Monday, September 06, 2021

Taxing Nudges


Another thunderstorm crosses the Ridings. The sky is rusty water and the trees have blurred to ink. Fat raindrops hammer on the blanket and soak through his steaming clothes; there is wet wool and sweat and the electric scent of the storm carried in with the rising wind.
Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk

Executives at hedge fund Renaissance to pay $7bn in back taxes Financial Times - Guess doing a Marc Rich and fleeing to Switzerland (or now Panama) was deemed not a great option.

The Cost of Corporate America: Checking Your Conscience at the Door

Reflections on the moral cost of being a corporate citizen.

Nudges are behavioral interventions to subtly steer citizens’ choices toward “desirable” options. An important topic of debate concerns the legitimacy of nudging as a policy instrument, and there is a focus on issues relating to nudge transparency, the role of preexisting preferences people may have, and the premise that nudges primarily affect people when they are in “irrational” modes of thinking. 

What can be done about tax havens?

Posted on 

In the first four videos in this series on tax havens I have explored how they work, what they abuse, and why that abuse should
Read the full article…

Before and After COVID-19 illustrations

Working from home during COVID-19 lockdowns has triggered an exponential growth in online and telecommunication fraud, according to technology firm Citadel Group.

“People are very sensitive to quite a number of issues around COVID at the moment, and are therefore open to the types of hooks or barbs the fraudsters will prey on,” Citadel chief executive Mark McConnell told AAP.

Scammers are trading on COVID-related welfare and tax payments and medicine availability, using calls, text messages and emails to target people’s personal information and build a profile ready for exploitation.

Warning as cyber criminals target COVID-related welfare and tax payments

Lauren Robel (Indiana), Afterword: Nudging Toward Virtue, 69 J. Legal Educ. 599 (2020)

Kathleen DeLaney Thomas (North Carolina; Google Scholar), Taxing Nudges, 107 Va. L. Rev. 571 (2021): 

Governments are increasingly turning to behavioral economics to inform policy design in areas like health care, the environment, and financial decision-making. Research shows that small behavioral interventions, referred to as “nudges,” often produce significant responses at a low cost. The theory behind nudges is that, rather than mandating certain behaviors or providing costly economic subsidies, modest initiatives may “nudge” individuals to choose desirable outcomes by appealing to their behavioral preferences. For example, automatically enrolling workers into savings plans as a default rather than requiring them to actively sign up has dramatically increased enrollment in such plans. Similarly, allowing individuals to earn “wellness points” from attendance at a gym, redeemable at various retail establishments, may improve exercise habits.

A successful nudge should make a desired choice as simple and painless as possible. Yet one source of friction may counteract an otherwise well-designed nudge: taxation. Under current tax laws, certain incentives designed to nudge behavior are treated as taxable income. At best, people are ignorant of taxes on nudges, an outcome that is not good for the tax system. At worst, taxes on nudges may actively deter people from participating in programs with worthy policy goals. To date, policymakers have generally failed to account for this potential obstacle in designing nudges.

American Speech Isn’t Getting Coarser, It’s Getting Softer And More Polite (F-Bombs Notwithstanding)

John McWhorter: "The grand old four-letter words seem to be used as punctuation, … (and) Twitter is full of people being recreationally nasty. Yet when I listen to America talking in our times, I hear an encroaching sweetness, a flowering of deference." - The New York Times