RJLPP Spotlight


Eric A. San Juan

At the current juncture of fiscal uncertainty and pending tax reform, this Article offers an historical perspective by setting taxation in the context of demographic trends.  The Article divides the last century of Federal income taxation legislatively into four periods from enactment in 1913, to codification in 1939, recodification in 1954, and recodification with reform in 1986.  In the first quarter-century, income taxation largely applied to wealthy, white merchants, doctors, and lawyers, who dealt with their Collectors, who in turn were locally prominent political appointees.  All this changed during the second phase, when World War II transformed the income tax into a mass revenue generator, popularized by the Treasury.  Meanwhile, the patronage appointment system proved prone to corruption.  In 1952, an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reorganization marked a shift from local Collectors to centralized tax administration.  Automation became a priority, despite a tragic failure of technology and management in 1985.  Notwithstanding reform in 1986, the tax law became more and more complex, especially due to tax expenditures that effectively charged the tax collector with socio-economic benefit administration.  That is, the IRS effectuated disbursement, through tax rebates and refundable credits.  Boasting that it had become “the world’s largest financial institution,” the IRS had the job of scanning sensitive information of hundreds of millions of persons, both those who paid tax and those who didn’t.  In the electronic age, the IRS has become a fiscal panopticon.  View More.

William J. Tronsor

When people think of self-driving cars, they most likely conjure up images of themselves relaxing in their car, possibly watching Netflix, while their car takes them to their destination.  While that may not be far from a reality, with the Center for Automotive Research predicting that the first fully autonomous vehicles will be available in 2019, it is not the type of self-driving cars you would see on the market today.  Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has defined vehicle automation as having five different levels.  The first level is level zero, meaning that the vehicle has no automation and the driver is in complete and sole control of the primary vehicle controls such as, brakes, steering, and the throttle at all times. This ranges all the way to level four automation, where the vehicle is fully automated. A vehicle classified as having level four automation is designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for the entire trip. All the driver would need to do is set the destination and they would not be expected to be available for control at any time during the trip. View More.

Abigail E. Cregge

Minimum wage has been a passionate topic for Americans ever since the federal statutory scheme for minimum wages, known as the Federal Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), was introduced in 1938. At that time, the idea of establishing fair labor standards for the workforce by setting a pay floor was revolutionary.The American people very quickly supported the idea of being paid proper wages for their work and having their wages protected from unscrupulous labor practices.  As a result, state statutes were also put into effect expanding minimum wage protections. However, social and economic realities in America, such as rising inflation and an increased cost of living, have changed greatly over time. As such, the FLSA has been amended to reflect these changes by increasing minimum wage, which has been done on twenty-two occasions.  However, even though the minimum wage itself has continually increased over time, there are still aspects of the Federal Labor Standards Act that have been minimally altered since its adoption. For example, §14 of the FLSA, which applies to learners, apprentices and disabled workers, has been almost completely stagnant since 1938. View More.