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that class, Massachusetts perhaps, with respect at least to corporations doing business in that state.
The resolution which I present reads as follows:
Whereas, the federal Revenue Act of 1921, Title II, Section 204, provides for the application of net losses of one year to the net income of other years, and
Whereas, radical changes in business conditions exist from year to year, affecting the income or loss thereof, and
Whereas, the justice of averaging incomes over a number of years has generally been recognized by legislatures and businessmen,
Be it Resolved, that this conference recommends that existing state income tax laws or franchise tax laws based on income be amended so as to provide, as far as practicable, the application of net losses of one year to the net income of other years, as provided in the federal Revenue Act of 1921.
HARRY P. SNEED of Louisiana: Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the resolutions committee, I wish to state that the reason why that resolution was not reported favorably by the committee was not because of any lack of merit in the resolution itself, but because the committee felt that the policy of this conference was to confine itself to matters of large moment, and we were of the opinion that the resolution was not of sufficient dignity to warrant adoption by the conference. I state this in justice to the committee and to explain to Mr. Kalisher why it was not reported.
CHAIRMAN LORD: Now, we will see; is there any objection to the introduction of this resolution at this time?
WALTER W. LAW, JR., of New York: I object to the introduction. CHAIRMAN LORD: I think under the rules, inasmuch as this resolution has had the consideration of the committee on resolutions, and objection being made, we cannot entertain it.
CHARLES J. TOBIN: Perhaps the secretary can inform me as to whether the record is complete as concerns the existence of the committee on public utilities. As I understand it, in the reading of the report, there was to be a continuation of the work of that committee. Is it necessary that a resolution should be proposed here continuing the work of the committee, or is that a matter that automatically takes care of itself. It is my recollection that they did not finish their job, and as yet no resolution has been offered which keeps them.
CHAIRMAN LORD: I think I would entertain a resolution or suggestion of that kind from the conference to the association, unless there is objection.
SECRETARY HOLCOMB: I was not present at that particular session, but I understood that some such resolution was offered.
MR. TOBIN: It is my recollection, Mr. Holcomb, that there was something said about it; that is, they discussed it, and said that they wanted more time.
CHAIRMAN LORD: Is there objection to the introduction of such a resolution at this time?
NILS P. HAUGEN of Wisconsin: I believe the statement was made at the time of the consideration of this question before the conference that it would be desirable to continue the committee, and I as chairman stated that, if there was no objection, that would be the sense of the conference.
CHAIRMAN LORD: Mr. Whitney, can you advise us about the status of that committee?
FRANCIS N. WHITNEY of New York: Mr. President, I don't recall that a formal vote was taken. As Mr. Haugen has said, the matter was brought up, but whether the conference desires to recommend to the association that the committee be continued or not is, of course, for the conference to decide. Senator Davenport said, and I think we all understood, that we had not fully completed our report, and whether the committee, as it is now constituted, should continue, or another committee be appointed, to finish the work, I think is a matter for the conference to consider at this time.
CHAIRMAN LORD: Unless there is objection, the motion of Mr. Tobin will be entertained.
MR. TOBIN: I move, Mr. Chairman, that the conference recommend to the National Tax Association the continuation of the committee on public utilities.
CHAIRMAN LORD: I presume that includes thanks for the work they have already done, as suggested by the secretary.
MR. TOBIN: I believe they deserve thanks, Mr. Chairman. I believe they have done their work well, and that we should extend to every member of the committee, as well as the chairman, the thanks of this conference. I offer that as part of my resolution.
WILLIAM BAILEY of Utah: I am thoroughly in favor of this motion. If I remember correctly, Mr. Link has already made that and it has been carried by the association.
CHAIRMAN LORD: It can do no harm to adopt it again. (Ayes and noes)
CHAIRMAN LORD: It is unanimously adopted.
SECRETARY HOLCOMB: It seems to me that while we are doing these things, we ought to express appreciation of the work of the committee on migratory live stock; they have spent a lot of time, as have all the other committees; I think the work of that committee should be recognized, and that its report should be accepted with the sincere thanks of the conference.
CHAIRMAN LORD: You offer that as a motion?
SECRETARY HOLCOMB: Yes, sir.
(Ayes and noes)
CHAIRMAN LORD: Unanimously adopted.
Now, is there any other motion that has been overlooked or forgotten?
CAPTAIN WHITE: I think a rising vote of thanks ought to be given to the committee on resolutions for their work.
