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Monday, August 31, 2015

Mason Presents Citizenship Taxation At The International Tax Research Symposium In Switzerland

IFARuth Mason (Virginia) presents Citizenship Taxation, 88 S. Cal. L. Rev. ___ (2015), at the Second International Tax Research Symposium held in conjunction with the 69th Congress of the International Fiscal Association in Basel, Switzerland:

The United States is the only country that taxes its citizens’ worldwide income, even when those citizens live indefinitely abroad. This Article critically evaluates the traditional equity, efficiency, and administrability arguments for taxing nonresident citizens. It also raises new arguments against citizenship taxation, including that it puts the United States at a disadvantage when competing with other countries for highly skilled migrants. 

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August 31, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

L.A. Times: California Bar Requires Unaccredited Law Schools To Disclose Dropout Rates

California State Bar (2014)Following up on my prior posts (links below):  Los Angeles Times, Plan to Require Unaccredited Law Schools in California to Disclose Dropout Rates OKd:

A panel of the State Bar of California approved a plan on Friday to require unaccredited law schools to disclose their dropout rates, in an effort to improve transparency for prospective students.

The unanimous decision comes about a month after a Times investigation found that about 90% of students drop out before their final year.

The move is considered to be part of a larger push to elevate the academic standards of unaccredited law schools where low tuition and few entrance requirements attract those who typically find themselves struggling with the coursework or unable to finish for other reasons. ...

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August 31, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Would President Trump Eliminate Section 1031 Like-Kind Exchanges?

TrumpBloomberg:  Donald Trump Wants to Raise His Own Taxes, and Here’s How He Could Do It, by Richard Rubin:

Billionaire Donald Trump, who built his fortune in real estate, told Bloomberg Politics this week that he wants to raise his own taxes. One way to do it is a bipartisan proposal that would blow up one of the real estate industry's favorite tax breaks. 

The break, known as the like-kind exchange or "1031" for the tax code section it comes from, lets real estate owners sell one piece of property and buy a new one soon afterward without paying any capital gains taxes on the profits from the sale. The result is an ever-increasing pile of deferred capital gains, taxed only whenever there is a final sale or, better yet, never taxed as income at all upon death. 

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August 31, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Three Signs Of A Dying Law School

CLosingJeff Redding (St. Louis), The Perverse Statistics of Dying Law Schools:

A ‘dying’ law school can give off any number of perversely alluring statistics.  I’m sure there are more statistical signs of death than I can think of presently, but here’s my top 3 and also my explanation of how prospective students can research each:

1) A rapidly decreasing student/faculty ratio ... Is the law school you’re considering rapidly hiring faculty (unlikely) or is the school rapidly losing students?  Do your homework and find out what this ratio has been in years past and not just where it is now.

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August 31, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Most Liberal And Conservative Law School Graduates

Liberal ConservativeFollowing up on Saturday's post, The Most Liberal And Conservative Lawyers By Practice Area; Law Professors Are The Most Liberal Among 61 Groups:   the paper by Adam Bonica (Stanford), Adam S. Chilton (Chicago) & Maya Sen (Harvard), The Political Ideologies of American Lawyers, also ranks law schools by the most liberal and conservative law school graduates.  Rob Anderson (Pepperdine) mines the data in this post.  Here are the Top 25 of each:

Most Liberal Law School Graduates:

  1. Charlotte
  2. Northern Illinois
  3. Howard
  4. UC-Berkeley
  5. UC-Hastings
  6. Northeastern
  7. Lewis & Clark
  8. Oregon
  9. Maine
  10. University of Washington
  11. Thurgood Marshall
  12. NYU
  13. San Francisco
  14. Golden Gate
  15. UCLA
  16. Seattle
  17. Boston University
  18. Yale
  19. Minnesota
  20. Columbia
  21. Stanford
  22. Pennsylvania
  23. Illinois
  24. New Mexico
  25. USC

Most Conservative Law School Graduates:

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August 31, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Indiana Tech Law School Enrolls 1L Class Of 15 Students, Down 50% From Last Year

IndyTech LogoIndiana Lawyer, Indiana Tech Law School Restarts Accreditation Process, Welcomes Zoeller:

The incoming Class of 2018 is comprised of 15 students who have a median LSAT score of 151 and a median GPA of 3.42. This is the smallest group yet to enroll in the Fort Wayne law school which opened in 2013. The institution’s first two classes each had about 30 students, and the Class of 2017 came with a median LSAT of 148.

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August 31, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 844

IRS Logo 2National Review:  How Obama Officials Dodge the Freedom of Information Act, by John Fund:

During the Watergate era, delaying tactics by government officials were dubbed “stonewalling.” Obama-administration officials seem to have added an element of farce to their cover-ups by literally going to the dogs.

