TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Resolving The South Texas/Houston Brand Dispute: Exxon Law School?

HHE2Following up on my prior posts on South Texas College of Law's rebranding itself Houston College of Law, and the University of Houston Law Center's threatened lawsuit to protect its brand due to the "significant confusion this creates in the marketplace": 

Houston Business Journal, University of Houston Threatens Legal Action Over Law School Rebrand:

The University of Houston is not happy with South Texas College of Law's decision to rebrand itself to the Houston College of Law, a move announced June 22.

UH said in a statement that it will take legal action if necessary to defend the brand of its law school, the similarly named University of Houston Law Center.

Houston Chronicle, South Texas College of Law Not Backing Down From Name Change:

In a statement, leaders of the newly named Houston College of Law said they would not back down.

"The board of directors and administrators of Houston College of Law came to the name change decision after thoughtful and lengthy research and input from key constituencies, including alumni, students, faculty, staff, and donors," the statement said. "We made the decision to change the name of the 93-year-old law school based on overwhelming support to tie our institution with its birthplace in downtown Houston. We believe that we are on firm legal ground with this name change, and that we are acting in the best interest of the law school and its students."

Houston Chronicle editorial, What's In a Name?:

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June 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1144

IRS Logo 2Huffington Post:  The IRS And The Self-Minimization Of Congressman Jason Chaffetz, by Ralph Nader:

Politicians who limit the effectiveness of government agencies for short-term political advantages cheat taxpayers and short-change the government. ...

[Jason] Chaffetz chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee - a body with powerful tools to investigate government waste, corruption and defiance of the laws. And he has vaulting ambitions, almost running for Speaker of the House last year with only seven years of seniority. ...

[W]hat is self-minimizing Congressman Chaffetz’s principal passion? Trying to impeach, censure or cause the resignation of the head of the IRS, the renowned turnaround specialist John Koskinen. The Utah Roman candle has accused Koskinen of interfering with a congressional investigation, not preserving pertinent records and lying to a congressional committee.

Koskinen repeatedly provided the committee with documentation for his denial of the charges that he was engaged in a cover-up of alleged IRS harassment of Tea Party and other conservative 501(c)(4) organizations applying for tax-exempt status. Ranking minority member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) laid out his own rebuttals, citing the Department of Justice investigation finding that “no evidence that any IRS official acted in a way that would support criminal prosecution” or that any official, including Mr. Koskinen, an Obama appointee, attempted to obstruct justice.

More telling was the exhaustive, multi-year, $2 million investigation by the Republican Inspector General of the IRS, Russell George, who cleared the IRS Commissioner of the Chaffetz Committee’s charges. Mr. George, a Bush appointee, found no politically motivated targeting of these conservative 501(c)(4) applications, no obstruction of justice and no concealing of information from Congress. Some bureaucratic sloppiness, sure, but that was all.

A more cutting judgement came from Law Professor Richard Painter, former Chief Ethics Lawyer for President George W. Bush, who said “this is essentially a dispute between the IRS and Members of Congress about the 501(c)(4) organizations that further the objectives of political campaigns, including campaigns for Members of Congress.”

Legal observers say Chaffetz’s resolution is not legally binding and is going nowhere. So what’s going on here is the Chaffetz caper is part of an overwhelming attack on the IRS by the Congressional Republicans-an attack that has turned them into major aiders and abettors of those who are sitting on $300 billion in annual uncollected taxes.

Washington Post:  Why the GOP Is Targeting the IRS, by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-WA):

If, as the editorial board suggested in its June 20 editorial, Unfairly Targeting the IRS, the GOP is unfairly targeting the Internal Revenue Service commissioner, what could be its reason for doing so? Follow the money. The IRS controls the “dark money” spigot that fills GOP coffers. If the IRS enforced its rules, or fixed its rules where they could not be enforced, or referred what appear to be self-evident false statements by dark-money groups to the Justice Department for investigation, the river of dark money flowing to the GOP might dry up. Keeping the IRS battered, cowed and on its heels makes strategic sense for the GOP.

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June 26, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Update On Murder-For-Hire Investigation Into Dan Markel's Death: Hit Men Thwarted In Previous Attempt To Kill FSU Law Prof

The Tax Consequences Of Brexit

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June 25, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Temperature Rises In Debate Over NY Times Coverage Of The Law School Crisis

ThermometerPaul Campos (Colorado), Steve Diamond, Academic Fraud (An Apparently Infinite Series):

I don’t want to fill up the cyberpages of LGM with sordid academic squabbles, but I also don’t want to let Steve Diamond quote me in a fraudulent way without making a record of it. Posted as a comment on Taxprof:

Stephen Diamond is a very dishonest man. Diamond does not link to my LGM post he quotes. This is not merely a matter of netiquette, because he quotes me in a way that intentionally hides the fact that my major criticism of him has nothing to do with his quibble regarding the minor point I made in the part of the post he does quote. He is intentionally misquoting me, and in such an egregious way that his behavior is a form of academic fraud.

Stephen Diamond (Santa Clara), Dropping the F-Bomb in Academia: Who Is Kidding Who?:

Professor Campos admits that he made the same mistake I described in my earlier post. And yet, despite this, Professor Campos contends that my blog post is an example of “academic fraud.” So he admits I found a serious error in the way he presented data but I am the fraud? I don’t know whether or not Professor Campos made the mistake intentionally or not – I take him at his word that it was an oversight. But it was his mistake and he is the one who has staked his entire career (as far as I can tell he no longer produces legal scholarship) on his argument that his own chosen profession is a scam. But that certainly gives him no basis to question my original post much less my professional ethics when he admits it to be accurate. ...

Professor Campos is well aware of the damage that he is attempting to impose on my career and reputation by dropping the academic F-bomb and I believe he owes me a public retraction and apology for his careless and irresponsible behavior.

On the other hand, Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall) has a detailed, point-by-point 11,000 word post on Why The New York Times Should Correct Remaining Factual Errors in Its Law School Coverage. He concludes:

Sometimes when journalists are in a rush or are over-confident, they decide the story they want to tell and then search for sources that will support that story while overlooking contradictory evidence.  Sometimes they hear what they want to hear instead of what people are actually saying.  Sometimes they judge sources by whether they support the story rather than by whether they are rigorous and reliable.  Sometimes they don’t even realize that’s what they are doing until someone points it out after the fact. 

