TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The 100 Most Influential People In Tax And Accounting

Top 100I am honored to be included on the list of Accounting Today's 100 Most Influential People in Tax and Accounting for the tenth year in a row:

In the years since Caron was one of the few pioneering tax bloggers, a veritable host of others have sprung up, but none can match his authority, his comprehensive approach, or his willingness to doggedly, persistently pursue the long-term unfolding of the scandal around the IRS's targeting of conservative groups.

Accounting Today also quoted me in a sidebar on "The Quest for Work-Life Balance":

I fear that I have achieved work-life balance because work is my life! But seriously, it is a gift to be able to do a job that you love, so that the time you spend does not feel like “work.”

I am flattered to be on the Top 100 list with such high-powered people in the tax and accounting worlds, including:

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September 2, 2015 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. News Law School Rankings 'Echo Chamber' Affects Peer Reputation, Lawyer/Judge Reputation, Selectivity & Tuition, But Not Employers

2016 U.S. News RankingsJeffrey Evans Stake (Indiana) & Michael Alexeev (Indiana), Who Responds to U.S. News & World Report's Law School Rankings?, 12 J. Empirical Legal Stud. 421 (2015):

U.S. News & World Report (USN&WR) publishes annual rankings of ABA‐approved law schools. The popularity of these rankings raises the question of whether they influence the behavior of law teachers, lawyers and judges, law school applicants, employers, or law school administrators. This study explores some indicia of USN&WR influence. Using data purchased from USN&WR, we attempt to determine whether USN&WR might have influenced (1) law faculty members who respond to the USN&WR survey of law school quality, (2) lawyers who respond to USN&WR surveys, (3) law school applicants choosing a school, (4) employers who hire law school graduates, and (5) administrators who set tuition.

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September 2, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Why Students With The Smallest Debts Have The Larger Problem

Student LoansNew York Times:  Why Students With Smallest Debts Have the Larger Problem, by Susan Dynarski (Michigan):

Politicians who complain about college costs frequently cite two numbers: one trillion and seven million. Student borrowers owe more than $1 trillion, and seven million borrowers are in default, according to the latest Department of Education data.

It’s natural for people listening to the politicians to connect the two facts with a causal arrow: More debt leads to more default. But the reality is surprising: Borrowers who owe the most are least likely to default.

The reason for this strange pattern? The biggest borrowers tend to become the highest earners.

In particular, borrowing is highest for those who go to graduate school. Forty percent of new loans go to graduate students. Among those earning law and medical degrees in 2012, median debt (undergraduate and graduate school) is $141,000 for lawyers and $162,000 for doctors.

Those holding graduate degrees tend to handle higher debt because they earn more. Over the past 50 years, workers with graduate degrees have enjoyed the largest gains of any education group, with their inflation-adjusted earnings nearly doubling since 1964. Some struggle, of course: The Department of Education estimates that 7 percent of graduate borrowers default. But this default rate is far lower than the 22 percent rate for those who borrow only for their undergraduate studies.

NYT

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September 2, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Repatriation Tax Holiday: Wrong In 2004, Wrong Now

Tax HolidayOxford University Press Blog:  Wrong Again, by Richard S. Grossman (Wesleyan):

Unlike fine wine, bad ideas don’t improve with age.

One such idea is the Invest in Transportation Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rand Paul (R-KY), which would institute a temporary tax cut on profits brought back to the United States by American firms from their overseas operations and use the proceeds to fund investment in transportation infrastructure.

It sounds great. The US corporate tax rate is 35 percent, much higher than rates in other countries, which gives American companies an incentive to keep their overseas profits off-shore and out of the hands of the IRS. The Boxer-Paul proposal would provide firms with a limited-time offer: bring overseas profits home and pay taxes at the bargain rate of only 6.5 percent.

Everyone wins. Firms get to repatriate their profits, which can be used to invest in the United States and create jobs. The government collects more tax, since 6.5 percent of something is greater than 35 percent of nothing. And politicians get to put money into desperately needed transportation infrastructure without having to vote to raise taxes.

Unfortunately, we have been to this rodeo before and wound up with a few hoof-prints on our collective backside as a result.

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September 2, 2015 in Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Prof Moves, 2015-16

Moves VAP Hires

  • Hayes Holderness (McDermott, Will & Emery, New York) to Illinois
  • Clint Wallace (Caplin & Drysdale, New York) to NYU

Entry Level Hires

Lateral Moves

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September 2, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

McMahon, McGovern & Shepard: 2014 Federal Income Tax Developments

Florida Tax ReviewMartin J. McMahon Jr. (Florida), Bruce A. McGovern (South Texas) & Ira B. Shepard (Houston), Recent Developments in Federal Income Taxation: The Year 2014, 17 Fla. Tax Rev. 97 (2015):

This recent developments outline discusses, and provides context to understand the significance of, the most important judicial decisions and administrative rulings and regulations promulgated by the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department during 2014 — and sometimes a little farther back in time if we find the item particularly humorous or outrageous. Most Treasury Regulations, however, are so complex that they cannot be discussed in detail and, anyway, only a devout masochist would read them all the way through; just the basic topic and fundamental principles are highlighted — unless one of us decides to go nuts and spend several pages writing one up. This is the reason that the outline is getting to be as long as it is.

