TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Sunday, September 30, 2007

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

This week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads is the same as last week's list.  The #1 paper has climbed to #48 on the all-time tax paper downloads list (out of 4,630 tax papers):

1.  [667 Downloads]  The Taxation of Private Equity Carried Interests: Estimating the Revenue Effects of Taxing Profit Interests as Ordinary Income, by Michael S. Knoll (Penn) [blogged here]

2.  [303 Downloads]  Erickson:  A Primer on FLPs, by Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)  [blogged here]

3.  [153 Downloads]  Recent Developments in Federal Income Taxation: The Year 2006, by Ira B. Shepard (Houston) & Martin J. McMahon, Jr. (Florida)  [blogged here]

4.  [138 Downloads]  Taxing Blackstone, by Victor Fleischer (Illinois)  [blogged here]

5.  [122 Downloads]  Well-Being, Inequality and Time: The Time-Slice Problem and its Policy Implications, by Matthew D. Adler (Penn)  [blogged here]

September 30, 2007 in Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mike Madison's Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky: Require Students to Have Two Years of Experience Before Enrolling

Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question:  What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine?

Madison_2Michael J. Madison (Associate Dean for Research and Associate Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh School of Law; Editor, Madisonian.net blog):

The quality of the new lawyers who graduate from law schools depends heavily on the quality of the students that law schools enroll. So, for my single best idea, I would adopt something akin to the business school model of admissions.

Make clear to prospective applicants that incoming students should have a minimum of two years’ of experience in the world before enrolling in school. Expect some meaningful exposure to the ways of a community or practice other than one based on taking tests and writing papers. Given special cases and exceptions, in practice this would amount to a presumption rather than a hard and fast rule.

Why?

  1. Too many law students today are new college graduates who couldn’t think of anything better to do. Some of those students will be discouraged from applying, meaning that law schools end up with more engaged students.
  2. Other things being equal, engaged students with a bit of worldly experience are likely to turn out to be better and more satisfied lawyers, because learning and practicing law are so bound up with knowledge of the world at large.
  3. A law school that adopts this strategy may have a comparative advantage in placing its students with employers. Law firms are reluctant to hire “older” students, but they are also frustrated by the expense of having to train new lawyers in the art of being an independent, responsible adult. A different admissions strategy may save firms some of that pain.

For all the posts in the series, see here.

September 30, 2007 in Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky, Law School | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Tax News Roundup

CTJ Publishes Weekly Tax Digest

Citizens for Tax Justice has published its weekly Tax Justice Digest with a number of interesting pieces on:

  • Bush Prepares to Veto Expansion in Children's Health Care
  • The Grain of Truth in the Treasury Report's Warning Over Social Security
  • Democratic Presidential Candidates Address Fiscal Issues in Debates
  • Senate Finance Committee Examines Tax Strategy Used by Offshore Insurers
  • Florida Court Throws Out Deceptive Ballot Language on Tax Measure
  • Just Hand Over the Shovel, Governor
  • ITEP Is Hiring

September 30, 2007 in Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NLJ: Number of Women Law Students Declines

Interesting article in this week's National Law Journal:  Fewer Women Are Seeking Law Degrees; A Rejection of the "Lawyer's Life" Seen, by Leigh Jones:

[M]ore women are forgoing a law degree. Since 2002, the percent of women in law schools has declined each year, according to the ABA. Five years ago, women made up 49% of law school enrollment. This year, 46.9% of law school students are women. And while the number of applicants overall has dropped in the last two years, the percentage decline in the number of women has been greater. Although observers say a variety of factors contribute to the dip, the prevailing message is that fewer women want a lawyer's life.

Cathy Fleming, a partner at Nixon Peabody and past-president of the National Association for Women Lawyers, points to a combination of factors contributing to the decrease. A perception among young women that they have a wider array of career opportunities is one reason, but a change in work ethic is also at play, she said. And law firms, with their reputations for punishing work hours, have may have a tougher sell to college graduates. "They've grown up with parents that work these crazy hours. They don't want to do it," she said.

September 30, 2007 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

This week's Tax Prof Spotlight continues a series of profiles of folks starting their careers this fall as law school tax professors. I hope the profiles will help introduce our newest colleagues to the tax community.

Spotlight_1_1David Gamage (UC-Berkeley)

        • B.A. 1998, Stanford
        • M.A. 2000, Stanford
        • J.D. 2005, Yale

          

   

GamageTwo years ago, Paul asked me to submit a Tax Prof Profile just as I was beginning a fellowship teaching tax courses at the University of Texas at Austin. Now that I have completed that fellowship and have joined the University of California at Berkeley (Boalt Hall) as a tenure-track professor, my old profile strikes me as something written by a much younger, adolescent-like, version of myself.

If there is any truth to my self-perception of having grown significantly as a scholar, the credit lies primarily with the kindness and mentoring I received while at the University of Texas. I owe a profound debt to the Texas faculty – and in particular to Bob Peroni, without whom I might not have survived the job market.

Continue reading

September 29, 2007 in Tax Prof Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sam Kamin's Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky: Offer 2L Real-World Experiences, 3L Capstone Courses

Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question:  What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine?

KaminSam Kamin (Associate Professor of Law, University of Denver, Sturm College of Law; Editor, MoneyLaw blog):

UCI’s law school will start with a number of natural advantages: location, resources, and the University of California brand to name only a few. These advantages will virtually guarantee that the school succeeds and begins to climb up the US News Rankings. Thus, my advice focuses not on survival, but on how UCI can help its graduates to stand out and excel in an over-crowded market for law graduates.

I would encourage Dean Chemerinsky to send his students out into the world in their second year. Require them to do a full-time internship, to work in the clinic, or to volunteer their time for an under-served group. This will both give the students insight into what lawyers actually do and create goodwill for the school in the legal community that will ultimately hire your graduates. Use the third year to build on what the students have learned in the real world: Capstone courses emphasizing ethics, skills and critical reasoning will be particularly meaningful to students who have already seen how the law is practiced.

Finally: Assess. It’s rare in law school teaching to step back from what we do and ask whether it’s working or not. Talk to those who hire your graduates; find out what they need and whether they’re getting it. Talk to your graduates; find out if they feel they were adequately prepared for what their jobs ask of them. Don’t be afraid to change what happens in law school based on what you learn.

For all the posts in the series, see here.

