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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gans, Crawford & Blattmachr: The Estate Tax Fundamentals of Celebrity and Control

Mitchell M. Gans (Hofstra), Bridget J. Crawford (Pace) & Jonathan G. Blattmachr (Milbank, New York) have published The Estate Tax Fundamentals of Celebrity and Control, 118 Yale L.J. Pocket Part 50 (2008).  Here is part of the Introduction:

We previously suggested in this Journal [Postmortem Rights of Publicity: The Federal Estate Tax Consequences of New State-Law Property Rights, 117 Yale L.J. Pocket Part 203 (2008)] that post-death publicity rights could be excluded from the decedent’s estate for tax purposes if state legislation precluded the decedent from exercising post-death control. In other words, if state legislation designated who would hold these rights after the decedent’s death, the value of these rights should not be subject to estate tax. Professor Joshua Tate, in his response to our essay [Marilyn Monroe's Legacy: Taxation of Postmortem Publicity Rights, 117 Yale L.J. Pocket Part 38 (2008)], argues that under current law, estate tax inclusion would be required regardless of the decedent’s ability to exercise control. So, for example, in Professor Tate’s analysis, the estate tax would apply even if the legislation vested those rights in the decedent’s oldest daughter and even if the decedent had no right to alter this outcome. Professor Tate’s analysis misconstrues fundamental estate tax principles and misunderstands the precedents on which he relies [citing Paul L. Caron, Estate Planning Implications of the Right of Publicity, 68 Tax Notes 95 (1995)].

September 30, 2008 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

GAO: Improving Rental Real Estate Tax Compliance

The Government Accountability Office yesterday released Actions That Could Improve Rental Real Estate Reporting Compliance (GAO-08-956):

At least an estimated 53% of individual taxpayers with rental real estate misreported their rental real estate activities for tax year 2001, resulting in an estimated $12.4 billion of net misreported income.

September 30, 2008 in Gov't Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Michigan: A Crack in the Dominance of the LSAT?

Following up on my prior post, LSAT-Free Law School Admissions Can Goose U.S. News Ranking: today's Inside Higher Ed:  A Crack in the Dominance of the LSAT?, by Scott Jaschik:

[M]ore than a few eyebrows have been raised in the past few days by word that the University of Michigan’s law school will start admitting a small share of its class without LSAT scores. ...

Many law school bloggers have jumped to the conclusion that the law school is trying to improve its rankings in U.S. News by attracting students with very high grades but perhaps those students who wouldn’t score well on the LSAT.

[Director of Admissions Sarah] Zearfoss said there is no such strategy at work. The number of students who will be admitted this way is such a “fractional sliver” of the class that “this couldn’t be a successful route for manipulating the rankings, even if we were so inclined,” she said. Michigan has “well considered policy objectives” for the program, she said, adding that the law school has never made decisions based on “blind obeisance to rankings.” ...

[S]ome experts on standardized tests agree that what’s significant here isn’t the rankings, but the idea that a top law school would go on record saying that it’s possible to make informed admissions decisions, even in a minority of cases, without the LSAT. ...

Law Schools that don’t use the LSAT are shunned by the ABA. The refusal of the Massachusetts School of Law to require the LSAT was among several disputes that led to years of fighting with the ABA over its refusal to accredit the non-traditional law school. (Having lost in court, at this point the law school says it no longer wants ABA recognition and can operate without it.) ...

September 30, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Christians: Fair Taxation as a Human Right

Allison Christians (Wisconsin) has posted Fair Taxation as a Human Right, 42 Valparaiso L. Rev. ___ (2008), on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

One of the themes of this symposium issue is to explore the limits and possibilities of law and legal institutions in redressing poverty and economic inequality. This essay approaches the question by considering the ways in which domestic tax policy interacts with internationally-recognized human rights. I suggest that focusing on human rights jurisprudence could change the conventional balance among the tripartite of equity, efficiency, and simplicity principles that constitute traditional tax policy analysis. Accordingly, I propose that we may appropriately evaluate tax law and legal institutions according to whether they protect or undermine human rights, as a means of opening up new ways of tackling old and entrenched tax policy issues.

September 30, 2008 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Caron Named Herzog Summer Visiting Professor in Taxation at San Diego

Usd_2I am delighted to announce that I have accepted a three-year appointment as the Herzog Summer Visiting Professor in Taxation at the University of San Diego School of Law. My family and I have spent five previous summers teaching at USD and have learned first-hand why San Diego is truly "America's Finest City. But even more enjoyable than the spectacular climate and environment is the opportunity to be associated with one of the country's leading graduate tax programs. San Diego long has had one of the premier tax faculties in the country and today announced a series of initiatives to further strengthen the tax program, including:

September 30, 2008 in Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tax Profs for McCain

Tax Profs for McCain:

(Hat Tip: David Bernstein, Brian Leiter.)

September 30, 2008 in Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cleveland State Seeks to Hire Tax Prof

Cleveland State is looking to make an entry level tax appointment, For more information or to apply, contact:

Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
2121 Euclid Avenue, LB138
Cleveland, OH 44115

September 30, 2008 in Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ADF Releases 33 Participants in Pulpit Freedom Sunday

Monday, September 29, 2008

Republicans Blame Pelosi Floor Speech For Failure of Bailout Bill

In a press conference, Speaker Pelosi said she was "appalled" at the Republicans' contention and charged that it was the House Republicans' fault for not delivering the votes to pass the bill.

