Category Archives: Taxation

New Jotwell Review: “Discovering (Tax) Rights that the Poor Have Post-Welfare Reform” (reviewing Susannah Camic Tahk, The New Welfare Rights, BROOKLYN L. REV. (2017)

New Jotwell Review: Ezra Rosser, “Discovering (Tax) Rights that the Poor Have Post-Welfare Reform” Jotwell (Nov. 16, 2017) (reviewing Susannah Camic Tahk, The New Welfare Rights, BROOKLYN L. REV. (2017))


Op-Ed: “Senate Democrats have a plan that would cut child poverty nearly in half”

Dylan Matthews, Senate Democrats have a plan that would cut child poverty nearly in half, Vox, October 26, 2017. [The American Family Act of 2017 would dramatically expand the child tax credit.]

Op-Ed: “Ivanka Trump’s Child Tax Credit is a Ploy to Pass Tax Cuts for the Rich”

Katie Hamm, Ivanka Trump’s Child Tax Credit is a Ploy to Pass Tax Cuts for the Rich, Talk Poverty, October 26, 2017. [One thing is clear, “[the] credit is clearly designed to help make the Trump tax plan…more politically palatable.”]

Op-Ed: “The Tax Debate We Need”

Marshall Stienbaum, The Tax Debate We Need, Jacobin, October 20, 2017. [“Progressive taxation curbs the power of the wealthy – and that’s exactly why the Right hates it.”]

New Article: “Meeting Taxpayers Where They Live: Improving US Refundable Credits While Reflecting the Lives of the Working Poor”

New Article: Leslie Book, Meeting Taxpayers Where They Live: Improving US Refundable Credits While Reflecting the Lives of the Working Poor, forthcoming J. Tax Administration (SSRN Oct. 2017). Abstract below:

This paper looks at the American experience in using tax law to deliver benefits to low and moderate-wage workers. First, examining two recent court cases where individuals improperly claimed the earned income tax credit, this paper explores some of the challenges to both taxpayers and tax administrators associated with using the tax system to deliver benefits that are dependent on levels of attachment to children and the presence of earned income. The paper then explores two approaches to improve compliance. One approach is a proposal in a recent Heritage Foundation policy briefing recommending that only parents with legal custody of their children should be entitled to receive the earned income tax credit. The state of California, in adopting the other approach, excludes self-employment income from its definition of earned income in its state earned income tax credit. Both measures fail to reflect characteristics of the lives of the working poor, including a growing reliance on multi-generational living arrangements and shared care of children and a surge in nontraditional employment associated with the gig economy.

Despite the problems with the proposals, they reflect genuine compliance concerns. This paper concludes with recommendations to address those compliance concerns that will likely serve the goal of improving integrity, while also ensuring the law and administration of the law reflects the lives of lower-income Americans who increasingly rely on the tax system to meet basic needs and support their families.

New Article: “Fines, Fees, and Forfeitures”

Beth A. Colgan, Fines, Fees, and Forfeitures, SSRN, August 15, 2107.  Abstract below:

The use of fines, fees, and forfeitures has expanded significantly in recent years as lawmakers have sought to fund criminal justice systems without raising taxes. Concerns are growing, however, that inadequately designed systems for the use of such economic sanctions have problematic policy outcomes, such as the distortion of criminal justice priorities, exacerbation of financial vulnerability of people living at or near poverty, increased crime, jail overcrowding, and even decreased revenue. In addition, the imposition and collections of fines, fees, and forfeitures in many jurisdictions are arguably unconstitutional, and therefore create the risk of often costly litigation. This chapter provides an overview of those policy and constitutional problems and provides several concrete solutions for reforming the use of fines, fees, and forfeitures.


Op-Ed: “The biggest beneficiaries of the government safety net: Working-class whites”

Tracy Jan, The biggest beneficiaries of the government safety net: Working-class whites, Washington Post, February 16, 2017. [Commentary on the true effect of the government assistance and tax credit programs of 2014.]

Op-Ed: “Louise Linton and the “Sacrifices” of the Very Rich and Incredibly Obnoxious”

Op-Ed: Ezra Rosser, Louise Linton and the “Sacrifices” of the Very Rich and Incredibly Obnoxious, CommonDreams, Aug. 23, 2017. [Sadly, I was in a rush to pick up my kid from camp and did not read it through a second time before I pressed send–I missed a couple of grammar issues, but oh well.]

New Article: “Taxing Wealth Seriously”

New Article: Edward J. McCaffery, Taxing Wealth Seriously, 70 Tax L. Rev. 305 (2017). Abstract below:

The social and political problems of wealth inequality in America are severe and getting worse. A surprise is that the U.S. tax system, as is, is a significant cause of these problems, not a cure for them. The tax-law doctrines that allow those who already have financial wealth to live, luxuriously and tax-free, or to pass on their wealth tax-free to heirs, are simple. The applicable legal doctrines have been in place for nearly a century under the income tax, the primary social tool for addressing matters of economic inequality. The analytic pathways to reform are easy to see once the law is properly understood. Yet our political systems show no serious interest in taxing wealth seriously. We are letting capital off the hook, and ratcheting up taxes on labor, at precisely a time when deep-seated and long-running economic forces suggest that this is precisely the wrong thing to do. It is time — past time — for a change. This Article canvasses a century of tax policy in the United States to show that we have never been serious about taxing wealth seriously, and to lay out pathways towards reform.

New Article: “Poor Support/Rich Support: (Re)Viewing the American Social Welfare State”

New Article: Wendy A. Bach, Poor Support/Rich Support: (Re)Viewing the American Social Welfare State, forthcoming Florida Tax Rev. 2017.  Abstract below:

Since at least the 1970s a variety of scholars have redefined the U.S. social welfare state to include not only traditional benefit programs (for example Food Stamps and social security) but also a variety of tax benefits that are “hidden” or “submerged” forms of “welfare for the wealthy.” Including these benefits in the overall picture of U.S. social welfare provision reveals a system that is both larger in size than popularly believed and that, in addition to providing some support for the poor, distributes significant benefits regressively, to households with substantial wealth. Although a variety of scholars and policy analysts have described these outcomes, scholars have yet to focus on the ways in which structural inequality is written directly into the means of administration of U.S. social welfare programs. This article is the first to turn to those questions and to systematically demonstrate that those who are economically (and disproportionately racially) disadvantaged are offered a social welfare state that is meager, punitive and tremendously risky for those who receive its benefits. But for those with economic privilege, the story is quite different. Families and individuals with significant economic privilege benefit disproportionately from a whole host of cash and near-cash benefits that are neither meager nor punitive. In fact, in contrast to benefits for the poor, benefits for the rich function as nearly invisible entitlements. As one moves from benefits for the poor towards benefits for the rich the administrative structures shift along this progression, becoming less and less punitive and risky and more and more like invisible entitlements. Although as a formal matter the rich, like the poor, have no right to economic support in the Constitutional sense, American social welfare policy moves the rich remarkably close to a right to economic support, leaving the poor far behind. This article reveals these vast structural inequalities and concludes by calling not only, as others have, for an increase and more progressive distribution of social welfare dollars but also, for the first time, for reforms that would address the structural inequalities at the heart of the U.S. social welfare state and that would render it more successful at supporting the autonomy and resilience of all of its beneficiaries.