September 29, 2007 in Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky, Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tax Profs at ABA Tax Section Fall Meeting in Vancouver

Tax Profs with speaking roles at the ABA Tax Section and Section of Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Joint Fall Meeting in Vancouver

  • Affiliated and Related Corporations
    • A History of the Consolidated Return Regulations
      • Don Leatherman (Tennessee) (moderator)
      • Kevin Hennessey (Miami)
  • Closely Held Businesses (Tax) and Business Planning Group (TE)
    • Conflicts and Ethical Issues in Planning With Family Business and Investment Entities
      • Scott A. Schumacher (Washington)
  • Diversity
    • Untying the Knot - Until Death and Taxes Do Us Part
      • Theodore Seto (Loyola-L.A.)
  • Elder Law, Disability Planning and Bioethics (Chair: Linda S. Whitton (Valparaiso))
    • Power of Attorney Hot Topics—American and Canadian Perspectives
      • Karen E. Boxx (Washington) (moderator)
      • Margaret Isabel Hall (University of British Columbia)
      • Linda S. Whitton (Valparaiso)
  • Elder Law and the Tax Practitioner
    • How to Navigate the Murky Waters
      • Roberta F. Mann (Widener)
  • Energy and Environmental Taxes
    • Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt – The Tax Treatment of Coal
      • Roberta F. Mann (Widener)
      • David G. Duff (University of Toronto)
  • Exempt Organizations Subcommittee on Political & Lobbying Organizations and Activities (Co-Chair: Miriam Galston (George Washington))
  • Individual and Family Taxation (Chair: Bryan T. Camp (Texas Tech))
    • The Awkward Adolescence of the Uniform Definition of Dependants in Section 152
      • Bryan T. Camp (Texas Tech) (moderator)
    • Use and Abuse of the Charitable Donation Deduction
      • Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz (LSU) (moderator)
  • Low Income Taxpayers
    • Representing Undocumented Workers
      • Francine Lipman (Chapman) (moderator)
  • Practice Management Group (Chair: James Geoffrey Durham (Dayton))
    • Update on Issues in Multijurisdictional Practice
      • James Geoffrey Durham (Dayton)
  • Pro Bono
    • Effective Screening of Pro Bono Clients
      • Toni Robinson (Quinnipiac)
  • Real Estate
    • Carried Interests in Real Estate Transactions
      • Howard E. Abrams (Emory) (moderator)
  • Sales, Exchanges and Basis
    • Sales and Exchanges: Current Developments
      • Erik Jensen (Case Western) (moderator)
      • Brad Borden (Washburn)
    • Tax Consequences of Foreclosures and Distressed Property Transfers
      • Brad Borden (Washburn)
  • Standards of Tax Practice (Chair: Mona L. Hymel (Arizona))
    • Ethical Issues in Connection with the Patenting of Tax Planning Strategies (Part II)
      • Michael B. Lang (Chapman) (moderator)
      • Linda M. Beale (Wayne State)
  • Teaching Taxation (Chair: Leandra Lederman (Indiana))
    • The US and Canadian Perspectives on Tax Avoidance
      • Martin J. McMahon, Jr. (Florida) (moderator)
      • Alex Raskolnikov (Columbia)

September 29, 2007 in ABA Tax Section | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Levin Introduces the Ending Corporate Tax Favors for Stock Options Act

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) yesterday introduced The Ending Corporate Tax Favors for Stock Options Act (S. 2116).  For a detailed analysis, see Dan Shaviro's blog.  Press coverage:

Update:

September 29, 2007 in Congressional News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Tax Panels at Today's CLEA Meeting

Tax panels at today's Canadian Law & Economics Annual Meeting in Toronto:

Federalism, Enforcement, & Regulation

  • Chair: Gil Lan
  • Papers:
    • Robert A. Mikos (UC-Davis), State Law Enforcement, Federal Criminal Law, and the “Free Agent” Problem
    • Sagit Leviner (IRS Office of Chief Counsel, National Headquarters Office of Research ), New Era of Tax Enforcement: From "Big Stick" to Responsive Regulation
    • Brian Galle (Florida State) & Joseph Leahy (Florida State), Innovation Spillovers and the Case for Federalism

Tax Law

  • Chair: Ben Alarie (Toronto)
  • Papers:

September 28, 2007 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bank Presents War and Taxes: Is There an American Tradition of Wartime Fiscal Sacrifice? Today at Ohio State

Steven A. Bank (UCLA) presents War and Taxes: Is There an American Tradition of Wartime Fiscal Sacrifice? at Ohio State today as part of its Ohio Legal History Seminar Series.  Here is the abstract:

Over the past six years, the country has been engaged in expensive and deadly military operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq. During the same period, the Bush Administration has requested and Congress has approved a series of major tax cuts. This contrast – between an active war effort on the one hand and substantial tax cuts on the other – has no precedent in American history. Beginning with the War of 1812, every significant military conflict in our nation’s history has been supported by a range of new and higher taxes.

Continue reading

September 28, 2007 in Colloquia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Publication Study of Faculty at Tier 3 & Tier 4 Law Schools

I previously blogged beta version of a publication study of the faculties at the Tier 3 and Tier 4 law schools (as well as the New England law schools) prepared by Michael J. Yelnosky (Roger Williams).  Michael has now updated the study, which uses methodology developed by Brian Leiter, with one change:  although Brian focused exclusively on The Top 20 journals, this study examines the Top 50 journals, defined as the general law reviews published by the 54 schools receiving the highest peer assessment scores in the U.S. News Rankings (2.8 or higher), plus an additional 14 journals that appear in the top 50 of the Washington & Lee Law Journal Combined Rankings. (See here for an alphabetical listing of those journals).

Faculty names were searched in the Westlaw JLR database between January 1, 1993 and August 17, 2007.  For each qualifying article, points were assigned in accordance with Brian's methodology:

  • 0 points for articles under 6 pages
  • 1 point for articles 6-20 pages
  • 2 points for articles 21-50 pages
  • 3 points for articles exceeding 50 pages

For articles appearing in a journal published by the faculty member’s home institution, the points assigned were reduced by one-half. The total number of points for all members of a faculty was divided by the number of faculty, yielding the institution’s per capita score.

The leading New England law schools are:

  1. Yale:  17.52
  2. Harvard:  13.59
  3. Boston University:  8.79
  4. Boston College:  5.09
  5. Roger Williams:  4.84

The Top 10 Tier 3 and Tier 4 law schools are:

  1. Hofstra:  7.16
  2. Roger Williams:  4.84
  3. Michigan State:  4.30
  4. New York Law School:  4.17
  5. Wayne State:  4.14
  6. Capital:  3.71
  7. Mississippi:  3.52
  8. Wisener:  3.35
  9. Chapman:  3.34
  10. Willamette:  3.20

The leading tax professors at New England Law Schools are:

  1. Louis Kaplow (Harvard):  19
  2. Michael Graetz (Yale);  11.5
  3. Anne Alstott (Yale):  9.5
  4. David Walker (BU):  8.5
  5. Ray Madoff (BC):  5.0

The Top 17 Tax Profs at Tier 3 and Tier 4 law schools are:

  • 1, Francine Lipman (Chapman):  9
  • 1. Jeffrey Maine (Maine):  9
  • 1. Kevin Yamamoto (South Texas):  9
  • 4. Bryan Camp (Texas Tech):  7
  • 5. Bill Drennan (S. Illinois):  6
  • 5. Rich Lavoie (Akron):  6
  • 5. John Miller (Idaho):  6
  • 8. Roberta Mann (Widener):  5
  • 8. Martin Begleiter (Drake):  5
  • 10. Linda Galler (Hofstra):  4
  • 11. Linda Beale (Wayne State):  3
  • 11. Fred Brown (Baltimore):  3
  • 11. Danshera Cords (Capital):  3
  • 11. Mitchell Gans (Hofstra):  3
  • 11. Myron Grauer (Capital):  3
  • 11. Anthony Polito (Suffolk):  3
  • 11. Dan Schneider (N. Illinois): 3

Please contact me if there are any tax errors.

September 28, 2007 in Law School, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

JEC Republicans: Tax Distribution Tables Can Be Misleading

Jim Saxton, Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee, has released Tax Distribution Tables Can Be Misleading (Research Report #110-12) (9/27/07):

Tax distribution tables are promoted by much of the media and often have a negative impact on tax policy. However, these distribution tables typically hide important information and distort the impact of tax relief legislation for most taxpayers.

