Changing the past: Serious scientists, talented fantasists, regretful Ashley Madison members and many other segments of humanity have considered, and even longed for, the ability to rewrite history. One group has apparently succeeded – state legislatures that backdate tax law changes.

Such success may be short lived, however, as experts identify significant legal and policy faults with retroactively changing tax obligations.  Two recent articles in State Tax Today explain why retroactive tax laws should not be passed and if they are, should be invalidated by the courts – and invalidated retroactively. In “Retroactive Tax Laws Are Just Wrong” David Brunori (Deputy Publisher, State Tax Today) describes the fairness problem with retroactive tax legislation.  In a second article, the monthly interview column “Raising the Bar,” McDermott’s Steve Kranz and Diann L. Smith, Joe Crosby (MultiState Associates) and Kendall Houghton (Alston & Bird LLP) provide details on recent cases addressing retroactive tax changes.

The Council On State Taxation (COST) is also offering a discussion of this issue at its 46th Annual Meeting/Fall Audit Session in Chicago, Illinois (October 20-23, 2015).