TaxProf Blog

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

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Survey: Rankings Are The Most Important Factor In Students' Decision On Which Law School To Attend

Following up on yesterday's post on a survey of law school applicants by Blueprint LSAT Preparation:  

What will have the largest impact in determining which law school you will ultimately choose? Rank in order of importance, 1 being the most important and 5 being the least important.

Ranking Survey

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August 31, 2017 in Law School, Law School Rankings | Permalink | Comments (2)

Karen Hawkins Named Chair Of ABA Tax Section

HawkinsNews Release, Former IRS Official Karen L. Hawkins to Chair ABA Section of Taxation:

Karen L. Hawkins of Yachats, Ore., has been selected to chair the American Bar Association’s Section of Taxation, the nation’s largest organization of tax lawyers. Hawkins will serve a one-year term, to be succeeded by Eric Solomon, of Washington, D.C., who will serve this year as chair-elect.

Hawkins served as the director of the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), where she oversaw the standards of practice for tax professionals. Prior to government service, she was a partner in the San Francisco law firm of Taggart & Hawkins PC, where she specialized in civil and criminal tax controversy. ...

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August 31, 2017 in ABA Tax Section, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

The 49 Law Schools With The Most Improved Employment Rates

The National Jurist, Most Improved Employment Rates:

As the legal market continues to rebound and moves closer to pre-recession levels, law schools big and small are bolstering employer outreach efforts and reconsidering their curricula to strengthen graduate employability. Looking at this year’s employment statistics to find the most improved employment rates, The National Jurist took into consideration all forms of post-graduation employment. The employment rates were weighted, giving the most heft to full-time jobs that require bar passage. Other jobs, such as J.D.-advantage jobs and positions in other professions, received less weight.

Top 50

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August 31, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

McCluskey: Tax And The Ideology Of Unequal Economic Growth

Martha T. McCluskey (SUNY-Buffalo), Framing Middle-Class Insecurity: Tax and the Ideology of Unequal Economic Growth, 84 Fordham L. Rev. 2699 (2016):

Prevailing tax discourse rationalizes growing economic inequality. Using the example of state and local economic development “subsidy wars,” this article explores how conventional tax ideas present unequal sacrifice and risk as a public responsibility, driven by economic fact rather than unjust politics.

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August 31, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Caron: From Moses To Hamilton: A Dean’s Journey

Caron HamiltonFor my Southern California friends:   I have the great honor of speaking this Sunday (Sept. 3) at Pepperdine University's campus church service held in Elkins Auditorium starting at 10:15 am.  The title of my talk is From Moses to Hamilton: A Dean’s Journey.  For a teaser, see C.S. Lewis & Lin-Manuel Miranda: How I Found My Faith In Mere Christianity And Deepened It In Hamilton:

I repeatedly (perhaps excessively) extol the genius of Hamilton (see links below). I often tell people that the play changed my life and led me to seek the deanship of Pepperdine law school.  

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August 31, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Aprill: Religious Organizations, Refuge For Undocumented Immigrants, And Tax Exemption

Ellen P. Aprill (Loyola-L.A.), Religious Organizations, Refuge for Undocumented Immigrants, and Tax Exemption:

The Trump Administration plans for aggressive enforcement of immigration laws have caused many houses of worship and other religious organizations to consider whether their beliefs call upon them to grant refuge or so-called sanctuary to undocumented immigrants. This brief essay considers whether these organizations would risk their tax-exempt status were they to do so. It reviews relevant judicial and IRS guidance.

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August 31, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WaPo: Fact-checking President Trump’s Speech On His Tax Plan

WaPo Fact CheckerWashington Post, Fact-checking President Trump’s Speech on His Tax Plan:

President Trump on Wednesday delivered an address on his “principles” for a tax plan in Springfield, Mo., though he provided few details. He also shifted from extolling how well the economy is doing to language that suggested the United States was suffering terribly. As usual, some of the president’s facts and figures were a bit fishy, so here’s a roundup of 10 of his claims.

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August 31, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

How Stephen Ross' $33 Million Gift To The University Of Michigan Ended Up In Tax Court

Michigan LogoFollowing up on Paul's previous post, Tax Court Denies Billionaire's $33m Charitable Deduction; Did University Of Michigan 'Rent Its Brand To Brazen 10:1 Tax Avoidance Scheme'?:  Detroit Free Press, How Stephen M. Ross' Gift to the University of Michigan Ended Up in Tax Court:

On his way to becoming the University of Michigan's largest donor, Stephen M. Ross and a group of business partners donated a collective gift to his alma mater.