This week, the IRS admitted in court, in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the watchdog group Judicial Watch, that Lois Lerner was even more secretive than we thought. Lerner, the IRS official who resigned in 2013 after allegedly discriminating against applications for nonprofit status from conservative groups, conducted much of her IRS business on a personal e-mail account in the name of her dog, Toby Miles.

Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, says there is evidence that the Obama Justice Department and the IRS have known about the Toby Miles account for some time but chose not to tell the court. A House committee months ago urged that a criminal inquiry of Lerner be initiated by the Justice Department, but so far it has been ignored. ...

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this administration,” President Obama declared back in 2009. Rarely has there been a greater gap between what a politician said and what he did.

Freedom of Information Act requests have been censored or outright denied on countless occasions. Lois Lerner sent an e-mail that warned IRS staffers to avoid public scrutiny by using instant messaging that automatically deletes office communications. Judge Emmet Sullivan, a Bill Clinton appointee, has become so frustrated with the IRS’s foot-dragging that last month he called the government’s slow-walking behavior “indefensible, ridiculous, and absurd” and asked, “why shouldn’t the Court hold the Commissioner of the IRS in contempt?”

The Obama administration has responded to all this by cracking down on the one internal government group of officials specifically charged with tracking down malfeasance: the 72 inspectors general who oversee federal agencies.

The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency sent a letter to Congress this month warning that a recent ruling by the Obama Justice Department, which now requires inspectors general to get permission from agencies they monitor for investigative information, is a “serious threat” to their independence. They urged that Congress should “promptly pass” a law affirming their oversight authority.

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August 31, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The End Of Summer

Summer 2New York Times Sunday Review:  The Summer That Never Was, by Tim Kreider:

I never went to Iceland. I suppose I should say I didn’t go to Iceland this summer — never sounds a little melodramatic, possibly terminal. It’s not as if I’ve died and all hope of ever having gone to Iceland is obviated. But for some reason this missed opportunity is causing me more than the usual, near-toxic level of regret. I’ve had a free apartment in Reykjavik on offer for several years, and somehow I’ve never made it there. The owner of the apartment sends me photos of the aurora borealis that break my heart. ...

Every reminder of forgone pleasures — the empty hammock I hardly ever lay in, a little sugar-cube melon that went bad before I’d even cut one slice from it — makes me want to cry. This end-of-summer melancholy is a common experience, even a cliché. Part of it of course is just my dread and hatred of back-to-school time, unchanged since childhood. The whole world of work and productivity still seems to me like an unconscionable waste of time; the only parts of life that really matter are the summers, the in-between times — the idle goofing off. ...

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August 30, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The IRS Scandal, 843

IRS Logo 2Washington Examiner, Judge: IRS Must Hand Over White House Record Requests:

The Internal Revenue Service must turn over any White House requests for taxpayers' private information, a federal judge ruled Friday.

The IRS cannot cite taxpayer confidentiality laws to avoid turning over the information requested by Cause of Action, Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled. Cause of Action has waged a two-year battle to discover whether Obama administration officials had any hand in the IRS' targeting of conservative non-profits.

The IRS cannot cite privacy protection "to shield the very misconduct it was enacted to prohibit," the judge said Friday, according to the Washington Times.

"This court questions whether section 6103 [of the tax code] should or would shield records that indicate confidential taxpayer information was misused, or that government officials made an improper attempt to access that information," wrote Jackson.

Questions about whether the White House directed the IRS' targeting of conservative nonprofits have dogged the administration since the scandal first broke. At one point "then-White House chief economist seemed to describe the tax structure of Koch Industries during a briefing with reporters," increasing speculation, reports the Washington Times.

So far there is no evidence pointing to White House involvement — in part because the IRS has blocked the release of the necessary documents. The agency refused to turn over even administration requests for records since they were first requested in 2013.

Friday's ruling in favor of Cause of Action will change all that.

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August 30, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

The Most Liberal (Entertainment, Civil Rights, Personal Injury) And Conservative (Oil & Gas, M&A, Energy) Lawyers By Practice Area; Law Professors Are The Most Liberal Among 61 Groups

Adam Bonica (Stanford), Adam S. Chilton (Chicago) & Maya Sen (Harvard), The Political Ideologies of American Lawyers:

The ideology of American lawyers has been a persistent source of discussion and debate. Two obstacles, however, have prevented this topic from being systematically studied: the sheer number of attorneys in the United States and the need for a methodology that makes comparing the ideology of specific individuals possible. In this paper, we present a comprehensive mapping of lawyers’ ideologies that has overcome these hurdles. We use a new dataset that links the largest database of political ideology with the largest database of lawyers’ identities to complete the most extensive analysis of the political ideology of American lawyers ever conducted.