September 29, 2008 in Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Barton: No Correlation Between Scholarly Productivity/Influence and Teaching Effectiveness

Benjamin Barton (Tennessee) has published Is There a Correlation Between Law Professor Publication Counts, Law Review Citation Counts, and Teaching Evaluations? An Empirical Study, 5 J. Empirical Stud. 619 (2008). Here is the abstract:

This empirical study attempts to answer an age-old debate in legal academia: whether scholarly productivity helps or hurts teaching. The study is of an unprecedented size and scope. It covers every tenured or tenure-track faculty member at 19 U.S. law schools, a total of 623 professors. The study gathers four years of teaching evaluation data (calendar years 2000–2003) and tests for associations between the teaching data and five different measures of research productivity/scholarly influence. The results are counterintuitive: there is either no correlation or a slight positive correlation between teaching effectiveness and any of the five measures of research productivity. Given the breadth of the study, this finding is quite robust. These findings should help inform debates about teaching and scholarship among law school and other faculties and likely require some soul-searching about the interaction between the two most important functions of U.S. law schools.

For prior TaxProf Blog coverage, see here and here.  For Vic Fleischer's views, see here.

September 29, 2008 in Law School, Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Taxation Trends in the EU

Structures2008 Eurostat has published Taxation Trends in the EU (2008):

This report contains a detailed statistical and economic analysis of the tax systems of the Member States of the European Union and Norway. The data are presented within a unified statistical framework (the ESA95 harmonised system of national and regional accounts), which makes it possible to assess the heterogeneous national tax systems on a fully comparable basis.

The standard classifications of tax revenues (by major type of tax or by level of government) presented in most international tax revenue statistics are hard to interpret in economic terms. This publication stands out for offering a breakdown of tax revenues by economic function (i.e. according to whether they are raised on consumption, labour or capital). This classification is based on disaggregated tax data and on a breakdown of the revenue from the personal income tax. In addition, the report contains indicators of the average effective tax burden on consumption, labour and capital, as well as data on environmental taxation and on the top rates for the personal and corporate income tax.

Country chapters give an overview of the tax system in each of the 28 countries covered, the revenue trends and the main recent policy changes. Detailed tables allow comparison between the individual countries and European averages. Data cover the 1995-2006 period and are presented both as a percentage of GDP and as a percentage of total taxation.

September 29, 2008 in Gov't Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tax Thermometer

Ranking Member Charles Grassley posted this Tax Thermometer on the Senate Finance Committee website:

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September 29, 2008 in Congressional News | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tax Provisions in Bailout Bill

Tax provisions in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, per Senate Finance Committee press release:

Help for Homeowners Sinking Under Mortgage Debt.  Usually, when homeowners have parts of their mortgages forgiven, they immediately owe income taxes on the amount of indebtedness forgiven. To keep struggling homeowners from facing higher tax bills, the housing relief bill passed by Congress this year allowed homeowners caught up in the mortgage crisis to avoid paying tax on forgiven mortgage debts through 2009. To help more homeowners stay on their financial feet in the ongoing economic crisis, the rescue plan will extend through 2012 the housing bill provision that forgives income from the cancellation of indebtedness. It does not extend the relief to home equity loans.

Fairness for Banks Hit by the Failures of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Federal law limits the allowable investments for banks, and so many community banks invested in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac preferred stock - which became worthless when the government bailed those companies out. This proposal ensures fairness for the approximately 800 banks that held Fannie and Freddie preferred stock, by allowing financial institutions or financial institution holding companies to treat their Fannie and Freddie losses as ordinary losses. Applying to any preferred stock that was owned on September 6, 2008 or sold between January 1 and September 6, 2008, this provision will allow banks to claim the book benefit of the loss on their tax returns, therefore reducing the need to obtain additional capital from the FDIC or investors. This should also prevent some community banks from becoming insolvent.

Stronger Taxation of Compensation and Severance Pay for Financial Executives.  The financial rescue plan contains non-tax measures aimed at limiting executive compensation and "golden parachute" severance packages overall for companies and executives participating in the buyout - a key element in gaining approval of the package among negotiators. When the Treasury directly buys assets from a company, not through an auction or bidding process, the financial institution will be required to meet certain standards for executive compensation, including a total prohibition on "golden parachute" severance payments to senior executive officers.

When more than $300 million of a company's assets are purchased by the Treasury through an auction, "golden parachute" payments will be banned for top executives hired while the Treasury rescue is in effect. Additionally, tax provisions will kick in to strengthen the tax treatment of remaining executive compensation and severance packages. The deductibility of executive compensation for companies will be cut in half from the level in current law, and companies will also lose deductions currently available for excessively large severance packages. Executives receiving severance packages will continue to face a 20 percent excise tax on payments once they reach an excessive threshold, and that tax will now be due if the executive leaves for reasons other than a standard retirement for which they are eligible - not just if the company changes hands, as in current law.

September 29, 2008 in Congressional News | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)

Property Taxes: High in Blue States, Low in Red States

The Tax Foundation has published New Census Data on Property Taxes on Homeowners, by Gerald Prante, along with the underlying data (by state, by county).  Below are the Top 10 and Bottom 10 states in the three categories:

  • Median Real Estate Tax
  • Real Estate Tax as Percentage of Home Value
  • Real Estate Tax as Percentage of Income

Note that 26 of the 30 highest-tax states in the three categories are Blue States that voted for John Kerry in 2004, and that 24 of the 30 lowest-tax states in the three categories are Red States that voted for George Bush in 2004:

Median_real_estate_tax_2008

September 29, 2008 in Political News, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (24) | TrackBack (0)

WSJ: Consumer Groups Push Tax Relief for Homeowners in Bailout

Wall Street Journal:  Consumer Groups Push Tax Relief for Homeowners in Bailout, by Ruth Simon:

Consumer groups are pressing Congress to extend tax relief to a broader group of troubled homeowners as part of any financial industry bailout plan.

Homeowners can incur a tax bill if the mortgage company reduces their loan amount, forecloses on the home or agrees to a short sale, a transaction in which the borrower sells the home for less than the amount owed, with the lender generally forgiving the difference.

