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Federal Fairness to State Taxpayers: Irrationality, Unfunded Mandates, and the 'Salt' Deduction


Brian D. Galle


Boston College Law School


Michigan Law Review, Vol. 106, p. 805, March 2008
FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper Series No. 259

Abstract:     
By sheer dollars alone, the largest impact of the Alternative Minimum Tax is to deny many taxpayers the deduction for the taxes they paid to their state and local governments under § 164 of the Internal Revenue Code. This Article provides a fine-grained analysis of the overall fairness of the state- and local-tax deduction ¿ and, by implication, the fairness of its partial repeal through the Alternative Minimum Tax. I offer for the first time a close examination of how newly understood limits on taxpayer mobility and rationality might affect individuals' choices of bundles of local taxes and local government services, which in turn informs our assessment of the "fairness" of those exchanges. Many of these lessons can be generalized to consumer choices more generally. In addition, I track the reciprocal benefits and burdens that flow between the national government and local governments ¿ again, although the influx or outgo of billions of dollars surely affects how the federal tax system should account for the outputs of local government, scholars have neglected that question. Finally, I note that § 164, and therefore the Alternative Minimum Tax, can have serious effects on federal-state relations, such that the debate over both provisions is in many ways a debate not only over fairness but also about federalism.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 48

Keywords: Alternative Minimum Tax, AMT, state and local tax, section 164, horizontal equity

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Date posted: April 23, 2007 ; Last revised: March 16, 2008

Suggested Citation

Galle, Brian D., Federal Fairness to State Taxpayers: Irrationality, Unfunded Mandates, and the 'Salt' Deduction. Michigan Law Review, Vol. 106, p. 805, March 2008; FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper Series No. 259. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=997036

Contact Information

Brian D. Galle (Contact Author)
Boston College Law School ( email )
885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States
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