Here is the breakdown by practice area:

Chart

 

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August 29, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Simkovic & McIntyre: The Best Time To Go To Law School? Now.

TimingWashington Post, Is There a ‘Right Time’ to Go to Law School — And If So, What Is It?:

Law school applications have been dropping for years now and are facing their lowest enrollment numbers in years, prompting some to cut their budgets and change their programs to attract more students, ... Why is this happening? And what should legal-minded students do? Michael Simkovic and Frank McIntyre explain in this post. ... (They thank Access Group and LSAC for supporting their recent research on a paper titled Timing Law School.)

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August 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (13)

The IRS Scandal, Day 842

IRS Logo 2Town Hall, Lois Lerner May Have Committed a Crime With Use of Private Email at IRS:

In case you missed it yesterday the Washington Times reported former IRS official Lois Lerner, the woman at the center of the IRS targeting controversy, used a private email account under her dog's name to conduct official government business. ...

Now, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton is responding to the new revelation and notes Lerner may have broken the law if she shared confidential tax information on her private account. ...

It should also be noted using a private email account is against government policy and potentially violates federal records laws as it allows officials to skirt the Freedom of Information Act. Further, use of private email to conduct government business makes it difficult for Congress to make proper inquiries about official communications during investigations.

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August 29, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

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August 28, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Boyack: Is The Goal Of 'Practice Ready' Law Grads Merited, Achievable & Worth The Cost?

PracticeAndrea J. Boyack (Washburn), Get "PRACTICE READY." Get set. Go!:

The ABA’s new standard 303(a)(3) instructs law schools to require graduating students satisfactorily complete “one or more experiential course(s) totaling at least six credit hours.” This standard (along with the subsequent standard 304) goes on to explain that the requirement can be satisfied through a simulation course, a law clinic, or field placement (externship).  This experiential requirement seems aimed at fulfilling the ABA House of Delegates Recommendation 10B from the 2011 Annual Meeting of the ABA that legal education implement curricular programs “intended to develop practice ready lawyers including, but not limited to enhanced capstone and clinical courses that include client meetings and court appearances.”  The California Bar has gone even further, requiring that graduates take 15 “skills” credits in order to be admitted to practice in the state. These enhanced experiential requirements are responsive to calls from all quarters – from the Carnegie Report and the MacCrate Report to Brian Tamanaha’s book and the scam-blogosphere – that law schools revamp their curricula in order to ensure that their graduates are “practice ready.” 

Creating experiential learning opportunities for students is a great idea.  But mandates that law schools produce “practice ready” graduates seem incompletely thought out.  Fundamental questions about “practice ready” graduates remain and will continue to plague the system. ... Basically, although many clamor that law schools need to increase their focus on “practice readiness”, we still don’t know if “practice readiness” instruction is merited, if is it ever achievable (measurable, teachable, possible) in law school, and whether it is worth the cost.

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August 28, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Grit And Legal Education: Female Students Are Grittier Than Male Students

True GritEmily Zimmerman (Drexel) & Leah Brogan (Drexel), Grit and Legal Education, 36 Pace L. Rev. ___ (2015):

Although research indicates that grit predicts successful performance in a variety of contexts, grit is underexplored in the context of legal education. We investigated the relationship between grit and law school grade point average (GPA) among recent law school graduates. Contrary to expectations, a statistically significant correlation did not emerge between grit and law school GPA. However, average grit scores of women and men did significantly differ, with women reporting higher overall grit scores than men. Female and male participants’ law school GPAs did not significantly differ. This article discusses our research project and the questions regarding legal education that our findings raise. We also identify areas for further research regarding grit, legal education, and law practice.

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August 28, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (4)

More On The Resignation Of LSU Law School Dean/Chancellor

LSU Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below):  The Civilian, Chancellor Weiss Resigns: PMH Community Responds:

Following an eight-year stint at the helm of the Paul M. Hebert Law Center, former Chancellor, Jack Weiss, steps down this month, citing “major differences” with the Law Center faculty as his reason for resigning.

“I am proud of the many positive developments at the Law Center during my eight years as Chancellor and look forward to submitting the progress of the Law Center during those years to the judgment of history,” Weiss said in a July statement.

“Unfortunately, however, major policy differences with a vocal segment of the faculty have made it difficult, if not impossible, for me to continue to lead the Law Center on a day-to-day basis and to implement my vision for the Law Center’s future.”

