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Perpetual Motion Machines: Esops Don’T Pay For Themselves, Andrew Stumpff Morrison May 2018

Perpetual Motion Machines: Esops Don’T Pay For Themselves, Andrew Stumpff Morrison

Law & Economics Working Papers

In this article, Stumpff addresses policy issues regarding employee stock ownership plans and demonstrates how some claims in support of ESOPS aren’t supported by the math.


Proposal For A Non-Subsidized, Non-Retirement-Plan, Employee-Owned Investment Vehicle To Replace The Esop, Sean M. Anderson, Andrew Stumpff Morrison Feb 2018

Proposal For A Non-Subsidized, Non-Retirement-Plan, Employee-Owned Investment Vehicle To Replace The Esop, Sean M. Anderson, Andrew Stumpff Morrison

Law & Economics Working Papers

The authors have previously been critical of the existing American legal exemption and subsidy regime for employee stock ownership plans (“ESOPs”). By definition such plans create dangerously undiversified investment programs tying employees’ retirement security to the financial health of a single company – which, to compound the problem, is the employees’ employer, thereby correlating participants’ retirement security risk with the risk of losing their jobs. No demonstrated compensating policy benefit justifies this extraordinary large-scale departure from basic principles of financial prudence. One context, however, where a plausible case might be made for employee ownership is that which arises when a …


The Elephant Always Forgets: Us Tax Reform And The Wto, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Martin G. Vallespinos Jan 2018

The Elephant Always Forgets: Us Tax Reform And The Wto, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Martin G. Vallespinos

Law & Economics Working Papers

The “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (TCJA) enacted on December 22, 2017 includes several provisions that raise WTO compliance issues. At least one such provision, the Foreign-Derived Intangible Income (FDII) rule, is almost certain to draw a challenge in the WTO and is likely to lead to another US loss and resulting sanctions. This outcome would be another addition to the repeated losses suffered by the US for export subsidies from the 1970s to 2004, which led to the imposition of sanctions and the ultimate repeal of the offending regime. The important question for 2018 and beyond is whether the …


Beat It: Tax Reform And Tax Treaties, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2018

Beat It: Tax Reform And Tax Treaties, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) includes several provisions that may be viewed as potential violations of US tax treaties. However, most of those potential violations, such as new IRC section 951A and to a large extent new IRC section 59A, are covered by the Savings Clause (US model article 1(4)). The only remaining question is whether IRC section 59A (the “Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax”, or BEAT) violates the non-discrimination provision (article 24), which is exempted from the Savings Clause. The answer is no, because foreign related parties are not comparable to US related parties receiving interest or royalties.


How Terrible Is The New Tax Law? Reflections On Tra17, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2018

How Terrible Is The New Tax Law? Reflections On Tra17, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

Overall, TRA17 is not much worse than TRA86 or TRA14. It increases the deficit, but not by an impossible amount; it is distributionally skewed, but less so than is usually assumed; and its details are not terrible (on the international side they are a big improvement over prior law). There is one big problem, the pass through provisions, and we can only hope that as its horrible implications unfold it will be a prime candidate for repeal.


The Elephant Always Forgets: Tax Reform And The Wto, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2018

The Elephant Always Forgets: Tax Reform And The Wto, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

The “Tax Cuts and Jobs ACT” (TCJA) enacted on December 22, 2017, includes several provisions that raise WTO compliance issues. At least one such provision, the Foreign-Derived Intangible Income (FDII) rule, is almost certain to draw a challenge in the WTO and is likely to lead to another US loss and resulting sanctions. This outcome would be another addition to the repeated losses suffered by the US for export subsidies from the 1970s to 2004, which led to the imposition of sanctions and the ultimate repeal of the offending regime. The important question for 2018 and beyond is whether the …


Tit For Tat: How Will Other Countries React To The Tax Cuts And Jobs Act?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Gianluca Mazzoni Dec 2017

