TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Amidst 57% Enrollment Decline At Valparaiso Law School, 10 Tenured Faculty Accept Buyouts And 3 Junior Faculty Will Be Terminated

Valpo LogoIndiana Lawyer, Valparaiso Law School Reduces Faculty, Class Size to Prepare for a Different Future:

Valparaiso Law School is hardly the first to feel the pain of falling student applications, but as the subject of a recent profile in the New York Times, its troubles may be the most well-known.

In February, the northwest Indiana institution announced it was going to reduce its faculty and class sizes in response to fewer lawyers finding jobs and fewer students wanting to get a J.D. Valparaiso offered buyouts to all tenured faculty members. ...

Speaking recently to Indiana Lawyer, Dean Andrea Lyon, who will soon begin her third year at Valparaiso’s helm, was focused on the future. She said the worst is over for the school and she wants to look forward rather than second-guess past decisions. She noted remaining faculty was willing to roll up their sleeves to do the work that needs to be done.

Still, she acknowledged the past school year was very stressful with the most difficult part coming from the decision to cut employees. Ten tenured faculty members accepted the buyout and the school has given termination contracts to three junior tenure-track professors who will leave after the 2016-2017 academic year. Also, seven staff members were laid off.

Reducing personnel along with cutting other expenditures everywhere possible, the law school is slashing its annual budget by $4 million, which is roughly a third. Teaching loads for the remaining faculty will increase by one to two additional courses per semester. Also, the size of the incoming class this fall will number about 75 students compared to 130 in 2015 and 174 in 2014. ...

Paul Caron, Pepperdine University School of Law professor and writer of the popular TaxProf Blog, is surprised Valparaiso is getting so much attention. He noted other schools were equally slow to respond to the changes in the market and many chose the same course of lowering admission standards to keep class sizes the same.

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June 29, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

CBO:  The 2016 Budget Outlook

Congressional Budget Office, The 2016 Budget Outlook (June 29, 2016):

CBO2

CBO

June 29, 2016 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Floyd 'Money' Mayweather Sends Form 1099 To Strip Club After Making It Rain $20,000

FloydLarry Brown Sports, Floyd Mayweather Sends Strip Club $20,000 Tax Bill After Making It Rain:

Floyd Mayweather Jr. made it rain so hard at a Las Vegas strip club a couple years back that he thinks he deserves a tax break for it.

Tax documents obtained by the Daily Mail show that Mayweather’s company, Mayweather Promotions LLC, has sent Larry Flint’s Hustler Club a 1099 IRS form for more than $20,000 he spent on strippers on May 25, 2014. Apparently The Money Team believes the Hustler Club is responsible for paying taxes on the $15,000 in singles and additional $5,000 cash Floyd and his crew spent that night.

Not surprisingly, club owner Jason Mohney is furious. He says the Hustler Club didn’t receive a dime of the $20,323.18 and that it all went to the dancers, who are independent contractors.

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June 29, 2016 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Update On Murder-For-Hire Investigation Into Dan Markel's Death: Grand Jury To Reconvene Aug. 4 To Consider Additional Indictments

Markel 1WCTV, Grand Jury Will Reconvene in August to Review Markel Case Evidence:

A Leon County grand jury plans to reconvene later this summer to review evidence in the murder case of FSU law professor Dan Markel.

Prosecutors confirmed with WCTV that the grand jury will meet August 4.

Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera were indicted last week in Markel's 2014 murder.

Tallahassee Democrat, Second Markel Suspect in Leon County Jail:

More arrests are expected in the case as investigators say they have linked the family of Markel’s ex-wife Wendi Adelson to the murder-for-hire plot.

Chiefly evidence points toward Wendy Adelson’s mother and brother, Donna and Charles Adelson.

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June 29, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kamin:  Legislating For Good Times And Bad

David Kamin (NYU), Legislating for Good Times and Bad, 53 Harv. J. on Legis. ___ (2016):

Congress tends to move in fits and starts. Major policy changes are often followed by periods of legislative stasis. This means that, even as circumstances change and policies may no longer be appropriate in the new conditions, Congress may not respond. This is the problem of “policy drift.”

The academic literature has recognized this challenge and largely focused on one particular type of solution employed by Congress: empowerment of other institutions that can move more quickly, in particular administrative agencies or the courts. However, this view is far too limited. Congress can keep such authority in its hands and still address policy drift, sometimes even more effectively.

This article is the first to comprehensively consider the tools available to Congress to address such drift.

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June 29, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Students May Use Department Of Education's New Fraud Defense To Loan Repayment Aimed At For-Profit Colleges To Discharge Law School Loans

BuzzFeed News, Law School Grads Could Be Next To Have Student Loans Cancelled:

Law graduates, many with more than $100,000 in debt, could soon seek to have their loans cancelled. And some may have a convincing case.

They made misleading claims about how many of their students were likely to find a job, obscuring the grim reality of how few get employment in their field. They buried their graduates in piles of debt they could not reasonably repay, and admitted unqualified students in pursuit of tuition revenue. They often failed to educate their students well enough to pass the tests required to land a job. And the watchdog that oversees them is facing sanctions from the Education Department.

