TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Curve: Life At Manhattan Law School

Curve 2Jeremy Blachman (J.D. 2005, Harvard; author, Anonymous Lawyer) & Cameron Stracher (J.D. 1987, Harvard; Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, New York), The Curve (2016):

The students at Manhattan Law School, a decrepit institution on the edge of the toxic Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, are geographically-challenged and mad as hell – in debt up to their eyeballs and fighting over the few legal jobs left for those who are far outside the Ivy League. Our hero, Adam Wright, is a newly minted professor with high hopes and low expectations. But nothing has prepared him for a classroom of digitally distracted students, a rebellion of grade grubbers, a Law Journal staff at the helm of a school-wide scam, and a corrupt administration that runs the school as if it were a personal ATM. Adam regrets leaving his lucrative corporate law firm for the wilds of academia, until he finds an ally in the brilliant and fetching Laura Stapleton, a colleague with her own troubling secrets.

Now the two professors may just have to save legal education ... or join their students in the unemployment line … or worse.

With its colorful cast of eccentrics and law school misfits, a satirical plot that – without too much of a stretch – could be ripped from the headlines, and a proven author duo who know this world and have six previous books between them, The Curve continues Ankerwycke’s trend of publishing high quality/highly readable legal fiction with an edge.

The Curve is a hugely entertaining and deeply felt novel that satirizes the current state of higher education and reads like a cross between Dangerous Minds and The Paper Chase.

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May 26, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Hemel Reviews Taxing The Rich: A History Of Fiscal Fairness In The United States And Europe

TaxingFollowing up on last week's postDaniel Hemel (Chicago), Taxation as Compensation (reviewing   Kenneth F. Scheve (Stanford) & David Stasavage (NYU), Taxing the Rich: A History of Fiscal Fairness in the United States and Europe (Princeton University Press, 2016)):

According to Scheve and Stasavage . . . , “the story of taxing the rich has more to do with politics” than with fiscal constraints . . . . For Scheve and Stasavage, “politics” specifically means rhetoric: their answer to the “why” question focuses on the types of tax fairness arguments that advocates for redistribution have employed. Scheve and Stasavage direct their attention (and ours) to three particular tax fairness claims. The first is what they call the “equal treatment” argument: “the fairest system involves equal treatment for all” (p. 6). The second is what they describe as “the ability to pay doctrine”: each additional dollar of taxation represents less of a sacrifice for someone earning $10 million a year than for someone earning $10,000, and so a progressive tax system imposes a roughly equal burden on the rich as on the poor even while the rich pay much more in dollar terms. The third type of argument is “compensatory”: “taxing the rich more heavily than the rest serves to correct or compensate for some other inequality in government action” (p. 5). According to Scheve and Stasavage, the last type of argument is the only one that historically has justified highly progressive rate structures. ...

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May 26, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Graetz:  Essays On International Taxation

GraetzMichael J. Graetz (Columbia), Follow the Money: Essays on International Taxation (Yale May 2016) (free download (PDF, EPUB (iPad, Noble), MOBI (Kindle)), book (amazon)):

Publicity about tax avoidance techniques of multinational corporations and wealthy individuals has moved discussion of international income taxation from the backrooms of law and accounting firms to the front pages of news organizations around the world. In the words of a top Australian tax official, international tax law has now become a topic of barbeque conversations. Public anger has, in turn, brought previously arcane issues of international taxation onto the agenda of heads of government around the world.

Despite all the attention, however, issues of international income taxation are often not well understood. In this collection of essays, written over the past two decades, renowned tax expert Michael J. Graetz reveals how current international tax policy came into place nearly a century ago, critiques the inadequate principles still being used to make international tax policy, identifies and dissects the most prevalent tax avoidance techniques, and offers important suggestions for reform. This book is indispensable for anyone interested in international income taxation.

Praise for Follow the Money:

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May 25, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Murphy Reviews Piketty's Capital In The Twenty-First Century

PikettyLiam Murphy (NYU), Why Does Inequality Matter?: Reflections on the Political Morality of Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, 68 Tax L. Rev. 613 (2015):

In the Conclusion to Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty issues a call for a political and historical economics. Like Marx and the political economists before him, Piketty is interested in how markets work because he is interested in the rights and wrongs of institutional, especially legal, design. His is book is guided by a clear sense that economic inequality, especially inequality of wealth, raises serious prima facie problems of social justice. This essay is a critical investigation into the political morality underlying Capital in the Twenty-First Century that unravels and evaluates the different ways in which economic inequality may or may not matter.

For my take, see Thomas Piketty and Inequality: Legal Causes and Tax Solutions, 64 Emory L.J. Online 2073 (2015).  Other reviews of Capital in the Twenty-First Century:

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May 18, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Are We Ready To Raise Taxes On The Rich? History Says No.

Taxing the RichWashington Post op-ed:  Are We Ready to Raise Taxes on the Rich? History Says No., by Kenneth F. Scheve (Stanford) & David Stasavage (NYU):

Economic inequality is high and rising. At the same time, many governments are struggling to balance budgets while maintaining spending for popular programs.

That’s prompted some presidential candidates to argue it’s time to raise taxes on the rich. Bernie Sanders is leading the charge and would create a new top income tax rate of 54.2 percent, up from the current 39.6 percent. Hillary Clinton would institute the so-called “Buffett rule” to require individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $1 million to pay an effective rate of at least 30 percent, and she’d add a new 4 percent surcharge on anyone who pulls in $5 million or more.

As White House aspirants, other politicians and voters debate whether it’s time to once again soak the rich to spread their wealth around, it’s helpful to consider what prompted past governments — ours and others — to raise their taxes.

We investigated tax debates and policies in 20 countries from 1800 to the present for our new book, Taxing the Rich: A History of Fiscal Fairness in the United States and Europe [Princeton University Press, 2016] [blogged here]. Our research shows that it is changes in beliefs about fairness — and not economic inequality or the need for revenue alone — that have driven the major variations in taxes on high incomes and wealth over the past two centuries.

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May 18, 2016 in Book Club, Political News, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

When You Are Called To Your Life's Work

Oxford 4Wall Street Journal, When You’re Called to Your Life’s Work:

Callings come in many ways, some unexpected. ... A chance encounter with an elderly homeless man led physician Lara Weinstein to her work treating marginal populations. “It was almost like a transcendental experience,” says Dr. Weinstein, a family doctor in Philadelphia.

Such events are more prevalent than one might expect. A 2006 Gallup poll of 1,004 adults, the most recent it has done on the subject, found that 33% of Americans said the following statement “applies completely” to them: “I have had a profound religious experience or awakening that changed the direction of my life.”