We could continue to explore whether these common problems have affected your story from Friday.

But I appreciate you taking the time to respond to me, and my goal in life is not to embarrass you or the New York Times or accuse you of wrongdoing.  I’m doing this because The New York Times is an important newspaper, you are an important journalist, and the public deserves more accurate information.

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June 25, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (22)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1143

IRS Logo 2Kay Bell (Don't Mess With Taxes), IRS Commissioner Impeachment Effort Inches Along at Second, Largely Ignored Judiciary Committee Hearing:

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen probably was the happiest person in Washington, D.C., today. On a day when the House Judiciary Committee's second hearing on his possible impeachment might otherwise have garnered much attention, the Capitol Hill session was upstaged by two other events. ...

[W]hat did all normal, nontax nerds who took a pass miss on the Koskinen front? Not much.

Same old, same old: The wagons were circled along party lines, with Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte spelling out the "serious allegations of misconduct" against Koskinen in his opening statement. ...

Giving false testimony to Congress about how the Internal Revenue Service [mis]handled intra-agency emails is an impeachable offense, but House [Republican] action sans Senate support would be a mistake. That was the assessment of Andrew McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, at part 2 of the House Judiciary Committee's hearing to consider the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. ...

Michael Gerhardt, however, told Judiciary members that, "In my opinion, I think gross negligence doesn't qualify" as one of the constitutional requirements -- treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors -- for impeachment. Gerhardt, a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina Law School, said in his view, impeachable conduct would have to involve "bad intent."

The conflicting opinions of legal experts, which also included George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley and Todd Garvey, legislative attorney with the Library of Congress, mirrored the disputes among the committee members themselves. ...

So far, Chaffetz has been able to get his GOP colleagues on Government Reform to agree to censure Koskinen. But his chances of impeachment the IRS chief are smaller. Neither House nor Senate Republican leaders have expressed support for the effort.

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June 25, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Paul Ryan Unveils A Better Way To Do Tax Reform

Better Way

A Better Way for Tax Reform:

Our Principle
In a Confident America, the tax code and the IRS work for us, not against us.

Our Challenge
Our tax code is a mess, and that’s putting it lightly. Multiple brackets. High rates. Special interest breaks everywhere. Rules and regulations that are too complicated to understand. It costs more and more each year just to do your taxes, let alone pay them. All of this drags people down and leaves businesses buried in paperwork and compliance problems. So instead of promoting growth, our tax code is pushing jobs overseas. And the agency charged with overseeing all of this—the IRS—has repeatedly violated the trust of the American taxpayer.

Our Vision
We need a new tax code. It needs to be fair and simple for everyone. It should be so simple that most Americans can do their taxes on a form as simple as a postcard. Our tax code should be built for growth. It should help make the United States the best place in the world to hire and invest. And if we’re going to have a better tax code, we need a better IRS, one that puts the taxpayers first.

This blueprint offers a better way to dramatic reform—without increasing the deficit. It does so by promoting growth—of American jobs, wages, and ultimately the entire economy.

Our Ideas

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June 24, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (11)

Tax Panel At Today's National Business Law Scholars Conference At University Chicago

Chicago LogoTax panel at today's National Business Law Scholars Conference at the University of Chicago Law School:

The Intersection of Business and Tax Law:

  • Ilya Beylin (Columbia), Taxing Fictive Orders: How an Information Forcing Tax Can Reduce Manipulation and Distortion in Financial Product Markets
  • Limor Riza (Carmel Academic Center), Charitable Contributions and Dependent Care Expenses in a Coherent System
  • Sloan G. Speck (Colorado), Competitiveness as a Rationale for International Tax Reform 
  • Eric C. Chaffee (Toledo), Moderator

June 24, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

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June 24, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Department Of Education Panel Recommends Suspension Of ABA's Power To Accredit Law Schools Due To Its 'Lack Of Attention To Student Achievement'

ABA Logo (2016)In stunning news, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) voted on Wednesday to recommend that the U.S. Department of Education suspend for one year the ABA's power to accredit new law schools due to the ABA's "lack of attention to student achievement":

[T]he panel on Wednesday rebuked the American Bar Association, in part for its lack of attention to student achievement.

The ABA accredits law schools, some of them freestanding institutions. NACIQI, after three contentious votes, recommended that the department suspend the association's ability to accredit new members for a year. The panel said the ABA had failed to implement its student achievement standards and probationary sanctions, while also falling short on its audit process and analysis of graduates' debt levels.

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June 24, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (17)

Law Professor Sees Bitcoin As Tax Haven For Gig Economy

BitcoinCCN.LA, UC Law Professor Sees Bitcoin Becoming a Tax Haven for the Gig Economy:

Bitcoin is especially attractive to workers in the gig economy who exchange skills for money. So far there is no effective enforcement method for tracking bitcoin.

Omri Marian, a law professor at the University of California Irvine, notes that even as governments have started to cooperate on nabbing tax cheats, bitcoin wallets could become “super tax havens.”

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June 24, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Designing A Transactional Law Clinic For Life-Long Learning

ClinicPatience A. Crowder (Denver), Designing a Transactional Law Clinic for Life-Long Learning, 19 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 413 (2015):

This article makes an important contribution to existing clinical scholarship generally, and, more specifically, to scholarship about transactional lawyering and transactional law clinics. It is one of the first articles to detail transactional clinic design and is particularly important as the number of transactional clinics continues to increase and more articles about transactional clinical scholarship are published. This article serves as a blueprint for the start or redesign of a transactional clinic.

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June 24, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1142

IRS Logo 2PJ Media, Impeachment and the IRS Scandal: Should John Koskinen Face the Music?:

[T]he instant matter involving Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, pertains to an investigation into not a mere “endeavor” (largely unsuccessful in the Nixon case) to abuse IRS powers but actual, concrete abuse, of those powers, including “income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.” I further understand that the instant matter involves the provision of false statements and withholding of evidence from Congress.

