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Monday, October 20, 2014

Call for Book Reviews: Journal of Legal Education

Journal of Legal Education (2014)The Journal of Legal Education has issued a call for book review essays and book review essay proposals:

The Journal of Legal Education, the official scholarly publication of the Association of American Law Schools, solicits submission of book review essays and book review essay proposals. The JLE believes that review essays constitute an important means of communicating scholarly ideas and are particularly well-suited to facilitating dialogue and engagement within and among the legal scholarly community. Accordingly, the JLE has adopted a policy of dedicating space in all of its print issues to the publication of timely reviews of books related to the law (broadly defined). 

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October 20, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Washington & Lee Seeks to Hire Tax Clinic Visitor for Fall 2015

W&L Logo (2014)The Washington and Lee University School of Law invites applications for a Visiting Professor and Interim Director of its Tax Clinic for the Fall 2015 semester:

The visitor would supervise and manage the school’s Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic.  Applicants must be an active member of a state bar or the District of Columbia bar.  The position would begin on July 1, 2015 and end on December 31, 2015.  For additional details or to apply, contact Associate Dean Samuel Calhoun. Applications are due by December 1, 2014.

October 20, 2014 in Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 529

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  UnFair: Exposing The IRS -- Does Not Make Strong Case Or Decent Documentary, by Peter C. Reilly:

[H]ere is my report on UnFair: Exposing the IRS.  I am reacting to both the film and the companion book, which pretty much cover the same ground in the same order. The bottom line is that Craig Bergman's argument does not make a lot of sense.

He discusses IRS abuses in the last several years and proposes that we repeal the income tax, abolish the IRS and enact the Fair Tax. A lmost all the abuses he discusses concern the qualification of organizations for exempt status. It turns out that the same issues exist under the Fair Tax.

The filmmaker I brought along did not think that it was much of a documentary. His biggest issue was that he was expecting an expose` and instead experienced a reiteration of a political and cultural platform. If this review is any indication, he is not alone in his judgement. ...

It is not an exaggeration to say that the film is seeking to make the case that the IRS is a criminal organization . The tip off is the clip of 1930s gangsters with guns. A significant portion of time is spent on Teapartygate. We get brief clips from news programs hearing from George Will, Governor Mike Huckabee, Congressman John Linder, and Bill O’Reilly among others. Craig Bergman, the narrator, then tells us that he put together a crew of talented filmakers to travel across America to talk one-on-one with those affected by the abuses. Craig starts at the Tea Party “Audit The IRS” rally, has an extensive treatment of Lois Lerner including her campaign against the Christian Coalition while working for the Federal Election Commission and moves on to an interview with Jim Jess of the Georgia Tea Party. There is a lot of network footage, most of it from Fox News. There is r eally nothing new in this part if you have been following the scandal. The treatment is entirely one sided. ...

Jonathan Schwartz did not think that UnFair cut it as a documentary. He did not even think that it was very effective propaganda.  It was more of a rally the troops type of piece that would only work on those who were already convinced of the viewpoints expressed.

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October 20, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, October 19, 2014

L.A. Times: Ed Kleinbard's We Are Better Than This Is 'Moral and Farsighted'

Los Angeles Times:  On Fiscal Policy, USC Professor's Viewpoint is Moral and Farsighted, by Michael Hiltzik:

We Are Better Than This (2014)The left sees me as a Wall Street Journal Satanist, and the right as a stealth Marxian bent on destroying free enterprise," Edward D. Kleinbard was saying.

The USC law professor was referring to the reactions elicited by his recent op-ed in the New York Times, in which he asserted that the solution to economic inequality in the U.S. was not to make the tax system more progressive — it's already "the most progressive in the developed world," he wrote — but to make it bigger.

As he explained when we met last week at USC's Gould School of Law, where he has taught tax law since 2009, that would render the entire fiscal system more progressive, because it would fund more spending. Government spending is always progressive, benefiting middle- and lower-income people more than the wealthy. So: If you want to reduce inequality, expanding government is more effective than merely increasing the relative burden on the rich.

One can see why left and right alike felt that their shibboleths were being skewered.

