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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Historical Novel: Could Flaws In Enactment Of 16th Amendment Bring Down Income Tax, Global Economy?

PatriotSteve Berry, The Patriot Threat (Cotton Malone Series Book 10) (2015):

The 16th Amendment to the Constitution is why Americans pay income taxes. But what if there were problems associated with that amendment? Secrets that call into question decades of tax collecting? In fact, there is a surprising truth to this hidden possibility.

Cotton Malone, once a member of an elite intelligence division within the Justice Department known as the Magellan Billet, is now retired and owns an old bookshop in Denmark. But when his former-boss, Stephanie Nelle, asks him to track a rogue North Korean who may have acquired some top secret Treasury Department files—the kind that could bring the United States to its knees—Malone is vaulted into a harrowing twenty-four hour chase that begins on the canals in Venice and ends in the remote highlands of Croatia.

With appearances by Franklin Roosevelt, Andrew Mellon, a curious painting that still hangs in the National Gallery of Art, and some eye-opening revelations from the $1 bill, this riveting, non-stop adventure is trademark Steve Berry—90% historical fact, 10% exciting speculation—a provocative thriller posing a dangerous question.

What if the Federal income tax is illegal?

The story line is compressed into a tight time frame, taking place in less than a day in real time.  And Berry cleverly mixes the history of the federal income tax law with the creation of the National Gallery of Art.  Speculation and gunplay make The Patriot Threat one of Berry’s best books to date.
The New York Times

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August 26, 2015 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Foundation Press Publishes Seventh Edition Of Federal Wealth Transfer Taxation

Federal Wealth Transfer Taxation CoverFoundation Press has published the seventh edition of Federal Wealth Transfer Taxation (amazon), by the late Paul McDaniel (Florida), Jim Repetti (Boston College), and me:

This edition continues the comprehensive, yet flexible, presentation of prior editions. It explores technical and policy issues and is adaptable for use in a single course covering basic wealth transfer taxation or a sequence of such courses at either the J.D. level or LL.M. level. It includes approximately 300 problems, designed to help students master the material covered in each chapter. Within each section, the book moves from the straightforward to the more complex, empowering the professor to select the appropriate level of complexity for her course. It thoroughly integrates all changes in the law through May 1, 2015, including case law, legislation, regulations, rulings, and other administrative pronouncements.

Jim and I have sent the 212-page Teacher's Manual to Foundation Press:

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August 26, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Weissenberger's Made to Measure Man: 'Outrageously Humorous Law School Academic Politics Interweave With Intrigue Of Nazi Stolen Art'

GlenMy dear friend and former Cincinnati colleague Glen Weissenberger, whose firing as Dean of DePaul Law School in 2009 sparked nationwide condemnation (links below), has published his first novel, Made to Measure Man (Aug. 11, 2015):

What happens when charming law school dean, Garth Matthews' predictable life is completely upended by his surprise receipt of a multimillion dollar award for his leadership? While Garth is intrigued by the hilarious, crotchety octogenarian matriarch of the Schmidhausen Foundation that created the award, Agnes, he is immediately romantically captivated by Agnes’ granddaughter, Julia, whose beauty and brilliance are accompanied by an enchanting mysterious quality. Romantic suspense and entertaining humor characterize the ten days of Garth’s life captured in Made to Measure Man in his adventures to find out more about this upcoming achievement award from the bestowing Zürich foundation, and more about the elusive Julia. Is the Schmidhausen Foundation involved in nefarious activities? What if the lovely, elegant Julia is not who she appears to be? And despite Garth’s being a man who is usually in control of his surrounding environment, what happens when he is drawn into the suspenseful world of art theft when he is actually considered a suspect? Outrageously humorous episodes of law school academic politics interweave with the intrigue of Nazi stolen art, and Garth travels from his home in Chicago to New York City to unravel these mysteries.

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August 14, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Controversies In Tax Law: A Matter Of Perspective

Controversies in Tax Law CoverControversies in Tax Law: A Matter of Perspective (Anthony C. Infanti, ed. Ashgate 2015):

This volume presents a new approach to today’s tax controversies, reflecting that debates about taxation often turn on the differing worldviews of the debate participants. For instance, a central tension in academic tax literature - which is filtering into everyday discussions of tax law - exists between 'mainstream' and 'critical' tax theorists. This tension results from a clash of perspectives: Is taxation primarily a matter of social science or of social justice? Should tax policy debates be grounded in economics or in critical race, feminist, queer, and other outsider perspectives?

To capture and interrogate what often seems like a chasm between the different sides of tax debates, this collection comprises a series of pairs of essays. Each pair approaches a single area of controversy from two different perspectives - with one essay usually taking a 'mainstream' perspective and the other a 'critical' perspective. In writing their contributions, the authors read and incorporated reactions to each other’s essays and paid specific attention to the influence of perspective on both the area of controversy and their contribution to the debate. With contributions from leading mainstream and critical tax scholars, this volume takes the first step toward bridging the gap between these differing perspectives on tax law and policy.

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August 14, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Barton: The Upside Of The Law School Crisis

GlassFollowing up on my previous post (here and here):  Chronicle of Higher Education,  The Upside of the Legal Profession's Crisis, by Benjamin H. Barton (Tennessee); author, Glass Half Full The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession (Oxford University Press, 2015)):

Four different interlocking trends are squeezing American lawyers and law schools. First, after a 50-year ride of growth in size and profits, corporate law-firm revenues have slowed since 2008.Businesses have grown tired of paying ever-higher fees and are using insourcing, outsourcing, and computerization for more-straightforward legal work, though they have continued to pay more for true bet-the-company transactional and litigation work.

Second, computerization has started to squeeze ordinary lawyers. LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer, and others are horning in on traditional areas of practice, like drafting incorporation papers and wills, and are also offering inexpensive legal-advice plans. Right now they are reaching only low-hanging fruit by offering simple legal documents or monthly legal-advice plans. As they grow in size, complexity, and acceptance, price competition will further stiffen. ...

Third, courts and legislatures have reined in litigation since the 1980s. Tort reform has limited class actions, damages, and fees, and tort law is less lucrative for the lawyers involved.

Last, there has been a 30-year decline in earnings for small firms and solo practitioners. ...

In 2008 hard times for corporate law firms finally brought public attention to the employment numbers for law graduates, and applications and attendance at law schools have fallen steeply since 2010. ... [T]roubled law schools will risk disaccreditation by admitting anyone they can and radically cutting costs rather than actually closing their doors. This could mean closing the law library or replacing the bulk of the tenured faculty with adjuncts. It would be inexpensive to run a skeleton law school that has few administrators and is taught by adjunct faculty. The question would then shift to how the A.B.A. might respond. It has never disaccredited a fully accredited American law school, and the legal and public-relations ramifications of such a move are unclear. ...

I think that after some rough sledding, the public, the profession, and the professoriate will all benefit from the law’s transformation. ...