September 28, 2007 in Congressional News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AMT TPs To Get SCHIP Benefits

Today's Wall Street Journal points out an anomaly in the Democrats' proposed expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program (Schip for Everyone):

[T]he real Democratic game here is to turn Schip into a new middle-class entitlement. Earlier this year, Hillary Clinton -- who goes out of her way to emphasize Schip as a key mechanism in her new "universal" health-care reform -- introduced Congressional legislation that would raise Schip eligibility to 400%, currently $82,600 for a family of four. That move would qualify no less than 71% of American children for public assistance.

This would also lead to the bizarre circumstance in which a family would be entitled to Schip benefits while also paying the Alternative Minimum Tax that is supposed to capture "the rich." According to a Heritage Foundation analysis, if Schip is extended nationally to 400%, about 70,000 families would be rich enough to pay the AMT while also on Schip. So what Democrats take away with higher taxes under the AMT, they would vouchsafe to return in government health care for all. The era of big government is back, and bigger than ever.

September 28, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dodge on The Netting of Costs Against Income Receipts

Joseph M. Dodge (Florida State) has posted The Netting of Costs Against Income Receipts (Including Damage Recoveries) Produced By Such Costs, Without Barring Congress from Disallowing Such Costs, 27 Va. Tax Rev. ___ (2006).  Here is the abstract:

The principal thesis is that, under the federal income tax, costs of obtaining specific sums of money should be capitalized (as opposed to being treated as expenses), just as costs of obtaining property should be so capitalized. Since this article deals with costs of obtaining or receiving specific "cash amounts," it propounds what can be referred to as a netting or offset rule, principle, or thesis. The netting thesis is a straightforward application of the capitalization principle that would operate (notwithstanding perceived current tax accounting conventions) without regard to the arbitrary confines of the taxable year.

The netting thesis is opposed by the IRS, most conspicuously in the case of legal fees incurred by successful litigation plaintiffs (typically under contingency-fee arrangements) in obtaining non-excludible damages and settlement awards. The Service claims that such litigation costs are deductible under § 212(1) as expenses for the production or collection of income, but it turns out that such expenses are strongly disfavored as miscellaneous itemized deductions. The 2005 case of Commissioner v. Banks, which rejected an assignment-of-income theory for excluding from a plaintiff's income amounts paid to attorneys, declined to entertain the netting thesis on the ground that the issue wasn't ripe. Plaintiffs in certain situations have obtained tax relief under § 62(a)(20), enacted in late 2004.

This article argues that the netting thesis should be adopted by the courts and/or Treasury. After laying out the deep theory of capitalization, various doctrinal strands (pro and con) are examined. It is concluded that adoption of the netting thesis can be done within existing doctrine and without rendering § 212(1) without relevance. It is also argued that there is no difference in "constitutional" status between basis recovery and expenses, with the consequence that Congress has the power to disallow them equally.

September 28, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

IRS Defines Death for Tax Purposes as "Separation from Life"

The IRS has released Notice 2007-90, which defines "death" for tax purposes:

[T]the Treasury will consider a service provider to be dead if the service provider’s death meets the criteria necessary for a separation from life. ... A service provider separates from life with the service recipient if the service provider has a termination of all mental and bodily functions. However, the service provider’s life is treated as continuing intact while the individual is temporarily unconscious, having an out of body experience, cryogenically frozen or experiencing another bona fide leave of absence from the individual’s conscious state, if the period of such leave does not exceed ten minutes, or if longer, so long as the individual retains a right to regain life and/or reanimation under an applicable contract (with the devil or otherwise) or other arrangement.

Continue reading

September 28, 2007 in Celebrity Tax Lore, IRS News | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1)

Nancy Rapoport's Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky: Law as One Tool to Analyze a Client's Problems

Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question:  What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine?

RapoportNancy B. Rapoport (Gordon & Silver, Ltd. Professor of Law, William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Las Vegas; former Dean, University of Houston Law Center and University of Nebraska College of Law; Editor, Nancy Rapoport's Blogspot and MoneyLaw blogs):

Erwin has a unique opportunity to have a powerhouse school filled with scholars who will be excited about starting up new traditions. My hope is that the overall ethos at the school will recognize that law is a tool for analyzing problems, but it is by no means the only tool. Sometimes, it's not even a necessary tool. (Sacrilege!)

Too often, law students get the impression that knowing "the law" -- even knowing the legal theory underlying the law -- is sufficient to provide clients with meaningful answers to their problems. Instead of being able to say, "After reviewing your situation, I think that you should do X," law school graduates are saying, "Well, these cases say Y."  That's not a sufficient answer to most complex problems.

Law is often part of the answer, but it's rarely a complete answer to a client's problems. Those problems are affected by other, sometimes competing, factors: the client's business needs, as well as any psychological and social pressures that the client is facing. I believe that students, in their final year of law school, should know some basics: economics, accounting, psychology, and sociology (especially group dynamics). And no law student should graduate if he or she can't write well. Period.

The faculty of Erwin's new school will, I hope, be true MoneyLaw hires:  hired more for what they've proven that they can do than for what their credentials predict that they will do. If some of them have an interdisciplinary bent, so much the better.

For all the posts in the series, see here.

September 28, 2007 in Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky, Law School | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Ilya Somin's Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky: Embrace Ideological Diversity

Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question:  What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine?

Somin_2Ilya Somin (Assistant Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law; Editor, The Volokh Conspiracy blog):

Your well-deserved appointment as Dean of UC Irvine Law School was the result of your impressive qualifications. But the decision to rescind that appointment for fear of offending conservatives who dislike your liberal political views was only reversed after a massive outcry against ideological discrimination from scholars across the political spectrum.

Unfortunately, the problem of ideological discrimination in faculty hiring is not limited to your case. At the top 20 law schools, faculty contributing to Democratic political candidates outnumber those contributing to Republicans by almost 6 to 1 (81% of contributors to 15%). By no means is this imbalance due solely to discrimination; far from it. However, studies show that discrimination against non-liberals probably does account for a significant part of the ideological imbalance on arts and science faculties. Law schools are unlikely to be much different, a conjecture supported by a good deal of anecdotal evidence (see e.g. here).

Social science research suggests that most people dislike questioning of their political views and often prefer to be surrounded by those who agree with them. Moreover, as Cass Sunstein has shown, groups of like-minded people tend to grow more extreme in their views over time and less tolerant of dissent. It is no surprise if these tendencies are sometimes exhibited by law faculties, as well as other ideologically lopsided groups. In the academic world, ideological discrimination in hiring usually takes the form of discrimination against conservatives and libertarians. That is not because liberals are uniquely intolerant, but because the preponderance of liberals in academia ensures that they have greater ability and temptation to discriminate. Conservatives and libertarians would probably behave the same way were the situations reversed.

You can help change this situation. By committing to a strong policy of ideological nondiscrimination in faculty hiring, you and UC Irvine can help set a good example for other schools. At the same time, you can also improve the reputation of UCI by hiring top scholars who may have been overlooked by your competitors because of their ideologies. Even if you end up with a higher percentage of conservatives or libertarians than is typical in academia, your own sterling liberal credentials will prevent any perception of favoritism towards the right. The opportunity to do well by doing good is there for your taking.

