A Place for Place in Federal Tax Law
16 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2019 Last revised: 17 Dec 2019
Date Written: August 13, 2019
This essay — which is based on remarks at the 42nd annual Ohio Northern University Law Review Symposium — examines the place of place-based provisions in federal tax law. It uses the opportunity zone provisions in the December 2017 tax law as a springboard for considering the successes and (mostly) failures of previous efforts at place-based taxation, and then goes on to imagine possibilities for more productive place-based tax policies. One possibility is to use past location as an indicator for ability to pay. A second is to set different rate structures in different geographic areas (i.e., more progressive rate structures in high-income areas and less progressive rate structures in low-income areas) in order to encourage residential integration. A third is to treat place of upbringing as an asset in a comprehensive inheritance tax regime. Although the opportunity zone provisions show place-based taxation at its worst, the essay concludes that the promise of place-based taxation should not yet be written off entirely.
Keywords: place-based taxation, opportunity zones
JEL Classification: K34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation