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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Call for Tax Papers: American Society for Legal History

Legal History Logo The American Society for Legal History has issued a Call for Papers for its Annual Meeting in Atlanta on November 10-13, 2011.

The ASLH invites proposals on any facet or period of legal history, anywhere in the world. Limited financial assistance will be available for those in need—with special priority given to graduate students and post-docs, as well as scholars traveling from abroad.

Proposals for both panels and individual papers are welcome. As concerns panels, the Program Committee encourages the submission of a variety of different types of proposals, including:

  • classical 3-paper panels (with a separate commentator and chair)
  • incomplete 2-paper panels (with a separate commentator and chair), which the Committee will complete with at least 1 more paper
  • panels of 4 or more papers (with a separate commentator and chair)
  • author-meets-reader panels
  • roundtable discussions

Panel proposals should include the following:

  • A 300-word description of the panel
  • A c.v. for each presenter (including complete contact info)
  • In the case of paper-based panels only, a 300-word abstract of each paper (as well as a draft of the paper)

Individual paper proposals should include:

  • A c.v. for each presenter (including complete contact info)
  • A 300-word abstract of each paper (as well as a draft of the paper, if possible)

The deadline for submitting proposals is February 28, 2011. Proposals should be sent as email attachments to Amalia Kessler.

November 23, 2010 in Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mikos: State Taxation of Marijuana

Robert Mikos (Vanderbilt) has published Why Crime Doesn't Pay: Thoughts on State Taxation of Marijuana Distribution and Other Federal Crimes, 2010 U. Chi. Legal F. 223. Here is the abstract:

The financial crisis has breathed new life into proposals to reform marijuana law. Commentators suggest that legalizing and taxing marijuana could generate substantial revenues for beleaguered state governments-as much as $1.4 billion for California alone. This Article, however, suggests that commentators have grossly underestimated the difficulty of collecting a tax on a drug that remains illegal under federal law. The federal ban on marijuana will impair state tax collections for two reasons. First, by giving marijuana distributors powerful incentives to stay small and operate underground, the federal ban will make it difficult for states to monitor marijuana distribution and, consequently, to detect and deter tax evasion. In theory, states could bolster deterrence by increasing sanctions for tax evasion, but doing so seems politically infeasible and may not even work. Second, even if states could find a way to monitor marijuana distribution effectively-for example, by licensing distributors-such monitoring could backfire. Any information the states gather on marijuana distribution could be seized by federal authorities and used to impose federal sanctions on distributors, giving them added incentive to evade state tax authorities. For both reasons, a marijuana tax may not be the budget panacea proponents claim it would be. To be sure, there are reasonable arguments favoring legalization; rescuing states from dire fiscal straits, however, is not one of them.

November 23, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Welcome to the Tax Blogosphere: Tax Tips for Poker Players

Poker Tax Tips for Poker Players:

With this blog, I intend to highlight the many tax issues a poker player should be aware of in order to properly report gambling earnings. The IRS has taken action against poker players for unpaid taxes. With smart planning and sound guidance, these problems can easily be avoided.

November 23, 2010 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 22, 2010

LeBron James: 'What Should I Do?'

Wall Street Journal, LeBron James Ad Asks for It:

In an arty, soul-searching 90-second Nike commercial released in October, basketball star LeBron James asks repeatedly, "What should I do?"

While the original version and direct copies of the ad—which attempt to deal head-on with Mr. James's controversial decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat—have generated 5.1 million online video views, spoofs and parodies have generated 5.8 million views, Visible Measures says. The figures don't include views of Nike's paid advertising. In one spoof of the Nike spot, Cleveland fans call the athlete a "traitor," "back stabber" and "selfish."

A parody from Comedy Central's "South Park" likens Mr. James to former BP PLC Chief Executive Tony Hayward. ...

The episode highlights the difficulties of repairing the image of a beleaguered public figure in the days when the Internet enables consumers to influence public perception.

 

November 22, 2010 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ainsworth Presents VAT Fraud -- Technology Solutions Today at Loyola-L.A.

Ainsworth Richard T. Ainsworth (Boston University) presents VAT Fraud -- Technology Solutions at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series. The commentators are Leslie Allen (DLA Piper, London) & Susan C. Morse (UC-Hastings). Here is the abstract:

Every VAT/GST allows missing trader fraud.  The fraud is simple, and can be simply prevented (with technology).  The fraud arises when a business makes a purchase without paying VAT, collects VAT on an onward sale, and then “disappears” without remitting the tax.  Missing trader fraud is common in high-value/ low-volume goods sold across borders – computer chips and cell phones are the classic examples.  But the fraud easily migrates when pursued.  It operates well with goods as wide ranging as xenon bulbs, automobiles, and earth moving equipment.

Continue reading

November 22, 2010 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

WSJ: A Sucker's Play -- Each $1 in Higher Taxes Results in $1.17 of New Spending

Wall Street Journal op-ed, Higher Taxes Won't Reduce the Deficit, by Stephen Moore (Wall Street Journal) & Richard Vedder (Ohio University, Department of Economics):

The draft recommendations of the president's commission on deficit reduction call for closing popular tax deductions, higher gas taxes and other revenue raisers to drive tax collections up to 21% of GDP from the historical norm of about 18.5%. Another plan, proposed last week by commission member and former Congressional Budget Office director Alice Rivlin, would impose a 6.5% national sales tax on consumers.

The claim here, echoed by endless purveyors of conventional wisdom in Washington, is that these added revenues—potentially a half-trillion dollars a year—will be used to reduce the $8 trillion to $10 trillion deficits in the coming decade. If history is any guide, however, that won't happen. Instead, Congress will simply spend the money.

In the late 1980s, one of us, Richard Vedder, and Lowell Gallaway of Ohio University co-authored a often-cited research paper for the congressional Joint Economic Committee (known as the $1.58 study) that found that every new dollar of new taxes led to more than one dollar of new spending by Congress. Subsequent revisions of the study over the next decade found similar results.

We've updated the research. Using standard statistical analyses that introduce variables to control for business-cycle fluctuations, wars and inflation, we found that over the entire post World War II era through 2009 each dollar of new tax revenue was associated with $1.17 of new spending. Politicians spend the money as fast as it comes in—and a little bit more. ...

We're constantly told by politicos that tax increases must be put "on the table" to get congressional Democrats—who've already approved close to $1 trillion of new spending in violation of their own budget rules over the last two years—to agree to make cuts in the unsustainable entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

Our research indicates this is a sucker play. After the 1990 and 1993 tax increases, federal spending continued to rise. The 1990 tax increase deal was enacted specifically to avoid automatic spending sequestrations that would have been required under the then-prevailing Gramm-Rudman budget rules....

The grand bargain so many in Washington yearn for—tax increases coupled with spending cuts—is a fool's errand. Our research confirms what the late economist Milton Friedman said of Congress many years ago: "Politicians will always spend every penny of tax raised and whatever else they can get away with."

Update: For a critical view, see Dan Shaviro (NYU).

