TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Will Trying New Teaching Techniques Tank My Student Evaluations?

Inside Higher Ed, Will Trying New Teaching Techniques Tank My Evaluations?:

Ask a group of faculty members why they're wary of experimenting with new ways of teaching, and they're likely to assert that trying new things — especially if they misfire — can bring down their student evaluation numbers, and in turn hurt their chances for tenure or promotion.

Charles R. Henderson, a professor of physics education and co-founder of Western Michigan University's Center for Research on Instructional Change in Postsecondary Education, hears that worry frequently as he visits campuses encouraging the use of active learning techniques and other alternatives to lecturing.

"It's a huge thing that everybody cites and believes is true, even though I'm not aware of any data to support it," Henderson says. "Usually what happens is that a professor thinks that because there are one or two students who complain about" a change in how the professor teaches, "the rest of the class must feel that way, too."

That fear can be discouraging, Henderson concedes, given the prominent role that many colleges continue to give to student evaluations of teaching in assessing professors. While some institutions have begun to de-emphasize student evaluations in their tenure and promotion processes, citing research showing mounting evidence of bias, they remain a force. ...

Charles Henderson (Western Michigan), Raquib Khan (Western Michigan) & Melissa Dancy (Colorado), Will My Student Evaluations Decrease If I Adopt an Active Learning Instructional Strategy?, 86 Am. J. Physics ___ (2018):

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September 26, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Law Prompting Flood Of Accelerated Divorces As A Dec. 31 Deadline Looms

L.A. Times, Tax Law Prompting Flood of Accelerated Divorces as a Dec. 31 Deadline Looms:

Local attorneys and judges are scrambling to finalize a flood of accelerated divorces prompted by new federal tax laws that eliminate the spousal support deduction starting Jan. 1.

Beating the deadline will allow people expecting to pay support to continue to annually deduct the money from their taxable income. Those who will receive spousal support also may have an incentive, because judges are expected to start awarding smaller payments next year as the lost tax deduction shrinks what the higher earner can afford.

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September 26, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Drumbl Presents Improving Tax Credits for the Working Poor Today At Boston College

Drumbl (2018)Michelle Drumbl (Washington & Lee) presents Improving Tax Credits for the Working Poor (Cambridge University Press 2019) at Boston College today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Jim Repetti, Diane Ring, and Shu-Yi Oei:

The United States introduced the earned income tax credit (EITC) in 1975. The EITC is the most significant earnings-based refundable credit available in the Internal Revenue Code (Code).  The United States is the oldest example of a country using its domestic revenue system to deliver and administer social welfare benefits to lower-income individuals or families.  This approach is no longer unique to the United States: other countries, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, New Zealand, France, Canada, Australia, and Sweden have experimented with or incorporated analogous credits into their tax systems.  These other countries imported the concept from the United States. Might the U.S. be able to improve upon the administration of its EITC by importing the experiences and lessons learned in other countries?

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September 25, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Connecticut’s SALT Bypass Offers Hidden Perk For Money Managers

Bloomberg, Connecticut’s SALT Bypass Offers Hidden Perk for Money Managers:

Hedge fund and private equity managers in Connecticut may have more to like about the state’s novel workaround for a new cap on state and local tax deductions.

Not only do those who live and work in the state get a break on their property taxes, they can also shave the tax bill for their carried interest profits, a key source of earnings.

Earlier this year, Governor Dannel Malloy signed a law that creates a way for owners of so-called pass-through businesses, such as partnerships, to take bigger federal deductions to absorb the hit from the tax law’s new $10,000 SALT deduction limit. Buried in the provision is a way to further reduce the rate applied to carried interest.

For managers at some of Connecticut’s big funds such as Viking Global Investors, Lone Pine Capital, Stone Point Capital and Silver Point Capital, the measure could translate to hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars in federal tax savings on carried interest. Representatives for the firms didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The new tax “could create a significant benefit,” said Joseph Pacello, a tax partner in the asset management group at BDO USA. Pacello said the carried interest break is currently being discussed by fund managers in Connecticut and their accountants. ...

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September 25, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Online Law School Classes Deliver Results For Law Students

Yvonne Dutton, Margaret Ryznar & Kayleigh Long (Indiana-Indianapolis), Assessing Asynchronous Online Learning in Law Schools: Students Say Online Classes Deliver, 96 Denv. L. Rev. ___ (2019):

This is the first article to provide empirical data on the effectiveness of distance education in law schools since the ABA this summer approved increasing the total number of credits that law students could earn through online classes from 15 to 30. Our data, composed of law student surveys and focus groups, reveal not only the success of distance education in their experience, but also the methods that are most effective for them.

Margaret Ryznar, Insights on Online Teaching:

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September 25, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Internal GOP Poll: 'We've Lost The Messaging Battle' On Tax Cuts

Bloomberg, Internal GOP Poll: 'We've Lost the Messaging Battle' on Tax Cuts:

A survey commissioned by the Republican National Committee has led the party to a glum conclusion regarding President Donald Trump’s signature legislative achievement: Voters overwhelmingly believe his tax overhaul helps the wealthy instead of average Americans.