In return, the partnership claimed a giant charitable tax deduction: $33 million.

The Internal Revenue Service didn't buy it.

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August 31, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

It’s A Myth That Corporate Tax Cuts Mean More Jobs

NYTNew York Times op-ed:  It’s a Myth That Corporate Tax Cuts Mean More Jobs, by Sarah Anderson (Institute for Policy Studies):

“The arithmetic for us is simple,” AT&T’s chief executive, Randall Stephenson, said on CNBC in May. If Congress were to cut the 35 percent tax on corporate profits to 20 percent, he declared, “I know exactly what AT&T would do — we’d invest more” in the United States.

Every $1 billion in tax savings would create 7,000 well-paying jobs, Mr. Stephenson went on to say. The correlation between lower corporate taxes and more jobs, he assured viewers, runs “very, very tight.”

As Congress prepares to take up tax legislation this fall, including an effort to reduce the corporate tax rate, this bold jobs claim merits examination. Notably, it comes from the chief executive of a company that’s already paying comparatively little in federal taxes.

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, AT&T enjoyed an effective tax rate of just 8 percent between 2008 and 2015, despite recording a profit in the United States each year, by exploiting tax breaks and loopholes. ...

Many other large American corporations have also been playing the tax break and loophole game. Their huge tax savings have enriched executives but not created significant numbers of new jobs.

Our report [The 35 Percent Corporate Tax Myth: Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies] analyzes the 92 publicly held American corporations that reported a profit in the United States every year from 2008 through 2015 and paid less than 20 percent of their earnings in federal income tax. ...

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August 30, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Survey Confirms Significant 'Trump Bump' In Law School Applications

Following up on last month's post, Did 'Trump Bump' Cause Surge Of LSAT Test-Takers?:  a survey of law school applicants by Blueprint LSAT Preparation revealed that over 52% listed the Trump presidency as “moderately influential” to “very influential” in their decision to apply to law school:

Trump Bump

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August 30, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times: Trump Tax Plan May Free Up Corporate Dollars, But Then What?

New York Times, Trump Tax Plan May Free Up Corporate Dollars, but Then What?:

The tax overhaul promised by President Trump and Republican congressional leaders is lugging a remarkably heavy load. The goal is not only to reduce the tax bills of corporations and small businesses, but also to stimulate investment, create jobs, increase global competitiveness and promote economic growth.

Whatever the intentions, though, pushing the world’s largest and most diversified economy in any particular direction is a colossal undertaking. In addition, there is a large and sophisticated tax avoidance industry dedicated to frustrating the most carefully worded proposals.

And as Mr. Trump prepares to outline his corporate tax overhaul ideas in a speech on Wednesday in Springfield, Mo., economists and tax experts warn that the path is likely to be treacherous.

Consider the tantalizing $2.6 trillion in global profits that American companies are keeping out of their home accounts and out of the Internal Revenue Service’s reach.

A pro-growth tax policy would presumably aim not only to reach profits kept abroad as a tax dodge, but also to encourage companies to use that money to expand their business and hire more workers.

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August 30, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Robinson: The Folly Of Conflating The Power To Fine With The Power To Tax

Mildred Robinson (Virginia), The Folly of Conflating the Power to Fine with the Power to Tax, 62 Vill. L. Rev. ___ (2017):

As citizens, we expect the police “to protect and to serve.” So how does a police force become revenue collector instead of protector? On the local level, we “purchase” through taxes police and fire protection as well as a myriad of other services. This article, an expansion of remarks made during the October 2016 Shachoy Symposium — Exploring Police Accountability in America — at the Villanova University School of Law, examines how reliance on traffic fines for general budgetary purposes became a matter of general practice in Ferguson and many other towns and cities. It ultimately serves as a reminder that there are very sound economic and civic reasons to rely upon “taxes [as] the price we pay for a civilized society?”

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August 30, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Feds Have Opened A Criminal Investigation Of Charlotte Law School

Charlotte Logo (2016)ABA Journal, Feds Started Criminal Investigation of Charlotte School of Law, According to Civil Filing:

A federal criminal investigation involving Charlotte School of Law was opened more than a year ago, according to recently unsealed court documents in a qui tam lawsuit. The Orlando U.S. attorney’s office recently opted not to intervene in the case.

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August 30, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Impact Of Hurricane Harvey On Houston Law Schools

HoustonNational Law Journal, 'Horrific' Storm Shutters Houston-Area Law Schools:

Houston’s three law schools are closed, and likely will remain so for the rest of the week as flooded waterways turn many of the city’s streets and freeways into rivers. Forecasts call for heavy rain through Wednesday. All three schools had been in session for at least a week when the the remnants of Harvey swept through.