For all the posts in the series, see here.

September 28, 2007 in Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky, Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Buchanan Critiques SSRN Rankings

Tax Prof Neil Buchanan (George Washington) critiques the use of SSRN downloads in ranking law professors (e.g., here) and law faculties (e.g., here and here):

[T]he use of these download data in rankings gives people an incentive to do the opposite of what SSRN was designed to do in the first place: encourage people to look at each others' work and to engage with it ...

I'll add here that there is an additional difference between download counts and citation counts. While citation counts are also problematic, they cannot really be stopped. That is, there is nothing to stop any motivated party from going out and counting citations. All you have to have is the time and technology, and you can count the citations of any given paper in any set of publications you like. SSRN download counts, by contrast, are not (so far as I know) inherently public data. If the management of SSRN decided that the information that the download data provide is less valuable than the distortions that they cause, they could simply choose not to provide this information anymore. If I'm right that they have this option, I wish that they would exercise it. In my mind, the cost/benefit analysis clearly disfavors publishing these numbers -- especially because they undermine what I take to be SSRN's core purpose.

That said, I also wanted to add a criticism that was suggested to me by my new [tax] colleague at GW, Sarah Lawsky. ... Sarah suggests, without taking a position on whether it is actually a useful exercise to count downloads, that downloads need to be adjusted for the equivalent of inflation. ... [T]those who do think that downloads are a good measure of something would make a more compelling argument if they could identify what they think they're measuring and then devise an appropriate price deflator.

In our article, Ranking Law Schools: Using SSRN to Measure Scholarly Performance, 81 Ind. L.J. 83 (2006), Bernie Black (Texas) and I concede that the SSRN download rankings are imperfect measures of faculty scholarly performance but argue that they complement the other existing imperfect ranking methodologies of reputation surveys, productivity counts, and citation counts.  In particular, the differing biases of SSRN download and citation counts can produce a more accurate picture when viewed together than either does when viewed in isolation.  Bill Henderson (Indiana) goes further and argues that SSRN provide a "superior measure of faculty productivity" than the other ranking methodologies.

September 28, 2007 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Westin on Energy and Environmental Tax Changes in Recent Tax Legislation

Richard A. Westin (Kentucky) has published Energy and Environmental Tax Changes in the Flood of Recent Federal Revenue Laws and What They Imply, 15 Penn St. Envtl. L. Rev. 171 (2007). Here is the part of the Introduction:

As of this writing oil prices are well above $50 per barrel, global warming has become an increasing subject of discussion and the politics of the Middle East are disturbingly unstable. Due to the United States' dependence on Middle Eastern oil an oil cutoff could deeply imperil the US economy. The past two years have witnessed significant federal tax legislation, a good part of which is directed towards energy independence and the environment, without mentioning the dreaded words “global warming.” ...  At the heart of the legislation lie several themes: (1) the need for independence from foreign oil and gas sources; (2) a desire for more domestic production to meet the growing demand for oil and gas, and; (3) an interest in reducing pollution from hydrocarbon usage.

This article is an effort to size up the new legislation in light of these imperatives, and to try to determine what general direction Congress is moving in. ...The article is broken into major headings with a brief summary of each new law followed by a technical discussion, a statement of the estimated revenue gains or losses followed by a brief commentary. The technical discussion assumes a fairly advanced understanding of federal income taxation, but adds little to the policy implications of each of the changes in the tax law. ...

September 28, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bird & Zolt Present The Dual Income Tax: A Possible Approach for Developing Countries Today at Toronto

Zelenak Presents Tax Policy and Personal identity Over Time Today at Columbia

Lawrence Zelenak (Duke) presents Tax Policy and Personal identity Over Time at Columbia today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series.  Here is the part of the introduction:

It is also somewhat surprising that the policy literature has devoted much less attention to the time-based aspect of the question of the proper unit for tax distributional analysis than it has devoted to the person-based aspect of the same question. There are, after all, two dimensions to consider in choosing units for purposes of tax (and transfer) distributional analysis – across time (i.e., the choice between using whole-life persons, or person segments of one year or some shorter or longer period), and across persons (i.e., the choice among using individuals, married couples, nuclear families, or perhaps even more extensive family groups). As it happens, the current income tax generally takes a rather expansive approach to defining the taxable unit across persons, by strongly encouraging married couples to file joint returns, and by taxing most unearned income of minor children at their parents’ marginal tax rates (pursuant to the so-called “kiddie tax). The policy literature on the merits and demerits of aggregating marital or family income is voluminous. By contrast, the literature on the appropriate time segment for distributing tax burdens is quite thin. In addition to Vickrey’s expositions of his lifetime averaging proposal, there have been a few recent articles evaluating his proposal from various perspectives. There are also two significant older articles, not focused on Vickrey’s proposal, but considering the merits of income averaging in more general terms. Finally there are two articles proposing replacing the single year tax accounting period with a two year period–for all taxpayers in the case of one article, and for low-income wage earners with fluctuating incomes in the case of the other article. There is not much more. In particular, there is no sustained discussion in the tax policy literature of whether the continuity of personal identity over time is sufficient to justify the usual assumption that entire lifetimes are the ideal units for purposes of tax distributional analysis. This article attempts to fill that gap.

September 27, 2007 in Colloquia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hines Presents Which Countries Become Tax Havens? Today at Northwestern

James R. Hines, Jr. (Michigan) presents Which Countries Become Tax Havens? (with Dhammika Dharmapala (UConn, Department of Economics)) at Northwestern today as part of its Searle Law and Economics Colloquium Series. Here is the abstract:

This paper analyzes the factors influencing whether countries become tax havens. Roughly 15 percent of countries are tax havens; as has been widely observed, these countries tend to be small and affluent. This paper documents another robust empirical regularity: better-governed countries are much more likely than others to become tax havens. Using a variety of empirical approaches, and controlling for other relevant factors, governance quality has a statistically significant and quantitatively large impact on the probability of being a tax haven. For a typical country with a population under one million, the likelihood of a becoming a tax haven rises from 24 percent to 63 percent as governance quality improves from the level of Brazil to that of Portugal. The effect of governance on tax haven status persists when the origin of a country’s legal system is used as an instrument for its quality of its governance. Low tax rates offer much more powerful inducements to foreign investment in well-governed countries than elsewhere, which may explain why poorly governed countries do not generally attempt to become tax havens – and suggests that the range of sensible tax policy options is constrained by the quality of governance.

September 27, 2007 in Colloquia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Writing Competition for Tax Students

The IFA USA Branch Writing Competition is now accepting submissions for its annual contest.  The competition is open to all students pursuing a U.S. graduate degree with a tax focus during the 2007-08 academic year. Submissions may be on any topic relating to United States taxation of income from international activities, including taxation under U.S. tax treaties. Submissions should be sent to Allison Christians (Wisconsin) and Skip Patton (Boston University).