November 22, 2010 in News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

NY Times: Deficit Hawks, Tax Chickens

New York Times, Deficit Hawks, Tax Chickens, by Nancy Folbre (UMass, Department of Economics)

I’m not sure who invented the term “deficit hawk,” but it seems an odd name for a creature too chicken to raise taxes. The bird is strange in color, too — in Republican red, Democratic blue or Blue Dog purple.

Most politicians refused to get specific about the federal budget until after the election, then stood around waiting for bipartisan groups to stick their necks out. We have now heard from the chairmen of President Obama’s bipartisan deficit reduction commission and the Bipartisan Policy Center, and the feathers are flying.

Both plans propose cuts in taxes on individual and corporate tax rates, counterbalanced by elimination of some big tax breaks. Both also propose taxing at least one liquid whose consumption we want to discourage: gasoline or sugary drinks. The Bipartisan Policy Center would also impose a 6.5% national sales tax. ...

Most critics on the right don’t like the proposed tax increases; most on the left argue that we shouldn’t obsess about the budget until we get the unemployment rate down and the economic growth rate back up. In other words, both plans to cut the deficit are hawkish, and the response to them largely represents hawks revealing their inner chickens.

November 22, 2010 in News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

State Winners and Losers If the Bush Tax Cuts Expire

Tax Foundation Logo Tax Foundation, How Would Expiration of Bush-Era Tax Cuts Affect State and Local Budgets?:

We highlight four main areas of interac­tion between state finances and the expiring tax cuts. First we discuss how potential changes in federal tax law would change state and local income tax revenue, both directly and in more subtle, interactive ways. Secondly, we discuss the impact on state estate taxes if the federal estate tax is revived after its one-year repeal in 2010. Third, because higher taxes mean less money in peoples' wallets, we discuss the impact of various federal tax policy options on state and local sales tax collections. Finally, we discuss how the Bush tax cuts could affect the financial condition of the federal government as well as the macroeconomy, and the likely con­sequences for state and local finances.

Continue reading

November 22, 2010 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Happy Thanksgiving From TSA

Johnston: Call the Republicans' Tax Bluff, Mr. President

Tax AnalystsDavid Cay Johnston has published Call Their Bluff, Mr. President,129 Tax Notes 933 (Nov. 22, 2010):

President Obama should call the Republicans on their bluff that they will force income tax increases on everyone unless top-income Americans continue to benefit from Bush-era tax cuts.

All Tax Analysts content is available through the LexisNexis® services.

November 22, 2010 in Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Warren Buffett: Rich Should Pay 'A Lot More' in Taxes

Sullivan: Tax Reform Fantasy

Tax Analysts Martin A. Sullivan (Tax Analysts) has published Tax Reform Fantasy, 129 Tax Notes 859 (Nov. 22, 2010):

Martin A. Sullivan criticizes the proposal by President Obama's fiscal reform commission and recommends that tax reform and deficit reduction be considered separate issues.

All Tax Analysts content is available through the LexisNexis® services.

November 22, 2010 in Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The Economist: The Trouble With American Law Schools

The Economist Logo The Economist, Trouble With the Law: Graduates of American Law Schools Are Finding That Their Chosen Career Is Less Lucrative Than They Had Hoped:

This year The Apprentice, a television show in which contestants compete for the privilege of working for Donald Trump, features 16 who are down on their luck, having lost previous jobs or otherwise having to start anew. No fewer than five of them are lawyers. The legal-job market in America remains dire. But the numbers applying to law school are still soaring, and students are taking out ever bigger loans as tuition fees grow faster than lawyers’ salaries. Increasingly, they are graduating into a world of overblown expectation and debt.

Legal Costs Between 1996 and 2008 private law schools’ median tuition fees almost doubled, to just under $34,000 a year. At public law schools fees grew even faster, albeit from a lower base: for those going to schools in their home state they almost trebled, taking the median to around $16,000. Starting salaries at the biggest firms—those with more than 500 lawyers—roughly doubled, to $160,000. But such plum jobs are hard to get, especially for graduates of the less prestigious public schools. At smaller firms starting pay has for years failed to keep up with soaring tuition fees, and of late has fallen (see chart).

Law schools, of course, disagree that they offer students a bad deal. The statistics they produce, on measures such as how many ex-students are employed nine months after graduation, do not look so bad. But some frustrated young lawyers find them misleading. Some schools report as “employed” those in part-time or temporary jobs, ones that do not involve practising law and posts subsidised by the school itself.
 

November 22, 2010 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRNThere is a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new paper debuting on the list at #4:

1.  [335 Downloads]  Unintended Consequences: How U.S. Tax Law Encourages Investment in Offshore Tax Havens, by David S. Miller (Cadwalader, New York)

2.  [189 Downloads]  Schedule UTP: Views of a Former Tax Adviser and Administrator, by J. Richard (Dick) Harvey (Villanova)

3.  [161 Downloads]  Financing Long-Term Care After Health Care Reform, by Richard L. Kaplan (Illinois)

4.  [149 Downloads]  Did Codification of Economic Substance Repeal the Partnership Anti-Abuse Rule?, by Howard Abrams (Emory)

5.  [145 Downloads]  Schedule UTP Guidance – Initial Observations, by J. Richard (Dick) Harvey (Villanova)

November 21, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Consumption Taxes and Redistribution

Isabel Correia (Banco de Portugal) has published Consumption Taxes and Redistribution, 100 Am. Econ. Rev. 1468 (2010). Here is the abstract:

It is relatively well known that the introduction of consumption taxation as an alternative in the tax code, and as the main source of government revenues, leads to a more efficient tax system. However the conventional wisdom is that the change from the actual tax code, based on taxation of capital and labor income to this consumption based system, has undesirable distributional consequences. In this work a very simple method is developed to argue that the converse is the most reasonable outcome from that fundamental tax reform. The main difference in relation to the literature comes from the assumed source of household heterogeneity. Additionally it is shown that the inclusion of a tax on consumption allows for redistributive policies with no costs in terms of efficiency.

November 21, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Has the IRS Usurped the Business Judgment of Tax-Exempt Organizations?

Karen Donnelly (J.D. 2011, UMKC) has published Comment, Good Governance: Has the IRS Usurped the Business Judgment of Tax-Exempt Organizations in the Name of Transparency and Accountability?, 79 UMKC L. Rev. 163 (2010). Here is the Conclusion:

The negative implications of the IRS' new Form 990 far outweigh the benefits. Although the IRS claims that the new approach to nonprofit governance is not a “one size fits all” mandatory list of governance policies and programs, the practical application of the new form says otherwise. If charities feel compelled to check “yes” to whether they've adopted a conflict of interest policy, whistleblower policy, or document retention policy, many organizations, and particularly smaller and rural organizations, may hastily adopt boilerplate policies found on the Internet that do not fit their organizational structure, mission, or programs for fear of receiving a bad rating, bad reputation, and donor disapproval that could potentially result from the information going public.

