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Columbia Law School

Columbia Law Review

Tax Law

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Full-Text Articles in Law

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 ...


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 ...


Revealing Choices: Using Taxpayer Choice To Target Tax Enforcement, Alex Raskolnikov Jan 2009

Revealing Choices: Using Taxpayer Choice To Target Tax Enforcement, Alex Raskolnikov

Faculty Scholarship

People pay their taxes for many different reasons. Some choose to game the system, paying only when the cost of noncompliance outweighs its benefits. Others comply out of habit, a sense of duty or reciprocity, a desire to avoid feelings of guilt or shame, and for many other reasons. Our tax enforcement system has ignored this variety of taxpaying motivations for decades. It continues to rely primarily on audits and penalties, at least where information reporting and withholding are impossible. Fines and audits deter those rationally playing the tax compliance game, but are wasteful or even counterproductive when applied to ...


Crime And Punishment In Taxation: Deceit, Deterrence, And The Self-Adjusting Penalty, Alex Raskolnikov Jan 2006

Crime And Punishment In Taxation: Deceit, Deterrence, And The Self-Adjusting Penalty, Alex Raskolnikov

Faculty Scholarship

Avoidance and evasion continue to frustrate the government's efforts to collect much-needed tax revenues. This Article articulates one of the reasons for this lack of success and proposes a new type of penalty that would strengthen tax enforcement while improving efficiency. Economic analysis of deterrence suggests that rational taxpayers choose avoidance and evasion strategies based on expected rather than nominal sanctions. I argue that many taxpayers do just that. Because the probability of detection varies dramatically among different items on a tax return while nominal penalties do not take the likelihood of detection into account, expected penalties for inconspicuous ...


Balance In The Taxation Of Derivative Securities: An Agenda For Reform, David M. Schizer Jan 2004

Balance In The Taxation Of Derivative Securities: An Agenda For Reform, David M. Schizer

Faculty Scholarship

It is well understood that aggressive tax planning with derivatives threatens the U.S. income tax system. The conventional solution to this threat has been consistency, meaning that the same tax treatment should apply to all economically comparable bets, regardless of the form used. Yet familiar political and administrative barriers stand in the way of achieving this lofty goal.

This Article develops a reform agenda to eliminate tax planning without requiring consistency. Policymakers should strive instead for a new goal, which this Article calls "balance": For each risky position, the treatment of gains should match the treatment of losses. For ...


Frictions As A Constraint On Tax Planning, David M. Schizer Jan 2001

Frictions As A Constraint On Tax Planning, David M. Schizer

Faculty Scholarship

The government often uses narrow tax reforms to target specific planning strategies. Sometimes the targeted transaction is stopped. But in other cases, taxpayers press on, tweaking the deal just enough to sidestep the reform. The difference often lies in transaction costs, financial accounting, and other 'frictions, " which are constraints on tax planning external to the tax law.

This Article contributes a methodology for determining whether frictions will block end runs, and illustrates the effect of frictions by comparing the constructive sale rule of section 1259 with the constructive ownership rule of section 1260. These reforms use the same statutory language ...


Paint-By-Numbers Tax Lawmaking, Michael J. Graetz Jan 1995

Paint-By-Numbers Tax Lawmaking, Michael J. Graetz

Faculty Scholarship

Although their meaning and contours have long been controversial, the general criteria for evaluating changes in tax law enjoy both stability and consensus. At least since Adam Smith, there has been virtually universal agreement that the nation's tax law should be fair, economically efficient, and simple to comply with and to administer. Tax law changes should be designed to make the law more equitable, easier to comply with, more conducive to economic growth, and less likely to interfere with private economic decisionmaking.

Precisely what these criteria imply for policymaking is controversial, however. Fairness is often said to require that ...