TaxProf Blog

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Fleischer Delivers Keynote Address On The State of Our Tax Institutions Today At The USC Tax Institute

Flesicher (2017)Victor Fleischer (San Diego) delivers the keynote address on The State of Our Tax Institutions today at the annual USC Tax Institute:

The rules of the game have changed. More than ever, ideology drives tax policy at the expense of evidence, reason, expert advice, or specialized knowledge. This Essay examines the performance of our various tax institutions in the year leading up to the passage of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017. The state of our tax institutions is not good.

Historically, the tax legislative process—by which I mean not just the formal process, but also the “rules of the game” and the players involved—allowed a variety of institutional players with expert knowledge to influence and shape tax legislation. These institutions include the Congressional tax writing committees, the White House, the Treasury Department, the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, think tanks, law firms and accounting firms, lobbyists, academia, and the press. The rules of the game made our tax legislative process more inclusive, pluralistic, and politically independent. In 2017, our traditionally strong tax institutions were largely hamstrung, sidelined, or ignored.

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January 31, 2018 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Baker McKenzie Tax Associate Ditches Big Law For The Professional Pitch

PatelAmerican Lawyer, Baker McKenzie Associate Ditches Big Law for the Professional Pitch:

Baker McKenzie associate Ena Patel is now the highest-ranking female executive in a technical role in Major League Soccer.

On Jan. 23, the league’s Colorado Rapids announced that Patel would become its new director of player personnel, a role that will see her oversee player contracts, salary budgets, regulatory compliance and soccer operations protocols for the Denver-based club.

Patel, who specializes in international tax planning on cross-border transactions, will report in her new role to Colorado Rapids executive vice president and general manager Pádraig Smith.

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January 31, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Harvard Law School Faculty Maintain Top Position In SSRN Citation Rankings

HLSSSRNHarvard Law School Press Release, HLS Faculty Maintain Top Position in SSRN Citation Rankings:

Statistics released by the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) indicate that, as of the end of 2017, Harvard Law School faculty members have continued to feature prominently on SSRN’s list of the 100 most-cited law professors. HLS faculty captured 12 slots — including the number one and two slots — among the top 100 law school professors in all legal areas in terms of citations to their work.

As in previous years, Professor Lucian Bebchuk was ranked first among all law school professors in all-time total citations. Professor Bebchuk’s papers have attracted a total of 4,411 citations as of the end of 2017. Professor Steven Shavell was ranked second, with 3,779 citations.

In addition to Professors Bebchuk and Shavell, ten other HLS faculty members are among SSRN’s list of the 100 most-cited law school professors of all time:

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January 31, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times: Corporate Tax Cuts Are Raising Pay Of Bosses, Not Workers

New York Times editorial, Are Corporate Tax Cuts Raising Pay? Yes, for Bosses:

Recent announcements by Apple, Walmart, AT&T, Starbucks and other businesses that they are giving workers raises, repatriating foreign profits and investing in the United States because of the tax bill Congress passed last year are clearly music to the ears of President Trump and Republican lawmakers. But these statements are also cleverly designed public relations spin that tells us little about the actual long-term economic impact of the tax law.

Let’s put some context around these corporate proclamations. The economy is humming, with the unemployment rate at 4.1 percent. This is, of course, very good news. But beware the spin: Regardless of what’s in the tax overhaul, businesses have an incentive to raise wages to retain and attract workers because of the tight job market. It is also very much in the political interest of companies to attribute to the new tax law the changes they make to salaries or investment plans. That’s a surefire way to win favor with Mr. Trump, a notorious sucker for flattery. And it is a way to deflect attention from the insidious aspects of the tax law: It will add about $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over 10 years, and many poor and middle-class families will pay more taxes over time.

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January 31, 2018 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (1)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  This is the first monthly ranking that includes downloads from two 30- and 35-page papers by 12 tax professors on the new tax legislation that garnered a lot of media attention (including the New York Times and Washington Post) and generated a massive amount of downloads (the papers are the most downloaded papers over the past 12 months across all of SSRN and the most downloaded tax papers of all-time by over 200%).  See Brian Leiter (Chicago), 11 Tax Profs Blow Up The SSRN Download Rankings. (For some reason, Mitchell Kane (NYU) — the twelfth academic co-author of the two papers — is not included in the SSRN download rankings (although the downloads are included on his individual author page)).  Here is the new list (through  January 1, 2018) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

 

 

All-Time

 

Recent

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

143,645

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

80,955

2

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

86,331

Daniel Hemel (Chicago)

71,598

3

Lily Batchelder (NYU)

82,186

Lily Batchelder (NYU)

71,304

4

David Gamage (Indiana)

81,164

David Gamage (Indiana)

70,836

5

Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)

75,456

Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)

69,923

6

Daniel Hemel (Chicago)

74,567

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

69,722

7

Cliff Fleming (BYU)

74,158

Cliff Fleming (BYU)

69,419

8

David Kamin (NYU)

70,740

David Kamin (NYU)

68,960

9

Rebecca Kysar (Brooklyn)

70,479

Manoj Viswanathan (Hastings)

68,374

10

Ari Glogower (Ohio State)

68,541

Rebecca Kysar (Brooklyn)

68,368

11

Manoj Viswanathan (Hastings)

68,374

Ari Golgower (Ohio State)