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August 30, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Creating An Assessment-Centered Legal Education

Steven Friedland (Elon), Rescuing Pluto from the Cold: Creating an Assessment-Centered Legal Education:

This article uses principles of design theory and high-impact practices to explore how to move assessment from the outsider place it usually occupies in traditional legal education to an insider position.

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August 30, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1574: Why Are Trump’s Justice Department Appointees Protecting The IRS?

IRS Logo 2The Daily Signal, Why Are Trump’s Justice Department Appointees Protecting the IRS?

Various media sources have reported that federal District Court Judge Reggie Walton has ordered the IRS to finally respond to various legal requests for information and documents made by the conservative tea party organizations that sued the agency.

But the question that no one is asking is why that order was even necessary, and why the Justice Department, which is now supposedly under the control and authority of the new administration, hasn’t reversed its obstinate, inflexible, and stubborn defense of the IRS. ...

[T]he Tax Division of the Justice Department, which is currently headed by acting Assistant Attorney General David A. Hubbert, has put up a mulish fight defending the IRS, including doing everything it can to prevent the IRS from having to provide any of the information and documentation that the plaintiffs are seeking about the targeting.

[T]he IRS — after four years of delays — is going to finally have to tell us who (in addition to Lerner) planned, organized, and participated in the abuse of the government’s tax power to target Americans for their participation in the political process, their opposition to Obama and liberal policies, and their support for the Constitution and the rule of law.

Walton’s order is a significant victory for the plaintiffs in this lawsuit. But why were this hearing and this order even necessary in the first place?

As soon as President Donald Trump was inaugurated and the first members of the Trump transition team landed at the Justice Department, one of the first steps they should have taken was to order the Tax Division to stop its deliberate litigation strategy of fighting all attempts to ferret out what exactly happened at the IRS, and who was responsible for it.

Instead, the Justice Department has continued to obstruct discovery in this lawsuit that has been going on for four long years, resulting in Walton’s Aug. 17 order against the IRS and the Justice Department. ...

What are the political appointees at the Justice Department doing? Why are they continuing to protect the IRS? Why are they trying to stop the efforts to find out who at the IRS was responsible for this abusive behavior?

And while we are on the subject of the IRS scandal, why haven’t Trump’s political appointees at the Justice Department reversed the refusal of Ronald Machen, former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, (who was an Obama appointee) to enforce the contempt citation issued by the House of Representatives against Lerner for her refusal to cooperate with the congressional committee investigating this abusive conduct?

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August 30, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Herzig & Brunson: White Supremacist Groups Don’t Deserve Tax Exemptions

New York Times op-ed:  White Supremacist Groups Don’t Deserve Tax Exemptions, by David J. Herzig (Valparaiso) & Samuel D. Brunson (Loyola-Chicago):

The “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., shocked many Americans with its unashamed and open embrace of white supremacist and Nazi ideology. It set off a passionate national discussion on how to best deal with racism and racist groups. There is an unconventional starting point: revoking the tax exemption of white supremacist groups.

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August 29, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Desai: Deploy The Tax Law To Move Americans to Jobs, Not The Other Way Around

Bloomberg View:  Move Americans to Jobs, Not the Other Way Around: Give People a Tax Incentive to Seek Out Opportunity., by Mihir Desai (Harvard):

For far too long, U.S. politicians have been promising to bring jobs to Americans. They should instead be encouraging Americans to move to jobs.

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August 29, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Areen: Legal Education Reconsidered

Judith C. Areen (Georgetown), 2016 James P. While Lecture on Legal Education: Legal Education Reconsidered, 50 Ind. L. Rev. 1087 (2017):

The title of my talk, “Legal Education Reconsidered,” is not meant to suggest that legal education needs to be reconsidered. On the contrary, I will explore why the many criticisms of legal education made over the past six years combined with a significant decline in the legal job market have led many people — including many college students and recent graduates — not only to reconsider legal education, but to draw the conclusion that it is no longer a worthwhile investment.

