School of Law, University of California, Los Angeles
For more than thirty years a consuming preoccupation of the income tax has been the control of "tax sheltered" investments. Of most widespread concern have been acquisitions, financed by debt, of assets that enjoy some sort of "tax-preferred" treatment, most commonly some advantageous form of depreciation. Tax-favored treatment has been conferred on many productive assets through deliberate congressional action. Nevertheless, debt-financed acquisitions of those very same assets have been regarded as exploiting the available tax benefits in ways that seemed "abusive" and have widely been regarded as "bad." This perplexing, fundamentally self-contradictory state of affairs has levied constant demands on the courts and the Congress, and has captivated the attention of academic observers. In the last twenty years, debt-financed (or "leveraged") tax shelters have been the object of two major pieces of legislation-the "atrisk" rules of the Tax Reform Act of 1976, and the "passive activity loss" limitations, the complex, controversial anti-tax shelter centerpiece of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 -together with a host of less sweeping enactments. Tax shelters continue to occupy the courts, and to preoccupy academic students of taxation.
Debt, Accelerated Depreciation, and the Tale of a Teakettle: Tax Shelter Abuse Reconsidered
UCLA Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.bu.edu/faculty_scholarship/1662