68,343

12

Michael Simkovic (USC)

34,013

Gladriel Shobe (BYU)

23,042

13

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

34,013

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

3,479

14

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

32,864

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

3,398

15

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

28,986

Michael Simkovic (USC)

3,310

16

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

24,283

Michael Graetz (Columbia)

3,028

17

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

24,028

Andy Grewal (Iowa)

2,859

18

Gladriel Shobe (BYU)

23,504

Kyle Rozema (Chicago)

2,661

19

Jim Hines (Michigan)

23,466

Hugh Ault (Boston College)

2,655

20

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

22,918

David Weisbach (Chicago)

2,507

21

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

22,524

WIlliam Byrnes (Texas A&M)

2,284

22

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

22,422

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

2,255

23

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

20,056

Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)

2,090

24

David Weisbach (Chicago)

20,051

Stephen Shay (Harvard)

1,913

25

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

19,787

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

1,839

Note that this ranking includes full-time tax professors with at least one tax paper on SSRN, and all papers (including non-tax papers) by these tax professors are included in the SSRN data.

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January 31, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Eugene Volokh, National Association of Scholars Submit Amicus Brief Supporting Richard Sander's Attempt To Get Data To Study California Bar Passage

California Bar ExamEugene Volokh (UCLA), Richard J. Peltz-Steele (UMass) & Robert E. Steinbuch (Arkansas-Little Rock), Brief of Amicus Curiae National Association of Scholars in Support of Appellants, Richard Sander and The First Amednment Coalition v. State Bar of California, No. A150625 (CA Ct. App. Ja. 26, 2018):

Introduction
The public good often depends on social science research that employs personal data. Volumes of scientific breakthroughs based on data accumulated through access to public information demonstrate the importance and feasibility of enabling research in the public interest while still respecting data privacy. For decades, reliable and routine technical methods have ensured protection for personal privacy by de-identifying personal data.

Social science research into legal education and admission to the bar is presently a matter of urgent public interest and importance, requiring solid empirical analysis of anonymized personal data that government authorities possess. Social science research of the very kind proposed by Appellants Sander and The First Amendment Coalition represents standard, indeed commonplace, research practice furthering the public interest, while employing established methodologies that minimize the risk to privacy.

Argument ...
III. Social Science Research Into Legal Education and Admission to the Bar Is Presently A Matter Of Urgent Public Interest And Improtance, Requiring Solid Empirical Analysis Of Personal Data In Government Possession.
Catalyzed by the 2008 financial crisis and defying previous trends in hard economic times, legal education has spiraled into an unprecedented recession that largely persists today. In chicken-and-egg cycle with this fundamental breakdown in how American lawyers are educated, the legal profession in the United States and around the world is transforming how legal services are provided and paid for. Admission to the bar and the bar exam sit at the junction of these changes, rippling ramifications through overwhelmed legal aid, downsized law firms, and outsourced legal services. In this climate, social science research is critical to ensure that the legal practitioner survives as principled professional rather than devolving into snake-oil seller.

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January 31, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Do Higher Corporate Taxes Reduce Wages?

Clemens Fuest (University of Munich), Andreas Peichl (University of Munich) & Sebastian Siegloch (University of Mannheim), Do Higher Corporate Taxes Reduce Wages? Micro Evidence from Germany (2017):

This paper estimates the incidence of corporate taxes on wages using a 20-year panel of German municipalities exploiting 6,800 tax changes for identification. Using event study designs and differences-in-differences models, we find that workers bear about half of the total tax burden. Administrative linked employer-employee data allow us to estimate heterogeneous firm and worker effects. Our findings highlight the importance of labor market institutions and profit-shifting opportunities for the incidence of corporate taxes on wages. Moreover, we show that low-skilled, young and female employees bear a larger share of the tax burden. This has important distributive implications. 

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January 31, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

A Law School Dean's Oscars Preview: The Post

The PostNicholas W. Allard (Dean Brooklyn), Reel Law: The Post:

Earlier this year I felt like an old fogey when I realized that none of my first-year law students had ever heard of Perry Mason.  No kidding.  Even after I explained and they googled the fictional iconic trial attorney, most still thought that Della Street was an address.  So, this week as we had our water cooler conversations about the Academy Award nominations, I was somewhat prepared for their disinterest in The Post, Steven Spielberg’s wonderfully crafted, compelling, painfully timely newsroom drama.  Sure enough, most of the students who have not yet seen the film mistakenly assumed that it was about the Washington Post’s role in covering the Watergate scandal and ultimately ending the Nixon presidency.  They were surprised but not piqued to hear that The Post actually deals with the epic first amendment legal battle over the publication by The New York Times in May, 1971, and soon after by the Washington Post, of the massive secret defense department study of the history of the Vietnam War, popularly known as the Pentagon Papers.  I suspect that in addition to only being vaguely aware of this legal history they also have had more than their fill of the constant cacophony of draining breaking news about lies, bad behavior and misconduct by public officials.  I bet that these students would rather study the dreaded “rule against perpetuities” than pay good money for more of the same in a movie with a Washington plot. 

