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Updated Jul 16, 2012 - 4:13 pm

ASU professor wants tax protection for the living dead

TEMPE, Ariz. - An Arizona State University professor said America's tax laws need to be changed to cover zombies.

In a tongue in cheek article in the Iowa Law Review, professor Adam Chodorow notes that America's legal system doesn't answer an important question.

"Where is the line between life and death," said Chodorow. "It comes up primarily in organ donations, but in a whole number of other areas. It turns out that it's not so obvious when someone should be considered dead. Different states have different standards, so you might be dead in California but still living in Arizona."

Arizona law doesn't have a definition. Capitol Media Services said that probate law said that a "determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards."

In some states, the determination of death involved brain activity, while in others, it just means the heart has stopped beating.

And what about former baseball great Ted Williams? He died in 2002, but his frozen remains are in a cryonics facility in Scottsdale.

"You have a number of people who think that they can be frozen and be brought back," said Chodorow. "While that is perhaps beyond current medical technology, at some point, medical science is advancing. What we now consider death may not be the line anymore. It may be possible to bring people back."

Chodorow said if someone is brought back, there are several questions that need to be answered.

"Do they get their old Social Security number back? If their estate has been probated, do they get their property back? If they paid estate taxes, do they get a refund of the estate taxes paid? There are a whole series of questions that arise when somebody comes back from the dead," Chodorow said.

Chodorow said he brought up the questions in the hopes of "starting a discussion" on the issues.

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About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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