September 27, 2007 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Brody on The Conundrum of Charitable-Donor Standing

Evelyn Brody (Chicago-Kent) has published From the Dead Hand to the Living Dead: The Conundrum of Charitable-Donor Standing, 41 Ga. L. Rev. 1183 (2007).  Here is part of the Conclusion:

The courts' increased and continued confusion over what law to apply to private enforcement of charitable gifts suggests that the existing legal classifications are not working. Charitable trust law does not by its terms apply to restricted gifts not made in trust. To allow the donor to obtain enforcement rights by agreement-and to spell out what could be quite detailed and long-lived powers for the donor and others-fails to take into account the public policy limits on private ordering that should apply to charitable assets. A better solution might be to acknowledge the unique character of these “giftracts” and to craft a tailored legal regime for them. Such a regime would address not only standing but also consider imposing such conditions as notification of the attorney general, time limits on private (but not attorney general) enforcement, and a circumscription of appropriate remedies in order to protect the charity. I have undertaken such a project as part of the larger topic of enforcement (both public and private) of charitable duties in my work as Reporter for the American Law Institute's Principles of the Law of Nonprofit Organizations. Several of the issues, however, will likely require a legislative solution.

September 27, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Yale on Was Heinz's Two-Step Redemption a Sham?

Ethan Yale (Georgetown) has posted Was Heinz's Two-Step Redemption a Sham? on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Heinz's wholly owned subsidiary purchased on the market over $131 million worth of Heinz's common shares. A few months later, the subsidiary sold 95% of the Heinz shares to Heinz, and sold the 5% balance to an unrelated third party. Heinz claimed a $124 million tax loss from this series of transactions, even though it suffered no corresponding economic loss. The Court of Federal Claims held that the series of transactions was a sham and, in the alternative, should be recharacterized under the step-transaction doctrine. This Article critiques the parties' arguments and the court's analysis. The two key take-aways are (1) that Heinz's transaction did not yield the tax benefit claimed for technical reasons that the government (inexplicably) didn't raise at trial and (2) that it is ambiguous whether the Court of Federal Claims properly applied the judge-made substance-over-form principles it relied on in its judgment, so reversal is a real possibility (unless the Federal Circuit agrees to take notice of the transaction's technical defect for the first time on appeal).

September 27, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Professor's Last Lecture

Check out the incredibly moving last lecture of Randy Pausch, a 46-year old computer scienct professor at Carnegie Mellon University and father of three pre-school children who is dying of pancreatic cancer (the lecture begins after 8 minutes of introductions):

Check out this Good Morning, America video, as well as articles in the Wall Street Journal (here and here).

September 27, 2007 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Response to Bartlett's Criticism of the FairTax

I previosuly blogged Bruce Bartlett's criticism of the FairTax in the Wall Street Journal (FairTax, Flawed Tax ) and The New Republic (Fred Thompson Channels L. Ron Hubbard: Dianetics, the Tax Plan).  For a contrary view, see:

September 27, 2007 in News | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

David Bernstein's Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky: Make Law School an Undergraduate Program

Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question:  What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine? 

BernsteinDavid E. Berntein (Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law; Editor, The Volokh Conspiracy blog):

Make the law school an undergraduate program. California is a huge legal market, and students can take the bar without going to an ABA-approved school. Law is an undergraduate subject in other common-law countries, and, absent ABA intervention, there is no reason why it should not be at least offered to undergraduates here. A four instead of seven year route to a law degree will save future lawyers huge amounts of money, and even more in opportunity costs. This will especially benefit potential lawyers from less privileged backgrounds, to whom huge debts and many years in school may seem too daunting.

For all the posts in the series, see here.

September 27, 2007 in Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky, Law School | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Jeff Lipshaw's Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky: Structure the Curriculum Around the Profession's Needs

Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question:  What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine?

Lipshaw_3Jeffrey Lipshaw (Associate Professor of Law, Suffolk University Law School; Editor, Legal Profession Blog):

I need to start with a disclaimer. I’m a former corporate executive and business leader. What I am going to say sounds a lot like “let’s listen to our customers,” but many academicians are going to choke on the idea that students or the profession are customers. Well, I choke it on too. In the corporation, the “customer” idea got so much traction that pretty soon we were talking not just about “external customers” but about “internal customers” (i.e. the business units to the law department, or IT, or human resources). And I contended that the phrase “internal customer” caught some of the spirit we wanted, but it caught too much.

You’ll do anything to make a customer happy. But your job as a lawyer (or an IT or human resources professional) is not to make the business happy; it’s to fulfill your professional responsibility with every reasonable and creative accommodation to the business goals. Your job is neither to be a “no” nor a “rubber stamp.” What you want to do is not “listen to your customer” but “listen to your teammates.” That’s a process of mutual accommodation.

So the best single idea for reform is to ask senior people on the practice side what they would have in the curriculum, and listen carefully to the answers. The goal is not for law professors simply to satisfy customers, but to be open to accommodation to the wisdom of our professional colleagues. And if it means soul-searching about what really is a matter of pedagogical principle, so be it.

For all the posts in the series, see here.

September 27, 2007 in Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky, Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lawsky on Compensating Audited Taxpayers

Sarah B. Lawsky (George Washington) has posted Fairly Random: On Compensating Audited Taxpayers on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Some academics and politicians have proposed that taxpayers should be reimbursed for costs of randomly imposed tax audits, because, they argue, randomly imposing audit costs is unfair. But none of those proposing audit compensation has explained why randomly imposed audit costs are unfair, or why, if these randomly imposed costs are unfair, this unfairness necessarily means that taxpayers should be compensated. These are important questions, because explicit randomness is an essential tool for tax enforcement, and for other areas of law, but its use may be limited if randomness is equated with unfairness.

The Article argues that it is fair not to compensate randomly audited taxpayers for their audit costs, because the available of insurance against random audit costs cures fairness concerns under luck egalitarianism. Fairness may nonetheless matter for a less obvious reason: notwithstanding philosophical arguments to the contrary, individuals may perceive random audits as unfair. Empirical work has shown that individuals have a taste for fairness in tax law, and that the perception that tax law is unfair may reduce tax compliance. Therefore, perceived unfairness should be of concern to welfarists, among others.

Based on a comparison of random audits with other burdens randomly imposed by the government, the Article concludes that perceived unfairness may warrant nominal compensation for random audit costs. The costs of the perceived unfairness of random audits, as opposed to other types of randomly imposed burdens, may be particularly high because of general ignorance about, and negative perceptions of, our tax system. Compensation for random audit costs is therefore warranted not because it is actually unfair to impose audit costs randomly, but rather because such compensation may help to overcome perceptions of unfairness and thus to increase overall tax compliance.

September 27, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Repetti's Democracy and Opportunity: A New Paradigm in Tax Equity: A "Seminal" Article

I previously blogged Jim Repetti's new paper, Democracy and Opportunity: A New Paradigm in Tax Equity, 61 Vand. L. Rev. ___ (2007).  Richard Murphy praises the article on Tax Research UK:

This is a fascinating read, well argued and quite simply moves the debate on tax justice forward considerably. I’d call it seminal. ...

I think it’s true that to be great any work of art, film, play, music or article should make you view the world differently after you’ve experienced it. This article does that.

September 27, 2007 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Knoll Presents Taxes and Competitiveness Today at Connecticut

Michael Knoll (Penn) presents Taxes and Competitiveness at Connecticut today as part of its Faculty Workshop Series.  Here is the abstract:

Around the world, the tax laws are shaped by concerns with competitiveness. This paper provides a general theory of how taxes impact competitiveness. As part of that theory, this paper also introduces the concept of tax-based competitiveness neutrality. A tax system is competitively neutral when taxes do not cause competitors to change their relative valuations of any investments. This paper then uses that theory to evaluate tax policy in two high profile and important areas.

