December issue of the NTJ (2019)

The new issue of the NTJ is now available online:

The Geometry of International Tax Planning After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: A Riff on Circles, Squares, and Triangles

Michael P. Donohoe, Gary A. McGill, and Edmund Outslay

Macroeconomic Effects of Reducing OASI Benefits: A Comparison of Seven Overlapping-Generations Models

Jaeger Nelson and Kerk Phillips

Rethinking the Green New Deal: Using Climate Policy to Address Inequality

Aparna Mathur

States’ Addiction to Sins: Sin Tax Fallacy

Lucy Dadayan

Taxing Wealth in an Uncertain World

Daniel Hemel

The Barriers Created by Complexity: A State-by-State Analysis of Local Sales Tax Laws in Light of the Wayfair Ruling

Whitney B. Afonso

After Wayfair: What Are State Use Taxes Worth?

John L. Mikesell and Justin M. Ross

Digital Services Taxes: Principle as a Double-Edged Sword

John Vella

The Superiority of the Digital Services Tax Over Significant Digital Presence Proposals

Wei Cui

Superiority of the VAT to Turnover Tax as an Indirect Tax on Digital Services

Karl Russo

Call for Papers: 9th Annual Municipal Finance Conference

13 Jul 2020 – 14 Jul 2020, Brookings Institution, Washington, DC

The 9th annual Municipal Finance Conference ( is to be held July 13-14, 2019 at the Brookings Institution. The conference is sponsored by the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution, the Rosenberg Institute of Global Finance at Brandeis International Business School, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, and the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

The Municipal Finance Conference aims to bring together academics, practitioners, and state and local government officials to discuss recent research on municipal finance and economic and fiscal issues affecting state and local governments more broadly. In recent years, paper topics have included changing rules for advance refunding, the impact of local newspaper closures on municipal borrowing costs, changes in the municipal advisor market in the post Dodd-Frank era, the risk of fiscal collapse in coal-reliant communities, the sustainability of state and local government pensions, the evolution of insurance value in municipal markets, and an analysis of highway construction costs.

– We are seeking proposals on a broad variety of topics related to state and local fiscal policy and public finance.
– Papers do not have to be original to this conference. We welcome papers that have been presented elsewhere.
– Deadline for proposals is February 21, 2020. Selection decisions will be made by March 20, and drafts of selected papers will be due by May 22.
– Please send your proposal or abstract to Haowen Chen (

The agenda for last year’s conference is posted here:

Call for Papers: 76th Annual International Institute of Public Finance

The 76th IIPF Conference is August 19-21, 2020 at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik.

The congress main theme is Public Finance, Natural Resources and Climate Change. In line with this theme, the congress provides a venue for presenting and discussing cutting-edge research in public economics of natural resources. The conference main theme should also accommodate fruitful discussion of the public economics of climate change, both with respect to actions to slow that process and the public economics consequences of climate change.

The Icelandic economy is largely based on harnessing the riches of nature. Iceland is also at the boarder of the Arctic region which stands to be disproportionally affected by climate change. Thus the main theme of the conference and her location are in good harmony. As is traditional at IIPF congresses, next to the main theme the program includes presentations from a wide range of topics in all areas of public economics.

Plenary lectures will be given by keynote speakers Anna Alberini (University of Maryland, USA), Karen Palmer (Resources for the Future, USA), Ottmar Edenhofer (University of Technology Berlin and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany), and Rick van der Ploeg (University of Oxford, UK). There will be about 100 contributed-paper sessions with 300-400 papers that address a wide range of policy-relevant public finance issues using state-of-the art methods. The program features scholars from around the world, and promises to be both stimulating and informative.

Paper Submission Start
December 9, 2019

Registration Start
January 15, 2020

Deadline for Paper Submission
February 15, 2020

Notification of Paper Acceptance
Early April 2020

Deadline for Payment of Membership or Submission Fee to the IIPF
February 15, 2020

Deadline for Registration of Accepted Authors
June 1, 2020

End of Early Registration
June 1, 2020

Standard Registration
Starts June 2, 2020

Deadline for submission to ITAX conference volume
September 15, 2020 (TBC)

*All dates in Greenwich Mean Time

Call for Papers: Symposium on Property Taxation

16 Nov 2020 – 17 Nov 2020, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY, USA 13244)

The Center for Policy Research, located within the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, is hosting a one and a half day symposium on November 16 – 17, 2020. The Center has all necessary facilities and staff support for this event. Additionally, the Sheraton University Hotel is within walking distance to the venue, and the City of Syracuse is easily accessible by air, via a transfer, from anywhere in the world.