This might sound very much like the scandal-ridden world of for-profit colleges. But since the recession, it has also become an accurate way to describe some American law schools.

And just as for-profit schools are leaving taxpayers on the hook for potentially billions of dollars of student loans that may need to be cancelled, some law schools are now also on shaky footing. In proposing an expanded and relatively generous student debt forgiveness rule last week, the Education Department may have opened itself up to an onslaught of claims by law graduates — a group of highly indebted and legally savvy students with a history of being misled by their schools.

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June 29, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

Oxford 10th Annual Academic Tax Symposium

OxfordThe 10th Annual Academic Tax Symposium continues today at the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation:

Lily Batchelder (NYU), Accounting for Behavioral Biases in Business Tax Reform: The Case of Expensing
Discussant:  Michael Devereux (Oxford University)

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve (University of Oxford), Eliciting Taxpayer Preferences Increases Tax Compliance
Discussant:  Nadine Riedel (University of Bochum)

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June 29, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Federal Judge Allows Law Prof's Gender Discrimination And Retaliation Claims Against Law School And Dean In Tenure Denial To Go To Trial

HascallFollowing up on my previous posts:

The Legal Intelligencer, Law Professor’s Suit Against Duquesne, Gormley Can Proceed:

A Duquesne University law professor can proceed with her gender discrimination and retaliation claims against the university and incoming president Kenneth Gormley, a federal judge has ruled, at the same time tossing the rest of her claims, including one for religious discrimination for her teaching of Islamic law [Hascall v. Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit, No. 14-1489 (W.D. PA June 28, 2016)].

U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon of the Western District of Pennsylvania said there were sufficient factual disputes as to whether the university veered from typical practices in reviewing plaintiff Susan Hascall's bid for tenure, whether the school lobbied other professors to vote against Hascall being tenured and on what basis the university denied her tenure. ...

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June 29, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ:  Judge Hands Entrepreneur Sam Wyly $1.1 Billion Tax Bill

WylyWall Street Journal, Judge Hands Entrepreneur Sam Wyly a $1.1 Billion Tax Bill:

A federal judge has ordered Texas entrepreneur Sam Wyly to pay $1.1 billion in taxes and penalties for committing tax fraud using offshore accounts, even though the former billionaire’s net worth has fallen to a fraction of that amount.

The payment demand from Judge Barbara Houser on Monday was made for federal taxes due as far back as 1992. In a court opinion filed last month, she admitted that the money “may now be more difficult for the government to collect given the passage of time and the dissipation of Sam’s wealth.”

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June 29, 2016 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1147

IRS Logo 2Politico Morning Tax: What's Next For John Koskinen?, by Bernie Becker:

The good news for Republicans seeking to remove the IRS commissioner: A group of legal scholars all agreed that providing false testimony to Congress rises to the level of impeachable offense. But as our Katy O’Donnell noted, there wasn’t a groundswell of support for the case that Republicans like House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Rep. Jim Jordan were pushing — that Koskinen only needed to commit a bad act, not have bad intent, to borrow the phrasing of one of the witnesses. “The House has never impeached anyone for gross negligence or I think anything akin to it, and I think opening the door to that is going to present all sorts of serious problems,” said Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at the University of North Carolina.

In any event, the House Freedom Caucus wants a floor vote on Koskinen’s impeachment for his handling of the investigation into the IRS’s improper scrutiny of tea party groups, as The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda reports.

At the same time, Chaffetz’s measure to censure Koskinen has already passed the Oversight Committee. The last time Congress censured a sub-Cabinet official was back during the Teapot Dome scandal of the Roaring '20s, according to the Congressional Research Service. (Apparently, Teapot Dome was once a plot point on “Downton Abbey.”)

Speaking of the IRS (and the Constitution):  Those GOP efforts to strip Koskinen of his salary via the appropriations process might not be standing on the most solid constitutional footing, according to Richard Rubin of The Wall Street Journal. In fact, it could be a bill of attainder — just like the GOP efforts to take away Koskinen’s pension through the censure process. “This does sound a lot like imposing a punishment without a trial,” said Richard Briffault of Columbia Law School.

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June 29, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Herzig:  Tax Lawyers Kill $38 Billion Energy Transfer/Williams Merger

Williams EnergyThe Surly Subgroup:  Tax Lawyers Kill $38 Billion Merger, by David J. Herzig (Valparaiso):

I remember one of my first days at GT [Greenberg Traurig] we were advising on a corporate merger.  At the end of the process (of course), the M&A group asked tax to sign off on the deal.  Everything was done and this was supposed to be a rubber stamp.  Well, as you can guess by now, the tax consequences of the deal as structure were disastrous and the whole deal had to be restructured.  I remember vividly the corporate lawyers saying as they walked out the door, this is why we never ask tax anything!

Today, a judge killed the proposed $38 billion merger between Energy Transfer Equity (“ETE”) and the Williams Companies. Chancery Court Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock ruled that ETE could back out of the deal because of taxes.  Latham & Watkins, actually, tax lawyers at three top firms (L&W, Gibson Dunn and Morgan Lewis and one law professor [Ethan Yale (Virginia)]) could not opine that the deal was tax neutral under 721 despite one law professor [Howard Abrams (San Diego)] and Cravath saying the deal worked.  This opinion is a rather big deal for M&A lawyers.  Usually, conditions precedent like this won’t allow one side to back out of a transaction. ...