Though the specific events that led to Weiss’s decision to resign remain unknown, his resignation comes on the heels of a petition signed by Law Center faculty calling for an “urgently needed” change in leadership. The petition, which surfaced as a result of a public record request filed by 2015 law school graduate, Kyle Alagood, is signed by 25 of the 33 Law Center’s tenure or tenure-track faculty members and was presented to LSU’s provost in May.

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August 28, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Madison: Preparing For Service — A Template For 21st Century Legal Education

Pitt Logo (2015)Michael J. Madison (Pittsburgh), Preparing for Service: A Template for 21st Century Legal Education:

Legal educators today grapple with the changing dynamics of legal employment markets; the evolution of technologies and business models driving changes to the legal profession; and the economics of operating – and attending – a law school. Accrediting organizations and practitioners pressure law schools to prepare new lawyers both to be ready to practice and to be ready for an ever-fluid career path. From the standpoint of law schools in general and any one law school in particular, constraints and limitations surround us. Adaptation through innovation is the order of the day.

How, when, and in what direction should innovation take place? Who should lead, guide, and participate? These are questions often asked in both legal education in particular and in higher education in general. Rarely are answers accompanied by specific examples, strategies, or programs. This paper offers precisely that specificity. It documents one institution’s process and output, beginning with the concept of innovation in the face of multiple challenges and proposing one set of concrete, actionable strategies, tactics, and programs. These range from school-wide interventions to ideas for use at the level of the individual faculty member and course.

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August 28, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 841

IRS Logo 2Robert W. Wood (Forbes), IRS Reveals Lois Lerner's Secret Email Account Named For Her Dog:

The IRS dropped a bombshell in federal court, admitting that firebrand Lois Lerner also used a personal email account for IRS business. She used her dog’s name, Toby Miles. The Washington Times broke the story from the Judicial Watch lawsuit that is still seeking IRS targeting emails. It puts the IRS in another awkward spot. Why wasn’t this revealed by the IRS sooner, you might ask?

Good question. Since there have been multiple probes for several years now, one might assume that American taxpayers would know about this by now. IRS documents previously revealed a Lois Lerner email that warned IRS staffers about revealing too much information to Congress. Forget email, Ms. Lerner had warned. Instead, use instant messaging that automatically deletes office communications. House Oversight Committee documentation suggested that this ruse was used deliberately by IRS officials to evade public scrutiny. ...

The latest email issue came in the Judicial Watch case. The IRS says it “discovered” the Lerner dog email account, in addition to her official account and personal email accounts. There was already an official IRS email account, and Lerner’s own private email account that the IRS had labeled ‘Lois Home.’ But now, the ‘Toby Miles’ account also shows up.

Toby is the dog, and Michael Miles is Ms. Lerner’s husband. The IRS says it may need to re-release additional documents. You think? The IRS notes that a House Ways and Means Committee criminal referral in 2014 mentioned the Toby Miles email address, identified as tobomatic@msn.com. This email address was included on an email that also had Lerner’s official email account. At that time, the committee linked the Toby Miles address to Ms. Lerner’s husband, Michael Miles. ...

What does the dog say about all this? Maybe he’ll take the Fifth too.

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August 28, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Coming To A Law School Near You: Law Prof Cubicles?

CubicleWall Street Journal Law Blog, Lawyer Cubicles Are Coming to New York:

Here at Law Blog, it’s not often we see a large law firm do something unprecedented when it comes to running its business. But we’re pretty sure Paul Hastings LLP is about to forge new ground when it moves its New York office next spring.

In its new midtown Manhattan space, junior lawyers won’t get the offices many dream of in law school. Instead, they’re getting a cubicle.

The move will only affect first- and second-year associates, who will be seated in pods of 12 in prime window-lined real estate on the ends of floors. For now, the firm is calling them the “end zones.”

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August 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

ABA Encourages Law School Shell Game: Minority 2L Transfers Count For Diversity Purposes, Not For U.S. News Rankings

Diversity (2)National Law Journal op-ed:   Law Schools' Shell Game of Minority Enrollment: Admitting Diverse Students as Transfers in their Second Year Does Not Improve Overall Numbers, by Jay Sterling Silver (St. Thomas (Florida)):

Here we go again. Although law schools no longer can give prospective students misleading data on graduate employment, some are creating the illusion they're doing more to expand minority representation in the profession than they really are, and many are clinging to their ranking in U.S. News & World Report through smoke and mirrors.