Continue reading

September 26, 2007 in Colloquia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Russell Osgood's Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky: Focus on 3-4 New Ideas

Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question:  What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine?

Osgood_2Russell K. Osgood (President, Grinnell College; former Dean (and Tax Prof), Cornell Law School):

Reform doesn’t usually flow from the discovery of a single big new idea. Rather, reform and improvement usually occurs when a new idea is tested alongside existing strategies and the results are compared. So, I would encourage Erwin to find three or four new ideas and invest in the people/technologies/infrastructure needed to test them out. Further, I would encourage him to find individuals willing to test the results of their undertakings. A lot of people claim something is better based upon assertion or hope. If something is really going to improve legal education, it should be able to produce measurable outcomes using sophisticated evaluative mechanisms over a multi-year period. Finally, I would find some convincing people with the new ideas before I would invest much in the infrastructure or technology or other collateral costs of projected reforms.

September 26, 2007 in Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky, Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ben Barton's Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky: Adopt the Business School Case Method

Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question:  What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine:

Barton_2Benjamin H. Barton (Director of Clinical Programs and Associate Professor of Law, University of Tennessee College of Law; Author, Is There a Correlation between Scholarly Productivity, Scholarly Influence and Teaching Effectiveness in American Law Schools? An Empirical Study):

I’m currently writing an essay for a Tennessee Law Review Symposium advocating that law schools adopt the business school case method. Business school cases are generally real life problems. They ask the students to read the files and then perform actual management tasks. The students also generally work in teams and are graded on their actual work throughout the semester. The students thus spend their time learning how to actually manage, instead of only learning dry management theory.

There are several advantages to the business school case method. The business school case method is much more focused on the actual process of being a business manager. By comparison, the law school case method focuses on the work of judges, not lawyers.

The team aspect of business schools is also preferable to traditional law school classes. Some lawyers practice solo, but a majority work in groups, and working on a team is a necessary (and largely untaught) legal skill. Business schools also give students more regular feedback on their work, because each project/case is graded along the way.

Business school grading is also much more rational than law school grading (and better approximates the experiences of MBA students when they graduate). This is because MBA students are graded on the strength of their actual work, not a single exam at the end of the semester. In sum, trading case methods with MBA programs might vastly improve the first year, and legal education as a whole.

September 26, 2007 in Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky, Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More on the Gender Divide in Law School Faculty Hiring

There was a spirited follow up on the TaxProf Discussion Group today surrounding this morning's post by Ann Bartow suggesting that Erwin Chemerinsky make "at least half your founding faculty female": 

One post asked:

Wouldn't this be an illegal quota? Is the advice to Chemerinsky that he should start his deanship by illegally discriminating against men to further a political agenda?

I don't mean to demean gender equity, which is surely important. The law profession has a bad history of discrimination against women and other minority groups. Some remnants of that system remain. Law faculties don't reflect approximate gender equality because of the older ranks, which were almost all men. But does anyone think that law faculty hiring decisions today discriminate against women, or that younger faculties are not approximately gender neutral? If you continue affirmative action for women to achieve parity, men will be under-represented when the older folks retire. I understand that this is already a serious problem in college admissions. All of this continues to demonstrate how hard it is for any group to give up the benefits of favoritism. At some point, the argument is not about gender equality, but is about creating a new form of gender inequality.

Sarah Lawsky (George Washington) responded with some data:

Data are available on these questions (and many more) at the AALS website for those who are interested. 

For example, based on some quick number-crunching (corrections welcome!):

57% of entry level hires (not counting lecturers, instructors, visiting professors) in 2005-06 were men.

56% of assistant and associate professors in 2005-06 were men.

Details:

Entry Level Hires (preliminary report for 2005-06 hiring of new faculty):

Professors: 4/7 men.  57%.
Associate professors: 36/61 men.  59%.
Assistant professors: 64/113 men.  57%.
Total:  104/181 men.  57%.

Including lecturers, instructors, and visiting professors: 128/245 men.  52%.

Junior Faculty:

Percent of men in the 2005-06 faculty directory overall (not counting visitors, lecturers, etc.):  69%, or 64% (counting visitors, lecturers, emeriti, etc).

Deans: 82% men.
Associate Deans (w/prof title): 64% men.
Assistant Deans (w/prof title): 31% men.
Professors: 75% men.
Associate Professors: 57% men.
Assistant Professors: 55% men.

Another post responded:

These numbers don’t tell me anything unless I know the composition of the hiring pool.

Sarah replied:

Depends on what your question is. If the question is whether there is discrimination in hiring, then I agree. If the question is whether there are equal numbers of male and female faculty being hired at the entry level, then I don't agree. I'm not sure what the question was--just trying to add some data to the discussion.

Richard Schmalbeck (Duke) responded:

I thought that to put Sarah's data (e.g., that 104/181, or 57%, of entry-level law faculty hires last year were men) in context, it would be useful to have some better idea than I had of what we would expect that proportion to be. The best way to study this, I think, would be to look at the graduating classes these new hires came from (i.e., both the class year and the school), and take a weighted average of the proportion of male and female graduates of those classes. I don't have the data to do that, but a quick approximation can be had simply by looking at the current enrollment (published in the ABA Guide to Law Schools) of the sixteen schools that received a "peer assessment" score of 4.0 or better in the most recent US News survey of deans, etc. These schools contribute a significantly disproportionate share of the people who enter law teaching, at schools of all levels. The numbers in the current guide show that 8871 of the 16,363 JD students at these sixteen schools were men, which is 54.2% of the total. (The proportion of men at the six schools that I think have traditionally contributed the largest numbers of law teachers (Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Chicago, Michigan, and Columbia) was slightly higher, at 55.1%.) There is still a lower-than-expected proportion of women hires, but the expectation is underperformed by only 2-3% rather than the 7% that it seem to be if one's expectations were simply that a fifty-fifty split was the nondiscriminatory outcome. My instinct is that this would not rise to the level of statistical significance, but my instincts on that sort of thing are not perfectly reliable. I don't have my calculator that has statistical software built in up with me, so I'm giving myself an excused absence from the statistical analysis. But can anyone do a quick significance test with these numbers?

Neil Buchanan (George Washington):

Sarah Lawsky's data do not answer the question of whether there is discrimination against women in law school hiring. Rich Schmalbeck's data are suggestive but (as he readily admits) not dispositive. Sarah's post, however, was in response to the second part of this question: "But does anyone think that law faculty hiring decisions today discriminate against women, or that younger faculties are not approximately gender neutral?" While I guess one could say that 57% men is "approximately gender neutral," I personally think that is far enough away from 50% that I'm uncomfortable shrugging it off.

(By the way, the answer to the first part of that question is not obvious. There may be no open discrimination -- though even that is not a given -- but there are myriad ways in which women can be disadvantaged in the hiring process.)

It is especially difficult to ignore these data if one believes the premises of the following two sentences, which also came from the post to which Sarah's data were responsive: "If you continue affirmative action for women to achieve parity, men will be under-represented when the older folks retire," and "All of this continues to demonstrate how hard it is for any group to give up the benefits of favoritism." If we are to "continue affirmative action for women," which implies that we have been engaging in affirmative action for women up until now and thus bestowing the benefits of "favoritism" upon them, then we should be seeing significantly more than 50% hiring of women at the junior level -- else there is no reason to worry about men being under-represented when the old guys retire.