I would love to hear others opinions here.  But some off the cuff reactions I had were:

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June 28, 2016 in New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Won't Donald Trump Release His Tax Returns?

Vanity FairVanity Fair: The Great Trump Tax Mysteries: Is He Hiding Loopholes, Errors, or Something More Serious?, by Nicholas Shaxson:

Why won’t Donald Trump release his taxes? An investigation into the G.O.P. candidate’s finances—the extensive deductions he could claim, the F.E.C. filings from his Scottish and Irish golf resorts, and his declarations to the British government—reveals a disturbing pattern of mistakes, hype, and contradictions.

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June 28, 2016 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

UC Berkeley Spends $1 Million To Refurbish Chancellor's Home; Assistant Claims She Was Fired For Refusing To Lie In IRS Reporting About Time Spent Doing Personal Chores

UC Berkeley Primary Logo Berkeley BlueSan Francisco Chronicle, UC Berkeley Spends Big on Chancellor’s Campus Fixer-Upper:

Over the past three years, UC Berkeley has spent more than $1 million sprucing up the official home of Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, school records show. ...

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June 28, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Will Artificial Intelligence Really Destroy Legal Jobs?

AIFollowing up on my previous posts:

Legal Tech News, The News of Attorneys' Demise Has Been Greatly Exaggerated (With Apologies to Mark Twain):

There has been a great deal of coverage about the possibility of Artificial Intelligence (AI) replacing the legal profession, stimulated in part by a recent conference at Vanderbilt Law School titled Watson, Esq.: Will Your Next Lawyer Be a Machine?

Some warn that the world’s first artificially intelligent attorney is imminent and that it is only a matter of time before technology gives rise to new ways of delivering professional services and ultimately replacing the traditional lawyer. Yet others think that the human element is critical to the practice of law and cannot be so easily replaced.

While AI has come a long way, replacing lawyers is not on the horizon. 

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June 28, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Kamin:  Legislating Crisis

David Kamin (NYU), Legislating Crisis:

For the last several years, the congressional budget process has jumped from self-created crisis to self-created crisis. Debt limit, shutdown, sequester, potential withholding of congressional pay, and others beyond that — all of these crises coming in quick succession and requiring Congress to take action to avert a problem. There is a common element to each of these crises. In particular, Congress sets an undesirable event to occur at a later time — hence, prompting the possible crisis. This chapter represents an exploration of these devices, and a modest defense of some of them, despite the recent chaos in Washington.

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June 28, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oxford 10th Annual Academic Tax Symposium

OxfordThe 10th Annual Academic Tax Symposium kicks off today at the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation:

Reuven Avi-Yonah (University of Michigan), Evaluating BEPS
Discussant:  Henk Vording (Leiden University)

Niels Johannesen (University of Copenhagen), The Role of Tax Havens in International Trade With Services
Discussant:  Katarzyna Habu (Oxford University)

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June 28, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Law School To Close Unless A Buyer Is Found

California Southern 2ABA Journal, For-Profit Law School With $39K Total Tuition Bill Set to Close:

Tuition is about $39,000—total—at California Southern Law School, and if you’re interested, now is the time. Owners of the non-accredited Riverside institution say that after fall 2016, they won’t be taking new students.

Elwood Rich, a Riverside County Superior Court judge who opened the school in 1971, died last year. His sons Greg and Brian Rich, who serve as assistant to the dean and registrar, are ready to retire.

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June 28, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Feld:  Federal Taxation Of State Tax Credits

Alan Feld (Boston University), Federal Taxation of State Tax Credits, 151 Tax Notes 1243 (May 30, 2016):

This article analyzes the Federal income tax treatment of state incentive tax credits. It considers whether and when refundable credits should be included in income and discusses their appropriate character as capital gain or as ordinary income.

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June 28, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times:  Tax Dodging On The High Seas

CruisingNew York Times:  Tax Dodging on the High Seas, by Gail Collins:

While many of the biggest cruise lines appear to be headquartered in Florida, they are, for tax purposes, actually proud residents of … elsewhere. “Carnival is a Panamanian corporation; Royal Caribbean is Liberian,” said Ross Klein, who tracks the industry through his Cruise Junkie website.

Although, of course, if one of the ships needs help, it will often be the American taxpayer-funded Coast Guard that comes to the rescue. The Coast Guard doesn’t charge for its services, a spokesman said, because “we don’t want people to hesitate” to summon help when passengers are in danger. This attitude is commendable. But the no-taxes part is not.

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June 28, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1146

IRS Logo 2Politico Morning Tax: How Strong Is That Koskinen Case?, by Bernie Becker:

Koskinen, Round Two: The House Judiciary Committee’s exploration of the potential impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen plods forward today, with a hearing examining the standards for impeachment.

From the looks of things, the proceedings will turn on the question of bad faith. Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at UNC, is expected to testify that ill intent has always been a prerequisite for impeachment in the United States. But some of Koskinen’s biggest detractors have argued that “gross incompetence” is more than sufficient. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus — which forced the Judiciary hearings on impeachment — said last month that impeachment should follow “gross negligence, dereliction of duty and breach of public trust.”