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August 12, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Graetz: The End Of Energy

GraetzMichael Graetz (Columbia), The End of Energy The Unmaking of America's Environment, Security, and Independence (Chapters 11 & 12) (MIT Press, 2011):

With the permission of MIT Press, this document includes Chapters 11 and 12 from my 2011 book, The End of Energy: The Unmaking of America’s Environment, Security, and Independence. These two chapters discuss some of the history and merits of taxes, subsidies, and regulation (including cap and trade) as mechanisms to implement policies to curb greenhouse gases. In light of the renewed interest in and discussion of command and control regulations and carbon taxes, these chapters may be useful to readers who do not have the book. The bibliographic material relating to these chapters is contained in the book and has been omitted here.

Description of the book:

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August 12, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Barnhizer: The Warrior Lawyer

WarriorDavid Barnhizer (Cleveland State), The Warrior Lawyer II: Using The Art of War and A Book of Five Rings to Gain Victory Through Disciplined Strategy (2015):

The force that ties all the pieces of law practice together into a coherent system is strategy—which can be understood as the ability to both plan and take action to achieve desired goals, or to at least significantly increase the probability of achieving a client’s goals. One of the main reasons for studying strategy is that it improves our ability to evaluate, diagnose, estimate risks and costs and resolve the problems and opportunities our clients bring to us. Sun Tzu's Art of War and Musashi's Book of Five Rings offer a unique strategic language. Sun Tzu’s Art of War is one of history's most widely read works on strategy. It has had significant influence on military strategy in Asia, including Japan and China. Sun Tzu and Musashi are like puzzle boxes with multi-layered expositions of strategic understanding the strategist can return to again and again. There is no finality to the insights. Musashi observes: "Really skillful people never get out of time, and are always deliberate, and never appear busy." This is the essence of the master strategist, whatever the discipline. The strategist is always in control of self. The Way of strategy offered by the combination of Sun Tzu's and Musashi's strategic thought is a methodology of greater awareness and effectiveness. Their insights as applied to the practice of law enable the strategist to perceive the world more sharply, extensively, and deeply.

August 12, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Krugman Slams Piketty's 'New' Book On Inequality

PikettyNew York Times Book Review:  Thomas Piketty, The Economics of Inequality (Harvard University Press 2015), reviewed by Paul Krugman (Princeton):

Let me be blunt: I don’t know how the decision was made to release this “new” Piketty book in its current form, but it’s not at all the book one might have expected. It is, instead, a slightly revised version of a volume first published in 1997, when Mr. Piketty was in his mid-20s.

And by slightly I mean very slightly. Even the data tables have not, for the most part, been updated, in many cases containing no information later than 1995. Perhaps more important, the basic outlines of the argument haven’t been updated to reflect later scholarship — not even Mr. Piketty’s own work with Mr. Saez. As the author concedes in a note to readers, “This book does not fully take into account the results of the past 15 years of international research on the historical dynamics of inequality.”

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August 7, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Mehrotra Reviews Zelenak's Learning To Love Form 1040

Learning to Love 1040Ajay K. Mehrotra (Indiana), Reviving Fiscal Citizenship, 113 Mich. L. Rev. 943 (2015) (reviewing Lawrence Zelenak (Duke), Learning to Love Form 1040: Two Cheers for the Return-Based Mass Income Tax (University of Chicago Press, 2013)): 

In recent years, numerous lawmakers, policy analysts, and scholars have been decrying the many defects of the present U.S. income tax system. Few have attempted to defend our return-based mass income tax. This essay reviews Learning to Love Form 1040, Lawrence Zelenak’s stirring and persuasive defense of a simplified version of our present federal income tax system. In contrast to the conventional economic critiques, Zelenak explores the underappreciated social, cultural, and political benefits of a return-based, mass income tax. Chief among these, he argues, is the existing regime’s potential to raise the tax consciousness of the average citizen and to enhance modern notions of fiscal citizenship.

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August 6, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Rhode: The Trouble With Lawyers

TroubleDeborah L. Rhode (Stanford), The Trouble with Lawyers (Oxford University Press, June 1, 2015):

By any measure, the law as a profession is in serious trouble. Americans' trust in lawyers is at a low, and many members of the profession wish they had chosen a different path. Law schools, with their endlessly rising tuitions, are churning out too many graduates for the jobs available. Yet despite the glut of lawyers, the United States ranks 67th (tied with Uganda) of 97 countries in access to justice and affordability of legal services. The upper echelons of the legal establishment remain heavily white and male. Most problematic of all, the professional organizations that could help remedy these concerns instead jealously protect their prerogatives, stifling necessary innovation and failing to hold practitioners accountable.

Deborah Rhode's The Trouble with Lawyers is a comprehensive account of the challenges facing the American bar. She examines how the problems have affected (and originated within) law schools, firms, and governance institutions like bar associations; the impact on the justice system and access to lawyers for the poor; and the profession's underlying difficulties with diversity. She uncovers the structural problems, from the tyranny of law school rankings and billable hours to the lack of accountability and innovation built into legal governance-all of which do a disservice to lawyers, their clients, and the public.

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August 6, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dynasty Trusts Enable The Wealthy To Control Their Assets Even Beyond The Grave

MadoffThe Nation, How the Rich Can Keep Their Homes, Businesses, Artwork, and Wealth Tax-Free—Forever: Dynasty Trusts Enable the Wealthy to Control Their Assets Even Beyond the Grave, by Mike Koncza:

It’s a common-sense notion that society’s wealth shouldn’t be governed by ghosts. “Our Creator made the earth for the use of the living and not of the dead,” wrote Thomas Jefferson. (Also: “One generation of men cannot foreclose or burthen its use to another.”) But in our new age of inequality—the top 10 percent now own nearly 80 percent of all wealth—old concerns about wealth and inheritance are coming back from the dead.

Americans have, historically, had a simple approach to dealing with wealth after its holder dies: You can do whatever you want with your property, but not for very long. Rich people can disinherit children. They can put extreme conditions on how their successors can inherit, like requiring marriage. They can build monuments to themselves or give everything to their pets. But they can only do it so long. Eventually, time catches up with them and their estates dissolve.

Or at least that’s how it used to be. Remember that the dead can’t actually do any of this themselves because they are, in fact, dead. Instead, a trust is empowered to carry out the last wishes of the deceased. A trust is simply a legal entity that contains property; people tell a trust what they want to do, and the trust acts like a ghost, enforcing their wishes beyond the grave. But there’s a safeguard built in to prevent abuses: Trusts have been governed by something called the rule against perpetuities, which places a roughly 100-year limit on how long they can exist. This prevents people with no connection to the living world from putting restrictions on our country’s wealth.

In recent years, the safeguard of time has been eroded. As the tax expert Ray D. Madoff documents in her 2010 book Immortality and the Law: The Rising Power of the American Dead, we are experiencing a rapid rise of dynasty trusts, which massively expand the power of the dead over the wealth of the living.

