Stanley Surrey, the Code and the Regime

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Reuven Avi-Yonah
Nir Fishbien


Stanley Surrey (1910–1984) was arguably the most important tax scholar of his generation. Surrey was a rare combination of an academic (Berkeley and Harvard law schools, 1947-1961 and 1969-1981) and a government official (Tax Legislative Counsel, 1942-1947; Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, 1961-1969). Today he is mostly remembered for inventing the concept of tax expenditures and the tax expenditure budget. This paper will argue that while Surrey was influential in shaping domestic tax policy for a generation and had an impact after his death on the Tax Reform Act of 1986, his longest lasting contributions were in shaping the international tax regime, since the concept of the single tax principle that shapes contemporary international tax reform efforts can be traced directly to his writing and activities both in academia and in the government.

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