Tit For Tat: How Will Other Countries React To The Tax Cuts And Jobs Act?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Gianluca Mazzoni

Law & Economics Working Papers

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TRA17) represents the most comprehensive reform of US international tax rules since 1962. An important question in evaluating TRA17 is how US trading partners will respond to its provisions. In general, US trading partners may take steps to negate the competitive advantage gained by the US from the lower rate of corporate tax, expensing and the “patent box”. They may also take advantage of the participation exemption and the cross-crediting feature of GILTI to increase taxes on US multinationals. Finally, they are likely to copy the BEAT and apply it to US …


The Triumph Of Beps: Us Tax Reform And The Single Tax Principle, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Dec 2017

The Triumph Of Beps: Us Tax Reform And The Single Tax Principle, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

The Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TRA17) as passed by the House on November 16 and by the Senate on December 2, 2017, contains multiple provisions that incorporate the principles of the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) into domestic US tax law. Together with the changes in the 2016 model US tax treaty, these provisions mean that the US is following the EU and China in implementing BEPS and in particular its underlying principle, the single tax principle (i.e., all income should be subject to tax once: passive income at the residence state rate and active income at …


Once More, With Feeling: The 'Tax Cuts And Jobs' Act And The Original Intent Of Subpart F, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Nir Fishbien Nov 2017

Once More, With Feeling: The 'Tax Cuts And Jobs' Act And The Original Intent Of Subpart F, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Nir Fishbien

Law & Economics Working Papers

For the first time since 1913, Congress is considering abandoning the principle that US residents should be subject to tax on all income “from whatever source derived.” Specifically, the House proposed tax reform legislation, the so-called “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”, would completely exempt from US taxation dividends from “Controlled Foreign Corporations”. This is therefore a good occasion for considering the reasons we tax such dividends in the first place.

In the course of investigating the Stanley Surrey papers at the Harvard Law School Library, we discovered a remarkable report that support the view that the main impetus behind Subpart …


What A Difference Thirty Years Make: A Comparison Of The Tax Reforms Of 1986, 2014 And 2017, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Nov 2017

What A Difference Thirty Years Make: A Comparison Of The Tax Reforms Of 1986, 2014 And 2017, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

This paper compares the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, as passed by the House (TRA17H) and under consideration by the Senate (TRA17S) with two major previous efforts at comprehensive tax reform: The Tax Reform Act of 1986 (TRA86) and the draft tax reform proposed by former Ways and Means Chair David Camp (R-MI) (TRA14). It shows that TRA14 was quite similar to TRA86, but that TRA17 is very different than both. Congress should abandon TRA17 and go back to considering TRA14 on a bipartisan basis.


Are Taxes Converging?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Gianluca Mazzoni Oct 2017

Are Taxes Converging?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Gianluca Mazzoni

Law & Economics Working Papers

Eduardo Baistrocchi’s outstanding new book on tax treaty disputes is the result of an intense five-year global collaborative project among international tax scholars, practitioners and administrators. The book provides an unprecedented set of information and offers the first global qualitative and quantitative analysis on one of the most important debates over international tax scholarship across the last decades, that is, whether an international tax regime exists and is binding upon states as a matter of customary international law.


Slicing And Dicing: The Structural Problems Of The Tax Reform Framework, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Oct 2017

Slicing And Dicing: The Structural Problems Of The Tax Reform Framework, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

The “Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code” (the “Framework”) released by the “Big Six” group of Treasury, White House and Congressional leaders on September 27 has been the focus of a lot of commentary. Most of the comments have focused on the distributive aspects of the plan and on the proposed rate structure, as well as the impact on revenues and the federal deficit. In this comment, I plan to focus instead on the structural aspects of the plan and in particular on the various new lines that it draws, because these are more likely to be lasting.


