Death and Taxes and Zombies

Author:Adam Chodorow
Position::Professor of Law at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
Pages:1207-1231
SUMMARY

The United States 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 upon 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.... (see full summary)

 
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1207
Death and Taxes and Zombies
Adam Chodorow
ABSTRACT: The United States 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 upon 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 Essay fills a glaring gap in the academic literature by examining
how the estate and income tax laws apply to the undead. It begins by
examining the critical question of whether the undead should be considered
dead for estate tax purposes; it then addresses income tax issues the undead
are likely to raise. In addition to zombies, this Essay 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 Internal Revenue Service
into action before it is too late.
I
NTRODUCTION .................................................................................... 1209
I. THE TAX CONSEQUENCES OF A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE .......................... 1210
A. A ZOMBIE TAXONOMY .................................................................... 1210
B. ZOMBIES AND THE ESTATE TAX ....................................................... 1213
C. ZOMBIES AND THE INCOME TAX ...................................................... 1219
D. TAX PLANNING OPPORTUNITIES AND TRAPS FOR THE UNWARY ......... 1221
Professor of Law at the Sandra Day O’Conn or College of Law at Arizona State
University, Tempe, Arizona. I would like to thank Carissa Hessick, Andy Hessick, Zachary
Kramer, Zachary Gubler, David DePianto, Rhett Larson, Marcy Karin, David Gartner, Art
Hinshaw, Deb Pogson, Bridget Crawford, Larry Zelenak, Michael Vincent, Katie Howland
O’Brien, and Samantha Wildman for providing comments on earlier drafts.
1208 IOWA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 98:1207
II. TAX CONSEQUENCES FOR VAMPIRES AND GHOSTS .............................. 1225
A. VAMPIRES AND TAXES ..................................................................... 1225
B. TAXES FOR THE CORPOREALLY CHALLENGED ................................... 1230
CONCLUSION ....................................................................................... 1231

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