In a posting a couple of years ago, I raised the issue of patents for tax strategies. Since then, the issue has been quietly percolating along. A ban on these types of patents (essentially a specific form of business process patent) was included in the House passed version of patent reform, but not in the Senate bill as reported out of the Judiciary Committee. Now an interesting coalition has written a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee asking that they move on a stand alone bill. The group is made up of consumer organizations, taxpayer rights groups and tax planners including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the American College of Tax Counsel, the American Society of Appraisers, Citizens for Tax Justice, US PIRG, and Consumer Action (to name a few).
This may be a useful strategy. The talk in Washington right now is about some stand alone tax bills passing this year, such as a jobs creation tax credit and extension of the first time homebuyers credit. Even if a stand alone bill doesn’t pass, there are multiple avenues to enactment. There is the patent reform bill (which we continue to hear may be moving this year). The NY Times Economix blog also raises the question if the Administration’s tax simplification efforts will take is on as well. And there is the Bilski case before the Supreme Court on the broader issue of business process patent. With all these venues, something may finally be done about banning patenting tax strategies.
Thanks to Tax Prof Blog for highlighting this letter.