Further, the prohibitive cost to complete the new Form 990 is also a major disadvantage to the IRS' intrusion into the states' sphere of governance regulation. In many cases, the IRS' new governance reforms are hurting charities more than they are helping. Charitable assets that could have been used to further an organization's exempt purpose are now going toward reporting expenses. The IRS may succeed in encouraging tax compliance, but it may also threaten the business judgment and financial viability of many effective charitable programs by “encouraging” them to wear a shoe that does not fit and costs way too much. A uniform system of regulatory law enforced by a new executive agency, staffed with the necessary resources to adequately oversee nonprofit governance practices, rather than proposing sweeping legislation in an already overregulated industry, may result in the most effective and efficient way to regulate the industry of good deeds.

November 21, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love (Canine Edition)

The 10 Highest State Income Tax Rates For 2011

Forbes Logo Forbes, The 10 Highest State Income Tax Rates For 2011:
  1. Hawaii:  11% ($200,000 single/$400,000 married)
  2. Oregon:  11% ($250,000 single/$500,000 married)
  3. California:  10.3% ($1,000,000 single & married)
  4. Iowa:  8.98% ($64,755 single & married)
  5. New Jersey:  8.97% ($500,000 single & married)
  6. New York:  8.97% ($500,000 single & married)
  7. Vermont:  8.97% ($379,150 single & married)
  8. Maine:  8.5% ($19,750 single, $39,550 married)
  9. Washington, D.C.:  8.5% ($40,000 single & married)
  10. Minnesota:  7.85% ($74,780 single, $132,220 married)

November 20, 2010 in News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Wesley Snipes Begins Serving 3-Year Sentence for Failure to File Tax Returns

Wesley Snipes The district court on Friday ordered Wesley Snipes to jail to begin serving his three-year sentence following his unsuccesful appeal of his conviction on three counts of willful failure to file tax returns under § 7203. United States v. Snipes, No. 5:06-cr-22-Oc-10 (M.D. FL Nov. 19, 2010):

The Defendant Snipes had a fair trial; he has had a full, fair, and thorough review of his conviction and sentence by the Court of Appeals; and he has had a full, fair, and thorough review of his present claims, during all of which he has remained at liberty. The time has come for the judgment to be enforced.

November 20, 2010 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)

Do You Know Who Wrote Your Student's Paper?

Chronicle of Higher Education, The Shadow Scholar: The Man Who Writes Your Students' Papers Tells His Story:

You've never heard of me, but there's a good chance that you've read some of my work. I'm a hired gun, a doctor of everything, an academic mercenary. My customers are your students. I promise you that. Somebody in your classroom uses a service that you can't detect, that you can't defend against, that you may not even know exists.

I work at an online company that generates tens of thousands of dollars a month by creating original essays based on specific instructions provided by cheating students. I've worked there full time since 2004. On any day of the academic year, I am working on upward of 20 assignments.

In the midst of this great recession, business is booming. At busy times, during midterms and finals, my company's staff of roughly 50 writers is not large enough to satisfy the demands of students who will pay for our work and claim it as their own. ...

For those of you who have ever mentored a student through the writing of a dissertation, served on a thesis-review committee, or guided a graduate student through a formal research process, I have a question: Do you ever wonder how a student who struggles to formulate complete sentences in conversation manages to produce marginally competent research? How does that student get by you? ...

I do a lot of work for seminary students. I like seminary students. They seem so blissfully unaware of the inherent contradiction in paying somebody to help them cheat in courses that are largely about walking in the light of God and providing an ethical model for others to follow. I have been commissioned to write many a passionate condemnation of America's moral decay as exemplified by abortion, gay marriage, or the teaching of evolution. All in all, we may presume that clerical authorities see these as a greater threat than the plagiarism committed by the future frocked. ...

I, who have no name, no opinions, and no style, have written so many papers at this point, including legal briefs, military-strategy assessments, poems, lab reports, and, yes, even papers on academic integrity, that it's hard to determine which course of study is most infested with cheating.

November 20, 2010 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tax Gross-Ups in Discrimination Suits

Tim Canney (J.D. 2011, Catholic) has published Tax Gross-Ups: A Practical Guide to Arguing and Calculating Awards for Negative Tax Consequences in Discrimination Suits, 59 Cath. U. L. Rev. 1111 (2010). Here is the abstract:

Congress passed the American Disabilities Act (ADA) to combat discrimination in areas such as employment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act describes remedies available for violations of the ADA. Under Title VII, courts may grant equitable relief that they deem “appropriate.” Some courts have used this broad language to affirm “gross-up” jury awards. These gross-up awards are used to offset a plaintiff’s tax liability for lump-sum back pay awards received in employment discrimination suits. This Comment begins by examining current remedies granted in discrimination suits brought under Title VII. Next, the author evaluates the discussion of tax gross-up awards and analogizes them to other equitable remedies. The author then rejects the belief that courts are without the authority to grant gross-up awards because they create unfair tax treatment. Instead, the author argues that gross-up awards are appropriate under Title VII in order to protect victims of employment discrimination and to make plaintiffs “whole” again. Lastly, the author offers a practical guide to practitioners for calculating gross-up awards.

November 20, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kysar Presents Penalty Default Interpretative Canons Today at Brooklyn

Kysar Tax Prof Rebecca Kysar (Brooklyn) presents Penalty Default Interpretative Canons at Brooklyn today as part of the symposium on Statutory Interpretation: How Much Work Does Language Do? Here is the abstract:

A preference for a particular method of statutory interpretation over another often relates to one’s view of the legislative process.  In advancing his textualist approach to interpreting statutes, for example, Justice Scalia relies partially on a view that the legislative process malfunctions, filled with self-serving representatives who plant misleading statements into the legislative record.  Purposivists share a more benign view of the legislative process by interpreting statutes in accordance with meritorious, public-regarding aims presumably sought by lawmakers in enacting the legislation in question.  Neither of these underlying views of the legislative process satisfies,  and scholars continue to search for methods of statutory interpretation that reflect the actual functioning of the legislative process.

A scholarly focus of whether a methodology of statutory interpretation is too cynical or too optimistic of the legislative process, however, is incomplete; instead, a methodology must also be evaluated on how it affects the legislative process.  To this end, I set forth a novel categorization of a number of interpretative rules advanced by scholars and courts that contemplate a mismatch between reality and the view of the legislative process they assume.  In these examples, such a view, although distorted, eradicates an identified problem in the legislative process—for our immediate purposes, “hidden” special interest provisions, the beneficiaries of which are not transparent to other lawmakers or in the plain language of the statute.  More specifically, by assuming counterfactually that legislators disclose special interest provisions as such, courts can create incentives for lawmakers to indeed do so.  These canons also generally do no interpretive harm when the legislative process is in accord with the assumed goal of the legislative process—that is, when it is clear that statutory provisions benefit certain special interests, the canons operate to bestow such a benefit.  Thus, they may satisfy both cynics of and believers in the legislative process.  By identifying such a category, this Essay presents a more robust typology of theories and methods of statutory construction as to their relationship with the legislative process.

November 19, 2010 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wood: Family Tax Law

Family Tax Law Richard J. Wood (Capital) has published Family Tax Law (Vanderplas Publishing, 2010):

Family Tax Law is organized around family law topics that also raise serious tax law issues. Its goal is to serve both the family law and tax law academic communities by providing a text book that links family law issues with related tax law problems. The book covers federal income tax issues concerning the formation and dissolution of family structures. It continues with chapters that address children, education, family health, family home and other family topics, along with the federal tax issues that accompany them. The first chapter provides a review of basic tax law principles sufficient to allow non-tax students to proceed with the family tax law materials that follow.