ACCOMMODATIONS: Speakers and one presenter from each selected paper will have airfare reimbursed (economy class), hotel (2 nights), and meals. Other participants should expect to cover the cost of their own travel expenses.

SUBMISSION & GUIDELINES: The symposium will focus on the real property tax (RPT) and its administration broadly defined. We welcome paper topics that include, but are not limited to: (1) RPT design and its optimality; (2) RPT incidence, efficiency, adequacy, enforcement, and compliance; (3) size of taxing jurisdictions and cycle of reassessment; (4) exemptions and deductions; (5) successes and failures in using this tax; and (6) lessons to inform policy making and reform practice.

Please submit your PAPER or ABSTRACT (if paper is not yet completed), by June 1, 2020 via email attachment to Laura Walsh at Acceptance notifications will be sent by July 1, 2020. The full or revised papers are due November 1, 2020 for circulation among participants of the symposium.

RATIONALES AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SYMPOSIUM: The real property tax has been one of the several major taxes in the tax system of most developed countries. Many developing countries and transitional economies also levy this tax. Some countries that have not yet adopted this tax, like China, are considering adopting it. Property tax revenue is among the most important revenue sources for most local governments in the United States. In many European countries, local governments rely heavily on other taxes and intergovernmental transfers, but the property tax remains an essential part of their revenue portfolio.

The real property tax is typically administered by local governments, with wide variation across countries, even across states in the same country. The decentralized nature in the administration of this local tax, in tandem with political and other factors, has staged various scenarios that end up eroding the equity, efficiency, feasibility, transparency, and adequacy of the tax. To some extent, this tax has become inequitable, inefficient, nontransparent, and inadequate so that it can no longer serve its due roles as expected or desired. The call and demand for reform of administration of this tax is real and imminent worldwide.

There exists a rich and increasing academic literature on various aspects of the real property tax; however, this literature has been thin on the administration of this tax, especially in recent decades, such that academia is detached from the practice of this important locus of local public finance. This symposium is a collective effort of several research institutions in the United States, Europe, and Asia that are traditionally strongholds of public finance, as a new round of concerted exploration of the most pressing issues with the real property tax, especially the administration of this tax.

The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University has a long tradition as a stronghold in state and local public finance, with its departments of economics, political science, and public administration (policy) as the tripod in the study of this broad area. The Center for Policy Research in the Maxwell School already has a strong team of established researchers in this area.

This symposium will bring scholars from several major countries (and multiple states inside the United States) for international and comparative studies. The symposium focuses on the examination of problems in various aspects of the real property tax, its evolving role in local public finance, and, in particular, issues in its administration. At the theoretical level, the symposium aims to distill theories via empirical analyses to generate evidence on optimal reassessment cycle, optimal size of property assessing units, appropriate scope and manner of exemptions that balance equity with efficiency, and relevant policies under tax reform.

FURTHER INFORMATION: For specific questions, please contact Professor Yilin Hou, Center for Policy Research, Syracuse University, at or 1-315-443-9072.

The dates of this symposium (November 16-17, 2020) have been strategically selected to ensure that participants of the annual National Tax Association conference (November 19-21, Denver, CO, USA) are able to easily attend both events in one trip.

November 15 (Sunday): Afternoon arrival of participants and check in at hotel
November 16 (Monday): Full day; conference with dinner in the evening
November 17 (Tuesday): Half day; departure in the afternoon/evening

Fundamentals of Public Budgeting and Finance

That is the title of a recent e-book through Springer-Link by Aman Khan (Texas Tech University). If you are at a university with the right subscription, you might be able to access it for free, but is $25 otherwise.

If I was teaching an undergraduate public budgeting and finance introductory course, I would likely adopt it as the main textbook.  It is budget heavy by design and therefore lighter on the tax side, but it has a chapter on evaluating a tax system and another that covers the different means of raising revenue through alternative instruments. Depending on the course and its role in the curriculum, I might also find it light on federalism and accounting, but those are hardly necessary additions so I think it is overall an excellent textbook for undergraduates that is easy on student budgets.

