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St. Mary's Law Journal





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This narrative poem framed from Robert Penn Warren’s epic poem, “Brother to Dragons,” transforms Warren’s poem into a satirical take on tax reform covering the origins, implementation, effectiveness, and future of American tax reform legislation. The poem begins by highlighting economic, political, social, and pop culture events from the American 1960s. The author discusses the emergence of and reasons for tax reform detailing the policy behind reform along with the positive and negative aspects of the original Tax Reform Act of 1969. The first reform attempted to curtail tax shelters by limiting risk write-offs, but exceptions in the reformation allowed tax shelters to continue to benefit the rich. The author suggests tax reform is merely a political tool for legislators to increase campaign funds by preventing the elimination of favorable tax provisions. The Revenue Act of 1978 also proved ineffective in eliminating tax shelter abuse. Then came the biggest reform up to date.

The Tax Reform Act of 1986 effectively shut down tax shelters by adding legislation, which states losses from “passive activities” may be deducted only against income from similar sources. However, the reform still fails to eliminate tax benefits for the rich. The author then lapses into a narrative in an attempt to understand if true reform is possible. The author gives no answer, but insinuates reform is now on the conscience of Americans and the task is real: find reform.

Recommended Citation

Mark W. Cochran, 1969: The Birth of Tax Reform, 25 St. Mary's L.J. 355 (1994).

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