TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

2017 Princeton Review's Best 381 Colleges

Princeton ReviewThe Princeton Review has released The Best 381 Colleges — 2017 Edition.  According to the press release, the book contains 62 rankings based on surveys completed by 143,000 students at the 381 schools (375 per school) (methodology here), including these categories:

  • Best (Sarah Lawrence) classroom experience
  • Best (Wellesley), worst (New Jersey Institute of Technology) professors
  • Most (U.S. Military Academy), least U.S. Merchant Marine Academy) accessible professors
  • Best (Virginia Tech) quality of life
  • Most (Rice), least (Montana Tech) happy students
  • Students love (Virginia Tech) their school
  • Most (Rhodes), least (University of Dallas) beautiful campus
  • Best (Elon), worst (Hanover) run school
  • Most liberal (Sarah Lawrence), most conservative (BYU) students
  • Most (Thomas Aquinas),  least (Reed) religious
  • Students study the most (U.S. Military Academy), least (Trinity College Dublin)
  • Most (Vassar), least (SUNY-Purchase) financial aid

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May 9, 2017 in Book Club, Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dirty Secrets: How Tax Havens Destroy the Economy

Dirty SecretsRichard Murphy (City University, London), Dirty Secrets: How Tax Havens Destroy the Economy (2017):

The Panama Papers were a reminder of how the superrich are allowed to hide their wealth from the rest of us. Dirty Secrets uncovers the extent of the corruption behind this crisis and shows what needs to be done in the face of this unregulated spread of rampant greed.

Tax havens, we are often told, are part of the global architecture of capitalism, providing a freedom from regulation necessary to make markets work. In this book, leading authority Richard Murphy uncovers the truth behind this lie. The fact of the matter is that this increasingly popular practice threatens the foundations of democracy, sowing mistrust and creating a regime based upon opacity.

As Murphy shows, how we manage our economy is a political decision, and one that can be changed. Dirty Secrets proposes ways to regulate tax havens and what the world might look like without them.

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April 12, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lipshaw:  Beyond Legal Reasoning — A Critique Of Pure Lawyering

LipshawJeffrey Lipshaw (Suffolk), Beyond Legal Reasoning: A Critique of Pure Lawyering (Routledge 2017):

The concept of learning to ‘think like a lawyer’ is one of the cornerstones of legal education in the United States and beyond. In this book, Jeffrey Lipshaw provides a critique of the traditional views of "thinking like a lawyer: or "pure lawyering" aimed at lawyers, law professors, and students who want to understand lawyering beyond the traditional warrior metaphor. Drawing on his extensive experience at the intersection of real world law and business issues, Professor Lipshaw presents a sophisticated philosophical argument that the "pure lawyering" of traditional legal education is agnostic to either truth or moral value of outcomes. He demonstrates pure lawyering’s potential both for illusions of certainty and cynical instrumentalism, and the consequences of both when lawyers are called on as dealmakers, policymakers, and counsellors.

This book offers an avenue for getting beyond (or unlearning) merely how to think like a lawyer. It combines legal theory, philosophy of knowledge, and doctrine with an appreciation of real-life judgment calls that multi-disciplinary lawyers are called upon to make. The book will be of great interest to scholars of legal education, legal language and reasoning as well as professors who teach both doctrine and thinking and writing skills in the first year law school curriculum; and for anyone who is interested in seeking a perspective on ‘thinking like a lawyer’ beyond the litigation arena.

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April 11, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Tax And The Timing Of Lawmaking

TimingThe Timing of Lawmaking (Frank Fagan (EDHEC) & Saul Levmore (Chicago) eds. Edward Elgar 2017):

Legal reasoning, pronouncements of judgment, the design and implementation of statutes, and even constitution-making and discourse all depend on timing. This compelling study examines the diverse interactions between law and time, and provides important perspectives on how law's architecture can be understood through time. The book revisits older work on legal transitions and breaks new ground on timing rules, especially with respect to how judges, legislators and regulators use time as a tool when devising new rules. At its core, The Timing of Lawmaking goes directly to the heart of the most basic of legal debates: when should we respect the past, and when should we make a clean break for the future?

  • Saul Levmore (Chicago), Interest Groups and the Durability of Law

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April 5, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Brookings Hosts Panel Discussion Today On Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes

Read My LipsThe Brookings Institution is hosting a panel discussion today to mark release of the new book by Vanessa S. Williamson, Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes (Princeton University Press 2017).  The panel will discuss the book and take audience questions and respond to questions on Twitter at #Taxes or @BrookingsGov.

Conventional wisdom holds that Americans hate taxes. But the conventional wisdom is wrong. Bringing together national survey data with in-depth interviews, Read My Lips presents a surprising picture of tax attitudes in the United States. Vanessa Williamson demonstrates that Americans view taxpaying as a civic responsibility and a moral obligation. But they worry that others are shirking their duties, in part because the experience of taxpaying misleads Americans about who pays taxes and how much. Perceived "loopholes" convince many income tax filers that a flat tax might actually raise taxes on the rich, and the relative invisibility of the sales and payroll taxes encourages many to underestimate the sizable tax contributions made by poor and working people.