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August 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Prebble Presents Tax Papers In Amsterdam

Prebble (2015)John Prebble (Victoria University of Wellington) is presenting two tax papers in Amsterdam:

Aug. 27:   General Anti-Avoidance Rules and the Rule of Law at the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD)

Aug. 28Kelsen, the Principle of Exclusion of Contradictions, and General Anti-Avoidance Rules in Tax Law at the University of Amsterdam as the Opening Address to inaugurate a new Advanced Master’s Degree in International Tax Law.

August 27, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Taylor: Diversity As A Law School Survival Strategy

DiversityAaron N. Taylor (St. Louis), Diversity as a Law School Survival Strategy, 59 St. Louis U. L.J. 321 (2015):

Over the past few years, law schools have been dealing with a drastic and, so far, unyielding decline in student interest. Between 2010 and 2013, student enrollments fell almost 25%, to levels not seen in 40 years. This trend has prompted many to wonder what schools have done, and what they can do, to ensure their survival in this new climate. This article explores the extent to which law schools have used students of color, particularly black and Hispanic students, to bolster enrollments and lessen the effects of the downturn. The results of this analysis suggest that a school’s median LSAT score influenced the extent to which the racial composition of its entering classes changed between 2010 and 2013. Black and Hispanic students were critical components of the enrollment management calculus for private law schools with the lowest median LSAT scores. Higher-median schools tended to rely more heavily on white and Asian enrollments to stem declines. These trends led to increased racial and ethnic stratification in law school enrollments, where black and Hispanic students were more likely to attend schools with lower median LSAT scores in 2013 than in 2010, while white and Asian students were more likely to attend schools with higher median scores. Perceptions of law school quality and prestige are greatly influenced by a school’s median LSAT score; therefore, the trend of stratification may only serve to intensify racial and ethnic differences in career paths and trajectories.

August 27, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wisconsin Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Wisconsin LogoThe University of Wisconsin Law School invites applications for a tenure-track position from among a variety of subjects, including tax:

Particularly of interest are individuals to teach in the areas of corporate law, securities law, commercial law, bankruptcy, antitrust, banking, tax and related fields. Applicants must possess a J.D. degree and have relevant experience such as teaching, legal practice, or a judicial clerkship. For entry-level candidates, scholarly promise as evidenced by publications, works in progress or a research plan is required. For junior lateral applicants, a distinguished record of teaching and scholarship is required. Once hired, faculty members are evaluated and advancement is determined by contributions in teaching, research, and service to the law school and the university. ...

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August 27, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Final Fall 2015 Law School Applicant Data: Down 1.8%

LSAC, Three-Year ABA Volume Comparison:

The following charts report ABA applicants and applications for each of the past three falls.

LSAC

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August 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Average Private Law School Tuition Discount Approaches 50%

Tuition DiscountDavid Yellen (Dean, Loyola-Chicago), Tuition Discounting on the Rise and its Impact on Law Schools:

According to this new survey, tuition discounting at private colleges and universities reached an average of 48% for freshman last year.  That is up from 38% in 2004.

How does this compare to what has been happening in legal education?  Back around 2004 I surveyed a range of private schools and the average discount rate was around 20%, about half of what it was then at colleges.  This year, based on what I know about my school and a handful of others, the average private law school discount rate is close to the college rate of 48%, maybe even somewhat higher.  

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August 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

The IRS Scandal, Day 840

IRS Logo 2New York Post editorial, The IRS Scandal Goes to the Dogs:

Move over, Carlos Danger, there’s a new alias in town: Toby Miles, an electronic front for Lois Lerner.

Lerner famously took the Fifth rather than testify about how the Internal Revenue Service came to target right-leaning advocacy nonprofits in the run-up to the 2012 election.

Ever since, the IRS has blocked congressional efforts to get to the facts, while the Justice Department’s “probe” was a joke even before the president declared there’s “not a smidgen of corruption” in the affair.

Happily, the public-interest group Judicial Watch is on the job, pushing to get the facts out. On Monday, it forced an IRS attorney to admit Lerner had used a personal email account under the “Toby Miles” name to conduct official government business.

This is her second private email account — though the first was under her own name.

Mind you, it’s been two-plus years since the scandal broke, yet the agency that promised to clean up its act is only now revealing this fresh evidence.

No doubt the IRS will take months to fork over any of “Toby’s” emails. As Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton says, “This is the latest in a parade of obstruction from the IRS and the Department of Justice on these issues.” ...

The capper: One Lerner acquaintance says “Toby Miles” is the name of Lerner’s dog.

Nothing quite says truth and transparency like doing Uncle Sam’s work under your dog’s name.

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August 27, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I Found Happiness When I Abandoned My Work As A Lawyer And Became A Clown

ClownNew York Times:  Abandoning the Work I Hated, by Robert Markowitz:

I was the envy of my 30-something friends in Palo Alto, Calif. I had my own law office right on California Avenue. People charged with crimes handed me cash, in advance, over a big oak desk. Occasionally, I’d make a couple of grand in an afternoon.

