Bloomberg Tax
Aug. 20, 2023, 2:00 PM

Week in Insights: A Hedge Helped the British Empire Enforce a Tax

Daniel Xu

The desire to protect tax revenue can make a government do wild things.

Take the Great Hedge of India, an ambitious 1,100-mile barrier built, or rather grown, by the British Empire to enforce salt taxes during the 19th century. It was 12 feet tall and 14 feet across at some points and stretched across the heart of India, standing as a living monument to the British Empire’s efforts to fight salt tax evasion.

The hedge took at least 30 years to construct, and it roughly cut off the saltless side of the country from the salt-laden—intended to allow the government to impose a high salt tax on the former.

As is so often the case in tax policy matters, a problem of rats infesting one section of the tax hedge arose. Introducing feral cats worked for a while, but successive infestations of white ants and locusts, outbreaks of bush fires, damage from storms, and growth of parasitic vines brought an end to the Great (Tax) Hedge of India.

Bloomberg Tax wasn’t there to cover the tax hedge, but if we had been, we would’ve had experts lend guidance on every aspect of the policy. Which cat breeds are the best ratters? How do you prevent bags of salt from being tossed over the barrier? How much fertilizer do you need for a 1,100-mile hedge?

The totality of the tax profession contains multitudes, and we’ve got it all covered.

The Exchange—It’s where great ideas intersect.

—Andrew Leahey

Look for Leahey’s column on Bloomberg Tax, and follow him on Mastodon at

Spectators enjoying the atmosphere above a large hedge during day one of The Championships Wimbledon 2023 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 3, 2023.
Photographer: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

State Insights

A strong dissent in a Michigan income tax case points the way for others to challenge the state’s sales apportionment formula, say BakerHostetler attorneys Mike Semes and Matthew Sommer.

UConn Law Professor Richard D. Pomp explains why hiring more auditors would be a better way to improve tax compliance in Connecticut than conducting a study to estimate the tax gap.

Massachusetts’ reinstated deduction for charitable contributions is a significant planning opportunity for resident and nonresident taxpayers—particularly high earners—say the Colony Group’s Kevin Charles and Adam Davis.

Federal Insights

Hanson Bridgett’s Nancy Dollar reviews final application and qualification guidance on bonus tax credits for solar and wind facility projects in low-income communities, discussing notable changes to the initial guidance.

In saying that it’s ending most unannounced visits, the IRS missed a chance to message that it wants to work closely with taxpayers to close failure-to-pay cases, says enrolled agent Bob Kerr.

A universal charitable tax deduction is one step that Congress should take to reverse a historic decline in donors, say Sara Barba of Integer and Jorge E. Castro of Miller & Chevalier Chartered.

Global Insights

A recent UK report on digital assets made four recommendations for action, including creating a new form of legal personal property to recognize cryptoassets. Dion Seymour of Andersen considers the report’s findings.

E-commerce platforms need to prepare for the potential impact of new obligations imposed on them by the EU’s proposed changes to customs and value-added tax rules, explains Aiki Kuldkepp of Grant Thornton Netherlands.

Herbert M. Chain of Kreston Global Audit Group considers the role of audit firms in managing culture, procedures, and training to ensure the firm’s professional personnel can meet their responsibilities effectively.

Columnist Corner

The Government Accountability Office has issued a report finding that disparities in retirement account savings fall along racial, income, education, and family size lines. In this week’s Technically Speaking, Andrew Leahey writes that financial education and tax incentive adjustments can help improve equity.

Career Moves

Alastair Glover has joined Stephenson Harwood as a partner in the private wealth practice in Dubai.

David E. Mannion has joined Massumi + Consoli in the tax practice group as a partner in the New York City office.

Nicole M. Wooten has joined Maynard Nexsen as of counsel in Columbia, S.C.

Suzanne M. Miller has joined Miller Johnson as a member in the real estate practice group in Detroit.

Scott Cockerham has joined Allen & Overy as a partner in its US projects, energy, natural resources and infrastructure practice.

Rachael Kuilema Klein has joined Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC in the trusts and estates practice group in Grand Rapids, Mich.

If you are changing jobs or being promoted, let us know. You can email your submission to for consideration.

News Roundup

It’s been another busy week in tax news from state capitals to Washington. Here are some stories you might have missed from our Bloomberg Tax news team.
*Note: Your Bloomberg Tax login is required to access Tax News.

  • Hawaii residents affected by August wildfires are eligible for state tax relief under disaster declarations from Gov. Josh Green (D) and President Joe Biden, the Department of Taxation said.
  • The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has a “proven record of enabling significant change,” Manal Corwin, the organization’s top tax official, said in response to a United Nations draft report that argued the OECD doesn’t adequately address the needs of developing countries.
  • The IRS’s admission that it backdated a document in a conservation easement case and misled the US Tax Court about it is threatening to plunge the agency further into the partisan politics of Washington.
  • California cities will seek legislation to limit tax-sharing arrangements that give windfalls to a handful of cities and millions in public money to retailers like Apple Inc., Best Buy Co. Inc., and Williams-Sonoma Inc.
An aerial image taken on Aug. 10, 2023 shows destroyed homes and buildings burned to the ground in Lahaina in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui, Hawaii.
Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Tax Journals

In a Tax Management International Journal analysis, Paul DePasquale of Baker McKenzie and Flávia Gerola of Trench Rossi Watanabe address usufructs as a wealth-planning tool for Brazilian families and relevant points of attention when dealing with US connections.

In light of recent IRS proposed regulations, Jessica Millett, Dylan Hays, Maral Clay, and Daniel Whalen of Hogan Lovells explain how partnerships can best monetize renewable energy tax credits under transferability provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

*Note: Your Bloomberg Tax login is required to access Tax Journal articles.

Attention Law Students

Do you have an original take on the law—but you’re not a lawyer yet? Our student writing competition is the perfect opportunity to show off your work.

We invite students to choose an area of law and technology and describe how it might be tested in courts, update past practices, or force a rethinking of the legal landscape.

We’ll publish the winning entry in December, and the student with the winning entry will get a swag bag of Bloomberg Industry Group products.

Our Wish List

We’re in the middle of the Atlantic hurricane season, so for September, we’re calling for submissions on storm preparedness and casualty loss. We’d also welcome articles that discuss retirement planning.

If you have an interesting, never-published article for publication, you can contact our Insights team by email at

Our Team

We talk about tax a lot. But there’s much more that you might hear us talking about if you popped into one of our Teams meetings. Here’s a quick look at what some of us are watching, reading, and listening to this week.

Melanie Cohen (Content Editor): I saw a production of “Cambodian Rock Band” over the weekend and it was one of the most incredible shows I’ve seen in my life. It’s a play with music—not a musical!—that shares the story of a man who escaped the Cambodian genocide in the 1970s.

Daniel Xu (Content Editor): I’m reading a translated version of a Japanese mahjong theory book titled “Super Digital Mahjong.” Luck plays a large role in Japanese mahjong, but the strategy can be complex.

Andrew Leahey (Columnist): The “Supernova in the East” episodes of Dan Carlin’s “Hardcore History” podcast, which cover the Asia-Pacific War of 1937-1945. It’s a riveting retelling of an aspect of World War II that’s often overlooked in histories written from an American perspective.

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