By a 2-to-1 margin -- 61 percent to 30 percent -- respondents said the law benefits “large corporations and rich Americans” over “middle class families,” according to the survey, which was completed on Sept. 2 by the GOP firm Public Opinion Strategies and obtained by Bloomberg News.

The result was fueled by self-identified independent voters who said by a 36-point margin that large corporations and rich Americans benefit more from the tax law -- a result that was even more lopsided among Democrats. Republican voters said by a 38-point margin that the middle class benefits more. ...

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September 25, 2018 in News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Pepperdine Jobs Bell

Bell 2When I became Dean in June 2017, I set as our number #1 priority maximizing our students' return on investment in their legal education.  Only 65% of the Class of 2016 had obtained full-credit jobs (long-term, bar-passage-required/JD-advantage jobs). We re-thought our approach to career development and increased that rate to 75% for the Class of 2017, and we are projecting an 85% rate for the Class of 2018.  To symbolize our commitment to helping our students launch their legal careers, we purchased a bell to mark each time a 3L secures one of these jobs (like bells that are rung in car dealerships with each sale).

Yesterday, we held a our first bell ringing ceremony for Ashley Gebicke, who will be joining Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. in Fall 2019.

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September 25, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Dependence On Income Tax Revenue Leaves California Vulnerable; Budget Experts Call For 'Political Unicorn' Of Real Tax Reform

L.A. Times, Dependence on Income Tax Revenue Leaves State Vulnerable:

While Democrat Gavin Newsom and Republican John Cox campaign on their visions for the state’s next chapter, it’s the financial success of residents in Palo Alto’s 94301 and a handful of other affluent ZIP Codes that will determine whether promises to build more houses, overhaul healthcare or invest in schools can actually be kept.

The state scooped up just under $1 billion from nearly 9,000 tax returns filed in 94301 in 2016 — more revenue than from any other ZIP Code in California.


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September 25, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Henderson: Innovation Diffusion In The Legal Industry

William D. Henderson (Indiana), Innovation Diffusion in the Legal Industry, 122 Dickinson L. Rev. 395 (2018):

This article is adapted from a series of blog posts originally found in my recently-started blog entitled Legal Evolution. The foundational material set forth in this article (and in those blog posts) applies to the legal services market insights gained from disciplines other than law. This article begins by setting forth the well-established theory of an “innovation diffusion curve” and the research that has identified the factors that affect the rate of adoption of innovations. This article identifies why innovation in the legal services market is desirable and applies to the legal services field insights drawn from this research in other fields. In the course of presenting these theories, the article explains why and how research about things such as the speed of adoption of hybrid corn seed is directly relevant to lawyers and law firms. It also identifies factors that can promote innovation within a law firm and factors that can inhibit innovation within a law firm, including the challenges that firms face because factors that promote the initial stage of innovation may later hamper its widespread implementation.

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September 25, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Death Of David Laro (Tax Court Judge)

LaroDavid Laro, Senior Judge of the U.S. Tax Court, died on Friday, September 21, at the age of 76.  From the family:

We are planning a celebration of David’s life at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, September 27th at 2:30 p.m. We will be sitting shiva at Marlene and Andrew's house (8203 Hampton Oak Court, McLean, VA) after the service until 9:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Judge David Laro Scholarship in Taxes at NYU School of Law and the Judge David Laro Tax Law Scholarship at USD School of Law.

From David's Tax Court biography:

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September 25, 2018 in Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 24, 2018

Clausing Presents Profit Shifting Before And After The TCJA Today At UC-Irvine

Clausing (2017)Kimberly Clausing (Reed College) presents Profit Shifting Before and After the TCJA at UC-Irvine as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

In recent years, estimates of profit shifting by multinational companies have indicated substantial revenue costs to the U.S. government, likely in excess of $100 billion per year. The TCJA has changed the climate for profit shifting in several important ways: the lower U.S. corporate rate should lower the incentive to shift profits away from the United States, the adoption of a territorial tax system should raise the incentive to shift profits abroad, and several novel base protection measures, in particular the GILTI and BEAT provisions, are aimed directly at profit shifting. This paper evaluates these changes, discussing their likely effect on the magnitude of profit shifting.

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September 24, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fennel Presents Money Matters Today At Loyola-L.A.

Fennell (2015)Lee Anne Fennel (Chicago) presents Money Matters at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Ellen Aprill and Katie Pratt:

This chapter from my forthcoming book, Slices and Lumps: Configuring Choice in Law, Markets, and Life (University of Chicago Press 2019), examines questions of lumpiness and granularity that arise in household budgeting and public finance contexts. People often have difficulty assembling the lumps of cash required to pay for indivisible goods like cars or down payments on homes. These difficulties can explain preferences that might otherwise seem puzzling, such as for lump sums rather than fragmented payment streams of higher present value. Seeming anomalies like the prevalence of income tax refunds and lottery play can be explained by the desire for lumpy consumption that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to finance. At the same time, better segmentation can help households achieve their goals, as studies showing the power of partitioning savings suggest.