In fact, I am unaware of any program of affirmative action for women in law school hiring; and if any ever existed, none seem to exist now (and thus cannot be "continued"). There is therefore no reason to worry that there is some group (let's call them women) who are finding it difficult "to give up the benefits of favoritism."

Paul Caron (Cincinnati):  From Tax Myopia, Or Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Tax Lawyers, 14 Va. Tax Rev. 517, 526-27 (1994):

The tax bar is commonly referred to as a "special priesthood," and it is only slightly more tolerant than the Catholic Church in ordaining women tax priests. For example, in 1991, women comprised 23% of the members of the ABA but only 15% of the members of the ABA Tax Section. Similarly, in 1992-93, women comprised 20% of law school faculty but only 16% of those who taught federal tax courses.

Marjorie Kornhauser (Arizona State):

Regarding what happens after hiring, I did a study a few years ago looking at the available AALS data on who teaches what by gender : 73 UMKC L. Rev. 293 (2004). The title "Rooms of their Own" indicates the results -- men and women separate out by what they teach. This separation actually increased by a statistically significant degree over the time period studied [academic year 1990-91 thru 2002-03] even while the percent of females in the academy almost doubled. I could not look only at tenure track faculty because the AALS did not have the data for that, but I did narrow the sample by eliminating all faculty who did not have professor in their title.

Michael Livingston (Rutgers-Camden):

  1. I am not convinced that 50 percent female faculty should be a goal in the absence of evidence that 50 percent of the best people in any field (tax, corporate, whatever) are women. It could be higher, it could be lower, but I see no particular reason to believe it's 50 percent. In the absence of such evidence, the 50 percent goal strikes me as politically attractive but otherwise devoid of content.
  2. I have difficulty understanding why so much emphasis is put on entry level hiring, since there is relatively little reason to believe in discrimination at this level. On the other hand it is surely harder for women to be taken seriously at the top level of law teaching and most other professions, and much credible evidence that neutral criteria of tenure, promotion, etc. are inconsistent with female life patterns. If there is to be a discussion here it should emphasize the retention rather than the initial hiring issue.
  3. Regarding the "market differentiation" point--I have always wondered why no law school has deliberately set out to emphasize women faculty and students on the model of the women's colleges? Wouldn't this be an obvious way of distinguishing one's self from the remainder of the market? Or is there a legal issue in doing so?

September 26, 2007 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Treasury Secretary Paulson Calls for Permanent Moratorium on Internet Taxes

The Treasury Department today announced (HP-577):

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson and Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez issued a statement today calling for the Senate to make permanent the moratorium on Internet access taxes and on multiple or discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce. The Senate Commerce Committee will mark up S. 1453, the Internet Tax Freedom Extension Act of 2007, on Thursday.

September 26, 2007 in IRS News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CRS Releases Income and Poverty Among Older Americans in 2006

The Congressional Research Service yesterday released Income and Poverty Among Older Americans in 2006 (RL32697).  Here is the Summary:

Older Americans are an economically diverse group. In 2006, the median income of individuals age 65 and older was $16,890, but incomes varied widely around this average. Twenty-three percent of Americans 65 or older had incomes of less than $10,000 in 2006, while 12% had incomes of $50,000 or more. As Congress considers reforms to Social Security and the laws governing pensions and retirement savings plans, it may be helpful to examine how changes to one income source would affect each of the others, and thus the total income of older Americans

Continue reading

September 26, 2007 in Gov't Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

TaxProf Chosen as "Top 100 Academic Blog"

IRS Issues Proposed Regs Requiring Disclosure of Patented Transactions

The IRS has issued proposed regulations (REG-129916-07) that would add patented transactions to the categories of reportable transactions in Reg. § 1.6011-4.

September 26, 2007 in IRS News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

House to Markup Bill Excluding Discharged Home Mortgage Debt from Income

The House Ways & Means Committee has scheduled a markup session today on H.R. 3648, which would establish a permanent exclusion from gross income for discharged home mortgage indebtedness and extend for seven years the deduction for private mortgage insurance.

  • Joint Committee on Taxation, Explanation (JCX-86-07)
  • Joint Committee on Taxation, Revenue Estimate (JCX-87-07)
  • BloombergVacation Home Sellers Face $2 Billion Tax Bill in U.S. Measure, by Ryan J. Donmoyer

September 26, 2007 in Congressional News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Ann Bartow's Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky: Build Gender Equity Into UC-Irvine

Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question:  What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine?

Bartow_3Ann M. Bartow (Associate Professor of Law, University of South Carolina School of Law; Editor, Feminist Law Professors blog):

Building on Paul Butler's words, I’d suggest making at least half your founding faculty female. (Since one longstanding tenet of feminism is “the personal is political” I hope it's okay to note that your law professor spouse would be an excellent first hire!). Tenure gets the blame for gender imbalances on the faculties at most existing law schools, but you have plenty of open slots to fill. I'd imagine you'll do a fair amount of lateral hiring. Don’t feel guilty about depleting the already tiny ranks of tenured female law professors of elite schools like Yale. I hope you won't be afraid to also consider smart, productive women at less prestigious law schools (though I'd appreciate it if you didn't poach any of my South Carolina colleagues). Establish a world class law school where women hold up half the sky. This will pressure other law schools to follow suit, especially once you start drawing the most talented female students to Irvine. In a more women-friendly environment than the typical law school, female students are more likely to reach their full academic potential. Someday you can hire them!

Once you've got a large cohort of female faculty members, resist game playing and make sure women faculty and staff are compensated as well as the men. Focus on scholarship quality, rather than on where articles are placed, keep teaching evaluations in perspective, and avoid making female law professors do disproportionate amounts of service.

September 26, 2007 in Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky, Law School | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Gordon Smith's Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky: Concentrate on Classroom Instruction

Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question:  What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine?

Gordon_smith_3Gordon Smith (Professor of Law, Brigham Youg University, J. Reuben Clark Law School; Editor, Conglomerate):

Following the pattern established by Paul and Bill, my "single best idea for reforming legal education" is actually a cluster of ideas captured by a simple admonition: concentrate your resources on what law schools (should) do better than legal employers – classroom instruction.

Corollary #1: Do not create a legal writing program, moot court competitions, student-edited law reviews, clinics, or any other co-curricular offerings. In other words, ignore Bill Henderson's suggestion to solicit advice from legal employers. Allowing practicing lawyers to drive educational reforms is what got us into this mess. If you feel the need to teach "skills," develop an externship program, which will expose students to real legal problems and forge relationships between your school and potential employers.

Corollary #2: Improve the quality of classroom instruction. With all of the money you save by eliminating the legal writing program and co-curricular offerings, you can invest in small class sizes and light teaching loads. Make excellence in teaching a real expectation for promotion and tenure of your professors. Train them to be good teachers, and give them the support required to develop innovative teaching materials.

Corollary #3: Provide all of that improved instruction in two years. In the U.S., the pressure to move to two-year programs has been building, and, as my new dean pointed out to me recently, the globalization of law practice will increase that pressure, as American training (seven years of university education) is placed in competition with international training (five or six years of university education).

September 26, 2007 in Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky, Law School | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack (1)

Supreme Court Grants Cert in Two Tax Cases

Boulware v. United States (No. 06-1509):

Whether a taxpayer who seeks to invoke the return of capital rule in a criminal tax case must show a contemporaneous intent to treat the corporate distribution as a return of capital?