Disclaimer: I came across the book by Google Scholar recommendation. There was no contact with the author or publisher, and so no undue influence for the preparation of this post.

The Intra-Conservative Debate over the Child Tax Credit

There is a bipartisan bill proposed by Mitt Romney and Michael Bennet being billed as “basic income plan for kids.” Here is Vox coverage, but I also found interesting this National Review article by Robert Verbruggen outlining the broader debate over its merits merits of the child tax credit. To summarize the debate over the child tax credit:

  1. Traditional economic conservatives see it as an overstep of government, and think it should be abandoned.
  2. More status-quo conservatives want it retained, particularly as long as it is partially refunded to resemble a tax break instead of welfare.
  3. Less status-quo oriented conservatives want it made to be fully refundable and paid for by consolidating other welfare spending, particularly those that generate “benefit cliff’s.”
  4. Others want it made it fully refundable, as it is a pro-family enabling device, and lay some blame on FDR for the reason the US doesn’t already have this.

The second point contained this idea, which was one I had not heard before:

It used to be that parents would pay to raise children and then reap the rewards when their kids cared for them in old age; now, thanks to Social Security and Medicare, parents still pay to raise kids, but in retirement they rely collectively on the income of the next generation. We’ve socialized the benefits of having children but not the costs, and the child credit helps to compensate parents for some of the costs. Put bluntly, raising children should count as a tax payment, and should be subtracted from the taxes parents otherwise owe.

Call For Proposals: Public Finance Challenges in the New Decade

The University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy is sponsoring and hosting a spring miniconference in College Park this April. This is part of the loose consortium of schools that have hosted in recent springs dating back to 2015 (University of Illinois-Chicago, Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School, Indiana University’s O’Neill School of Public & Environmental Affairs, and University of Illinois-Chicago’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs). The quality of presentations and discussion is very high, people really bring their best work. The conference is April 24-25, 2020 and proposals are due February 1, 2020. You can find the Call for Proposals below the line.

University of Maryland School of Public Policy Header Logo


Public Finance Challenges in the New Decade
April 24-25, 2020
University of Maryland School of Public Policy
College Park, Maryland

The start of a new decade gives us an opportunity to look ahead and reflect on the challenges that will face us as a field, as a nation, and globally, between now and 2030. What challenges will characterize field of public finance and governments of the world in the 2020’s? Governments will continue to struggle with how to finance the delivery of public services, the appropriate role of different levels of government in delivering those services, fulfilling past promises, and evaluating how well we are meeting the demands of citizens. In addition, public service, and therefore public finance, will be increasingly defined by interactions between the various sectors—public, private and nonprofit—and innovative mechanisms that involve all of these sectors. Data and methods available for evaluation and forecasting will continue to advance as will technology for the public sector. We invite papers that focus on the broad challenges theme in the areas of public budgeting, taxation, municipal securities, public expenditure evaluation, fiscal federalism, financial management, organizational structure, and more.

We seek new, forward-looking papers that will encourage and push the debate about public finance in this new decade. We invite proposals for papers that examine these and other policy issues at the national and subnational levels in domestic and international contexts utilizing a variety of empirical techniques. Proposals will be reviewed and competitively selected.

Possible areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Behavioral responses to taxation
  • Use of big data and data analytics for public budgeting and finance
  • Innovative methodologies in public sector evaluation and performance management
  • Sorting out responsibilities among levels of government
  • Municipal securities
  • Contingent liabilities, such as pensions
  • Nontraditional means of service delivery

Deadline for proposals: February 1, 2020

Proposals should include title, abstract, authors, and contact information for the submitting authors. Abstracts should not be longer than two pages. Accepted participants will be notified by March 1, 2020.

Participants may be asked to serve as discussants. Travel reimbursements will be available to cover the cost of travel (up to $600) and hotel expenses for one author per paper. Meals will be provided.

Proposals should be submitted to Dr. Philip Joyce at

Location & Schedule
The conference will take place at the College Park Marriott on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park. The conference will begin at 8:00 am on Friday, April 24th and will end at 1:30 pm on Saturday, April 25th. Registration, Hotel and Travel Information will be available in March 2020.