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September 24, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Network Of Law Reviews: Citation Cartels, Scientific Communities, And Journal Rankings

Oren Perez, Judit Bar-Ilan, Reuven Cohen & Nir Schreiber (Bar-Ilan), The Network of Law Reviews: Citation Cartels, Scientific Communities, and Journal Rankings, 81 Mod. L. Rev. ___ (2018):

Research evaluation is increasingly being influenced by quantitative data. The legal field has not escaped the impact of such metrics. Law schools and legal journals are being ranked by multiple global rankings. The key rankings for law schools are the Times Higher Education and Shanghai University Subject Rankings for law and SSRN Ranking for U.S. and International law schools. Law Journals are measured by four different rankings: Clarivate Analytics Web of Science Journal Citation Reports (JCR), CiteScore from Elsevier, Scimago and Washington and Lee. Despite the opposition from the scientific community these metrics continue to flourish. The article argues journal rankings (as other metrics) are the consequence of theory-laden choices that can influence their structure and their pretense of objectivity is therefore merely illusory.

We focus on the influential ranking of law journals in JCR and critically assess its structure and methodology. In particular, we consider the question of the existence of tacit citation cartels in the U.S. law reviews market and the attentiveness of the JCR for the potential influence of such tacit cartel. To examine this question we studied a sample of 90 journals included in the category of Law in the JCR: 45 U.S. student-edited (SE) and 45 peer-reviewed (PR) journals. We found that PR and SE journals are more inclined to cite members of their own class, forming two separated communities. Close analysis revealed that this phenomenon is more pronounced in SE journals, especially generalist ones. This tendency reflects, we argue, a tacit cartelistic behavior, which is a product of deeply entrenched institutional structures. Because U.S. SE journals produce much more citations than PR journals, the fact that their citations are directed almost exclusively to SE journals elevates their ranking in the Journal Citation Reports in a way that distorts the structure of the ranking. This distortion can hamper the production of legal knowledge. We discuss several policy measures that can counter the adverse effects of this situation.

Law Reviews

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September 24, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Uneasy History Of Experiential Education in U.S. Law Schools

Peter A. Joy (Washington University), The Uneasy History of Experiential Education in U.S. Law Schools, 122 Dickinson L. Rev. 551 (2018):

This article explores the history of legal education, particularly the rise of experiential learning and its importance. In the early years of legal education in the United States, law schools devalued the development of practical skills in students, and many legal educators viewed practical experience in prospective faculty as a “taint.” This article begins with a brief history of these early years and how legal education subsequently evolved with greater involvement of the American Bar Association (ABA). With involvement of the ABA came a call for greater uniformity in legal education and guidelines to help law schools establish criteria for admissions and curricula. This article also discusses the influence of the ABA Standards, particularly Standard 302, in legal education. In the latter half of the 20th century, it became clear that a legal education without any professional development or practical training was deficient. A new ABA task force dedicated to “narrowing the gap” between practitioners and professors published the MacCrate Report, detailing the skills and values law students should develop before entering the profession. Lastly, although the ABA Standards have done a great deal in fixing these deficiencies, there is a great deal that law schools must do on their own.

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September 24, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Study: 1L Grades, Upper Level Bar Courses Better Predictors Of Bar Passage Than LSAT, UGPA

Amy Farley,  Christopher Swoboda, Joel Chanvisanuruk, Keanen McKinley & Alicia Boards (Cincinnati), Law Student Success and Supports: Examining Bar Passage and Factors That Contribute to Student Performance:

In recent years, law schools have experienced a decline in enrollment and bar passage. Higher education has been challenged to understand this new phenomenon and conduct research that can inform law student success practices and policies. This paper presents findings from research conducted at a large, Midwestern public university that investigated the factors and student characteristics most strongly associated with bar passage. Results suggest that bar passage can be predicted by a wide battery of variables. Despite some literature that suggests otherwise, however, LSAT and undergraduate GPA are weakly predictive, while information from the first year of law school – even the performance in just one first semester course – explains significantly more variation in bar passage. These preliminary results provide important first insights into bar passage.


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September 24, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Lesson From The Tax Court: The Substantial Substantiation Rules In §170

Tax Court (2017)The great philosopher George Carlin understands the problem of stuff.  My wife and I have too much stuff.  My wife, however, hates yard sales.  And we cannot afford a bigger house.  So we give a lot of stuff away. 

When Congress ratcheted up the substantiation requirements for deducting non-cash charitable contributions in 1993, we stopped giving to Goodwill.  That is because Goodwill did not change their pre-printed receipt form to say the now-required magic language “no goods or services were given in exchange for this donation.”  While some of our donations were below the $250 threshold, the aggregate value of our donations of similar items regularly exceeded that amount.  I remember one year I had to go up several layers of management to even get a letter with that language sent to me before I could file my taxes.  So we now favor other charities.

I was not just being picky in wanting a proper contemporaneous receipt, as the recent case of Estelle C. Grainger v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2018-117 (July 30, 2018) demonstrates.  The taxpayer there was massively confused about the basic valuation rules for donations of property.  That’s one lesson here.  But I think another important lesson in this case is just how difficult the substantiation rules in §170 can be for substantial amounts of non-cash charitable contributions.  It was certainly an eye-opener for me, particularly the lesson about Form 8283.

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September 24, 2018 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink | Comments (8)

Arizona State To Host Tenure! Now What? Conference

Arizona State Logo (2016)Conference Announcement:  "Tenure! Now What?", Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, March 30, 2019:

In the legal academy, as in other disciplines, tenure is the most important goal of aspiring and junior professors. Yet we as a profession never talk about what happens after tenure. This conference seeks to fill that void.