The experiences vary. A revelation, directive or message comes unexpectedly. A series of unlikely synchronistic events occur. Some people sense a divine presence, and others feel deeply connected to something larger than themselves, be it nature or others around them, and pursue more altruistic work.

People of all ages and faiths, agnostics and atheists, have such experiences, yet they rarely talk about them. They’re concerned others will dismiss them as delusional or won’t take them seriously. Sometimes words fall short of conveying the intensity of what they felt.

Some scientists and scholars are beginning to pay attention, says Lisa Miller, director of clinical psychology at Columbia University and editor of The Oxford Handbook of Psychology and Spirituality, published in 2012, which includes chapters written by quantum physicists and other scientists.

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May 15, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Brooks:  The Moral Foundation Of 'Grit'

GritFollowing up on Tuesday's post on Angela Duckworth (University of Pennsylvania), Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (May 3, 2016)):  New York Times:  Putting Grit in Its Place, by David Brooks:

We all know why it exists, but the grade-point average is one of the more destructive elements in American education.

Success is about being passionately good at one or two things, but students who want to get close to that 4.0 have to be prudentially balanced about every subject. In life we want independent thinking and risk-taking, but the G.P.A. system encourages students to be deferential and risk averse, giving their teachers what they want.

Creative people are good at asking new questions, but the G.P.A. rewards those who can answer other people’s questions. The modern economy rewards those who can think in ways computers can’t, but the G.P.A. rewards people who can grind away at mental tasks they find boring. People are happiest when motivated intrinsically, but the G.P.A. is the mother of all extrinsic motivations.

The G.P.A. ethos takes spirited children and pushes them to be hard working but complaisant. The G.P.A. mentality means tremendous emphasis has now been placed on grit, the ability to trudge through long stretches of difficulty. Influenced by this culture, schools across America are busy teaching their students to be gritty and to have “character” — by which they mean skills like self-discipline and resilience that contribute to career success.

Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania is the researcher most associated with the study and popularization of grit. And yet what I like about her new book, “Grit,” is the way she is pulling us away from the narrow, joyless intonations of that word, and pointing us beyond the way many schools are now teaching it. ...

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May 12, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Grit:  The Power Of Passion And Perseverance

GritFollowing up on last week's post, Grit and Legal Education:  Wall Street Journal, The Virtue of Hard Things (reviewing Angela Duckworth (University of Pennsylvania), Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (May 3, 2016)):

Most people would think of John Irving as a gifted wordsmith. He is the author of best-selling novels celebrated for their Dickensian plots, including “The Cider House Rules” and “The World According to Garp.” But Mr. Irving has severe dyslexia, was a C-minus English student in high school and scored 475 out of 800 on the SAT verbal test. How, then, did he have such a remarkably successful career as a writer?

Angela Duckworth argues that the answer is “grit,” which she defines as a combination of passion and perseverance in the pursuit of a long-term goal. The author, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has spent the past decade studying why some people have extraordinary success and others do not. “Grit” is a fascinating tour of the psychological research on success and also tells the stories of many gritty exemplars, from New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff, who submitted some 2,000 drawings to the magazine before one was accepted, to actor Will Smith, who explains his success as follows: “The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is: I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. . . . If we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die.”

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May 10, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law Student Says He Was Almost Expelled From BYU For Writing Book In Favor Of Gay Marriage

BYU BookFollowing up on my previous posts:

Fusion, Law Student Says He Was Almost Expelled for Writing in Favor of Gay Marriage:

In the middle of his final year at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brad Levin finally finished a draft of what he hoped would be a game-changing book on the university owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Student’s Perspective. In the book, Levin laid out why same-sex marriage was not, according to his research, at odds with the church’s teachings. Proud of his work, he shared a few copies with friends for some feedback.

But when the feedback came, it wasn’t the kind he had been hoping for.

“I was basically threatened with removal from the university if I went forward and took a public stance in favor of gay marriage,” Levin, 33, told Fusion, citing conversations he said he had with senior school officials. “I was told that I had to change the contents of my book to be on the right side of the church.”

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May 10, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Alaska’s Folly:  Politicians Contemplate A State Income Tax

WealthWall Street Journal op-ed:  Alaska’s Folly: Politicians Contemplate a State Income Tax, by Stephen Moore (Heritage Foundation):

The first and only state to ever abolish an existing income tax was Alaska. It happened in 1980 when the oil boom in Prudhoe Bay and the construction of the Alaska pipeline brought gushers of windfall-drilling royalties and fees into the state coffers in Juneau.

The combination of high-paying energy jobs and the lure of no income tax made Alaska an economic dynamo and a net importer of people for most of three and a half decades. It is safe to say that few were moving to Alaska for the weather.

But the crash in oil prices to as low as $30 a barrel in January (it’s now about $40) has shrunk state revenues by two-thirds and left Alaska in a financial crisis. To fill the funding gap, Gov. Bill Walker, a left-leaning independent, wants major new taxes on the already-ailing energy industry and even worse: to revive the income tax.

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May 3, 2016 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The U.S. News Law School Rankings:  Engines Of Anxiety

EnginesWendy Nelson Espeland (Northwestern) & Michael Sauder (Iowa), Engines of Anxiety: Academic Rankings, Reputation, and Accountability (Russell Sage Foundation 2016):

Students and the public routinely consult various published college rankings to assess the quality of colleges and universities and easily compare different schools. However, many institutions have responded to the rankings in ways that benefit neither the schools nor their students. In Engines of Anxiety, sociologists Wendy Espeland and Michael Sauder delve deep into the mechanisms of law school rankings, which have become a top priority within legal education. Based on a wealth of observational data and over 200 in-depth interviews with law students, university deans, and other administrators, they show how the scramble for high rankings has affected the missions and practices of many law schools.

Engines of Anxiety tracks how rankings, such as those published annually by the U.S. News & World Report, permeate every aspect of legal education, beginning with the admissions process. The authors find that prospective law students not only rely heavily on such rankings to evaluate school quality, but also internalize rankings as expressions of their own abilities and flaws. For example, they often view rejections from “first-tier” schools as a sign of personal failure. The rankings also affect the decisions of admissions officers, who try to balance admitting diverse classes with preserving the school’s ranking, which is dependent on factors such as the median LSAT score of the entering class. Espeland and Sauder find that law schools face pressure to admit applicants with high test scores over lower-scoring candidates who possess other favorable credentials.

