Monday, November 13, 2017

110th Annual NTA Conference on Taxation

From Thursday through Saturday, I spent an enjoyable if hectic stretch of time at the National Tax Association's 110th Annual Conference on Taxation, which this year took place in Philadelphia. I stayed overnight even though NYC is close by, hence I guess cue the W.C. Fields jokes ("Last night I spent a weekend in Philadelphia").

I always enjoy going to the conference, both intellectually and socially. One gets to hear about a smattering of current research (I focused on international tax and tax "reform" panels), and to meet old friends or (less commonly at this point) make new ones who are in the "biz" whether as economists, lawyers, government folk, or practitioners.

My own direct involvement, apart from moderating a panel, consisted of presenting a shortened (by more than 50%) but also modestly updated version of my slides discussing the destination-based cash flow tax. In deference to events since I gave the earlier version of this talk, I call the new version "A Requiem for the Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax."

The earlier version remains available here.

I wasn't exactly a winner in the scheduling for this talk. It ended up in a far-off room that one pretty much needed a compass plus trail mix to find. Plus, the other two papers on the same panel were quite different from mine. One discussed the incidence effects of sales tax holidays, while the other discussed tax-favored tobacco sales by Indian tribes. Both were quite interesting and good, but the common ground with my talk wasn't enormous.

This is not, in the slightest, meant as a complaint! I know how hard it is to schedule all the panels and talks, as Tracy Gordon and I shared this same job a few years ago. I am certain that we inadvertently did the same or worse to lots of people,* because this is simply inevitable when you are scheduling dozens of panels. Not all of the papers will fit together into unified panels, and not all of the panels can get the best locations. In consequence, as a presenter, you win some and you lose some.
*Indeed, I also remember - and here the fault was definitely mine, not Tracy's - inadvertently rejecting all three papers by a given author, even though they were interesting and good, due to a screw-up in the course of deciding which one of the three to accept. I was able to correct this error when I discovered it in the course of looking for commentators on other papers.

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