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January 31, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Hayashi Presents Countercyclical Tax Bases Today At NYU

HayashiAndrew Hayashi (Virginia) presents Countercyclical Tax Bases at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Lily Batchelder and Daniel Shaviro:

Tax scholarship has tended to focus on the efficiency properties of different tax bases under assumptions about the macroeconomy that only sometimes hold, and has paid relatively little attention to how those bases operate in recessions. I show how different tax bases interact with household credit constraints and adjustment costs to either stabilize or aggravate economic shocks. I argue that the choice of the local tax base should consider the effect that the base has on the resilience of the economy by stabilizing government spending and household consumption expenditures.

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January 30, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Marron Presents A Better Way To Budget For Government Loans, Guarantees & Equity Investments Today At Georgetown

MarronDonald Marron (Tax Policy Center) presents A Better Way to Budget for Government Loans, Guarantees, and Equity Investments at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by Lilian Faulhaber and Itai Grinberg:

The federal government’s method for budgeting for loans and loan guarantees has two major flaws. First, it records the expected fiscal returns from a loan the moment it is made, rather than spreading them over its full life. Loans thus get immediate budget credit for returns that may not occur until years in the future, often beyond the standard budget window that applies to conventional tax and spending policies. This can make lending programs appear to be magic money machines and gives lending programs a budgetary advantage over other policies. Second, current practice does not distinguish the potential fiscal gains from lending from the fiscal costs of any subsidies to borrowers. This failure encourages legislators to structure policies as lending programs—which require beneficiaries to go into debt—rather than as grants. The Congressional Budget Office has proposed an alternative that levels the playing field between loans and grants. But its fair value method violates budget principles in another way, bringing non-budget factors—the cost of financial risk—into the budget.

This paper proposes two innovations to resolve these problems.

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January 30, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Student Participation In Externships Does Not Affect Bar Passage

Following up on my previous posts:

Scott Johns (Denver), A Statistical Exploration: Analyzing the Relationship (If Any) Between Externship Participation and Bar Exam Scores, 42 Okla. City U. L. Rev. (2017):

Relatively recently, the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) claims that experiential legal education might negatively harm bar passage performance. Nevertheless, experiential learning opportunities, and, in particular, externships, are some of the most meaningful educational opportunities available to law school students. That raises an important empirical question, given the increasing emphasis of legal educators in providing more experiential learning opportunities for law students and the widespread participation of students, especially in externship programs, as one type of experiential learning opportunity. Do externship experiences have demonstrable value in positively influencing bar exam outcomes, or, as the NCBE seems to suggest, do externships negatively impact bar exam outcomes?

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January 30, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

How Countries Should Share Tax Information

Arthur J. Cockfield (Queen's University), How Countries Should Share Tax Information, 50 Vand. J. Transnat'l L. 1091 (2017):

Offshore tax evasion, international money laundering, and aggressive international tax planning significantly reduce government revenues. In particular, for some low-income countries the amount of capital flight (where elites move and hide monies offshore in tax havens) exceeds foreign aid. Governments struggle to enforce their tax laws to constrain these actions, and they are inhibited by a lack of information concerning international capital flows. The main international policy response to these developments has been to promote global financial transparency through heightened cross-border exchanges of tax information. The Article examines elements of optimal cross-border tax information exchange laws and policies by focusing on three key challenges: information quality, taxpayer privacy, and enforcement.

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January 30, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

After 50 Years, ABA Tax Section Shifts Publication Of The Tax Lawyer From Georgetown To Northwestern

ABA Tax LawyerKaren L. Hawkins (Chair, ABA Tax Section), The Tax Lawyer Enters a New Era:

I am pleased to report that the negotiations first reported in my fall column of ABA Tax Times are complete. The Tax Section has finalized an agreement with the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law to engage students from its full-time Tax LL.M. Program as student editors of our flagship journal, The Tax Lawyer. We believe this new relationship offers enhanced opportunities for the Section, and a new vision for The Tax Lawyer that will serve our members for years to come.

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January 30, 2018 in ABA Tax Section, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

How To Reduce Faculty Duties So They Can Do Their Best Work, Not Simply More Work

Inside Higher Ed, Less Is More:

Harvey Mudd College has a problem. Over time it’s developed a “more is more” culture around faculty work that isn’t, well, working.

Lisa Sullivan, dean of the faculty, wants that to change, she said Thursday at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

“There’s a strong connection between excellence, rigor and pain,” Sullivan said during a session on data-driven strategies for reducing faculty workload. “You know you’ve got it right if you’re suffering a little bit and stressed. If you’re not at that point, then you’re probably not working hard enough.”

Harvey Mudd's professors — most of whom have science Ph.D.s and active research agendas -- therefore feel they must be “triathletes,” excelling in teaching, research and service at all times, rather than excelling “serially” in different areas throughout their careers, Sullivan added. And their dissatisfaction is reflected in the numbers: 15 percent of tenure-track and tenured professors and 20 percent pretenure professors in particular say “unrelenting pressure to perform” is a major challenge, according to data gathered by the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE). Some 25 percent of Harvey Mudd professors cite teaching load as a barrier to satisfaction, with associate professors feeling the pinch there, especially.

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January 30, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

‘Repeal And Replace’ The Trump Tax Cuts

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  ‘Repeal and Replace’ the Trump Tax Cuts, by Jason Furman (Harvard):

Everyone who debated last year’s tax law can agree that it won’t be the last word. The legislation addressed almost none of the “tax extenders,” temporary tax breaks that Congress typically reauthorizes every year. Some of the law’s key provisions expire after 2022 or 2025.

