Advances in Taxation: Volume 16


Table of contents

(14 chapters)

As with most professional service occupations, liability claims are a major concern for accounting professionals. Most of the academic research on accountants’ professional liability has focused on audit services. This study extends research on accountants’ professional liability by examining liability claims arising from the provision of tax services. In addition to a descriptive analysis, the current study explores the role of merit in tax malpractice litigation. Hypotheses are developed based on the legal construct of claim merit, which requires the presence of accountant error and damages as a result of that error for a claim to be considered meritorious. The hypotheses are tested using logistic and OLS regression of 89 actual claims filed with an insurer of tax professionals. The results suggest that the components of merit are significant in determining both the presence of compensatory payments to the client and the dollar amount of those payments, although the hypothesized interaction effect is only significant for the dollar amount of compensatory payments.

Prior studies on the social security tax have focused on it being regressive; a system that is detrimental to savings in the United States; a system that will bankrupt itself; and a host of economic inquiries examining labor market and product demand elasticities and the impact of the substitution effect. However, there is scant evidence on the shifting mechanisms employed by the owners of millions of small businesses in the United States. As a result, this study revisits the issue by surveying 4,431 small businesses in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi (ArkLaMiss). Results indicate, in the ArkLaMiss area, that the largest share of the tax burden is borne by customers. When compared to past literature, a relatively larger portion of the incidence of payroll taxes is likely to fall on employees in the ArkLaMiss, as opposed to the burden being borne by firms and customers. Also, stronger anti-tax sentiment was noted in the ArkLaMiss as compared to prior literature. Little support was found for the proposition that firm size impacts the incidence of taxation. On the other hand, statistical analysis indicates that the industry within which a firm operates was influential in the incidence of taxation. Moreover, in the sample, the banking/financial industry passed the largest percentage of the tax on to employees, the public accounting profession passed the largest percentage on to customers, and the legal profession bore the largest share of the tax in the form of reduced profit.

The importance of determining whether the seller of real estate is a dealer or investor is of major significance in terms of the income tax consequences of each characterization. That is, an investor may be entitled to capital gain treatment (at a 15% tax rate) on the sale of real estate, whereas a dealer may be subject to ordinary tax treatment (at a 35% tax rate in 2003), based on the particular circumstances. On the other hand, a dealer may be entitled to the benefit of ordinary loss treatment; in contrast, an investor could be limited to a $3,000 capital loss for the year. Naturally, a judicial decision reclassifying a taxpayer from dealer to investor or vice versa can result in costly additions to his or her tax liability.

This study investigates the issue of investor or dealer status in taxation by examining decisions of the Tax Court and U.S. District Courts from 1970 to 2000. Specifically, we build limited-dependent and qualitative variables models (i.e. logistic and probit regression models, and a discriminant analysis model) from the variables delineated in the landmark Winthrop case. Analyzing cases which utilized these factors resulted in a final data set of 87 judicial decisions yielding a total of 96 observations.

The final model from each method retains the same five significant predictor variables. The Hosmer and Lemeshow’s Chi-Square statistics for the probit and logit models are 3.5036 (p-value=0.6229) and 5.7173 (p-value=0.3347), respectively, both of which indicate a good fit. These models each have a proportional Rp2 of 86.5%. The discriminant function, with the same 5 predictors, has a classification accuracy rate of 85.4%. Furthermore, we test all models over a holdout sample of 10 decisions, and predict the outcome of all 10 holdout cases, with no ambivalence, for an accuracy rate of 100%.

Governments often encourage charitable giving through the tax system, by a deduction or tax credit. In 1988, Canada moved from a deduction system to a tax credit system. The tax credit for donations above $250 was calculated at the highest tax rate, even if the taxpayer was at the lowest tax rate. This gives what can be called a “superdeduction.” At the same time, the top rate of tax was reduced. Thus, the cost of giving was reduced for the lower taxpayers and increased for the higher-income taxpayers.