Family Tax Law supports a family law curriculum by providing detailed illustrations and problems concerning family law topics and the associated federal income taxation issues. By omitting business and gift and estate tax matters, there is more space for in-depth discussions of family law topics. Family Tax Law contains the text of every section of the Internal Revenue Code necessary to understand the family law issue being discussed. It will not be necessary for students to purchase a separate supplementary code book. A teachers manual is available.

November 19, 2010 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

McMahon: Taxing Tax Expenditures?

Tax Expenditures Martin J. McMahon, Jr. (Florida) has posted Taxing Tax Expenditures? on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This essay, Taxing Tax Expenditures?, is a chapter from a forthcoming book, The Proper Tax Base; Structural Fairness From and International and Comparative Perspective: Essays in Honor of Paul McDaniel (Yariv Brauner & Martin J. McMahon, Jr., Eds.0 (Kluwer Law International). After briefly recounting the historical development of tax expenditure analysis and its enshrinement in the budget process by The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, the essay explains the core values of tax expenditure analysis as articulated by Stanley Surrey and Paul McDaniel in their classic 1985 book, Tax Expenditures. The essay explains the journey of tax expenditure analysis from “tax reform” to “spending reform,” and in the course of doing so notes that other academicians have fully refuted all proffered criticisms of tax expenditure analysis. The core of the essay examines a proposition that flows naturally form the heart of tax expenditure analysis — if tax expenditures are the functional equivalent of direct spending subsidies, they should be taxed in the same manner that direct subsidies would be taxed under a Schantz-Haig-Simons normative income tax. After reaching the conclusion that taxing tax expenditures in this manner is administratively feasible, if at all, only with respect to credits, and possibly exclusions, but likely not with respect to deferral-based tax expenditure subsidies, the essay concludes by examining recent calls by leading academicians for extensive repeal of tax expenditures in the name of either tax reform or spending reform in order to bring under control both the budget deficit and the congressional procedures that have contributed to the enormous growth of the budget deficit in recent years. In the end, all of the income base broadening proposals build on the shoulders of the pioneers of tax expenditure analysis, Paul McDaniel and Stanley Surrey, and most, if not all of the failures of the income tax system as it exists today, derive from the failure of the political process to appreciate and apply the wisdom in their book, Tax Expenditures.

November 19, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Value of Collegiality Among Law Professors

Michael L. Seigel (Florida) & Kathi Miner-Rubino (Texas A&M University, Department of Pyschology) have published Measuring the Value of Collegiality Among Law Professors, 1 Faulkner L. Rev. 257 (2010). Here is part of the Introduction:

This article is the last in a trilogy addressing the issue of collegiality among law professors. In the first piece, titled On Collegiality [54 J. Legal Educ. 406 (2004)],author Seigel defined "collegiality" and suggested that most law schools have at least one, if not two or three, "affirmatively uncollegial" members of their faculty.' Seigel posited that these individuals tend to interfere with the ideal functioning of their institutions by negatively affecting the well-being of their peers. In the worst cases, a pervasively uncollegial faculty will drive its best teachers and scholars away, harming the reputation and quality of the institution." Seigel weighed the costs and benefits of enforcing a norm of collegiality in an academic institution and came down, ultimately, on the side of enforcement.

Some readers of On Collegiality questioned the legitimacy of Seigel's cost-benefit analysis. Specifically, they commented that some of the factors Seigel used in his analysis could be empirically measured. In response, the present authors teamed up to conduct an empirical study of collegiality. The goals of the study were to determine: (1) whether collegiality correlates with the occupational and psychological well-being of individual faculty members; (2) whether levels of collegiality in law schools differ for faculty sub-groups broken down by gender, race, sexual orientation, rank, and tenure status; and (3) the characteristics of law schools that create a collegial climate. The beliefs underpinning the study were (1) that enforcing collegiality is costly at least in terms of the potential lawsuits it will generate by those who are denied promotion, tenure, or other benefits as a result of being deemed uncollegial, and (2) that this effort is a net negative unless promoting collegiality brings measurable benefits to the institution more valuable than the costs.

The empirical study, carried out by means of an e-mail survey to 8,929 law school teachers, was completed in June 2005. The authors began their analysis of the data, and published the second article in this series, Some Preliminary Statistical, Qualitative, and Anecdotal Findings of An Empirical Study of Collegiality Among Law Professors, the following year. [Michael L. Seigel & Kathi Miner-Rubino, Some Preliminary Statistical, Qualitative, and Anecdotal Findings of an Empirical Study of Collegiality Among Law Professors, 13 Widener L. Rev. 1 (2006).] That piece was limited to the reporting of descriptive statistics, such as the demographics of the respondents and their reported levels of job satisfaction, institutional collegiality, and administrative responses to collegiality matters.'  It also set out many of the 482 narrative responses to the survey, in full. The present article provides a more complete picture of collegiality in law schools by describing more complex findings obtained by conducting various statistical analyses of the data set. Some of the findings are quite stark and not all are as predicted. 

November 19, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Cockfield: A Multilateral Taxpayer Bill of Rights

Arthur J. Cockfield (Queen's University, Faculty of Law) has published Protecting Taxpayer Privacy Rights Under Enhanced Cross-Border Tax Information Exchange: Toward a Multilateral Taxpayer Bill of Rights, 42 U. British Col. L. Rev. 420 (2010). Here is the abstract:

For a number of important policy reasons, tax authorities share information they collect about taxpayers with tax authorities from other countries. These tax authorities along with tax scholars generally recognize the need for enhanced cross-border tax information exchange (TIE) to assist with the enforcement of tax laws as well as for other reasons, but often disagree on the appropriate reform path. This Article deploys law and technology analysis to identify and discuss the challenges to taxpayer privacy rights and interests presented by TIE to see whether reform efforts are needed. In particular, taxpayer privacy appears to be challenged by the digitization of tax records, the maintenance of these records within databases and the transmission of the records across borders via information technology networks. The analysis suggests that effective TIE should be understood to consist of two discrete but related elements: efficient TIE (that is, rules and policies that promote low compliance costs for taxpayers and ease of administration and enforcement by tax authorities) and fair TIE (that is, rules and policies that respect the rights of taxpayers, including privacy rights). The main policy proposal is for governments to consider the development and negotiation of a multilateral taxpayer bill of rights. This international agreement could help to protect taxpayer privacy rights and thus encourage a more effective sharing of taxpayer information across borders by providing assurances to governments that the rights of their citizens and residents will be respected.

