Wednesday, January 29, 2014

AEI session on corporate tax reform

It's been a tiring, or should I say taxing, 24 hours.  Last night at about this time (just after 6 pm as I type these words) a small group of us was heading to a really good local restaurant, Po on Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village, for our customary post-colloquium small group dinner.  By 8:15 I was cabbing to Penn Station, in order to take the 9:05 pm Acela to Washington, DC, so that I'd be there for the American Enterprise Institute session on corporate tax reform that will soon become the topic of this post.

Bad evening on Amtrak, however.  A two-hour train delay, poorly explained as it was ongoing, meant that I didn't get to my hotel room in DC until 2 in the morning.  Then my train home today was cancelled, though I was able to scramble and get back in a timely fashion anyway.

But anyway, about the session.  Entitleed "Corporate Tax Reform: Where to From Here?," it provided a platform for Laura D'Andrea Tyson, Martin Sullivan, and me to say where (if anywhere) we think things might be headed on this front, and why.

You can see the entire video of the event here.  I believe it was reasonably lively.  In addition, you can see the Power Point slides for my talk here.

Sullivan and I were comparably pessimistic, not just about the politics, but also about the overall merits of the types of corporate tax reform plans that are being floated today.  Bad though the current system may be (and indeed is), it's such a tangled kind of a mess that efforts to take a couple of steps in one direction or another tend to have really serious drawbacks.  It's a bit like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, when you've been spun around so many times that all you can do is stagger blindly in a circle, except that, in that game, there actually is a clear right direction, if only the dizzy and blindfolded participant could find it.

While we mainly discussed domestic corporate tax reform issues, we also spent some time on the international aspect, given how closely entangled those two strands are these days.  Sullivan was kind enough to bring my international tax book to the session, and to several times hold it up and recommend it, with very kind accompanying remarks that I would certainly not, for my part, be inclined to quarrel with.

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