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April 4, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Restoring the Soul of the University: Unifying Christian Higher Education In A Fragmented Age

SoulPerry L. Glanzer (Baylor), Nathan F. Alleman (Baylor) & Todd C. Ream (Taylor), Restoring the Soul of the University: Unifying Christian Higher Education in a Fragmented Age (InterVarsity Press March 2017):

Has the American university gained the whole world but lost its soul?
In terms of money, prestige, power, and freedom, American universities appear to have gained the academic world. But at what cost? We live in the age of the fragmented multiversity that has no unifying soul or mission. The multiversity in a post-Christian culture is characterized instead by curricular division, the professionalization of the disciplines, the expansion of administration, the loss of community, and the idolization of athletics.

The situation is not hopeless. According to Perry L. Glanzer, Nathan F. Alleman, and Todd C. Ream, Christian universities can recover their soul — but to do so will require reimagining excellence in a time of exile, placing the liberating arts before the liberal arts, and focusing on the worship, love, and knowledge of God as central to the university.

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April 2, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Anthony Kronman, The Sage of Yale Law School: 'A Born-Again Pagan'

PaganThe New Yorker, The Sage of Yale Law:

Anthony Kronman, age seventy-one, may be the world’s most fulfilled man. A professor at Yale Law School for thirty-eight years, he has a happy marriage and four children. He swims a mile every day and is an expert fisherman with rod and spear. He lives in an impeccably decorated house worthy of Architectural Digest. He has written six books, about law, legal ethics, and education, and, last year, published his seventh, an eleven-hundred-page exploration of his personal theology, called Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan [Yale University Press 2016]. By integrating the ideas of many of the world’s great thinkers—Aristotle, Aquinas, Augustine, Spinoza, and others—he has found “a third way, beyond atheism and religion, to the God of the modern world.” He suspects that he might have found the meaning of life.

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March 23, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Byrnes & Munro:  Background And Current Status Of FATCA

LexisWilliam Byrnes (Texas A&M) & Robert J. Munro (Texas A&M), Background and Current Status of FATCA, in LexisNexis Guide to FATCA & CRS Compliance (5th ed., 2017):

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, referred to as FATCA, does not operate in a global tax vacuum. It is nearly impossible to comprehend fully its impact unless its highly technical procedural provisions are viewed in context. This introductory chapter will provide certain background information necessary to understand FATCA, its offspring like the OECD's CRS, and the impact of these initiatives.

FATCA's ostensible purpose was to act as an additional tax revenue source to offset additional spending in the HIRE Act of 2010. FATCA was passed on the unsubstantiated basis that “each year, the United States loses an estimated $100 billion in tax revenue due to offshore tax abuses.” However, the total amount of the offset revenue from FATCA was only projected to $8.714 billion for the ten year period of 2010 to 2020. This chapter explores the revenue raised until 2017 and the offsetting compliance costs.

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March 22, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Mehrotra Presents Law, Politics And The Rise Of Progressive Taxation (1877-1929) Tonight At UNLV

Mehrotra (2017)Ajay Mehrotra (American Bar Foundation & Northwestern) delivers the Philip Pro Lectures in Legal History at UNLV tonight on Making the Modern American Fiscal State: Law, Politics, and the Rise of Progressive Taxation, 1877-1929 (Cambridge University Press, 2013) (reviews)  (awards):

At the turn of the twentieth century, the U.S. system of public finance underwent a dramatic transformation. The late-nineteenth-century regime of indirect, hidden, partisan, and regressive taxes was eclipsed in the early twentieth century by a direct, transparent, professionally administered, and progressive tax system. This book uncovers the contested roots and paradoxical consequences of this fundamental shift in American tax law and policy. It argues that the move toward a regime of direct and graduated taxation marked the emergence of a new fiscal polity — a new form of statecraft that was guided not simply by the functional need for greater revenue but by broader social concerns about economic justice, civic identity, bureaucratic capacity, and public power.

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February 23, 2017 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Crisis Of Race In Higher Education

RaceWilliam F. Tate IV (Dean, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences & Vice Provost, Graduate Education, Washington University), Nancy Staudt (Dean, Law School, Washington University) & Ashley Macrander (Assistant Dean, Graduate Student Affairs, Washington University), The Crisis of Race in Higher Education: A Day of Discovery and Dialogue (2016):

The compendium of writings in this edited volume sheds light on the event Race & Ethnicity — 2015: A Day of Discovery and Dialogue at Washington University in St. Louis and the work current students, faculty, and staff are doing to improve inclusivity on campus and in St. Louis.

Race & Ethnicity — 2015: A Day of Discovery and Dialogue:

On Feb. 5-6, 2015, the university came together to explore critical issues facing our community. Here, you can experience what transpired that day—a day that marked the beginning of a dialogue and work that must continue. We invite you to be part of this ongoing process.

Over the course of 25 hours, the subjects of race and ethnicity were explored through the lens of the five themes summarized below. Watch the videos, be inspired and continue the conversation.

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February 7, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Reinventing The Liberal Arts: College In One Year For $5

ReinventingTuck Newport, Reinventing the Liberal Arts: College in One Year for $5:

Hardly a week passes without some luminary decrying the exorbitant cost of higher education and the sorry state of the liberal arts. But none of them explain, in detail, how to obtain a liberal arts education better than that offered by colleges and universities–in less than a year and at a fraction of the cost. "Reinventing the Liberal Arts: College in One Year for $5" provides a comprehensive science and humanities curriculum, with key elements field tested at a well-known liberal arts college over the past two decades. It includes an interdisciplinary survey of crucial concepts in physics, geology, molecular biochemistry, neuroscience, history, literature, ethics, politics, language, information technology, and management.