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April 28, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Foundation Press Publishes Election Law Stories (36th Book in the Law Stories Series)

Election LawFoundation Press has published Election Law Stories (2016), by Joshua A. Douglas (Kentucky) & Eugene D. Mazo (Rutgers):

One of the most dynamic fields in the legal academy now has its own Stories book. This title offers a rich and detailed account of the most significant cases in election law, including the landmark decisions of Reynolds v. Sims, Bush v. Gore, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and Shelby County v. Holder. The book relies on a unique encapsulated approach to storytelling, as each of its authors surveys an important doctrinal area in the field through the telling of his or her story. The volume’s thirteen cases concern the right to vote, redistricting and gerrymandering, campaign finance, and election administration. The book is suited for courses in the law of democracy at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

The table of contents is here.  Other titles in the Law Stories Series (for which I serve as Series Editor) are:

April 27, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Simkovic: Law School Attendance, Happiness, And Success

GuidePaula Franzese (Seton Hall), A Short and Happy Guide to Being a Law Student (2014):

A Short & Happy Guide to Being a Law Student is a must-read whenever worry or doubt creep in. In this volume you will find essential wisdom for the study of law and life. Learn from the unprecedented ten-time recipient of the Professor of the Year award how to be your best in and out of class, how to prepare for exams, how to succeed on exams, how to put your best foot forward in a job interview, how to find teachers to inspire you, what to do in classes that leave you uninspired, how to cope with stress and how to create value in everything you do.

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), Book Encouraging Law Students to be Happy Is Latest Target for Scambloggers:

Paula’s well-intentioned book has rather bizarrely been attacked by scambloggers as “dehumanizing”, “vain”, “untrustworthy” and “insidious.” The scambloggers are not happy people, and reacted as if burned by Paula’s sunshine. They worry that Paula’s thesis implies that “their failure must be due to their unwillingness to think happy and thankful thoughts.”

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April 23, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (27)

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Slow Professor:  Resisting Higher Education's 'Corporatizing Culture Of Speed,' Or 'Self-Indulgent Tenured Faculty Privilege'?

SlowInside Higher Ed, 'The Slow Professor' (reviewing The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy (University of Toronto Press, Mar. 28, 2016), by Maggie Berg (Queen’s University) & Barbara K. Seeber (Brock University)) (interview):

New book argues that professors should actively resist the "culture of speed" in academe.

In 2013, the jobs website CareerCast named university professor the No. 1 least stressful job, unleashing a torrent of criticism that only grew after Forbes picked up the ranking. Professors -- those with tenure and without -- said the study ignored the changing dynamics of the university, namely the increasingly administrative nature of academic work, the emerging student-as-customer model, unrealistic research expectations and 24-7 contact with colleagues and students via email. Non-tenure-track professors also pointed out that they in many cases lack all job security.

CareerCast evidently learned something from the controversy -- its 2016 least stressful jobs list specifies tenured professor, at No. 3 -- but old notions about what it is to be a professor die hard. And the CareerCast study is just one example. From the running errands to social and family events, someone always seems to be wondering what it’s like to have summers off and “just think” for a living.

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April 22, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

NYU Hosts Book Discussion Today With Anne Alstott On A New Deal For Old Age

AlstottNYU Law Tax Blog, A New Deal for Old Age: Book Discussion with Anne Alstott (today at 12:30 p.m.):

Please join us for a presentation by Anne Alstott, the Jacquin D. Bierman Professor in Taxation at Yale Law School, of her recently published book, A New Deal for Old Age: Toward a Progressive Retirement (Harvard University Press, 2016). ...

As America’s haves and have-nots drift further apart, rising inequality has undermined one of the nation’s proudest social achievements: the Social Security retirement system. Unprecedented changes in longevity, marriage, and the workplace have made the experience of old age increasingly unequal. For educated Americans, the traditional retirement age of 65 now represents late middle age. These lucky ones typically do not face serious impediments to employment or health until their mid-70s or even later. By contrast, many poorly educated earners confront obstacles of early disability, limited job opportunities, and unemployment before they reach age 65.

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April 20, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Clarke Reviews The Hidden Wealth of Nations

HiddenConor Clarke (Ph.D. Candidate, Yale Law School), What Are Tax Havens and Why Are They Bad, 94 Tex. L. Rev. ___ (2016) (reviewing Gabriel Zucman, The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens (University of Chicago Press, 2015)):

This essay reviews Gabriel Zucman's The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens. Zucman's important new book brings clarity to a confusing subject -- but occasionally does so at the expense of nuance. My review has three goals. First, I summarize and appraise Zucman's central findings, and re-estimate his revenue-loss totals for the United States using tax-rate assumptions that I believe are more realistic. Second, I position Zucman's findings against the backdrop of the wider literatures on tax havens and inequality, and attempt to answer the two questions in this essay's title. Third, I comment on Zucman's call for a global registry covering the ownership of financial securities. I argue that such a proposal must contend with the fact that there is no international legal consensus on what constitutes ownership.

Prior reviews of The Hidden Wealth of Nations:

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April 20, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Making Better Use Of The First And Last Five Minutes Of Class

SmallJames Lang (Professor of English and Director of Center for Teaching Excellence, Assumption College; ), Small Changes in Teaching (March 2016):

The First Five Minutes of Class:

The opening five minutes offer us a rich opportunity to capture the attention of students and prepare them for learning. They walk into our classes trailing all of the distractions of their complex lives — the many wonders of their smartphones, the arguments with roommates, the question of what to have for lunch. Their bodies may be stuck in a room with us for the required time period, but their minds may be somewhere else entirely.

It seems clear, then, that we should start class with a deliberate effort to bring students’ focus to the subject at hand. Unfortunately, based on my many observations of faculty members in action, the first five minutes of a college class often get frittered away with logistical task. ...

I offer four quick suggestions for the first few minutes of class to focus the attention of students and prepare their brains for learning.

  1. Open with a question or two. ...
  2. What did we learn last time? ...
  3. Reactivate what they learned in previous courses. ...
  4. Write it down. ... Let a writing exercise help you bring focus and engagement to the opening of every class session. Build it into your routine. Class has begun: time to write, time to think.

In writing, as in learning, openings matter. Don’t fritter them away.

The Last Five Minutes of Class:

In my experience — having observed many dozens of college courses over the past two decades — most faculty members eye the final minutes of class as an opportunity to cram in eight more points before students exit, or to say three more things that just occurred to us about the day’s material, or to call out as many reminders as possible about upcoming deadlines, next week’s exam, or tomorrow’s homework.

At the same time, we complain when students start to pack their bags before class ends. But why should we be surprised by that reaction when our class slides messily to a conclusion? We’re still trying to teach while students’ minds — and sometimes their bodies — are headed out the door. We make little or no effort to put a clear stamp on the final minutes of class, which leads to students eyeing the clock and leaving according to the dictates of the minute hand rather than the logic of the class period. ... [L]et us turn to better ways we can make better use of the final five minutes in class.