I do not purport to have knowledge of the facts of Congress’s investigation. I note however that misconduct that was merely potential and coupled with blatantly obstructive actions was deemed sufficient to impeach (and would clearly have been sufficient to remove) a twice-elected president of the United States who had recently been reelected in one of the largest landslides in American history. It seems patent, then, that if established, actual misconduct in conjunction with blatantly obstructive actions would be sufficient to justify impeaching an unelected subordinate executive official responsible for administering the Internal Revenue Service.

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June 24, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Debate Continues Over The NY Times Coverage Of The Law School Crisis

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June 23, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

Bales:  75% Of Law School Deans Support Arizona's Use Of GRE As Substitute For LSAT, Not Its Use Of 'Misleading Employment Stats'

WSJ:  Treasury's Inversion Scythe

InversionWall Street Journal editorial, Treasury's Inversion Scythe (online title: The Obama-Lew Business Tax Raid: Treasury’s New Rules Give More Power to the IRS):

Is Treasury Secretary Jack Lew trying to impose a new tax burden on all businesses in the United States? Or is he merely unable to shoot at politically disfavored companies without hitting the rest of the economy? These questions arise because businesses across the U.S. are learning they’ll have to change how they manage their cash to satisfy Mr. Lew’s latest regulatory diktat.

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June 23, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

List Of BigLaw Firms That Have Raised First Year Associate Salaries To $180,000

180,000Here (82 law firms and counting).

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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June 23, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Denning:  Five Takes On Wynne And Direct Marketing Association

Brannon P. Denning (Samford), The Dormant Commerce Clause Wynnes Won Wins One: Five Takes on Wynne and Direct Marketing Association, 100 Minn. L. Rev. Headnotes 103 (2016):

October Term 2014 featured what is to date the most important state and local tax case since 1992’s Quill Corp. v. North Dakota. In Comptroller v. Wynne, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a state court decision holding unconstitutional Maryland’s refusal to grant a credit for taxes paid by a resident taxpayer to other states on income earned by the taxpayer in those states. This essay offers summary of the case, as well as five takes on Wynne and another state and local tax case from the 2014-2015 term, Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl.

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June 23, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times:  Law Schools Go Online In Wake Of 'Marked Declines In Enrollment, Revenue And Jobs'

DisruptingNew York Times:  Law Schools Are Going Online to Reach New Students, by Elizabeth Olson:

Law schools, in the face of marked declines in enrollment, revenue and jobs for graduates, are beginning to adopt innovative new ways of delivering legal education.

Some law schools are moving away from relying solely on classic settings and instead are blending classroom learning with online instruction, said Michael B. Horn, a founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute, a research institution in San Mateo, Calif., that explores disruptive innovation in education.

“Legal education is confronting the most imminent threat in higher education,” Mr. Horn said. “Law schools are increasingly out of step with shifts in the legal services market.”

Law schools that “are able to pioneer online, competency-based programs that focus outside of the traditional J.D. will have a leg up in the struggle to survive,” said Mr. Horn, an author of the newly released report, Disrupting Law School: How Disruptive Innovation Will Revolutionize the Legal World.

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June 23, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Galle: Philly’s Soda Tax Isn’t Racist (Or Regressive)

CokeFollowing up on yesterday's TaxProf Blog op-ed, Is the Philadelphia Soda Tax Racist?, by Andre Smith (Delaware):  Brian Galle (Georgetown), Philly’s Soda Tax Isn’t Racist, and It Isn’t Regressive, Either:

Some recent commentary labels the soda tax regressive, and one generally thoughtful tax prof posted an op-ed on the TaxProf blog suggesting that the tax’s disparate impact on the African-american population of Philly makes it essentially racist, as well. I don’t want to defend all aspects of Philly’s policy. It has too many exceptions, and probably isn’t as attractive a policy as many alternatives (for instance, I might’ve gone big on portion-size limits). But I don’t think either of these critiques is persuasive.

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June 23, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

University Of Houston Dean Threatens To Sue South Texas Over Name Change To Houston College Of Law

STHIn yesterday post on South Texas College of Law's announcing that it was changing its name to Houston College of Law, I noted that this would likely cause confusion the University of Houston Law Center.  University of Houston Dean has come out swinging:

We learned yesterday that South Texas College of Law has stated it is changing its name to Houston College of Law.  

The University of Houston issued the following statement regarding this development: 

"It has come to the University of Houston’s attention that South Texas College of Law has announced that it is changing its name to Houston College of Law.  The University of Houston Law Center has an established history of nearly 70 years in the City of Houston. The University of Houston is concerned about the significant confusion this creates in the marketplace and will take any and all appropriate legal actions to protect the interests of our institution, our brand and our standing in the communities we serve."

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June 23, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1141

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal, House Republicans Seek to Eliminate IRS Chief’s Paycheck:

Republicans have a new idea for attacking IRS Commissioner John Koskinen: Stop paying him.

Mr. Koskinen’s salary of about $165,000 a year would be cut to zero until the next president takes office Jan. 20, under an amendment the House of Representatives is considering this week. ...

The idea is to prevent Mr. Koskinen from coming to work, as federal law generally bars people from working for free, said Kyle Huwa, a spokesman for Mr. Buck. ...

[L]osing a few months of pay near the end of his career wouldn’t permanently damage Mr. Koskinen. According to his most recent financial disclosure, he is a multimillionaire.

Bloomberg, Push to Impeach IRS Chief Koskinen Stirs Scholars’ Disagreement:

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John A. Koskinen committed an impeachable offense by giving false testimony to Congress about his agency’s preservation of e-mails, a conservative lawyer told the House Judiciary Committee.

Nonetheless, it would be “a mistake” for House Republicans to move forward with a drive to impeach Koskinen unless the Senate is also on board, said Andrew McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who has written extensively on impeachment. Although the judiciary panel has conducted two hearings related to a possible impeachment of Koskinen, neither House nor Senate leaders have said they support it.

If it succeeded, it would be the first impeachment of an appointed executive-branch official in 140 years.

Koskinen, who took office in December 2013, was almost immediately mired in the agency’s response to a scandal that predated his tenure; IRS officials acknowledged that they had given extra scrutiny to conservative groups that sought tax-exempt status beginning in 2010. He didn’t attend Wednesday’s hearing, but he has said the allegations against him -- that he misled Congress and failed to ensure that the agency preserved all relevant e-mails -- are meritless.