The Inexorable Rise Of The Vat: Is The Us Next?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Nov 2015

The Inexorable Rise Of The Vat: Is The Us Next?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

The rise of the Value Added Tax (VAT) from obscure beginnings in the 1950s to one of the most important taxes in the world (by revenue collected) is a story worth telling, and Kathryn James does a magnificent job in telling it in her new book. Despite its significance, very little is known about why so many countries have adopted the VAT and, in particular, why different countries adopt the types of VAT that they do. The popular mythology provides that the merits of the VAT have underpinned its global spread; however, this book contends that much scholarship on the …


With Marriage On The Decline And Cohabitation On The Rise, What About Marital Rights For Unmarried Partners?, Lawrence W. Waggoner Oct 2015

With Marriage On The Decline And Cohabitation On The Rise, What About Marital Rights For Unmarried Partners?, Lawrence W. Waggoner

Law & Economics Working Papers

Part I of this paper uses recent government data to trace the decline of marriage and the rise of cohabitation in the United States. Between 2000 and 2010, the population grew by 9.71%, but the husband and wife households only grew by 3.7%, while the unmarried couple households grew by 41.4%. A counter-intuitive finding is that the early 21st century data show little correlation between the marriage rate and economic conditions. Because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), same-sex marriage is now universally available to same-sex couples. Part I considers the impact of same-sex marriage on …


Profits V. Purpose: Hybrid Companies And The Charitable Dollar, Rachel Culley, Jill R. Horwitz Nov 2014

Profits V. Purpose: Hybrid Companies And The Charitable Dollar, Rachel Culley, Jill R. Horwitz

Law & Economics Working Papers

Social entrepreneurship -- a catch-all term meaning harnessing business practices for social good -- has attracted people who want to “do well while doing good” for decades. Advocates of the idea have succeeded in blurring the boundaries among legal ownership types and inspired nonprofit/for-profit joint ventures, public-private partnerships, and the widespread privatization of traditional government functions and activities. The most recent manifestation of this trend is the creation of hybrid non-profit/for-profit firms. In the United States, the Low-Profit Limited Liability Company (L3C) is growing, and there are similar firms in the United Kingdom and Canada. In this paper we address …


Congress Promotes Perpetual Trusts: Why?, Lawrence W. Waggoner Sep 2014

Congress Promotes Perpetual Trusts: Why?, Lawrence W. Waggoner

Law & Economics Working Papers

This posting updates the article titled Congress Promotes Perpetual Trusts: Why?. The article was originally posted on SSRN in September 2013. The updated version incorporates a discussion of two new developments—the unveiling of the long-awaited House Ways and Means Committee’s proposal for comprehensive tax reform and the issuance of the president’s proposed budget for 2015. Both of these new developments are disappointing because neither proposes curtailing or effectively curtailing perpetual trusts. By unwittingly granting a tax exemption for perpetual trusts, Congress undermined state perpetuity law and promoted private trusts that can last and remain tax exempt for many centuries and …


From Here To Eternity: The Folly Of Perpetual Trusts, Lawrence W. Waggoner Apr 2014

From Here To Eternity: The Folly Of Perpetual Trusts, Lawrence W. Waggoner

Law & Economics Working Papers

Trusts that can operate for as many as a thousand years or even forever, typically for the benefit of the settlor’s descendants living from time to time, now and in the future, are all the rage in banking and estate-planning circles. Before 1986, when Congress passed the federal generation-skipping transfer tax (GST tax), settlors had little incentive and probably little desire to establish perpetual trusts, even though they were permitted to do so under the law of Wisconsin, South Dakota, or Idaho. The GST tax created an artificial incentive for the wealthy to establish such trusts. The origin of the …


The Devil In The Details: Reflections On The Tax Reform Act Of 2014, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2014

The Devil In The Details: Reflections On The Tax Reform Act Of 2014, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

The Discussion Draft of the “Tax Reform Act of 2014” (TRA14) released by US House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) on February 26, 2014 represents a major effort for fundamental and far reaching reform of US tax law. Unfortunately, while many parts of the proposal seem quite sensible as an effort to bring back the “spirit of 1986”, the international tax reform proposals are deeply flawed and based on obsolete assumptions on the world facing US multinationals in 2014.