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August 29, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Boundaries Of The Prediction Model In Tax Law's Substantial Authority

Bradley T. Borden (Brooklyn) & Sang Hee Lee (Ernst & Young), Boundaries of the Prediction Model in Tax Law's Substantial Authority, 71 Tax Law. ___ (2017):

Tax law imposes a 20-percent penalty on substantial understatements of income tax, but taxpayers avoid that penalty by showing “substantial authority” supports the reporting position that causes the understatement. The substantial-authority standard is meaningful to taxpayers making reporting decisions in the face of uncertainty and confronting IRS challenges to uncertain reporting positions. Over thirty years ago, Congress intentionally adopted substantial authority as a new concept with no precedential interpretation, granting courts broad discretion in determining whether substantial authority exists. Courts have provided little guidance about the concept since, and commentators have focused on narrow aspects of it, so the main source of its meaning exists in a few paragraphs of regulations. In the absence of clear, in-depth consideration of the concept, substantial authority appears to have developed a somewhat mythical public persona, and appears to be misperceived by many. This Article provides a framework for piecing together the legislative history and provisions in the regulations to create a structured analysis of the substantial-authority standard.

Figure 1

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August 29, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top 100 Law Schools, Based On 5-, 10-, And 15-Year Rolling Average U.S. News Rankings

2018 U.S. News Law 3Bradley A. Areheart (Tennessee), The Top 100 Law Reviews: A Reference Guide Based on Historical USNWR Data:

The best proxy for how other law professors react and respond to publishing in main, or flagship, law reviews is the US News and World Report (USNWR) rankings. This paper utilizes historical USNWR data to rank the top 100 law reviews. The USNWR rankings are important in shaping many — if not most — law professors’ perceptions about the relative strength of a law school (and derivatively, the home law review). This document contains a chart that is sorted by the 10-year rolling average for each school, but it also contains the 5-year and 15-year rolling averages. This paper also describes my methodology and responds to a series of frequently asked questions. The document was updated in August 2017.

Here are the Top 25 law schools based on their 10-year rolling average overall U.S. News ranking:

US News

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August 29, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

California Western Law School Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Cal Western (2017)California Western School of Law (CWSL) is seeking applications from entry-level and junior-lateral candidates for a tenure-track position to begin on or about August 1, 2018. We are looking for candidates with strong academic backgrounds, a commitment to excellence in teaching, and demonstrated potential to be productive scholars. The Appointments Committee is particularly interested in candidates with a strong desire to teach civil procedure, family law, immigration law, tax, or trusts/estates. CWSL welcomes applications from individuals who would contribute to the vibrancy and diversity of our faculty.

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August 29, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Elkins: The Case Against Income Taxation Of Multinational Enterprises

Virginia Tax Review (2016)David Elkins (Netanya Academic College, School of Law), The Case Against Income Taxation of Multinational Enterprises, 36 Va. Tax Rev. 143 (2017):

Probably the most uncontroversial thing that one can say about international taxation is that it is a mess. Sophisticated planning techniques, which seem beyond the power of taxing authorities to control, enable highly profitable multinational enterprises (MNEs) to pay little or no tax on their income. Efforts by transnational organizations to coordinate action in an attempt to rescue the international tax regime from collapse have hitherto proven ineffective. Some commentators have speculated that any attempt to impose tax on MNEs in a globalized economy is doomed to failure.

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August 29, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

House Approves Poll Tax Ban As A Constitutional Amendment, Aug. 27, 1962

Politico: House Approves Poll Tax Ban as a Constitutional Amendment, Aug. 27, 1962:

On this day in 1962, the House voted 295 to 62 to outlaw the poll tax as a requirement in federal elections. The lawmakers acted by approving a proposed 24th Amendment to the Constitution. At the time, five states — Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas — maintained poll taxes which, critics argued, fell most heavily on would-be African-American voters.

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August 29, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Former Charlotte Law Prof's Whistleblower Lawsuit Claims School Bilked $285 Million From Taxpayers

Charlotte Logo (2016)Following up on my previous post, Charlotte Law School Closes 'Effective Immediately':  Charlotte Observer, Charlotte School of Law Bilked $285 Million From Taxpayers, Former Faculty Member Says:

A lawsuit filed by a former professor of Charlotte School of Law accuses the failed school and its corporate owner of defrauding taxpayers out of $285 million by admitting hundreds of unqualified students, then manipulating records to keep them enrolled so the school could collect their government-backed tuition.

Barbara Bernier says the for-profit school, which closed last week, conspired with its owner, the InfiLaw System, to inflate enrollment and maximize profits. She says Charlotte Law lowered admissions and retention standards while misrepresenting both the state bar exam scores of their graduates and their success in finding jobs, according to a 2016 complaint that became public for the first time this month.

“The goal of the school has never been focused on education,” said Coleman Watson, Bernier’s Orlando, Fla.-based attorney. “The shareholder tended to be more important than the student body, and that’s why she came forward.”

