Brief The Enron Debacle
Lessons for Tax Policy
Jane G. Gravelle
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The Enron debacle had potential implications in three areas of tax policy: tax-favored retirement plans, stock options, and differences in book versus tax accounting. The most important issue relates to the increasing riskiness of retirement plans that (1) can pay in a lump sum amount, (2) are of the defined contribution variety, and (3) may be excessively concentrated in employer stock. Proposals to remedy this issue even in a limited way may be unsuccessful if they do not address the especially favorable tax treatment of employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). The spectacle of a purportedly profitable company paying little or no tax has become a common phenomenon. The Enron case suggests the need for more disclosure regarding the sources of book versus tax differences, if not some substantive corporate tax reforms.
Research Areas Economic mobility and inequality Taxes and budgets
Tags Fiscal policy Individual taxes Taxes and business Federal budget and economy Campaigns, proposals, and reforms Federal tax issues and reform proposals