Last year, under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, Congress gave a tax break to certain homeowners whose mortgages were reduced by their lenders, relieving some already troubled consumers from going deeper into debt trying to pay off a large and unexpected tax bill. But the measure generally didn't extend to any increase in the mortgage balance when borrowers refinanced their mortgages. Consumer groups say that was a major oversight that needs to be corrected. ...

Under current law, borrowers don't have to pay any tax if forgiven mortgage debt was used in "acquiring, constructing or substantially improving" their home, provided that the home is their primary residence, said Deborah Geier, a professor of law at Cleveland State University. But they can face a tax bill if the forgiven debt was used for other reasons, unless the person is insolvent, in bankruptcy court or eligible for certain other exclusions.

Prof. Geier said that the bill passed last year made sense "because homes are losing value not because of personal consumption by the taxpayer, but because of market fluctuations." But extending tax forgiveness more broadly "would be a back door for people who own homes to fund personal consumption with tax-free dollars." Borrowers don't get tax forgiveness if auto or credit card debt is wiped out, she said, unless they are insolvent or in bankruptcy court.

September 29, 2008 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tax Gaffes in First McCain-Obama Presidential Debate

The Tax Foundation lists the tax misstatements made by both Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama in friday night's debate.

September 28, 2008 in Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Did § 121 Contribute to the Financial Meltdown?

The Tax Foundation, Cafe Hayek, and Don't Mess With Taxes all finger § 121, which was enacted in 1997 and allows married taxpayers to exclude $500,000 of gain (single taxpayers can exclude $250,000 of gain) on the sale of a primary residence or vacation home every two years, as a significant contributor to the current financial meltdown.  Check out this New York Times chart on housing prices before and after the enactment of § 121:

Caseshiller

September 28, 2008 in News | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

There is not much movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with the #3 and #4 papers trading places:

1.  [1121 Downloads]  A Guide to Starting Social Security Benefits, by Richard L. Kaplan (Illinois)  [blogged here]

2.  [371 Downloads]  An Overview of the "Tax Gap", by Dave Rifkin (Attorney-Advisor to Tax Court Judge Juan F. Vasquez; Adjunct Professor, Georgetown)  [blogged here]

3.  [209 Downloads]  Carried Interests: The Past is Prologue, by Howard Abrams (Emory)  [blogged here]

4.  [202 Downloads]  The Real Value of Tax Deferral, by Christopher H. Hanna (SMU)  [blogged here]

5.  [159 Downloads]  Checking in on "Check-the-Box", by Heather M. Field (UC-Hastings)  [blogged here]

September 28, 2008 in Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mayer: The Pulpit, Politics, RFRA, and Institutional Free Exercise

Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer (Notre Dame) has posted The Pulpit, Politics, RFRA, and Institutional Free Exercise on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

More than fifty years ago, Congress enacted with little deliberation a prohibition against political campaign intervention for all charities, including churches and other houses of worship. For many years the prohibition lay mostly dormant, invoked only rarely by the government and never against a house of worship for statements made from the pulpit. That period of relative peace is now over, however, as the government has begun a systematic enforcement effort and both religious liberty groups and houses of worship have reacted with increasing defiance. Yet predicating the ultimate result of this conflict is complicated by the shifting sands of free exercise of religion law, including still unsettled issues arising out of the Supreme Court's landmark Employment Division v. Smith decision applying the First Amendment and Congress' enactment of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in response.

This article navigates that legal landscape, identifying and attempting to answer the open questions that courts may need to resolve to address this almost inevitable conflict. Those questions include the scope of the various exceptions to the rule announced in Smith and what exactly it is that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act restored. This exploration reveals that the First Amendment as currently interpreted by the federal courts is unlikely to prevent the government from applying the prohibition to sermons, but that churches and other houses of worship have a strong argument that RFRA does block the prohibition in the unique context of in-person, in-service sermons. This exploration also uncovers another possible line of argument for houses of worship - that, the First Amendment and the RFRA protect "institutional free exercise" as well as individual free exercise. Building on the existing but still somewhat incoherent church autonomy doctrine, an institutional free exercise approach would protect all religious communications between the leaders of a house of worship and its members from the reach of the prohibition under both the First Amendment and RFRA.

September 28, 2008 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thirty Churches to Endorse Presidential Candidate From Pulpit Today

The Alliance Defense Fund is sponsoring Pulpit Freedom Sunday today:

[F]or the last 54 years, out of fear of losing their tax-exempt status, our nation’s pastors and priests have largely remained silent. Rather than risk confrontation, pastors have often self-censored their speech, ignoring blatant immorality in government and too often pronouncing their aversion from speaking about public policy. Those pastors who have longed to be relevant to society, to preach the Gospel in a way that has meaning in modern America, have studiously ignored much that has gone on in every tumultuous election season lest they drew wrath from the IRS.

On Pulpit Freedom Sunday, pastors from 20 states will reclaim their constitutional right. From the pulpit, they will advise their congregation what scripture says about today’s issues apply those issues to the candidates standing for election just like their forefathers did for 150 years.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State opposes Pulpit Freedom Sunday and plans to report participating churches to the IRS.

Press and blogosphere coverage:

September 28, 2008 in Political News | Permalink | Comments (25) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The UBS Summons and IRS Voluntary Disclosure

Tax_analysts_logoWilliam M. Sharp Sr. and Larry R. Kemm (both of Sharp & Associates, Tampa) have published The UBS Summons and IRS Voluntary Disclosure, 51 Tax Notes Int'l 1043 (Sept. 22, 2008):

On June 30 the U.S. Department of Justice filed an ex parte petition for leave to serve a John Doe summons in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The next day the court issued an order approving the issuance of a summons to force Swiss banking behemoth UBS AG to disclose to the IRS detailed account information on U.S. taxpayers who allegedly use UBS AG offshore accounts to conceal assets and avoid reporting income related to those assets for the purpose of evading U.S. taxation.