“Every time I testified, I testified truthfully on what I knew,” Koskinen told reporters last month.

During the hearing, which was marked by partisan exchanges from both Republicans and Democrats, legal scholars disagreed on whether Koskinen’s conduct would constitute grounds for impeachment under constitutional language that specifies “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“In my opinion, I think gross negligence doesn’t qualify,” said Michael Gerhardt, a professor of constitutional law at the University of North Carolina Law School. In his view, impeachable conduct would have to involve “bad intent,” he said.

Yet other witnesses, including Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said the standard is broader. “It doesn’t have to be an indictable offense,” he said. The constitution’s framers also discussed citing “maladministration” as grounds for impeachment, he said. “This is a standard that has room at the elbows,” he said.

Despite pending congressional subpoenas for “all communications sent or received by Lois Lerner,” in March 2014, IRS employees in West Virginia magnetically erased 422 backup tapes, which eliminated as many as 24,000 of her e-mails. Subsequent investigations by the Justice Department and the Treasury Department’s inspector general found that the destruction was accidental.

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June 23, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Debate Over The Law School Crisis Shifts From The New York Times To Facebook And Twitter

Faecook TwitterThe debate over the New York Times' recent coverage of the law school crisis (links below) has moved onto Facebook and Twitter, with lively exchanges between New York Times reporter Noam Scheiber and Law Profs Stephen Diamond (Santa Clara), David Herzig (Valparaiso), Dave Hoffman (Temple), and Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall) and Above the Law's David Lat and Elie Mystal.

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June 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

The End Of Accounting

EndBaruch Lev (NYU) & Feng Gu (SUNY-Buffalo), The End of Accounting (Wiley, June 27, 2016) (WSJ excerpt):

The problem with reported earnings, and financial statements in general, is that they no longer reflect the realities of businesses. Instead, they follow an arcane set of accounting rules and regulations. An alternate reality which fails to illuminate essential factors that make an enterprise rise or fall, where, for example:

  • The most important, value-creating investments in patents, brands, IT and other intangibles are considered regular expenses, like salaries or rent, without future benefits.
  • Reported earnings are a mixed bag of long-term items (indicating sustained growth) and one-time, transitory gains/losses (restructuring costs, for example), having negligible effect on corporate value. ...
  • Nontraded assets/liabilities, like privately placed bonds, which have no market values are nevertheless required to be marked-to-market in the financial reports. This, of course, is an oxymoron. ...

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June 22, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Power Shift On College Campuses: Students Are 'Customers,' Entitled To 'Satisfaction'

OberlinNew York Times: In College Turmoil, Signs of a Changed Relationship With Students, by Frank Bruni:

Given all that has happened on so many campuses over the last few years, it’s hard to pick the one that has been roiled the most by struggles over political correctness. But Oberlin College would certainly be in the running.

A widely discussed series of events there included the demand for a so-called trigger warning to students who might be upset reading “Antigone”; complaints about the ethnic integrity of the sushi in a campus dining hall; and a petition, signed by some 1,300 students, calling for a semester in which the lowest possible grade was a C, so that anyone skipping classes or skimping on studies to engage in social activism wouldn’t pay too steep an academic price.

In the view of more than a few observers, these students were taking liberalism to illiberal extremes. But their actions were arguably proof of something else as well.

Students at Oberlin and their counterparts elsewhere might not behave in such an emboldened fashion if they did not feel so largely in charge. Their readiness to press for rules and rituals to their liking suggests the extent to which they have come to act as customers — the ones who set the terms, the ones who are always right — and the degree to which they are treated that way.

Twinned with colleges’ innovations to attract and serve a new generation of students is a changed relationship between the schools and the schooled. It’s one of the most striking transformations in higher education over the last quarter-century. ...

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June 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Smith:  Is The Philadelphia Soda Tax Racist?

Smith (2015)TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Is the Philadelphia Soda Tax Racist?, by Andre Smith (Delaware):

The Philadelphia “soda tax” is an example of how racism works without racists. It is an example of institutional racism, phenomena that tends to exacerbate racial wealth inequality but which is maintained by “well-meaning” people, whites and blacks included.

Let’s concede from the outset that many who support the soda tax have noble intentions. Sin taxes, like cigarette taxes and ante-bellum taxes on slavery and now soda taxes, are attractive because they raise necessary revenue while discouraging otherwise harmful behavior. That’s pretty efficient.

In the case of a soda tax, public health advocates seek to reduce sugar consumption, hopefully reducing the looming financial consequences of a national diabetes epidemic, thereby. Moreover, the proceeds from the soda tax will be dedicated to pre-k education, the benefits of which inure to employers, children and working parents. That which is raised above what is necessary for pre-k education will be used to close budget deficits.

How could such a noble idea be racist especially when quite a few black people support the soda tax?

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June 22, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

South Texas College Of Law Rebrands Itself Houston College Of Law

STHSouth Texas College of Law (unranked) has changed its name (FAQ) to Houston College of Law, likely causing confusion with the University of Houston Law Center (ranked #50).

Building on a 93-year tradition of success in legal education in downtown Houston, South Texas College of Law administrators and board of directors today announced that the Law School is changing its name to Houston College of Law.

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June 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law School Is A Solid Investment, Even Outside The Top Tier

NY Times Dealbook (2013)Following up on my recent posts:

New York Times Deal Book: Law School a Solid Investment, Despite Pay Discrepancies, by Steven Davidoff Solomon (UC-Berkeley):

[T]his is a world of haves and have-nots. Top law graduates are doing better than ever, while other law students have a steeper path to climb to earn that type of money. ...

The top graduates earn a median salary that will now start at $180,000, but that represented only about 17 percent of the reported salaries in 2014, according to data from the National Association for Law Placement. ... For the lucky few who get jobs at these big firms, law school is a good investment. ... But let’s be clear. Only the lucky 17 percent of graduates earn salaries this high. To be in this group, you needed to go to a top 10 school or graduate in the higher ranks of the top quartile of law schools.