More important, the tax cuts put the country on an unsustainable fiscal trajectory, with next year’s deficit set to hit 5% of gross domestic product, a record outside of major wars and recessions or their aftermath. Finally, anything widely known as the “Trump tax cuts” is politically unstable given that Democrats will eventually take back power.

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January 30, 2018 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

UC-Berkeley Law School Worker Felt ‘Mobilizing Anger,’ Then Won $1.7 Million In Sexual Harassment Case

UC Berkeley (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Sacramento Bee, UC Worker Felt ‘Mobilizing Anger.’ Then She Won $1.7 Million in a Sexual Harassment Case:

On a gray January morning in Oakland, Tyann Sorrell glides into her attorney’s 13th-floor offices overlooking Lake Merritt. She is greeted by hugs, one after another, and warm words.

Then she gets down to business: Her $1.7 million sexual harassment settlement with the University of California.

At 43, Sorrell is a reluctant hero of the “Me Too” movement, a soft-spoken and poised mother of five who challenged one of UC’s most hallowed institutions, the UC Berkeley School of Law, and the new leader it hired in 2014.

As an executive assistant at the law school, joining in 2012, Sorrell described her initial years as positive and her relationship with then-Dean Christopher Edley as “a wonderful bond.” Everything changed in mid-2014, she said, with the arrival of Sujit Choudhry, a constitutional law scholar who replaced Edley and became Sorrell’s new superior.

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January 30, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Lederman Presents Information Matters In Tax Enforcement Today At UC-Irvine

Lederman (2018)Leandra Lederman (Indiana) presents Information Matters in Tax Enforcement at UC-Irvine today as part of its Tax Law and Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Omri Marian:

Most legal and economics scholars recognize that the government needs information about taxpayers’ transactions in order to determine whether their reporting is honest, and that third-party reporting helps the government obtain that information. Yet, a recent paper by Professor Wei Cui [Taxation Without Information: The Institutional Foundations of Modern Tax Collection] asserts that “modern governments can practice ‘taxation without information.’” Cui’s argument rests on two premises: (1) “giving governments effective access to taxpayer information through third parties does not explain the success of modern tax administration” because, he argues, other important taxes, such as the value added tax (VAT), do not involve information reporting; and (2) modern tax administration succeeds because business firms are “sites of social cooperation under the rule of law,” fostering compliance. As this Essay argues, the literature demonstrates that Cui is wrong on both points.

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January 29, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kleinbard Delivers Keynote Address On Perversion of The Tax Policymaking Process Today At The USC Tax Institute

Kleinbard (2015)Edward Kleinbard (USC) delivers the keynote address on Perversion of the Tax Policymaking Process today at the annual USC Tax Institute:

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act can be criticized on many substantive grounds, and for its effect on deficits. But the legislative process also revealed important shortcomings beyond its haste. Traditional tax policy metrics – conventional revenue estimates, dynamic estimates and distributional analyses – yield misleading results in a tax framework that loses over one trillion dollars. The result is that the legislation has even more deleterious welfare implications than these standard metrics suggest.

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January 29, 2018 in Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lipman Presents (Anti)Poverty Measures Exposed Today At BYU

Lipman (2017)Francine Lipman (UNLV) presents (Anti)Poverty Measures Exposed, 21 Fla. Tax Rev. 256 (2017), at BYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Cliff Fleming and Gladriel Shobe:

Few economic indicators have more salience and pervasive financial impact on everyday lives in the United States than poverty measures. Nevertheless, policymakers, researchers, advocates, and legislators generally do not understand the details of poverty measure mechanics. These detailed mechanics shape and reshape poverty measures and the too often uninformed responses and remedies. This Article will build a bridge from personal portraits of families living in poverty to the resource allocations that failed them by exposing the specific detailed mechanics underlying the Census Bureau’s official (OPM) and supplemental poverty measures (SPM). Too often, when we confront the problem of poverty, the focus is on the lives and behavior of those suffering the burdens of poverty and not on the inadequacy of resource allocations in antipoverty programs. The purpose of poverty measures should be to expose the effectiveness and failures of antipoverty programs so that they can be improved, not to scrutinize the lives and characteristics of those who are enduring these hardships.

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January 29, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rankings Scandal Unfolds At Temple Business School

TempleI previously have blogged reports of over a dozen schools inflating their rankings by submitting erroneous data to U.S. News (BucknellClaremont McKenna, College of Charleston, CreightonEmoryGeorge WashingtonIllinoisMissouri-Kansas CityTulaneUniversity of Mary Hardin-BaylorVillanovaYork College of Pennsylvania).  U.S. News has announced what may be the most egregious case yet:  Temple's online MBA has been ranked #1 for the past four years, based in part on its reporting that 100% of its entering students took the GMAT.  Only 20% of its 2017 entering class did so.  The U.S. News methodology penalizes online MBA programs in its rankings if less than 75% of entering students submit GMAT (or GRE) scores. Temple does not require that applicants take the GMAT in certain circumstances, and in the two years prior to being ranked #1, Temple reported that only 25% and 33% of its entering students took the GMAT.