Under the court's order, UBS must produce specified documentation and records to identify designated U.S. taxpayers who fall within the ascertainable group or class of persons covered by the John Doe summons. As UBS considers how to deal with this compelled U.S. discovery mandate, a crucial foreign legal issue is how the matter would be treated under Swiss law, which, generally speaking, makes production of banking documents and records a criminal violation in the absence of client consent to produce the same.

From a U.S. tax law perspective, the most important issue is what remedial action can be taken by U.S. taxpayers affected by the summons order. The central focus of this issue is the IRS voluntary disclosure program, and specifically whether and to what extent the program is still available for U.S. taxpayers affected by the U.S. district court's John Doe summons order.

This article provides an overview of the U.S. voluntary disclosure program and ties that overview into the practical steps U.S. tax counsel should consider in evaluating a noncompliant U.S. taxpayer's case. It addresses the impact of the UBS summons case on affected U.S. taxpayers' potential use of the IRS voluntary disclosure program.

Continue reading

September 27, 2008 in Scholarship, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tax Papers at Today's Canadian Law & Economics Ass'n Meeting

The taxation panel at today's 2008 Meeting of the Canadian Law & Economics Association meeting at the University of Toronto consists of these papers:

  • Bradley T. Borden (Washburn), Public Tenancies in Common
  • David Duff (Toronto), Towards an Exemption Regime for the Taxation of Outbound Direct Investment
  • David I. Walker (Boston University), Explicit and Synthetic In-the-Money Employee Stock Options

September 27, 2008 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Brother of Former Philadelphia Mayor Gets 30 Months for Failure to File Tax Returns

I previously blogged the trial of T. Milton Street Sr., brother of former Philadelphia mayor John F. Street (2000-2008), who was found guilty of failing to file income tax returns for 2002-2004 but was acquitted of mail fraud, wire fraud (two counts), and wire services fraud; the jury deadlocked over two counts of assisting in the filing of false tax returns.  He was sentenced yesterday to 30 months in prison:

(Hat Tip: Jim Maule.)

September 27, 2008 in Celebrity Tax Lore | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Johnson: Use and Abuse of "Plain Meaning"

Tax_analysts_logoSteve R. Johnson (UNLV) has published Use and Abuse of "Plaing Meaning", 49 State Tax Notes 831 (Sept. 22, 2008):

Among the most frequently encountered devices or explanations of interpreting legal texts is "plain meaning." Decisions beyond number have recited that when the text is clear, there is nothing to construe, and the statute, regulation, or constitutional provision will be applied according to its plain meaning. That approach is often reasonable, and the frequency of its assertion may seem soothing. But these waters are not always as placid as they appear. The plain-meaning doctrine is sometimes problematic as applied to state and local taxation. It is sometimes overused or abused by the courts.

Below, I examine that proposition through three perspectives. Part I describes the plain-meaning doctrine and explains why judges are attracted to it. Part II analyzes the problems that can occur from uncritical use of plain meaning, especially when clarity is alleged to reside in the bare words of the statute abstracted from context and policy. Part II also considers a recent use tax case as an example of dubious application of the plain-meaning technique. Part III offers practical suggestions for practitioners in advancing and opposing plain-meaning arguments in state and local tax controversies.

September 27, 2008 in Scholarship, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What Is the Net Present Value of a J.D.?

$470,000, says Karl Okamoto (Drexel):

Is law school a good value? ...  Using crude numbers, the answer looks like a resounding “yes.” As they say in the investment business, it looks like a “three bagger.” Even if you have to put $230,000 in, you get over $700,00 back! ...

What crude numbers, you may ask? Well the Wall Street Journal reported recently on salary statistics. While the median salary for persons holding just a BA has slipped to $47,240, those of us with professional degrees have gone up to $89,602. Even better, recent Labor Department numbers show the median salary for lawyers at $106,120. So, as I say to my students, think of your law degree as an annuity. It represents a payment stream that lasts for a career (say 40 years) that equals the spread between what you would have earned without your law degree versus what you can with it. Using the median salary numbers, that spread is almost $60,000. Discounted at 8%, the annuity has a present value of over $700,000. The present value of three years of tuition (at $40,000 a year), books and foregone salary (at the median) is about $230,000. So, as your stockbroker used to say about Lehman bonds, a “no brainer!”

September 27, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)

Churches, Campaign Intervention, and the IRS

Eric R. Swibel (J.D. 2009, Emory) has published Comment, Churches and Campaign Intervention: Why the Tax Man Is Right and How Congress Can Improve His Reputation, 57 Emory L.J. 1605 (2008).  Here is part of the Introduction:

This Comment demonstrates first that the IRC's campaign intervention provision is constitutional. It then argues that, although the IRS has acted within the scope of its authority, amending the Code would benefit exempt organizations and enhance the process's legitimacy. Part I studies the history of the § 501(c)(3) political speech restriction, culminating with a discussion of the recent IRS investigation of All Saints. Part II examines the constitutionality of the § 501(c)(3) limitations on political speech. After analyzing the First Amendment religion clauses and the support that they provide to advocates on both sides, Part II concludes that the restriction is facially constitutional. Part III argues first that the IRS has enforced the Code fairly. It then proposes four changes to the Code that Congress should make to improve the process's legitimacy: (1) the imposition of a requirement that the IRS publish comprehensive reports of its investigations of churches; (2) the codification of the IRS's current practice of relying on independent referrals for discovering potential violations; (3) the formalization of § 501(c)(3)'s penalty scheme; and (4) the creation of a judicial remedy for IRS failures to follow the Code's enforcement procedures.

September 27, 2008 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Harvard Adopts Pass-Fail Grades Like Yale & Stanford

The Harvard Law Record reports that Harvard has adopted a pass-fail grading system like Yale and Stanford.  See also Above the Law and Brian Leiter.