November 19, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

GAO: Compliance Costs of ObamaCare's 1099 Reporting Requirement Are Low

Gao_6At yesterday's hearing of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship on Assessing the Regulatory and Administrative Burdens on America’s Small Businesses, James R. White, Director of Tax Issues at the Government Accountability Office, testified on Small Businesses: Tax Compliance Benefits and Opportunities to Mitigate Costs on Third Parties of Miscellaneous Income Reporting Requirements (GAO-11-218T):

Information reporting is a powerful tool for encouraging voluntary compliance by payees and helping IRS detect underreported income. Also, information reporting may sometimes reduce taxpayers’ costs of preparing their tax returns, although by how much is not known. IRS estimated that $68 billion of the annual $345 billion gross tax gap for 2001, the most current available estimate, was caused by sole proprietors underreporting their net business income. A key reason for this noncompliance was that sole proprietors were not subject to tax withholding and only a portion of their net business income was reported to IRS by third parties. The benefits from information reporting are affected by payers’ compliance with reporting requirements and IRS’s ability to use the information in its process that matches third-party data with tax returns. ...

Chart 2 
This testimony summarizes recent GAO reports and provides information on (1) benefits of the current requirements in terms of improved compliance by taxpayers and reduced taxpayer recordkeeping, (2) costs to the third-party businesses of the current 1099-MISC reporting requirement, and (3) options for mitigating the reporting burden for third-party businesses. GAO has not assessed the expansion of 1099-MISC reporting to payments for goods.

Current 1099-MISC requirements impose costs on the third parties required to file them. The magnitude of these costs is not easily estimated because payers generally do not track these costs separate from other accounting costs. In nongeneralizable case studies conducted in 2007 with four payers and five vendors that file information returns on behalf of their clients, GAO was told that existing information return costs were relatively low. One small business employing under five people told GAO of possibly spending 3 to 5 hours per year filing Form 1099 information returns manually, using an accounting package to gather the information. Two vendors reported prices for preparing and filing Forms 1099 of about $10 per form for 5 forms to about $2 per form for 100 forms, with one charging about $0.80 per form for 100,000 forms.

At yesterday's hearing, Winslow Sargeant, Chief Counsel for Advocacy U.S. Small Business Administration, testified on the regulatory and administrative burdens on small businesses and endorsed the repeal of the ObamaCare's 1099 reporting obligation:

CHART

November 19, 2010 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

NTA Annual Tax Conference

Natl Tax The National Tax Association's 103rd Annual Conference on Taxation continues today in Chicago. Tax Profs with speaking roles today include:

Tax Compliance and Evasion

Tax Challenges in Developing and Transitioning Countries (Panel)

  • Emil Sunly (Organizer, Moderator)
  • Richard Bird (Toronto)
  • Mario Mansour (IMF)
  • Michael McIntyre (Wayne State)
  • Eric Stern (International Finance Corp.)
  • Eric Zolt (UCLA)

International Corporate Taxation: Are We Headed in the Right Direction (Panel)

  • Donald Marples (Congressional Research Service) (Organizer, Moderator)
  • Jane Gravelle (Congressional Research Service)
  • Edward Kleinbard (USC)
  • Daniel Shaviro (NYU)
  • Lee A. Sheppard (Tax Notes)

November 19, 2010 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Alan Grayson: What Republicans Can Do With Their Tax Cuts For The Rich

(Hat Tip: Ann Murphy.)

November 19, 2010 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

ABA Tax Section Publishes Fall 2010 Issue of News Quarterly

ABA NQ The ABA Tax Section has published 30 News Quarterly No. 1 (Fall 2010):

November 19, 2010 in ABA Tax Section, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Call for T&E Papers: Michigan Symposium on the UPC

ACTEC The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel has issued a call for papers for a symposium, The Uniform Probate Code: Remaking of American Succession Law, to be held at Michigan on October 21, 2011:

The symposium will examine law reform in trusts and estates that has occurred over the past 50 years, with particular focus on the first great success, The Uniform Probate Code. Additionally, it will seek to identify and analyze topics that should constitute an agenda for further reform. The Legal Education Committee hopes to group together presentation with a similar theme and to permit a commentator to respond to the proposals.

If you would like to be considered to be a symposium presenter, please submit an abstract of your paper to Anne-Marie Rhodes by February 1, 2011. The Committee will notify individuals chosen to participate in the symposium by email no later than March 1, 2011. If you are chosen to present a paper, you will be asked to submit a draft by September 15, 2011. You will also be asked to agree to publish your final paper in a special symposium edition of the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform.

All symposium speakers will be reimbursed for their travel expenses (airfare and the cost of ground transportation and hotel) courtesy of an ACTEC Foundation grant.

November 19, 2010 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Motro Presents Preglimony Today at Illinois

Motro Shari Motro (Richmond) presents Preglimony, 63 Stan. L. Rev. ___ (2011), at Illinois today as part of its Faculty Workshop Series. Here is the abstract:

Unmarried lovers who conceive are strangers in the eyes of the law. If the woman terminates the pregnancy, the man owes her nothing. If she takes the pregnancy to term, the man’s obligation to support her is limited. The law reflects this lovers-as-strangers presumption by making a man’s obligation towards a woman with whom he conceives derivative of his paternity-related obligations; his duty is towards his child, not towards the woman in her own right. Thus, a pregnant woman’s lost wages and other personal costs are her private problem, and if there is no child at the end of the pregnancy, there is no one — from a legal perspective — that the man must support.

The law also endorses this lovers-as-strangers default in the way in which it treats men who do support their pregnant lovers. It does this through the tax code. Current tax law regards payments between unmarried lovers as gifts or as child support. This characterization not only misses the mark descriptively, but it also misses an opportunity to reward and encourage a behavior that is critically important in an age when sex and procreation outside of marriage are common.

This Article argues that the law should develop a new framework for addressing the unique relationship between unmarried lovers who conceive and that tax reform offers a practical and relatively modest first step for doing so. To this end, it proposes that Congress create a pregnancy support deduction to benefit taxpayers who already support pregnant women, thereby extending to them the same deduction we now give taxpayers who pay alimony.

November 18, 2010 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Gergen Presents A Case for Fault-Based Tax Penalties Today at Columbia

Gergen Mark Gergen (UC-Berkeley) presents Uncertainty and Tax Enforcement: A Case for Modest Fault-Based Penalties at Columbia today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series. Here is the part of the Conclusion:

The major conclusions of this article are as follows. (1) At a sufficiently high penalty rate there is a strong case for fault-based penalties for mis-valuation of items of uncertain value and for legal error because of the risk created by the interaction of a penalty with uncertainty about the outcome on audit. (2) This effect is not significant under existing penalties but it becomes significant at fairly modest penalty rates, particularly in the case of a mis-valuation penalty. (3) A fault-based penalty in what may be the politically feasible range, such as on the order of magnitude of 150% of a deficiency resulting from mis-valuation, can create significant risk for taxpayers who take an aggressive position on an uncertain tax without creating significant risk for taxpayers who take moderate or conservative positions. (4) Even an automatic penalty as high as the inverse of the audit rate will not deter a risk-neutral (or risk-preferring) taxpayer from taking an aggressive position on an uncertain item because of the asymmetric treatment of over-payments and under-payments. Quite a few taxpayers probably are sufficiently insensitive to risk (or able to overcome a tendency to myopic loss aversion) that penalties in the politically feasible range will not deter them from aggressively under-paying an uncertain tax.

