Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Avi-Yonah, Fishbien & Mazzoni on Surrey and Tax Policy

Reuven S. Avi-Yonah University of Michigan Law School, and two SJD candidates at Michigan Law, Nir Fishbien and Gianluca Mazzoni, have posted Stanley Surrey, the Code and the Regime:
Stanley Surrey (1910-1984) was arguably the most important tax scholar of his generation. Surrey was a rare combination of an academic (Berkeley and Harvard law schools, 1947-1961 and 1969-1981) and a government official (Tax Legislative Counsel, 1942-1947; Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, 1961-1969). Today he is mostly remembered for inventing the concept of tax expenditures and the tax expenditure budget. This paper will argue that while Surrey was influential in shaping domestic tax policy for a generation and had an impact after his death on the Tax Reform Act of 1986, his longest lasting contributions were in shaping the international tax regime, since the concept of the single tax principle that shapes contemporary international tax reform efforts can be traced directly to his writing and activities both in academia and in the government.
This draft draws makes good use of Surrey's unpublished memoir but only passingly refers to the wider collection of Surrey Papers opened at HLS in 2017, used by George Yin in a recent article.  I'm no historian of taxation, but in my research on the early New Deal even I could spot Surrey's brilliance at the National Recovery Administration, as he took no pains to hide it, even when, as a matter of bureaucratic politics, he might have been prudent to have done so.

--Dan Ernst.  H/t: Legal Theory Blog