Update: For more, see Business Associations Blog, Conglomerate, Feminist Law Professors, Simple Justice, and The Volokh Conspiracy (Eugene Volokh, Orin Kerr, Ilya Somin).

September 26, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jones Presents Does the Private Benefit Doctrine Preclude Tax Exemption for HMOs? Today at Iowa

Darryll K. Jones (Stetson) presents Does the Private Benefit Doctrine Preclude Tax Exemption for Health Maintenance Organizations? at Iowa today as part of its Faculty Workshop Series.  Here is the Conclusion of the argument made in the Supreme Court Amicus Brief he has filed in Vision Service Plan v. United States, No. 08-164:

Petitioner, and other amici curiae have convincingly set forth the legal basis that compels review of the opinion of the court below. The broader purpose of this brief is to place the opinion of the court below in the context of the for-profit and nonprofit health care marketplace. The opinion of the court below fails to consider the real-world healthcare marketplace in which its conclusion is to apply. Instead, it adopts an arbitrary rule without regard to the historical context in which nonprofit HMOs have existed and reaches a conclusion that, if sustained, will categorically preclude tax exemption for all nonprofit HMOs; the defining quality – indeed the factor absolutely necessary to the existence of nonprofit HMOs – is the membership structure found disqualifying by the court below. This is most certainly contrary to Congressional intent and, even worse, decreases the amount of charitable health care available to society.

September 26, 2008 in Colloquia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Career Satisfaction of Lawyers

This study is the first to our knowledge to simultaneously measure the predictors of lawyers' satisfaction with their careers and the predictors of lawyers' satisfaction with their lives more broadly. One class of the University of Virginia School of Law was studied between their matriculation in 1987 and their graduation in 1990. All 360 living graduates of this class were contacted in 2007, with a response rate of 72.2%. Descriptive information was obtained and empirically validated measures of both career satisfaction and life satisfaction were administered. Respondents were found to have taken many diverse career paths, with most (85%) having changed jobs at least once, and half having changed jobs at least twice. Gender differences in the personal and professional lives of respondents were pervasive. Women graduates were far more likely than men to interrupt or forego full-time employment (39% v 1%), mainly in order to care for children, and were also more likely to have a spouse or partner employed full-time outside the home (77% v 24%). Working conditions at large private law firms emerged as a significant problem for many respondents; half of those who started their careers in large firms left to go to a different type of employer. Finally, both career satisfaction and life satisfaction were found to be high, with 81% of the respondents satisfied with their decision to become a lawyer, and 86% satisfied with their lives more broadly.

This article presents data on graduates of a law school located at a large, midwestern public university. It presents responses to survey questions relating to various personal and job characteristics, including income from the practice of law and career satisfaction. It compares the responses across various demographic groups, including type of practice, gender, race, and ethnicity. We find that lawyers in large private law firms make more money than lawyers in small private practices, who, in turn, make more than those in government or public interest positions. Career satisfaction is greatest for lawyers in corporate counsel, public interest, and government jobs, followed by larger firms, and then smaller private firms. We find that women earn substantially lower incomes than men, but most of the difference can be eliminated by accounting for time taken away from paid work for childcare, among other factors. Both blacks and Hispanics make significantly less money than majority lawyers 15 years after graduation. Regarding overall satisfaction with careers, women appear to be sensitive to the number of hours of work, probably because of child-care responsibilities. Our analysis suggests that blacks and Hispanics enjoy career satisfaction in the practice of law that is not significantly lower than that of majority lawyers.

September 26, 2008 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Brennen & Moran Speak on Barriers to Wealth Creation in the African American Community at CBC Conference

College Speaks: An Anti-Rankings Alternative to U.S. News

In today's Inside Higher Ed:  Creating the Anti-Rankings, by Scott Jaschik:

College Speaks [is] a tool being created by the Education Conservancy, an organization that has been fighting the many commercial forces that have become big players in college admissions and attempting to make educational counseling central to the process. The group, led by Lloyd Thacker, has been best known in recent years for urging colleges to refuse to fill out the “reputational” surveys used by U.S. News, which are widely seen as invalid by educators. While that campaign may be having some success with college presidents — fewer of whom appear to be filling out the surveys — it hasn’t diminished the rankings’ popularity.

Recognizing that — and also responding to the requests of some rankings critics, who have said they want to put forward a positive alternative — the Education Conservancy has been working for a year on a new approach, an explicitly anti-rankings system for the college search.

An early version was presented for the first time in public Thursday at the annual meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. It is a much more individualized, education focused approach, with less reliance on pure statistics, and the focus is on the fit between student and college, not the superiority of one college over another. The concept drew considerable praise from high school counselors and college admissions officers.

But even amid the praise for the project, there was also skepticism, primarily about practicalities rather than the concept. Some noted that there are many other sources of college information — already taxing colleges’ time — and that many students appear to gravitate toward less educational tools. And there is also discussion about how to build a permanent infrastructure to support the project, which Thacker and others say shouldn’t stay at the Education Conservancy permanently.

September 26, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kentucky Law School Files for Bankruptcy

I previously blogged (here and here) the troubles at the American Justice School of Law, a non-accredited for-profit law school in Paducah, Kentucky.  Today's National Law Journal reports that the school filed for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday.

The American Justice School of Law, formed in 2004, is no longer a functioning law school, and it is unclear what impact the bankruptcy filing will have on the Barkley School of Law. That school was formed this summer after the American Justice School of Law was effectively dissolved as an educational institution.

The closure of the American Justice School of Law, which was not accredited by the American Bar Association, was the result of a lawsuit filed in November 2007 by students against the administrators of the for-profit school. The suit alleged a number of misdeeds, including that administrators delayed disbursing student loans for living expenses.