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August 28, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Is Mining Taxpayer Data On Social Media In Violation Of Federal Privacy Law

Social Media IRSKimberly Houser & Debra Sanders (Washington State), The Use of Big Data Analytics by the IRS: Efficient Solutions or the End of Privacy as We Know It?, 19 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 817 (2017):

This Article examines the privacy issues resulting from the IRS’s big data analytics program as well as the potential violations of federal law. Although historically, the IRS chose tax returns to audit based on internal mathematical mistakes or mismatches with third party reports (such as W-2s), the IRS is now engaging in data mining of public and commercial data pools (including social media) and creating highly detailed profiles of taxpayers upon which to run data analytics. This Article argues that current IRS practices, mostly unknown to the general public are violating fair information practices. This lack of transparency and accountability not only violates federal law regarding the government’s data collection activities and use of predictive algorithms, but may also result in discrimination.

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August 28, 2017 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (10)

ABA Seeks Comments On Proposed Changes To Accreditation Standard On Branch Campuses

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)At its meeting held on August 11, 2017, the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved for Notice and Comment proposed revisions to Standard 106 (Separate Locations and Branch Campuses) of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools. Comments must be submitted here by Friday, September 22. A hearing on the proposed changes is scheduled for Thursday, September 28 in Chicago.

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August 28, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harry Grubert, In Memoriam

GrubertFollowing up on my previous post, Death Of Harry Grubert:  National Tax Association, Harry Grubert, In Memoriam:

Harry Grubert, one of the world’s foremost experts in the area of international taxation, died on August 10, 2017 after a battle with lymphoma. He was 81 years old. ...

A Festschrift for Harry will appear in the March 2019 issue of the National Tax Journal following an Office of Tax Analysis conference in his honor to be held in September of 2018.

Remembrances of Harry Grubert:

  • Rosanne Altshuler, Professor, Rutgers University
  • Hugh Ault, Professor Emeritus, Boston College Law School
  • Edith Brashares, Director of Business and International Taxation, U.S. Treasury Department
  • Dhammika Dharmapala, Julius Kreeger Professor of Law, University of Chicago School of Law
  • Mihir Desai, Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance, Harvard Business School and Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

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August 28, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

19 Of 21 California Law School Deans Urge State Bar To Reduce Cut Score From 144 To 133-139

California Bar ExamLetter to State Bar of California (Aug. 25, 2017):

We write as deans of 19 ABA-accredited California law schools to provide comment on the 2017 Standard Setting Study and related options for the California Bar Examination cut score. [Fn: Signatories to this letter include the Deans of all but two ABA-accredited California law schools (Davis and Whittier).] ...

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August 28, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Florida Increases Median LSAT And GPA Of Entering Class, Fueling Rise Toward The Top 35

Florida Logo (2017)Following up on my previous posts (links below):   Florida is continuing its march toward Dean Laura Rosenbury's goal to increase its U.S. News ranking to the Top 35 (from 41 this year and 48 last year). Florida increased its median LSAT (to 161, from 160 in 2016 and 157 in 2015) and UGPA (to 3.69, from 3.60 in 2016 and 3.50 in 2015) while keeping the entering class roughly flat (301, compared to 314 in 2016 and 310 in 2015), fueled by raising $4.5 million in non-endowed scholarship funds:

About half the entering class of the University of Florida's Levin College of Law is receiving scholarship money this year, after an alumnus' $1.5 million fund­raising challenge turned into a $4.5 million windfall for scholarships.

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August 28, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1572: Why Did It Go Away?

IRS Logo 2Nonprofit Quarterly, Whatever Happened to the IRS Tax Exemption Scandal?:

On Friday, May 10, 2013, IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner told a stunned audience of tax attorneys in Washington that the IRS had delayed and obstructed the tax exemption applications from conservative-sounding organizations. Later that month, the U.S. Treasury Inspector General made public a report confirming and detailing the nature of the targeting. What began as a governmental investigation had become a legal battle between nonprofits seeking what they believed to be information and resolution on the one hand and the federal government asserting claims of protecting taxpayer and employee confidentiality on the other.

As NPQ has chronicled in dozens of articles, the ensuing four years and counting since May 2013 have included several Congressional and other investigations but no criminal indictments or known personnel actions against anyone involved in the targeting. ... The U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation, but in the midst of that investigation, they announced there would be no indictments. Various Congressional committees attempted to ferret out what happened and who did it but were stymied by the IRS’s slow responses to records requests and, in some cases, destruction of computer media which might have contained important information.