We want to initiate a conversation about life after tenure. We have assembled an impressive group of panelists who will discuss service, scholarship, and teaching. The conference will conclude with a workshop for participants to create a personalized plan for their career. The conference is free and all are welcome.

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September 24, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, September 23, 2018

NY Times: EU Ends Inquiry Into Luxembourg’s Tax Deal With McDonald’s

McDonaldsNew York Times, European Union Ends Inquiry Into Luxembourg’s Tax Deal With McDonald’s:

The European Union has sparred with multinationals like Apple and Amazon as well as countries such as Ireland in its efforts to curb tax avoidance. In the case of McDonald’s, it is standing down.

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, had been examining whether a deal that Luxembourg granted to McDonald’s may have led to the fast food chain’s paying less tax than it owed. The commission said Wednesday that these deals did not constitute illegal state aid.

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September 23, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Can Professors Refuse To Write Letters Of Recommendations For Political Reasons?

IsraelInside Higher Ed, The Right to a Recommendation?:

Does a professor have a right to refuse to write a recommendation for a student due to his own political convictions?

A professor at the University of Michigan declined to write a recommendation for a student to study abroad upon realizing the student’s chosen program was in Israel. In an email to the student, which was posted as a screenshot ...  on Facebook by the pro-Israel group Club Z and was first reported by Israeli media, the professor cites support for the boycott of Israeli academic institutions as the reason why he was rescinding an offer to write a recommendation letter. At the same time he indicated he would be happy to write other letters for the student, who is identified only as “Abigail.”

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September 23, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (18)

Zelinsky: GOP Tax Law Properly Taxes Churches On Free Parking/Mass Transit Provided To Their Employees

Edward Zelinsky (Cardozo), Does TCJA Tax Churches? Should It?:

Does the new federal tax law, commonly known as the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA), tax churches as some have argued? If so, is this tax appropriate?

The answers are “yes” and “yes.” The TCJA provisions taxing qualified transportation fringes treat secular and religious employers alike, including houses of worship. In a world of imperfect choices, the TCJA reasonably treats all employers fairly without entangling church and state inordinately.

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September 23, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

SSRN Logo (2018)This week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads is the same as last week's list:

  1. [449 Downloads]  Compelled Subsidies and the First Amendment, by William Baude (Chicago) & Eugene Volokh (UCLA)
  2. [306 Downloads]  The New Non-Territorial U.S. International Tax System, Part 1, by Daniel Shaviro (NYU) (reviewed by David Elkins (Netanya) here)
  3. [220 Downloads]  The Charitable Contribution Strategy: An Ineffective SALT Substitute, by Andy Grewal (Iowa)
  4. [181 Downloads]   The Death of the Income Tax (or, the Rise of America's Universal Wage Tax), by Edward McCaffery (USC)
  5. [157 Downloads]  Taxing the Robots, by Orly Mazur (SMU)

September 23, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Marian: Trump Tax Reform Promised A Deluge, Delivered A Drip Of Foreign Earnings

The Hill op-ed:  Tax Reform Promised a Deluge, Delivered a Drip of Foreign Earnings, by Omri Marian (UC-Irvine):

One of the main pitches Republicans made in support of last year’s tax overhaul was that it will encourage U.S. multinationals to repatriate their massive piles of foreign profits.

The new law is “going to free up a lot of money to come back and build factories here and so on," White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett said shortly before passage of the law.

Last month, President Trump said, “[We] think it’s going to be close to $5 trillion. Over $4 [trillion], but close to $5 trillion, will be brought back into our country."

Nine months after the passage of the law, these promises have failed to materialize. A report by the Wall Street Journal found that the rate of repatriations proved sluggish.

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September 22, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Colinvaux: Defending Place-Based Philanthropy By Defining The Community Foundation

Roger Colinvaux (Catholic), Defending Place-Based Philanthropy by Defining the Community Foundation, 2018 BYU L. Rev. 1:

The article is about the changing role of the community foundation in conducting philanthropy in the United States. The historic place-based mission of the community foundation is under threat, in part because of competition with national charities that, like community foundations, sponsor donor advised funds (DAFs). The mass-market success of national DAFs is putting pressure on community foundations to conform to a national, passive, individual-based model of advised giving. Community foundations also have become caught up in a legal and policy debate that is directed primarily at national, commercially affiliated DAF sponsors. As a result, community foundations risk becoming subject to rules and regulations devised for others.

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September 22, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunstein & Pulliam: Universities (And Law Schools) Need To Hire More Republican Professors

Following up on my previous posts (links below): 

Cass Sunstein (Harvard), The Problem With All Those Liberal Professors:

The paucity of Republicans at many top schools hurts everyone.

Suppose that you start college with a keen interest in physics, and you quickly discover that almost all members of the physics department are Democrats. Would you think that something is wrong? Would your answer be different if your favorite subject is music, chemistry, computer science, anthropology or sociology?