Jordan told POLITICO on Tuesday that he “was very pleased to see that the Judiciary Committee asked Andrew McCarthy to serve as a witness" and is looking forward to the hearing. No wonder — McCarthy’s written testimony suggests the 2013 nonprofit scandal is worse than former President Richard Nixon’s “largely unsuccessful” “endeavor” to abuse IRS powers. But even McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney and a contributor at the conservative magazine National Review, notes the framers of the Constitution rejected “maladministration” as an impeachable offense. So it may fall to Republicans to prove Koskinen intended to obstruct Congress’ investigation of the targeting controversy — something they’ve failed to do so far. ...

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, called out GOP efforts to impeach and/or censure Koskinen as “either pointless or unconstitutional.” Cummings cites several legal experts who said that House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) overstepped his bounds in saying that his censure resolution required that Koskinen forfeit his pension — because that would be an unconstitutional bill of attainder. Katy made a similar point last week and even Chaffetz acknowledged to reporters that the censure resolution can’t actually force Koskinen to lose his pension.

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June 28, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Monday, June 27, 2016

NY Times:  The United States Of Inequality

New York Times:  The United States of Inequality, by Teresa Tritch:

It will come as little surprise that income inequality in the United States is greatest in New York and Connecticut. Those states are home base for Wall Street, where the income gains of the few have been amplified by outsized growth in the financial sector and protected by taxpayer-provided bailouts.

But forces of rising inequality are operating throughout the United States, as a new study by researchers at the Economic Policy Institute makes clear [Income inequality in the U.S. by State, Metropolitan Area, and County].

The study, which measures income inequality by state, metro area and county, shows that inequality has risen in every state since the 1970s. It also shows that rising inequality is entrenched. Recessions in recent decades have temporarily slowed income growth among the top 1 percent, but they have not altered the basic pattern in which the rich have gotten much richer while nearly everyone else has seen income stagnate or decline.

Between 2009 and 2013, for example — a period that encompasses most of the post-Great Recession era – the top 1 percent captured all of the income growth in 15 states (Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming). In another 9 states (Arizona, California, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas), the top 1 percent captured half to nearly all of the income growth.

Figure A

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June 27, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

University Of Houston Files Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Against South Texas's Rebranding Itself Houston College Of Law

UHHCOLFollowing up on my prior posts (links below) on South Texas College of Law's rebranding itself Houston College of Law:   Press Release, University of Houston Files Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Against South Texas College of Law:

The University of Houston System has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against South Texas College of Law (STCL).  The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Houston, alleges STCL’s announced name change to Houston College of Law and its adoption of UH’s red and white color scheme constitutes “intentional and willful infringement of UH’s intellectual property and unfair competition,” which results in “confusion in the marketplace and damage” to the university and its brand.

“This is about protecting our reputation and our business,” said Tilman Fertitta, chairman of the UH System Board of Regents.  “We’ve earned our standing as a nationally ranked law center, and we won’t allow someone else to change their name and colors and market themselves on our success.”

“The University of Houston Law Center’s brand is associated nationwide with top-notch faculty and lawyers,” said Tony Buzbee, principal of The Buzbee Law Firm, which is representing UH as lead counsel in addition to Sutton, McAughan, Deaver, PLLC.  “UH didn’t take shortcuts to achieve this recognition.  We believe the attempted renaming of South Texas College of Law is nothing more than an improper shortcut to take advantage of the success UH has achieved.”

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June 27, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Skyrocketing Housing Costs, 'Endless' Taxes Prompt Exodus Of Californians; Inequality Worsens As Middle Class Jobs Are 'Vaporized'

California GoodbyeSan Jose Mercury News, California's Skyrocketing Housing Costs, Taxes Prompt Exodus of Residents:

A growing number of Bay Area residents -- besieged by home prices, worsening traffic, high taxes and a generally more expensive cost of living -- believe life would be better just about anywhere else but here.

During the 12 months ending June 30, the number of people leaving California for another state exceeded by 61,100 the number who moved here from elsewhere in the U.S., according to state Finance Department statistics. The so-called "net outward migration" was the largest since 2011, when 63,300 more people fled California than entered. ... "California has seen negative outward migration to other states for 22 of the last 25 years."

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June 27, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Posner:  Why Don't Law Professors Have Practical Experience These Days?

Slate (Supreme Court Breakfast Table Series): Why Don't Law School Professors Have Practical Experience These Days?, by Richard Posner (Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit):

Entry 9: The Academy Is Out Of Its Depth:

[T]here's a growing gap between judges (including the Supreme Court justices) and the academy, which judges tend to think is increasingly distant from the actual practice of law, staffed as it increasingly is with refugees from other disciplines—the graduate students in classics, and history, and anthropology, and so on who upon discovering there were very few well-paying positions in such fields nowadays decided to go to law school and afterward had no time to practice law before getting a law-teaching job.

