by David Safier
Congrats to ASU Law School prof Adam Chodorow for making the Iowa Law Review with his article, "Death and Taxes and Zombies." The essay in the NY Times about the article describes it as "a playful examination of serious tax-code issues from a refreshing perspective."
Law review abstracts generally don't make for good reading, but his one is an exception.
The U.S. stands on the precipice of a financial disaster, and Congress has done nothing but bicker. Of course, I refer to the coming day when the undead walk the earth, feasting on the living. A zombie apocalypse will create an urgent need for significant government revenues to protect the living, while at the same time rendering a large portion of the taxpaying public dead or undead. The government’s failure to anticipate or plan for this eventuality could cripple its ability to respond effectively, putting us all at risk.
This article fills a glaring gap in the academic literature by examining how the estate and income tax laws apply to the undead. Beginning with the critical question of whether the undead should be considered dead for estate tax purposes, the article continues on to address income tax issues the undead are likely to face. In addition to zombies, the article also considers how estate and income tax laws should apply to vampires and ghosts. Given the difficulties identified herein of applying existing tax law to the undead, new legislation may be warranted. However, any new legislation is certain to raise its own set of problems. The point here is not to identify the appropriate approach. Rather, it is to goad Congress and the IRS into action before it is too late.
I think the time is long past due for someone to write "The Wealth of Vampire Nations" by Count Adam Smith. They could probably get Matthew McConaughey to play Count Smith in the movie version.