Things are harder for every other law graduate. Law firm starting salaries are bimodal — meaning that while 17 percent of graduates earned a median salary of $160,000 in 2014, about half had a median starting salary of $40,000 to $65,000. It is the fate of these graduates that drives the criticism of law school as a “scam.” They dream of big jobs but are often the lawyers who become solo practitioners, district attorneys, public defenders and other lower-paying jobs outside the big firms. ...

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June 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (17)

Schizer:  Taxing Corporations Or Shareholders (or Both)

David M. Schizer (Columbia), Between Scylla and Charybdis: Taxing Corporations or Shareholders (or Both):

The US taxes both corporations and shareholders on corporate profits. In principle, the U.S. could rely on only one of these taxes, as many commentators have suggested. Although choosing to tax the corporation or its owners may seem like taking money from one pocket or the other, this Essay emphasizes a key difference: corporate and shareholder taxes prompt different tax planning. Relying on one or the other mitigates some distortions and leaks, while exacerbating others. As a result, choosing which tax to impose is like navigating between Scylla and Charybdis.

In response to these dualing distortions, this Essay recommends using both taxes. Some tax should be collected from corporations, and some from investors. The two rates should be coordinated, so they aggregate to the combined rate Congress wants, which ideally would be the rate for pass-through businesses. The main goal of this Essay is to defend the use of both taxes, and to analyze what the balance should be between them. Using both taxes has three advantages. First, if one of these partially overlapping instruments is avoided, the other still raises some revenue. Second, if the goal is to deter a planning strategy, cutting the rate to zero is an overreaction. If the rate is low enough, paying a tax is cheaper than avoiding it, since tax planning is not free. Third, if one tax is cut instead of repealed, the other can be correspondingly lower, and thus induces less planning.

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June 22, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Shaviro:  The U.S. Response To OECD-BEPS And The EU State Aid Cases

Daniel Shaviro (NYU), The U.S. Response to OECD-BEPS and the EU State Aid Cases:

This is the slightly expanded text of a talk that the author gave on June 1, 2016, at a conference in Amsterdam that was cosponsored by NYU Law School and the Amsterdam Centre for Tax Law. The conference concerned anti-BEPS implementation in the EU, and the talk concerned the U.S. response to such efforts.

June 22, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1140

IRS Logo 2The House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing today on Examining the Allegations of Misconduct Against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Part II:

  • Todd Garvey (Legislative Attorney, Library of Congress) (testimony)
  • Michael Gerhardt (Professor, North Carolina) (testimony)
  • Andrew McCarthy (Former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York) (testimony)
  • Jonathan Turley (Professor, George Washington) (testimony)

Bloomberg, IRS Chief Koskinen Fights First Appointee Impeachment Since 1876, by Lynnley Browning:

Impeachment is “the wrong symbol, the wrong act,” said Fred Goldberg, who served as IRS commissioner under Republican President George H.W. Bush. “‘It is both destructive and counterproductive.”

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear from legal scholars and a former prosecutor on whether impeachment-drive leaders can meet legal standards for impeaching Koskinen. The panel is not expected to vote on an actual impeachment resolution, and neither House nor Senate leaders have endorsed the impeachment push. ...

If it succeeded, Koskinen would be the first appointed executive-branch official impeached since 1876, the year Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone. And he’d be the only such official below the level of cabinet secretary to receive that dubious distinction. ...

The U.S. constitution says the president, vice president “and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Witnesses set to testify at Wednesday’s hearing disagree on how that might apply to Koskinen’s case.

Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School, said impeachment is possible even without a finding of criminal conduct -- though he said he takes “a broader view on impeachment than some of my colleagues.”

Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, said he doesn’t believe “gross negligence” constitutes grounds for impeachment. “My concern is that the impeachment resolution would be lowering the constitutional standard,” Gerhardt said. “It’s lower than what the framers of the constitution had in mind.”

A series of federal investigations into the IRS scandal faulted the agency for ineptness, but cleared it of criminal wrongdoing. In January 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it had found no evidence of bias that would warrant criminal charges. The Justice Department in October ended its own probe, which found “substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia,” but resulted in no charges.

“There wasn’t control of the document retention process,” said Mark Everson, who served as IRS commissioner from 2003 to 2007 under President George W. Bush. Complying with the congressional subpoenas “wasn’t handled correctly, and you can’t get out of that,” said Everson, who said he does not think impeachment is warranted.

IRS commissioners weren’t always the most disliked bureaucrats at the most-hated agency. There used to be “greater mutual respect between the IRS and congressional committees,” said Mortimer Caplin, 99, who headed the agency during President John F. Kennedy’s administration.

Now, the rancor evident in the impeachment push makes it difficult for the administration and Congress to work together on important legislation -- including efforts to overhaul and streamline the federal tax code, said Sheldon Cohen, a former IRS commissioner under President Lyndon Johnson. “The adversarial relationship makes tax reform almost impossible,” he said.

USA Today editorial, IRS Impeachment Overkill:

Commissioner Koskinen doesn't deserve this.

With their customary lack of subtlety, House Republicans are trying to unleash a nuclear bomb to swat the proverbial fly. The fly is IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. The bomb is impeachment, which has been used against an executive-branch official only three times in the nation’s history.

The allegations against Koskinen, while serious, do not rise anywhere near the level of becoming a fourth historic case. An impeachment resolution — which the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear testimony on Wednesday — would diminish what's supposed to be a last-resort option for removing a corrupt official for alleged “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The IRS scandal does not qualify; for one thing, Koskinen, 76, wasn't even at the IRS when the underlying scandal occurred.

By overplaying their hand, the Republicans are obscuring serious questions about IRS misuse of its immense power. Koskinen was brought in to clean up the agency after revelations in 2013 that its tax-exempt division had targeted conservative organizations, including Tea Party groups, because of their political beliefs. The IRS sent the groups burdensome inquiries and delayed their applications for tax exemption, stopped some from participating in the 2012 presidential election.

While the IRS has a legitimate role in preventing blatantly political groups from exploiting tax-exempt status, targeting groups based on their politics is reminiscent of Richard Nixon using the IRS to harass his "enemies." Even President Obama acknowledged that such actions were “intolerable and inexcusable.” The scandal spurred congressional hearings, high-level resignations from the IRS and an FBI investigation, which found no criminal wrongdoing.

