It’s Complicated.

By: Shu-Yi Oei

I’ve been thinking a lot about movies lately, partly because this pesky sign appeared outside my house a couple of days ago, and partly because of the Louisiana film tax credit, which has been all over the local news.

film sign 2

A couple of days ago, an Associated Press article reported that Louisiana’s motion picture industry was down by 90% this year as filmmakers moved production to states with more generous tax incentives. (I guess that puts the filming outside my house in the 10%?). It was also reported that Governor John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Economic Development agency are going to commence an examination of the film tax credit and its economic impact in Louisiana. As the news reports indicate, the decline in movie production activity is undoubtedly due to the fact that, facing a state budget deficit, legislators placed caps and limitations on the credit in legislation passed last year. The most material change was an aggregate $180 million cap on the credit for tax years 2015-18, which will then sunset. RS: 47:6007(C)(1)(d)(ii). As a result, movie production has reportedly moved to states with more generous film tax incentives.

The Louisiana film tax credit is a complex beast, and I can’t cover all its intricacies here. But some broad policy points are worth mentioning. Continue reading “It’s Complicated.”

More Merger Mayhem: Tax Lawyers Testifying

By: David J. Herzig

Great news, the awesome clerks at the Delaware Courts were nice enough to help me get my hands on the trial transcript.  I guess I have some heavy reading to do now.  My goal is to first look through the transcript to see if anything jumps off the pages.  My longer goal is to try to create a tax opinion using the transcript and any depositions if necessary. I would like to see whether I agreed with Cravath or L&W.   After all, the judge did not decide whether the transaction withstood a should opinion.  Rather, he plotted the various opinions and decided that there was not a sufficient cluster to consider a should opinion was warranted.

[As a quick aside, I can’t believe that all the documents are not readily available for free on the court web site.  The judge (chancellor) references the trial transcript in his opinion, yet, the supporting document is not available on-line for free.  I have free lexis access as an academic and can find portions of documents but not the docket or the document.  As a member of society, this certainly raises an access to justice problem. Thankfully, the clerks are super helpful and accommodated me.]

I also have received some thoughtful responses and theories about the case.  I will be wrapping them up into my opinion post later (sorry you have to follow me on twitter (@professortax) to know when it hits or better yet keep checking surlysubgroup.com).  But some of the best initial thoughts take into account some of my concerns.

First, I am still not sure why there was an out in the deal base on the should opinion. Continue reading “More Merger Mayhem: Tax Lawyers Testifying”

Improving Tax Compliance in a Globalized World

By Jennifer Bird-Pollan

I have spent the past two days in the beautiful “free city” of Rust, Austria.  (Among other things, Rust is known as a haven for storks, including those in the photos below.  Most buildings in the old town have stork nests on their roofs.)

I am in Rust to attend a conference organized by the Institute of Austrian and International Tax Law of the Vienna University of Economics and Business.  The Institute organizes a conference in Rust every year using the same model.  Organizers first issue a call for contributors, each of whom writes a country report on the year’s topic, answering a series of questions prepared by Institute staff, describing the situation in his or her home country.  Contributors and participants include representatives of tax authorities, tax law and economics academics, practicing tax attorneys and accountants, and representatives of international organizations, among others.  The reports are circulated to participants in advance of the conference, and all are expected to prepare themselves by reading the country reports before arriving.  The two day conference then consists of the reporters presenting 3 minute “input statements” on a variety of topics, followed by discussion among the almost one hundred participants.  Here we are discussing an input statement from the Russian reporter, Professor Danil Vinnitskiy:

Rust Conference

As indicated in the title of my post, this year’s topic is tax compliance, and it has been fascinating to hear about the approaches of various governments including Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Norway, Russia, Germany, Nigeria, Croatia and many more.  Discussions have covered questions including the measurement of the tax gap, FATCA and other information exchange programs, inter-agency information exchange, and withholding procedures, among other things.  For those interested in learning more about these matters, the reports will ultimately be published in the coming months.

Professors Michael Lang and Alexander Rust host the conference, along with others from the Institute, and they understand that hard conference work should be accompanied by some opportunities to talk informally with other participants.  The informal events typically include a local wine tasting, a sunset dinner boat trip on the lovely Neusiedlersee, and many coffee breaks with opportunities for discussion with others.

Rust dinnerRust sunset

Having attended the Rust conference twice now, I can highly recommend it to others.  Keep an eye out for the call for participants for the 2017 conference!