JATA - Fall 1987

Volume 9, No. 1

Government Tax Incentives and Fixed Asset Acquisitions: A Comparative Study of Four Industrial Countries

Thomas M. Porcano


The use of tax and nontax government incentives to stimulate business investment in fixed assets is commonplace. Most of these incentives are supply-side measures. This article presents the results of a study designed to determine the efficacy of such provisions. The four industrialized countries examined in this study were selected because of the similarities in their economic objectives and because of the variety of their incentive provisions. The results clearly indicate that none of these different measures and techniques significantly impact decision making involving fixed assets. Implications of the findings also are presented.

Impact of Tax Law Complexity on Professionals

Stewart S. Karlinsky and Bruce S. Koch


This study examined the impact of income tax law complexity-reading complexity and content complexity -on the task performance of professional accountants. The research results have implications for the appropriate presentation style of the tax law as well as the applicability of standard readability tests to professional readers. In a laboratory experiment 98 tax and accounting professionals were randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions. The experiment tested the subjects' ability to understand and correctly answer client questions involving practical situations. The impact of reading complexity on overall understanding, holding underlying content complexity constant, also was tested. Results indicate that presentation style exacerbated the effect of an already difficult tax law concept. Also, for adult subjects, a newly developed readability index was superior to standard readability tests currently used by federal and state government agencies.

An Expert System for Selecting Tax Shelters

Robert H. Michaelsen


Expert systems are computer programs that use expert knowledge to solve problems. Although such programs have proven useful in a number of important domains of knowledge (e.g.., geology and medicine), they are in their infancy in the field of taxation. This paper presents an expert system that matches a client with an appropriate type of real estate or oil and gas tax shelter. Software development involved extraction of heuristic rules from interaction with tax experts. After the model was created, it was subjected to a blind evaluation by tax specialists. The results indicate that expert systems are feasible for tax shelters and provide evidence concerning the appropriate domain size for such programs in taxation.

Professors Who Teach Outside the United States: Tax Planning and Policy Analysis

Ernest R. Larkins


Although originally intended to increase U.S. exports, the current Section 911 exclusions are available to anyone who can establish the required nexus with a foreign country. Professors who teach outside the United States can qualify and avoid U.S. income tax on their compensation. They also can avoid foreign income taxes through the use of little-publicized tax treaty provisions available to educators. Planning is essential to satisfy the Section 911 eligibility requirements. Similarly, qualifying for the educator exemption found in most U.S. tax treaties is assured only if tax planning precedes and accompanies the foreign teaching assignment. A tax policy analysis of the statutory exclusions is difficult because data are sparse and the support is based on testimonials. Nonetheless, the dramatic lowering of U.S. tax rates and the limited number of educators electing Section 911 suggest a trivial cost for this tax expenditure, notwithstanding its violation of equity and neutrality standards.

Enhancing the Tax Learning Experience: Identifying and Using Tax Cases in Introductory Courses

Ken Milani and Kevin M. Misiewicz


Cases offer students an opportunity to experience how the tax laws work in a variety of actual situations. Moreover, when carefully selected, cases stimulate student interest and facilitate learning in important subject areas. This article presents a framework for evaluating the merit of a particular case for use in the classroom. It also suggests and summarizes several cases for potential use.

The Evolution of the ATA: From Orphans, to Outlaws, to Respectability

D. Larry Crumbley


The American Taxation Association (ATA) was created in 1974 because a number of individuals felt that tax members were having little impact on the American Accounting Association (AAA). ATA was created to coordinate efforts involving issues in tax education, tax research, and tax legislative matters. In only thirteen years, the organization has had a significant impact on the academic and professional activities of tax instructors and on the direction of AAA. Although three of its original objectives are being met, ATA has not had a major impact on the tax legislative process nor any interlinking with other academic disciplines.

Letter from the President

To ATA Members and Visitors,

The American Taxation Association (ATA) is home to a broad group of members with interests in tax research, policy, practice, and education. We are in a time of transition that includes the ongoing pandemic; both AAA’s and ATA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives; and the CPA Evolution. I thank our members Kirsten Cook, Diana Falsetta, and Annette Nellen for their service in these endeavors. I also thank Tim Rupert for his service as AAA Director focusing on Segments.

Our last mid-year meeting was virtual and could not have happened without our excellent ATA leadership. Thank you to Jeri Seidman, Mollie Adams, Bridget Stromberg, and their respective committees for their flexibility and tenacity in organizing their portions of the conference...

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Anna Catherine Fowler

In Memoriam,
Anna Catherine Fowler received her BS in accounting from the University of Alabama, after which she practiced for several years as a CPA. After moving to Texas with her husband Jim, she earned her MBA and PhD from the University of Texas at Austin.

She joined the faculty of the business school of the University of Texas in 1977 as the first female tenure track professor hired by the accounting department. She remained at UT until she retired in 2004 as the John Arch White Emeritus Professor in Business.

During Anna’s distinguished academic career, her research and teaching interests focused on estate and gift taxation. She was an active member of the AICPA’s Tax Division and the American Taxation Association, for which she served as 1993-94 president.

In 2002, Anna received the American Taxation Association’s highest honor, the Ray M. Sommerfeld Outstanding Tax Educator Award. She also received the Texas Society of CPA’s Outstanding Educator Award.

Anna and Jim made the most of their retirement years, delighting in travel all over the world. They finally settled in a retirement community in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Even after Jim’s death in 2019, Anna continued to travel with friends, root for her beloved Alabama football team, and live her life to the fullest. She passed away peacefully on October 19, 2021.

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