Tax Law

The Tax Foundation's Center for Legal Reform cultivates, explains, and advocates for tax legal reform. We develop innovative pro-growth ideas in tax law with leading experts, educate the legal community and the public about economics and taxpayer protections, and advocate that judicial and policy decisions on tax law promote simple, neutral, transparent, and stable tax policies.

Courts play an important role in developing tax policy, by interpreting tax codes, applying sections in individual cases, and dealing with circumstances unforeseen when legislation was drafted. By explaining complex tax legal reform issues to policymakers, the media, state groups, and the public, we encourage judicial and policy decisions that protect taxpayers and promote sound tax policy in federal and state law.

Specifically, our legal team focuses on cases and issues involving one or more of the following areas:

  • Scope of State Taxing Authority - States should not impair our national market with protectionist barriers. So long as tax systems are defined by geography, tax assessment and nexus must be based on physical presence within geographic lines. A single transaction should not be subject to multiple taxation or burdensome calculation, assessment, or payment obligations.
  • Definition of "Tax" - Many states have additional taxpayer safeguards for legislation that raises taxes, but in an effort to evade these safeguards, politicians are playing a word game. Any assessment that raises money in excess of what is needed to defray costs is a tax.
  • Economic Incidence - Constitutionally questionable taxes often are enacted using formal language that suggests they will not be damaging, but the real-world effect is precisely what the law is meant to prevent. By being presented with information about economic impacts, judges can resist the danger of simply accepting what the law says will happen instead of what really happens.
  • Taxpayer Protections - Entities imposing taxes and fees should treat like parties alike, with rules that are simple, transparent, stable, and neutral. There should be taxpayer protection provisions and they should be followed. The focus of taxes must be on raising revenue, not micromanaging decisions made by free people in the marketplace.

For information about our clerkship program for current law students, click here.

Additional questions about tax law? Contact us at (202) 464-6200.

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