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April 12, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

WSJ:  Taxation Without Exasperation—It's Time To Adopt Michael Graetz's 'Competitive Tax Plan'

100 2Wall Street Journal, Taxation Without Exasperation:

It doesn’t have to be this way. Raising revenue for the federal government doesn’t have to intrude so much into the lives of so many Americans. Nothing dictates our current system except habit, familiarity and vested interest.

It isn’t hard to imagine a system that would be less of an administrative hassle, less perverse in its incentives and less of an impediment to economic initiative and growth. We could move back to an income tax far more like that of 1913—one that imposes a tolerable burden on upper-middle-class families and the truly rich while leaving the rest of us completely untouched. ...

[A] new tax system that can increase economic freedom, raise just as much revenue as we do today, and foster higher wage and productivity growth is in our grasp. All we need to do is get over our irrational fear of the value-added tax, or VAT, a consumption tax on goods and services that is used by almost all of the world’s rich market democracies.

What would a better tax system look like? It turns out that Mr. Cruz has roughly the right idea. He has come out in favor of a growth-friendly tax on consumption that would allow us to rely less heavily on the income tax. Rather sneakily, he’s calling his consumption tax a “business flat tax,” but everyone knows that it’s a VAT.

The problem with Mr. Cruz’s plan, and it’s a big one, is that he doesn’t use the revenue from the VAT to remove the middle class from the income-tax rolls. He uses it to abolish payroll taxes, the corporate income tax, the estate and gift taxes, and, as if that weren’t enough, to radically reduce income taxes on the rich.

There is a more realistic reform plan out there, only it’s not from one of the presidential candidates. For almost two decades, Michael J. Graetz, a professor at Columbia Law School and one of the country’s leading experts on tax law, has been urging Americans to adopt a saner, more sensible tax system, which he calls the Competitive Tax Plan. The time has come for us to listen.

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April 9, 2016 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Academia Isn’t So Bad For Conservative Professors

Book CoverWashington Post op-ed:  Forget What the Right Says: Academia Isn’t So Bad for Conservative Professors, by Jon A. Shields (Claremont McKenna) & Joshua M. Dunn, Sr. (Colorado), coauthors, Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University (Oxford University Press, March 2016):

As two conservative professors, we agree that right-wing faculty members and ideas are not always treated fairly on college campuses. But we also know that right-wing hand-wringing about higher education is overblown. After interviewing 153 conservative professors in the social sciences and humanities, we believe that conservatives survive and even thrive in one of America’s most progressive professions.

First, conservative professors are not helpless victims — they have become quite skilled at navigating the progressive university. About a third of the professors we interviewed said they concealed their politics prior to earning tenure. Of course, being in the closet is not easy. (One particularly distressed professor told us: “It is dangerous to even think [a conservative thought] when I’m on campus, because it might come out of my mouth.”) But it’s also a temporary hardship, since nearly all the conservatives whom we interviewed planned to emerge from the ivory tower’s shadows after gaining tenure. Once tenured, conservatives are free to express their politics and publish research that reflects right-wing interests and perspectives. As one put it to us: “I don’t mind causing trouble now.”

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March 13, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

McCaffery:  The Meaning Of Capital In The Twenty-First Century

PikettyEdward J. McCaffery (USC), The Meaning of Capital in the Twenty-First Century:

America is on a path towards a level of both wealth and income inequality unparalleled in recorded history. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century summarizes and conveys the work of Piketty and many co-authors, over many decades, looking at the structure of income and wealth inequality across many nations and centuries. This review essay builds on Piketty’s ambitions as well as his data, in order to put forth a better solution: one that accepts and even embraces the facts of unequal ownership of capital, but changes the social meaning of those facts to avoid the social harms that follow from unfettered private party capitalism. A progressive spending tax does not simply take capital away from the wealthy. It allows the rich to keep and manage their wealth, as they have shown the ability and temperament to do so. But it curtails their ability to spend their capital on themselves and their luxurious wants. The social distinction of holding wealth can continue; the progressive spending tax makes this state of affairs work to the common utility.

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March 9, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 29, 2016

Global Tax Fairness

GlobalGlobal Tax Fairness (Thomas Pogge (Yale) & Krishen Mehta (Tax Justice Network, eds.) (Oxford University Press, 2016):

This book addresses sixteen different reform proposals that are urgently needed to correct the fault lines in the international tax system as it exists today, and which deprive both developing and developed countries of critical tax resources. It offers clear and concrete ideas on how the reforms can be achieved and why they are important for a more just and equitable global system to prevail. The key to reducing the tax gap and consequent human rights deficit in poor countries is global financial transparency. Such transparency is essential to curbing illicit financial flows that drain less developed countries of capital and tax revenues, and are an impediment to sustainable development. A major break-through for financial transparency is now within reach. The policy reforms outlined in this book not only advance tax justice but also protect human rights by curtailing illegal activity and making available more resources for development. While the reforms are realistic they require both political and an informed and engaged civil society that can put pressure on governments and policy makers to act.

U.S. Tax Prof chapter authors include:

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February 29, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Manhire Presents Why Lawyers (And Law Professors) Eat Last: A Workshop On Selfless Service Today At Texas A&M

A&MFollowing up on my previous post, Law School Leadership In A Time Of CrisisJack Manhire (Texas A&M) presents Why Lawyers Eat Last: A Workshop on Selfless Service and Lawyers as Leaders at Texas A&M today as part of its Professionalism & Leadership Program:

As a lawyer you’ll always be a leader. In this workshop we’ll examine some of the servant leadership principals outlined by Simon Sinek in his book, Why Leaders Eat Last, followed by a vibrant discussion on what lessons we can glean from this perspective of leading by putting others first…both as attorneys and human beings.

Simon Sinek, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t (2014):

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February 18, 2016 in Book Club, Colloquia, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Call for Contributions — Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions

FeministThe U.S. Feminist Judgments Project seeks contributors of rewritten judicial opinions and commentary on those opinions for an edited collection entitled Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Tax Opinions. This edited volume, to be published by Cambridge University Press, is part of a collaborative project among law professors and others to rewrite, from a feminist perspective, key judicial decisions. The initial volume, Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court, edited by Kathryn M. Stanchi, Linda L. Berger, and Bridget J. Crawford, will be published in 2016 by Cambridge University Press. (That book’s Introduction and Table of Contents are available here.) Subsequent volumes in the series will focus on different courts or different subject matters. This call is for contributions to a volume of tax decisions rewritten from a feminist perspective. 

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February 8, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Marian Reviews The Hidden Wealth Of Nations

WealthOmri Marian (UC-Irvine), Tax Havens and the Rise on Inequality (reviewing Gabriel Zucman (UC-Berkeley), Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens (University of Chicago Press, 2015)):

Tax literature is bitterly divided on the role that tax havens play in global economy. The negative view of tax havens paints them as parasitic, poaching revenue from other jurisdictions. The positive view suggests that tax havens facilitate low-cost capital mobility, mitigating some of the distortive effects of taxation.