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August 5, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

2016 Princeton Review's Best 380 Colleges

Princeton ReviewThe Princeton Review has released The Best 380 Colleges -- 2016 Edition.  According to the press release, the book contains 62 rankings based on surveys completed by 136,000 students at the 380 schools (358 per school) (methodology here), including these categories:

  • Best (Olin) classroom experience
  • Best (Swarthmore), worst (U.S. Merchant Marine Academy) professors
  • Most (U.S. Military Academy), least (New Jersey Institute of Technology) accessible professors
  • Best (Rice) quality of life
  • Most (Vanderbilt), least (Manhattanville) happy students
  • Students love (Claremont McKenna) their school
  • Most (Rollins), least (University of Dallas) beautiful campus
  • Best (Claremont-McKenna), worst (Hawaii) run school
  • Most liberal (Marlboro), most conservative (Thomas Aquinas) students
  • Most (BYU),  least (Reed) religious
  • Students study the most (Harvey Mudd), least (Maynooth)
  • Most (Princeton), least (NYU) financial aid

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August 4, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Tax Like It Is July 4, 1776

1776Wall Street Journal op-ed:  What Life Was Like in 1776, by Thomas Fleming (Former President, Society of American Historians; Author, What America Was Really Like in 1776 (2012)):

Americans [in 1776] had the highest per capita income in the civilized world, paid the lowest taxes—and were determined to keep it that way. ...

In the northern colonies, according to historical research, the top 10% of the population owned about 45% of the wealth. In some parts of the South, 10% owned 75% of the wealth. But unlike most other countries, America in 1776 had a thriving middle class.

Tax Foundation:  Tax Facts for Independence Day 2013:

Taxpayers across the country will celebrate the 237th anniversary of American independence on July 4th this year. As students of history will remember, one of the chief complaints of the American colonists against the British government in 1776 was unfair and burdensome taxation (including 18th century tax breaks for big business). With that in mind, the Tax Foundation presents a few facts for Independence Day that highlight the changing American tax system.

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July 4, 2015 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Morriss: BEPS, FATCA & EU Tax Harmonization: Seeing The Taxman

Andrew P. Morriss (Dean, Texas A&M), Seeing Like A Taxman:

The world of international financial regulation and taxation is in turmoil. New initiatives from the United States, the OECD and the European Union seek to reign in tax avoidance and evasion through a wide array of measures. These include the US FATCA, the OECD's base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) initiative, and EU tax harmonization measures. As Richard Gordon and I have argued elsewhere, these measures were generally adopted without regard to whether the benefits they might yield in revenue collection are worth the costs they impose [Moving Money: International Financial Flows, Taxes, & Money Laundering, 35 Hastings Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. (2014)]. Why then do they continue to appear?

Scott 3One advantage academics have in such circumstances is to bring to bear ideas from outside a narrow field that can help make sense of events by providing a framework for analysis. Two books by James C. Scott, a political scientist and anthropologist at Yale, offer a perspective on anti-avoidance and anti-evasion measures that can suggest where things might be headed. In Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (Yale 1998), Scott drew on his work in Southeast Asia to analyze why many ambitious development projects failed. In The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (Yale 2009), he looked at the history of upland people who avoided incorporation into pre-colonial and colonial states by running away. We can use Scott's analysis as an opportunity to re- think how governments are approaching tax avoidance and tax evasion. In doing so, I am stretching Scott's analysis well beyond where he deployed it. Nonetheless, the analogy between Southeast Asian societies and modern tax avoidance and evasion is a powerful one.

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July 2, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Palfrey: BiblioTech — Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever In The Age Of Google

PalfreyJohn Palfrey (Head of School, Phillips Academy; former Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law & Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources, Harvard Law School), BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google (May 2015):

Libraries today are more important than ever. More than just book repositories, libraries can become bulwarks against some of the most crucial challenges of our age: unequal access to education, jobs, and information.

In BiblioTech, educator and technology expert John Palfrey argues that anyone seeking to participate in the 21st century needs to understand how to find and use the vast stores of information available online. And libraries, which play a crucial role in making these skills and information available, are at risk. In order to survive our rapidly modernizing world and dwindling government funding, libraries must make the transition to a digital future as soon as possible—by digitizing print material and ensuring that born-digital material is publicly available online.

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July 1, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Reynolds Reviews Barton's The Decline And Rebirth Of The Legal Profession

GlassFollowing up on my previous post:  Glenn Reynolds reviews the new book by Benjamin H. Barton (Tennessee), Glass Half Full: The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession (Oxford University Press, June 15, 2015), in USA Today, Are Happier Lawyers, Cheaper Legal Fees on the Horizon?:

Barton notes that high-end law firms are being squeezed by much-greater client sensitivity to costs, and by technology that lets one junior attorney do the work of ten when reviewing documents. (Increased efficiency isn't a plus when you bill by the hour.) Likewise, lawyers at the bottom end are being squeezed by online legal form services like LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer. Still, he sees some upsides for lawyers and clients alike.

For lawyers, he sees incomes falling to the more-modest levels that prevailed before the 1980-2000 legal boom. Lower incomes are bad, of course, but it's also true that prior to the boom, lawyers were happier with their work. Crushing workloads, dog-eat-dog firm politics and fickle clients made the boom time much more stressful. The move to billing arrangements that focus on results, not hours worked, saves clients money, but it also changes the way lawyers work, probably for the better.

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June 30, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Winn: Law Students Can Disrupt The Market For High-Priced Textbooks By 'Naming And Shaming' Faculty Who Refuse To Use Free Open Access Books

NameJane K. Winn (University of Washington), Can Law Students Disrupt the Market for High-Priced Textbooks?, 10 Wash. J. L. Tech. & Arts ___ (2015):

The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance legal education through technological innovation and collaboration. With its eLangdell Press project, CALI publishes American law school textbooks in open access, royalty-free form, offering faculty authors compensation equivalent to what most law school textbook authors would earn in royalties from a traditional full-price publisher. I am writing a new sales textbook and “agreements supplement” based on contemporary business practice that I will publish in open access form with CALI’s eLangdell Press. Relatively few other American legal academics publish in open access form, however, suggesting that the market for textbooks may be “locked-in” to a principal-agent conflict between students and faculty members. If American law students organized a website showing the textbook costs of all law faculty members at all law schools, they might be able to use a “naming and shaming” strategy to overcome faculty “lock-in” to high-priced textbooks and increase the adoption of open access textbooks.

Geier 4Deborah H. Geier (Cleveland State) has published a free eLangdell textbook, U.S. Federal Income Taxation of Individuals (CALI 2015):

As one, lone law professor, I have little direct ability to reduce tuition costs for my students. When writing this textbook, however, I decided to decline expressions of interest from the legacy legal publishers in favor of making this textbook available as a free download over the internet (in ePub format for iPads, Mobi format for Kindles, and pdf format for laptops), with an at-cost, print-on-demand alternative for those who like a hard copy. Fortunately, eLangdell (a division of CALI, the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction) has been an ideal partner in this regard.