Philadelphia Inquirer, Temple Online MBA Kicked Out of No. 1 Spot in US News Rankings; Now 'Unranked' Due to Data Error:

According to Poets & Quants, Temple has leveraged its No. 1 U.S. News rankings to expand enrollment in the online M.B.A. program, with a price tag of $59,760. In the last year alone, Temple was able to increase student enrollment by 57 percent to 546 students from 351, one of the largest percentage increases of any online M.B.A. offering.

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January 29, 2018 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Lesson From The Tax Court: Country Music Ain't All Business

Tax Court (2017)Country music teaches us lots of tax lessons. Here’s a list of country music songs about taxes. I especially like Johnny Cash’s lesson about the difference between gross pay and net pay in  “After Tax”:

You can dream about a honeymoon for two
You can dream but that's about all you can do
'Cause by the time old uncle Sam gets through with you
You can buy her a pair of hose
A little powder for her nose
And take her down to Sloppy Joe's for beer and stew
Them are the facts after tax

The folks who sing country music also teach us many lessons about basic principles of taxation. One day I’ll blog the classic Jenkins v. Commissioner. Today, however, I draw your attention to last week’s Joy Ford v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2018-8 (Jan. 25, 2018). Its lesson fits well with standard country music themes about love and broken dreams, about making money and making friends.  Details below the fold. 

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January 29, 2018 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

University Of Texas Faculty Rebels Against Use Of Metrics To Assess Scholarly Performance

Texas Logo (2018)Following up on my previous posts:

Inside Higher Ed, UT-Austin Professors Join Campaign Against Faculty-Productivity Company:

The University of Texas at Austin this week became one of the most prestigious research institutions to join a faculty rebellion against Academic Analytics, a data company that promises to identify low-performing professors.

UT-Austin’s Faculty Council voted on Monday to approve a resolution recommending that the university make no use of Academic Analytics, especially concerning promotions, tenure, salaries, curriculum, and other faculty issues.

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January 29, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

The World Bank's Role In Policing Tax Avoidance

World BankUyanga Berkel-Dorlig (Erasmus University), Legality of the World Bank’s Informal Decisions to Expand Into the Tax Field, and Implications of These Decisions for Its Legitimacy:

The emergence of global tax governance was triggered by common tax problems, which are now still being faced by international society of nation-states. In the creation of this framework, international institutions have been playing a major role. One of these institutions is the World Bank (Bank). However, those who write about the virtues and vices of the main creators of the framework usually disregard the Bank. This article, therefore, argues that this disregard is not justified because the Bank has also been playing a prominent role.

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January 29, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Harvard, BYU Law Students Launch 'Google For Contracts,' 'Turbo Tax For Debt Collection'

EvisortHarvard Press Release, HLS Students Harness Artificial Intelligence to Revolutionize How Lawyers Draft and Manage Contracts:

Four Harvard Law students have their heads in the cloud—and they think the rest of the legal profession should join them. With their powerful new search engine called Evisort that harnesses cloud storage and artificial intelligence, they hope to revolutionize the costly and labor-intensive way that lawyers currently handle contracts and other transactional work, liberating them for more creative and interesting tasks.

Developed by the students over the past two years, Evisort is “like Google for legal contracts,” says Jerry Ting ’18, co-founder and CEO, who came up with the idea as an undergraduate. While artificial intelligence is the cutting-edge of automating labor-intensive tasks such as document review, it hasn’t yet been widely applied to contracts. Evisort jumps into that gap by enabling lawyers to quickly sort through thousands of contracts and other documents to unlock key insights for transactional work. It has the potential to greatly enhance efficiency, improve accuracy, and save millions of dollars a year, the students and their supporters agree.

SoloSuitBYU Press Release, BYU Law Develops Free Online Tool to Address Debt Collection:

BYU Law School, a leading national law school focused on innovation in the legal field, today announced the development of SoloSuit – a free online tool that helps Utahns who cannot afford legal services to respond to debt collection lawsuits. SoloSuit is the first product designed by LawX, a legal design lab at BYU Law School with the ambitious goal to solve one legal challenge each fall semester.

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January 28, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: The New Tax Law Is Roaring Through U.S. Companies

Wall Street Journal, The Tax Law, Just One Month Old, Is Roaring Through U.S. Companies:

Just weeks after the federal government adopted the biggest tax overhaul in three decades, the effects are rippling through corner offices and boardrooms, with companies large and small dusting off once-shelved plans, re-evaluating existing projects and exploring new investment in factories and equipment. ...

WSJ 2

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January 28, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Exposure To Religious Diversity Plummets In Freshman Year Of College

Inside Higher Ed, Declining Exposure to Religious Diversity:

First-year students might come to campus open to new spiritual perspectives, but a new survey shows that in their freshman year, their exposure to religious diversity plummets.

IHE

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January 28, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

SSRN LogoThis week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads is the same as last week's list. The #1 paper is #1 and the #2 paper is #2 among 13,315 tax papers in all-time downloads (see Brian Leiter (Chicago), 11 Tax Profs Blow Up The SSRN Download Rankings).

