Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Preview of Literature and Inequality

Most of the book's first 49 pages can be viewed for free here.

The Amazon Kindle version and preview aren't up yet, but I hope soon. The B&N Nook version appears to be live.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Fall 2020 NYU Tax Policy Colloquium

At this point, we obviously do not know what the fall 2020 semester will look like, be it at NYU Law School or anywhere else. But the possibilities surely include its taking place more or less as normal, or else perhaps via Zoom.

In any event, the schedule was 99% set when the coronavirus stoppage got rolling, so I figured, why not take the last couple of steps to complete it.

I should note that I don't yet know for sure who will be my co-convenor. That, actually, was up in the air even before the transformation.

Anyway, with full hopes (whether or not confidence) that this will actually happen, here is what we hope to have on tap:


(All sessions meet from 4:00-5:50 pm in Vanderbilt 208, NYU Law School)

1.     Tuesday, August 25 – Steven Dean, NYU Law School
2.     Tuesday, September 1 – Daniel Shaviro, NYU Law School
3.     Tuesday, September 8  – Natasha Sarin, University of Pennsylvania Law School
4.     Tuesday, September 15 – Adam Kern, Princeton Politics Department and NYU Law School

5.     Tuesday, September 22 – Henrik Kleven, Princeton Economics Department
6.     Tuesday, September 29 – Leandra Lederman, Indiana University Maurer School of Law
7.     Tuesday, October 6 – Michelle Hanlon, MIT Sloan School of Management
8.     Tuesday, October 13 – Steve Rosenthal, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center
9.     Tuesday, October 20 –Michelle Layser, University of Illinois College of Law

10.  Tuesday, October 27 – Clinton Wallace, University of South Carolina School of Law
11.  Tuesday, November 10 – Owen Zidar, Princeton Economics Department
12.  Tuesday, November 17Abdoulaye Ndiaye, NYU Stern Business School
13.  Tuesday, November 24 – Lilian Faulhaber, Georgetown Law School
14.  Tuesday, December 1 – Erin Scharff, Arizona State Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

My book Literature and Inequality is now live

I realize that such things seem trivial right now, but my new book Literature and Inequality has now gone live, as per the Anthem Press link here and the Amazon link here.

UPDATE: Barnes and Noble has a better price for Literature and Inequality.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Remarks from 2019 Fordham international tax conference

Sometime back in October 2019, Fordham Law School hosted a symposium entitled "The Future of the New International Tax Regime." Remarks (including mine) from the session, which featured a number of well-known international tax scholars, have now been printed in physical form by the Fordham Journal of Corporate and Financial Law, and are also available online.

You can find the full proceedings here. My remarks are at pages 250-258 if you go by the numbered physical pages, aka pages 33-41 within the posted file.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Literature and Inequality book launch, cover art

With events being canceled all over the place, I realized that it was time to make things official, and scrap the once-firm plans for the following book event:

New York University School of Law
invites you to a discussion of
Literature and Inequality: Nine Perspectives from the Napoleonic Era Through the First Gilded Age (Anthem Press)
with author
Daniel N. Shaviro, Wayne Perry Professor of Taxation
Branko Milanovic, Stone Center Senior Scholar, Visiting Presidential Professor
The Graduate Center, CUNY
Kenji Yoshino, Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law
Monday, April 13, 4:30 p.m.

All things permitting, including in particular the state of life here more generally, I anticipate this event's being rescheduled for the fall.

Meanwhile, here is an advance look at the book's cover art:

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

New article (coming soon) on minimum taxes

I've just completed a new article draft, entitled "What Are Minimum Taxes, and Why Might One Favor or Disfavor Them?" It addresses, among other topics:

(1) the purposive, technical, and semantic contours of what the term "minimum tax" is generally used to mean, along with the reasons why these matter - relating, for example, to the creation of clientele effects and discontinuous marginal incentives,

(2 the lessons to be learned from the rise and fall of the alternative minimum tax (AMT),

(3) the Biden versus Warren design question of whether, if one gave tax consequences to highly profitable companies' financial statement accounting income, this should involve the use of a minimum tax structure or a standalone structure,

(4) the relationship between avowed minimum taxes and provisions, such as loss nonrefundability and applying foreign tax credit limitations, that set a zero percent floor on a particular tax rate,

(5) the issues posed by global minimum taxes, including GILTI in U.S. law and the OECD's recent GloBE minimum tax proposal.

In general I am quite skeptical about minimum taxes, although there may at times be optical or political economy reasons for preferring them to a given, limited set of realistically available alternatives.

I'll post it on SSRN soon, but probably not until I get some feedback from presenting it. The problem with posting too soon is that some of one's readership looks at it too early, before it's been improved. Barring travel restrictions from the coronavirus, I'll be presenting it at the Critical Tax Conference in Gainesville, FL, on April 3 or 4, and then at the Maurer Law School's 2020 Tax Policy Colloquium (in Bloomington, IN) on April 9. Also possibly in Oxford this summer, if international travel is feasible.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Discussion of the 2017 U.S. tax act at the Columbia Business School

Last night, I was a panelist at the Columbia Business School's Richman Center for a discussion of the 2017 U.S. tax act. The moderator was Jesse Green, and the other panelists were Stephan Eilers and Joseph Stiglitz.