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September 2, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Arsenault: It's Time To Solve The Great GRAT Caper

Steven J. Arsenault (Charlotte), Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts: After $100 billion, It's Time to Solve the Great GRAT Caper, 63 Drake L. Rev. 373 (2015):

A Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT) is one of the most popular of a number of estate planning strategies that employs an estate-freeze technique. The taxpayer transfers appreciating assets to a beneficiary immediately. The transferred assets are valued using actuarial valuation techniques based on an assumed rate of return specified in the Internal Revenue Code. The transfer has the effect of removing the assets from the taxpayer’s gross estate for estate tax purposes, thus “freezing” the value of those assets for transfer tax purposes. The future appreciation of the assets is transferred to the beneficiary but is never subject to any transfer taxes.

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September 2, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 846

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial, The Off-Grid Administration: The Many Ways Obama Officials Have Ducked Public Accountability:

In a famous remark two years ago during a Google Plus Hangout, President Obama boasted that “this is the most transparent administration in history.” This is belied by Administration officials, from Hillary Clinton on down, who have run their communications off the government grid. A bipartisan consensus has long held that a healthy democracy requires a significant measure of government transparency. That is why since 1950 Washington has operated under the Federal Records Act, which requires the government to preserve documents about its decisions.

Since the 1960s the government has been subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), giving citizens the right to view those records. In 2009 the National Archives issued rules requiring agencies to preserve employee work on nonofficial accounts in a government record-keeping system. Then came the Obama Administration, whose modus operandi has been to hide from this legal regime. ...

Last Monday the IRS was forced to acknowledge to a federal court that it recently discovered that Lois Lerner (of political targeting fame) used a second, private email to conduct government work. The account was set up under the name “ Toby Miles,” and the IRS still can’t account for its contents.

It has been two years since Congress first subpoenaed Ms. Lerner’s emails. In 2013 when Mrs. Lerner was still directing the IRS’s Exempt Organizations unit, she cautioned colleagues to be careful what they said on email; then she inquired whether the agency’s instant-messaging system was archived. Told it wasn’t, she responded by email: "Perfect."

Last week a federal court subpoenaed former EPA official Phillip North after a complaint by a mining concern called the Pebble Partnership. Mr. North worked from inside the EPA with outside activists to scuttle Pebble’s proposed Alaskan mining project, and he did so on private email.

The Lerner and North cases also highlight the Administration’s sloppy, or willfully obstructionist, approach to recordkeeping. Recall the crash of Ms. Lerner’s hard drive, and the IRS’s claim for months it had no backup of her work. Treasury’s Inspector General would later find some. Mr. North’s hard drive also crashed, and Pebble claims that key North emails and documents have gone missing from EPA’s official record. ...

Government officials need some modicum of privacy to get work done. But this Administration’s evasion goes way past a reasonable standard of conduct. Why shouldn’t the public conclude that officials serving in the Obama Administration are flouting the disclosure system because they are engaged in practices they wish to hide from public knowledge and debate?

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September 2, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bankman Presents Using The 'Smart Return' To Reduce Tax Evasion At Alabama

Bankman (2014)Joseph Bankman (Stanford) presented Using the 'Smart Return' to Reduce Tax Evasion (with Clifford Nass (Stanford) & Joel Slemrod (Michigan)) at Alabama yesterday as part of its Faculty Colloquium Series:

Tax evasion costs government over 400 billion dollars a year. We suggest enforcement efforts can be strengthened by redesigning the tax return to take advantage of social psychology research, and industry experience with data-driven systems. To illustrate the potential of this approach, in this paper we propose three categories of changes that merit testing through pilot studies. The first involves changing the wording on existing returns to increase the psychological cost of evasion and increase the perceived expectation of detection. The second builds appeals to morality in the return itself through the use of a short phrase containing a "self-relevant" noun. The third uses on-line "conversational agents" to ask adaptive questions.

September 1, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

WaPo: How Student Loans Help Keep Expensive Law Schools In Business

Student LoansWashington Post, How Student Loans Help Keep Expensive Schools in Business:

Income inequality bedevils the United States, as does debt, of the public and private varieties. Under the circumstances, you’d think that the federal government’s priorities would not include channeling billions of dollars in cheap credit for the benefit of highly paid lawyers who train more lawyers.

Yet that is essentially what happens each year through the student loan program known as Grad PLUS. 

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September 1, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Fired Employee Claims Arizona Summit Law School Inflated LSAT, Bar Passage Data

Arizona Summit Logo (2015)Following up on my previous post:  National Law Journal, Ex-Law School Employee in Fraud Case Fires Back:

A former graduate and employee of Arizona Summit Law School is claiming that she has ample grounds to sue for discrimination and fraud despite the school’s arguments that her lawsuit is meritless.

Plaintiff Paula Lorona in court papers on Aug. 27 responded to Arizona Summit’s motion to dismiss her lawsuit, refuting the school’s assertion that she failed to state any claims. Lorona claims, among other things, that the school misrepresented the academic credentials of its students and overstated their success on the bar exam.

