We Were Warned

Since what happens in the U.S.A necessarily affects Canada (eventually). It might even get past Alberta’s firewall.


Adam Chodorow (Professor of Law at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.)

The U.S. stands on the precipice of a financial disaster, and Congress has done nothing but bicker. Of course, I refer to the coming day when the undead walk the earth, feasting on the living. A zombie apocalypse will create an urgent need for significant government revenues to protect the living, while at the same time rendering a large portion of the taxpaying public dead or undead. The government’s failure to anticipate or plan for this eventuality could cripple its ability to respond effectively, putting us all at risk. This article fills a glaring gap in the academic literature by examining how the estate and income tax laws apply to the undead. Beginning with the critical question whether the undead should be considered dead for estate tax purposes, the article continues on to address income tax issues the undead are likely to face. In addition to zombies, the article also considers how estate and income tax laws should apply to vampires and ghosts. Given the difficulties identified herein of applying existing tax law to the undead, new legislation may be warranted. However, any new legislation is certain to raise its own set of problems. The point here is not to identify the appropriate approach. Rather, it is to goad Congress and the IRS into action before it is too late.

Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2045255

Well worth reading, if just for the authorities cited in the footnotes. (Experienced readers of legal scholarship know the best writing is often in the footnotes.)

A friend (who is not now, nor was she ever, a lawyer by education or employment) drew this to my attention.


the correct URL for the blog mentioned in the first footnote:


And the URL from some CDC posters


Same informant.


  1. Interesting from the perspective of the “how many angels on a pinhead”.

  2. (g)

    How about “how many pinheads in seach of an angel?”

  3. Should the undead qualify for a rollover for capital gains purposes (an ‘in the grave rollover’)? Whie you can’t take it with you, you may be able to come back for it, so a deemed dispostion becomes a demonstrated reacquisition.

    Difficult questions indeed. Thanks for the article. My limited experience with writing for law journals did not suggest to me that they could have timed their publication date so precisely for April 1.

  4. m. diane kindree

    And that is precisely why my cell is programmed to fast dial the # for: “Beetelgeuse” (Beetlejuice 1988); a dude well equipped to deal with estate problems and the taxing realities of negotiating with the underworld and afterlife. When I attempted to access this abstract, my trusty Kaspersky (“Kasper” computer security) deemed it a threat. Therefore, I am taking this article’s warning seriously, without ever having read it, and so, my CRA tax return will include my signature (undead, non-zombie, dead broke).

  5. In the same vein as John G, above – if a revenant were to dispose of shares in a qualified small business corporation, would they be entitled to claim the capital gains exemption?

    It is, after all, a lifetime amount.

  6. Depends on how the legislation involved defines “person”. The undead by defintion aren’t dead and can be killed; ergo they have a lifetime.

  7. m. diane kindree

    David, What a creepy coincidence or was it? What a surprise when I learned that the same day you posted this warning Vancouver held the 5th annual ZombieWalk. Apparently, thousands of undead stumbled and staggered their way down crowded Robson Street. Your warning is too late. I think we have already been infected by our neighbour to the South.