I think law schools should be hiring a higher percentage of lawyers with significant practical experience. I think, for example, of Benjamin Kaplan at Harvard Law School, who went into law-teaching after 14 years in practice. There used to be many like that; there are many fewer now, especially at the leading law schools.

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June 27, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

NY Times:  A Noah’s Ark in Kentucky, Dinosaurs Included — But No Taxes

ArkNew York Times: A Noah’s Ark in Kentucky, Dinosaurs Included, by Laurie Goodstein:

In the beginning, Ken Ham made the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky. And he saw that it was good at spreading his belief that the Bible is a book of history, the universe is only 6,000 years old, and evolution is wrong and is leading to our moral downfall.

And Mr. Ham said, let us build a gargantuan Noah’s ark only 45 minutes away to draw millions more visitors. And let it be constructed by Amish woodworkers, and financed with donations, junk bonds and tax rebates from the state of Kentucky. And let it hold an animatronic Noah and lifelike models of some of the creatures that came on board two-by-two, such as bears, short-necked giraffes — and juvenile Tyrannosaurus rexes.

And it was so.

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June 27, 2016 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

NY Times:  Gender-Neutral Family-Friendly Faculty Policies Result In More Men, Less Women Obtaining Tenure

FacultyNew York Times:  A Family-Friendly Policy That’s Friendliest to Male Professors, by Justin Wolters:

The underrepresentation of women among the senior ranks of scholars has led dozens of universities to adopt family-friendly employment policies. But a recent study of economists in the United States finds that some of these gender-neutral policies have had an unintended consequence: They have advanced the careers of male economists, often at women’s expense.

Similar patterns probably hold in other disciplines, too.

The central problem is that employment policies that are gender-neutral on paper may not be gender-neutral in effect. After all, most women receive parental benefits only after bearing the burden of pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, and often, a larger share of parenting responsibilities. Yet fathers usually receive the same benefits without bearing anything close to the same burden. Given this asymmetry, it’s little wonder some recently instituted benefits have given men an advantage.

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June 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Do Law Firms (And Law Schools) Need A 'Rooney Rule' To Improve Gender Equality?

Stanford 3Bloomberg, An NFL Rooney Rule for Law Firms?:

Can law firms borrow ideas from professional sports leagues to improve gender equality?

Lawyers said at a conference on Friday that firms should adopt the equivalent of the National Football League’s Rooney rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and other senior positions.

“Our proposal is quite simple: Adopt a Rooney rule for law firms,” said Nina Markey, a shareholder at Littler Mendelson who presented the idea in a team of nine members including lawyers and a law student.

The pitch came at the Women in Law Hackathon at Stanford Law School, where lawyers pitched ideas to a panel of judges about how to improve gender parity at law firms.

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June 27, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Oberlin Offers Buyouts To 100 Tenured Faculty To 'Preserve Their Dignity' Amidst Budget Reductions

OberlinCleveland Plain Dealer, Oberlin College Offers Buyouts to Faculty and Staff:

Oberlin College, in an effort to save several million dollars a year, has offered buyouts to 323 faculty and staff.

Buyout offers at colleges are rare but have become a way to encourage professors, whose positions are protected by tenure, to retire.

Oberlin offered the Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan to employees, including 100 faculty, in April. The college expects about 85 individuals to accept the offer, spokesman Scott Wargo said in an email.

The program goes into effect for staff on Dec. 31 and for faculty on June 30, 2017. Wargo said he did not know how many faculty accepted the offer. ...

Employees had to be at least 52 and have at least 10 years of service. The age and service years had to total at least 75, Wargo wrote.

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June 27, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1145

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  IRS Targeting Scandal: Citizens United, Lois Lerner And The $20M Tax Saga That Won't Go Away, by Kelly Phillips Erb:

It was the question heard round the tax world. But it was the answer that made waves. In 2013, then Acting Director of Exempt Organizations at IRS, Lois Lerner, apologized to a room of tax lawyers for the IRS’s inappropriate targeting of conservative political groups. Her comments set off a chain of events that would slash IRS funds, fire officials and consider impeachment proceedings for IRS Commissioner Koskinen’s actions. But the scandal didn’t begin or end there.

July 2008:  In the run-up to the presidential election, Citizens United, a conservative lobbying group, wants to air a series of commercials promoting a film targeting Hillary Clinton, who was seeking the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that they couldn’t, finding that it was a violation of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (also known as the McCain–Feingold Act). The group appealed. ...

June 22, 2016: ”We’re moving into uncharted waters,” Michael J. Gerhardt, a UNC Chapel Hall constitutional law professor, tells the Judiciary House Committee. Testifing about potential impeachment charges against IRS Commissioner Koskinen, Gerhardt said, “The House has never impeached a sub-Cabinet official. I would urge everyone here to look at alternatives.” He testified “the Founders did not want high-ranking officials in the executive or judicial branches to be subject to impeachment for their mistakes in office,” suggesting impeachment be reserved for more serious offenses.

Koskinen did not attend the hearing, and the IRS did not release an official comment on the proceedings.

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June 27, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Hoffman:  The Futility Of The Law School Crisis Debate

Dave Hoffman (Temple), Naive Realism & the Law School Debate:

Two recent articles in the Times have stirred yet more unproductive talk about the future of legal education (and by extension, the legal industry). This discussion ends up resembling high school debate: banal points, repeated at increasing volumes, similar in structure and form.

