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Figuring Out the Tax
Congress, Treasury, and the Design of the Early Modern Income Tax


Part of Cambridge Tax Law Series

  • Date Published: April 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108421508

£ 85.00

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About the Authors
  • Figuring Out the Tax recounts the forgotten early development of the federal income tax in the US, resulting from the interplay between Congress and the Treasury Department in the decades following the enactment of the tax in 1913. It covers a wide range of topics including the income tax treatments of marriage, capital losses, charitable contributions and homeownership, as well as the rise, demise and resurrection of income tax withholding. Lawrence Zelenak deftly illustrates how the income tax achieved its current form through a range of stories which are new to tax history scholarship and involve some remarkable personalities and surprising plot twists. Although of particular interest to tax academics and professionals, this book will also serve as a useful introduction to the development of income tax for undergraduate students and law students.

    • Recounts important developments in the early history of the income tax utilising new material which is not covered in existing tax history scholarship
    • Adopts a chronological narrative approach, making for an entertaining read
    • Does not assume any particular background in income tax law and will be accessible to a general readership with an interest in income tax
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Who would have thought that a tax book can be so much fun?! Part tax history, part a comedy of errors, Zelenak's story about the emergence and development of the American tax system is a joy to read. It holds lessons for policymakers, offers ideas to academics, and helps taxpayers to form an informed opinion of what a good tax system should look like.' Alex Raskolnikov, Wilbur H. Friedman Professor of Tax Law, Columbia Law School

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108421508
    • length: 314 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.61kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: Cordell Hull writes the income Tax
    2. The birth, death, and resurrection of income tax withholding
    Part I. Technical Problems Exposed by the High Tax Rates of World War I:
    3. How the income tax became tax-inclusive
    Part II. Early Mistakes and the Persistence of Error:
    4. The tax-free step-up in basis at death and the charitable deduction for unrealized appreciation: the early mistakes
    5. The tax-free step-up in basis at death and the charitable deduction for unrealized appreciation: the failed reforms
    Part III. Congress Muddles Through:
    6. Capital losses in the early income tax
    7. A troubled relationship from the start: marriage and the income tax
    Part IV. Congress Goes Its Own Way:
    8. The early income tax and the imputed rental income of homeowners
    9. 'Blowing a kiss' at earned income
    Part V. Concluding Perspectives:
    10. 'Answers to inquirers'
    11. Is there a moral to the story?

  • Author

    Lawrence Zelenak, Duke University, North Carolina
    Lawrence Zelenak is the Pamela B. Gann Professor of Law at Duke University, North Carolina.

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