To date, this extensive scholarly debate has produced very little information on tax havens themselves. This is hardly surprising, since tax havens are well known to be secrecy jurisdictions. This aspect of tax havens forces scholars who write about them to resort to financial modeling or available country data – data which is rarely on point. Zucman’s book is a unique breed in this context. In order to address the role of tax havens in global economy, Zucman actually collects and interprets the necessary data. Zucman assesses the wealth held in tax havens based on a long lasting anomaly in public finance: that in the aggregate, more liabilities than assets are recorded on national balance sheets, as if a portion of global assets simply vanishes into thin air, or as Zucman put it: “were in part held by Mars.” Zucman meticulously collected macro-economic data of multiple jurisdictions, and discovered that roughly the same amount of assets missing from national balance sheets shows up as ownership interest in investment pooling vehicles (such as mutual funds) organized in tax havens.

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January 28, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Gash:  Divine Collision

Cover 2Jim Gash (Pepperdine), Divine Collision (2016):

Los Angeles lawyer and law professor, Jim Gash, tells the amazing true story of how, after a series of God-orchestrated events, he finds himself in the heart of Africa defending a courageous Ugandan boy languishing in prison and wrongfully accused of two separate murders. Ultimately, their unlikely friendship and unrelenting persistence reforms Uganda's criminal justice system, leaving a lasting impact on hundreds of thousands of lives and unearthing a friendship that supersedes circumstance, culture and the walls we often hide behind.

The story is as emotional as it is thrilling, and it reads like a major film.  Publishers Weekly

With great courage and conviction, Jim Gash provides an extraordinary glimpse into the power of obedience, prayer, and hope in transforming not only one life-or even one community-but an entire justice system. Divine Collision speaks to what is at the heart of our Christian calling: Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." (Isaiah 1:17).
Gary A. Haugen, President & CEO of International Justice Mission and author of The Locust Effect

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January 24, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Hemel Reviews The Hidden Wealth Of Nations

WealthDaniel Hemel (Chicago), What’s the Matter with Luxembourg? (reviewing Gabriel Zucman (UC-Berkeley), Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens (University of Chicago Press, 2015)):

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is rarely the subject of international attention, much less the target of international opprobrium. With fewer than 600,000 inhabitants, it is less populous than the City of Milwaukee. With an area of under 1,000 square miles, it is smaller than the State of Rhode Island. Conquered twice by Germany and thrice by France, it is much more accustomed to the role of victim than villain. In the words of one New York Times writer, “Luxembourg is about as cuddly as countries come.”

But in the view of economist Gabriel Zucman, Luxembourg is the enfant terrible of the European Union. “If we wish to prevent the Irish and Cypriot catastrophes from happening again,” Zucman writes near the end of his new book, “it is essential that Luxembourg go backward” (p. 91). Back to where is not clear, but what is clear is that Zucman wants Luxembourg to change its ways. And if the tiny state refuses to cooperate, Zucman says, Luxembourg should be excluded from the EU and blockaded by its neighbors.

Why does Zucman place so much blame on little Luxembourg? The answer has to do with a statistical quirk—an inconsistency in international economic data. As Zucman notes, Luxembourg’s official statistics show that shares of mutual funds domiciled in the Grand Duchy are worth $3.5 trillion. But when Zucman looks at official data from other countries on their international investment positions, he can account for only $2 trillion of Luxembourgish mutual fund shares recorded as assets. To whom does the remaining $1.5 trillion belong? We don’t know. “This,” says Zucman, “is a big problem” (p. 38).

The big problem has a name: tax evasion. And thanks to Zucman, we can now have a better sense of just how big a problem it is. In 2014, according to Zucman, liabilities on national balance sheets exceeded assets by $6.1 trillion. In other words, $6.1 trillion of the world’s wealth has gone missing. Zucman hypothesizes that this missing $6.1 trillion has been stashed in offshore bank accounts, hiding out of tax authorities’ sight. And while we can’t be sure that’s the case, Zucman persuasively argues that the $6.1 trillion figure is “a reasonable estimate of the amount of offshore portfolios owned by households all over the world” (p. 39). ...

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January 19, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tales Of Tax Reform

TalesJ. Roger Mentz (former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (Tax Policy)), Tales of Tax Reform (2015):

Politicians of all stripes are calling for tax reform. It sounds great: lower the tax rates, get rid of all of the “special interest” provisions, make our tax law simple, fair and an engine for economic growth. Some pundits even suggest that tax reform is “low-hanging fruit” that can easily be accomplished. But is this so? How would we know whether it will be that easy and straightforward? One way of learning about what a legislative tax reform process would entail is to explore what happened in 1986, when fundamental tax reform was enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Reagan. This book investigates how this legislative success was accomplished, and what lessons can be learned for those government officials who seek to enact tax reform today. This book is written by J. Roger Mentz, the Treasury Department Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy from December 1985 through July 1987. Mr. Mentz was the point person for the Reagan Administration on tax reform, which was the number one legislative priority for President Reagan in his second Administration. These “tales” or stories describe what really happened in the tax reform legislative process and what elements would need to come together for a successful reformation of the Internal Revenue Code today.

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January 12, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Sunstein Reviews The Hidden Wealth Of Nations And The Price We Pay

New York Review of BooksThe New York Review of Books:  Parking the Big Money, by Cass Sunstein (Harvard) (reviewing Gabriel Zucman, The Hidden Wealth of Nations (University of Chicago Press, 2015) & The Price We Pay (film directed by Harold Crooks):

In some circles, “redistribution” of wealth has become a dirty word, and recent efforts to make the tax system more progressive have run into serious political resistance, above all from Republicans. But whatever your political party, you are unlikely to approve of the illegal use of tax havens. As it turns out, a lot of wealthy people in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere have been hiding money in foreign countries—above all, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Virgin Islands. As a result, they have been able to avoid paying taxes in their home countries. Until recently, however, officials have not known the magnitude of that problem.

But people are paying increasing attention to it. A vivid new documentary, The Price We Pay, connects tax havens, inequality, and insufficient regulation of financial transactions. The film makes a provocative argument that a new economic elite—wealthy managers and holders of capital—is now able to operate on a global scale, outside the constraints of any legal framework. In a particularly chilling moment, it shows one of the beneficiaries of the system cheerfully announcing on camera: “I don’t feel any remorse about not paying taxes. I think it’s a marvelous way in life.”

