Does Small Revenue Loss Justify Bad Tax Law? No

Annette Nellen

More on legislative efforts to give a tax break to winning Olympians(!) …

See my post, “Olympic Medal Taxation Craziness“, for background. This post got a lot of comments both here and on Tax Connections.

An update: H.R. 5946, U.S. Appreciation for Olympians and Paralympians Act, would modify §74 to exclude from income the value of medals and prize money received for competition in the Olympic or Paralympic Games. A similar bill, S. 2650, passed in the Senate on 7/12/16. Also see H.R. 2628, Tax Exemptions for American Medalists Act of 2015 (TEAM Act), applicable to awards received after 2014. S. 2650 and H.R. 5946 would be effective for awards received after 2015.

The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that cost of this bill at $3 million over ten years (JCX-72-16 (9/13/16).

While $3 million cost over ten years is less than a rounding error in the federal budget, this does not justify enacting an unnecessary provision that violates many principles of good tax policy such as equity and neutrality. Also, will this open the door to others seeking low cost changes to save them taxes?

What do you think?

Annette Nellen, CPA, Esq., is a professor in and director of San Jose State University’s graduate tax program (MST), teaching courses in tax research, accounting methods, property transactions, state taxation, employment tax, ethics, tax policy, tax reform, and high technology tax issues.

Annette is the immediate past chair of the AICPA Individual Taxation Technical Resource Panel and a current member of the Executive Committee of the Tax Section of the California Bar. Annette is a regular contributor to the AICPA Tax Insider and Corporate Taxation Insider e-newsletters. She is the author of BNA Portfolio #533, Amortization of Intangibles.

Annette has testified before the House Ways & Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee, California Assembly Revenue & Taxation Committee, and tax reform commissions and committees on various aspects of federal and state tax reform.

Prior to joining SJSU, Annette was with Ernst & Young and the IRS.

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