In addition to eliminating (or lowering) student cost, this mode of publication will permit me to quickly and fully update the book each December, incorporating expiring provisions, inflation adjustments for the coming calendar year, new Treasury Regulations, etc., in time for use in the spring semester, an approach that avoids cumbersome new editions or annual supplements. This publication method also makes the textbook suitable for use as a free study aid for students whose professors adopt another textbook, as this textbook walks the student through the law with many more fact patterns and examples than do many other textbooks. While this practice adds length, I believe that it also makes the book more helpful to students in confronting what can be daunting material. Finally, having the textbook easily accessible to foreign students enrolled in a course examining the U.S. Federal income taxation of individuals is important to me, and having the textbook available as a free internet download succeeds well in that regard.

A Teacher’s Manual is available for professors who adopt the book (or parts of it) for use in their course.

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June 26, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

NY Times: Put Lawyers Where They’re Needed

Liberated LawyeringNew York Times op-ed:  Put Lawyers Where They’re Needed, by Theresa Amato: (author, Liberated Lawyering: How Lawyers Can Change the World (forthcoming 2016)):

Millions of Americans lack crucial legal services. Yet enormous numbers of lawyers are unemployed. Why can’t the supply of lawyers match the demand? ...

To create the entire sector of sustainable, affordable legal service providers that the legal profession needs will take much more entrepreneurship. There’s no shortage of lawyers to bridge the justice gap. For the last four years, less than 60 percent of law-school graduates have found full-time jobs requiring a bar qualification.

The problem is twofold. First, school fees have consistently outpaced inflation over the last 30 years, and on average, 86 percent of law students graduate with six-figure debt. Without help, the drag of this debt makes it near-impossible for willing graduates to take lower-paying legal services jobs.

Second, even for those graduates who are able to serve those who lack affordable legal representation, the jobs are few and much fought-for — despite the often less than chic locales. Recent graduates rarely have the training or resources to create jobs for themselves. ...

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June 18, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Law Student's Guide To Meaningful Employment

RoadmapNeil W. Hamilton (St. Thomas), Roadmap: The Law Student's Guide to Preparing and Implementing a Successful Plan for Meaningful Employment (2015):

Professor Neil Hamilton, former interim dean of St. Thomas University School of Law, has developed a ground-breaking template for law students to use throughout all three years of law school in order to be fully prepared to find employment upon graduation. Hamilton established the core competencies desired by law firms, corporate legal departments, and governmental law departments, to demonstrate what competencies each student should be developing. Through a combination of one-to-one mentoring and student-driven growth plans, each student identifies specific competencies and career goals then demonstrates progress over the final five semesters before graduation. Hamilton’s method is already in use at several law schools, with spectacular results―both increased employment rates and elevated student understanding of the student’s role and path in obtaining employment.

This is the book for law students who want to take control of their law school education, and ensure a positive outcome upon graduation.

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

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The New 1L: First-Year Lawyering With Clients

1LThe New 1L: First-Year Lawyering with Clients (Eduardo R.C. Capulong (Montana), Michael A. Millemann (Maryland), Sara Rankin (Seattle) & Nantiya Ruan (Denver), eds. Carolina Academic Press 2015):

In The New 1L, leading teachers in the field describe how, in the first year of legal education, they teach students to act, as well as think, like lawyers. In their courses, clients are central not extraneous. Working under a lawyer’s supervision, students interview clients, conduct factual investigations, draft pleadings, and write memoranda and briefs. The authors argue that, in isolation, theory and practice are incomplete, and first-year educators must integrate the two. They discuss the benefits and challenges of this new 1L approach, and also provide a range of successful models for any teacher who wants to adopt this pedagogy to a first-year course.  What they say is particularly relevant today, when many are criticizing law schools for their over-reliance on the Langdellian teaching method and failure to produce practice-ready graduates.

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June 11, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Hellwig: The United States Tax Court – An Historical Analysis

HellwigPress Release, W&L Law’s Brant Hellwig Publishes Book on U.S. Tax Court:

Washington and Lee law professor and incoming dean Brant Hellwig recently completed a manuscript detailing the historical evolution and jurisdiction of the United States Tax Court.

The text, titled The United States Tax Court – An Historical Analysis, is an expanded second edition of the seminal Tax Court history published by Professor Harold Dubroff in the late 1970s. Dubroff’s edition was written shortly after Congress established the Tax Court as a court of record under Article I of the Constitution.  The Tax Court commissioned Hellwig to update Dubroff’s work in light of the considerable expansion in the Tax Court’s statutory jurisdiction in recent years.

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ventry Reviews Mehrotra's Making the Modern American Fiscal State

Book Cover 2Dennis J. Ventry Jr. (UC-Davis), Book Review, 46 J. Interdisc. Hist. 133 (Summer 2015) (reviewing Ajay K. Mehrotra (Director, American Bar Foundation), Making the Modern American Fiscal State: Law, Politics, and the Rise of Progressive Taxation, 1877-1929 (Cambridge University Press, 2013)):

Mehrotra’s award-winning book is a tour de force. It chronicles a transformative period in the development of the American fiscal state during which the old order — characterized by indirect, hidden, mercilessly regressive, and partisan taxation — gave way to a direct, transparent, steeply progressive, and professionally administered tax regime.

Making the Modern American Fiscal State will appeal to historians across multiple disciplines with diverse research interests. Mehrotra’s diligent chronicling of “what actually happened in the past” aptly fulfills the historian’s mandate “to trace and explain change over time.” Moreover, Mehrotra identifies and informs all of the relevant schools of thought about state-building at the turn of the century, including the influence of national crises, the “corporate liberal” view that Progressive Era reforms were designed to deflect more radical change, “progressive” historical accounts of ineluctable advancement and “great men,” and “democratic-institutionalism” as advanced not just by historians but also political scientists, sociologists, and economists.

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June 3, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Atkinson: Inequality — What Can Be Done?

Inequality 2Anthony B. Atkinson (Oxford & London School of Economics),  Inequality: What Can Be Done? (Harvard University Press, May 11, 2015):

Inequality is one of our most urgent social problems. Curbed in the decades after World War II, it has recently returned with a vengeance. We all know the scale of the problem—talk about the 99% and the 1% is entrenched in public debate—but there has been little discussion of what we can do but despair. According to the distinguished economist Anthony Atkinson, however, we can do much more than skeptics imagine.

Atkinson has long been at the forefront of research on inequality, and brings his theoretical and practical experience to bear on its diverse problems. He presents a comprehensive set of policies that could bring about a genuine shift in the distribution of income in developed countries. The problem, Atkinson shows, is not simply that the rich are getting richer. We are also failing to tackle poverty, and the economy is rapidly changing to leave the majority of people behind. To reduce inequality, we have to go beyond placing new taxes on the wealthy to fund existing programs. We need fresh ideas. Atkinson thus recommends ambitious new policies in five areas: technology, employment, social security, the sharing of capital, and taxation. He defends these against the common arguments and excuses for inaction: that intervention will shrink the economy, that globalization makes action impossible, and that new policies cannot be afforded.

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June 2, 2015 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Shaviro: Recent International Tax Policy Developments

Daniel Shaviro (NYU), The Crossroads Versus the Seesaw: Getting a 'Fix' on Recent International Tax Policy Developments:

FixingU.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.