The Congressional investigations rapidly became partisan, with Republicans insistent that crimes had been committed and that senior officials had to be held accountable for actions which affected hundreds of organizations and may have even affected the conduct of the 2012 elections. Democrats saw the GOP-led investigations as a partisan witch hunt targeting career IRS employees and used as a political talking point to harass President Obama specifically. Democrats also objected to the continued use of the IRS budget as a coercive tool to force IRS officials to cooperate in the investigations, and justifying decreasing funding for IRS operations by pointing to what Republicans said was obstruction. The investigations didn’t so much end as they petered out as politicians moved on to other topics. ...

Meanwhile, nonprofit organizations like Judicial Watch, Cause for Action, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), and others have used Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and legal challenges to aggressively pursue the facts and circumstances surrounding the actions of IRS personnel. In addition, many of the targeted nonprofit organizations (most were eventually approved for tax exemption after awaiting a decision for up to seven years) have pursued their own legal cases in federal court.

Bloomberg BNA recently published a status report on the litigation. The text of the article has since been removed in favor of an audio report, but Paul Caron’s TaxProf Blog includes snapshots of the key cases: ...

Détente in this intergovernmental cold war will likely come only when change and accommodation comes from the IRS or when Congressional control switches parties. In the meantime, the continuing lawsuits and the long memories (not to mention political interests) of some elected officials portend more budgetary and regulatory stress at the IRS for the indefinite future.

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August 28, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, August 27, 2017

NY Times: Will the Republican Tax Bill Be Aimed At The Past (Good Politics) Or The Future (Good Economics)?

New York Times, Will the Republican Tax Bill Be Aimed at the Economic Past, or the Future?:

Congress and the Trump administration are said to be hard at work creating a tax bill, aiming for a signature economic policy achievement in the months ahead. As they do so, there is a fundamental tension they will have to resolve: Is this tax legislation about the past, or about the future?

The bill’s writers face a series of choices over whether to shovel more money into the pockets of individuals and businesses based on choices they have already made, or to change tax laws that shape economic incentives in the years ahead. In at least a few areas, politics favors the past while theory favors the future.

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August 27, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

California Mulls Taxing Robots

MITFollowing up on last week's post, Oei, Hemel On 'Robot Taxes':  MIT Technology Review, San Francisco Will Consider a Tax on Robots:

When robots steal our jobs, should they be made to pay taxes? That’s something residents of San Francisco are being asked to think about by Jane Kim, who represents the city's District 6 on its board of supervisors. She wants to find cash to help folks out with retraining or a universal basic income when robots take over their toils, and the suggestion for generating that money is a tax on robots.

In reality, it’s not clear what the best way to impose taxes on automation is. Earlier this year, the Economist weighed what such a thing might look like. Taxing capital investment in robots or the increased profits as a result of their installation, the two obvious ways to go about it, don’t seem to be a perfect solution, according to the magazine’s analysis.

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August 27, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

SSRN LogoThere 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 #5:

  1. [664 Downloads]  Family Limited Partnerships and Section 2036: Not Such a Good Fit, by Mitchell Gans (Hofstra) & Jonathan Blattmachr (Milbank, New York)
  2. [481 Downloads]  The Front Door Opens Wide for the Backdoor Roth IRA, by Philip Manns (Liberty) & Timothy Todd (Liberty)
  3. [444 Downloads]  Federal Tax Procedure (2017 Practitioner Ed.), by John Townsend (Houston)
  4. [222 Downloads]  BEPS and European Union Law, by Sjoerd Douma (Leiden)
  5. [182 Downloads]  Is Efficiency Biased?, by Zachary Liscow (Yale)

August 27, 2017 in Structuring a Tax Workshop Series, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

The Non-Economic Functions Of Rebel Taxation: New Data From The Islamic State In Syria

ISIS FlagMara Revkin (Yale), The Non-Economic Functions of Rebel Taxation: New Data from the Islamic State in Syria:

Previous studies predict that rebel groups with access to exploitable resources will engage in looting rather than invest in building the complex bureaucracies that are necessary for taxation. This claim relies on an untested assumption that the sole purpose of rebel taxation is to collect revenue. I challenge this assumption with granular district-month data on seven types of tax policies from the 18 Syrian districts that have been governed by the Islamic State (IS) since 2013.

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August 26, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law Prof Who Sued Dean For Assault Loses Round 2

Ohio Northern LogoFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Law.com, Law Prof Who Sued Dean for Assault Loses Round 2:

A law professor at Northern Ohio Petit School of Law who claims he was assaulted in 2012 by the school’s former interim dean has lost his second round in court.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit last week upheld a lower court decision dismissing plaintiff Scott Gerber’s lawsuit against colleague Stephen Veltri.