Gabriel Zucman, who teaches at the University of California at Berkeley, has two goals in his new book, The Hidden Wealth of Nations: to specify the costs of tax havens, and to figure out how to reduce those costs. While much of his analysis is technical, he writes with moral passion, even outrage; he sees tax havens as a “scourge.” His figures are arresting. About 8 percent of the world’s wealth, or $7.6 trillion, is held in tax havens. In 2015, Switzerland alone held $2.3 trillion in foreign wealth. As a result of fraud from unreported foreign accounts, governments around the world lose about $200 billion in tax revenue each year. Most of this amount comes from the evasion of taxes on investment income, but a significant chunk comes from fraud on inheritances. In the United States, the annual tax loss is $35 billion; in Europe, it is $78 billion. In African nations, it is $14 billion.

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January 6, 2016 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

NYU Tax Law Review Symposium:  Thomas Piketty's Capital In The Twenty-First Century

PikettySymposium on Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, 68 Tax L. Rev. 443-647 (2015):

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January 5, 2016 in Book Club, Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Richard Posner:  How To Fix Law School

Divergent PathsSalon:  Here’s How We Fix Law School: This Is The Real-World Training Future Lawyers Need, by Richard Posner (Judge. U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit) (from Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary (Harvard University Press, 2016)):

The first year of law school, usually so different from the student’s previous educational experiences, is bound to make a lasting, indeed a lifelong, impression.The first-year program at most law schools is demanding, though less than it used to be; current tuition levels tend to induce law schools to treat students more as customers than as plebes. I felt changed after my first year (1959–1960) as a student at the Harvard Law School—I felt that I had become more intelligent.The basic training was in learning how to extract holdings from judicial opinions in common law fields and how to apply those holdings to novel factual situations—in other words how to determine the scope and meaning of a legal doctrine.The courses were very difficult because the legal vocabulary was unfamiliar; the professors asked incessant, difficult questions, usually cold calling; the casebooks had very little explanatory material; and we were told not to waste our time reading secondary materials—and most of us were docile and so obeyed.That first year of Harvard Law School was active learning at its best.

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January 5, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Friday, January 1, 2016

LexisNexis Sells Law School Publishing Business To Carolina Academic Press

LNCAPAs a LexixNexis author, I received the following email:  Law School Publishing News from LexisNexis Matthew Bender and Carolina Academic Press (posted with permission of LexisNexis):

Dear Author,

On December 31, LexisNexis® Matthew Bender® completed the sale of our law school publishing business to Carolina Academic Press. As part of this transaction, Matthew Bender® assigned all of the associated author agreements to Carolina Academic Press, and Carolina Academic Press agreed to assume all of the Matthew Bender obligations under such agreements. Therefore, Carolina Academic Press is now the publisher of your title(s).

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January 1, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Teacher, Scholar, Mother: Re-Envisioning Motherhood In The Academy

YoungTeacher, Scholar, Mother: Re-Envisioning Motherhood in the Academy (Anna M. Young (Pacific Lutheran University), ed.) (2015) (Table of Contents):

Anna Young’s edited collection Teacher, Scholar, Mother offers an important examination into the challenges mother-scholars continue to face, yet the insights provided by the authors extend beyond academia. Covering topics as varied as breastfeeding choices to mediated representations of mothers, the eighteen chapters will be of interest to anyone who is interested in promoting the possibility of a more empowered motherhood. (Sara Hayden, University of Montana)

Teacher, Scholar, Mother is a conceptually rich and accessible interdisciplinary collection that vividly captures the unique challenges women face as they balance their diverse roles at different stages in their lives as mothers and academics. Young’s collection stands out from other works on motherhood and academic life in its reflective focus on how the experience of mothering brings new life and understanding to research in the arts, humanities, and sciences. (Anne T. Demo, Pennsylvania State University)

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December 23, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Baseball And The Law: Cases And Materials

BaseballLouis H. Schiff (Judge, 17th Judicial Circuit, Florida) & Robert M. Jarvis (Nova), Baseball and the Law: Cases and Materials (Carolina Academic Press, 2016):

Baseball and the Law: Cases and Materials explores the jurisprudence of baseball through 110 principal readings, 619 notes, and 26 photographs. After an introductory chapter that acquaints students with the sport and the role lawyers have played in its development, the authors proceed to examine a multitude of legal issues, from player salaries, franchise relocations, and steroids to fan safety, broadcast rights, and gambling. Special attention is paid to racial and sexual discrimination; tax planning, asset protection, and bankruptcy; and the burgeoning use of technology. A concluding chapter focuses on amateur and youth baseball.

The book draws on a variety of materials—including court decisions, arbitration awards, law review articles, newspapers stories, and blog posts—to place baseball in three different contexts: cultural, historical, and legal.

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December 16, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Alstott:  Taxation In Six Concepts

AnneAnne L. Alstott (Yale), Taxation in Six Concepts: A Student's Guide (Wolters Kluwer 2015):

Tax doctrines rest on a handful of concepts -- just six, in fact. Armed with six concepts, you can decipher the law. In the United States, more so than in any other developed country, the tax law hosts many of the government s most important social and economic policies. Health care, housing, financial markets, education,and poverty, for example, involve tax. In short, tax turns out to host many interesting and pressing public policy problems.

This book introduces the six concepts and uses them to unpack leading cases and real-world transactions. The six are valuation, net income, realization, tax deferral, substance over form and income-shifting. The cases discussed involve one (or two) of the six concepts discussed. This book also looks beyond the classroom. At every step, real-world transactions are included to show how tax planning harks back to the six concepts.

Of course, tax law, like all law, is full of ambiguity and contradiction. Sometimes there is no single right answer. Courts reach conflicting decisions and use inconsistent reasoning. But the six concepts explain the conflicts within the law that give rise to ambiguity and uncertainty.

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December 15, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Developing Your Professional Identity: Creating Your Inner Lawyer

DevelopingE. Scott Fruehwald (Contributing Editor, Legal Skills Prof Blog), Developing Your Professional Identity: Creating Your Inner Lawyer (2015):

"Who will I be as a lawyer? This is the most important question any law student can ask. Yet, in traditional legal education, this question rarely comes up. The purpose of this book is to change this.

Professional identity is a lawyer’s personal morality, values, decision-making process, and self-consciousness in relation to the practices of the legal profession (legal culture). It provides the framework that a lawyer uses to make all a lawyer’s decisions.

This book takes a variety of approaches to help you develop your professional identity. Chapter One asks you to take a close look at yourself by asking questions about your childhood, your college years, and who you are today. It is important to know who you are before you can fit into a profession. Chapters Two (Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner), Six (Overcoming Cognitive Biases), and Seven (Attorney Well-Being) give you the tools you will need to develop your professional identity. Chapter Two introduces you to “practical wisdom,” an important approach to understanding and solving ethical problems.

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December 14, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Book Recommendations From The University Of Chicago Law School Faculty

Book

Book recommendations from the University of Chicago Law School faculty.

