For the most part, I prefer less choice. More choice can lead to less time and less pleasure. Think about the decision to stay in or go out for dinner. You look in your cupboards and there isn’t much. Perhaps a can of tomato and rice soup. So, you think, maybe it’s a good idea to go out. But where? Sometimes brainstorming the options alone is daunting, and after generating a list I simply decide to stay in. And that’s a good outcome. In a less ideal case, I’ll spend several hours on the internet, reading reviews of restaurants, looking at menus and prices, calling friends for views, only to become so daunted by the options and by the lack of an obvious “winner” that I’ll stay home. I will never regain that time. Worse yet, I do all that research – the internet research and calls – and I chose something. But when I go to the restaurant it’s a disappointment. I spend the night wondering if I could have made a better decision. Cream of tomato soup with rice, and three extra hours, would be preferable.
In “Choosing Tax: Explicit Elections as an Element of Design in the Federal Income Tax System,” Heather Field approaches the issue of the role and value of explicit tax elections. Apparently more than 300 explicit tax elections litter the Internal Revenue Code. Field explains that an explicit election is a case where multiple possible tax treatments might apply to a single economic event. Continue reading "No Option: Thinking Through Elections"