But Kleinbard's viewpoint is both moral and farsighted. It's also an important theme of his newly published book, We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money.

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October 19, 2014 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Linda Beale to Return to Tax Blogging Following the Death of Her Husband

Beale (2014)Tax Prof Linda Beale (Wayne State) has announced that she is returning to blogging after an eight month hiatus following the death of her husband:

To make a long and difficult story short--my husband died in January, and I have gone through an intense personal struggle to cope with life without my soulmate.  The hard winter and too-short summer added their own tribulations, in the form of electrical outages, some basement water, and all those unexpected expenses that go along with weather-related problems, all of which must now be handled by me.

I plan to resume regular postings now.

October 19, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads on SSRN, with new papers debuting on the list at #2 and #5:

  1. [338 Downloads]  2013 Developments in Connecticut Estate and Probate Law, by Jeffrey A. Cooper (Quinnipiac) & John R. Ivimey (Reid and Riege, Hartford)
  2. [236 Downloads]  Trying Times 2014: Important Lessons to Be Learned from Recent Federal Tax Cases, by Nancy A. McLaughlin (Utah) & Steven J. Small ( Law Office of Stephen J. Small, Newton, MA)
  3. [139 Downloads]  Rights Without Remedies, by Matthew L. M. Fletcher (Michigan State)
  4. [138 Downloads]  Home-Country Effects of Corporate Inversions, by Omri Y. Marian (Florida)
  5. [136 Downloads]  'Show Me the Money!' -- Analyzing the Potential State Tax Implications of Paying Student-Athletes, by Kathryn Kisska-Schulze (North Carolina A&T) & Adam Epstein (Central Michigan)

October 19, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 528

IRS Logo 2The Hollywood Reporter:  'Unfair: Exposing the IRS': Film Review:

Delivering an attack against the Internal Revenue Service is like shooting fish in a barrel. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone, whatever their political affiliation, who has anything good to say about this much-reviled government agency. So it seems a bit of a waste that Judd Saul's documentary Unfair: Exposing the IRS, shown as a one-night event in some 680 screens around the country, should have resorted to such relentless overkill.

Before your angry online comments come pouring in accusing this reviewer of being a godless, unpatriotic communist, please be advised that this is a film review, not a political tract. Any criticisms to follow are meant to address the film on cinematic terms, and in that regard it falls woefully short of being convincing to anyone who isn't already fully aligned with its impassioned message. Devoid of thoughtful analysis or divergent opinions, it's little more than agitprop … which is not to say that many of the films emanating from the other side of the political spectrum are any better. ...

Beginning with the usual barrage of inflammatory news clips, it naturally spotlights the recent uproar over the IRS' alleged targeted persecution of Tea Party organizations — President Obama is repeatedly seen denouncing it as a "phony scandal" — and the subsequent embarrassing spectacle of its leaders haplessly testifying before Congress that they had somehow managed to lose over two years' worth of relevant emails. Couple that with evidence of the agency's wild overspending, such as video clips of their bizarre comic sketches performed at lavish getaways, and it's certainly hard not to get one's dander up. ...

Featuring commentary by such usual suspects as Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann and, of course, Grover Norquist, Unfair: Exposing the IRS is not so much an expose as predictable preaching to the choir.

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October 19, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Red States Are More Generous Than Blue States

2012Chronicle of Philanthropy, How America Gives:

Using the IRS data, The Chronicle was able to track gifts to charity at the state, county, metropolitan-area, and ZIP code levels. The data were for gifts to charity among taxpayers who itemize deductions on their tax forms. It captured $180-billion that was given to charity in 2012, or about 80 percent of the total amount given to charity as tabulated by "Giving USA."

In How States Compare and How They Voted in the 2012 Election, the Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked the states by giving as a percentage of adjusted gross income.  The 17 states that gave the most to charity all voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, while 15 of the 17 states that gave the least to charity voted for President Obama:


Red

Blue

October 18, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (34)

How to Audit the President

Bloomberg, How to Audit the President, by Richard Rubin:

Obama 2013

The presidency is laden with perks: the jet, the mansion, the personal chef. 