November 18, 2010 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

IRS's Wrongful Imprisonment Ruling Stirs Controversy

IP Following up on last month's post, Why Do We Tax Recoveries by Prisoners Freed From Wrongful Imprisonment? (Oct. 28, 2010): Forbes, Wrongful Imprisonment Tax Ruling Stirs Controversy, by Robert W. Wood (Wood & Porter, San Francisco):

[P]eople have been gleefully emailing me ... Chief Counsel Advice 201045023.  Everyone seems to be reading it by the headline the tax press is (inappropriately) giving it, proclaiming “wrongful conviction recoveries are now tax free!” 

Since I’ve long argued for this view, I hate to be a killjoy.  Unfortunately, that’s not what it says—not by a long shot.  In fact, this IRS ruling says only that a victim of wrongful imprisonment who “suffered physical injuries and physical sickness while incarcerated” can exclude his recovery from taxes and can structure it just like other physical injury victims.  We already knew that. ...

The IRS issued a series of rulings in the 1950s and 1960s, involving prisoners of war, civilian internees and holocaust survivors.  Sensibly, the IRS ruled their compensation was tax free irrespective of whether they suffered physical injuries.  Then the IRS “obsoleted” these rulings in 2007, suggesting the landscape has changed. 

The IRS has still not addressed whether being unlawfully locked up is itself tax free.  This is a worry, since the Tax Court (affirmed by the Sixth Circuit) dangerously held in Stadnyk that persons who step forward saying they didn’t experience physical injuries or physical sickness will have a taxable recovery.  Stadnyk was a very short term incarceration case, but it may portend continuing adherence to the IRS canard that “there must also be physical injury.”

It is wrong as a matter of tax policy and as a matter of social justice to tax these recoveries.  It is also wrong to leave this area of the tax law to develop piecemeal so some people are paying tax.  The continuing myopic focus on the accompanying injuries or sickness will foment tax disputes about these issues. 

November 18, 2010 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Unsuccessful Law Faculty Applicant Sues Baltimore for Age Discrimination

Dobkin Donald Dobkin, 56, a professor at Central Michigan University and a partner in a Troy Michigan immigration law boutique law firm, has sued his second law school in two years for age discrimination for refusing to interview him for a teaching position:  National Law Journal, Job Applicant Accuses University of Baltimore School of Law of Discrimination:

An immigration attorney from Michigan on Tuesday filed an age and gender discrimination lawsuit against the University of Baltimore School of Law — the second time in as many years that he has sued a U.S. law school for discrimination.

Donald Dobkin, an associate faculty member at the College of Graduate Studies at Central Michigan University, claimed age and gender discrimination because he was not interviewed for a position at Baltimore for which he had applied. The school later hired a younger woman for the position, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

Dobkin sued the University of Iowa College of Law in 2009 for age discrimination after he was not granted a job interview for a teaching position — he was 55 at the time. That case was dismissed in December of 2009 after a federal judge ruled that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa lacked jurisdiction. Dobkin has refiled suit in Iowa state court, and a trial date was set for August 2011.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

November 18, 2010 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fundamental Tax Reform and U.S. Economic Growth

Dale W. Jorgenson (Harvard University, Department of Economics) & Kun-Young Yun (Yonsei University (Korea), Department of Economics) have posted Lifting the Burden: Fundamental Tax Reform and U.S. Economic Growth on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This paper presents a comprehensive treatment of the cost-of-capital approach for analyzing the economic impact of tax policy. This approach has provided an intellectual impetus for reforms of capital income taxation in the United States and around the world. The most dramatic example is the Tax Reform Act of 1986 in the United States. In this landmark legislation the income tax base was broadened by wholesale elimination of tax preferences for both individuals and corporations. Revenues generated by base broadening were used to finance sharp reductions in tax rates at corporate and individual levels. The cost-of-capital approach presented in this paper shows that important opportunities for tax reform still remain. This approach suggests two avenues for reform. One would retain the income tax base of the existing U.S. tax system, but would equalize tax burdens on all forms of assets as well as average and marginal rates on labor income. Elimination of differences in the tax treatment of all forms of assets would produce gains in efficiency comparable to those from the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Equalization of marginal and average tax rates on labor income would more than double these gains in efficiency. Proposals to replace income by consumption as a tax base were revived in the United States during the 1990's. The Hall-Rabushka Flat Tax proposal would produce efficiency gains comparable to those from equalizing tax burdens on all forms of assets under the income tax. However, a progressive National Retail Sales Tax, collected on personal consumption expenditures at the retail level, would generate gains in efficiency exceeding those from the Flat Tax by more than 50 percent! Equalizing marginal and average rates of taxation on consumption would double the gains from the Flat Tax.

November 18, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

9th Cir. Rejects CLS's Claim That UC-Hastings Selectively Enforced Nondiscrimination Policy

CLS Logo On remand from the Supreme Court (Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, No. 08-1371 (June 28, 2010)), the Ninth Circuit yesterday refused to consider the Christian Legal Society's claim that UC-Hastings had selectively enforced its nondiscrimination policy on the ground that CLS had not raised the argument early enough in the proceeding. Christian Legal Society v. Wu, No. 06-15956 (9th Cir. Nov. 17, 2010):

Our disposition in this case was affirmed by the Supreme Court. Christian Legal Soc’y v. Martinez, 130 S.Ct. 2971, 2995 (2010). On remand, Christian Legal Society (“CLS”) asks us to remand with instructions that the district court consider its claim that Hastings College of Law selectively applies its Nondiscrimination Policy against CLS. Before the Supreme Court, CLS contended that “[t]he peculiarity, incoherence, and suspect history of the all-comers policy all point to pretext.” The majority refused to address this argument, however, because “[n]either the District Court nor the Ninth Circuit addressed an argument that Hastings selectively enforces its all-comers policy, and this Court is not the proper forum to air the issue in the first instance.” The Court then remanded with instructions for us to consider the pretext issue “if, and to the extent, it is preserved.” True to the Court’s instruction, we consider whether, and to what extent, CLS preserved the issue of selective enforcement. ...

CLS simply failed to raise this issue the first time around, and it is not entitled to “a second bite at the appellate apple.” Kesselring v. F/T Arctic Hero, 95 F.3d 23, 24 (9th Cir. 1996) (per curiam). If, going forward, Hastings applies its policy in a discriminatory way, CLS may be able to file a new lawsuit. But in the current case, the Supreme Court gave very specific instructions to consider the pretext argument only “if, and to the extent, it is preserved.” Christian Legal Soc’y, 130 S. Ct. at 2995. Having determined that CLS has not preserved this argument, we have no authority to consider it now.

November 18, 2010 in Legal Education, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Bankruptcy Trustee Questions Crystal Cathedral CFO's $132k Housing Allowance

Crystal Cathedral Los Angeles Times, Federal Bankruptcy Officials Question Crystal Cathedral Compensation:

Crystal Cathedral, the Orange County mega-church that filed for bankruptcy last month, allowed its chief financial officer to skirt federal income taxes by paying the bulk of his salary in the form of a housing allowance, a benefit reserved under law for ministers.