University of Maryland School of Public Policy
Situated in the nation’s capital at the crossroads where local and global issues intersect and where decision-makers address the world’s most pressing challenges, the University of Maryland School of Public Policy prepares students for careers advancing the public good across sectors. The School recently broke ground on a new building at the heart of campus, enabling our fast-growing community to continue impacting fields ranging from leadership and public management to sustainability to philanthropy and nonprofit. Drawing upon the strengths of a top-tier research university, the School of Public Policy brings cutting-edge science and technology developments into the public domain.

ABFM 2019 Curro Award Winner: Yoon Jung Choi (Syracuse)

Yoon-Jung Choi (Syracuse University – Maxwell School) is this year’s Michael Curro Student Paper Award Winner for her paper “Property Tax Interaction Among Overlapping Local Jurisdictions: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from School Bond Referenda.” She will be presenting on Friday at 4-5:15. John Yinger is her faculty adviser.

Interesting FYI: I worked with Choi in her last year of her MPA here at SPEA on a readings course. As part of that I had her do a meta-literature review of the two most recent years (2015-2016 at the time) of the Journal of Public Economics, National Tax Journal, and Public Budgeting & Finance. The database of articles is here and the her “three journal summary” that explains the themes and differences of the journals is here. It is quite good and I try to remember to share it periodically with the public finance doctoral students.

ABFM Doctoral Student Profiles: Ani Ter-Mkrtchyan

In preparation for ABFM’s upcoming conference, I am doing a series of profiles on the doctoral students on the job market.

Ani Ter-Mkrtchyan (University of Oklahoma – Political Science) will be presenting “Political Environments, Public Finance Outcomes and Financial Development” at the conference. Her dissertation (chaired by Hank Jenkins-Smith) is on Governance, Ideology and the Nuclear Waste Stalemate in the USA. I have the first part of her job market paper, “Global Financial System Outcomes after 2008: A Longitudinal Comparison,” here is the abstract:

The paper examines the condition of global financial systems before and after the 2008 financial crisis that was felt worldwide. Using a comparative perspective, we assess longitudinal trends in the functioning of the financial systems to explore the nature of financial market recovery and how financial system outcomes may have been on a different trajectory after 2008 than they were before 2008. We measure financial system outcomes across four dimensions: financial depth, access, efficiency, and stability. In addition, we compare differences in the level of development of a country to explore how variations in the external environment for a country’s financial system influenced the rate of decline in 2008 as well as the rate of recovery after 2008. Our findings indicate that the recovery of financial system outcomes was stronger for developed countries as opposed to transition and developing economies. As suspected, we also find evidence for the impact of the environmental context on financial system outcomes. In particular, the correlations are stronger for regulatory quality and the rule of law: political stability seems to have no effect on financial system outcomes for the 180 cases in our study.

Visit Ani’s website to learn more.

ABFM Doctoral Student Profiles: Chuanyi Guo

In preparation for ABFM’s upcoming conference, I am doing a series of profiles on the doctoral students on the job market.

Chuanyi Guo (University of Illinois-Chicago, Department of Economics) is presenting “The Impact of State Intervention on School District Fiscal Performance: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design” on Saturday morning at 8am. This is also his job market paper, which has an R&R at the National Tax Journal, and the abstract is as follows:

State monitoring and intervention has been implemented to reveal and address fiscal problems in local governments, yet we know very little about its role in promoting financial performance in a causal sense. This paper estimates the causal effect of state intervention on fiscal performance of monitored school districts by using district-level administrative data from Illinois State Board of Education. Utilizing the system design that only low-performing districts receive intervention from the state, I employ a regression discontinuity design based on financial indicators that are introduced in the system to evaluate fiscal positions and determine intervention. Results indicate that there are precisely zero effects on future financial outcomes of school districts. However, in heterogeneity analysis, I document statistically significant positive impacts on financial indicators reflecting long-run fiscal health in a relatively long term for districts with certain characteristics. For elementary school districts, I show that state intervention improves the long-term debt capacity remaining by 15-20 percentage points more on average for districts just receiving the intervention in three to four years since the intervention, compared to those barely not. This indicates that they are less reliant on issuing long-term debt in order to meet obligations. Similarly, among accrual basis school districts, I find that the intervention decreases the value of Expenditure to Revenue Ratio by 0.035-0.050 unit more for districts barely receiving the intervention, suggesting that their budget is becoming more structurally balanced.

His dissertation committee is chaired by Darren Lubotsky and David Merriman. Check out Guo’s website to find his CV and other working papers.