The article reports whether taxpayer behavior changed from 1986 (pre reform) to 1988 and 1992 (post reform). The analysis also investigates the influence of inflation on the charitable donations. The percentage of taxpayers giving over $250 was analysed for both all the taxpayers and those consistently in the low and high tax brackets. The lower-income taxpayers were found to reduce their giving, contrary to expectations. The middle-income taxpayers, in general, increased their giving, which was expected and so took advantage of the superdeduction. The results of the moderate high-income taxpayers were mixed. Taxpayers who had very high incomes decreased their giving, as was expected.

In a supplemental analysis, Krawczyk and Sawyers (1995) (K&S) found evidence that variations in engagement letter language affect the likelihood that taxpayers hold CPAs “responsible” for additional tax assessments, a broad measure of risk. We extend the K&S analysis by examining the effect of engagement letters on a larger set of precisely-defined tax practice risks. Our factor analysis identifies two risk constructs relating to client loss and reimbursement. MANCOVA shows that engagement letters reduce the likelihood of incurring both categories of risks. Also, some evidence suggests that higher-income participants are greater tax practice risks, and subjects with external loci of control represent higher client loss and reimbursement risks. Finally, we find that engagement letters reduce the percentage of professional fees subjects request as reimbursements following an unfavorable IRS audit and that prior legal suits, gender, age, and income level also may affect the fee reimbursement requested.

We use the 1995 IRS Public Use Tax File in simulation models to examine the factors associated with the widely anticipated growth in the alternative minimum tax (AMT). The evidence suggests that the changes in the marginal tax rate structure associated with the 2001 and 2003 tax legislation are likely to result in exponential growth in AMT incidence and create a substantial hidden marriage tax penalty, a result contradictory with the intent of these tax law changes. The evidence further suggests that the elimination of preferential long-term capital gain rates for the AMT could effectively fund structural changes in the AMT that would substantially reduce the impact of the AMT on middle and lower income taxpayers, many of whom are liable for the AMT due to the add-back for AMT purposes of such non-tax preferential items as Schedule A adjustments and personal and dependency exemptions.

This article examines the extent to which costs imposed on customers and other factors influence tax-motivated income shifting when corporate taxpayers expect tax rates to decline. I find that sellers of durable goods shift defer less income to lower tax rate periods than sellers of nondurable goods. This is consistent with shifting firms considering the effect of their income shifts on their customers. There is also limited evidence that firms with greater market power shift more income than other firms. In addition, I find evidence that, controlling for political costs and scale effects, smaller firms shifted more income than larger firms. This result is inconsistent with a “tax sophistication” hypothesis that larger firms are better able to engage in tax planning activities than smaller firms.

Productivity, participation, and trend analyses are used in this study to examine academic tax publications by accounting faculty. These analyses utilize a database of academic tax articles from 1980 through 2000 derived from 13 academic research journals. Results suggest that, on average, 46 tax articles have been published annually during the most recent five-year period, sole or dual authorship is the primary publication strategy by authors of academic tax articles, and assistant professors authored the most tax articles on an annual basis in these journals. The results also find that schools of residence for those publishing are far more diverse than the schools of training. Comparisons with Kozub et al. (1990) show some limited similarities for school at publication and university of degree productivity listings. This study also identifies some of the overall context for tax accounting research by noting groups making a significant contribution to the literature.

With repeal of the extraterritorial income exclusion expected in 2004, many U.S. companies selling abroad must rethink tax strategies related to export profit. Many firms with net operating loss (NOL) carryforwards, foreign tax credit (FTC) carryforwards, and interest-charge domestic international sales corporations (ICDs) can reduce marginal tax rates (MTRs) below rates otherwise applying to domestic sales. This article provides several case examples illustrating how U.S. exporters can minimize the MTR applicable to export profit. MTRs often depend on the period over which the company expects to absorb its NOL or FTC carryforward, the firm’s discount rate, and, in the case of ICDs, the prevailing T-bill rate. Assuming a 34% corporate tax rate, exporters with NOL (FTC) carryforwards can reduce the MTR on export profit to zero (17%) in some cases. Also, over the range of variables this article examines, the ICD reduces the MTR on export profit to between 34 and 21%. The cases illustrate how NOL and FTC carryforwards and ICDs affect exporters’ MTRs and provide educators with useful tools for discussing the tax aspects of exporting.

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Advances in Taxation
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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