An alternative metaphor to that of the crossroads, more likely to appeal to proponents of addressing stateless income than to pro-territorialists, is that of the seesaw. Under this view, while policymakers in OECD countries may long have deliberately tolerated profit-shifting by multinationals – perhaps as an informal way of lowering effective tax rates for these often highly mobile taxpayers – at some point they became convinced that it had gone too far. Thus, proponents of restricting stateless income want to tip the balance somewhat (but not too far) back in the other direction. For example, they may want to ensure that each increment of a multinational’s global income will be subject to tax somewhere – but just once, rather than either zero times or twice, under what has been called the “single tax principle.”

In my 2014 book Fixing U.S. International Taxation, I tried to offer a better analytical framework for international tax policy than either of the above. The concepts that I hoped to sideline or even banish included not only the single tax principle, along with the “worldwide versus territorial” framework – which I disparaged as conflating multiple margins, even leaving aside countries’ hybridity in practice – but also normative reliance on the whole rancid “alphabet soup” of single-margin neutrality benchmarks such as capital export neutrality (CEN), capital import neutrality (CIN), and capital ownership neutrality (CON).

A number of important things have happened in international tax policy since Fixing went to press. For example:

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May 20, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Rise Of The Robots: How 'The Job-Eating Maw Of Technology Threatens Even The Nimblest And Most Expensively Educated,' Including Lawyers

New York Times Sunday Book Review, ‘Rise of the Robots’ and ‘Shadow Work’:

RiseIn the late 20th century, while the blue-collar working class gave way to the forces of globalization and automation, the educated elite looked on with benign condescension. Too bad for those people whose jobs were mindless enough to be taken over by third world teenagers or, more humiliatingly, machines. The solution, pretty much agreed upon across the political spectrum, was education. Americans had to become intellectually nimble enough to keep ahead of the job-destroying trends unleashed by technology, both robotization and the telecommunication systems that make outsourcing possible. Anyone who wanted a spot in the middle class would have to possess a college degree — as well as flexibility, creativity and a continually upgraded skill set.

But, as Martin Ford documents in Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, the job-eating maw of technology now threatens even the nimblest and most expensively educated. Lawyers, radiologists and software designers, among others, have seen their work evaporate to India or China. Tasks that would seem to require a distinctively human capacity for nuance are increasingly assigned to algorithms, like the ones currently being introduced to grade essays on college exams. Particularly terrifying to me, computer programs can now write clear, publishable articles, and, as Ford reports, Wired magazine quotes an expert’s prediction that within about a decade 90 percent of news articles will be computer-­generated. ...

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May 19, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Land Taxes And Inequality

ProgressSlate, The Land Taxers of Fairhope:

More than a century ago, Henry George proposed a property tax he hoped would remedy inequality. Here’s what happened to a town that tried it.

In 1879 the American political economist Henry George proposed a policy to address economic inequality: Tax land—not what’s built on top of it. Tax a parking lot, a seven-story building, and a skyscraper based solely on the value of their footprints. Tax landowners that way, George reasoned in Progress and Poverty, and they couldn’t afford not to develop their holdings. The “single tax” on land would create a strong incentive for bigger buildings, more offices, and more apartments, lowering costs for businesses, shops, and residential tenants. It would remedy the regressive advantage of the urban landowner, to whom George wrote: “[W]ithout doing one stroke of work, without adding one iota of wealth to the community, in ten years you will be rich!"

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May 19, 2015 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Would A Teaching-Intensive Tenure Track Help Solve The Law School Crisis?

Book CoverInside Higher Ed,  New Book Proposes Teaching-Intensive Tenure Track Model to Address Higher Ed Crisis:

A new book from Michael Bérubé, the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature at the Pennsylvania State University, and Jennifer Ruth, associate professor of English at Portland State University, ...  The Humanities, Higher Education and Academic Freedom: Three Necessary Arguments, [argues that] the real crisis in the humanities is the large-scale employment of non-tenure-track professors with no academic freedom who are hired, rehired and fired relatively informally and noncompetitively. Bérubé and Ruth also propose a solution to the “deprofessionalization” of the professoriate: a teaching-intensive tenure track that would grandfather long-serving adjuncts but for everyone else prioritize the competitive hiring of those with terminal degrees.

“We propose that many full-time faculty lines off the tenure track be converted to teaching-intensive tenured positions,” the book says. “The tenure process for such faculty would involve rigorous peer review, conducted by their tenured colleagues at the same institution, but would carry no expectations for research or creative activity,” although service would still be required. Another, more traditional tenure track would remain for professors with research responsibilities. ...

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May 17, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Wolves Of The Revenue

WolvesPete Johnson (Lawyer, Southern California), Wolves of the Revenue:

When lawyer Pete Johnson's clients experienced harassment by the IRS, his response was unique: To pursue taxpayer vengeance in fiction.

Johnson's new novel, Wolves of the Revenue, is a riveting thriller that confronts the IRS about taxpayer abuse.

"In my experience the IRS fails to atone, or even officially apologize, for its wrongs when in error," Johnson said. "Unlike with the CIA and FBI, the Service is rarely a focal point in fiction."

"Wolves of the Revenue" relates the story of a taxpayer coping with two IRS agents' harassing audits, assessments and seizures.

To absolve himself and experience the satisfaction of vindication, this leads the protagonist down a path where betrayal, forbidden love and revenge awaits him.

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May 15, 2015 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs

PedigreeLauren A. Rivera (Northwestern, Kellogg School of Management), Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs (2015):

Americans are taught to believe that upward mobility is possible for anyone who is willing to work hard, regardless of their social status, yet it is often those from affluent backgrounds who land the best jobs. Pedigree takes readers behind the closed doors of top-tier investment banks, consulting firms, and law firms to reveal the truth about who really gets hired for the nation’s highest-paying entry-level jobs, who doesn’t, and why.

Drawing on scores of in-depth interviews as well as firsthand observation of hiring practices at some of America’s most prestigious firms, Lauren Rivera shows how, at every step of the hiring process, the ways that employers define and evaluate merit are strongly skewed to favor job applicants from economically privileged backgrounds. She reveals how decision makers draw from ideas about talent—what it is, what best signals it, and who does (and does not) have it—that are deeply rooted in social class. Displaying the “right stuff” that elite employers are looking for entails considerable amounts of economic, social, and cultural resources on the part of the applicants and their parents.

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May 14, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Soled Reviews Zelenak's Learning To Love Form 1040

Learning to Love 1040Jay A. Soled (Rutgers), Book Review, 87 Temp. L. Rev. 111 (2014) (reviewing Lawrence Zelenak (Duke), Learning to Love Form 1040: Two Cheers for the Return-Based Mass Income Tax (University of Chicago Press, 2013)): 

For the last several decades, a few days immediately before and on April 15 itself, our country has experienced an annual ritual as taxpayers nationwide form long lines at their local post offices to file their income tax returns. Akin to military service, undoubtedly few relish this obligation but recognize it as their civic obligation worthy of fulfillment. In a fascinating new book, Learning to Love Form 1040, published by the University of Chicago Press, Duke University School of Law professor Lawrence Zelenak details the origins of this obligation, traces its history, and explores how it has fostered what he terms fiscal citizenship, or “the important civic purpose of recognizing and formalizing the financial responsibilities of citizenship.”