When Koskinen took over the agency, there was a need for openness and disclosure to get to the bottom of what happened. Instead, Koskinen presided over a “clean-up” marked by disappearing emails, bungled searches for backups, and a penchant for secrecy so strong that the IRS has resisted federal court orders to disclose documents to the groups targeted. ...

Republicans have good reason to press for release of relevant IRS documents, such as lists of the 426 targeted groups and emails by retired IRS official Lois Lerner, who was at the center of the controversy. But an official censure of Koskinen last week on a party-line vote of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and the looming impeachment threat, are as misplaced as Republicans’ draconian cuts to the IRS budget. As the agency has struggled to do more with less, customer service has withered, identity theft has run rampant and reduced enforcement has allowed tax cheats to get away with more cheating.

If Congress wants to be helpful, it should simplify the absurdly complex tax code and give the IRS enough money to do its job, not waste time on overblown impeachment threats.

Fox News op-ed: Congress, Impeach IRS Chief and Hold Him Accountable for Targeting Scandal Coverup, by Jenny Beth Martin (Co-founder, Tea Party Patriots):

Three years after President Obama said wrongdoers involved in the IRS political persecution scandal should be held "fully accountable," no one has been held accountable.  Aside from Lois Lerner -- whom Obama's Department of Justice refuses to prosecute -- no one exemplifies the wrongdoing at the IRS more than its current commissioner, John Koskinen.

The House Judiciary Committee will vote this week on whether or not to impeach Koskinen; they should do so and the full House should follow and then the Senate should convict him, if there's any rule of law left in America. ...

Far from being chastened after getting caught red-handed in the first targeting scandal, the IRS seems almost emboldened to continue the targeting after getting away with flouting the law. During the initial phase of targeting, the IRS went to great lengths to cover its tracks. Records were purged, files were deleted, emails were mysteriously lost, and, incredibly, computer servers allegedly vanished into thin air. ...

Impeachment is, of course, an extraordinary measure and should be reserved only for the most egregious misconduct. In Federalist No. 65, Alexander Hamilton explained that impeachment is appropriate to address “those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”

Mr. Koskinen’s disregard for the rule of law meets Hamilton’s exacting requirements for impeachment. In fact, Koskinen’s misconduct demandsimpeachment if we are to restore the public trust and move past the IRS’s wholesale disregard for the Constitution.

The Hill, Bush Lawyer Rips GOP for Trying to 'Intimidate' IRS:

George W. Bush's former chief ethics lawyer is slamming congressional Republicans for trying to “intimidate” the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Richard Painter, who is now a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, said the House should not pass a resolution to censure IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved the measure last week on a party-line vote.

“This is essentially a dispute between the IRS and Members of Congress about the 501c4 organizations that further the objectives of political campaigns, including campaigns of Members of Congress,” Painter said in a letter to Oversight Committee members.

“The IRS is charged with determining whether the activities of these organizations comply with the Internal Revenue Code and it is not proper for Congress to seek to intimidate the IRS in the discharge of its duties,” he added.

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June 22, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dorothy Brown's Radical Idea: Deny The Mortgage Interest Deduction To Homeowners In Neighborhoods With < 10% Blacks

Washington Post Wonkblog:  A Radical Idea to Compensate Black Homeowners Harmed by Racial Bias, by Emily Badger:

MortgageHomes in black middle-class neighborhoods, like the one where Natalie Y. Moore grew up on the South Side of Chicago, typically don't gain value over time the same way homes in mostly white middle-class neighborhoods do.

The people who live there are penalized for biases built into the housing market. White home buyers seldom consider neighborhoods with even a modest black population, and so housing demand is much lower in those communities. That drives down prices and muzzles appreciation. It means that homeownership simply isn't as good of a deal in neighborhoods that are even slightly black.

Moore, a public radio reporter writing in her new book, The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation, quotes an idea from Emory University law professor Dorothy Brown on how to partially remedy this: "Why don't we say no one gets a mortgage interest deduction unless they live in an integrated neighborhood?" Brown told her. "We realize you're taking a penalty in the market, and we want to compensate you by lowering your taxes." And Brown's radical proposal to implement the idea: Let's extend the mortgage interest deduction only to homeowners who live in neighborhoods that are at least 10 percent black. [Shades of the American Dream, 87 Wash. U.L. Rev. 329 (2010).] ...

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June 21, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (12)

The Cost Of Law Review Articles:  $30,000 $1,000,000

One MillionFollowing up on Sunday's post, More On The $30,000 Cost Of Law Review Articles:  I previously blogged Robert Steinbuch (Arkansas-Little Rock), On the Leiter Side: Developing a Universal Assessment Tool for Measuring Scholarly Output by Law Professors and Ranking Law Schools, 45 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 87 (2011):

With varying results, many scholars and commentators have focused their attention on judging the quality of law professors, as measured by their scholarly output. First, this Article explains the methods respectively developed by Brian Leiter and Roger Williams University School of Law for top-tier and second-tier law schools, and it considers other works of scholarship that measure academic publication. Then, this Article explicates a protocol (the “Protocol”) for measuring all of the scholarly output of any law school faculty member. Building on the Leiter and Roger Williams methods, the expanded Protocol accounts for a wider breadth of faculty publications and includes weighting factors based on law-journal rankings. Finally, this Article concludes by applying the Protocol to its Author and his colleagues. In sum, the Protocol that this Article develops and applies will provide a significantly more objective set of data with which to evaluate the scholarly performance of legal academics.

This chart must have generated some awkward conversations in the Arkansas faculty lounge:

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June 21, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Mankiw:  One Economic Sickness, Five Diagnoses

New York Times:  One Economic Sickness, Five Diagnoses, by N. Gregory Mankiw (Harvard):

Economists, like physicians, sometimes confront a patient with an obvious problem but no obvious diagnosis. That is precisely the situation we face right now.

Let’s start with the problem.

There is no simple way to gauge an economy’s health. But if you had to choose just one statistic, it would be gross domestic product. Real G.D.P. measures the total income produced within an economy, adjusted for the overall level of prices.

