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December 06, 2004

The Volokh Conspiracy catches The New York Times in an inanity:

   A story in today's New York Times about the federal 
   Superfund program observes: "Since 1995, when 
   Congress did not renew a special tax on polluters, the 
   cleanup money has come entirely from taxpayers." 
   Huh? The money in Superfund always came from 
   "taxpayers" -- that is, it has always come from those 
   paying taxes. 

The Volokh post goes on to say that the Superfund Tax was a tax on "chemical feedstocks," with no connection with the pollution output of the taxpayers. There was an excise tax like that (IRC Sec. 4661), but there was also a "Superfund Tax" even less connected to pollution.

Internal Revenue Code Section 59A, which expired at the end of 1995, imposed a .12% "environmental tax" on corporate Alternative Minimum Taxable Income. This tax was imposed on any corporation with AMTI over $2,000,000. Banks, insurance companies and (horrors!) accounting firms were subject to the same "superfund tax" as lead refiners and cyanide makers.

The Times must hate technical nit-pickers like us. Of course, we delude ourselves to think they will even notice.

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