But soon, my body started giving out one part at a time. First a shoulder, then my lower back, knee cartilage, neck vertebrae. Two groin hernia surgeries later, at 33 years old, I could not lift a bag of groceries, or sit without an orthopedic pillow. After 10 years as a law student and lawyer, working in a profession I didn’t like was taking its toll. I sold my practice and fled. ...

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August 26, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kuehn: Measuring Legal Education's Employment Outcomes

Robert R. Kuehn (Washington University), Measuring Legal Education's Employment Outcomes, 2015 Wis. L. Rev. ___ :

This Article examines evidence of a possible link between learning opportunities in law school and J.D. employment outcomes. It responds to a paper [Does Experiential Learning Improve JD Employment Outcomes?] by Jason Yackee that finds, using 2013 data from top 100 ranked schools, “not much evidence” that law clinic opportunities are likely to improve a school’s graduates’ employment outcomes and suggesting that those opportunities may even harm employment prospects.

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August 26, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

How H&R Block Is Making The Tax Code More Complicated For America’s Poor

H&R BlockVox, H&R Block Snuck Language into a Senate Bill to Make Taxes More Confusing for Poor People:

H&R Block's entire business model is premised on taxes being confusing and hard to file. So, naturally, the tax preparation company has become — along with Intuit, the company behind TurboTax — one of the loudest voices on Capitol Hill arguing against measures that make it easier to pay taxes. For example, the Obama administration has pushed for automatic tax filing, in which the IRS uses income information it already has to fill out your tax return for you. That would save millions of Americans considerable time and energy every year, but the idea has gone nowhere. The main reason? Lobbying from H&R Block and Intuit.

But H&R Block's latest lobbying effort is even more loathsome than its opposition to automatic filing. At the company's instigation, the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed a funding bill covering the IRS whose accompanying report instructs the agency to at least quadruple the length of the form that taxpayers fill out to get the Earned Income Tax Credit.

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August 26, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

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)

Fleischer: Private Equity Fees Paid By Universities Deserve Examination

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times Deal Book:  Private Equity Fees Paid by Universities Deserve Examination, by Victor Fleischer (San Diego):

Some financial professionals reacted to my Aug. 19 Op-Ed article on private equity fees and university endowments by emphasizing that superior performance justifies superior fees.

Fair enough. The essay focused on the spending side of the equation. Even if the high fees are justified, universities can and should do more to advance the charitable mission.

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August 26, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Economic Guide To Picking A College Major: It's TEM, Not STEM

538 (2015)Five Thirty Eight, The Economic Guide To Picking A College Major:

The millions of American college students heading back to campus this month face a grim reality: A college degree is no guarantee of economic success. But through their choice of major, they can take at least some steps toward boosting their odds.

The link between education and earnings is notoriously fraught, with cause and effect often difficult to disentangle. But a look at detailed data on college graduates by major reveals some clear messages: Don’t be pre-med if you aren’t planning to go to medical school; don’t assume that all “STEM” — science, technology, engineering and math — majors are the same; and if you study drama, be prepared to wait tables.

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August 26, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 839

IRS Logo 2National Review, Who’s Toby Miles?, by Eliana Johnson:

The IRS disclosed in a court filing on Monday that former agency official Lois Lerner used a second personal e-mail operated under the alias “Toby Miles” to conduct IRS business.

Her use of the mysterious account has prompted speculation into the source of the name. “Toby Miles,” according to a former Lerner colleague, is the name of Lerner’s dog: Toby is the dog’s name, and Miles is the surname of Lerner’s husband, Michael Miles.

The IRS disclosed the existence of the second account in a legal filing as part of its ongoing battle with the right-leaning investigative group Judicial Watch. “In addition to e-mails to or from an e-mail account denominated ‘Lois G. Lerner’ or ‘Lois Home,’ some e-mails responsive to Judicial Watch’s’s request may have been sent to or received from a personal e-mail account denominated ‘Toby Miles,’” a lawyer for the agency told Federal District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan.

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August 26, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

NY Times Op-Ed: Too Many Law Students, Too Few Legal Jobs

New York Times op-ed:   Too Many Law Students, Too Few Legal Jobs, by Steven J. Harper (Adjunct Professor, Northwestern; author, The Lawyer Bubble):

Ten months after graduation, only 60 percent of the law school class of 2014 had found full-time long-term jobs that required them to pass the bar exam. ...