Here is the sad fact: Over the last decade, the growth rate of real G.D.P. per person has averaged just 0.44 percent per year, compared with the historical norm of 2.0 percent. At a rate of 2.0 percent, incomes double every 35 years. At a rate of 0.44 percent, it takes about 160 years to double. ...

[W]hat’s wrong with the economy? No one knows for sure. But numerous theories are being bandied about. Here are five of them: ...

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June 21, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Merritt:  The Downsides Of The $180,000 Starting Salaries For First Year BigLaw Associates

180,000Deborah J. Merritt (Ohio State), $180,000:

BigLaw firms gave 2016 graduates a sweet gift earlier this month: new associates at many of those firms will earn $180,000 (rather than $160,000) when they start work in the fall. That’s the first salary increase in BigLaw since 2007.

What should we make of this increase? It shows, certainly, that many BigLaw firms continue to prosper. But we already knew that from the firms’ reports of profits per partner. We also knew that associates are the most productive workers at those firms. This raise reflects rather belated recognition of that fact.

One could argue, in fact, that BigLaw partners are still undervaluing their associates. As Bruce MacEwen notes, the increase doesn’t match inflation since the last increase in BigLaw salaries. $180,000 in 2016 has less buying power than $160,000 did in 2007.

But those kids are going to be alright. I want to focus here on a shadow side of the BigLaw salary increase, one that the press and blogs haven’t discussed. BigLaw firms are paying more money–but to many fewer associates. This trend, which concentrates higher salaries in a smaller number of workers, has important implications for the legal job market. ...

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June 21, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Marriage Penalty Relief After Obergefell

Mitchell Engler (Cardozo) & Edward Stein (Cardozo), Not Too Separate or Unequal: Marriage Penalty Relief after Obergefell, 91 Wash. L. Rev. ___ (2016):

Joint tax returns have generated controversy for many years. Married couples with the same joint income pay the same tax under our current system regardless of the earnings distribution between the spouses. This approach primarily rests on the idea that married couples share resources and operate as a single economic unit. Critics typically challenge this assumption and lament how marriage might significantly change a couple’s taxes. Depending on their earnings breakdown, a couple’s taxes could be reduced (a marital bonus for uneven earners) or increased (a marital penalty for even earners). These possibilities exist because the joint brackets are typically larger – but not twice as large – as the unmarried brackets.

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June 21, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Columbia Journal Of Tax Law Publishes New Tax Matters: Obergefell v. Hodges

Columbia Journal of Tax Law LogoThe Columbia Journal of Tax Law has published a new issue of its Tax Matters feature, with three short pieces by tax practitioners responding to a specific cutting-edge tax law issue posed by a tax academic. Lawrence Zelenak (Duke), Prompt on the Obergefell v. Hodges Case, 7 Colum. J. Tax L. Tax Matters 1 (2016):

In the oral argument before the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Alito asked Solicitor General Verrilli about the tax implications if the Court were to hold that the Constitution guaranteed a right to same-sex marriage: “Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or college if it opposed same-sex marriage?” The Solicitor General replied, “You know, I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is—it is going to be an issue.” In his dissent in Obergefell, Chief Justice Roberts expressed the same concern:

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June 21, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Update On Murder-For-Hire Investigation Into Dan Markel's Death: In Defense Of Charlie Adelson

Charles AdelsonDavid Lat (Above the Law), The Murder Of Dan Markel: In Defense Of Charlie Adelson:

On Friday, a grand jury in Leon County indicted Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera on first-degree murder charges. The two men stand accused of killing Florida State University law professor Dan Markel as part of an alleged murder-for-hire plot. Both men maintain their innocence (and Rivera initially claimed he had never been to northern Florida, although he reportedly changed his story after being shown photographic evidence to the contrary).

Law enforcement authorities allege that the plot to murder Markel arose out of the “desperate desire” of his ex-wife Wendi Adelson’s family to relocate her and her two children to South Florida. More specifically, the police assert a connection between Wendi’s brother, Charles Adelson, and a woman named Katherine Magbanua, the mother of two children with Sigfredo Garcia — one of the two alleged hit men.

As a result of these allegations by law enforcement, Charlie Adelson has come under suspicion in some quarters. But he has his defenders, as reported by the Daily Mail late last week. ...

The police aren’t saying much about the Adelsons right now. When asked about the status of the Adelson family in the wake of Friday’s indictments, State Attorney Willie Meggs said, “They were not indicted. Today.”

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June 21, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

University Of Arizona Is 'Preying On Low-Information Prospective Law Students'

Above the Law, Arizona Law School Preying On Low-Information Prospective Law Students:

Take a look at this ad that Arizona placed in the Prelaw Advisors National Conference Program held last week:

Arizona

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June 21, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

Democrats Outnumber Republicans 12:1 On UNC Faculty, 15 Departments Have Zero Republicans

UNCThe College Fix, At UNC Chapel Hill, 16 Departments Have Zero Registered Republican Professors, Analysis Finds:

Professors registered as Democrats outnumber those registered as Republicans by a ratio of roughly 12 to one at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill – and in 15 departments zero registered Republican professors can be found – according to educators’ registered party affiliations.

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June 21, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (14)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1139

IRS Logo 2The Surly Subgroup:  IRS Scrutinized Mostly Conservative Nonprofits: Evidence of Targeting?, by Philip Hackney (LSU):

Documents recently released in a court case demonstrate that 282 of 426 organizations caught in the IRS political advocacy, “Tea Party,” nonprofit organization net that caused such a hullabaloo three years ago, were in fact conservative. This comes three years after Lois Lerner apologized to Tea Party groups on behalf of the the IRS because, she said, it “inappropriate(ly)” selected these conservative groups’ applications for tax exemption for scrutiny based on name alone rather than legal cause.

An NPR report by Peter Overby concludes about the new information: “Whatever the IRS meant to do, this hodgepodge of a list illustrates how the agency bollixed the nonprofit application process.” In this post, I examine this seemingly “common-sense” claim and find it wanting. Additionally, because I have written publicly about this matter both at the time and more recently. I re-examine my conclusions in those writings in light of this new information.