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September 1, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

TIGTA: IRS Could Not Verify 40% Of $15 Billion Of Affordable Care Act Tax Credits Due To Lack Of Data From Health Insurance Exchanges

TIGTAThe Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today released Affordable Care Act: Interim Results of the Internal Revenue Service Verification of Premium Tax Credit Claims (2015-43-057):

The Affordable Care Act created the refundable Premium Tax Credit (PTC) to assist eligible taxpayers with paying their health insurance premiums. Individuals may elect to have the PTC paid directly to their health insurance provider as partial payment for their monthly premiums (referred to as the Advance Premium Tax Credit (APTC)) or receive the PTC as a lump sum credit on their annual Federal income tax return. According to the IRS, almost $11 billion in APTCs was paid to insurers in Fiscal Year 2014.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 requires a report no later than June 1, 2015, on the IRS’s reconciliation of APTCs paid to taxpayers and the Department of Health and Human Services use of IRS information to reduce fraud and overpayments. The objective of this review was to provide selected information related to the processing of PTC claims during the 2015 Filing Season. TIGTA plans to issue the final results of its analysis later in Calendar Year 2015.

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September 1, 2015 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

EEOC: Denver Law School Is Underpaying Female Faculty, Who May Recover $1.2 Million In Damages

Denver Logo (2015)Denver Post, EEOC Accuses DU Law School of Discriminating Against Women Professors:

University of Denver's law school could have to pay $1.2 million in damages to its female faculty members

The federal commission that investigates discrimination in the workplace has threatened to sue the University of Denver's law school over what the commission calls a "continuing pattern" of paying female professors less than their male colleagues.

In a letter sent to the university on Friday, the director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's office in Denver wrote that an EEOC investigation found a gender pay gap among the school's legal faculty dating back to at least 1973. The commission concluded that the university knew about the gap by 2012, "but took no action to ameliorate this disparity, in effect intentionally condoning and formalizing a history of wage disparity based on sex."

MarshThe EEOC's investigation came after longtime DU law school Professor Lucy Marsh filed a complaint with the commission more than two years ago. Marsh's attorney on Monday provided a copy of the letter to The Denver Post.

Marsh said the law school could have to pay as much as $1.2 million in total damages to its female law professors, in addition to paying them salaries going forward equal to what their male colleagues in similar positions are paid.

"I think it's wonderful," Marsh said Monday. "I am delighted that the EEOC has seen this as a big, systematic problem, and they are going after the big problem."

In a statement, the law school defended its merit-based pay structure and blamed Marsh for her lower salary, saying she showed, "sub-standard performance in scholarship, teaching and service."

"In this era of cost containment and assessment we stand by our historical system of evaluation and merit pay," DU's chancellor, Rebecca Chopp, said in the statement. ...

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September 1, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

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September 1, 2015 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Charleston Law School President Resigns After Less Than Three Months On The Job

Charleston LogoCharleston Regional Business Journal, Charleston School of Law President Resigns:

Joseph Harbaugh’s tenure as president of Charleston School of Law is expected to end after less than four months on the job.

The interim president submitted his letter of resignation to the school’s owners, Robert Carr and George Kosko, on Thursday, citing “personal circumstances.” Harbaugh’s contract was supposed to end Dec. 15. ...

Harbaugh, the former dean of the University of Richmond School of Law and Nova Southeastern University Law Center, was named president of Charleston School of Law on June 5.

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September 1, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

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September 1, 2015 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 845

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Court Orders IRS To Reveal White House Requests About Taxpayers, by Robert W. Wood:

A federal judge has ordered the IRS to reveal all requests the White House made for private taxpayer data. It is a potentially explosive line of inquiry, and the IRS fought the court ruling hard. But now, the IRS must hand them over. It could mean another bombshell in the long simmering IRS scandal that has dogged the Obama administration for over two years.

Recently, the IRS revealed–two years late–that firebrand Lois Lerner had a secret email account under her dog’s name for IRS business. There have been multiple federal investigations for several years, and Ms. Lerner has refused to cooperate or testify. So, one might assume that American taxpayers would know about all of her emails by now. Indeed, IRS documents previously revealed a Lois Lerner email that warned IRS staffers about revealing too much information to Congress.

You might assume that the information would be handed over willingly from the IRS and other agencies. Yet prying each tidbit of information out of a notoriously opaque Obama administration has not been easy. Now, federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued her opinion requiring the IRS to reveal whatever the White House requested.

Amazingly, the chief IRS defense in this case—which presumably the White House would support—is that the IRS cannot hand over White House requests and any private taxpayer data the IRS gave the White House in response, because those records are private taxpayer data. We have to protect that taxpayer data, said the IRS! We can’t reveal that is was revealed in violation of the law, because we must protect it!