Meadwestvaco v. Illinois Dept. of Revenue (No. 06-1413):

Is the attempt by Illinois to tax the approximately $1 billion gain realized by Petitioner when it sold its investment in Lexis/Nexis in 1994 (which it acquired in 1968 for $6 million and which functioned for 26 years as an independent, nonunitary business) in direct conflict with the decisions of the Court in Allied-Signal, Inc. v. Director, Division of Taxation, 504 U.S. 768 (1992), F.W. Woolworth Co. v. Taxation & Revenue Department of New Mexico, 458 U.S. 354 (1982) and ASARCO Inc. v. Idaho State Tax Commission, 458 U.S. 307 (1982) and the Due Process and Commerce Clauses of the United States Constitution?

UpdateMichael McIntyre (Wayne State):

Given how few tax cases the Supreme Court seems willing to take, I find it disappointing when the cases seem as narrow as the two here. On the criminal case, I don't know enough to have an opinion, although, after reading the petition, I do have one . The other case is an Allied Signal case, dealing with whether the sale of Lexis/Nexis was part of the sale of business property or investment property. Odd case for cert., given the highly factual nature of that issue. I just hope the court is not taking it to expand the tax-free zone for businesses.

September 26, 2007 in New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Senate Holds Hearing Today on Offshore Tax Issues: Reinsurance and Hedge Funds

The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing today on Offshore Tax Issues: Reinsurance and Hedge Funds.  Here are the witnesses scheduled to testify:

  • Byron L. Dorgan (U.S. Senator (D-ND)
  • William R. Berkley (Chairman, President, CEO and COO, W.R. Berkley Corp, Greenwich, CT)
  • Donald Kramer (Chairman and CEO, Ariel Reinsurance Ltd, Hamilton, Bermuda)
  • Suzanne Ross McDowell (Partner, Steptoe & Johnson, Washington, D.C.)
  • Daniel J. Shapiro (Partner, Shulte, Roth & Zabel, London England)
  • Jane G. Gravelle (Senior Specialist in Economic Policy, Government and Finance Division, Congressional Research Service)
  • Lynne Munson (Adjunct Fellow, Center for College Affordability and Productivity, Washington, D.C.)

In connection with the hearing, the Joint Committee on Taxation has released Present Law and Analysis Relating to Selected International Tax Issues (JCX-85-07)

September 26, 2007 in Congressional News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

EINs Now Available Online in Minutes

The IRS announced today (IR-2007-161) that taxpayers can now request an Employer Identification Number (EIN) through a Web-based system that instantly processes requests and generates identification numbers in real time:

Here's how it works. A taxpayer accesses the Internet EIN system through IRS.gov and enters the required information. If the information passes the automatic validity checks, the IRS issues a permanent EIN to the taxpayer. If the information does not pass the validity checks, it is rejected. The taxpayer then has an opportunity to correct the information and resubmit the application.

September 25, 2007 in IRS News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Dan Polsby's Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky: Focus on Your Comparative Advantage

Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question:  What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine?

Polsby Daniel D. Polsby (Dean and Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law):

Dear Erwin –

You begin this new venture in possession of one of the most revered trademarks in higher education, the patronage of a generous billionaire and affiliation with an excellent, surging research university. And it gets better. You have a whole year to be dean without a faculty to trip you up at every step, without a student body to complain about everything you do, and with a (very properly) cowed central administration that will be in no mood to tangle with you on any matter of importance. With all this going for you, there’s no way you can fail. So it is hard to think of what profit you might find in free advice from a competitor. But here it is anyway, with a money back guarantee. Think hard about what your comparative advantage is going to be. Build your mission around that. Do not spend a minute or a penny on anything that does not further the mission. And get to be best, best friends with Mr. Bren. Good luck!

September 25, 2007 in Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky, Law School | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Doug Berman's Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky: Reengineer the 1L Curriculum

Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question:  What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine?

BermanDouglas Berman (William B. Saxbe Designated Professor of Law, Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law; Editor, Sentencing Law & Policy blog):

I urge Dean Chemerinsky to consider reengineering the first-year curriculum. The first year of law school is, for nearly all law students, the most memorable and often the most consequential year of schooling they ever experience. And yet, the basic structure and content of the the first-year curriculum has not been critically reassessed or even seriously reconsidered in over a century.

A rigorous assessment of the status quo might prompt the development of a whole new first-year program updating the study of law for the 21st century. As a matter of substance, I fear that the traditional first-year curriculum gives students the false impression that common-law doctrines and court-centric adversarial analysis is central to the work of every modern lawyer. As a matter of style, I fear that the traditional large 1L class environments and in-class timed exams unduly reward aggressive talkers and fast writers.

I do not view the traditional 1L curriculum as entirely broke and needing radical reconstruction. In fact, I would expect that, after extended review and reflection, Dean Chemerinsky and others might decide to preserve many features of the traditional first-year curriculum. But for a professional schools that frequently espouse the virtues and values of diversity, the traditional first-year program tends repeatedly to deliver and test the same sorts of (caselaw) materials in the same sorts of (in-class) ways. Instructional diversity seems to me to be as important as institutional diversity.

I suspect a fresh approach to the first-year curriculum might include more hands-on problems, more research and writing assignments, more focused study of those institutions and individuals shaping legal doctrines and greater exposure to all the lawmaking and lawyering that take place outside of courtrooms. Ultimately, right now it is not easy to imagine what a truly modern 1L student would study because law schools, which are surprisingly conservative when it comes to curricular reform, have rarely tried to chart a new path for the first year of legal education. It would be beneficial to the entire profession, and as well as to the students who start at UC-Irvine, if Dean Chemerinsky looks forward and not backward when developing his new school's first-year curriculum.

September 25, 2007 in Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky, Law School | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

House Holds Hearing Today on Are Charities Serving the Needs of Diverse Communities?

The Subcommittee on Oversight of the House Ways & Means Committee holds a Hearing to Examine Whether Charitable Organizations Serve the Needs of Diverse Communities.  From the hearing announcement:

This hearing will focus on whether charitable organizations are serving diverse populations and communities. The hearing will discuss: the extent to which philanthropic dollars are being directed toward diverse communities; the actions tax-exempt organizations are taking to deal with issues and challenges that have arisen in identifying the needs of diverse communities; and the partnerships between governments and charitable organizations that are needed to reach and serve diverse populations. The Subcommittee will hear testimony on why developing a plan to serve diverse communities is important and beneficial.

Here are the witnesses scheduled to testify:

  • Julian Wolpert (Bryant Professor of Public Affairs, Emeritus, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton)
  • Elizabeth T. Boris (Director, Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, The Urban Institute)
  • Kevin M. Brown (Chief Operating Officer, American Red Cross)
  • Susan V. Berresford (President and CEO, The Ford Foundation)
  • Lesley Grady (Vice President of Community Partnerships, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta)
  • Georgia Byron Laher (Director, Government and Labor Relations and Community Affairs, Greater Twin Cities United Way)
  • Marcia Fink (Director, Basic Needs, Greater Twin Cities United Way)

The hearing takes place at 2:00 p.m. in the main Committee hearing room, 1100 Longworth House Office Building.

September 25, 2007 in Congressional News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)