Amazingly (and perversely), law schools have been able to continue to raise tuition while producing nearly twice as many graduates as the job market has been able to absorb. How is this possible? Why hasn’t the market corrected itself? The answer is that, for a given school, the availability of federal loans for law students has no connection to their poor post-graduation employment outcomes.

Students now amass law school loans averaging $127,000 for private schools and $88,000 for public ones. Since 2006 alone, law student debt has surged at inflation-adjusted rates of 25 percent for private schools and 34 percent for public schools.

In May 2014, the ABA created a task force to tackle this problem. According to its recent report, 25 percent of law schools obtain at least 88 percent of their total revenues from tuition. The average for all law schools is 69 percent. So law schools have a powerful incentive to maintain or increase enrollment, even if the employment outcomes are dismal for their graduates, especially at marginal schools.

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August 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

IRS Strikes Out, Settles Estate Tax Litigation Over Valuation Of Minnesota Twins For 20 Cents On The Dollar

Twins (2015)Forbes:  Estate Of Late Minnesota Twins Owner Carl Pohlad Settles With IRS, by Ashlea Ebeling:

The late Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad’s three sons, executors of his estate, have chalked up a victory in a settlement with the Internal Revenue Service.

Forbes’ Janet Novack first wrote here about the lawsuit filed by Pohlad’s estate in U.S. Tax Court, contesting an assessment of $121 million in extra federal estate taxes for the team, plus a $48 million penalty for gross valuation misstatement. In the settlement, entered in June, the IRS and the Pohlad brothers agreed to an estate tax deficiency of $28 million and a penalty of $1.8 million.

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August 25, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

California's 15-Credit Practical Skills Requirement Divides AALS: Clinicians Favor, Deans Oppose

AALS (2017)National Law Journal, Practical-Skills Plan Divides Law School Association:

Whether the State Bar of California’s plan to require new attorneys to complete at least 15-credits of practical skills courses in law school is unduly restrictive or a needed step to ensure they have some real-world competencies depends on whom you ask—even within the same organization.

The Association of American Law Schools is split over the bar’s proposal, with a coalition of law school deans in opposition and a group of clinical professors in favor.

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August 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brown, Casselman & Sheppard Discuss The Business Of Life: Why Pay Your Taxes?

BusinessVice News, Why Pay Your Taxes? — The Business of Life (Episode 9):

The American tax code is one of the most impenetrable elements of our society. Surprising, considering how it affects your life every single day. On this episode of the Business of Life, we will show you exactly how your taxes are distributed—and what happens if you try to evade them. To unpack the issue, we are joined by panelists Lee Sheppard of Tax Notes, Ben Casselman of FiveThirtyEight, and Emory University Professor Dorothy Brown.

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August 25, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through August 1, 2015) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

 

 

All-Time

 

Recent

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)

47,795

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)

7284

2

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

29,046

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

5597

3

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)

28,393

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)

4493

4

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

24,592

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

3979

5

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

24,131

Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)

3289

6

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

21,034

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

2591

7

James Hines (Michigan)

20,904

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2051

8

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

20,142

Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)

1914

9

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

19,868

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

1780

10

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

18,547

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1777

11

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

17,691

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

1771

12

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

16,123

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

1647

13

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

15.958

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

1633

14

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

15,749

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

1546

15

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

15,694

David Gamage (UC-Berkeley)

1411

16

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

15,548

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

1390

17

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

15,524

Dick Harvey (Villanova)

1359

18

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

15,358

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

1268

19

David Weisbach (Chicago)

15,286

William Byrnes (Texas A&M)

1245

20

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

14,881

James Hines (Michigan)

1194

21

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

14,622

Ruth Mason (Virginia)

1186

22

David Walker (BU)

14,391

Joe Bankman (Stanford)

1178

23

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

13,569

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

1096

24

Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)

12,843

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1062

25

Steven Bank (UCLA)

12,182

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

1048

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

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August 25, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Impact Of Housing Subsidies And Tax Breaks On Inequality

Vox, This Chart Shows How Federal Housing Policy Benefits the Rich More Than the Poor:

If you take out a mortgage to buy a house, the federal tax code lets you deduct your interest payments from your taxable income. People can also deduct state and local property taxes from their federal income taxes.

Both of these tax deductions tend to be larger for rich people, who tend to have more expensive houses. And rich people are also in higher tax brackets, making every dollar deducted worth more. As a result, these tax breaks provide the biggest financial benefit to the wealthiest taxpayers. The Urban Institute's John McGinty, Benjamin Chartoff, and Pamela Blumenthal have created a helpful chart showing just how big these tax breaks get.

Housing tax breaks for rich people are larger than housing subsidies for poor people.