In recent years, concern has grown over what many people see as a left-of-center political bias at colleges and universities. A few months ago, Mitchell Langbert, an associate professor of business at Brooklyn College, published a study of the political affiliations of faculty members at 51 of the 66 liberal-arts colleges ranked highest by U.S. News in 2017. The findings are eye-popping (even if they do not come as a great surprise to many people in academia).

Democrats dominate most fields. In religion, Langbert’s survey found that the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is 70 to 1. In music, it is 33 to 1. In biology, it is 21 to 1. In philosophy, history and psychology, it is 17 to 1. In political science, it is 8 to 1.

The gap is narrower in science and engineering. In physics, economics and mathematics, the ratio is about 6 to 1. In chemistry, it is 5 to 1, and in engineering, it is just 1.6 to 1. Still, Lambert found no field in which Republicans are more numerous than Democrats. ...

For two reasons, these numbers, and others like them, are genuinely disturbing.

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September 22, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (20)

Friday, September 21, 2018

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Layser Reviews Crawford's Tax Talk And Reproductive Technology

This week, Michelle Layser (Illinois) reviews Bridget Crawford (Pace), Tax Talk and Reproductive Technology, 100 B.U. L. Rev. ___ (2019).

Layser (2018)As the U.S. fertility industry explodes, there is plenty of talk about surrogate miscarriages, freezer failures, unwieldy donor family trees, problems with privacy and anonymity, and the physical and emotional tolls of egg and sperm donation. What’s missing from the conversation? According to Professor Bridget Crawford, the answer is “tax talk.” Crawford’s article, which focuses on how egg donors talk about taxes with each other and their fertility clinics, is an empirically grounded exploration into the ways that talking about tax (or failing to do so) reflects and reinforces cultural norms.

The article begins by recounting the facts of a 2015 tax court case called Perez v. Commissioner. In that case, the taxpayer Nichelle Perez had received fees for her “time, effort, inconvenience, pain, and suffering in donating her eggs.” Perez earned her fees. She underwent a series of painful hormone injections that resulted in pain, bruising and burning. She submitted to general anesthesia and an invasive egg removal procedure that left her cramped, bloated, nauseous, fatigued and moody.

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September 21, 2018 in Michelle Layser, Scholarship, Tax, Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

University Of Alabama Law School Receives $26.5 Million Naming Gift; Donor Hopes For Top 10-15 Ranking

Alabama Logo (2018)UA Law School Named for Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. in Recognition of $26.5 Million Donation:

The University of Alabama School of Law announced today a $26.5 million donation from prominent business executive and attorney Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr.

To honor Culverhouse’s impact and generosity, the UA School of Law will now bear his name, becoming the Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law at The University of Alabama.

The commitment includes a $25 million gift, the largest in the University’s 187-year history. The gift will be funded over four years; more than $11.5 million of the total donation has already been received.

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September 21, 2018 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Wells: Reform Of § 355

Bret Wells (Houston), Reform of § 355, 68 Am. U. L. Rev. ___ (2018):

Section 355 is one of the most important provisions in the US corporate tax laws because, after the 1986 Tax Reform Act, it remains the principle means of allowing for a tax-free spin-off and disposition of businesses in the publicly traded corporate context. Yet, the provision has received very limited scholarly attention. The article addresses a gap in the existing literature by addressing the normative goals of this provision and its deficiencies. Section 355 has had a curious and troubled history.

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September 21, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morrow: Noncompetes As Tax Evasion

Rebecca Morrow (Wake Forest), Noncompetes as Tax Evasion, 96 Wash. U. L. Rev. ___ (2018):

Al Capone famously boasted of his criminal empire: “Some call it bootlegging. Some call it racketeering. I call it a business.” Treasury Agent Frank Wilson and Prosecutor George Johnson put Capone behind bars not by disputing his characterization and pursuing murder or assault or RICO charges, but by accepting it and enforcing its tax implications. Irrespective of their legality, Capone’s businesses were profitable, and Capone had not reported their profits for tax purposes. A simple application of bedrock tax law achieved what other legal routes failed to achieve and sent Capone to Alcatraz. The trick was to see the tax argument.

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September 21, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Teaching Symposium: How A Law Faculty Stays Ahead Of The Curve

Indiana Indianapolis LogoSymposium, Upward! Higher: How a Law Faculty Stays Ahead of the Curve, 51 Ind. L. Rev. 413-70 (2018):

Full-time and part-time faculty of the IU McKinney School of Law convened together with campus and university partners from the IUPUI Center for Teaching and Learning and Indiana University e-Learning Design and Services for the second annual “Upward!” teaching symposium at the beginning of Fall Semester 2017. The two-day gathering involved panel discussions on topics including online teaching, online course design, teaching externships, designing lessons for the law school’s active learning classrooms, teaching international students, and teaching with an eye to the bar exam. Participants enjoyed a field trip to IUPUI campus offices supporting the university’s teaching mission, including the Center for Teaching and Learning and the recording studio. Panelists contributed to this joint publication, which includes sole- or joint-authored submissions by Professors Adams, Baker, Boyne, Huffman, Ryznar, Shope, and Sullivan; an introduction by Dean Klein and Professor Huffman; and reactions to the primary papers. These submissions reflect a variety of scholarly methods, drawing from empirical study, anecdotal observation, and theoretical analysis.