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January 4, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Clarke Reviews Zucman's The Hidden Wealth Of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens

HiddenConor Clarke (Ph.D. Candidate, Yale Law School), What Are Tax Havens and Why Are They Bad, 95 Tex. L. Rev. 59 (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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December 28, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

NY Times Op-Ed:  The Evangelicalism Of Old White Men Is Dead

Red LetterNew York Times op-ed:  The Evangelicalism of Old White Men Is Dead, by Tony Campolo & Shane Claiborne (co-authors, Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?):

As the election retreats like a hurricane heading back out to sea, first responders are assessing the damage left in its wake. One casualty is the reputation of evangelicalism. ... As white male evangelists, we have no problem admitting that the future does not lie with us. It lies with groups like the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, led by Gabriel Salguero, or the Moral Monday movement, led by William Barber II, who has challenged the news media on its narrow portrayal of evangelicals. For decades, we have worked within evangelicalism to lift up the voices of these “other evangelicals.”

But we cannot continue to allow sisters and brothers who are leading God’s movement to be considered “other.” We are not confident that evangelicalism is a community in which younger, nonwhite voices can flourish. And we are not willing to let our faith be the collateral damage of evangelicalism.

We want to be clear: We are not suggesting a new kind of Christianity that simply backs the Democratic Party. Jesus is neither a Democrat nor a Republican — even if, as William Sloane Coffin Jr. once said, his heart leans left. Many faithful Christians did not vote for Hillary Clinton because of their commitment to a consistent pro-life agenda. True faith can never pledge allegiance to anything less than Jesus.

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December 4, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (12)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Shaviro Presents Fixing U.S. International Taxation Today At San Francisco

FixingDaniel N. Shaviro (NYU) presents Fixing U.S. International Taxation (Oxford University Press, 2014) at the University of San Francisco Graduate Tax Program as part of its Tax Lecture Series:

International tax rules, which determine how countries tax cross-border investment, are increasingly important with the rise of globalization, but the modern U.S. rules, even more than those in most other countries, are widely recognized as dysfunctional. The existing debate over how to reform the U.S. tax rules is stuck in a sterile dialectic, in which ostensibly the only permissible choices are worldwide or residence-based taxation of U.S. companies with the allowance of foreign tax credits, versus outright exemption of the companies' foreign source income.

In Fixing U.S. International Taxation, Daniel N. Shaviro explains why neither of these solutions addresses the fundamental problem at hand, and he proposes a new reformulation of the existing framework from first principles. He shows that existing international tax policy frameworks are misguided insofar as they treat "double taxation" and "double non-taxation" as the key issues, conflate the distinct questions of what tax rate to impose on foreign source income and how to treat foreign taxes, and use simplistic single-bullet global welfare norms in lieu of a comprehensive analysis.

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November 18, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What's Happened To The University? A Sociological Exploration Of Its Infantilisation

University 2Wall Street Journal:  Free Thought Under Siege, by Daniel Shuchman (reviewing Frank Furedi, What's Happened to the University? A Sociological Exploration of its Infantilisation (Routledge 2016)):

Rancorous trends such as microaggressions, safe spaces, trigger warnings and intellectual intolerance have taken hold at universities with breathtaking speed. Last year’s controversy over Halloween costumes at Yale led to the departure of two respected faculty members, and this year made the fall festival a flashpoint of conflict at campuses across the country. The recent explosion in the number of university administrators, coupled with an environment of perpetual suspicion—the University of Florida urges students to report on one another to its “Bias Education and Response Team”—drives students who need to resolve normal tensions in human interaction to instead seek intervention by mediators, diversity officers, student life deans or lawyers.

As Frank Furedi compellingly argues in this deeply perceptive and important book, these phenomena are not just harmless fads acted out by a few petulant students and their indulgent professors in an academic cocoon. Rather, they are both a symptom and a cause of malaise and strife in society at large. At stake is whether freedom of thought will long survive and whether individuals will have the temperament to resolve everyday social and workplace conflicts without bureaucratic intervention or litigation.

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November 16, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Oregon Tax Prof Nancy Shurtz Says She Wore Blackface To Halloween Party To Teach Lesson As Author Of Black Man In A White Coat

Oregon 2

Following up on this morning's post, 23 Oregon Law Profs Call On Colleague To Resign For Wearing Blackface At Halloween Party:  KEZI 9 News, UO Law Professor Under Fire for Controversial Halloween Costume:

KEZI learned that the professor involved is [tax professor] Nancy Shurtz.

Students are outraged by the incident and have even started a petition demanding her resignation. The petition needs 100 supporters before it can be delivered to the dean of the law school.

Shurtz sent a letter to students explaining why she chose her costume. She said she read a book and wanted to portray the character. She also said she apologizes and never meant to offend anyone.

"I chose my costume based on a book that I read and liked—Black Man in a White Coat.  I thought I would be able to teach with this costume as well (or at least tell an interesting story).

When I asked my daughter who is at Brown Medical School the demographics of her medical school class, she said “they do not give those statistics out mom”, but later when she asked the administration, they said there was not one black male student in the class. She and others were outraged. She was able to get the administration to assign a portion of this book (the one where the black medical student was thought to be the janitor) out to students.