Elie Mystal (@ElieNYC), of Above the Law, has a pungent post up in which he laments this pathology. He first describes a twitter discussion he (and I and others) participated in, which ended in a place I’m pretty sure no one woke up feeling good about. ...

I think he’s onto something. Mystal, in his own way, is trying to figure out why why, in 2016, discussions between otherwise sane people about law school turn into flame wars. He says:

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June 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (18)

More On The Possible Suspension Of The ABA's Power To Accredit Law Schools

ABA Logo (2016)Following up on Friday's post, Department Of Education Panel Recommends Suspension Of ABA's Power To Accredit Law Schools Due To Its 'Lack Of Attention To Student Achievement':

ABA Journal, ABA Threatened With 1-year Suspension of Law School Accreditation Powers:

A Department of Education panel on Wednesday recommended that the ABA’s accreditation power for new law schools be suspended for one year, on the basis that the organization failed to implement its student achievement standards and probationary sanctions, while also not meeting its audit process and analysis responsibilities regarding students’ debt levels. ...

“The ABA has been under pressure for quite a number of years about both outcomes for graduates and accurate reporting by law schools, and during the last few years there’s been pressure about the increasing number of students who are admitted with increasingly low test scores,” says Deborah Merritt, an Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law professor who writes at Law School Cafe. Still, she and other academics were surprised about the announcement, which Paul Caron, a Pepperdine University School of Law professor who edits TaxProfBlog, described as “stunning news.”

Bloomberg Law, Is the ABA on Verge of Losing Law School Accreditation?:

The American Bar Association may be on the brink of a serious rebuke. ... In a little-noticed decision, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity on Wednesday recommended the Department of Education suspend for one year the ABA’s ability to accredit new law schools. ...

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June 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new paper debuting on the list at #5:

  1. [448 Downloads]  Google's 'Alphabet Soup' in Delaware, by Bret Bogenschneider (Vienna) & Ruth Heilmeier (Cologne)
  2. [321 Downloads]  Following the Money: Lessons from the Panama Papers, Part 1: Tip of the Iceberg, by Lawrence Trautman (American)
  3. [258 Downloads]  Why Does Inequality Matter? Reflections on the Political Morality of Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Liam Murphy (NYU)
  4. [197 Downloads]  'Death Tax' Politics, by Michael J. Graetz (Columbia)
  5. [166 Downloads]  The Problem of Intra-Personal Cost, by Brian D. Galle (Georgetown)

June 26, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Resolving The South Texas/Houston Brand Dispute: Exxon Law School?

HHE2Following up on my prior posts on South Texas College of Law's rebranding itself Houston College of Law, and the University of Houston Law Center's threatened lawsuit to protect its brand due to the "significant confusion this creates in the marketplace": 

Houston Business Journal, University of Houston Threatens Legal Action Over Law School Rebrand:

The University of Houston is not happy with South Texas College of Law's decision to rebrand itself to the Houston College of Law, a move announced June 22.

UH said in a statement that it will take legal action if necessary to defend the brand of its law school, the similarly named University of Houston Law Center.

Houston Chronicle, South Texas College of Law Not Backing Down From Name Change:

In a statement, leaders of the newly named Houston College of Law said they would not back down.

"The board of directors and administrators of Houston College of Law came to the name change decision after thoughtful and lengthy research and input from key constituencies, including alumni, students, faculty, staff, and donors," the statement said. "We made the decision to change the name of the 93-year-old law school based on overwhelming support to tie our institution with its birthplace in downtown Houston. We believe that we are on firm legal ground with this name change, and that we are acting in the best interest of the law school and its students."

Houston Chronicle editorial, What's In a Name?:

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June 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1144

IRS Logo 2Huffington Post:  The IRS And The Self-Minimization Of Congressman Jason Chaffetz, by Ralph Nader:

Politicians who limit the effectiveness of government agencies for short-term political advantages cheat taxpayers and short-change the government. ...

[Jason] Chaffetz chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee - a body with powerful tools to investigate government waste, corruption and defiance of the laws. And he has vaulting ambitions, almost running for Speaker of the House last year with only seven years of seniority. ...

[W]hat is self-minimizing Congressman Chaffetz’s principal passion? Trying to impeach, censure or cause the resignation of the head of the IRS, the renowned turnaround specialist John Koskinen. The Utah Roman candle has accused Koskinen of interfering with a congressional investigation, not preserving pertinent records and lying to a congressional committee.

Koskinen repeatedly provided the committee with documentation for his denial of the charges that he was engaged in a cover-up of alleged IRS harassment of Tea Party and other conservative 501(c)(4) organizations applying for tax-exempt status. Ranking minority member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) laid out his own rebuttals, citing the Department of Justice investigation finding that “no evidence that any IRS official acted in a way that would support criminal prosecution” or that any official, including Mr. Koskinen, an Obama appointee, attempted to obstruct justice.

