Thursday, June 21, 2012

Slides from my talk at a recent conference in Tel Aviv

I'm back from this past Monday's 6th Annual Columbia-Ono Conference in Tel Aviv, where I presented a talk at a conference entitled "Corporate Governance, Taxes, and Social Justice."

A PDF version of the PowerPoint slides for my talk, which was entitled "Taxing High-Income Individuals: Should We Aim for the Peak of the Laffer Curve?," is available here.

This is not, or at least not yet, even the skeleton of a paper.  But it draws a bit on the second half of my 2011 Tax Notes article, 1986-Style Tax Reform: A Good Idea Whose Time Has Passed.  I am perhaps more likely to use a couple of the ideas in the slides in some broader project that I don't yet have in mind, than actually to turn the slides into an article.  But before even considering any such thing I have an international tax book in progress that I need to complete, and at least 2 planned articles on very different subjects from this, that are going to take me well into the fall even under an optimistic view.

The conference was fun and interesting.  In the morning, in response to a presentation by Lucien Bebchuk concerning new Israeli legislation (on which he advised) that addresses corporate pyramid structures, I noted what I consider the back-to-the-future quality of both corporate governance and tax policy scholarship: namely, that in some ways we have circled back to conclusions, if not modes of analysis, that were mainstream before the full rise of law and economics, then became badly discredited in the high-Chicago era, but more recently have come back in revised form.  Just as events of the last 12-plus years, along with the work of scholars such as Bebchuk, have rebutted the view that markets for corporate control work so well that there couldn't possibly be serious governance problems, so "optimal income tax" thinking has importantly changed since the era when low individual rates that were also quite flat were high academic orthodoxy.

Hopefully, the political world will eventually catch on with regard to individual income tax rates - as it has to a degree in the governance realm, albeit subject to fierce resistance.  But progress, if any, is fitful and slow at best.

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