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September 21, 2018 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1)

Engler: Goodwill Hunting Gone Bad — Tax Law's Outmoded Treatment Of Goodwill

Goodwill HuntingMitchell L. Engler (Cardozo), Goodwill Hunting Gone Bad: Tax Law's Outmoded Treatment of Goodwill, 96 Neb. L. Rev. 883 (2018):

Goodwill reflects the positive consumer association with a business. Goodwill thus overlaps with trademarks and other related assets. This close association impedes the separation of goodwill value from such related assets. Difficulties thus arise when the tax law treats goodwill more (or less) favorably than related intangible assets.

For instance, the tax law previously denied any depreciation deductions for goodwill. Business buyers thus often allocated their costs away from goodwill and towards related assets like depreciable customer lists. The IRS responded with the initial “goodwill hunting” wave, challenging taxpayers’ low goodwill valuations. Congress addressed this litigious area in 1993 with new, matching depreciation rules for purchased goodwill and related intangible assets.

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September 21, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Viswanathan Presents A Worker-Centric Model For Sharing Economy Providers Today At Northwestern

Viswanathan (2017)Manoj Viswanathan (UC-Hastings) presents A Worker-Centric Model for Sharing Economy Providers at Northwestern today as part of its Advanced Topics in Taxation Workshop Series hosted by Sarah Lawsky:

In light of ambiguities in the December 2017 tax legislation, this Article integrates tax, corporate, employment, and labor law to propose how sharing economy workers—and rideshare drivers in particular—might optimally structure their working lives. These workers already face challenging questions about employment conditions, collective bargaining, and their classification as employees or independent contractors. The new tax legislation has only created more questions about how this growing class of income earners should most efficiently structure their working arrangements for tax purposes.

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September 20, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Zolt: Tax Treaties And Developing Countries

Eric M. Zolt (UCLA), Tax Treaties and Developing Countries, 72 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2018):

Academics and others over the last 50 years have called for developing countries to hesitate or refrain from entering into bilateral tax treaties with developed countries. Tax treaties seek to facilitate cross-border transactions and investments by reducing tax barriers and providing greater certainty to foreign investors. But treaty provisions invariably result in countries yielding taxing rights. Since at least the 1920s, treaties have arguably provided greater taxing rights to the country where the investors reside (generally, capital-exporting developed countries) rather than the country where the economic activity takes place (often, capital-importing developing countries). Where capital flows are roughly equal between countries, rules that skew taxing rights towards residence-based taxation away from source-based taxation result in little or no revenue shifting. But where capital flows are less even, the tax revenue consequences may be substantial.

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September 20, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dean Chemerinsky To Decide Fate Of Boalt Hall Name At UC-Berkeley In November

UC Berkeley BoaltFollowing up on last week's post, Committee Recommends Removal Of Boalt Name From UC-Berkeley Law School Building Due To John Boalt's 1870s Anti-Chinese Racism:, Berkeley Law Is Deeply Divided on 'Boalt' Name, Chemerinsky Says:

The University of California, Berkeley School of Law has been known colloquially as Boalt Hall for decades, but that name could soon disappear from the Bay Area campus after information surfaced about the racist past of John Boalt—a 19th century California lawyer who pushed for the Chinese Exclusion Act.

A law school committee ... recommended the removal of the Boalt Hall name from one of the school’s four buildings and that other references to Boalt in student organizations and elsewhere be excised. (The committee did not recommend stripping the Boalt name from two endowed professorships, which would require the involvement of the California attorney general.)

The proposed renaming has touched a nerve with many on the law school community, some of whom refer to themselves as “Boalties.” We spoke with Dean Erwin Chemerinsky this week to find out what happens next and what he’s hearing from students and alumni. His answers have been edited for length.

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September 20, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bridging The Red-Blue Divide: A Proposal For U.S. Regional Tax Relief

Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, Nir Fishbien & Haiyan Xu (Michigan), Bridging the Red-Blue Divide: A Proposal for the U.S. Regional Tax Relief:

Most large federal countries have explicit ways to reduce the economic disparities between more and less developed regions. In Germany, for example, federal revenues are distributed by a formula that takes into account the relative level of wealth of each state (the so-called Finanzausgleich, or fiscal equalization). Similar mechanisms are found in Australia, Canada, India, and other large federal countries. The United States, on the other hand, has no such explicit redistribution. Each state is generally considered equal and sovereign and the federal government does not distribute revenues to equalize their spending capacity. While the overall impact of the federal tax and transfer system may be to shift revenues from richer to poorer states, this is not acknowledged and to the extent it is discussed in the literature it is generally condemned as unfair to the states that send more revenues to Washington than they get back in federal transfer payments. Nor is it politically likely that the US will adopt a formal fiscal equalization mechanism.

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September 20, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Vet School Can Teach Us About Law School

Cornell VetTina L. Stark, What Cornell Veterinary School Taught Me About Legal Education, 15 Transactions  533 (2014):

Law schools continue to seek courses and curricula to prepare students for entry-level positions after graduation. This article examines the innovative pedagogy that Cornell Veterinary School instituted in 1993 and suggests it as a model for law schools. At most vet schools, students follow a specified series of lecture and lab courses; for example, gross anatomy, histology, immunology, diagnostic imaging, and physiology. To the extent these courses intersect, students must figure out the interrelationships on their own.

