The Long Literary History of … Tax Law?

Tax law is not known for its literary prose, but a U.S. Tax Court judge, in a case involving some challenged business deductions by a theater professor aiming to be a playwright, explained that tax law actually has a long literary history (interesting footnotes omitted):

It is a truth little remarked on by scholars that tax law has been a fount of literature for 5,000 years. The oldest literary work still extant–the Epic of Gilgamesh–is a long narrative of a friendship begun during a protest against government exactions. In more recent times, some of our language’s most notable authors have used fiction to delve into tax policy: consider Shakespeare’s criticism of the supply-side effects of a 16-percent tax rate; Swift’s precocious suggestion of a system of voluntary assessment; and Dickens’ trenchant observation on the problems of multijurisdictional taxing coordination ….

The prof didn’t fare too well before the court. In an opinion divided into a Prologue, Act I, Act II and Epilogue, the court agreed that the petitioner “approached his playwriting in a business-like manner,” but disallowed many of his business deductions, including, for example, approximately 100 expenditures for “Performances, Viewing.”

Petitioner testified at trial “that every time he listens to a CD or watches a movie, he is engaged in playwriting and not recreation.” The court found this to be a “less than candid” assessment of his business expenses.

Calarco v. Comm’r of Internal Revenue, T.C. Summ. Op. 2004-94, Docket No. 1530-03S, (T.C. July 20, 2004). Thanks to Paul Scott and Cynthia Cohen.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

  

  

  


Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
Learn more...

Funny Law School Stories
For all its terror and tedium, law school can be a hilarious place. Everyone has a funny law school story. What’s your story?

Strange Judicial Opinions
Large collection of oddball and off-the-wall judicial opinions and orders.

Product Warning Labels
A variety of warning labels, some good, some silly and some just really odd. If you come encounter a funny or interesting product warning label, please send it along.

Tortland
Tortman! Andrew J McClurg
Tortland collects interesting tort cases, warning labels, and photos of potential torts. Raise risk awareness. Play "Spot the Tort."

Weird Patents
Think it’s really hard to get a patent? Think again.

Legal Oddities
From the simply curious to the downright bizarre, a collection of amusing law-related artifacts.

Spot the Tort
Have fun and make the world a safer place. Send in pictures of dangerous conditions you stumble upon (figuratively only, we hope) out there in Tortland.

Legal Education
Collecting any and all amusing tidbits related to legal education.

Harmless Error
McClurg's twisted legal humor column ran for more than four years in the American Bar Association Journal.