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May 5, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Tax Policy And The Invisible Hand Of God

We Are Better Than This (2014)Huffington Post:  The Invisible Hand of God, by Jim Burklo (Associate Dean of Religious Life, USC):

The United States has the highest poverty rate, the greatest income inequality, and the greatest wealth inequality of any major developed economy in the world. Edward Kleinbard, We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money (Oxford University Press, 2014) (p 98).

America ought to be better than these statistics imply. It's time for us to live up to the moral values espoused so long ago by Adam Smith. The real Adam Smith, that is.

I've just finished a dense but important and surprisingly readable book by a University of Southern California professor of tax law, Ed Kleinbard. I had the privilege of enjoying a vegetarian lunch with him last week at USC's Good Karma Cafe. He was eager for me to do what I could in the faith community to spread the message of his recent book. And I'm eager to do so, because there is good theology lurking amid the wonky details of tax and spending policy in We Are Better Than This.

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May 4, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Call for Book Reviews: Michigan Law Review

Michigan The Michigan Law Review has asked me to post its solicitation of book reviews for its 2016 Survey of Books Related to the Law:

The Michigan Law Review publishes an Annual Survey of Books. These book reviews are not included in any other issue of the Law Review. Typically, the Survey includes only reviews of books published in the past year. The Volume 114 Book Review issue will be published in spring 2016.

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April 15, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Parrillo Reviews Mehrotra's Law, Politics, and the Rise of Progressive Taxation

AjayNicholas R. Parrillo (Yale), Book Review, 101 J. Am. Legal Hist. 1225 (2015) (reviewing Ajay Mehrotra (Indiana), Making the Modern American Fiscal State: Law, Politics, and the Rise of Progressive Taxation, 1877-1929 (Cambridge University Press, 2013)):

This book deserves to be (and, I predict, will become) the standard account of a major transition in the history of American governance: from a tax regime that was predominantly regressive, indirect, and centered on federal customs duties to one far more progressive, direct, and centered on the federal income tax.

Ajay K. Mehrotra's story opens with a survey of American taxation circa 1877. Federal taxation consisted of customs duties on imported goods to protect domestic producers, plus excises on liquor and tobacco. These levies fell (or at least were understood to fall) largely on consumers. At the state and local levels, taxation consisted mainly of a general property tax that nominally covered all property but, in practice, fell on land while allowing financial assets to escape.

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April 2, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Taxation of Entertainers, Athletes, and Artists

ABALionel Sobel, Taxation of Entertainers, Athletes, and Artists (ABA Press, 2015):

As entertainers, athletes, and artists are often treated differently by the public, tax law also distinguishes between them and people who earn their living in more traditional ways. Their unique forms and sources of income; where the income is earned; and the sometimes uncertain ways that it is compensated require careful understanding and special handling

Taxation of Entertainers, Athletes, and Artists discusses the complex issues affecting the income taxation of these professionals. In this clearly written book, author Lionel S. Sobel provides numerous examples, calculations, charts and graphs to illustrate the material. He explains how taxation affects them in two sections:

Part I: U.S. domestic taxation policies and procedures, addressing how the United States taxes income earned in the United States by entertainers, athletes and artists who are United States citizens and resident aliens.

Part II: International taxation, covering the way that the United States taxes income earned in the U.S. by entertainers, athletes, and artists who are nonresident aliens, and how other countries tax income in those countries when these performers and artists are U.S. citizens and U.S.-resident aliens. This part also considers how the U.S. has provided some tax relief for those of its citizens and resident aliens who pay tax in other countries.

March 26, 2015 in ABA Tax Section, Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The End of College

The End of CollegeNew York Times:  College for a New Age, by Joe Nocera:

Kevin Carey has a 4-year-old girl. Carey, the director of the education policy program at the New America Foundation, has been thinking about the role of universities in American life for virtually his entire career. But after his daughter was born, that thinking took on a new urgency.

“All of a sudden there is a mental clock,” he told me the other day. “How am I going to pay for her college education? I wanted to write a book that asked, ‘What will college be like when my daughter is ready to go?’ ”

His answer is his new book, The End of College, which is both a stinging indictment of the university business model and a prediction about how technology is likely to change it. His vision is at once apocalyptic and idealistic. He calls it “The University of Everywhere.”

“The story of higher education’s future is a tale of ancient institutions in their last days of decadence, creating the seeds of a new world to come,” he writes. If he is right, higher education will be transformed into a different kind of learning experience that is cheaper, better, more personalized and more useful.

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March 12, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Kleinbard Presents We Are Better Than This Today at Pepperdine

Kleinbard (2015)Edward Kleinbard (USC) presents We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money at Pepperdine today as part of our Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

We Are Better Than This fundamentally reframes budget debates in the United States. Author Edward D. Kleinbard explains how the public's preoccupation with tax policy alone has obscured any understanding of government's ability to complement the private sector through investment and insurance programs that enhance the general welfare and prosperity of our society at large.

He argues that when we choose how government should spend and tax, we open a window into our "fiscal soul," because those choices are the means by which we express the values we cherish and the regard in which we hold our fellow citizens. Though these values are being diminished by short-sighted decisions to starve government, strategic government spending can directly make citizens happier, healthier, and even wealthier.

Expertly combining the latest economic research with his insider knowledge of the budget process into a simple yet compelling narrative, he unmasks the tax mythologies and false arguments that too often dominate contemporary discourse about budget policies. Large quantities of comparative data are succinctly distilled to situate the United States among its peer countries, so that readers can judge for themselves whether contemporary budget choices really reflect our aspirational fiscal soul,

Kleinbard's presentation takes a multi-disciplinary approach, drawing on economics, finance, law, political science and moral philosophy. He uniquely weaves economic research and moral philosophy together by emphasizing our welfare, not just our national income, and by contrasting the actual beliefs of Adam Smith, a great moral philosopher, with the cartoon version of the man presented by proponents of the most extreme forms of private market triumphalism.

Update:  Post-presentation lunch:

Photo 2

 

February 18, 2015 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Princeton Review: The 200 Best Value Colleges

PrincetonPrinceton Review, Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Best Value Colleges and What It Takes to Get In (2015):

The Princeton Review has released a new book and online resource that addresses two of the major concerns of college applicants and their parents: paying for college and graduating with a good job and paycheck"  ... [A] one-of-a-kind guide to the nation's academically best and most affordable colleges that also have excellent records of alumni employment. The Princeton Review ... developed a unique “Return-on-Education” (ROE) rating to winnow its list of colleges for this book. ROE measures 40 weighted data points. Everything from academics, cost, financial aid, and student debt to statistics on graduation rates, alumni salaries and job satisfaction.