Finally, though, the court ruled that the IRS cannot hide behind a law used to shield the very misconduct it was enacted to prohibit. The court noted that:

Congress amended section 6103 in 1976 “in the wake of Watergate and White House efforts to harass those on its ‘enemies list,’” in order to “restrict[] government officers and employees from revealing ‘any return’ or ‘return information,’” and its “core purpose” is to “protect[] taxpayer privacy.” So, this Court questions whether section 6103 should or would shield records that indicate that confidential taxpayer information was misused, or that government officials made an improper attempt to access that information. The IRS argues that “section 6103’s definition of ‘return information’ . . . makes no distinction based on the purpose for which a person might seek disclosure of the documents.” But accepting this argument would require a finding that even requests for return information that could involve a violation of section 6103 constitute “return information” that is exempt from disclosure under FOIA Exemption 3 and section 6103. The Court is unwilling to stretch the statute so far, and it cannot conclude that section 6103 may be used to shield the very misconduct it was enacted to prohibit.”

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September 1, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Mason Presents Citizenship Taxation At The International Tax Research Symposium In Switzerland

IFARuth Mason (Virginia) presents Citizenship Taxation, 88 S. Cal. L. Rev. ___ (2015), at the Second International Tax Research Symposium held in conjunction with the 69th Congress of the International Fiscal Association in Basel, Switzerland:

The United States is the only country that taxes its citizens’ worldwide income, even when those citizens live indefinitely abroad. This Article critically evaluates the traditional equity, efficiency, and administrability arguments for taxing nonresident citizens. It also raises new arguments against citizenship taxation, including that it puts the United States at a disadvantage when competing with other countries for highly skilled migrants. 

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August 31, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

L.A. Times: California Bar Requires Unaccredited Law Schools To Disclose Dropout Rates

California State Bar (2014)Following up on my prior posts (links below):  Los Angeles Times, Plan to Require Unaccredited Law Schools in California to Disclose Dropout Rates OKd:

A panel of the State Bar of California approved a plan on Friday to require unaccredited law schools to disclose their dropout rates, in an effort to improve transparency for prospective students.

The unanimous decision comes about a month after a Times investigation found that about 90% of students drop out before their final year.

The move is considered to be part of a larger push to elevate the academic standards of unaccredited law schools where low tuition and few entrance requirements attract those who typically find themselves struggling with the coursework or unable to finish for other reasons. ...

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August 31, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Would President Trump Eliminate Section 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges?

TrumpBloomberg:  Donald Trump Wants to Raise His Own Taxes, and Here’s How He Could Do It, by Richard Rubin:

Billionaire Donald Trump, who built his fortune in real estate, told Bloomberg Politics this week that he wants to raise his own taxes. One way to do it is a bipartisan proposal that would blow up one of the real estate industry's favorite tax breaks. 

The break, known as the like-kind exchange or "1031" for the tax code section it comes from, lets real estate owners sell one piece of property and buy a new one soon afterward without paying any capital gains taxes on the profits from the sale. The result is an ever-increasing pile of deferred capital gains, taxed only whenever there is a final sale or, better yet, never taxed as income at all upon death. 

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August 31, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Three Signs Of A Dying Law School

CLosingJeff Redding (St. Louis), The Perverse Statistics of Dying Law Schools:

A ‘dying’ law school can give off any number of perversely alluring statistics.  I’m sure there are more statistical signs of death than I can think of presently, but here’s my top 3 and also my explanation of how prospective students can research each:

1) A rapidly decreasing student/faculty ratio ... Is the law school you’re considering rapidly hiring faculty (unlikely) or is the school rapidly losing students?  Do your homework and find out what this ratio has been in years past and not just where it is now.

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August 31, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Most Liberal And Conservative Law School Graduates

Liberal ConservativeFollowing up on Saturday's post, The Most Liberal And Conservative Lawyers By Practice Area; Law Professors Are The Most Liberal Among 61 Groups:   the paper by Adam Bonica (Stanford), Adam S. Chilton (Chicago) & Maya Sen (Harvard), The Political Ideologies of American Lawyers, also ranks law schools by the most liberal and conservative law school graduates.  Rob Anderson (Pepperdine) mines the data in this post.  Here are the Top 25 of each:

Most Liberal Law School Graduates:

  1. Charlotte
  2. Northern Illinois
  3. Howard
  4. UC-Berkeley
  5. UC-Hastings
  6. Northeastern
  7. Lewis & Clark
  8. Oregon
  9. Maine
  10. University of Washington
  11. Thurgood Marshall
  12. NYU
  13. San Francisco
  14. Golden Gate
  15. UCLA
  16. Seattle
  17. Boston University
  18. Yale
  19. Minnesota
  20. Columbia
  21. Stanford
  22. Pennsylvania
  23. Illinois
  24. New Mexico
  25. USC

Most Conservative Law School Graduates:

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August 31, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Indiana Tech Law School Enrolls 1L Class Of 15 Students, Down 50% From Last Year

IndyTech LogoIndiana Lawyer, Indiana Tech Law School Restarts Accreditation Process, Welcomes Zoeller:

The incoming Class of 2018 is comprised of 15 students who have a median LSAT score of 151 and a median GPA of 3.42. This is the smallest group yet to enroll in the Fort Wayne law school which opened in 2013. The institution’s first two classes each had about 30 students, and the Class of 2017 came with a median LSAT of 148.