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August 25, 2015 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

ABA Tax Section Accepting Nominations For 2016-2018 Public Service Fellowships


ABA Tax Section Logo (2012)The ABA Tax Section is accepting applications for Public Service Fellowships for 2016-2018:

The American Bar Association Section of Taxation is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for its Christine A. Brunswick Public Service Fellowship program class of 2016-2018. ...

The Christine A. Brunswick Public Service Fellowships provide funding for the Fellows’ salaries and benefits, as well as law school debt assistance, by means of charitable contributions to the sponsoring organization. The Section plans to award two fellowships each year.

Applications must be received by November 13, 2015, to be considered. Interviews will be conducted during the Section’s Midyear Meeting in Los Angeles, CA, on January 28-30, 2016. The Section will cover the cost of travel and accommodations for applicants selected for interviews.

To apply for the Christine A. Brunswick Public Service Fellowships, see here

August 25, 2015 in ABA Tax Section, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 838

IRS Logo 2Washington Times, IRS Finds Yet Another Lois Lerner Email Account:

Lois Lerner had yet another personal email account used to conduct some IRS business, the tax agency confirmed in a new court filing late Monday that further complicates the administration’s efforts to be transparent about Ms. Lerner’s actions during the tea party targeting scandal.

The admission came in an open-records lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm that has sued to get a look at emails Ms. Lerner sent during the targeting.

IRS lawyer Geoffrey J. Klimas told the court that as the agency was putting together a set of documents to turn over to Judicial Watch, it realized Ms. Lerner had used yet another email account, in addition to her official one and another personal one already known to the agency.

“In addition to emails to or from an email account denominated ‘Lois G. Lerner‘ or ‘Lois Home,’ some emails responsive to Judicial Watch’s request may have been sent to or received from a personal email account denominated ‘Toby Miles,’” Mr. Klimas told Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is hearing the case.

It is unclear who Toby Miles is, but Mr. Klimas said the IRS has concluded that was “a personal email account used by Lerner.”

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said it was stunning the agency was just now admitting the existence of the address.

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August 25, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Morse Presents Safe Harbors, Sure Shipwrecks Today At Indiana

Morse (2015)Susan C. Morse (Texas) presents Safe Harbors, Sure Shipwrecks at Indiana today as part of its Faculty Speaker Series:

Safe harbors and sure shipwrecks are rule-standard hybrids that appear throughout statutory, regulatory and case law. Safe harbors guarantee compliance, and also leave open the question of compliance for fact situations not described by the safe harbor. Sure shipwrecks provide a conclusive noncompliance result and also leave open the question of compliance outside the sure shipwreck. Safe harbors and sure shipwrecks produce asymmetric behavioral incentives for persons subject to them. Like bright-line rules, safe harbors encourage behavior to converge from both sides of the line drawn by the safe harbor. This is because of the advantage of a zero chance of liability within the safe harbor. Sure shipwrecks generally encourage convergence only from the noncompliant side of the line. Ex ante versus ex post policy making, overinclusion and underinclusion, interest group influence, and other factors also affect safe harbor and sure shipwreck policy making.

August 24, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Simkovic Calls For 50%-100% Increase In Law School AALS Dues To Change Public Perception Of Legal Education

AALS (2017)Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), Law Schools’ Four Billion Dollar Collective Action Problem:

Earlier this month, I charted the overwhelmingly negative press coverage of law schools and the legal profession over the last 5 years and discussed the disconnect between the news slant and economic reality. To the extent that news coverage dissuaded individuals from attending law school for financial reasons, or caused them to delay attending law school, newspapers will on average have cost each prospective law students tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. The total economic harm across all prospective law students could easily be in the low billions of dollars.*

What can we learn from this?

Accurate, informed, and balanced news coverage does not happen of its own volition, particularly in a world where sensationalism and negativity attract eyeballs and sell advertising. ...

Collective action problems precluded any individual law school from acting unilaterally to correct the record and from bearing all of the associated costs for a small fraction of the benefits. ... Worse yet, some law schools unwittingly contributed to the press’s anti-law school excesses. ...

Law schools are competitors, but they need not compete in ways that are mutually destructive. Competition should drive progress, innovation, and value, not mud slinging. Law schools have a great deal in common, make important contributions to society, and can and should pursue shared goals and values together. ...

For years, misinformation accelerated while the AALS failed to respond effectively. ... The AALS now has new leadership with new priorities and there have been welcome signs of progress. ... However, there is still a great deal of work to be done. ...

[T]he AALS needs to become a valuable resource for journalists, helping them provide higher quality coverage and guiding them toward greater accuracy when they err. If this effort is to succeed, it will require more resources. ...

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August 24, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)