The six-figure housing allowance paid to financial officer Fred Southard -– along with compensation to members of the church founder's family –- are among the expenses questioned by the U.S. trustee's office and the creditors' committee assessing the bankruptcy case. ...

The Crystal Cathedral has cited the weak economy and a 24% drop in donations in 2009 for its financial problems. More than 550 creditors are owed $50 million to $100 million, according to the initial bankruptcy filing last month.

According to court documents, longtime financial director Fred Southard received $132,019 out of his total $144,261 compensation in the form of a housing allowance last year. Southard has been the Crystal Cathedral's chief financial officer since 1978 and owns a home in Newport Beach valued at $2.3 million. ...

Southard told The Times on Wednesday that he was ordained as a minister by the Crystal Cathedral about 10 years ago and has taken the bulk of his compensation in the form of a housing allowance since then. "That's what ministers are allowed to do, and so it's to the individual's advantage to do that," he said. ...

[The U.S. trustee's office] suggested that Southard should not even receive the allowance. "There is no justification whatsoever for a housing allowance of this amount," according to the documents. "Mr. Southard has failed to explain why such a housing allowance is necessary or appropriate, given this debtor is in Chapter 11 and suffering financial difficulties."

(Hat Tip: Bob Kamman.)

November 18, 2010 in News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

NTA Conference on Taxation

Natl Tax The National Tax Association's 103rd Annual Conference on Taxation kicks off today in Chicago. Tax Profs with speaking roles today include:

Psychology and Taxation

  • David Gamage (UC-Berkeley) (Organizer & Moderator)
  • James Alm (Tulane), Kim Bloomquist (IRS) & Michael McKee (IRS), On the External Validity of Tax Compliance Experiments
  • David Gamage (UC-Berkeley), On Tax Salience
  • Steven Sheffrin (Tulane), Folk Justice and Taxation: Psychological Foundations
  • David Walker (Boston University), Suitable for Framing: Business Deductions in a Net Income Tax System
  • Discussants: Joshua Blank (NYU), John Deskins (Creighton), Brian Galle (Boston College), Terrence Chorvat (George Mason)

Current Research in International Taxation

  • Susan Morse (UC-Hastings) (Moderator)
  • Dhammika Dharmapala (Illinois) (Organizer)
  • Jennifer Blouin (Penn), Leslie Robinson (Dartmouth) & Jeri Seidman (Texas), Tax Loss Asymmetry and Income Shifting
  • Dhammika Dharmapala (Illinois) & Nadine Riedel (Oxford), Earnings Shocks and Tax-Motivated Income Shifting: Evidence from European Multinationals
  • Adam Rosenzweig (Washington U.), Why Are There Tax Havens? 
  • Discussants: Stacie Laplante (Terry College of Business), Timothy Goodspeed (CUNY), Kirk Stark (UCLA)

November 18, 2010 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Law School Transparency Project Update

Law School Transparency The Law School Transparency Project has released this report on its initital request to law schools to disclose more employment data:

The purpose of this report is to analyze the current interest among U.S. law schools in reforming how they disclose employment information. Reform is necessary because current reporting standards leave prospective law students in the dark about the significant risks involved in pursuing a legal education in the U.S. This report is part of an effort by Law School Transparency (LST) to bring together all relevant stakeholders into a focused discussion about the need to establish a new reporting standard. LST sent its initial request (Appendix A) in July 2010 to the administrators of all 199 ABA approved and provisionally-approved law schools, asking them to commit to disclosing post-graduation employment information under a new reporting standard (the LST Standard).

This report summarizes the results of LST‘s initial request. The report includes a critical examination of the substantive responses from the law schools that responded before the deadline. It also explores reasons why the other law schools may have declined to respond to the initial request. Additionally, the report summarizes the media attention that followed the request. The media has continued to look critically at how law schools are responding (or not responding) to requests for reasonable information.

Other recent Law School Transparency news:

November 17, 2010 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

How Some Law Schools Game Employment Data

Above the Law, The Secret To Inflating Employment Rates? Only Survey Law Grads Who Are Employed:

The following will shock no one who has been paying attention to how law schools are trying to openly game the U.S. News law school rankings and mislead prospective law students. When it comes time to collect employment data, law schools are selectively surveying their graduates: they’re seeking survey responses from employed graduates, while ignoring graduates who are unemployed. They’ve been playing this game at least since the recession started.

And now we have evidence. A tipster emailed pretty much everybody in the legal blogosphere spilling the dirt on how his law school is trying to inflate employment statistics. He claims that the directive from his law school is not at all subtle. If you are employed, the school hounds you to complete a graduate employment survey. If you are unemployed, the school would like you to ignore it. That way, when the school hears from U.S. News or NALP or the ABA — or Law School Transparency, which just issued another request to law schools for more comprehensive employment data — law school officials can throw up their hands and say, “It’s so hard to get our graduates to fill out a jobs survey.” ...

Here’s the email that was sent to us and at least five other legal blogs:

I’m a recent grad of a New York law school (Tier 2) that begins with the letter “S.”... I’ve recently been getting bi-weekly emails from my school’s career services dept asking me to take and return the graduate employment survey only if I become employed. Here’s the relevant excerpt from the bottom of my recurring emails:

“If you have secured employment, please complete and return the attached Graduate Employment Survey.”

November 17, 2010 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bipartisan Group Issues Budget Plan Calling for 6.5% National Sales Tax

Restoring The Bipartisan Policy Center, formed in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell, today released a 140-page report by its Debt Reduction Task Force co-chaired by Pete Dominici and Alice Rivlin, Restoring America's Future (Executive Summary).

Here are the components of the plan to Create a Simple, Pro-Growth Tax System:

1.  Cut tax rates; broaden the tax base; boost incentives to work, save, and invest; and ensure, by 2018, that nearly 90 million households (about half of potential tax filers) no longer have to file tax returns.

  • Cut individual income tax rates and establish just two rates – 15% and 27% – replacing the current six rates that go up to 35%.
  • Cut the top corporate tax rate to 27% from its current 35%, making the United States a more attractive place to invest.
  • Eliminate most deductions and credits and simplify those that remain while making them better targeted and more effective.
  • Replace the deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions with 15% refundable credits that anyone who owns a home or gives to charity can claim.
  • Restructure provisions that benefit low-income taxpayers and families with children by making them simpler, more progressive, and enabling most recipients to receive them without filing tax returns.

2.  Establish a new 6.5% national Debt Reduction Sales Tax (DRST) that – along with the spending cuts outlined in this plan – will reduce the debt and secure America’s economic future.

Tax Plan

Press and blogosphere coverage:

November 17, 2010 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (1)

IRS Tries to Find 111,893 Taxpayers Who Are Owed $1,471 Tax Refund Checks

The IRS announced today (IR-2010-113) that it is seeking to find 111,893 taxpayers to whom $164.6 million in refund checks (an average of $1,471) were mailed, but the checks were returned as undeliverable by the post office. Taxpayers can check the status of their tax refunds and update their addresses at Where's My Refund?

November 17, 2010 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Would Your Law School Hire Brian Tamanaha as its Dean to Cut Faculty Pay and Increase Teaching Loads?

