of the estate tax and its current diminished state. Graetz argues that the political battle over the repeal of the estate tax reflects a fundamental challenge to our nation’s progressive tax system. This Address concludes that a revitalized estate tax is important for managing the national debt and reducing massive inequalities in wealth.


Corporate Inversions And The Unbundling Of Regulatory Competition, Eric L. Talley Jan 2015

Corporate Inversions And The Unbundling Of Regulatory Competition, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

Several prominent public corporations have recently embraced a noteworthy (and newsworthy) type of transaction known as a "tax inversion." In a typical inversion, a U.S. multinational corporation ("MNC") merges with a foreign company. The entity that ultimately emerges from this transactional cocoon is invariably incorporated abroad, yet typically remains listed in U.S. securities markets under the erstwhile domestic issuer's name. When structured to satisfy applicable tax requirements, corporate inversions permit domestic MNCs eventually to replace U.S. with foreign tax treatment of their extraterritorial earnings – ostensibly at far lower effective rates.

Most regulators and politicians have reacted ...


Limiting Tax Expenditures, David M. Schizer Jan 2015

Limiting Tax Expenditures, David M. Schizer

Faculty Scholarship

The federal government devotes over a trillion dollars each year to tax provisions that pursue "nontax" goals, such as the deduction for mortgage interest and the exclusion for employer-provided health insurance. Scaling back these "tax expenditures" should be a high priority, as many have urged. Yet too often, the same limit is suggested for a broad range of tax expenditures. In the 2013 budget deal, for instance, Congress revived a single limit on all itemized deductions called the "Pease rule." In 2012, both presidential candidates proposed their own one-size-fits-all limit. In the same year, the United Kingdom imposed a single ...


Energy Subsidies: Worthy Goals, Competing Priorities, And Flawed Institutional Design, David M. Schizer Jan 2015

Energy Subsidies: Worthy Goals, Competing Priorities, And Flawed Institutional Design, David M. Schizer

Faculty Scholarship

The government often relies on targeted subsidies for both “green” energy and hydrocarbons. These subsidies pursue worthwhile goals. But unfortunately, many have design flaws that make them less effective or even counterproductive. The goal of this Article is to show how we can do better.

This Article focuses on three sets of issues. First, there often is tension between our environmental and national security goals. Unfortunately, the economics literature on energy largely ignores these tradeoffs by omitting national security from the analysis. This Article takes issue with this approach and suggests ways to manage these tradeoffs. Second, as a strategy ...


Tax And Corporate Governance: The Influence Of Tax On Managerial Agency Costs, David M. Schizer Jan 2014

Tax And Corporate Governance: The Influence Of Tax On Managerial Agency Costs, David M. Schizer

Faculty Scholarship

This chapter of the Oxford Handbook on Corporate Law and Governance canvasses a broad range of ways that tax influences managerial agency costs, focusing especially on the United States. In doing so, this chapter has two goals. The first is to help corporate law experts target managerial agency costs more effectively. The analysis here flags when tax is likely to exacerbate agency costs, and when it is likely to mitigate them. Armed with this information, corporate law experts have a better sense of how vigorous a contractual or corporate law response they need. In some cases, a change in the ...


Corporate Inversions And The Unbundling Of Regulatory Competition, Eric L. Talley Jan 2014

Corporate Inversions And The Unbundling Of Regulatory Competition, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

A sizable number of US public companies have recently executed “tax inversions” – acquisitions that move a corporation’s residency abroad while maintaining its listing in domestic securities markets. When appropriately structured, inversions replace American with foreign tax treatment of extraterritorial earnings, often at far lower effective rates. Regulators and politicians have reacted with alarm to the “inversionitis” pandemic, with many championing radical tax reforms. This paper questions the prudence of such extreme reactions, both on practical and on conceptual grounds. Practically, I argue that inversions are simply not a viable strategy for many firms, and thus the ongoing wave may ...


Limiting Tax Expenditures, David M. Schizer Jan 2014

Limiting Tax Expenditures, David M. Schizer

Faculty Scholarship

The federal government devotes over a trillion dollars each year to tax provisions that pursue “nontax” goals. Scaling back these tax expenditures should be a high priority. Yet one-size-fits-all limits are often proposed, and are not good policy. Each tax expenditure generates its own mix of positive externalities and private benefits (or “programmatic benefits”). To choose the right limit, we should consider what programmatic benefits we would lose. The goal should be to reap programmatic benefits at lower cost. Different strategies are appropriate for each tax expenditure, including: tightening the definition of favored conduct; focusing on claimants who are easiest ...


The Tax Reform Road Not Taken – Yet, Michael J. Graetz Jan 2014

The Tax Reform Road Not Taken – Yet, Michael J. Graetz

Faculty Scholarship

The United States has traveled a unique tax policy path, avoiding value added taxes (VATs), which have now been adopted by every OECD country and 160 countries worldwide. Moreover, many U.S. consumption tax advocates have insisted on direct personalized taxes that are unlike taxes used anywhere in the world. This article details a tax reform plan that uses revenues from a VAT to substantially reduce and reform our nation’s tax system. The plan would (1) enact a destination-based VAT; (2) use the revenue produced by this VAT to finance an income tax exemption of $100,000 of family ...