Early on, I assumed that only about 1/3rd of the organizations caught in the IRS net were conservative. I made this assumption based on the TIGTA report because it noted that 96 of 298 applications, or 1/3rd of the organizations, were Tea Party, Patriot or 9/11 groups. I left wiggle room in my writing, but in the back of my mind, this was my assumption. I assumed TIGTA would have reported every conservative group that was in the lot. But, it turns out that about 2/3rds of the organizations  were conservative. Thus, my assumption was wrong. The vast majority of the organizations caught in the net were conservative. Nevertheless, I don’t think this new information demonstrates some additional level of bungling by the IRS that was hitherto unknown. And, frankly, a list like this with little context does nothing to tell us about whether the IRS was fair or not.

The most significant indictment of the IRS in this Tea Party matter has always been that the IRS “targeted” conservative organizations. No one has ever quite given any content to what this exactly means. Presumably it means that the IRS intentionally scrutinized conservative organizations in the application process in order to harm those conservative organizations and did not do the same to liberal organizations. The Inspector General reviewed whether the IRS “targeted” conservative organizations and found that the IRS used “inappropriate criteria” in selecting the Tea Party cases and that this could lead to impartial results. He found no evidence of some animus on the part of the IRS to support a targeting claim.

The targeting assertion, and the Inspector General’s assessment, give us a couple claims that new information could go towards proving: 1) the IRS scrutinized conservative nonprofits more than liberal nonprofits in its application process, and (2) either (a) the IRS did this intentionally, or (b) the IRS did this negligently.  ...

What does this information say about my prior conclusions? In my first quick analysis after the TIGTA report came out I argued that the IRS failed to adopt a careful selection process, asked too many intrusive questions, and subjected them to too great of delays. However, I suggested the IRS was set up for this failure because it had too many complex applications and not enough staff to review all applications with care.

It has to pick and choose organizations to focus upon and it is likely to miss applying appropriate scrutiny to many applications that should have received greater scrutiny while applying that scrutiny to a few organizations in a similar position, and to apply too much scrutiny to applications that should have received little or none. I argued that because of application volume and IRS staffing, the IRS was set up for the type of failure identified in the Tea Party affair.  I still think this is about right, and the new information says nothing new about that conclusion.

Later in Should the IRS Never Target Taxpayers I argued that  TIGTA wrongly took a position that the IRS is prohibited from using names as a means for selecting organizations for audit or for scrutiny of particular applications. It had no firm legal basis for making this claim. TIGTA based it on the principal that the IRS should be unbiased in its work. While certainly true, it seemed to be asserting that there was a duty of consistency as to every application that comes before the IRS. With the quantity of applications and staff, this is not even close to possible. And yet, TIGTA’s claim of “no using names” has become the measuring stick with which the public and commentators review this matter. ...

In the Tea Party cases the IRS had many reasons to believe these organizations might be violating the law by engaging in too much political activity for a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. In fact their names alone were evidence of such a potential intent. Additionally, given the substantial numbers of these cookie-cutter-like organizations, the IRS had good reasons to review all of the Tea Party and Patriot groups to ensure uniformity of treatment and a proper understanding of all of the relevant facts. However, because the IRS was enforcing a legal provision that impacted political speech it should have exercised greater care in its selection process. This new information tells us nothing about these basic conclusions.

Overby seems to suggest that this new information further damns the IRS’s behavior in the Tea Party matter. I find the evidence does not support this conclusion.

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June 21, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, June 20, 2016

UGPA And College Reputation Are Better Than LSAT In Predicting Law School Success

LSAT (2015)Jeffrey S. Kinsler (Belmont), The LSAT Myth, 20 St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev. 393:

Predicting which students will perform well in law school may seem like an impossible task, but law schools endeavor to do so everyday, and the primary tool they use to make such predictions is the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a standardized, 101-question multiple-choice examination. This article explores whether the LSAT warrants such prominence. Using statistical and anecdotal evidence, this article analyzes recent graduates of Marquette University Law School (MULS) to ascertain whether: (1) the LSAT is a valid predictor of three-year performance in law school; (2) the LSAT is a better predictor of law school performance than the UGPA or the reputation of the applicant's undergraduate institution; (3) an applicant's undergraduate major is useful in predicting law school performance; and (4) an applicant's age at the time of entry into law school is a valid predictor of law school performance.

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June 20, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Hatfield:  Privacy In Taxation

Michael Hatfield (University of Washington), Privacy in Taxation, 43 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. ___ (2016):

The IRS has extraordinary legal authority to collect personal information — and it does collect it, on about 290,000,000 individuals each year. Much of this information is not financial: the agency collects notes from therapists’ sessions and surgeons’ files, love letters and reading lists, and information on taxpayers’ sleeping arrangements and the sexual activities of their family members.

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June 20, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump Did Not Pay Any Taxes In At Least Five Years

Trump (2016)Politico Morning Tax, Make it Five:

Drip, Drip, Drip:  Well, there’s another two years that Donald Trump didn’t pay any taxes.

Politico's Shane Goldmacher, relying on New Jersey gambling records while Trump continues to keep his returns private, found out that it doesn’t look like Trump had any tax liability in 1991 or 1993. That means there’s now at least five reported years over the last four decades that Trump didn’t pay any taxes, counting also 1978 and 1979 (per The Washington Post) and 1984 (via the Daily Beast).

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June 20, 2016 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

OECD Economic Survey:  United States

OECDOECD Economic Survey: United States (June 2016):

Executive Summary:

  • The US economy has rebounded from the crisis
  • Productivity has slowed in most industries
  • Income inequality continues to increase

June 20, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Art Can Blow Apart Your Estate

ArtBarron's, How Art Can Blow Apart Your Estate:

Your Jeff Koons could destroy your estate plan and leave your heirs shell-shocked and scrambling to pay bills. That’s because the Internal Revenue Service is rigorously scrutinizing appraisals of artworks above $50,000 and often demanding value adjustments that trigger unexpected and large tax bills, with penalties and interest added on.

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June 20, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Columbia Journal Of Tax Law Publishes Symposium On Reforming The IRS

Columbia Journal of Tax Law LogoThe Columbia Journal of Tax Law has published Vol. 7, No. 1 (Symposium on Reforming the IRS, University of Minnesota Law School):

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June 20, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)