  1. [45,840 Downloads]  The Games They Will Play: Tax Games, Roadblocks, and Glitches Under the New Legislation, by Ari Glogower (Ohio State), David Kamin (NYU), Rebecca Kysar (Brooklyn) & Darien Shanske (UC-Davis) et al.
  2. [30,885 Downloads]  The Games They Will Play: An Update on the Conference Committee Tax Bill, by Ari Glogower (Ohio State), David Kamin (NYU), Rebecca Kysar (Brooklyn) & Darien Shanske (UC-Davis) et al.
  3. [1476 Downloads]  Understanding the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, by Sam Donaldson (Georgia State)
  4. [766 Downloads]  Federal Income Tax Treatment of Charitable Contributions Entitling Donor to a State Tax Credit, by Joseph Bankman (Stanford), David Gamage (Indiana), Jacob Goldin (Stanford) & Daniel Hemel (Chicago) et al.
  5. [631 Downloads]  Tax Reform: Process Failures, Loopholes and Wealth Windfalls, by Stephen Shay (Harvard)

January 28, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

NY Times: Bonuses Aside, New Tax Law’s Trickle-Down Impact On Workers Is Not Yet Clear

New York Times, Bonuses Aside, Tax Law’s Trickle-Down Impact Not Yet Clear:

There are good ways to start measuring how much the Trump tax cuts might be helping American workers. Tracking the bonus announcements flowing from corporations is not one of them.

Those announcements, which include $2,500 in stock grants for Apple employees, up to $1,000 for certain workers at Walmart and $1,000 bonuses for Bank of America employees, are both real money and smart marketing. President Trump and top Republican lawmakers have praised many of the companies that are disclosing tax-cut-fueled bonuses and wage hikes.

For the most part, though, they are not indicative of the windfalls that companies are reaping from the $1.5 trillion tax law — and how much of that money that might trickle through to workers in the years to come.

Companies are acknowledging this in their fourth-quarter earnings reports and other financial disclosures, which earmark just a sliver of their future tax savings for direct and indirect investments in workers.

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January 27, 2018 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law Prof, As U.S. Attorney, Takes Leave From School, Gives Up Other Gigs

Correction:  The National Law Journal has corrected and re-titled its article as Law Prof, as US Attorney, Takes Leave from School, Gives Up Other Gigs:

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that new U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister reported about $1 million in annual income on financial disclosure forms. After the story published, McAllister said that figure covered a period of nearly three years, not one. Under federal rules, the disclosure form required McAllister to report income from Jan. 1, 2016, to the day he filed the form, June, 28, 2017.

Former University of Kansas School of Law Dean Stephen McAllister was sworn in as U.S. attorney for the District of Kansas on Thursday by his former boss—U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. McAllister clerked for Thomas in 1991, following a clerkship with Justice Byron White. The private ceremony was held on the University of Kansas campus.

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January 27, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dennis Ventry Named Chair Of The IRS Advisory Council

VentryIR-2017-04, IRS Selects New Advisory Council Members (Jan. 11, 2018):

The Internal Revenue Service today announced the appointment of seven new members to the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council (IRSAC).

The IRSAC, established in 1953, is an organized public forum for IRS officials and representatives of the public to discuss various issues in tax administration. The council provides the IRS Commissioner with relevant feedback, observations and recommendations. It will submit its annual report to the agency at a public meeting in November 2018.

The IRS strives to appoint members to the IRSAC who represent the taxpaying public, the tax professional community, small and large businesses, academia and the payroll community.

The 2018 IRSAC Chairman is Dr. Dennis Ventry, Jr., professor of law at the University of California-Davis, School of Law in Davis, Calif.

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January 27, 2018 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Glogower Reviews Goldin's Tax Benefit Complexity And The EITC

This week, Ari Glogower (Ohio State) reviews a new work by Jacob Goldin (Stanford), Tax Benefit Complexity and Take-Up: Lessons from the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Glogower (2016)Jacob Goldin’s new work examines methods to increase taxpayer take-up of tax benefit programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Although it is hard to determine the precise number of households that potentially qualify for the EITC, the IRS estimates that only around 80% of qualifying taxpayers claim the benefit, leaving a take-up gap of around 5 million households. The EITC significantly reduces poverty in the U.S., and therefore increasing take-up could direct more financial support to the taxpayers who can benefit from it the most.

The work considers the barriers that taxpayers face in claiming benefits such as the EITC, and the most effective ways to overcome these barriers. In short, Goldin argues that the government should focus on incentivizing taxpayers to file tax returns—and reducing filing costs—rather than increasing general awareness of the existence of specific tax benefit programs.

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January 26, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Hemel: States And Localities Can Offset Federal Tax Law's Impact On Their Residents

Daniel Hemel (Chicago), States and Localities Can Offset Federal Tax Law's Impact on Their Residents:

The federal tax overhaul signed into law by President Trump in December 2017 strikes a blow to households in high-tax states, with potentially negative ramifications for state and local government finances. First, the law imposes a new $10,000 cap on the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT)—well below the average amount claimed by residents of high-tax states such as New York, California, and New Jersey. Second, the legislation rolls the preexisting law’s personal exemptions into a much larger standard deduction, which will mean that most taxpayers who currently itemize their deductions will stop doing so and thus will lose any SALT benefit. Absent any response from states and localities, the net effect of the new tax law will be that the vast majority of households pay their state and local taxes with nondeductible dollars—which, in turn, will likely make it more difficult for states and municipalities to raise revenue for their schools, hospitals, police and fire departments, and other vital public services.