In contrast, Cornell’s “new” curriculum relies on interdisciplinary courses to teach students the foundations of veterinary medicine. Students study organ systems, using all the scientific disciplines available. To make theory real, students start their clinical skills training immediately. If they are studying the heart, they learn how to examine it. Cornell’s pedagogy also relies heavily on its tutorial courses which meet several times a week to work through real-world cases collaboratively. Importantly, students are not spoon fed the answers. They’re expected to research what they decide they don’t know.

This article imagines a fantasy world that takes the lessons from the Cornell curriculum and applies them to law school.

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September 20, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Grewal: When IRS Guidance Backfires

Andy Grewal (Iowa), When IRS Guidance Backfires, 36 Yale J. on Reg.: Notice & Comment (Sept. 7, 2018):

This week, the IRS tried to clarify how proposed regulations on state tax credit programs apply to Section 162(a) business deductions. But its attempted clarification has created only more problems.

Under the proposed regulations, a taxpayer who makes a transfer to a Section 170(c) organization must reduce her charitable contribution deduction by the amount of any state tax credits received. See Prop. Reg. § 1.170A-1(h)(3)(i). Some businesses contacted the IRS and presumably expressed concerns that transferred amounts might not be deductible at all. That is, if Section 170 deductions were denied for creditable transfers, then Section 162 deductions might be denied too.

In IR-2018-178 (Sept. 5, 2018), the IRS cryptically announced that “taxpayers who make business-related payments to charities or government entities for which the taxpayers receive state or local tax credits can generally deduct the payments as business expenses.” See also IRS State and Local Income Tax FAQ. The IRS did not provide any further guidance on when a transfer to a state tax credit program will qualify as “business related.”

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September 20, 2018 in IRS News, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Before The J.D.: Undergraduate Views On Law School, What Pushes Undergrads to Law School? It Ain't the Money.:

A highly anticipated new survey of thousands of undergraduates and first-year law students found that the top four most cited reasons for pursuing law school are: providing a pathway to a career in politics, government or public service; having a passion and high interest in legal work; creating opportunities to give back to others; and the desire to be an advocate for social change.

The study commissioned by the Association of American Law Schools, Before the J.D.: Undergraduate Views on Law Schoolfound that access to high-paying jobs was the fifth most-cited reason undergrads are interested in law schools, with 31 percent placing it among their top three reasons for seeking a law degree.

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September 20, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Borden: Rolling Real Estate Gain Into A Qualified Opportunity Fund — Comparison With § 1031

Bradley T. Borden (Brooklyn), Rolling Real Estate Gain into a Qualified Opportunity Fund: Comparison with § 1031, 34 Tax Mgmt. Real Est. J. 155 (Sep. 5, 2018):

As part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress enacted Section 1400Z-2, which allows property owners to reinvest gain from the disposition of property in qualified opportunity funds (QOFs) tax free. This article illustrates how this new provision is different from the most popular commercial real estate disposition nonrecognition provision—Section 1031. Section 1400Z-2 is attractive because it not only defers gain recognition, it allows property owners to exclude any post-acquisition gain that accrues by holding the property for at least 10 years. Section 1031 now only applies to real property, so property owners have greater re-investment alternatives in QOFs. The article also recognizes that Section 1400Z-2 does not appear to have been fully vetted, so it comes with some mistakes and many open issues. Looking past those shortcomings, the article presents a numerical example comparing a hypothetical Section 1031 exchange into real property to a reinvestment of gain into a QOF.

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September 20, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Zelenak & Schmalbeck: The NCAA And The IRS — The Intersection Of College Sports And The Federal Income Tax

Lawrence Zelenak (Duke) & Richard Schmalbeck (Duke), The NCAA and the IRS: Life at the Intersection of College Sports and the Federal Income Tax, 91 S. Cal. L. Rev. ___ (2018):

Few organizational acronyms are more familiar to Americans than those of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Although neither organization is particularly popular, both loom large in American life and popular culture. Because there is a tax aspect to just about everything, it should come as no surprise that the domains of the NCAA and the IRS overlap in a number of ways. For many decades, the strong tendency in those areas has been for college athletics to enjoy unreasonably generous tax treatment—sometimes because of the failure of the IRS to enforce the tax laws enacted by Congress, sometimes because Congress itself has conferred dubious tax benefits on college sports. In just the past year, however, there have been signs of what may be a major attitudinal shift on the part of Congress—although so far there have been no signs of a corresponding change at the IRS. This article offers an in-depth look at the history and current status of four areas of intersection between the federal tax laws and college sports.

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September 19, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Viswanathan: Tax Compliance In A Decentralizing Economy

Manoj Viswanathan (UC-Hastings), Tax Compliance in a Decentralizing Economy, 34 Ga. St. U. L. Rev. 283 (2018):

Tax compliance in the United States has long relied on information from centralized intermediaries — the financial institutions, employers, and brokers that help ensure income is reported and taxes are paid. Yet while the IRS remains tied to these centralized entities, consumers and businesses are not. New technologies, such as the “sharing” economy (companies such as Airbnb, Uber, and Instacart) and the blockchain (the platform on which Bitcoin is based) are providing new, decentralized options for exchanging goods and services. Without legislative and agency intervention, these technologies pose a critical threat to the reporting system underlying domestic and international tax compliance.