Overall, TRA14 represents a welcome effort to propose a revenue neutral combination of base broadening and rate …


Just Say No: Corporate Taxation And Corporate Social Responsibility, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2014

Just Say No: Corporate Taxation And Corporate Social Responsibility, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

This article will address the question whether publicly traded US corporations owe a duty to their shareholders to minimize their corporate tax burden in any way that they may be able to get away with from a purely legal perspective. First, however, to render the subsequent discussion a bit more concrete, I will describe a recently unveiled case study of corporate tax aggressiveness.


The Parallel March Of The Ginis: How Does Taxation Relate To Inequality And What Can Be Done About It?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2014

The Parallel March Of The Ginis: How Does Taxation Relate To Inequality And What Can Be Done About It?, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

The United States currently has one of the highest levels of inequality among industrialized economies. In addition, numerous scholars have shown that social mobility in the United States is significantly lower than it was in the period between 1945 and 1970, when inequality was also declining. The combination of these trends is dangerous because it risks transforming the US into a society where small elites capture most of the gains, a pattern in which growth cannot be sustained over time (Acemoglu and Robinson 2012, Zingales 2012). The level of inequality in the US after taxes and transfers are taken into …


A Proposed Replacement Of The Tax Expenditure Concept And A Different Perspective On Accelerated Depreciation, Douglas A. Kahn Jan 2013

A Proposed Replacement Of The Tax Expenditure Concept And A Different Perspective On Accelerated Depreciation, Douglas A. Kahn

Law & Economics Working Papers

The thesis of this article is that the tax expenditure concept is grounded on an erroneous vision of the structure of an income tax system. The tax expenditure concept adopts a binary view of income taxation. It posits that there is an ideal or pure income tax system whose provisions are elements of the normal structure of that system without any influence from non-tax policy considerations. Tax provisions are described either as falling within those core provisions or outside of them. There are no other categories. To the contrary, this article contends that tax provisions lie on a continuum in …


Understanding The Amt, And Its Unadopted Sibling, The Amxt, James R. Hines Jr., Kyle Logue Jan 2013

Understanding The Amt, And Its Unadopted Sibling, The Amxt, James R. Hines Jr., Kyle Logue

Law & Economics Working Papers

U.S. taxpayers are currently required to pay the greater of their liabilities under the regular income tax and their liabilities under the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Despite its unpopularity, the AMT serves the function of permitting Congress to offer tax preferences for certain activities and expenditures while maintaining a progressive tax system. This paper examines this role of the AMT, and explores the possibility of adding an Alternative Maximum Tax (AMxT) that would augment the impact of the AMT. An AMxT limits a taxpayer’s liability to the minimum of the amount due under the regular income tax and the amount …


Territoriality: For And Against, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2013

Territoriality: For And Against, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

This article will survey the main arguments for and against territoriality and conclude that it is the wrong way to go in the short run, but can perhaps be adopted in the medium to long run in conjunction with more fundamental international tax reform. The main reason that territoriality should not be adopted now is that the OECD may be about to recommend worldwide consolidation for all its members as part of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, and if the OECD does that, all of the standard arguments in favor of territoriality and against abolishing deferral disappear.