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January 26, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (10)

19 Tax Profs Urge Supreme Court To Grant Certiorari in Duty-Free Case

Jeff Love (Kellogg, Hansen) filed an amicus brief at the Supreme Court today on behalf of 19 law professors supporting the petitioner in Loudoun County, Virginia v. Dulles Duty Free, LLC. The brief calls on the Court to grant Loudoun County's petition and overrule its 1946 decision in Richfield Oil Corp. v. State Board of Equalization, which prohibits state and local governments from imposing nondiscriminatory sales taxes on goods that have begun a "continuous route or journey" to a foreign country. From the summary of the brief:

For more than seven decades, state and local governments as well as market actors have labored under an export tax regime that is inconsistent, inefficient, and inequitable. The petition for a writ of certiorari in Loudoun County, Virginia, v. Dulles Duty Free, LLC, presents the Supreme Court with a chance to restore rationality to the tax treatment of the export sector. The economic implications are vast: annual exports of goods from the United States exceed $1.4 trillion. The Court’s resolution of this case will determine whether state and local governments can apply their sales and personal property taxes to exports in a balanced and nondiscriminatory fashion.

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January 26, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

University Of Akron Eliminates Friday Classes

AkronPress Release, 'Five-Star Fridays' to be Devoted to Career Development Activities:

University of Akron President Matthew J. Wilson today announced UA will move toward implementing an innovative class schedule this fall to better prepare and serve students.

The schedule is unique to universities in the area, as it will enable most students to focus on classes Monday through Thursday and then participate in practical, career-focused experiences on Friday. In conjunction with this initiative, UA will look to continue enhancing its weekend, online, and evening scheduling as well.

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January 26, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Spring 2018 Law Review Article Submission Guide

SubmissionsNancy Levit (UMKC) & Allen Rostron (UMKC) have updated their incredibly useful document, which contains two charts for the Spring 2018 submission season covering 202 law reviews.

The first chart (pp. 1-51) contains information gathered from the journals’ websites on:

  • Methods for submitting an article (such as by e-mail, ExpressO, regular mail, Scholastica, or Twitter)
  • Any special formatting requirements
  • How to request an expedited review
  • How to withdraw an article after it has been accepted for publication elsewhere

The second chart (pp. 52-58) contains the ranking of the law reviews and their schools under six measures:

  • U.S. News: Overall Rank
  • U.S. News: Peer Reputation Rating
  • U.S. News: Judge/Lawyer Reputation Rating
  • Washington & Lee Citation Ranking
  • Washington & Lee Impact Factor
  • Washington & Lee Combined Rating

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January 26, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top 1% Captured 82% Of The Wealth Created In 2017

Oxfam, Reward Work, Not Wealth:

Last year saw the biggest increase in billionaires in history, one more every two days. Billionaires saw their wealth increase by $762bn in 12 months. This huge increase could have ended global extreme poverty seven times over. 82% of all wealth created in the last year went to the top 1%, while the bottom 50% saw no increase at all. Dangerous, poorly paid work for the many is supporting extreme wealth for the few. Women are in the worst work, and almost all the super-rich are men. Governments must create a more equal society by prioritizing ordinary workers and small-scale food producers instead of the rich and powerful.

Figure 1

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January 26, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Faulhaber Presents The Trouble With Tax Competition Today At Duke

Faulhaber (2017)Lilian V. Faulhaber (Georgetown) presents The Trouble with Tax Competition: From Practice to Theory, 71 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2018), at Duke today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

Over the past few years, policymakers have argued that everything from Apple’s Irish tax deal to patent boxes to the LuxLeaks tax rulings represent “harmful tax competition.” Despite the ubiquity of this term, however, there is no internationally accepted definition of so-called harmful tax competition.

This Article uses the anti-tax-competition measures proposed and implemented over the last twenty years to reverse-engineer what policymakers believe to constitute harmful tax competition. Their different visions of harmful tax competition lead to three important lessons.

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

Goldin Presents Complexity And Take-up Of The Earned Income Tax Credit Today At UCLA

Goldin (2017)Jacob Goldin (Stanford) presents Complexity and Take-up of the Earned Income Tax Credit at UCLA today as part of its Tax Policy and Public Finance Colloquium Series hosted by Jason Oh and Kirk Stark:

Tax benefits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) represent an important source of income to their recipients, but millions of those who are eligible to claim tax benefits fail to do so. One possible explanation is that the rules governing most tax benefits are extraordinarily complex. I consider efforts to increase tax benefit take-up in light of this complexity. A key fact in thinking about this issue is that the vast majority of tax filers today prepare their taxes with assisted preparation methods (APMs) like software or professional assistance. Because APMs eliminate most of the barriers to claiming tax benefits for which one is eligible, I ague that efforts to increase benefit take-up should focus on inducing benefit-eligible individuals to file a tax return using an APM. In contrast, efforts aimed at increasing awareness of a benefit (of the type widely employed by governments and nonprofits) are less likely to be successful, except to the extent they themselves induce an increase in tax filing.

