The Irreducible Complexity of Firm-Level Income Taxes: Theory and Doctrine in Corporate Tax

66 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2007

See all articles by David A. Weisbach

David A. Weisbach

University of Chicago - Law School; Center for Robust Decisionmaking on Climate & Energy Policy (RDCEP)

Date Written: January 2007

Abstract

This paper argues that firm-level income taxes have an irreducible core of complexity, stemming from the ability to hold and sell an asset in two ways: directly and through the stock of a subsidiary. Both methods of selling must be taxed but coordinating the tax at each level, stock and assets, leads to complexity and line drawing. There are two implications. First, much of the doctrinal rules found in the current corporate tax can be explained through this overarching framework. Second, reform proposals will not be able to eliminate the core of complexity. The Comprehensive Business Income Tax is used as an example: the paper argues that it will inevitably have much of complexity associated with the current corporate tax.

JEL Classification: H25

Suggested Citation

Weisbach, David, The Irreducible Complexity of Firm-Level Income Taxes: Theory and Doctrine in Corporate Tax (January 2007). U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 327. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=957358 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.957358

David Weisbach (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

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Center for Robust Decisionmaking on Climate & Energy Policy (RDCEP) ( email )

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