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August 31, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 844

IRS Logo 2National Review:  How Obama Officials Dodge the Freedom of Information Act, by John Fund:

During the Watergate era, delaying tactics by government officials were dubbed “stonewalling.” Obama-administration officials seem to have added an element of farce to their cover-ups by literally going to the dogs.

This week, the IRS admitted in court, in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the watchdog group Judicial Watch, that Lois Lerner was even more secretive than we thought. Lerner, the IRS official who resigned in 2013 after allegedly discriminating against applications for nonprofit status from conservative groups, conducted much of her IRS business on a personal e-mail account in the name of her dog, Toby Miles.

Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, says there is evidence that the Obama Justice Department and the IRS have known about the Toby Miles account for some time but chose not to tell the court. A House committee months ago urged that a criminal inquiry of Lerner be initiated by the Justice Department, but so far it has been ignored. ...

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this administration,” President Obama declared back in 2009. Rarely has there been a greater gap between what a politician said and what he did.

Freedom of Information Act requests have been censored or outright denied on countless occasions. Lois Lerner sent an e-mail that warned IRS staffers to avoid public scrutiny by using instant messaging that automatically deletes office communications. Judge Emmet Sullivan, a Bill Clinton appointee, has become so frustrated with the IRS’s foot-dragging that last month he called the government’s slow-walking behavior “indefensible, ridiculous, and absurd” and asked, “why shouldn’t the Court hold the Commissioner of the IRS in contempt?”

The Obama administration has responded to all this by cracking down on the one internal government group of officials specifically charged with tracking down malfeasance: the 72 inspectors general who oversee federal agencies.

The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency sent a letter to Congress this month warning that a recent ruling by the Obama Justice Department, which now requires inspectors general to get permission from agencies they monitor for investigative information, is a “serious threat” to their independence. They urged that Congress should “promptly pass” a law affirming their oversight authority.

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August 31, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The End Of Summer

Summer 2New York Times Sunday Review:  The Summer That Never Was, by Tim Kreider:

I never went to Iceland. I suppose I should say I didn’t go to Iceland this summer — never sounds a little melodramatic, possibly terminal. It’s not as if I’ve died and all hope of ever having gone to Iceland is obviated. But for some reason this missed opportunity is causing me more than the usual, near-toxic level of regret. I’ve had a free apartment in Reykjavik on offer for several years, and somehow I’ve never made it there. The owner of the apartment sends me photos of the aurora borealis that break my heart. ...

Every reminder of forgone pleasures — the empty hammock I hardly ever lay in, a little sugar-cube melon that went bad before I’d even cut one slice from it — makes me want to cry. This end-of-summer melancholy is a common experience, even a cliché. Part of it of course is just my dread and hatred of back-to-school time, unchanged since childhood. The whole world of work and productivity still seems to me like an unconscionable waste of time; the only parts of life that really matter are the summers, the in-between times — the idle goofing off. ...

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August 30, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

Lawyers Are Just As Likely To Lose Their Jobs To Robots As Truck Drivers And Factory Workers

HumanTech Insider, Lawyers Are Just as Likely to Lose Their Jobs to Robots as Truck Drivers and Factory Workers:

It's no surprise that the coming robotic workforce will take over jobs that require manual labor.

But white-collar workers like lawyers are equally at risk of losing their jobs to artificial intelligence (AI) that's cheaper and better than human workers, according to Jerry Kaplan, author of Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.

Kaplan said any person that toils through many "repetitive and structured" tasks for a living won't be safe from the bread lines.

"Even for what you think of as highly-trained, highly-skilled, intuitive personable professions, it is still true that the vast majority of the work is routine," Kaplan told Tech Insider.

Lawyers, for example, may conjure up images of formidable debators pontificating in front of grand juries, but the reality is much more mundane.

"The vast majority of activities that lawyers are engaged in are straightforward drafting of contracts, putting together things like apartment leases, real estate deals, pre-trial discovery," Kaplan said. "It's these very tasks that make the profession susceptible to automation."

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August 30, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

The IRS Scandal, 843

IRS Logo 2Washington Examiner, Judge: IRS Must Hand Over White House Record Requests:

The Internal Revenue Service must turn over any White House requests for taxpayers' private information, a federal judge ruled Friday.

The IRS cannot cite taxpayer confidentiality laws to avoid turning over the information requested by Cause of Action, Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled. Cause of Action has waged a two-year battle to discover whether Obama administration officials had any hand in the IRS' targeting of conservative non-profits.

The IRS cannot cite privacy protection "to shield the very misconduct it was enacted to prohibit," the judge said Friday, according to the Washington Times.

"This court questions whether section 6103 [of the tax code] should or would shield records that indicate confidential taxpayer information was misused, or that government officials made an improper attempt to access that information," wrote Jackson.

Questions about whether the White House directed the IRS' targeting of conservative nonprofits have dogged the administration since the scandal first broke. At one point "then-White House chief economist seemed to describe the tax structure of Koch Industries during a briefing with reporters," increasing speculation, reports the Washington Times.