More telling was the exhaustive, multi-year, $2 million investigation by the Republican Inspector General of the IRS, Russell George, who cleared the IRS Commissioner of the Chaffetz Committee’s charges. Mr. George, a Bush appointee, found no politically motivated targeting of these conservative 501(c)(4) applications, no obstruction of justice and no concealing of information from Congress. Some bureaucratic sloppiness, sure, but that was all.

A more cutting judgement came from Law Professor Richard Painter, former Chief Ethics Lawyer for President George W. Bush, who said “this is essentially a dispute between the IRS and Members of Congress about the 501(c)(4) organizations that further the objectives of political campaigns, including campaigns for Members of Congress.”

Legal observers say Chaffetz’s resolution is not legally binding and is going nowhere. So what’s going on here is the Chaffetz caper is part of an overwhelming attack on the IRS by the Congressional Republicans-an attack that has turned them into major aiders and abettors of those who are sitting on $300 billion in annual uncollected taxes.

Washington Post:  Why the GOP Is Targeting the IRS, by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-WA):

If, as the editorial board suggested in its June 20 editorial, Unfairly Targeting the IRS, the GOP is unfairly targeting the Internal Revenue Service commissioner, what could be its reason for doing so? Follow the money. The IRS controls the “dark money” spigot that fills GOP coffers. If the IRS enforced its rules, or fixed its rules where they could not be enforced, or referred what appear to be self-evident false statements by dark-money groups to the Justice Department for investigation, the river of dark money flowing to the GOP might dry up. Keeping the IRS battered, cowed and on its heels makes strategic sense for the GOP.

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June 26, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Update On Murder-For-Hire Investigation Into Dan Markel's Death: Hit Men Thwarted In Previous Attempt To Kill FSU Law Prof

The Tax Consequences Of Brexit

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June 25, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Temperature Rises In Debate Over NY Times Coverage Of The Law School Crisis

ThermometerPaul Campos (Colorado), Steve Diamond, Academic Fraud (An Apparently Infinite Series):

I don’t want to fill up the cyberpages of LGM with sordid academic squabbles, but I also don’t want to let Steve Diamond quote me in a fraudulent way without making a record of it. Posted as a comment on Taxprof:

Stephen Diamond is a very dishonest man. Diamond does not link to my LGM post he quotes. This is not merely a matter of netiquette, because he quotes me in a way that intentionally hides the fact that my major criticism of him has nothing to do with his quibble regarding the minor point I made in the part of the post he does quote. He is intentionally misquoting me, and in such an egregious way that his behavior is a form of academic fraud.

Stephen Diamond (Santa Clara), Dropping the F-Bomb in Academia: Who Is Kidding Who?:

Professor Campos admits that he made the same mistake I described in my earlier post. And yet, despite this, Professor Campos contends that my blog post is an example of “academic fraud.” So he admits I found a serious error in the way he presented data but I am the fraud? I don’t know whether or not Professor Campos made the mistake intentionally or not – I take him at his word that it was an oversight. But it was his mistake and he is the one who has staked his entire career (as far as I can tell he no longer produces legal scholarship) on his argument that his own chosen profession is a scam. But that certainly gives him no basis to question my original post much less my professional ethics when he admits it to be accurate. ...

Professor Campos is well aware of the damage that he is attempting to impose on my career and reputation by dropping the academic F-bomb and I believe he owes me a public retraction and apology for his careless and irresponsible behavior.

On the other hand, Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall) has a detailed, point-by-point 11,000 word post on Why The New York Times Should Correct Remaining Factual Errors in Its Law School Coverage. He concludes:

Sometimes when journalists are in a rush or are over-confident, they decide the story they want to tell and then search for sources that will support that story while overlooking contradictory evidence.  Sometimes they hear what they want to hear instead of what people are actually saying.  Sometimes they judge sources by whether they support the story rather than by whether they are rigorous and reliable.  Sometimes they don’t even realize that’s what they are doing until someone points it out after the fact. 

We could continue to explore whether these common problems have affected your story from Friday.

But I appreciate you taking the time to respond to me, and my goal in life is not to embarrass you or the New York Times or accuse you of wrongdoing.  I’m doing this because The New York Times is an important newspaper, you are an important journalist, and the public deserves more accurate information.

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June 25, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (38)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1143

IRS Logo 2Kay Bell (Don't Mess With Taxes), IRS Commissioner Impeachment Effort Inches Along at Second, Largely Ignored Judiciary Committee Hearing:

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen probably was the happiest person in Washington, D.C., today. On a day when the House Judiciary Committee's second hearing on his possible impeachment might otherwise have garnered much attention, the Capitol Hill session was upstaged by two other events. ...

[W]hat did all normal, nontax nerds who took a pass miss on the Koskinen front? Not much.

Same old, same old: The wagons were circled along party lines, with Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte spelling out the "serious allegations of misconduct" against Koskinen in his opening statement. ...

Giving false testimony to Congress about how the Internal Revenue Service [mis]handled intra-agency emails is an impeachable offense, but House [Republican] action sans Senate support would be a mistake. That was the assessment of Andrew McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, at part 2 of the House Judiciary Committee's hearing to consider the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. ...

Michael Gerhardt, however, told Judiciary members that, "In my opinion, I think gross negligence doesn't qualify" as one of the constitutional requirements -- treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors -- for impeachment. Gerhardt, a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina Law School, said in his view, impeachable conduct would have to involve "bad intent."