Gerber claimed that Veltri, who was then interim dean of the Ada, Ohio, law school, grabbed and squeezed his shoulder during a campus encounter five years ago, causing lasting physical damage. He sued Veltri in 2014 alleging assault and battery.

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August 26, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bitcoin And Taxes

Bitcoin IRSWall Street Journal, No One Knows How Much to Pay in Bitcoin Cash Taxes:

Before rejoicing over a Bitcoin Cash windfall, here’s a warning: You may owe taxes on it.

After years of discord over bitcoin’s future, the digital currency recently split into two competing versions: one called bitcoin and an alternate called Bitcoin Cash. As a result, each bitcoin owner received an equal amount of Bitcoin Cash, or the right to it.

But tax experts say there has been no guidance on how to treat the sudden receipt of Bitcoin Cash.

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August 26, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Lawyers Make Better CEOs Than MBAs

Harvard Business Review LogoHarvard Business Review:  Do Lawyers Make Better CEOs Than MBAs? (full article here), by M. Todd Henderson (Chicago):

We were interested in how lawyer CEOs might influence firm decision making more broadly — and whether they differ from CEOs without a law degree. I collaborated with Irena Hutton, Danling Jiang, and Matt Pierson to compare the behavior of CEOs with law degrees with those who earned a bachelor’s degree, MBA, or other degree. We looked at about 3,500 CEOs, about 9% of whom have law degrees. They were associated with nearly 2,400 publicly traded firms in the S&P 1500 from 1992 to 2012.

The most obvious impact a lawyer CEO might be expected to have is on the amount of litigation their company is involved in. We looked at over 70,000 lawsuits filed against our sample of firms in federal courts during those 10 years. We focused on nine common types of corporate litigation: antitrust, employment civil rights, contract, environmental, intellectual property, labor, personal injury, product liability, and securities.

The result was clear: Firms run by CEOs with legal expertise were associated with much less corporate litigation. Compared with the average company, lawyer-run firms experienced 16% to 74% less litigation, depending on the litigation type. Employment civil rights, antitrust, and securities lawsuits were reduced the most, while contract saw the smallest (but still significant) reduction with a lawyer CEO. The results were economically meaningful, since the reduction was several fewer suits per year in some cases. ...

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August 25, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, David Gamage (Indiana) reviews a new draft article by Zachary Liscow (Yale), Is Efficiency Biased?.

Gamage (2017)Anyone interested in how the methodology of law and economics accounts for distributive justice should stop whatever else they might be doing so that they can immediately read Zach Liscow’s new draft article. Indeed, I wish that this article had been available when I started my legal academic career, as Liscow’s article clarifies several puzzles that had been confounding me for over a decade.

The essence of Liscow’s critique is that efficiency-oriented analysis in law and economics relies on allocating legal entitlements based on willingness to pay. However, wealthier individuals will often have a greater willingness to pay for many legal entitlements as compared to poorer individuals—as a direct result of the fact that the wealthier individuals have more money.  

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August 25, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Reaction To Law Profs' Op-Ed On The Breakdown Of The 'Bourgeois Culture'

Following up on last week's post on the op-ed by Amy Wax (Pennsylvania) & Larry Alexander (San Diego), Paying The Price For Breakdown Of The Country's Bourgeois Culture:

Philly Voice, 18 Law Professors Argue Colleagues' 'Bourgeois' Ideal Is Racist and Classist:

There are rare occasions ... in which the opinions expressed by another law professor display both a moral toxicity and an intellectual bankruptcy that require us to put collegiality aside, and to call out such opinions for what they are. Such is the case with the opinions expressed recently on Philly.com by University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax and University of San Diego law professor Larry Alexander. ...

There are assertions ... which are divorced from intellectual rigor and serve no purpose beyond coddling the existing prejudices of their speakers and listeners who wish to justify similar prejudices. The opinions expressed by Professors Wax and Alexander fall squarely within the latter category and do not deserve our respect. They are dehumanizing, inherently racist, and ultimately irrational. It bears emphasizing that the professors’ opinions are offered without evidentiary support, which is — to say the least — a glaring omission from two trained lawyers and frankly shocking coming from two professors charged with educating students about law and logic.