So far there is no evidence pointing to White House involvement — in part because the IRS has blocked the release of the necessary documents. The agency refused to turn over even administration requests for records since they were first requested in 2013.

Friday's ruling in favor of Cause of Action will change all that.

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August 30, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

The Most Liberal (Entertainment, Civil Rights, Personal Injury) And Conservative (Oil & Gas, M&A, Energy) Lawyers By Practice Area; Law Professors Are The Most Liberal Among 61 Groups

Adam Bonica (Stanford), Adam S. Chilton (Chicago) & Maya Sen (Harvard), The Political Ideologies of American Lawyers:

The ideology of American lawyers has been a persistent source of discussion and debate. Two obstacles, however, have prevented this topic from being systematically studied: the sheer number of attorneys in the United States and the need for a methodology that makes comparing the ideology of specific individuals possible. In this paper, we present a comprehensive mapping of lawyers’ ideologies that has overcome these hurdles. We use a new dataset that links the largest database of political ideology with the largest database of lawyers’ identities to complete the most extensive analysis of the political ideology of American lawyers ever conducted.

Here is the breakdown by practice area:

Chart

 

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August 29, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Simkovic & McIntyre: The Best Time To Go To Law School? Now.

TimingWashington Post, Is There a ‘Right Time’ to Go to Law School — And If So, What Is It?:

Law school applications have been dropping for years now and are facing their lowest enrollment numbers in years, prompting some to cut their budgets and change their programs to attract more students, ... Why is this happening? And what should legal-minded students do? Michael Simkovic and Frank McIntyre explain in this post. ... (They thank Access Group and LSAC for supporting their recent research on a paper titled Timing Law School.)

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August 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (15)

The IRS Scandal, Day 842

IRS Logo 2Town Hall, Lois Lerner May Have Committed a Crime With Use of Private Email at IRS:

In case you missed it yesterday the Washington Times reported former IRS official Lois Lerner, the woman at the center of the IRS targeting controversy, used a private email account under her dog's name to conduct official government business. ...

Now, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton is responding to the new revelation and notes Lerner may have broken the law if she shared confidential tax information on her private account. ...

It should also be noted using a private email account is against government policy and potentially violates federal records laws as it allows officials to skirt the Freedom of Information Act. Further, use of private email to conduct government business makes it difficult for Congress to make proper inquiries about official communications during investigations.

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August 29, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

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August 28, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Boyack: Is The Goal Of 'Practice Ready' Law Grads Merited, Achievable & Worth The Cost?

PracticeAndrea J. Boyack (Washburn), Get "PRACTICE READY." Get set. Go!:

The ABA’s new standard 303(a)(3) instructs law schools to require graduating students satisfactorily complete “one or more experiential course(s) totaling at least six credit hours.” This standard (along with the subsequent standard 304) goes on to explain that the requirement can be satisfied through a simulation course, a law clinic, or field placement (externship).  This experiential requirement seems aimed at fulfilling the ABA House of Delegates Recommendation 10B from the 2011 Annual Meeting of the ABA that legal education implement curricular programs “intended to develop practice ready lawyers including, but not limited to enhanced capstone and clinical courses that include client meetings and court appearances.”  The California Bar has gone even further, requiring that graduates take 15 “skills” credits in order to be admitted to practice in the state. These enhanced experiential requirements are responsive to calls from all quarters – from the Carnegie Report and the MacCrate Report to Brian Tamanaha’s book and the scam-blogosphere – that law schools revamp their curricula in order to ensure that their graduates are “practice ready.” 

Creating experiential learning opportunities for students is a great idea.  But mandates that law schools produce “practice ready” graduates seem incompletely thought out.  Fundamental questions about “practice ready” graduates remain and will continue to plague the system. ... Basically, although many clamor that law schools need to increase their focus on “practice readiness”, we still don’t know if “practice readiness” instruction is merited, if is it ever achievable (measurable, teachable, possible) in law school, and whether it is worth the cost.

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August 28, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Grit And Legal Education: Female Students Are Grittier Than Male Students

True GritEmily Zimmerman (Drexel) & Leah Brogan (Drexel), Grit and Legal Education, 36 Pace L. Rev. ___ (2015):

Although research indicates that grit predicts successful performance in a variety of contexts, grit is underexplored in the context of legal education. We investigated the relationship between grit and law school grade point average (GPA) among recent law school graduates. Contrary to expectations, a statistically significant correlation did not emerge between grit and law school GPA. However, average grit scores of women and men did significantly differ, with women reporting higher overall grit scores than men. Female and male participants’ law school GPAs did not significantly differ. This article discusses our research project and the questions regarding legal education that our findings raise. We also identify areas for further research regarding grit, legal education, and law practice.

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August 28, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (4)

More On The Resignation Of LSU Law School Dean/Chancellor

LSU Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below):  The Civilian, Chancellor Weiss Resigns: PMH Community Responds:

Following an eight-year stint at the helm of the Paul M. Hebert Law Center, former Chancellor, Jack Weiss, steps down this month, citing “major differences” with the Law Center faculty as his reason for resigning.