December 10, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Viability Of The $30 Law School Casebook

Lydia Pallas Loren (Lewis & Clark), The Viability of the $30 Casebook: Intellectual Property, Voluntary Payment, Open Distribution, and Author Incentives, 22 J. Intell. Prop. L. 71 (2014):

It is not uncommon for a new hardbound copy of today’s law school casebooks to exceed $200. And, each year, the prices inch ever higher. After exploring the various dynamics in the traditional publishing market that have led to the current prices for casebooks, this article describes the experiences of Semaphore Press, a publisher of law school casebooks that offers a very different approach to providing law school casebooks. Semaphore Press offers digital copies of required textbooks for law school classes, (in pdf format with no digit rights management (DRM) restrictions), at a suggested price of $30. In addition, students can alter the price they pay, paying less or more than the suggested price, or they even download a copy of a required casebook for free. Semaphore Press’s commitment, embodied in this design, is that — whatever else happens — the student obtains access to the course materials.

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December 4, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

NY Times: The Four Secrets To Sustaining High Job Performance

TonyNew York Times, The Secret to Sustaining High Job Performance, by Tony Schwartz (Author, The Way We're Working Isn't Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance):

How do you drive sustainably high performance in an era of relentlessly rising demand? ...

The typical solution – put in more hours – won’t work anymore. The vast majority of salaried employees are already doing that, and many of them are paying a price that they are finding less and less acceptable. They are exhausted and often overwhelmed, and they deeply want to invest time in their families and the rest of their lives.

But what if people could simply be more efficient and productive during the time they are at work? What if there’s a win-win solution for employers and employees? ...

We feel better and perform better when four core energy needs are met: sufficient rest, including the opportunity for intermittent renewal during the work day; feeling valued and appreciated; having the freedom to focus in an absorbed way on the highest priorities; and feeling connected to a mission or a cause greater than ourselves.

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November 14, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Shaviro Presents Getting A 'Fix' On Recent International Tax Policy Developments Today At McGill

Shaviro (2015)Daniel Shaviro (NYU) presents The Crossroads versus the Seesaw: Getting a 'Fix' on Recent International Tax Policy Developments at McGill today as part of its Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

U.S. international tax policy is at a crossroads, say those who urge the United States to adopt what common parlance would call a territorial system. They argue that one of the two ways forward they identify – trying to fortify the current U.S. system – would lead to ever-costlier outlier status for our tax system, and ever-declining competitiveness for U.S. multinationals. They therefore urge U.S. policymakers to embrace what they identify as the other way forward: conforming to global norms by adopting a territorial system.

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November 10, 2015 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Price We Pay: A Movie About Offshore Tax Havens

The Price We Pay

The Price We Pay is inspired by Brigitte Alepin’s book La Crise fiscale qui vient [Pay Your Fair Share of Taxes...Like We Do]Director Harold Crooks (who co-directed Surviving Progress with Mathieu Roy) blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance with this incendiary documentary about the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, which has seen multinationals depriving governments of trillions of dollars in tax revenues by harboring profits in offshore havens. Tax havens, originally created by London bankers in the 50s, today put over half the world’s stock of money beyond reach of  public treasuries.

Nation states are being reshaped by this offshoring of the world’s wealth. Tax avoidance by big corporations  and the wealthy – citizens of nowhere for tax purposes – is paving the way to historic levels of inequality and placing the tax burden on the middle class and the poor. Crusading journalists, tax justice campaigners and former finance and technology industry insiders speak frankly about the accelerating trends that are carrying the Western world to an  unsustainable future.

Reviews of The Price We Pay:

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November 10, 2015 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

How Technology Will Transform The Legal Profession

FutureRichard Susskind (Oxford) & Daniel Susskind (Oxford), The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts (Oxford University Press Dec. 1, 2015), reviewed by Paul Lippe (ABA Journal), Will There Be a 'New Deal' for the Legal Profession?:

[T]his is the best of Richard’s books, situating the changes facing the legal profession in both the long history of professions generally and the parallel challenges facing other fields such as medicine, accountancy, architecture, journalists, clergy and teaching.

Richard and Daniel begin by describing the implicit “Grand Bargain” between the professions and society, whereby the professions retained many of the protections (including, perhaps most importantly self-regulation) of the medieval guilds. Professions can define the appropriate nature of their service, the credentials needed to offer it, and enjoy reasonably high prestige and income. In exchange, professionals are expected to maintain their expertise, act honestly and in good faith, and put the interests of clients ahead of their own.

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November 8, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Stephen Carter, Louis C.K., And Monkeys On Inequality

On InequalityStephen Carter (Yale), Inequality Debate Looks in Wrong Direction (reviewing  Harry Frankfurt (Princeton), On Inequality (Princeton University Press, 2015)):

Inequality is on everybody’s lips these days -- everybody on the left, anyway, and a lot of people in the center and on the right as well. But what if everybody’s wrong?

That’s the contention of On Inequality, a small, smart new volume by Princeton University philosopher Harry Frankfurt. At the very beginning, he states a simple but powerful thesis: “Our most fundamental challenge is not the fact that the incomes of Americans are widely unequal. It is, rather, the fact that too many of our people are poor.” Progressives, in other words, are shooting at the wrong target. The moral problem posed by the distribution of wealth isn’t inequality. It’s poverty.

These might seem like the same issue, but Frankfurt shows us with elan that they are not. Suppose, he says, there is a resource that will keep a person alive, but only if that person has five units of it. There are 10 people, and there are 40 units of the resource. If the resource is distributed equally, everybody gets four units -- and everybody dies. To insist on equality in that case, he argues, “would be morally grotesque.” ...

Frankfurt suggests that the instinct that leads many to complain about inequality isn’t about equality at all: “What I believe they find intuitively to be morally objectionable ... is not that some of the individuals in those circumstances have less money than others. Rather, it is the fact that those with less have too little.”

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October 22, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Ed Kleinbard Discusses We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money

We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money (Oxford University Press, 2014)

(Click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video directly on YouTube to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate.)

October 22, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tax Protester Irwin Schiff Dies In Prison At Age 87

Schiff 5New York Times, Irwin Schiff, Fervent Opponent of Federal Income Taxes, Dies at 87:

Irwin A. Schiff, who built a national following by arguing that income taxes are unconstitutional and spent more than 10 years in prison for evading them and for helping thousands of others to do the same, died on Friday at a hospital affiliated with a federal prison in Fort Worth. He was 87.

The cause was lung cancer, his son Andrew said.

At his death, Mr. Schiff was an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution, where he was serving his third prison term, a 14-year sentence handed down in 2005.