New investors and new administrators were brought in this summer as a result of the settlement, and the Barkley School of Law was formed. Barkley has taken on the students from the defunct American Justice School of Law, though Dean Larry Putt said the school currently has only 10 full- and part-time students.

See also TMCnet.

September 26, 2008 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LexisNexis Publishes Tax Crimes

Tax_crimes_2On behalf of LexisNexis and the Graduate Tax Series Board of Editors (Ellen Aprill (Loyola-L.A.), Elliott Manning (Miami), Philip Postlewaite (Northwestern) & David Richardson (Florida)), I am delighted to announced the publication of Tax Crimes, by Steve Johnson (UNLV), Scott Schumacher (Washington), Larry Campagna (Adjunct Professor, Houston) & John Townsend (Adjunct Professor, Houston).

The Graduate Tax Series is the first series of course materials designed for use in tax LL.M. programs. Like all books in the Series, Tax Crimes was designed from the ground-up with the needs of graduate tax faculty and students in mind:

  • More focus on Internal Revenue Code and regulations, less on case law
  • Analysis of complex, practice-oriented problems of increasing sophistication
  • Teacher’s manual with solutions to problems and other guidance
  • On-line access to the comprehensive and current Code and regulations, designed to complement the book

Five other books in the Series also are available for adoption:

Other forthcoming books in the Series are:

  • Bankruptcy Taxation, by Frances Hill (Miami) & William Lyons (Nebraska)
  • Estate and Gift Taxation, by Robert Danforth (Washington & Lee) & Brant Hellwig (South Carolina)
  • Federal Corporate Income Taxation, by Charlotte Crane (Northwestern) & Linda Beale (Wayne State)
  • Federal Taxation of Property Transactions, by Elliott Manning (Miami) & David Cameron (Northwestern)
  • Tax Practice Ethics, by Linda Galler (Hofstra) & Michael Lang (Chapman)

Other information:

September 26, 2008 in Book Club | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gerzog: Holman: The FLP's New Clothes

Wendy C. Gerzog (Baltimore) has posted Holman: The FLP's New Clothes, 120 Tax Notes 1215 (Sept. 22, 2008), on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

The article discusses Holman [130 T.C. No. 12 (May 27, 2008)], a recent Tax Court decision involving the valuation of gifts of FLP interests.

September 26, 2008 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Conference on Attaining Fiscal Sustainability: State & Local Perspectives and the Federal Outlook

The National Tax Association, the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, Tax Analysts, and The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center are hosting a conference today on Attaining Fiscal Sustainability: State & Local Perspectives and the Federal Outlook.  The conference is from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at the Urban Institute, 2100 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C..

September 26, 2008 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Southern Federal Tax Institute Concludes Today in Atlanta

The Southern Federal Tax Institute concludes today in Atlanta.  Tax Profs with speaking roles during the conference include:

September 25, 2008 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Zolt Presents Technology and Taxation in Developing Countries Today at Columbia

Eric M. Zolt (UCLA) presents Technology and Taxation in Developing Countries: From Hand to Mouse (with Richard M. Bird (University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management) at Columbia today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series.  Here is the abstract:

Tax systems in developing countries, like those in more developed countries, face both new challenges and new possibilities as a result of technological change. In developing countries, taxpayers and tax administrations must cope with more difficult environments with fewer resources. Some issues (such as privacy, the benefits and costs of public/private partnerships, and corruption) are common to both developing and developed countries, but differ in relative importance in particular countries. Other issues (such as how new technology may or should influence the way a country’s tax system or particular taxes are designed and administered) may be more important in developing countries. This paper examines the general issues facing developing countries from technological changes and provides some promising examples of technological innovation and application in tax administration and tax policy.

September 25, 2008 in Colloquia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Attention Sarah Palin: IRS Issues New Rules on Reimbursement of Per Diem Travel Expenses

The IRS today released an advance copy of Rev. Proc. 2008-59, 2008-41 I.R.B. ___ (Oct. 14, 2008):

This revenue procedure updates Rev. Proc. 2007-63, 2007-42 I.R.B. 809, and provides rules under which the amount of ordinary and necessary business expenses of an employee for lodging, meal, and incidental expenses, or for meal and incidental expenses, incurred while traveling away from home are deemed substantiated under § 1.274-5 of the Income Tax Regulations when a payor (the employer, its agent, or a third party) provides a per diem allowance under a reimbursement or other expense allowance arrangement to pay for the expenses. In addition, this revenue procedure provides an optional method for employees and self-employed individuals who are not reimbursed to use in computing the amounts paid or incurred for business meal and incidental expenses, or for incidental expenses only if no meal expenses are paid or incurred, while traveling away from home. Use of a method described in this revenue procedure is not mandatory, and a taxpayer may use actual allowable expenses if the taxpayer maintains adequate records or other sufficient evidence for proper substantiation. This revenue procedure does not provide rules under which the amount of an employee's lodging expenses will be deemed substantiated to a payor when a payor provides an allowance to pay for those expenses but not meal and incidental expenses.

September 25, 2008 in IRS News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wolfman: Patenting Tax Strategies

Bernard Wolfman (Harvard) has posted Patenting Tax Strategies, 86 Taxes 33 (March 2008), on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has undertaken a practice of granting patents on so-called "tax strategies," legal plans for avoiding taxes. The issuance of those patents has been severely criticized by many, including the Section of Taxation of the American Bar Association. Concerns over the effect that patents on tax shelter planning would have on the practice of tax law, and on the availability of legal positions to taxpayers generally, have stimulated efforts to prohibit their issuance and to invalidate those already granted. None of these efforts has yet succeeded, but several show promise.