“I am proud of the many positive developments at the Law Center during my eight years as Chancellor and look forward to submitting the progress of the Law Center during those years to the judgment of history,” Weiss said in a July statement.

“Unfortunately, however, major policy differences with a vocal segment of the faculty have made it difficult, if not impossible, for me to continue to lead the Law Center on a day-to-day basis and to implement my vision for the Law Center’s future.”

Though the specific events that led to Weiss’s decision to resign remain unknown, his resignation comes on the heels of a petition signed by Law Center faculty calling for an “urgently needed” change in leadership. The petition, which surfaced as a result of a public record request filed by 2015 law school graduate, Kyle Alagood, is signed by 25 of the 33 Law Center’s tenure or tenure-track faculty members and was presented to LSU’s provost in May.

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August 28, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Madison: Preparing For Service — A Template For 21st Century Legal Education

Pitt Logo (2015)Michael J. Madison (Pittsburgh), Preparing for Service: A Template for 21st Century Legal Education:

Legal educators today grapple with the changing dynamics of legal employment markets; the evolution of technologies and business models driving changes to the legal profession; and the economics of operating – and attending – a law school. Accrediting organizations and practitioners pressure law schools to prepare new lawyers both to be ready to practice and to be ready for an ever-fluid career path. From the standpoint of law schools in general and any one law school in particular, constraints and limitations surround us. Adaptation through innovation is the order of the day.

How, when, and in what direction should innovation take place? Who should lead, guide, and participate? These are questions often asked in both legal education in particular and in higher education in general. Rarely are answers accompanied by specific examples, strategies, or programs. This paper offers precisely that specificity. It documents one institution’s process and output, beginning with the concept of innovation in the face of multiple challenges and proposing one set of concrete, actionable strategies, tactics, and programs. These range from school-wide interventions to ideas for use at the level of the individual faculty member and course.

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August 28, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 841

IRS Logo 2Robert W. Wood (Forbes), IRS Reveals Lois Lerner's Secret Email Account Named For Her Dog:

The IRS dropped a bombshell in federal court, admitting that firebrand Lois Lerner also used a personal email account for IRS business. She used her dog’s name, Toby Miles. The Washington Times broke the story from the Judicial Watch lawsuit that is still seeking IRS targeting emails. It puts the IRS in another awkward spot. Why wasn’t this revealed by the IRS sooner, you might ask?

Good question. Since there have been multiple probes for several years now, one might assume that American taxpayers would know about this by now. IRS documents previously revealed a Lois Lerner email that warned IRS staffers about revealing too much information to Congress. Forget email, Ms. Lerner had warned. Instead, use instant messaging that automatically deletes office communications. House Oversight Committee documentation suggested that this ruse was used deliberately by IRS officials to evade public scrutiny. ...

The latest email issue came in the Judicial Watch case. The IRS says it “discovered” the Lerner dog email account, in addition to her official account and personal email accounts. There was already an official IRS email account, and Lerner’s own private email account that the IRS had labeled ‘Lois Home.’ But now, the ‘Toby Miles’ account also shows up.

Toby is the dog, and Michael Miles is Ms. Lerner’s husband. The IRS says it may need to re-release additional documents. You think? The IRS notes that a House Ways and Means Committee criminal referral in 2014 mentioned the Toby Miles email address, identified as tobomatic@msn.com. This email address was included on an email that also had Lerner’s official email account. At that time, the committee linked the Toby Miles address to Ms. Lerner’s husband, Michael Miles. ...

What does the dog say about all this? Maybe he’ll take the Fifth too.

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August 28, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Coming To A Law School Near You: Law Prof Cubicles?

CubicleWall Street Journal Law Blog, Lawyer Cubicles Are Coming to New York:

Here at Law Blog, it’s not often we see a large law firm do something unprecedented when it comes to running its business. But we’re pretty sure Paul Hastings LLP is about to forge new ground when it moves its New York office next spring.

In its new midtown Manhattan space, junior lawyers won’t get the offices many dream of in law school. Instead, they’re getting a cubicle.

The move will only affect first- and second-year associates, who will be seated in pods of 12 in prime window-lined real estate on the ends of floors. For now, the firm is calling them the “end zones.”

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August 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

ABA Encourages Law School Shell Game: Minority 2L Transfers Count For Diversity Purposes, Not For U.S. News Rankings

Diversity (2)National Law Journal op-ed:   Law Schools' Shell Game of Minority Enrollment: Admitting Diverse Students as Transfers in their Second Year Does Not Improve Overall Numbers, by Jay Sterling Silver (St. Thomas (Florida)):

Here we go again. Although law schools no longer can give prospective students misleading data on graduate employment, some are creating the illusion they're doing more to expand minority representation in the profession than they really are, and many are clinging to their ranking in U.S. News & World Report through smoke and mirrors.

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August 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Prebble Presents Tax Papers In Amsterdam

Prebble (2015)John Prebble (Victoria University of Wellington) is presenting two tax papers in Amsterdam:

Aug. 27:   General Anti-Avoidance Rules and the Rule of Law at the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD)

Aug. 28Kelsen, the Principle of Exclusion of Contradictions, and General Anti-Avoidance Rules in Tax Law at the University of Amsterdam as the Opening Address to inaugurate a new Advanced Master’s Degree in International Tax Law.