I am sorry if it did not come off well.  I, of all people, would not want to offend.

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November 3, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wendi Adelson's Novel: Art Imitating Life?

AdelsonFollowing up on my previous post, What Wendi Adelson's Novel Reveals About Dan Markel's Murder:  Above the Law, The Dan Markel Case: Insights From Wendi Adelson’s Novel:

Over at Outside the Law School Scam, blogger “dybbuk123” took one for the team and read This Is Our Story, the “criminally lousy” novel written by Dan Markel’s ex-wife, Wendi Adelson. ...

A source of mine who also read This Is Our Story shared additional interesting observations:

The basic premise of Attorney Lily’s life is that she married a professor (Joshua Stone). She says that she married him too quickly, and that at the time she was “absolutely sick and tired of dating” and saw “dating, at its best, as nothing more than a romantic interview. ‘Are you the kind of person who would produce good looking, smart and nice children and never cheat on me and help me clean up the kitchen and love me even when I’m grouchy and not trade me in for a younger model and not join the other team?'”

This is, you may recall, pretty much exactly what Wendi said about Dan in her writing-class podcast — that she married a man she lacked passionate love for because she figured he would be a good father.

Joshua gets a job at North Florida State University in Hiawassee Springs (“the ‘Wassee), a small town in the Florida panhandle. Lily moves there because that’s where his job is, but she hates it. She takes many digs at “the Wassee” throughout the book — making fun of the people, their speech, their clothing, calling the town “irrelevant.”

This is consistent with what sources have described as Wendi’s dislike and disdain for Tallahassee, which she fled in favor of cosmopolitan Miami as soon as she could after Dan’s death.

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October 27, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Use Of Metrics To Assess Scholarly Performance: The Emperor’s New Clothes?

BibliometricsInside Higher Education, Can Your Productivity Be Measured? (reviewing Yves Gingras (University of Quebec), Bibliometrics and Research Evaluation: Uses and Abuses (MIT Press, 2016):

“Since the first decade of the new millennium, the words ranking, evaluation, metrics, h-index and impact factors have wreaked havoc in the world of higher education and research.” ...  Ultimately, Bibliometrics concludes that the trend toward measuring anything and everything is a modern, academic version of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” in which — quoting Hans Christian Andersen, via Gingras — “the lords of the bedchamber took greater pains than ever to appear holding up a train, although, in reality there was no train to hold.”

Gingras says, “The question is whether university leaders will behave like the emperor and continue to wear each year the ‘new clothes’ provided for them by sellers of university rankings (the scientific value of which most of them admit to be nonexistent), or if they will listen to the voice of reason and have the courage to explain to the few who still think they mean something that they are wrong, reminding them in passing that the first value in a university is truth and rigor, not cynicism and marketing.”

Although some bibliometric methods “are essential to go beyond local and anecdotal perceptions and to map comprehensively the state of research and identify trends at different levels (regional, national and global),” Gingras adds, “the proliferation of invalid indicators can only harm serious evaluations by peers, which are essential to the smooth running of any organization.”

And here is the heart of Gingras’s argument: that colleges and universities are often so eager to proclaim themselves “best in the world” -- or region, state, province, etc. -- that they don’t take to care to identify “precisely what ‘the best’ means, by whom it is defined and on what basis the measurement is made.” Put another way, he says, paraphrasing another researcher, if the metric is the answer, what is the question?

Without such information, Gingras warns, “the university captains who steer their vessels using bad compasses and ill-calibrated barometers risk sinking first into the storm.” The book doesn’t rule out the use of indicators to “measure” science output or quality, but Gingras says they must first be validated and then interpreted in context. ...

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October 25, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Competing Against Luck: Restructuring Higher Education

CompetingWall Street Journal, The Customer Is Always Right (reviewing Clayton M. Christensen (Harvard Business School), Competing Against Luck (2016)):

Every large company is consumed by the question of innovation. How to organize for it, how to execute it and how to deliver its benefits to customers. The attributes of big companies seem incompatible with those required to innovate. Size suffocates creativity. Efficiency kills dynamism. Executives become hostage to the data thrown up in a million slides and presentations, and they forget what it’s like to be a customer of the companies they lead.

Clayton M. Christensen is best known for his theory of disruptive innovation, which for some time now has had CEOs lining up outside his office at Harvard Business School. It is, he reminds us, a theory, not unassailable truth. But as a theory, it is immensely helpful in understanding how incumbent companies respond to the threat of innovation—for the most part, badly. Kodak was disrupted when it could not give up its profitable film business fast enough to adjust to the boom in digital photography. The newspaper industry is still suffering from the loss of its stranglehold on classified advertising to rudimentary services like Craigslist.

Disruption, in Mr. Christensen’s formulation, is not caused simply by anything new or clever. It arrives in the form of “minuscule threats” at the bottom of the market. The studios and networks treated Netflix as a minor player when it mailed DVDs, not seeing that the move to online streaming would turn it into a formidable competitor.

Similarly, grand universities right now see no threat from grubby online courses. But over time students and parents may wonder why they should pay all that money for sports facilities they don’t use and professors who don’t teach. Meanwhile, employers start to ask potential employees what they can do rather than where they went to school. And maybe the whole structure of higher education shifts.

