A Taxing Blog

Saturday, April 05, 2003
More Enron. Here's what I wrote about Enron last year, for what it's worth. In hindsight, I should have said more about the book/tax gap for stock options, which I think is a big part of the problem.

Enron and Taxes. I'm still waiting for a good analysis of the JCT's report on Enron's tax issues. I did just run across a paper by Jane Gravelle at Brookings, published a bit before the JCT report.

Here's the Joint Committee report. It's kinda long.

Friday, April 04, 2003
TurboTax. I recently did my taxes using TurboTax. I resisted for years, on principle, I guess, figuring that if an aspiring tax professor can't do his taxes by hand, then something is really wrong with the system. This was my second year using TurboTax, and I'm not going back. Not that my taxes are that complicated -- a little consulting income and expense, and some measly income from investments. But somehow having all the forms organized on the screen makes it easier, plus the program provides some reassurance that I'm not forgetting something. This isn't supposed to be an endorsement of Turbotax -- other folks seem to prefer other software better.

But I do think, looking ahead, that tax preparation software will have some significant policy implications. Among other things, it should make compliance easier, especially as the software learns to integrate better with various employers, so information can be one-click downloaded. I would venture a guess that within five years all regs will have to be written with tax software in mind. The Bush Administration's dividend exclusion proposal, for example, might be less of a burden than it seems, as many people may be able to download their 1099-DIVS directly into their tax return.

Welcome. Okay, once I get organized this will be a Tax Policy blog, aimed at promoting smart discussion of current tax policy issues. It's aimed primarily at law professors and students, but might be of interest to practitioners and policymakers as well.

I'll be doing this in my spare time as I prepare to start teaching next fall at UCLA. Comments are welcome and can be directed to me at vef2 at columbia.edu.

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