NewYorkUniversity
LawReview

Issues

Author

Meredith M. Stead

Results

How Incentive Pay for Executives Isn’t–And What We Can Do About It

Meredith M. Stead

Pay Without Performance: The Unfulfilled Promise of Executive Compensation

When conversation turns to business, a topic guaranteed to provoke heated discussion is the extraordinary compensation that top American corporate executives enjoy. Periodically, as some new pinnacle is reached, the public reacts with a fresh wave of indignation. A well-known example is the story of Michael Ovitz. Hired as president of the Walt Disney Company by his friend, CEO Michael Eisner, Ovitz left the company after just fourteen months, having failed abysmally at his job by most reckonings. Upon his departure, however, Ovitz collected a “golden handshake” of not only his annual base salary of $1 million for the remainder of his five-year contract, but additional earnings from stock options and a generous severance package, totaling approximately $140 million. Outraged shareholders brought a derivative suit, and seven years after Ovitz’s departure, the case is still wending its way through the courts-and through the headlines.

Implementing Disaster Relief Through Tax Expenditures: An Assessment of the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Measures

Meredith M. Stead

Over the past several decades, Congress has turned increasingly to tax expenditures rather than to direct outlay programs to implement social welfare programs. Such a trend creates economic distortions and has proven disadvantageous to taxpayers in lower socioeconomic classes. The newest twist is in the area of disaster relief. Unprecedented before 2001, tax relief targeted to a disaster in a specific geographic region has now been established on two occasions-in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This Note argues that, in a disaster, both the vulnerability of lower-income taxpayers and the weaknesses of the Internal Revenue Code as an instrument for social programs are amplified. This problem was particularly acute after Hurricane Katrina. Congress should therefore reconsider the current trend toward using tax expenditures rather than direct relief in such situations, or alternately structure other relief to correct for its shortcomings.