Corporatism and taxes

by Linda Beale

Corporatism and taxes

Corporatism is the term used to describe a economic and governmental approach that favors large entities over people, including adopting rules and regulations to suit the regulated entities, tilting legislation to protect corporate entities that might otherwise be considered to be causing harm to the public good, and allowing access to public fora and public representatives in ways that ensures that corporate voices are heard, whether or not those opposing them are heard.

Corporatism in tax policy has resulted in highly favorable readings of the reorganization provisions–for example, current IRS regulatory approaches proclaim that even losses can be recognized in corporate reorgs, going against well-settled understandings of the operation of the corporate reorganization provisions, and the Code and regulations permit a vastly expanded range of flexible transactions, especially of spins under section 355 and of A reorgs (a mere 40% equity consideration now ‘counts’ as sufficient to provide tax-free reorganization status).

Corporatism has been around in one form or another for a long time, but it was immensely aided by the activism of organizations like the US Chamber of Commerce and the National association of Manufacturers and the ideological ‘think-tanks’ supported by them and by corporate and wealthy backers.

For a revealing slice of the history of corporatism, every reader should be familiar with Lewis Powell’s 1971 memo on the means by which business could take over government. It is given a thorough airing (and there’s a link to the memo itself) by William Black on the blog New Economic Perspectives, My Class Right or Wrong: the Power memorandum’s 40th Anniversary (April 25, 2011).