Mr. Schiff sold more than 250,000 copies of six self-published books, including How Anyone Can Stop Paying Income Taxes (1980), The Great Income Tax Hoax (1985) and The Federal Mafia: How the Federal Government Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully Collects Federal Income Taxes (1992).

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October 20, 2015 in Book Club, Obituaries, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Lisa McElroy's Novel, Called On: 'This Generation's 1L'

COPB cover front_001Lisa McElroy (Drexel), Called On (2015):

Called On may be this generation’s One L — Tony Mauro, The National Law Journal

Lisa McElroy perfectly captures the pressures, challenges, and triumphs of both teaching and studying the law. Filled with big, memorable personalities, Called On is an utterly charming depiction of the 1L experience. — Alafair Burke, New York Times bestselling author of The Ex

Lisa McElroy nails law school—from first-day jitters to gunners and back-benchers—in a funny, perceptive, and poignant (but never predictable) first novel. Grab a Diet Coke and a handful of M&Ms and settle in; once you start reading, you won't want to stop. — Amy Howe, co-founder & editor, SCOTUSblog

In Called On, Lisa McElroy deftly chronicles the stories of law professor Connie Shun and first year law student Libby Behl, each of whom is trying to move past tragedy and forge a new path for herself. The intersection of their lives is both humorous and heartbreaking. In this thoughtful and thought-provoking commentary on life, love, and the law, McElroy demonstrates the rare gift to simultaneously entertain, educate, uplift, and inspire. — Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Kommandant’s Girl

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October 5, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Zucman: Hidden Wealth Of Nations — The Scourge Of Tax Havens

Zucman CoverGabriel Zucman (UC-Berkeley), Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens (University of Chicago Press, Sept. 22, 2015):

We are well aware of the rise of the 1% as the rapid growth of economic inequality has put the majority of the world’s wealth in the pockets of fewer and fewer. One much-discussed solution to this imbalance is to significantly increase the rate at which we tax the wealthy. But with an enormous amount of the world’s wealth hidden in tax havens—in countries like Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Cayman Islands—this wealth cannot be fully accounted for and taxed fairly. No one, from economists to bankers to politicians, has been able to quantify exactly how much of the world’s assets are currently hidden—until now. Gabriel Zucman is the first economist to offer reliable insight into the actual extent of the world’s money held in tax havens. And it’s staggering.

In The Hidden Wealth of Nations, Zucman offers an inventive and sophisticated approach to quantifying how big the problem is, how tax havens work and are organized, and how we can begin to approach a solution. His research reveals that tax havens are a quickly growing danger to the world economy. In the past five years, the amount of wealth in tax havens has increased over 25%—there has never been as much money held offshore as there is today. This hidden wealth accounts for at least $7.6 trillion, equivalent to 8% of the global financial assets of households.

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September 30, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Posner: Divergent Paths — The Academy And The Judiciary

PosnerRichard A. Posner (Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Chicago Law School), Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary (forthcoming Harvard University Press, 2016):

Judges and legal scholars talk past one another, if they have any conversation at all. Academics couch their criticisms of judicial decisions in theoretical terms, which leads many judges―at the risk of intellectual stagnation―to dismiss most academic discourse as opaque and divorced from reality. In Divergent Paths, Richard Posner turns his attention to this widening gap within the legal profession, reflecting on its causes and consequences and asking what can be done to close or at least narrow it.

The shortcomings of academic legal analysis are real, but they cannot disguise the fact that the modern judiciary has several serious deficiencies that academic research and teaching could help to solve or alleviate. In U.S. federal courts, which is the focus of Posner’s analysis of the judicial path, judges confront ever more difficult cases, many involving complex and arcane scientific and technological distinctions, yet continue to be wedded to legal traditions sometimes centuries old. Posner asks how legal education can be made less theory-driven and more compatible with the present and future demands of judging and lawyering.

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September 15, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Tax Law and Racial Economic Justice: Black Tax

Black TaxAndre L. Smith (Widener-Delaware), Tax Law and Racial Economic Justice: Black Tax (2015):

No study of Black people in America can be complete without considering how openly discriminatory tax laws helped establish a racial caste system in the United States, how they were designed to exclude blacks from lucrative markets and the voting franchise, and how tax laws extracted and redistributed vast sums of black wealth. Not only was slavery nearly a 100% tax on black labor, so too was Jim Crow apartheid and tax laws specified the peculiar institution as “negro slavery.” The first instances of affirmative action in the United States were tax laws designed to attract white men to the South. The nineteenth-century Federal Tariff indirectly redistributed perhaps a majority of the profits from slavery from the South to the North and is the principle reason the Confederate states seceded. The only constitutional amendment obtained by the Civil Rights Movement is the Twenty-Sixth Amendment abolishing poll taxes in federal elections. Blending traditional legal theory, neoclassical economics, and a pan-African view of history, these six interrelated essays on race and taxes demonstrate that, even in today’s supposedly post-racial society, there is no area of human activity where racial dynamics are absent.

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September 10, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Shaviro Reviews Kleinbard's We Are Better Than This

We Are Better Than This (2014)Daniel Shaviro (NYU), Book Review (Edward D. Kleinbard (USC), We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money (Oxford University Press, 2014)):

This short book review of Edward Kleinbard's We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money both discusses the book's many strengths, and addresses the significance to the book's analysis of issues of high-end (as distinct from low-end) inequality that it generally does not emphasize.

A number of important recent books have brought broad public attention to rising high-end inequality. Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, while the best-known, is merely one entry in this genre.1However, until the 2014 publication of Edward Kleinbard’s We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money, there had been no comparably prominent and important recent contributions within the tax law or public economics realms addressing low-end inequality. ...

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September 9, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Lawyers Are Just As Likely To Lose Their Jobs To Robots As Truck Drivers And Factory Workers

HumanTech Insider, Lawyers Are Just as Likely to Lose Their Jobs to Robots as Truck Drivers and Factory Workers:

It's no surprise that the coming robotic workforce will take over jobs that require manual labor.

But white-collar workers like lawyers are equally at risk of losing their jobs to artificial intelligence (AI) that's cheaper and better than human workers, according to Jerry Kaplan, author of Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.

Kaplan said any person that toils through many "repetitive and structured" tasks for a living won't be safe from the bread lines.

"Even for what you think of as highly-trained, highly-skilled, intuitive personable professions, it is still true that the vast majority of the work is routine," Kaplan told Tech Insider.

Lawyers, for example, may conjure up images of formidable debators pontificating in front of grand juries, but the reality is much more mundane.

"The vast majority of activities that lawyers are engaged in are straightforward drafting of contracts, putting together things like apartment leases, real estate deals, pre-trial discovery," Kaplan said. "It's these very tasks that make the profession susceptible to automation."

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August 30, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)