Tamanaha Brian Tamanaha (Washington University), My "Dean's Vision" Speech:

If I am given the privilege to be your dean, I assure you that our law school has a bright future ahead. But the path to that future will not be an easy one.

In the past decade, dean candidates typically have promised to build a law school by increasing the size and quality of the faculty, which would lead to more scholarship, and by increasing the credentials of the incoming students. Candidates have promised to raise more money from alumni, who would give generously to enhance the prestige of their alma mater; candidates have acknowledged that tuition increases, keeping pace with competitor institutions, would be necessary to fund this ascent to excellence.

My pitch to you is different. I promise to hold down the size of the faculty while maintaining, and perhaps improving, student credentials. I will hold the line on tuition increases. My pitch to the alumni will be that, with their help and with the help of the faculty, we can solidify our position, while other law schools, those that continue to follow the old model, find themselves squeezed in a vise of their own making. ...

If we cannot generate more revenue, we must trim costs. These reductions will come in several painful ways, mostly focused on the faculty—directed at compensation and work load.

During my full first term as your dean, I will not award a raise to any faculty member who currently earns in excess of $180,000. Faculty members who earn between $160,000 and $180,000 may receive merit based raises in flat amounts (not percentages), not exceeding $2000 annually. Those who earn between $140,000 and $160,000 will be eligible for merit-based raises of up to $3,000. To supplement these restricted raises, each year I will award several $1,000-$3,000 bonuses to faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to the school. Faculty who earn below $140,000 will be eligible for more generous raises. ...

Limiting raises is only a part of the solution. We must look at ways to trim the administrative staff and the faculty portion of the budget. More specifically, the size and activities of the faculty must change.

The most direct way to increase faculty productivity is through teaching loads. Thirty years ago many law professors taught five courses a year; the norm then became four courses, and many schools have since moved to three courses. The justification for the reduction in course load is to free up professors to engage in more scholarship. When individual professors teach fewer courses, more professors are required overall to achieve the same course coverage. Thus the reduction in course load—in combination with expansions in clinical offerings—largely explains the 40% increase in faculty size from 1998 to 2008. There is a way to reverse this expansion without dramatic changes.

The norm if I am your dean will be a teaching load of four courses a year. That provides ample time for scholarship, while also getting a full slate of teaching from each professor. My innovation will be to implement what I call the “alternative contribution system.” Under this system, professors who do not engage in substantial scholarship will be asked to teach five courses a year. The fifth course can be anything: a substantive course, legal writing, trial advocacy, supervising a clinic, etc. This is not a penalty for professors who don’t write, but instead it is an opportunity for those professors to make a contribution commensurate with a full time position (teaching two courses a semester does not fill forty hours a week). ...

Members of the faculty, I suffer no illusion that you will embrace my plan. The prospects of limited or zero raises and of perhaps teaching an additional course are not pleasant to contemplate. If I were in your position I would move on to the next dean candidate with alacrity and relief. I too want generous raises. I too want to teach no more than three courses a year and have lots of time to write.

November 17, 2010 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Walker: The Law and Economics of Executive Compensation

David I. Walker (Boston University) has posted The Law and Economics of Executive Compensation: Theory and Evidence on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This chapter from the forthcoming Research Handbook on the Economics of Corporate Law (Claire Hill & Brett McDonnell, eds.) provides an overview of the economic theory and evidence regarding public company executive compensation. It is intended to provide the reader with an entryway into the literature on a select group of topics. Priority has been afforded to the most central issues in executive pay, to issues that implicate law more or less directly, and to issues that have been the primary focus of research in the last decade.

November 17, 2010 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

IRS Advisory Group Releases 2010 Briefing Book

The IRS Advisory Council yesterday released its 2010 Public Meeting Briefing Book, with 24 recommendations on a variety of tax administration issues.

November 17, 2010 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Foundation Press Publishes Statutory Interpretation Stories

Statutory Foundation Press has published Statutory Interpretation Stories, by William N. Eskridge, Jr. (Yale), Philip P. Frickey (UC-Berkeley) & Elizabeth Garrett (USC):

Statutory Interpretation Stories tackles the leading cases in the emerging statutory interpretation canon, as reflected in the casebooks. For each case, the leading scholar provides historical background (including details about the participants), a procedural history of the case, and an analysis of doctrinal and other lessons from the case.

Other titles in the Law Stories Series (for which I serve as Series Editor) are:

November 17, 2010 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Applicants Say Rankings (Not Cost or Job Prospects) Is Most Important Criteria in Choosing a Law School

Kaplan Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Aspiring Law School Students Place Rankings Above All Else:

In deciding where to apply, pre-law students consider a law school’s place in the rankings more important than affordability, geographic location, its academic program – and even more important than its job placement statistics. That is what 1,383 aspiring lawyers who took the October LSAT told Kaplan Test Prep in its latest student survey, when asked “What is most important to you when picking a law school to apply to?” According to the results, 30% say that a law school’s ranking is the most critical factor, followed by geographic location at 24%; academic programming at 19%; and affordability at 12%. Only 8% of respondents consider a law school’s job placement statistics to be the most important factor. In a related question asking, “How important a factor is a law school’s ranking in determining where you will apply?” 86% say ranking is “very important” or “somewhat important” in their application decision-making.

November 17, 2010 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Call for Tax Papers and Panels: Law & Society Annual Meeting

Law_societyNeil H. Buchanan (George Washington) has issued his annual call for tax papers and panels for next year's annual meeting of the Law & Society Association in San francisco (June 2-5, 2011):

I have been organizing tax sessions at the Law & Society Association's annual meetings for the past several years. We now operate as an official Collaborative Research Network within the association: Law, Society, and Taxation:

This CRN provides a forum for scholars who are interested in the effects on society of the taxing and spending policies adopted at all levels of government (international, national, state, and local). Subjects of inquiry involve any aspect of government policy with respect to taxing or spending, including distributional effects of government programs, theoretical issues of equity and justice, comparative and international issues, and all other aspects of fiscal policy. Participants are encouraged to apply multi- and interdisciplinary approaches to questions across the range of tax-related scholarship: issues of social and economic inequality, international competition and coordination, comparative aspects of tax law, family issues, sexual orientation and tax law, and so on.

The Call for Participation from the association has been released for the next annual meeting, which will be held in San Francisco from June 2-5 of next year.

I will accept proposals for individual papers as well as complete paper sessions, roundtables, and author-meets-reader sessions. For individual paper submissions, I will attempt to organize papers into coherent thematic sessions and propose a slate of sessions to Law & Society. In order to do that, I need to receive your submissions one week before the official deadline for submissions.

Therefore, please submit proposals to me by December 1, 2010. You need only submit a title and a very short description (one or two sentences) of the proposed paper. The paper need not yet be written, and the only requirement is that you have at least something that can be circulated to your session chair by about 30 days before the meetings (April 27 or so).

Take special note of this rule: "Participants are limited to ONE appearance in one of the following roles: Paper Presenter, OR a Roundtable Participant, OR a Reader or Author on a book session." You may also be a chair, discussant, or chair/discussant on two panels. If you would like to volunteer to be a chair/discussant, please tell me.

November 17, 2010 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)