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September 19, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cracking Student Silos: Linking Legal Writing And Clinical Learning Through Transference

Mary Bowman (Seattle) & Lisa Ellen Brodoff (Seattle), Cracking Student Silos: Linking Legal Writing and Clinical Learning Through Transference:

Why do highly competent and hard-working law students struggle to apply what they learn in legal writing to later clinical courses and law practice? The authors of this article are uniquely qualified to answer this question and to provide strategies for helping students overcome these common struggles. The authors direct the nationally renowned legal writing and clinical programs at Seattle University School of Law, where they have engaged in cutting-edge collaborative teaching projects for nearly a decade. Even so, they found that their students, when faced with the messiness of real client representation, struggled with typical research and writing problems even as the legal writing faculty exclaimed "We know we taught them that!" So the program directors extensively studied the educational literature on transference, then spent nearly two years taking each other's courses to understand more deeply how we could help our students apply what is taught in each program to future client work. This article describes what we learned from these endeavors.

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September 19, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Avi-Yonah: The International Provisions Of The TCJA: Six Results After Six Months

Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan), The International Provisions of the TCJA: Six Results after Six Months:

Over six months have passed since the enactment of the TCJA, so it is now possible to reach some preliminary conclusions on its impact. The main ones are:

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September 19, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Emory Law Prof Who Used 'N-Bomb' In Torts Class Is Barred From Teaching Required Courses For Two Years And Will Undergo Sensitivity And Bias Training

ZwierFollowing up on my previous posts:

Emory University Statement Regarding Emory Law School Community Issue:

In a September 18 letter to the Emory Law School community, Interim Dean James B. Hughes Jr. outlined the steps that will be taken to reinforce the school’s commitment to the principles of equity, inclusion and respect in light of a law school professor Paul Zwier’s use of the “n” word during a classroom lecture.

After extensive discussions with members of the Emory community, including the students and professor affected by the incident and with clergy and legal representatives in the greater Atlanta community, Dean Hughes has outlined multiple steps that the professor has agreed to take in order to help begin the healing process for the Emory Law School community. These steps include: not teaching any course, for the next two years, in which students do not have the ability to choose their professor; engaging in dialogues focused on racial sensitivity; revising teaching manuals to provide appropriate ways to cover racially sensitive materials; and participating in sensitivity and unconscious bias training.

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September 19, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Zelenak: Comments On The New SALT Proposed Regulations

Lawrence Zelenak (Duke), Comments on Proposed Regulations, "Contributions in Exchange for State or Local Tax Credits" (Reg-112176-18):

These comments offer three recommendations, of which only the first involves a change in the proposed regulations themselves. First, rather than treating state tax credits as an exception to the general rule that a charitable deduction is not reduced by benefits a donor receives from third parties, the final regulations should set forth a general rule that the amount of a charitable deduction is reduced by benefits a donor receives from any source on account of the donation.

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September 19, 2018 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Oct. 8 Murder Trial Of Suspects In Dan Markel's Murder Is Delayed, Perhaps For Five Months

Magnauba GarciaWXTL, Trial Delayed For Suspects in FSU Professor Dan Markel's Murder:

The trial for two suspects charged in the murder of FSU law professor Dan Markel won't start next month as scheduled. Sigfredo Garcia and Katherine Magbanua were in court Tuesday morning.

Magbanua's counsel filed a motion to continue the case, because one of their attorneys is dealing with a "life-threatening medical condition." In the motion, Magbanua's counsel asked to reset trial no earlier than March 2019, since the attorney is unable to travel for some time. ... They'll all be back in court November 19 to figure out a new trial date.

Tallahassee Democrat, Trial of Accused Murderers of FSU Law Professor Dan Markel Delayed

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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September 19, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

WSJ: Trump Promised A Rush Of Repatriated Cash, But Company Responses Are Modest

Wall Street Journal, Trump Promised a Rush of Repatriated Cash, But Company Responses Are Modest:

U.S. companies have moved cautiously in repatriating profits stockpiled overseas in response to last year’s tax-law rewrite, after the Trump administration’s assertions that trillions of dollars would come home quickly and supercharge the domestic economy.

The tax-law revamp ended the practice of taxing U.S. companies when they bring home foreign profits. Companies long complained that profit earned abroad was trapped and held it in foreign subsidiaries to avoid additional taxes.

The new law imposes a one-time tax on those old earnings—whether or not money is repatriated. It also removes federal taxes on subsequent repatriations and makes future foreign profits generally free from U.S. taxes.

“We expect to have in excess of $4 trillion brought back very shortly,” President Trump told executives assembled at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., in August. “Over $4 [trillion], but close to $5 trillion, will be brought back into our country. This is money that would never, ever be seen again by the workers and the people of our country.”

The Wall Street Journal reviewed securities filings from 108 publicly traded companies accounting for the vast majority of an estimated $2.7 trillion in profits parked abroad, and asked each company what it was doing with the funds. In their filings and responses, they said they have repatriated about $143 billion so far this year.

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September 19, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)