Technological Innovation, International Competition, And The Challenges Of International Income Taxation, Michael J. Graetz, Rachael Doud Jan 2013

Technological Innovation, International Competition, And The Challenges Of International Income Taxation, Michael J. Graetz, Rachael Doud

Faculty Scholarship

Because of the importance of technological innovation to economic growth, nations strive to stimulate and attract the research and development ("R&D") that leads to that innovation and to make themselves hospitable environments for the holding of intellectual property ("IP"). Tax policies have taken center stage in their efforts to accomplish these goals and to capture a share of the income from technological innovations.

Designing cost-effective methods of supporting technological innovations has, however, become substantially more difficult as the world economy has become more interconnected. Where R&D is performed and where income is earned change in response to the ...


Accepting The Limits Of Tax Law And Economics, Alex Raskolnikov Jan 2013

Accepting The Limits Of Tax Law And Economics, Alex Raskolnikov

Faculty Scholarship

This Article explores the limits of tax law and economics, attributing them to the unique complexity of the tax optimization problem. Designers of the optimal tax system must account for the impossibility of deterring socially undesirable behavior, provide for redistribution, and minimize social costs on the basis of assumptions that are laden with deeply contested value judgments, pervasive empirical uncertainty, or both. Given these challenges, it is hardly surprising that economic theory has a much weaker connection to the content of our tax laws and their enforcement than it does to the content and enforcement of many other legal regimes ...


Irredeemably Inefficient Acts: A Threat To Markets, Firms, And The Fisc, Alex Raskolnikov Jan 2013

Irredeemably Inefficient Acts: A Threat To Markets, Firms, And The Fisc, Alex Raskolnikov

Faculty Scholarship

This Article defines and explores irredeemably inefficient acts – a conceptually distinct and empirically important category of socially undesirable conduct. Though inefficient behavior is, no doubt, pervasive, the standard view holds that inefficient conduct may be converted into efficient behavior by forcing actors to internalize the external harms of their decisions. For some acts, however, such conversion is impossible. These acts are not just inefficient forms of otherwise socially beneficial activities – they are not just contingently inefficient. Rather, they are inefficient at their core; they reduce social welfare no matter what the regulator does. These irredeemably inefficient (or just irredeemable) acts ...


Tax Advice For The Second Obama Administration, Michael J. Graetz Jan 2013

Tax Advice For The Second Obama Administration, Michael J. Graetz

Faculty Scholarship

Delivered January 18, 2013 as the keynote address at a conference cosponsored by Pepperdine Law School and Tax Analysts.


Updating The Competitive Tax Plan: A New Epilogue For 100 Million Unnecessary Returns, Michael J. Graetz Jan 2013

Updating The Competitive Tax Plan: A New Epilogue For 100 Million Unnecessary Returns, Michael J. Graetz

Faculty Scholarship

This is the first step of a new epilogue for my book 100 Million Unnecessary Returns: A Simple, Fair, and Competitive Tax Plan for the United States. In January 2012, the Tax Policy Center (TPC), pursuant to a grant from Pew Charitable Trust, published an article analyzing and estimating the parameters of the tax plan set forth in this book. TPC has now updated its estimates to take into account the January 2013 “fiscal cliff” legislation and other economic changes. Certain details of the plan have also been revised somewhat.

The competitive tax reform plan has five pieces: First, enact ...


I Like To Pay Taxes: Taxpayer Support For Government Spending And The Efficiency Of The Tax System, Yair Listokin, David M. Schizer Jan 2013

I Like To Pay Taxes: Taxpayer Support For Government Spending And The Efficiency Of The Tax System, Yair Listokin, David M. Schizer

Faculty Scholarship

Why do people pay taxes? The simplest answer is that they have a legal obligation to do so. But it has long been recognized that this legal obligation alone provides an inadequate explanation for taxpaying behavior, just as legal obligations generally offer an inadequate explanation for most law-abiding activity.Another answer, then, is that some people pay taxes because – like Oliver Wendell Holmes – they like to do so. In other words, they appreciate that the government provides a vast array of public goods, such as rule of law, roads, schools, and aid to the poor, and find satisfaction in contributing ...


Accepting The Limits Of Tax Law And Economics, Alex Raskolnikov Jan 2012

Accepting The Limits Of Tax Law And Economics, Alex Raskolnikov

Faculty Scholarship

This Article explores the limits of tax law and economics, attributing them to the unique complexity of the tax optimization problem. Designers of the optimal tax system must account for the impossibility of deterring socially undesirable behavior, provide for redistribution, and minimize social costs on the basis of assumptions that are laden with deeply contested value judgments, pervasive empirical uncertainty, or both. Given these challenges, it is hardly surprising that economic theory has a much weaker connection to the content of our tax laws and their enforcement than it does to the content and enforcement of many other legal regimes ...