The conflicting opinions of legal experts, which also included George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley and Todd Garvey, legislative attorney with the Library of Congress, mirrored the disputes among the committee members themselves. ...

So far, Chaffetz has been able to get his GOP colleagues on Government Reform to agree to censure Koskinen. But his chances of impeachment the IRS chief are smaller. Neither House nor Senate Republican leaders have expressed support for the effort.

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June 25, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Paul Ryan Unveils A Better Way To Do Tax Reform

Better Way

A Better Way for Tax Reform:

Our Principle
In a Confident America, the tax code and the IRS work for us, not against us.

Our Challenge
Our tax code is a mess, and that’s putting it lightly. Multiple brackets. High rates. Special interest breaks everywhere. Rules and regulations that are too complicated to understand. It costs more and more each year just to do your taxes, let alone pay them. All of this drags people down and leaves businesses buried in paperwork and compliance problems. So instead of promoting growth, our tax code is pushing jobs overseas. And the agency charged with overseeing all of this—the IRS—has repeatedly violated the trust of the American taxpayer.

Our Vision
We need a new tax code. It needs to be fair and simple for everyone. It should be so simple that most Americans can do their taxes on a form as simple as a postcard. Our tax code should be built for growth. It should help make the United States the best place in the world to hire and invest. And if we’re going to have a better tax code, we need a better IRS, one that puts the taxpayers first.

This blueprint offers a better way to dramatic reform—without increasing the deficit. It does so by promoting growth—of American jobs, wages, and ultimately the entire economy.

Our Ideas

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June 24, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (12)

Tax Panel At Today's National Business Law Scholars Conference At University Chicago

Chicago LogoTax panel at today's National Business Law Scholars Conference at the University of Chicago Law School:

The Intersection of Business and Tax Law:

  • Ilya Beylin (Columbia), Taxing Fictive Orders: How an Information Forcing Tax Can Reduce Manipulation and Distortion in Financial Product Markets
  • Limor Riza (Carmel Academic Center), Charitable Contributions and Dependent Care Expenses in a Coherent System
  • Sloan G. Speck (Colorado), Competitiveness as a Rationale for International Tax Reform 
  • Eric C. Chaffee (Toledo), Moderator

June 24, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

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June 24, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Department Of Education Panel Recommends Suspension Of ABA's Power To Accredit Law Schools Due To Its 'Lack Of Attention To Student Achievement'

ABA Logo (2016)In stunning news, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) voted on Wednesday to recommend that the U.S. Department of Education suspend for one year the ABA's power to accredit new law schools due to the ABA's "lack of attention to student achievement":

[T]he panel on Wednesday rebuked the American Bar Association, in part for its lack of attention to student achievement.

The ABA accredits law schools, some of them freestanding institutions. NACIQI, after three contentious votes, recommended that the department suspend the association's ability to accredit new members for a year. The panel said the ABA had failed to implement its student achievement standards and probationary sanctions, while also falling short on its audit process and analysis of graduates' debt levels.

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June 24, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (17)

Law Professor Sees Bitcoin As Tax Haven For Gig Economy

BitcoinCCN.LA, UC Law Professor Sees Bitcoin Becoming a Tax Haven for the Gig Economy:

Bitcoin is especially attractive to workers in the gig economy who exchange skills for money. So far there is no effective enforcement method for tracking bitcoin.

Omri Marian, a law professor at the University of California Irvine, notes that even as governments have started to cooperate on nabbing tax cheats, bitcoin wallets could become “super tax havens.”

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June 24, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Designing A Transactional Law Clinic For Life-Long Learning

ClinicPatience A. Crowder (Denver), Designing a Transactional Law Clinic for Life-Long Learning, 19 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 413 (2015):

This article makes an important contribution to existing clinical scholarship generally, and, more specifically, to scholarship about transactional lawyering and transactional law clinics. It is one of the first articles to detail transactional clinic design and is particularly important as the number of transactional clinics continues to increase and more articles about transactional clinical scholarship are published. This article serves as a blueprint for the start or redesign of a transactional clinic.

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June 24, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1142

IRS Logo 2PJ Media, Impeachment and the IRS Scandal: Should John Koskinen Face the Music?:

[T]he instant matter involving Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, pertains to an investigation into not a mere “endeavor” (largely unsuccessful in the Nixon case) to abuse IRS powers but actual, concrete abuse, of those powers, including “income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.” I further understand that the instant matter involves the provision of false statements and withholding of evidence from Congress.

I do not purport to have knowledge of the facts of Congress’s investigation. I note however that misconduct that was merely potential and coupled with blatantly obstructive actions was deemed sufficient to impeach (and would clearly have been sufficient to remove) a twice-elected president of the United States who had recently been reelected in one of the largest landslides in American history. It seems patent, then, that if established, actual misconduct in conjunction with blatantly obstructive actions would be sufficient to justify impeaching an unelected subordinate executive official responsible for administering the Internal Revenue Service.

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June 24, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Debate Continues Over The NY Times Coverage Of The Law School Crisis

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June 23, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)