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October 19, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Wendi Adelson's Novel Reveals About Dan Markel's Murder

WendiWendi Adelson's Criminally Lousy Novel, This is Our Story:

A few months ago, Above the Law published recordings of Adelson’s presentations to a writer’s workshop, held some time after Markel’s murder. Adelson complained, inter alia, that her “late ex-spouse” (a phrase Adelson creatively punned as her “latex spouse”) did not care for fiction  and did not read her book. (Podcast, 9:42-9:47, 10:28-10:33) I found this plaint to be unfair because, whatever his private misgivings, Markel extensively promoted Adelson’s debut novel, “This is Our Story” on his popular academic blog “Prawfsblawg.” (The novel was published in 2011, about a year before Adelson walked out on Markel, with infant children, bank accounts, furniture, and Markel family heirlooms in tow).

In spite of the intense publicity generated by the lurid murder mystery starring herself, I do not believe anyone has yet explored Adelson’s novel as a possible window into the self-perception of its enigmatic author.

Even at the risk of death by Prius-driving hitman, I am compelled endorse the latex Markel’s decision not to read his wife's novel. This is Our Story is inartful, shallow, clichéd, oddly bland given its human trafficking theme, and terribly self-important. Interestingly though, Adelson states that her book purports to tell, in substantial part, her own story. In an afterword to her novel, Adelson states that “I, selfishly, wanted you to know a bit about my story, which has much – but not all – in common with Attorney Lily” (i.e. the main character in the novel). Adelson, Wendi (2011-09-12). This is Our Story (Kindle Locations 3948-3949). Kindle Edition. ...

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October 19, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (24)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Being A Scholar In The Digital Era

ScholarJessie Daniels (CUNY) & Polly Thistlethwaite (CUNY, Being a Scholar in the Digital Era: Transforming Scholarly Practice for the Public Good (University of Chicago Press 2016):

What opportunities, rather than disruptions, do digital technologies present? How do developments in digital media not only support scholarship and teaching but also further social justice? Written by two experts in the field, this accessible book offers practical guidance, examples, and reflection on this changing foundation of scholarly practice. It is the first to consider how new technologies can connect academics, journalists, and activists in ways that foster transformation on issues of social justice. Discussing digital innovations in higher education as well as what these changes mean in an age of austerity, this book provides both a vision of what scholars can be in the digital era and a road map to how they can enliven the public good.

Inside Higher Ed, The Tech-Enabled Scholar:

Q: On the topic of metrics: as you point out, few (if any) academic departments use altmetrics in tenure and promotion cases. We’ve seen the same sort of hesitancy when it comes to evaluating digital scholarship more broadly. Do you feel that colleges have been right to wait it out while these evaluation methods mature, or should they have taken a more active role?

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October 11, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Graetz Presents Can A 20th Century Business Income Tax Regime Serve A 21st Century Economy? Today At Columbia

Graetz (2015)Michael J. Graetz (Columbia) presents Can a 20th Century Business Income Tax Regime Serve a 21st Century Economy? (in Follow the Money: Essays on International Taxation Introduction & Ch. 7 (Yale 2016) at Columbia today as part of its Davis Polk & Wardwell Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex Raskolnikov and Wojciech Kopczuk:

Chapter 7 is the most recently published essay of this collection. It reviews the contemporary challenges of international tax policy, as set forth in my Parsons Lecture, delivered to the University of Sydney Law School in April 2015. After describing the decisionmaking choices and flexibility of multinational corporations and the pressures of inter-nation tax competition, the chapter explains why our 20th Century international tax system is poorly equipped to cope with the 21st Century’s technologically driven, integrated global economy. The chapter concludes with a number of predictions about directions international tax policy is likely to take.

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October 4, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Capital Without Borders: Wealth Managers And The One Percent

CapitalFollowing up on my previous post, Inside The Secretive World Of Tax-Avoidance Experts:  Brooke Harrington (Copenhagen Business School),  Capital Without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent (Harvard University Press Sept. 2016) (review here):

How do the one percent hold on to their wealth? And how do they keep getting richer, despite financial crises and the myriad of taxes on income, capital gains, and inheritance? Capital Without Borders takes a novel approach to these questions by looking at professionals who specialize in protecting the fortunes of the world’s richest people: wealth managers. Brooke Harrington spent nearly eight years studying this little-known group—including two years training to become a wealth manager herself. She then “followed the money” to the eighteen most popular tax havens in the world, interviewing practitioners to understand how they helped their high-net-worth clients avoid taxes, creditors, and disgruntled heirs—all while staying just within the letter of the law.

Capital Without Borders reveals how wealth managers use offshore banks, shell corporations, and trusts to shield billions in private wealth not only from taxation but from all manner of legal obligations. And it shows how practitioners justify their work, despite evidence that it erodes government authority and contributes to global inequality.

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September 15, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 12, 2016

JFK & Reagan Provide Path Toward Brighter Economic Future: Bipartisan Tax Cuts

JFKWall Street Journal op-ed: Return to JFK’s ‘Rising Tide’ Model: Kennedy and Reagan Both Spurred Growth Through Bipartisan Tax Cuts. That’s Just What Is Needed Now., by Lawrence Kudlow & Brian Domitrovic (co-authors, JFK and the Reagan Revolution: A Secret History of American Prosperity” (Sept. 6, 2016)):

since 2000, U.S. economic output has inched along at a rate of 1.8% a year, an astoundingly low number almost half of the long-term average of over 3%. This is not the way America is supposed to be. The United States has regularly achieved more than 3% economic growth as a matter of course, as it has led the global industrial and technological revolutions with millions of new jobs, entrepreneurial wonders and mass prosperity in tow.