The Richman Center will shortly be posting the session on video, and I have posted an approximate version of my remarks here.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Embracing (or not) new technologies

I made the transition to Kindle long ago, a format that many whom I know have resisted. I still read physical books too, but I find the Kindle format (on an iPad) reasonably manageable. Plus:

(1) books that interest me go on sale periodically on Kindle (reflecting the zero marginal cost to the seller), so if you're patient then pounce it can work well,

(2) I don't have to further crowd the shelves of my home library (I have an old school aversion to throwing books out),

(3) I can stand reading it on my iPhone in the subway, and

(4) it's nice to be able to go on vacation and have dozens of choices at hand without cramming one's suitcase.

But I hadn't tried audiobooks, until the last few days, when I've started using Audible. The draws were:

(1) it's free for a month, and I can ditch it after that if it isn't working for me,

(2) you get two free books when you start, then I think one a month. So I can get things that I've had on my patient-then-pounce list for months or years, and

(3) when I'm at the health club, it can be hard finding music that I want to listen to right at that moment. (I'm an album person, reflecting the technology of my youth, so I don't go much for letting Spotify choose.)

But I don't know yet if Audible will work for me. I've started on Jon Clinch's quite delightful novel, Marley. But I miss small things in the narrative, and seem reluctant to go back 30 seconds, as it lets you do. I've always known what's generally happening, but the details of his often flashy (in a good way) writing sometimes speed by me unapprehended.

Being at a noisy health club with headphones, and peddling away on a mechanical device while giant TV screens loom in front of one's eyes, admittedly isn't the ideal way to focus on a book. It might work better to listen while driving long distances, but as a New Yorker I don't do that. Perhaps while walking? (This being something that New Yorkers, myself included, do a lot.) But it's under 10 minutes to work (not to complain), and the last couple of days have simply been too cold anyway.

One rather obvious thing about reading is that, if you like, you can actually read every single word. Indeed, if you want to and the book is well-written, you can even pause every now and then to savor things. Audible is not well-suited for that. But then again, it can potentially expand my reading horizons by a few hours a week, as well perhaps as making health club visits feel shorter.

Will I stay or will I go; don't know yet.

Cover art for "Literature and Inequality"

The cover art for my forthcoming (April 1) Anthem Press book, Literature and Inequality, is now set. It's a public domain image of a caricature of Charles T. Yerkes (aka Frank Cowperwood in Dreiser's The Financier and The Titan) that was drawn in 1905 by Max Beerbohm. You can see it here.

I had been intrigued by the idea of using, for the cover, the image you can see at the far right here, but couldn't determine where the rights to it might reside.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Upcoming tax event at Columbia Business School

Next Monday (February 24) at the Columbia Business School, I'll be participating in a panel discussion that is entitled "The Global Consequences of the US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Event and registration info are available here. My co-panelists will be Joseph Stiglitz and Stephan Eilers.

Although I will aim to be measured and fair, I will not, on balance, be adhering to the old maxim that states: "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." 

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Revised paper on digital services taxes and the source of income

I have posted on SSRN a revised, and pretty close to final, version of my paper, Digital Service Taxes and the Broader Shift from Determining the Source of Income to Taxing Location Specific Rents. Available here. I'll be submitting it shortly to the Singapore Journal of Legal Studies for expected publication there, in keeping with the lecture on the topic that I gave at NUS Law on January 14.

The main change this time around was simply to fill in the footnotes (with the help of my research assistant).

Monday, February 03, 2020

Literature and Inequality: first links for pre-ordering

My forthcoming book, Literature and Inequality, is now listed here on Amazon, and available for pre-ordering.

There will also be an e-version of the book, as noted by Anthem Press at its website here.

ABA slides on the BEIT, raising income tax rates, and broadening the estate and gift tax

As discussed in prior posts, last Friday I participated in a panel at the ABA Tax Section Annual Meeting in Boca Raton, FL, along with co-panelists Roger Royse, Linda Beale, and Richard Prisinzano. The panel discussed the rising U.S. wealth gap between the very rich and everyone else, and sought to lay out, in a reasonably neutral and balanced way, various options for responding, such as via enactment of a wealth tax.

As we divided up the issues among the panelists, my comments (and share of the slides) focused on Ed Kleinbard's dual BEIT proposal, and on recent talk of raising income tax and/or estate and gift tax rates at the top.

Not a whole lot of brand-new or startling content here, but in particular because I offered a well-deserved shout-out for, and brief summary of, the dual BEIT, I am attaching my portion of the session slides here.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Slides for my ABA Tax Section panel on taxation & inequality

The ABA Tax Section has now posted (the slides for the panel on rising wealth inequality on which I'll be a panelist this coming Friday. Available here. Slides #31-36 are mine.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Another milepost towards the publication of my literature book

I have just completed reviewing the page proofs of my literature book, aka Literature and Inequality: Nine Perspectives from the Napoleonic Era Through the First Gilded Age. This is my last input in the process, which should now move smoothly (or even inexorably) towards fulfillment of the projected April 1 publication date.

