Author Archive

Can Obama slow corporate inversions? Yes he can.

Politicians can debate whether corporate tax inversions are “unpatriotic” or simply a legitimate technique to reduce taxes–and commentators can argue over whether anything should be done to stop them. Experts also disagree about whether President Obama and his Treasury Secretary have the legal authority to write new rules to discourage inversions. In my view, on this last […]

Abuse of financial products by hedge funds

Today, I testified before the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (the “Subcommittee”) on the abuse of structured financial products by hedge funds, in particular by the Renaissance funds. This is what I told the Subcommittee: Almost a century ago, Congress reduced the tax rate for long-term capital gains. Then, long-term meant holding assets for […]

A Flash Tax for the Flash Boys

Michael Lewis spotlights high-frequency traders with his new book, Flash Boys.  These traders use high-speed computers and fast connections to outrace investors, and other traders, to the market.  They now account for more than half of all U.S. stock trades.  And the flash boys spend billions to save milliseconds (by, for example, laying expensive fiber-optic […]

You Could Owe Capital Gains Taxes When You Spend Bitcoin

The IRS determined this week that Bitcoin and other digital currencies should be taxed as property, not currency. This means Bitcoin transactions will be taxed as capital gains, not as ordinary income. But, perhaps surprisingly, the act of spending Bitcoin could trigger capital gains taxes. Thus, the use of virtual currencies as a medium of […]

Camp Defines Private Equity as a Business, Would Boost Taxes on Carried Interest

In the tax reform roadmap he released yesterday, House Ways & Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) targeted the trillion dollar private equity industry.  Not only did he propose to tax the compensation of private equity managers at ordinary rates rather than lower capital gains rates, he also called the industry out. The official description […]

Court of Appeals Finds a Trade or Business: Could this Mean Higher Taxes for Private Equity?

The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that private equity funds are engaged in a trade or business under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).  The court said the case, Sun Capital Partners v. New England Teamsters & Trucking, “presented important issues of first impression.”   And the court’s resolution of the trade […]

Why the IRS Should be Taxing the Profits of Private Equity Funds as Ordinary Income

For years, the battle over carried interest has focused on how to tax the compensation of private equity managers. But a careful reading of  the law suggests that all the business profits of these investment firms, not just the pay of their managers, are ordinary income, and should be taxed that way. Until now, the […]

Chairman Camp Agrees: Too Many Choices Burden our Tax System

Last week’s draft plan by House Ways & Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) to reform the taxation of financial products includes two key changes that would simplify rules, reduce manipulation, minimize compliance burdens, and improve tax administration. The first would require investors to use the “mark-to-market” method of accounting for all derivatives, other than […]

Paying Taxes on Capital Gains Early: How Investors are Avoiding Tax Hikes

Normally, at the end of each year, investors sell stock (and other assets) to recognize losses to offset gains recognized earlier in the year. Sometimes they do it the other way around, harvesting gains that can be offset by earlier losses. But this year is different: many investors are recognizing gains, even if they don’t […]

France Collects a Financial Non-transaction Tax

Following the 2008 financial sector collapse, Europeans have been slowly moving, somewhat in concert, towards new financial transactions taxes.   Last week, France jumped the gun:  it initiated a package of financial transaction taxes all on its own that includes a novel tax on high frequency stock orders. The high frequency tax applies to traders that […]