September 25, 2008 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tax Credits Bring More TV Shows to New York City

New York Times:  Tax Credits Bring More TV Shows to New York City, by Dave Itzkoff:

The city expects 19 prime-time television series (up from 12 last year) to be produced in New York for the 2008-9 season, according to the mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting. They include NBC’s “30 Rock,” whose creator and star, Tina Fey, gave thanks in an Emmy acceptance speech on Sunday night to the New York tax discounts that made it viable to shoot in New York; Fox’s “Fringe” which, without the tax breaks, would have been shot in Toronto; HBO’s “In Treatment,” another recent transplant from Los Angeles; as well as forthcoming pilots on ABC, Showtime and USA.

The tax incentives have also been a financial boon to the city: the mayor’s office estimated that city-based shoots contributed $957 million in spending between April 23 and Sept. 23 of this year, an increase from $452 million during the same period last year.

Continue reading

September 25, 2008 in News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Terry: Separate and Still Unequal? Taxing California Registered Domestic Partners

Keeva Terry (Roger Williams) has posted Separate and Still Unequal? Taxing California Registered Domestic Partners, 39 U. Tol. L. Rev. 633 (2008), on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This article analyzes whether the IRS has a cogent legal basis to discriminate and deny equal treatment to domestic partners. A clear logical framework is outlined, establishing that (i) for federal income tax purposes, the test of taxability is ownership, (ii) ownership is determined by state law, and (iii) according to California state law, domestic partners own community property equally and the earned income of a domestic partner is community property. As an extension of this framework, this article argues that each domestic partner should be required to report one-half of the community income, including any combined earned income such as salaries or wages, as his or her respective income for federal income tax purposes.

September 25, 2008 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

SSRN Graduate Tax Faculty Rankings

Theodore P. Seto (Loyola-L.A.) has updated his rankings of the Top 15 Graduate Tax Faculties, as measured by the number of SSRN downloads (through 9/12/08) [click on chart to enlarge]:

Seto_on_the_top_15_grad_tax_faculti

For purpose of Ted’s analysis, a tax professor is initially defined as any law professor at a U.S. law school (1) self-identifying with one of the tax categories in the AALS faculty listing, (2) who has posted at least one tax or tax-related article in abstract or full text on SSRN. Paul Caron’s listing of new hires and lateral transfers is also reflected. Further corrections are also made as requested. As is true of Paul Caron’s ranking of individual tax professors, downloads of all SSRN postings of any tax professor, so defined, are then tallied. Articles co-authored by members of a single faculty are counted only once towards that faculty’s tally.

For more on the use of SSRN downloads in law school rankings, see Bernard S. Black & Paul L. Caron, Ranking Law Schools: Using SSRN to Measure Scholarly Performance, 81 Ind. L.J. 83 (2006).

September 25, 2008 in Grad Tax Faculty Rankings | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

LSAT-Free Law School Admissions Can Goose U.S. News Ranking

My MoneyLaw colleague Tom Bell (Chapman) notes Michigan's new Wolverine Scholars Program -- in which Michigan undergrads with a minimum 3.80 GPA are admitted to Michigan Law School if they agree to not take the LSAT.  The rankings benefit is that there is no LSAT score to report to U.S. News, while the minimum 3.80 GPA will boost Michigan's median 3.64 GPA, which counts 10% in U.S. News' methodology. Other schools presumably will follow Michigan's lead and create similar programs to recruit their undergrads while also goosing their U.S. news ranking.

Update #1: As usual, my Law Professor Blog Network colleague Bill Henderson (Indiana) hits the nail on the head:

The rankings motive is further corroborated by the disqualification if the potential Wolverine Scholar has taken the LSAT. ... [T]here are terrible externalities from this alleged merit-based program. It is impossible to deny that the Wolverine Scholars program will encourage students to (a) take easier classes and majors to avoid the need to take the LSAT to get into an elite law school, (b) discourage extracurriculars that will threaten the 3.8, and (c) make a lot of Michigan undergraduate professors miserable with complaints from students that their B+ or A- grade is going to blow their Wolverine Scholar application.

From a rankings perspective, what happens when you get 20, 30, or 40 candidates with 3.8+ UPGA and no LSAT score? From day 1 of admissions season, Michigan has much greater latitude to lock in higher median LSAT and UPGA numbers--because zero Wolverine Scholars are dragging down the LSAT and all are helping the UPGA numbers. Further, because of the idiosyncrasies of the USNWR rankings formula, see Ted Seto's Understanding the U.S. News Law School Rankings, at the upper ranges, small changes in UGPA have a much greater sway on rankings that a single LSAT point. For example, in the simulation model that Andy Morriss and I created, a move from 3.64 to 3.66 has a greater effect than a move from 169 to 170. If Michigan can get to a 3.80 UGPA, they could tie with NYU at #5.

Update #2:  A reader let me know that Georgetown has a similar Early Assurance Program:

Early Assurance applicants are exempt from taking the LSAT and registering with the LSDAS. Instead, please include an official transcript with at least five semesters of undergraduate grades. Early Assurance applicants must submit two recommendations, one of which must be the Early Assurance Dean's Certification Form. Competitive Early Assurance applicants should have an undergraduate GPA of at least a 3.8.

Update #3:  For more, see:

September 25, 2008 in Law Review Rankings | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Recent and Pending Cases at the ECJ on Direct Taxation Conference Kicks Off Today in Vienna

The three-day conference on Recent and Pending Cases at the ECJ on Direct Taxation kicks off today in Vienna.  The conference is sponsored by the Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law (Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration), in close cooperation with the Austrian IFA Branch and the Wolfgang Gassner Research Fund for International Tax Law.  For the list of the speakers and their topics, see the program here.

September 24, 2008 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 2008 Florida Bar Results

Here are the July 2008 Florida Bar Results, along with the schools' U.S. News overall and peer ranking [click on chart to enlarge]:

Florida_bar_results_3

(Hat Tip: Michael Froomkin.)