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January 25, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (1)

Crawford Presents Tax Talk And Reproductive Technology Today At Louisville

Crawford (2018)Bridget J. Crawford (Pace) presents Tax Talk and Reproductive Technology at Louisville today as part of its  Junior Faculty Dean’s Mentoring Grant Program

What do fertility clinics communicate to their clients about the tax consequences of compensated surrogacy or gamete transfers? How do egg donors and surrogates understand their activities vis-a-vis the tax system? How does this square with existing tax laws? Through a content analysis of publicly-available websites and internet message boards, this article examines the tax information that fertility clinics and doctors make available to patients, as well as the information that surrogates and gamete donors share with each other.

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

Apple's Bogus Claim That The GOP Tax Cut Is Making It Spend More In The U.S. Is Just A PR Sop To Trump

Apple LogoLos Angeles Times:  Apple's Bogus Claim That the Tax Cut Is Making It Spend More in the U.S. Is Just a PR Sop to Trump, by Michael Hiltzik:

To hear the White House tell it, Apple's big announcement last week that it would increase jobs and make billions in new investments in the United States is proof positive that the big tax cut President Trump signed in December is working. ... If anything, Apple's announcement proves just the opposite. It underscores Apple's success at having gamed the U.S. tax system for more than a decade before finally browbeating Republicans in Congress to do its bidding. The announcement bristles with exaggerations and misrepresentations about what the company really is promising. It glosses over the fact that the billions in overseas earnings it's "bringing home" as a result of the tax legislation were pretty much here all the time. ...

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January 25, 2018 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (8)

GOP Tax Cuts May Not Be Driving Corporate Generosity To Workers

Tax Reform WorksWashington Post, Economics May Not Be Driving Corporate Generosity:

Republicans have been touting the number of companies handing out employee bonuses and pay raises — such as Walmart and Bank of America — as a surprising sign that the Trump administration’s tax cuts are working their economic magic faster than anyone expected.

“It really is unbelievable to see just how many companies have stepped up,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) told Fox Business. White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn described it as “not even something we expected to see.” President Trump has tweeted eight times on the topic, calling the bonuses “an unexpected new source of ‘love.’ ”

And they’ve been keeping careful count, too. Staffers in Scalise’s office constantly update a running list of which companies have joined in, under the headline “Tax Reform Works.”

But a deeper look at the list of approximately 200 companies shows that more than economics is probably at play, with business experts and analysts saying that alternative motivations are likely to be behind the sudden flood of corporate generosity. One major Republican donor owns 11 of the firms on the list. Several companies are contending with problems with regulators in Trump’s administration. And so many companies have settled on the $1,000 bonus figure that it appears, to some, to be just as much about a public relations push as anything else.

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January 25, 2018 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (1)

Why Aren't Law Schools Admitting More Black Students?

Steinbuch 2National Jurist op-ed:  A Different Take On Why Law Schools Are Not Admitting More Black Students, by Robert Steinbuch (Arkansas-Little Rock):

I read the recent National Jurist article, Why aren’t law schools admitting more black students?, with great interest. The article demonstrates an unfortunate truth: the intersection of race and law-school admissions remain obscured by confusion over basic facts. I hope to bring some clarity to these matters here.

Let’s start with the explosive (and patently wrong) claim that recurs throughout the article’s first eight paragraphs: that black applicants are discriminated against in law school admissions. For example, the author poses the following inquiry and response: “Is it possible that law schools are discriminating against African-American applicants, even in this day and age when diversity and inclusion are such paramount goals? Law school leaders and admissions officers, no doubt, would swear up and down that is not the case. But the numbers tell a different story.”

No, they really don’t.  

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January 25, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Oei & Ring: New Section 199A And Worker Classification

Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College) & Diane M. Ring (Boston College), Is New Code Section 199A Really Going to Turn Us All into Independent Contractors?:

There has been a lot of interest lately in new IRC Section 199A, the new qualified business income (QBI) deduction that grants passthroughs, including qualifying workers who are independent contractors (and not employees), a deduction equal to 20% of a specially calculated base amount of income. One of the important themes that has arisen is its effect on work and labor markets, and the notion that the new deduction creates an incentive for businesses to shift to independent contractor classification. A question that has been percolating in the press, blogs, and on social media is whether new Section 199A is going to create a big shift in the workplace and cause many workers to be reclassified as independent contractors.

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 1722: The IRS Apologizes For Targeting Tea Party Group

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Why The IRS Fears Bitcoin

Bitcoin IRSNew York Times op-ed:  Why the I.R.S. Fears Bitcoin, by Richard Holden (New South Wales) & Anup Malani (Chicago):

The extraordinary rise in the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has led many people to worry that this market is a giant bubble. Many, including the Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen and the billionaire investor Warren Buffett, have warned about a “Bitcoin bust” that could rival the dot-com crash of 2000 and wipe out speculators.

But the bigger concern about cryptocurrencies may be the damage they could do, in the long run, to government finances through lost tax revenue.

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January 24, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Judge Reduces $4 Million Litigation Settlement To Each Of California's Five Public Law Schools By 99.25%, To $30,000

California Law SchoolsThe Recorder, $20 Million Award to UC Law Schools Shrinks to $150,000:

A $4 million windfall granted to each of the five law schools within the University of California system in March has been whittled down to $30,000 per campus by a federal bankruptcy judge. ...

[UC-Hastings Dean Davig Faigman said] "My first reaction was that one should not count one’s chickens before they’re hatched. Here, this turned out to be eggs for omelets rather than for young chicks. And that’s OK."

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