The two greatest political figures in America since World War II staked their presidencies on economic growth: John F. Kennedy in the 1960s and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Kennedy was the pioneer. When Reagan rallied to the cause of growth 20 years later, he did so explicitly following Kennedy’s “a rising tide lifts all boats” model. ...

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September 12, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Perdue:  Law Schools, Universities, And The Challenge Of Moving A Graveyard

Rethinking 2Wendy Collins Perdue (Dean, Richmond), Law, Universities, and the Challenge of Moving a Graveyard, 50 U. Rich. L. Rev. Online 3 (2015) (reviewing Carel Stolker, Rethinking the Law School: Education, Research, Outreach and Governance (Cambridge University Press 2015)):

The last five years have been difficult ones for American legal education. With applications to law schools declining 40% nationally, many schools are struggling to maintain quality in the face of significant budgetary pressures. But one component of the legal-education world has been robust: there is a boom market in books, articles, reports, websites, and blogs filled with criticism and even anger at the current state of legal education. There are many villains in these narratives—greedy universities that suck resources, self-absorbed faculty who are indifferent to their students, and dishonest deans willing to misrepresent their current reality—and many victims—duped college graduates and lawyers leading miserable lives of tedium, long hours, and depression.

Against this dark narrative genre, Carel Stolker’s new book, Rethinking the Law School, stands in sharp contrast. Having been both a law school dean and university president at Leiden University in The Netherlands, Stolker brings the perspective of a dean who has sought to innovate, and of a university president who has dealt with the political, academic, financial, and managerial complications of a modern university. The book offers a broad look at legal education around the world, along with a thoughtful exposition of the challenges facing law schools and law deans. Stolker is no cheerleader for the current state of legal education, but recognizing that “the nature, content and quality of legal education is a subject that flares up frequently and dies down again,” he approaches the issues without the shrillness and anger that characterize some of the current commentary. He also leavens his realism with some welcomed humor, noting, for example that “changing a university is like moving a graveyard, you get no help from the people inside.” ...

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September 6, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Twelve Tables Press And Carolina Academic Press Announce Publishing Alliance

12CAPPress Release,  Twelve Tables Press and Carolina Academic Press Announce Publishing Alliance

Twelve Tables Press today announced a publishing alliance with Carolina Academic Press. The new joint venture will provide all back-office fulfillment, editorial, sales, and marketing support to enable Twelve Tables Press to focus on its vision to chronicle the individuals behind the landmark decisions, capture the craft, scholarship and often sheer will needed to change and redefine American Law, jurisprudence and society..

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

American Absurd

American 2The bad news:  the Internet was down on my six hour New York to Los Angeles flight yesterday.  The good news:  it gave me the chance to read Colorado Law Prof Pierre Schlag's new novel (American Absurd: A Work of Fiction) and article (The Law Review Article), brought to my attention by Jeff Lipshaw of our The Legal Whiteboard:

Mr. David Madden lives in L.A. He's an ordinary man. Every day, he gets up and drives to work. Only he never gets there. Instead, he drives from here to there, from Westwood to Santa Monica, Santa Monica to Venice . . . and so on. It seems he's always just going from point A to point B. Of course, driving from point A to point B--that's pretty much what people do in L.A.

But then one day a mishap occurs, a breakdown of sorts, on Santa Monica Boulevard. Soon the media takes notice, and overnight Mr. Madden is transformed into a pioneering cultural figure as his "A-to-B thing" goes viral and becomes the defining issue of our time. Questions are asked, solutions offered, and blame assigned as therapists, academics, police, and lawyers all get involved. Safe to say, no one escapes unscathed in this caustic, irreverent, and hilarious social satire.

Jeff writes:

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August 15, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Three Views Of The Academy: Legal Education And The Legal Profession In Transition

BooksBarbara Glesner Fines (UMKC), Three Views of the Academy: Legal Education and the Legal Profession in Transition, 51 Tulsa L. Rev. 487 (2016) (reviewing James E. Moliterno, The American Legal Profession in Crisis: Resistance and Responses to Change (Oxford University Press 2013), Deborah L. Rhode, Lawyers as Leaders (Oxford University Press 2013) & Robin L. West, Teaching Law: Justice, Politics, and the Demands of Professionalism (Cambridge University Press 2013)):

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August 11, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Baker Reviews Building On Best Practices to Transform Legal Education

Best PracticesJeffrey R. Baker (Pepperdine), Book Review, 65 J. Legal Educ. 988 (2016) (reviewing Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World (Deborah Maranville (University of Washington), Lisa Radtke Bliss (Georgia State), Carolyn Wilkes Kaas (Quinnipiac) & Antoinette Sedillo López (New Mexico), eds., 2015):

Building on Best Practices is a worthy addition to the canon of literature on reforming legal education. Before the Great Recession, without today’s pressing economic incentives, law schools made uneven strides to incorporate lessons from MacCrate, Best Practices, and Carnegie. Today, compounding economic crises and escalating accreditation requirements make reform urgent, necessary, and inevitable.