And Yet It Moves: A Tax Paradigm For The 21st Century, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2013

And Yet It Moves: A Tax Paradigm For The 21st Century, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

A central premise of tax scholarship of the last thirty years has been the greater mobility of capital than labor. Recently, scholars such as Edward Kleinbard have recommended that the US adopt a variant of the 'dual income tax' model used by the Scandinavian countries, under which income from capital is subject to significantly lower rates than labor income because of its supposedly greater mobility. This article argues that the premise upon which this argument is built is mistaken, because for individual US taxpayers (as opposed to corporations), there are significant limitations on their ability to avoid tax by moving …


Unitary Taxation And International Tax Rules, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah Jan 2013

Unitary Taxation And International Tax Rules, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah

Law & Economics Working Papers

Any proposal to adopt Unitary Taxation (UT) of multinationals has to contend with whether such taxation is compatible with existing international tax rules and in particular with the bilateral tax treaty network. Indeed, some researchers have argued that the separate accounting (SA) method and the arm’s length standard are so embodied in the treaties that they form part of customary international law and are binding even in the absence of a treaty. In this paper we will argue that UT can be compatible with most of the existing tax treaties, and that developing countries in particular can implement it in …


Double Or Nothing: A Tax Treaty For The 21st Century, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Oz Halabi Nov 2012

Double Or Nothing: A Tax Treaty For The 21st Century, Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Oz Halabi

Law & Economics Working Papers

The current tax treaty network was developed in the 1920s and 1930s in order to prevent double residence/source taxation. This kind of double taxation rarely exists any more because most countries have adopted either an exemption system or a foreign tax credit regime in their domestic (non‐treaty) law, which effectively prevents residence/source double taxation even in the absence of a treaty. Instead, as Tsilly Dagan has pointed out, the current treaties serve mostly to transfer revenue from the source country to the residence country. This suggests that treaties may be unnecessary because exemption from withholding taxes by source countries can …


"Perpetual Trusts: The Walking Dead" And "Congress Should Effectively Curb Gst Exemption For Perpetual Trusts.", Calvin H. Johnson, Lawrence W. Waggoner Sep 2012

"Perpetual Trusts: The Walking Dead" And "Congress Should Effectively Curb Gst Exemption For Perpetual Trusts.", Calvin H. Johnson, Lawrence W. Waggoner

Law & Economics Working Papers

In separate but complementary letters to the editor of Tax Notes, Calvin Johnson (University of Texas School of Law) and Lawrence Waggoner (University of Michigan Law School) respond to an article by Dennis Belcher and seven other practicing attorneys that defend the GST exemption for perpetual trusts. In Federal Tax Rules Should Not Be Used to Limit Trust Duration, 126 Tax Notes 832 (Aug 13, 2012), the attorneys argue that the duration of a trust is a state law issue. Their article is actually a response to a Shelf Project article: Lawrence W. Waggoner, Effectively Curbing the GST Exemption for …


Sales Between A Partnership And Non-Partners, Douglas A. Kahn Aug 2012

Sales Between A Partnership And Non-Partners, Douglas A. Kahn

Law & Economics Working Papers

Kahn argues that a 1986 amendment to section 707 invalidated several regulatory provisions promulgated under section 267.


Contribution Of A Built-In Loss To A Partnership, Douglas A. Kahn Jul 2012

Contribution Of A Built-In Loss To A Partnership, Douglas A. Kahn

Law & Economics Working Papers

In 2004 Congress amended the code to prevent the use of a partnership contribution as a means of transferring a deduction for a built-in loss from one person to another. That amendment has undermined the application of the remedial method (and the traditional method with curative allocations) that the regulations provide for the allocation of a contributed built-in gain or loss, Kahn argues. He also asserts that the 2004 amendment distorts income reporting.


Effectively Curbing The Gst Exemption For Perpetual Trusts, Lawrence W. Waggoner Jun 2012

Effectively Curbing The Gst Exemption For Perpetual Trusts, Lawrence W. Waggoner

Law & Economics Working Papers

Current law allows a married couple to transfer up to $10.24 million into a trust that is exempt from the federal generation-skipping transfer tax. The proposal would deny the GST exemption prospectively, unless the trust must terminate within one of three perpetuity periods: (1) 21 years after the death of a life in being; (2) 90 years after creation; or (3) after the death of the last living beneficiary who is no more than two generations younger than the settlor. Atrust now in existence would be allowed a grace period during which it could be modified to terminate within the …