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August 25, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Galle: How To Save Unemployment Insurance

Brian D. Galle (Georgetown), How to Save Unemployment Insurance,  48 Ariz. St. L.J. ___ (2017):

Unemployment insurance is almost universally recognized as one of a government’s best tools for fighting recessions, as well as an important source of relief for working-class families suffering temporary hardship. Unfortunately, as commentators and Congress have recognized, the U.S. system of financing its unemployment insurance program is seriously dysfunctional. Reform proposals, however, do not fully diagnose the causes of current failures. In particular, other commentators neglect the role of fiscal myopia in state officials’ failures to save for future UI needs. For instance, reformers mostly propose offering rewards or penalties that will take effect only far in the future. These incentives have only small effects on myopic officials.

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August 25, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rozema: Tax Incidence In A Vertical Supply Chain — Evidence From Cigarette Wholesale Prices

Kyle Rozema (Chicago), Tax Incidence in a Vertical Supply Chain: Evidence from Cigarette Wholesale Prices:

I investigate how the burden of consumption taxes not borne by consumers is shared between upstream firms that produce a taxed good and downstream firms that sell the goods. First, I study a simple theoretical model of tax incidence in a vertical supply chain and show that the tax pass through rates to wholesale prices, consumer prices, and posted retail prices serve as a sufficient statistic for the split of the firm share of the tax burden. Second, I use novel data on monthly brand-level cigarette wholesale prices in six states to estimate the tax pass through rate to wholesale prices, and estimate the tax pass through rates to consumer and posted retail prices from Nielsen Homescan Data.

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August 25, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Gail Agrawal To Step Down After Eight Years As Iowa Law School Dean

AgrawalMembers of the Law School Community,

I have decided to step down as dean at the conclusion of the 2017-18 academic year.  Serving on this faculty as dean has been a privilege and a joy.  I am grateful to my immediate predecessors as dean, Bill Hines and Carolyn Jones, for their leadership and tireless work on behalf of the College and to then-President Sally Mason and Provost Wallace Loh for giving me this incredible opportunity.

I am proud of all the law school community has accomplished since I joined you in 2010.  We welcomed outstanding scholars and teachers to our faculty ranks; those who became members of our faculty in the early years of my deanship have all achieved tenure and promotion and have already taken on important leadership roles in the law school and the University.  We expanded learning opportunities for our students, including new clinical and field placement offerings.  We created new pathways to the JD, an early matriculation program and an advanced standing program for international lawyers, as well as a new SJD and Master’s degree.  We strengthened our relationships with our early-matriculation partner institutions and the Bar and Bench in the state of Iowa.  We brought in a $50 million capital campaign, over goal and on time.  We added a simulcast classroom and as of this month, a new state-of-the art courtroom, and we fulfilled the dream of building a student Commons in the Boyd Law Building.  We celebrated our 150th anniversary and recognized some of the people who have made this law school the amazing place it is today.

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August 24, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Missouri Seeks To Hire A Tax Visitor

Missouri Logo (2017)The University of Missouri School of Law in Columbia, Missouri seeks to hire a visiting professor to teach Corporate Tax and Tax Planning in Spring 2018.

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August 24, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

How To Fight The ABA’s Anticompetitive And Discriminatory Accreditation Power

ABA Logo (2016)Allen Mendenhall, How to Fight the ABA’s Anticompetitive and Discriminatory Practices:

Recently I urged top law schools to stand up to the excesses and abuses occasioned by the ministrations of the American Bar Association (ABA). These schools could band together and follow the lead of the journalism schools at Northwestern and Berkeley, which dropped their accreditor, the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, earlier this year because accreditation standards were outmoded and not worth the cost of compliance.

But states can also fight the ABA and are arguably in a better position to do so. ... Why, exactly, would states want to push back against the ABA? There are two reasons, the first involving economics and the second involving racial diversity in the legal profession. In other words, both the Right and the Left have a standing interest in diminishing the ABA’s power. ...

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August 24, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

U.A.E. Excise Tax Starts October In Drive To Boost Revenue

Bloomberg, U.A.E. Excise Tax Starts October in Drive to Boost Revenue 

The United Arab Emirates will start imposing a tax on selected goods starting Oct. 1 as Gulf Arab nations seek to deepen government revenue to counter the drop in oil prices.

A levy on designated goods — tobacco, energy drinks and soft drinks — will include those sold at airports and free zones, Younis Al Khoori, undersecretary at Ministry of Finance, told the state-run WAM news agency. Products purchased at airports by travelers taking the goods abroad will be exempt, he said.

The move is one of the measures taken by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council to bolster non-oil revenue and is a milestone for a region that has attracted companies and workers largely through the promise of tax-free living. The bloc is also moving to implement value-added taxation though governments say they have no plans to introduce income tax.

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August 24, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)