To demonstrate that law schools can still add value to careers and society, legal educators must grapple with structural changes that affect every aspect of teaching, learning and researching. Building on Best Practices provides diverse expertise and useful guidance on approaching these challenges and on improving and expanding the enterprise of legal education.

August 9, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What Every Law Student Really Needs To Know: An Introduction To The Study Of Law

ReallyJust in time for 1Ls starting classes in a few weeks, Tracey E. George (Vanderbilt) and Suzanna Sherry (Vanderbilt) have published the second edition of their wonderful book, What Every Law Student Really Needs to Know: An Introduction to the Study of Law (Wolters Kluwer 2016).  Tracey and Suzanna have posted a 12-page introduction to the book on SSRN:

Law school is an exciting and enriching experience but also an intimidating and difficult one for students. Students and professors want students to succeed. We have written this essay and a book in order to decrease students' anxiety and increase their chances of achieving academic success. We offer here a short introduction to how a new law student can succeed, taken from the Introduction and first chapter of the book. The full book serves as a law school success guide, featuring insight into how and why law school works the way it does and the tools and techniques to fully understand first-year substantive law. In addition to teaching techniques for getting the most out of reading and out of class, the book also conveys information about the American legal system and court structure, and about cross-cutting legal concepts such as burdens of proof and standards of review.

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August 2, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Are Big Law Firms Wrecking Capitalism?

ReichThe American Lawyer: Are Big Law Firms Wrecking Capitalism?:

Robert Reich's contribution to the inequality debate [Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few (2016)] is to show how clients of large law firms use their power 
to shape the "free market" that we unthinkingly accept as a state of nature. In Reich's universe, rules define the market, and states create the rules. More precisely, elite lawyers create the rules. They also game them.

Attorneys are ever on the march in "Saving Capitalism," and usually in military formation. "Battalions of high-priced law firms" and "a squadron of high-priced legal talent" obstruct prosecution. Competition is stifled by "armies," "fleets," a "phalanx" and (where's the thesaurus?) "armies" of lawyers. Reich's table of contents reads a bit like a first-year law school transcript. The ways to rig the free market fall under the headings of Property, Monopoly, Contract, Bankruptcy and 
Enforcement.

For a reader who knows where the bodies are buried, Reich's catalog of legal games may be taken as a between-the-lines indictment of The Am Law 100. ...

As a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Reich envisions a future where robots displace most workers (including symbolic analysts). But with wise policy, a basic minimum income will allow us to devote our lives to art or ennobling hobbies—or to a job that expresses a deep personal commitment. Reich writes acidly that he's yet to meet bankers who see their job as a calling. He'd probably say the same for the lawyers who shuffle the bankers' papers. ...

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July 31, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Alstott:  Tax And … Housing Policy

EvictedAnne Alstott (Yale), Tax and … Housing Policy:

In his new book, Evicted, Harvard sociologist Matt Desmond recounts the human cost of the frequent evictions that disrupt life in poor communities. Desmond doesn’t focus on the role of the tax code in housing policy, but his work suggests directions for further thought. ...

We know that renters are second-class citizens in federal housing policy: taking into account tax expenditures and direct spending, the feds spend about $190 billion per year to subsidize housing, but as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities demonstrates, the subsidies are poorly matched to housing need.

The upside-down distribution of federal housing subsidies isn’t news to tax folks, of course. Still, I think it’s worth looking beyond the home mortgage interest deduction and its glaring flaws. Instead, or addition, we might consider whether the federal government can — and should — redirect subsidy funds toward rental housing need and toward the goal of housing stability in particular.

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

Monday, July 25, 2016

Social Media For Academics

Social Media for AcademicsMark Carrigan (University of Warwick), Social Media for Academics (Sage 2016):

Social media is an increasingly important part of academic life that can be a fantastic medium for promoting your work, networking with colleagues and for demonstrating impact. However, alongside the opportunities it also poses challenging questions about how to engage online, and how to represent yourself professionally.

This practical book provides clear guidance on effectively and intelligently using social media for academic purposes across disciplines, from publicising your work and building networks to engaging the public with your research.  It is supported by real life examples and underpinned by principles of good practice to ensure you have the skills to make the most of this exciting medium.

You’ll find advice on:

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July 25, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Tax Prof Schadenfreude

What could be better for a law student than being on the same flight as your tax professor the day after your exam? Being on the same return flight:

Plane

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July 18, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Alstott:  Raising The Retirement Age, Fairly

A New DealAnne Alstott (Yale), Raising the Retirement Age, Fairly (Chapters 6 & 7 in A New Deal for Old Age: Toward a Progressive Retirement (Harvard University Press, 2016)):

A growing chorus of policy analysts is calling for an increase in the Social Security retirement age. Even staunch defenders of Social Security have begun to concede that the retirement age of 66 is too low, in light of the increasing longevity, improving health, and expanding work options of older Americans. Still, some progressives worry that the only way to protect disadvantaged workers is to leave the early and full retirement ages as they are. The result is a debate that pits intergenerational fairness against intragenerational fairness: either we shortchange the young (by paying unneeded benefits to the old) or else we shortchange the disadvantaged (by raising the retirement age to levels that are unrealistic for low-earners).

