Friday, June 08, 2012

Death and taxes and zombies

Law professor Adam Chodorow has authored a paper "Death and Taxes and Zombies,"which will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Iowa Law Review. 

In his paper the Professor argues:
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. 
In addition to zombies, the article also 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 IRS into action before it is too late.
Among the specific points addressed in the paper are:

  • The differences between zombies under the power of others and self-motivating zombies
  • Is a zombie considered to be the same person it was prior to death? (a person's transformation into a raving cannibal with no heartbeat might not be enough to consider them legally deceased)
  • Whether a person is still considered married if their spouse has become undead 
  • The administrative problems of resurrecting dead social security numbers
  • If someone who becomes a zombie is considered not dead (as opposed to undead) for estate and income tax purposes, no charge to estate tax [IHT] would be triggered
  • Would zombies be considered dead because they suffered a personality change, physical disability, or decreased brain function? If so, the door would be open to declaring dead a wide range of people currently considered to be alive.
  • If a vampire is considered non-deceased for the purposes of her estate — which is to say, she retains ownership of her property in undeath — but is no longer considered a "woman" then her marriage might be considered void when she becomes a vampire.

I'm no fan of vampire films, stories and books so have no idea whether these are only issues to be considered in the USA or if they could be relevant in the UK too. In which case the big question is whether HMRC should be addressing this issue. I confess it's not something I've ever given much time to myself.
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