African elephants are poached for their ivory at alarming rates. If the current level of poaching continues, it is projected they will be extinct from the wild in the year 2025. Preserving the African elephant species is important from an animal rights, conservation, ecological, economical, and crime prevention perspective. The current penalties and fines for the illegal trade in ivory are not enough of a deterrent. One method of deterrence that has not yet been explored is the imposition of tax consequences on the illegal ivory trade. This Article proposes a number of ways to use the tax system to further deter participation in the illegal ivory trade. For tax purposes, illegal ivory should be treated similarly to other activities that have both legal and illegal operations, such as marijuana, gambling, and prostitution. Congress could impose an excise tax on ivory and an occupational tax on those who make or sell ivory products. In addition, there are several tax crimes in the Internal Revenue Code that are applicable to those who sell illegal ivory and do not report the income on their tax returns. For example, tax evasion is one of the related criminal activities associated with wildlife trafficking. Tax consequences will hopefully provide a further disincentive to those participating in the illegal ivory trade.
(Elephant) Death and Taxes: Proposed Tax Treatment of Illegal Ivory,
Animal L. Rev.
Available at: https://lawcommons.lclark.edu/alr/vol21/iss2/3