Scott Greenberg has published an article, High-Risk, High-Reward: A Case For Tax Deferral, in the NYU Law Review.
The summary is as follows:
The federal tax code contains a number of provisions that reduce taxes on personal and business investment income. Many of these provisions fall into two categories: yield exemption provisions, which reduce taxes on investment returns, and tax deferral provisions, which reduce taxes on investment principal. While these two families of tax provisions are sometimes said to be equivalent, there are important differences between them. This Note focuses on one under-appreciated difference between yield exemption and tax deferral: the amount of risk to which the federal government is exposed. Under a tax deferral approach, the federal government’s expected revenue is higher but more uncertain, as revenue collections depend on the performance of taxpayers’ investments. This Note argues that policies that raise revenue by exposing the federal government to greater risk could be more efficient than other avenues of raising federal revenue. The federal government is able to take on market risk at a relatively low social cost, because of its high liquidity and ability to diversify risk across generations. While there are many possible ways for the government to raise revenue by taking on more risk, this Note argues that the tax code is a promising vehicle for doing so. All in all, this analysis adds a reason why tax deferral provisions are preferable to yield exemption provisions.
Posted by Mallory Wentz, Associate Editor, Wealth Strategies Journal.