The book is now also referenced here on the Anthem Press website, although the page hasn't fully been fleshed out yet, pending further progress in the publication process.

The page proofs indicate that the book is 226 pages, including the bibliography and index (210 pages without them), so not at all a behemoth - rather, I am hoping, a smooth and enjoyable read that doesn't require advance familiarity with all of the books that I discuss.

On April 13, we'll be having a discussion of the book at an NYU Law School event. Branko Milanovic and Kenji Yoshino have graciously volunteered their services as commentators. Branko is a leading economic historian of inequality who also has written about the use of literature in developing sociological insights regarding the topic, and Kenji is a leading law and literature scholar (among other bows in his quiver). So I am very much looking forward to their comments.

Upcoming panel discussion

This coming Friday (January 31), I will be appearing on a panel at the ABA Tax Section's Annual Meeting, in Boca Raton, FL. The session will take place from 8:30 to 10 am, and its title is "How Should the US Tax System Respond to the Growing Wealth Gap: The Continuing Debate over Wealth Taxes and Other Tax Proposals to Narrow the Gap Between Rich and Poor." My fellow panelists are Roger Royse, Linda Beale, and Richard Prisinzano.

Among other things, we'll be discussing recent data concerning wealth inequality, and such proposals to address it as wealth taxation (a la the proposal by Senator Warren), expanded mark-to-market taxation (a la the proposal by Senator Wyden), Ed Kleinbard's business enterprise income tax (BEIT) proposal, and raising income &/or estate & gift tax rates.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Another newly posted item

Tax Jotwell has just, as of today, posted my annual short feature there. It's entitled "Writing Books Versus Journal Articles," but after brief ruminations on that general topic I turn to the real matter at hand, which is that of offering brief but extremely well-deserved praise to (1) Kimberly Clausing's Open: The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital, and (2) William Gale's Fiscal Therapy: Curing America's Debt Addiction and Investing in the Future.

You can find the text of my brief Jotwell write-up here.

Soon to be on the road again

This being a sabbatical semester, I will soon be on the road again, albeit not traveling as far or for as long as I did most recently. On Friday next week (January 31), I'll be speaking at the ABA Tax Section Annual Meeting in Boca Raton, FL. (You may notice a broader personal theme here - getting out of New York, in favor of warmer climes, during peak winter.)

More specifically, I'll be among the members of a Tax Policy and Simplification Committee Panel at the ABA Tax Section meeting that has the current working title: "How Should the US Tax System Respond to the Growing Wealth Gap?: The Continuing Debate Over Wealth Taxes and Other Tax Proposals to Narrow the Gap Between Rich and Poor."

Many thanks to Pamela Fuller for doing lots of hard work in getting this panel organized, although she won't be appearing on it. My co-panelists will be Roger Royse, Linda Beale, and Richard Prisinzano.

We're dividing up a set of related topics within the panel's broader themes. For example, while others will take the lead in discussing such topics as recent empirical evidence regarding wealth inequality, Senator Warren's wealth tax proposal, and Senator Wyden's mark-to-market proposal for taxing capital gains upon accrual) I will do so with respect to (1) Edward Kleinbard's dual BEIT proposal - an important income tax reform option that is often mysteriously under-appreciated, and (2) proposals to raise significantly the top rates in income and/or estate and gift taxes.

Back in the US of A

Earlier today, I returned to NYC from Asia, where I spent 3 days in Singapore, followed by 6 in Bali near Ubud.

While in Singapore, I gave the first (I believe to be annual, but by a rotating list of people) Sat Pal Khattar Visiting Professor of Tax Law Lecture. The slides for this talk are available here. You also can find the most recent draft of the paper here.

The side trip to Bali was purely for vacation and relaxation. Ubud is getting crazily over-built and over-grown (hence, risking some of the charm I remember from a trip there 30 years ago), but the resort that we stayed at, about a half hour's drive outside of the town proper, was exceptionally delightful.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Off to Singapore

Tomorrow I head east - from New York City to Singapore, or 9,521 miles as the crow flies (if it was a unusually fit and vigorous crow). Also a time zone change of 13 hours. While there, I will be giving a talk on my digital services tax paper, as well as lingering for a few days (some of it in Bali near Ubud). I'll post the slides, which are fuller than previously-posted versions, as I'll be speaking for longer, on my return.

The event will be the first Sat Pal Khattar Professorial Lecture at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Law School. This is a venue that I know fairly well, as on three occasions I taught  mini-courses there (in connection with the now-defunct NYU@NUS program).

The lecture is named for a generous leading Singaporean with a tax background, whom I look forward to meeting while there. I believe that Sat Pal Khattar Professorial Lectures on tax issues are meant to become a regular, perhaps even annual, event at the NUS Law School.

A poster for the event can be found here.