The Princeton Review lists the Top 5o Schools for Return on Education.  Here are the Top 10:

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February 18, 2015 in Book Club, Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

BRICS and the Emergence of International Tax Coordination

BRICSBRICS and the Emergence of International Tax Coordination (IBFD 2015) (Yariv Brauner (Florida) & Pasquale Pistone (WU Vienna), eds.):

The BRICS have been all the rage from the beginning of the millennium. This book focuses on the shift of power in the global economy from the traditionally dominant nations that comprise the OECD, or, even more narrowly, the G7, to emerging economies, perhaps led by the BRICS. The remodeling of the power structure shaping the global economy and global economic governance more generally is possibly being paralleled by a corresponding reformatting of international taxation. The dominance of the richest countries in the world over the international tax regime that had evolved over the second part of the 20th century is being defied as the 21st century progresses. Emerging economies, within and outside the OECD, assert their newly found power to acquire voice and influence on the international tax agenda.

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February 12, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 9, 2015

NYU Hosts Book Discussion With Eugene Steuerle on How to Restore Fiscal Freedom and Rescue Our Future

DeadThe NYU Graduate Tax Program hosts a discussion today with C. Eugene Steuerle (Urban Institute) on his book, Dead Men Ruling: How to Restore Fiscal Freedom and Rescue Our Future (2014):

Eugene Steuerle argues that these seemingly separable economic and political problems are actually symptoms of a common disease, one unique to our time. Unless that disease and the history of how it spread over time is understood, Steuerle says, it is easy for politicians and voters alike to fall prey to believing in simple but ineffective nostrums, hoping that a cure lies merely in switching political parties or reducing the deficit or protecting and expanding our favorite program.

Despite the despairing claims of many, Steuerle points out that we no more live in an age of austerity than did Americans at the turn into the twentieth century with the demise of the frontier. Conditions are ripe to advance opportunity in ways never before possible, including doing for children and the young in this century what the twentieth did for senior citizens, yet without abandoning those earlier gains. Recognizing this extraordinary but checked potential is also the secret to breaking the political logjam that —as Steuerle points out —was created largely by now dead (or retired) men.

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

Monday, February 2, 2015

Caron: Thomas Piketty and Inequality -- Legal Causes and Tax Solutions

Paul L. Caron (Pepperdine), Thomas Piketty and Inequality: Legal Causes and Tax Solutions, 64 Emory L.J. Online 2073 (2015):

PikettyThomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-first Century has acted as an accelerant fueling the fiery public debate over increasing inequality in America and around the world. Piketty makes the provocative empirical claim that the rate of return to private capital inevitably exceeds the rate of economic growth (r > g) and thus leads to growing concentrations of wealth among the richest members of society. Piketty has spawned heated debates in newspapers, magazines, and blogs, which soon will continue in academic journals and law reviews. Shi-Ling Hsu is one of the first out of the gate with The Rise and Rise of the One Percent: Considering Legal Causes of Wealth Inequality, 64 Emory L.J. Online 2043 (2015).

Hsu focuses on the interesting question of how law and legal institutions foster inflated returns on capital (Piketty's r). He also makes the important point that lawmakers often conflate Piketty's r with g (public economic growth), resulting in laws that boost the former with little discernible impact on the latter. The bulk of Hsu's argument is devoted to explaining how four areas of American law contribute to "the legal enrichment of the one percent": financial regulation, oil and gas subsidies, transition relief, and electric utility regulation. He concludes with a plea for greater federal funding of education to spur greater economic growth and bridge the deepening inequality chasm in America.

Hsu's essay is a significant contribution to what is certain to be an energetic debate over the implications of Piketty's work. The need to examine the impact of legal rules and institutions on both private capital returns and public economic growth will be an enduring contribution to future scholarship on the extent, consequences, and reduction of income and wealth inequality. I offer here two modest reactions to Hsu's essay: (1) recent inequality research has shifted the focus of high-end wealth concentration from the Top 1% to the Top 0.1% (and even the Top 0.01%), with important implications for the work of both Piketty and Hsu, including (2) the inquiry into whether policymakers should intervene before the fact to re-shape the distribution of the benefits and burdens of economic activity (Hsu's approach) or instead redistribute wealth after the fact (Piketty's approach).

In a recent essay, Joseph Bankman and I argued that tax scholars need to focus more of our work on how policymakers should address the federal government's unprecedented (and growing) fiscal imbalance. California Dreamin’: Tax Scholarship in a Time of Fiscal Crisis, 48 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 405 (2014). In Piketty terms, s (spending) > r (revenues). We proposed that California's recent tax increases on the wealthy should provide a template for the nation to bring r more into alignment with s.

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February 2, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Going Clear, Scientology, and the IRS

Slate, What Sundance Favorite Going Clear Tells Us About Scientology:

Going Clear [review here] ends by noting that the church has fewer than 50,000 members but still possesses more than $3 billion in assets. Most of this wealth can be attributed to Scientology’s long, tortured, and ultimately triumphant battle with the IRS to be deemed a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. That victory is perhaps Miscavige’s keystone achievement: as the film details, and as the New York Times reported in 1997, Miscavige used a combination of lawsuits, backroom negotiations, and private investigators digging up dirt on IRS officials to secure Scientology’s status as a religion.

January 29, 2015 in Book Club, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cockfield: David Foster Wallace on Tax Policy

Pale KingArthur J. Cockfield (Queen's University), David Foster Wallace on Tax Policy, How to Be an Adult, and Other Mysteries of the Universe, 15 Pitt. Tax Rev. ___ (2015):

As one of the most highly acclaimed fiction writers of his generation, David Foster Wallace had many things to say on a seemingly endless variety of topics. In his last work, the unfinished novel The Pale King, he chose to elaborate on, of all things, tax policy and tax administration. Wallace directed tax topics at one of the novel’s main themes: true adulthood often involves overcoming boredom in the workplace to derive a sense of community and care for others. In a sense, the book serves as a guide on how to become a reasonably happy and fulfilled adult. This Essay integrates archival research from the Collected Works of David Foster Wallace at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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January 28, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Amazon Offers Self-Publishing For Faculty Books

KindleLast Thursday, Amazon launched KDP EDU for academics to self-publish books through the Kindle Direct Publishing program:

Amazon’s new Kindle Textbook Creator Beta helps you convert PDFs of your textbooks, course notes, study guides and other educational content that includes complex visual information like charts, graphs and equations into Kindle books. Books created through Kindle Textbook Creator take advantage of features that enhance a student’s learning experience such as dictionary look-up, notebook, highlighting and flashcards. Plus, preview your book across all supported devices.

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January 26, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, January 23, 2015

C-Span: Economic Inequality and the U.S. Tax System

C-Span Washington Journal, Economic Inequality and the U.S. Tax System:

Edward Kleinbard talked about his book, We are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money.  He spoke about why the government should do more, including increasing the size of the tax system, to improve the economy and combat income inequality. (Click on button on bottom right to view video directly on C-Span to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate.)