September 24, 2008 in Law School Rankings | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Gergen: How Corporate Integration Could Kill the Market for Corporate Tax Shelters

Mark P. Gergen (UC-Berkeley) has published How Corporate Integration Could Kill the Market for Corporate Tax Shelters, 61 Tax L. Rev. 145 (2008).  Here is the Conclusion:

The existing literature on corporate integration has overlooked a significant feature of a model of integration in which income reported by the firm is taxed at the investor's rate. This creates a conflict between investors who face different tax rates or who have different investment horizons over the desirability of a firm shielding income from being reported as taxable. If streaming of reported and shielded income to the value-maximizing tax clientele can be constrained, then there is good reason to believe that moving to a system of integration would induce most firms to abjure the use of costly tax shields. The ultimate effect depends on many unknowns, in particular, the shape of the cost curve for corporate tax shields, the inclination of firms to exploit tax shields, and the elasticity of the demand by taxpaying investors for corporate equity held in non-tax deferred accounts. One thing I can confidently predict is that integration would shake up the world of corporate tax compliance and financial markets in heretofore uncontemplated ways. It would be a massive scale human subject experiment.

September 24, 2008 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dorocak: Tax Informants: Should They be Paid?

John R. Dorocak (California State University, Department of Accounting & Finance) has published State Tax Informants: Rewards and Liabilities Implementation in California and Guidance From the New and Old Federal Program --Should They be Paid?, 38 Cumb. L. Rev. 279 (2008).  Here is part of the Conclusion:

[A]lthough the Service solicits information from tax informants both civilly and criminally, there appears to be at least some duality in welcoming those informants, judging by the restrictions placed upon their rewards. The state regimes, with California as a leading example, appear to mirror the IRS's duality and ambiguity. In California, the rewards for informants both under the Franchise Tax Board administration and the State Board of Equalization administration are not presently funded. All of this would seem to indicate the informant is much more likely to furnish information to a taxing authority, particularly a state taxing authority, for motives other than financial reward and to view the financial reward as a bonus if indeed it is forthcoming. In fact, the California State Board of Equalization's Sales and Use Audit Manual recommends that “auditors may attempt to obtain such information by appealing to the person's sense of duty as a good citizen.” It may be, however, motives as pure as good citizenship which may motivate most informants and, thereby, the ambiguity in fostering these informant reward programs.

September 24, 2008 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Moot Court and Trial Advocacy Rankings

Following up on my prior post on law school moot court rankings:  here are the updated 2008 Top 25 rankings from Brian Koppen's Law School Advocacy site:

Moot Court (72 schools ranked):

  • 1.   South Texas
  • 2.   Georgetown
  • 3.   Washington University
  • 4.   Mississippi College
  • 5.   UC-Hastings
  • 6.   Seton Hall
  • 7.   Denver
  • 8.   Texas-Wesleyan
  • 9.   Regent
  • 10. Southwestern
  • 11. Detroit Mercy
  • 12. Georgia
  •       UC-Davis
  • 14. Brooklyn
  • 15. Lewis & Clark
  • 16. Hawaii
  •       Michigan State
  • 18. Campbell
  •       Wisconsin
  • 20. Columbia
  •       George Washington
  •       Marquette
  • 23. Houston
  •       Northern Kentucky

Trial Advocacy (38 schools ranked):

  • 1.   Faulkner
  • 2.   Samford
  • 3.   South Texas
  •       Wake Forest
  • 5.   Chicago-Kent
  •       Suffolk
  • 7.   Barry
  • 8.   Quinnipiac
  •       Syracuse
  • 10. Georgia
  • 11. Temple
  • 12. St. John's
  • 13. Akron
  •       Stetson
  •       UC-Berkeley
  • 16. Richmond
  • 17. New Mexico
  • 18. Campbell
  • 19. Florida Coastal
  •       Loyola-L.A.
  •       Pepperdine
  •       Washington University
  • 23. Buffalo
  • 24. Baylor
  •       Drake
  •       Florida International
  •       Loyola-Chicago
  •       North Carolina
  •       Thomas Cooley
  •       Tulane
  •       UCLA

Robert T. Sherwin (Texas Tech) today published a detailed, seven-part critique of these rankings on The Bench Brief:

  1. You can’t accurately rank an advocacy program solely on team results in national competitions
  2. You can’t give equal weight to, for lack of a better term, “unequal” competitions
  3. The rankings ignore regional champions and runners up at the National Moot Court Competition
  4. He refuses to acknowledge success at invitational or state-level competitions
  5. Why rank according to the calendar year and not the academic year?
  6. Koppen refuses to consider brief and advocate awards. Why?
  7. The rankings system really favors quantity, and not necessarily quality.

(Hat Tip: Bryan Camp.)

September 24, 2008 in Law School Rankings | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

SSRN Tax Faculty Rankings

Theodore P. Seto (Loyola-L.A.) has updated his rankings of the Top 25 U.S. Law School Tax Faculties, as measured by the number of SSRN downloads (through 9/12/08) [click on chart to enlarge]:

Seto_on_the_top_25_tax_faculties__4   

For purpose of Ted’s analysis, a tax professor is initially defined as any law professor at a U.S. law school (1) self-identifying with one of the tax categories in the AALS faculty listing, (2) who has posted at least one tax or tax-related article in abstract or full text on SSRN. Paul Caron’s listing of new hires and lateral transfers is also reflected. Further corrections are also made as requested. As is true of Paul Caron’s ranking of individual tax professors, downloads of all SSRN postings of any tax professor, so defined, are then tallied. Articles co-authored by members of a single faculty are counted only once towards that faculty’s tally.

For more on the use of SSRN downloads in law school rankings, see Bernard S. Black & Paul L. Caron, Ranking Law Schools: Using SSRN to Measure Scholarly Performance, 81 Ind. L.J. 83 (2006).

September 24, 2008 in Tax Faculty Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)