We can solve the policy deadlock by reframing the question. Policy debates tend to focus on how high the retirement age should rise. But age is, more and more, a contingent category, with shifting physical and social meaning. Instead of beginning with chronological age, we can and should start with a deeper account of the objectives of retirement policy.

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July 5, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, July 4, 2016

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 Policy Blog:  Independence Day: Taxes Then and Now, by John Olson:

The history of taxation in the United States is a tumultuous one. Since our country’s founding, we have witnessed marginal tax rates on income ranging from zero to 94 percent, and federal revenues taking up less than 5 percent of our economy to more than 20 percent. With presidential candidates proposing more sweeping changes of their own, it seems the future of U.S. taxation will continue to be just as diverse. But what if we were to wind the clock back on our tax code? What was taxation like on the day a group of men in Philadelphia released a document that would change the world, 240 years ago?

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July 4, 2016 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The End Of Accounting

EndBaruch Lev (NYU) & Feng Gu (SUNY-Buffalo), The End of Accounting (Wiley, June 27, 2016) (WSJ excerpt):

The problem with reported earnings, and financial statements in general, is that they no longer reflect the realities of businesses. Instead, they follow an arcane set of accounting rules and regulations. An alternate reality which fails to illuminate essential factors that make an enterprise rise or fall, where, for example:

  • The most important, value-creating investments in patents, brands, IT and other intangibles are considered regular expenses, like salaries or rent, without future benefits.
  • Reported earnings are a mixed bag of long-term items (indicating sustained growth) and one-time, transitory gains/losses (restructuring costs, for example), having negligible effect on corporate value. ...
  • Nontraded assets/liabilities, like privately placed bonds, which have no market values are nevertheless required to be marked-to-market in the financial reports. This, of course, is an oxymoron. ...

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June 22, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Graetz & Greenhouse:  The Burger Court And The Rise Of The Judicial Right

Burger CourtMichael J. Graetz (Columbia) & Linda Greenhouse (New York Times), The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right (June 7, 2016).  From Columbia Law School:

Early reviews are extolling the insights of The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right, the new book by Columbia Law School Professor Michael J. Graetz and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Linda Greenhouse. Graetz—the author of seven books, an eminent scholar and teacher, and a former official in the U.S. Treasury Department—is the Columbia Alumni Professor of Tax Law. He has argued before the Supreme Court. For nearly 30 years, Greenhouse covered the Supreme Court for The New York Times

The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right, published today by Simon & Schuster, challenges the accepted portrayal of the Supreme Court from 1969 to 1986 as pragmatic and accommodating, a moderate or transitional period when “nothing much happened.” On the contrary, explain Graetz and Greenhouse, American law moved to the right with President Richard Nixon’s four appointments to the Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Warren Burger. A new conservative majority reacted to the previously liberal Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren, curbing and rolling back landmark rulings on civil rights and civil liberties, while granting a First Amendment right to “commercial speech,” which would enable businesses to invoke the Constitution in opposition to government regulation. The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right shows how the Court reached its most lasting decisions, laying a legal foundation for the conservative Rehnquist and Roberts Courts. ...

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June 9, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sunstein:  The World According to Star Wars—Lessons On Faith, Fathers & Feminism

SunsteinCass Sunstein (Harvard), The World According to Star Wars (May 31, 2016):

There’s Santa Claus, Shakespeare, Mickey Mouse, the Bible, and then there’s Star Wars. Nothing quite compares to sitting down with a young child and hearing the sound of John Williams’s score as those beloved golden letters fill the screen. In this fun, erudite, and often moving book, Cass R. Sunstein explores the lessons of Star Wars as they relate to childhood, fathers, the Dark Side, rebellion, and redemption. As it turns out, Star Wars also has a lot to teach us about constitutional law, economics, and political uprisings.

In rich detail, Sunstein tells the story of the films’ wildly unanticipated success and explores why some things succeed while others fail. Ultimately, Sunstein argues, Star Wars is about freedom of choice and our never-ending ability to make the right decision when the chips are down. Written with buoyant prose and considerable heart, The World According to Star Wars shines a bright new light on the most beloved story of our time.

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June 5, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

WSJ:  Estate Planning Expert Natalie Choate Reaches Age 70½, Offers IRA Withdrawal Advice

Wall Street Journal Tax Report:  When the IRA Expert Reaches Her Own Withdrawal Age: Natalie Choate Offers Tips for Taking Mandatory Withdrawals From IRAs, by Laura Saunders:

ChoateThe first U.S. baby boomers are turning 70 this year. For many, another landmark will soon follow: at 70½ they begin taking mandatory withdrawals from their individual retirement accounts.

Among those turning 70½ this year is Natalie Choate, a Harvard University-trained lawyer who literally wrote the book on IRAs and estate planning [Life and Death Planning for Retirement Benefits (7th ed. 2011]. She has spoken on the subject across the country, specializing in retirement-plan law since Congress established IRAs as part of a massive overhaul in 1974.

Ms. Choate, born in 1945, will soon publish her latest book, titled “70½”, as she is now facing her own required IRA payouts. In theory, Ms. Choate should have no problem.

But Ms. Choate is finding her withdrawals more complex than she expected. “Now I have sympathy for average people facing these decisions,” she says. ...

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May 31, 2016 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

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)