Sunday, July 29, 2012

Taxes and the Zombie Apocalypse

You read the headline and thought I was kidding?

Death and Taxes and Zombies
Adam Chodorow, 5 July 2012

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.

It is a 25 page long paper.

From the body of the paper:
The first question that must be answered is whether the person who became a zombie died in the first place. The answer depends in large part on the type of zombie involved, as can be seen by considering a virus-caused zombie outbreak. In many cases zombie plagues clearly cause death under either the heart or brain function standard... It seems a stretch to conclude that those who transform seamlessly into zombies should be considered dead. They never lose heart or brain function, though they now function quite differently from before. While it might be tempting to declare them dead, significant line-drawing problems would arise as one tried to distinguish between zombies and those who have suffered some mental or physical breakdown. Put differently, were such zombies to be considered dead because they suffered a personality change, physical disability, or decreased brain function, the door would be open to declaring dead a wide range of people currently considered to be alive (p. 8).
That's right, if we get to premature with our calls on zombiedom, a lot of people could be in trouble.


Degringolade said...

You know, I am always impressed by you leanings toward academia. Well written scientific papers such as this are the meat and potatoes of good quality reporting.

Where did you find it? I am still giggling

John D. Wheeler said...

Yeah, and if we got too premature with our calls on vampirism, a lot of the elite could be in trouble ;-)

russell1200 said...

D: It is the type of thing I would find at an econ/finance site, but in this case (since I didn't hat tip it) I probably found it through a vague reference somewhere else and had to dig (google) for it, or just found it by accident while searching for something else.

JDW: :) Premature might depend on how tightly you define vampirism.

PioneerPreppy said...

I wanna see the IRS guys collect from em though. A few eaten IRS guys would be a good thing.

russell1200 said...

PP: I think at least some of the zombies already work at the IRS. LOL