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State Tax Notes

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St. Tax Notes



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This installment of the column involves a change of focus. Instead of looking at the end of the legislative process – how courts interpret enacted statutes – this installment looks at the phase at which bills are enacted by or defeated in the legislature. However, the two phases have underlying similarities. As we will see, arguments used in legislative advocacy have counterparts in statutory interpretation advocacy. Our topic is particularly timely. Proposals to revise state and local tax statutes are always with us, of course, but recent budgetary stresses have increased both the number and significance of those proposals.

This journal's sister publication, Tax Notes, once reprinted a list of unknown authorship and vintage. A former tax staffer to a member of the Senate Finance Committee found the list, without identifying information, in his old files and made it available for publication. The list sets out some generic objections that can be offered against proposed tax legislation. That sort of catalog is no less useful to state and local tax law practitioners. Many readers of State Tax Notes have drafted proposed tax statutes or regulations or have been involved in lobbying efforts for or against them.

The Tax Notes list is useful but underinclusive. Today, we greatly expand the catalog. Part I provides a foundation for the topic. Part II enumerates generic or stock objections to tax proposals, sorting them into categories. Part III discusses why knowledge of those pattern arguments is useful to practitioners and advocates.


© 2009 Steve R. Johnson


First published in State Tax Notes.

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