Reading Assignments

General Notes

  • The tentative list of topics and reading assignments is set forth below. Any changes, additions, or subtractions will be made at least one week in advance of each class. Please note that I have assigned only excerpts from some of the materials—you are not obligated to read (or print) the non-assigned portions of those materials. Moreover, you are not required to read the footnotes of law review articles.
  • “SLEMROD & BAKIJA” refers to the book, JOEL SLEMROD & JON BAKIJA, TAXING OURSELVES (MIT Press, 5th ed. 2017); and “MCMAHON” refers to the book, STEPHANIE HUNTER MCMAHON, PRINCIPLES OF TAX POLICY (West Academic Concise Hornbooks Series 2018)
  • The links to HeinOnline might require you to be using a campus network computer.
  • For those articles posted on SSRN, when prompted to create an SSRN account you may do so, but you can also download the articles without registering (notice the subtle “Download without registration” link underneath the founder’s welcome message on the registration page).

Week 1 (January 16) – Introduction to the Federal Tax System

Much of this introductory reading from the two books is a general summary (and some of the details, particularly in the Slemrod & Bakija book, have been changed by the 2017 tax act), so feel free to skim it and focus on any aspects that you consider interesting.  The brief Wolters Kluwer report merely summarizes the principal aspects of the December 2017 tax law (the most recent significant change to the Federal income tax).  We will read about, and discuss, the 2017 tax law in several class sessions during the semester.


Week 2 (January 23) – Evaluating Tax Policy: Fairness


Week 3 (January 30) – Evaluating Tax Policy: Efficiency & Taxpayer Behavior

    • MCMAHON, ch. 4 (review pp. 101-105); ch. 6 (focus on pp. 166-172; you can skim the earlier pages, but no need to get bogged down in the economic details unless that stuff interests you); ch. 17
    • SLEMROD & BAKIJA, ch. 4 (no need to get bogged down in the details of fiscal and monetary policy in the first part of the chapter; the more relevant part for our purposes starts on p. 168, and even thereafter there is no need to get bogged down in the details of the economic studies discussed)
    • Bruce Bartlett, I Helped Create the GOP Tax Myth, WASH. POST (Sept. 28, 2017)

Week 4 (February 6) – Evaluating Tax Policy: Simplicity/Administrability

    • MCMAHON, ch. 4 (review pp. 105-109); ch. 2 (pp. 63-65)
    • SLEMROD & BAKIJA, ch. 5

– Shaming and Alternative Sanctions


Week 5 (February 13) – Proposals to Modify the Income Tax

  • MCMAHON, ch. 7 (much of this is material you may already be familiar with)
  • SLEMROD & BAKIJA, pp. 289-294, 315-348; ch. 8 (skip pp. 405-408 regarding Graetz Plan and Dual Income Tax)
  • To the extent the Democratic candidates have focused on fundamental tax policy issues, it has largely been in the context of proposals for new types of taxes (e.g., the wealth tax, which we will discuss in a few weeks).  Their proposals regarding the income tax have largely focused on adjusting aspects of the current income tax system (e.g., increasing ordinary rates on higher income taxpayers; increasing rates for capital gains, etc).  Here is a recent summary of the Democratic candidates’ proposals (focus on the income-tax related provisions).  Consider these proposals in comparison to the 2017 tax law changes (I am not aware of any significant new income tax proposals from the Trump campaign).

Week 6 (February 20) – VAT and Other Consumption Taxes

  • MCMAHON, ch. 8
  • SLEMROD & BAKIJA, pp. 295-315, 405-408, ch. 7
  • Rubin & Marriner, The Candidates’ Tax Plans, Wall St. Journal.  Because consumption taxes have not been a significant part of the 2020 presidential election, this link briefly notes that some candidates in 2016 advocated the enactment of consumption tax variations (focus on the “Republicans Who Want Something Huge and New” section).

Week 7 (February 27) – Wealth Tax Proposals

Note: Several of the short articles are on the Tax Notes subscription website (I previously emailed directions for accessing it via the Law School’s subscription).  For the Tax Notes articles, I recommend viewing them in their original PDF print format (available via the “View as PDF” link near the top of each page, under the article’s headline)

General Overview & Issues

Practical Issues

Constitutional Issues

 


Week 8 (March 5) – The Online and Digital Economy

-Online Sales & Use Tax Collection

-International Developments

  • Arthur J. Cockfield, Tax Wars: The Battle Over Taxing Global Digital Commerce, 161 Tax Notes 1331 (Dec. 10, 2018)
  • James Alm, Joyce Beebe, Michael S. Kirsch, Omri Marian & Jay Soled, New Technologies and the Evolution of Tax Compliance, forthcoming __ Virginia Tax Review __ (2020) (I will email you a brief excerpt from this forthcoming article)

 


Week 9 (March 19) – Class Suspended Due to Coronavirus – Makeup TBD


Week 10 (March 26) – Excise Taxes


Week 11 (April 2) – Student Presentations

 


Week 12 (April 9) – Student Presentations

 


Week 13 (April 16) – Student Presentations

 


Week 14 (April 23) – Taxes and COVID-19

Note: Several of the short articles are on the Tax Notes subscription website (I previously emailed directions for accessing it via the Law School’s subscription).  For the Tax Notes articles, I recommend viewing them in their original PDF print format (available via the “View as PDF” link near the top of each page, under the article’s headline)

Federal Legislative and Regulatory Response

Selected State Tax Issues

Windfall Profits Tax Proposals