Monday, May 18, 2020

My paper on minimum taxes

I've finally posted on SSRN my paper on minimum taxes of various kinds. Its specific title is: What Are Minimum Taxes, and Why Might One Favor or Disfavor Them? It's available here.

The draft has a March 4, 2020 date, to reflect that I haven't yet changed it to reflect some very useful comments that I've gotten from several readers since that time. But I not only appreciated those comments, but plan to make use of them in revising / improving the paper. Only, the time for doing that hasn't quite come yet, so in the interim I thought I would solicit more feedback regarding the original version.

I kind of like the paper, if I do say so myself, but it's definitely pitched in the conceptual albeit applied space, and is aimed at people who know a fair amount about current income tax issues, in the US and internationally, rather than being for generalists. But it may be of interest to tax law professors, tax practitioners, tax policymakers in Washington and abroad, economists who are interested and steeped in applied income tax issues (especially but not just international ones), and other people who are following, say, the OECD GloBE process.

The paper's abstract goes something like this:

The alternative minimum tax (AMT), a key and at the time widely lauded feature of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, soon fell into disrepute and was subsequently scaled back, to general approbation and relief. Yet in recent years minimum taxes have come back into vogue. For example, two key international tax provisions in the 2017 tax act (GILTI and the BEAT) had minimum tax structures, and the OECD has recently issued proposed guidelines for the design of a global minimum tax, meant for multilateral adoption.

In light of minimum taxes’ surprising return to center stage, this paper explores such issues as the following:

1) the purposive, technical, and semantic contours of instruments we call “minimum taxes,”

2) why a minimum tax structure matters – pertaining, for example, to the creation of clientele effects and discontinuous marginal incentives,

3) the lessons to be learned from the rise and fall of the AMT,

4) minimum taxes’ similarity to foreign tax credit limitations and loss nonrefundability,

5) the design question of whether, if highly profitable companies’ financial accounting income were made tax-relevant, this should be done through a minimum tax,

6) how one might rationalize (or not) the BEAT’s minimum tax structure, and

7) the main issues posed by global minimum taxes, including GILTI and the OECD’s Pillar Two GloBE proposal.

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