Oscar Leser of Maryland: Can I say a word on that? I happened to be on the committee on resolutions, and I am going to vote against that motion. As a matter of policy I have always been opposed, in organizations to which I have belonged, to votes of thanks to members, for the simple reason that unless you do it in all cases, it becomes invidious in each case in which you omit it, and I therefore suggest that hereafter in our dragnet general resolution of thanks, we include all the committees.
CHAIRMAN LORD: This motion has been offered and seconded. and I think the chair will entertain it and put it.
(Ayes and noes)
CHAIRMAN LORD: The resolution appears to be adopted and the chair declares it adopted.
Now, gentlemen, we will listen to a paper by Mr. Howard of New York on the standardization of tax commission reports. It is a matter of some importance to commissions, and I am sure the paper will be instructive.
After Mr. Howard has completed the reading of that paper, we are going to have a short memorial service for our late friend Judge Howe, who has passed away since the last meeting of this conference.
Mr. Howard, we shall be glad to hear from you at this time.
STANDARDIZATION OF STATE TAX REPORTS
M. S. HOWARD
Statistician, New York Tax Commission
This is a discussion of a future standardized state tax report. Relative to present tax reports, I have only this to say: Some time ago a distinguished tax authority who has been retained by many legislative committees, after getting together the reports of various states to develop certain comparisons, stated that he was unable to use them. He also stated that when trying to use the data in a tax department's report, in conjunction with the data in the report of another department of the same state, he could not make use of either of them.
Tax problems have for some time been a matter of very lively interest. There are many tax authorities giving the major part of their time to their consideration, and in fact tax questions have become among the first problems of popular interest. Not merely are the people generally concerned as to the weight of taxation, but to a great degree they are intelligently desirous of having the fairest and most scientific tax systems adopted. The question arises: Are the facts relative to our systems of state and local taxation adequately presented? Are the figures sufficiently accurate? Are our tax authorities able to find out from the tax reports of the various states the things they want to know? Is this great interest in tax matters properly met by the information we are including in our annual reports?
If it is a fact that our compilation and reporting of tax facts is lagging away behind the interest in and importance of tax problems, how should we go about correcting the situation? How should we present our accumulating tax experience, so that our tax experts, i. e., the administrators, the legislators and the scientists can have the benefit of this experience, in correcting and improving our tax systems?
The following are tentatively offered as the logical order of the steps to be taken.
(1) The appointment by the National Tax Association and the American Statistical Association of committees to work together to develop a model form of report.
(2) As the field of American taxation is so large and so varied, the incorporation in this joint committee of the staff of some such organization as the National Bureau of Economic Research.
(3) With the offices and other facilities of such a staff available, the accumulation of the materials which show exactly how extensive is the field of information available to our tax commissions.
(4) A comprehensive tabulation or mapping-out of such available materials.
(5) The determination of what material should be developed annually by a state and what should be compiled only every other year, or less frequently.
(6) The drawing up of a series of tables for the states to compile, so far as they have the funds therefor, in the order they should be printed. The stub and column captions of each table should be specified so that in all cases where comparison between the states is desirable and possible, uniformity of presentation may be secured.
(7) In addition to recommending the order of printing, the committee should give its opinion as to the order of importance and as to the minimum information to be presented.
It goes without saying that the committee should know that the utmost benefit would be derived from their labors, by the heads of the various tax commissions undertaking in advance to have their recommendations carried out, so far as lies within their power.
The following are suggested as the sort of matters to which the committee would give its consideration.
The model form of report should have a complete series of table numbers so that those states that print only a small number of tables would nevertheless give the tables they did print the modelreport table numbers. Although there might be many blank numbers in a given state's report, nevertheless the tables that were comparable for the various states would make that fact plainly known, by having identical numbers, so that any one desiring to use them for comparative purposes could do so with certainty and with economy of time.
A further word as to its form is worth while, although that may be much less important than its contents. The tax reports of the various states should be uniform in size of paper, in size of print, and in order of contents. This matter of uniformity of arrangement should increase the readiness with which they can be used: incidentally there is probably one best arrangement and all reports might as well follow that best.
The following are suggested as part of the contents and the order of contents:
(1) Title page
(2) Transmittal page
(3) Table of contents
(4) Report to the legislature from the commission, dealing with such matters as they see fit, as,
(a) New features of administration