August 27, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Taylor: Diversity As A Law School Survival Strategy

DiversityAaron N. Taylor (St. Louis), Diversity as a Law School Survival Strategy, 59 St. Louis U. L.J. 321 (2015):

Over the past few years, law schools have been dealing with a drastic and, so far, unyielding decline in student interest. Between 2010 and 2013, student enrollments fell almost 25%, to levels not seen in 40 years. This trend has prompted many to wonder what schools have done, and what they can do, to ensure their survival in this new climate. This article explores the extent to which law schools have used students of color, particularly black and Hispanic students, to bolster enrollments and lessen the effects of the downturn. The results of this analysis suggest that a school’s median LSAT score influenced the extent to which the racial composition of its entering classes changed between 2010 and 2013. Black and Hispanic students were critical components of the enrollment management calculus for private law schools with the lowest median LSAT scores. Higher-median schools tended to rely more heavily on white and Asian enrollments to stem declines. These trends led to increased racial and ethnic stratification in law school enrollments, where black and Hispanic students were more likely to attend schools with lower median LSAT scores in 2013 than in 2010, while white and Asian students were more likely to attend schools with higher median scores. Perceptions of law school quality and prestige are greatly influenced by a school’s median LSAT score; therefore, the trend of stratification may only serve to intensify racial and ethnic differences in career paths and trajectories.

August 27, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wisconsin Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Wisconsin LogoThe University of Wisconsin Law School invites applications for a tenure-track position from among a variety of subjects, including tax:

Particularly of interest are individuals to teach in the areas of corporate law, securities law, commercial law, bankruptcy, antitrust, banking, tax and related fields. Applicants must possess a J.D. degree and have relevant experience such as teaching, legal practice, or a judicial clerkship. For entry-level candidates, scholarly promise as evidenced by publications, works in progress or a research plan is required. For junior lateral applicants, a distinguished record of teaching and scholarship is required. Once hired, faculty members are evaluated and advancement is determined by contributions in teaching, research, and service to the law school and the university. ...

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August 27, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Final Fall 2015 Law School Applicant Data: Down 1.8%

LSAC, Three-Year ABA Volume Comparison:

The following charts report ABA applicants and applications for each of the past three falls.

LSAC

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August 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Average Private Law School Tuition Discount Approaches 50%

Tuition DiscountDavid Yellen (Dean, Loyola-Chicago), Tuition Discounting on the Rise and its Impact on Law Schools:

According to this new survey, tuition discounting at private colleges and universities reached an average of 48% for freshman last year.  That is up from 38% in 2004.

How does this compare to what has been happening in legal education?  Back around 2004 I surveyed a range of private schools and the average discount rate was around 20%, about half of what it was then at colleges.  This year, based on what I know about my school and a handful of others, the average private law school discount rate is close to the college rate of 48%, maybe even somewhat higher.  

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August 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

The IRS Scandal, Day 840

IRS Logo 2New York Post editorial, The IRS Scandal Goes to the Dogs:

Move over, Carlos Danger, there’s a new alias in town: Toby Miles, an electronic front for Lois Lerner.

Lerner famously took the Fifth rather than testify about how the Internal Revenue Service came to target right-leaning advocacy nonprofits in the run-up to the 2012 election.

Ever since, the IRS has blocked congressional efforts to get to the facts, while the Justice Department’s “probe” was a joke even before the president declared there’s “not a smidgen of corruption” in the affair.

Happily, the public-interest group Judicial Watch is on the job, pushing to get the facts out. On Monday, it forced an IRS attorney to admit Lerner had used a personal email account under the “Toby Miles” name to conduct official government business.

This is her second private email account — though the first was under her own name.

Mind you, it’s been two-plus years since the scandal broke, yet the agency that promised to clean up its act is only now revealing this fresh evidence.

No doubt the IRS will take months to fork over any of “Toby’s” emails. As Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton says, “This is the latest in a parade of obstruction from the IRS and the Department of Justice on these issues.” ...

The capper: One Lerner acquaintance says “Toby Miles” is the name of Lerner’s dog.

Nothing quite says truth and transparency like doing Uncle Sam’s work under your dog’s name.

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August 27, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I Found Happiness When I Abandoned My Work As A Lawyer And Became A Clown

ClownNew York Times:  Abandoning the Work I Hated, by Robert Markowitz:

I was the envy of my 30-something friends in Palo Alto, Calif. I had my own law office right on California Avenue. People charged with crimes handed me cash, in advance, over a big oak desk. Occasionally, I’d make a couple of grand in an afternoon.

But soon, my body started giving out one part at a time. First a shoulder, then my lower back, knee cartilage, neck vertebrae. Two groin hernia surgeries later, at 33 years old, I could not lift a bag of groceries, or sit without an orthopedic pillow. After 10 years as a law student and lawyer, working in a profession I didn’t like was taking its toll. I sold my practice and fled. ...

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August 26, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)