January 23, 2015 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Piketty's TED Talk on Capital in the 21st Century

Thomas Piketty's TED Talk on his book, Capital in the Twenty-first Century (Harvard 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):

January 20, 2015 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mehrotra Reviews Zelenak's Learning to Love Form 1040

Learning to Love 1040Ajay K. Mehrotra (Indiana), Reviving Fiscal Citizenship, 113 Mich. L. Rev. ___ (2015) (reviewing Lawrence Zelenak (Duke), Learning to Love Form 1040: Two Cheers for the Return-Based Mass Income Tax (University of Chicago Press, 2013)): 

In recent years, numerous lawmakers, policy analysts, and scholars have been decrying the many defects of the present U.S. income tax system. Few have attempted to defend our return-based mass income tax. This essay reviews Learning to Love Form 1040, Lawrence Zelenak’s stirring and persuasive defense of a simplified version of our present federal income tax system. In contrast to the conventional economic critiques, Zelenak explores the underappreciated social, cultural, and political benefits of a return-based, mass income tax. Chief among these, he argues, is the existing regime’s potential to raise the tax consciousness of the average citizen and to enhance modern notions of fiscal citizenship.

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January 19, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Reviews of Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Mark W. Hendrickson (Grove City College), Problems with Piketty: The Flaws and Fallacies in Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014):

HendricksonIf you have read or even heard about Capital in the Twenty-First Century—economist Thomas Piketty’s egalitarian treatise—you owe it to yourself to read Hendrickson’s powerful critique. Hendrickson combines extensive knowledge, mature wisdom, common sense, and a rare ability to render complex subjects clear and easily understood. Problems with Piketty shows us the grim consequences of egalitarian policies; exposes the flaws and explodes the fallacies in Piketty’s book; and presents a stirring defense of free enterprise.

Far more than just a corrective to Capital’s many errors, Problems with Piketty works well as a stand-alone teaching tool. Thanks to a detailed Table of Contents, its multiple lessons are easy to find. You may find yourself referring to this book for years to come.

Michael Potter (Australian National University), Capital in the Twenty-First Century: A Critique of Thomas Piketty’s Political Economy, 21 Agenda 91 (2014):

PikettyThe argument by Piketty and others that there is growing inequality and this is causing damage is not new. But regardless of who is running this argument, it is significantly flawed. The poor have definitely improved their situation, especially if taxes and income support are included, in many countries in the developing world and the US. A focus on inequality to the exclusion of poverty glosses over the large successes over recent decades. It paints a false picture of decline when large improvements have occurred.

To the extent there have been increases in executive wages, this has probably been driven by technology and globalisation, not by poor corporate governance. And the returns to wealth being (relatively) high should be expected given the riskiness of owning wealth, and is actually necessary to ensure that investment occurs. Piketty’s (implied) argument that investment is bad should be dismissed out of hand, as should his argument that high taxes are required on wealth. Instead, the problems generated by ‘unfairly’ acquired wealth should be addressed by removing rents. Policymakers should consider broadening the ownership of capital and assisting those who are in genuine need, and reject proposals that pander to envy.

For my perspective, see Thomas Piketty and Inequality: Legal Causes and Tax Solutions, 64 Emory L.J. Online ___ (2015):

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January 19, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Discussion of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century

PikettyAllied Social Science Associations Annual Meeing (Boston Jan 3-5, 2015), A Discussion of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century (Harvard University Press, 2014):

New York Times, Talk Turns to Inequality at Annual Meeting of Economists.  For my perspective, see Thomas Piketty and Inequality: Legal Causes and Tax Solutions, 64 Emory L.J. Online ___ (2015):

Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-first Century has acted as an accelerant fueling the fiery public debate over increasing inequality in America and around the world. Piketty makes the provocative empirical claim that the rate of return to private capital inevitably exceeds the rate of economic growth (r > g) and thus leads to growing concentrations of wealth among the richest members of society. Piketty has spawned heated debates in newspapers, magazines, and blogs, which soon will continue in academic journals and law reviews. Shi-Ling Hsu is one of the first out of the gate with The Rise and Rise of the One Percent: Considering Legal Causes of Wealth Inequality, 64 Emory L.J. Online ___ (2015).

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January 6, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Do Colleges (and Law Schools) Need a Business Productivity Audit?

College TuitionWall Street Journal op-ed:  Colleges Need a Business Productivity Audit, by Frank Mussano & Robert Iosue (authors, College Tuition: Four Decades of Financial Deception (2014)):

College tuition rates are ridiculously out of hand. Since the late 1970s, tuition has surged more than 1,000%, while the consumer-price index has risen only 240%. ...

[T]hree quarters of a typical college budget is spent on personnel expenses, including benefits. Yet the average professor spends much less time in the classroom today than two decades ago. In 2010 44% of full-time faculty reported that they spent nine or more hours a week in the classroom, according to the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. In 1989 more than 60% said they did. The traditional 12-15 hours a week teaching load is changing into a six-to-nine-hour workweek, a significant decrease in productivity.

The typical defense of the reduced workload goes something like this: Professors have increased research demands, more extensive classroom preparation and committee work, as well as additional administrative and student-counseling responsibilities. Except for a handful of elite researchers, this argument doesn’t add up. ...

There’s another problem: The number of college administrators has increased 50% faster than the number of instructors since 2001, according to the Education Department. Administrative costs have far outpaced other college expenses during the past two decades. ...

All the while, colleges launched a prestige arms race, dropping millions on extravagant buildings. Higher-education construction spending has doubled since 1994, with a peak of $15 billion in 2006 that has leveled off at $11 billion in recent years. Adding to the frenzy are the various magazine rankings that base much of their quality-assessment formula on the amount of money spent on student services and facilities, even if the funds are wasted. Campuses have everything from lazy rivers to climbing walls to luxury dormitories.

On top of that, student-loan debt has skyrocketed to $1.2 trillion. Easy access to government loan money has given colleges license to boost tuition with no motivation to keep costs down. ...

[C]olleges and universities engaged in a spending spree because they can. But there’s one simple idea that might start to reverse the spending spree: audits of higher education. ...

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December 30, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Faculty Fathers: Toward a New Ideal in the Research University

Faculty FathersMargaret W. Sallee (SUNY-Buffalo), Faculty Fathers: Toward a New Ideal in the Research University (SUNY Press, 2014):

For the past two decades, colleges and universities have focused significant attention on helping female faculty balance work and family by implementing a series of family-friendly policies. Although most policies were targeted at men and women alike, women were intended as the primary targets and recipients. This groundbreaking book makes clear that including faculty fathers in institutional efforts is necessary for campuses to attain gender equity. Based on interviews with seventy faculty fathers at four research universities around the United States, this book explores the challenges faculty fathers—from assistant professors to endowed chairs—face in finding a work/life balance. Margaret W. Sallee shows how universities frequently punish men who want to be involved fathers and suggests that cultural change is necessary—not only to help men who wish to take a greater role with their children, but also to help women and spouses who are expected to do the same.

(Hat Tip: Inside Higher Ed.)

December 16, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)