But there's some nastiness, too, awaiting the winner of the 2016 election, namely: mandatory audits from the Internal Revenue Service. The tax returns of the commander-in-chief and the vice president get automatic annual scrutiny from the IRS. Compare that to the 1 in 49 audit rate for everyone else in the $200,000 to $500,000 income bracket. 

What got us poking around on this question was a set of documents released from Bill Clinton's presidential library last week, showing White House lawyers preparing for his second consecutive audit amid questions about the Whitewater real estate deal in Arkansas. The audit requirement is so obscure that one former, very senior IRS official didn't even recall it when we started asking questions.

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October 18, 2014 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

AbbVie Can Deduct $1.64 Billion Termination Fee From Inversion Cancellation

ShireWall Street Journal, Dept. of Irony: AbbVie Can Take Tax Write-Off for Fees:

Breaking up hurts, but a tax write-off can help ease the sting.

The $1.64 billion termination fee AbbVie would owe Shire for nixing their takeover deal is tax-deductible, experts say. Other transaction expenses, including fees paid to its advisers that are likely to reach into the millions, may also be deductible.

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October 18, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 527

IRS Logo 2American Center for Law and Justice: Finally: IRS Approves Two More Tea Party Groups:

It’s taken years, but IRS approvals are still slowly—very slowly—rolling in.

The ACLJ first sounded the alarm against the Obama Administration’s unlawful targeting of grassroots conservative groups in the spring of 2012. It was not until the following year, in May of 2013, when Lois Lerner admitted that the IRS had in fact singled out and targeted hundreds of tea party and conservative groups. Shortly afterwards, the ACLJ filed suit against the IRS on behalf of 41 groups in 22 states.

Some of those groups are still being targeted and delayed, even today.

Yet we’re still winning victories, even while the case is ongoing.

Today, two more conservative groups received approval of their tax-exempt applications. Laurens County Tea Party of Laurens, South Carolina and Allen Area Patriots from Frisco, TX, both seeking 501(c)(4) status, were just approved.

Laurens County Tea Party and Allen Area Patriots both applied for tax-exemption in July of 2010. It took the IRS more than four years to review their applications and approve these groups.

Of our 41 clients, 28 have now been approved, and seven groups are still awaiting approval. One of these seven groups, Albuquerque Tea Party is less than two months away from “celebrating” five years since they originally applied for tax-exemption. To date, they have still not been approved.

While the mainstream media gave the Administration the benefit of the doubt and ignored, if not completely dismissed the targeting as nothing more sour grapes from angry conservatives, vindication of these groups has come time and time again as the public learns more information from Congressional investigators of how wide scale this scandal really was.

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October 18, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Open Access Legal Scholarship Is Cited 60% More in Law Review Articles, 40% More in Judicial Opinions

James Donovan (Kentucky), Carol Watson (Georgia) & Caroline Osborne (Washington & Lee), The Open Access Advantage for American Law Reviews:

Open AccessOpen access legal scholarship generates a prolific discussion, but few empirical details have been available to describe the scholarly impact of providing unrestricted access to law review articles. The present project fills this gap with specific findings on what authors and institutions can expect.

Articles available in open access formats enjoy an advantage in citation by subsequent law review works of 53%. For every two citations an article would otherwise receive, it can expect a third when made freely available on the Internet. This benefit is not uniformly spread through the law school tiers. Higher tier journals experience a lower OA advantage (11.4%) due to the attention such prestigious works routinely receive regardless of the format. When focusing on the availability of new scholarship, as compared to creating retrospective collections, the aggregated advantage rises to 60.2%. While the first tier advantage rises to 16.8%, the mid-tiers skyrocket to 89.7%. The fourth tier OA advantage comes in at 81.2%.

Figure 5

Citations of legal articles by courts is similarly impacted by OA availability. While the 15-year aggregate advantage is a mere 9.5%, new scholarship is 41.4% more likely to be cited by a court decision if it is available in open access format.

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October 17, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Tax Roundup

October 17, 2014 in Tax, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

October 17, 2014 in Legal Education, Weekly Legal Education Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

October 17, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

October 17, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

ATPI Hosts Conference Today on Taxation and Migration

ATPI Logo (2015)The American Tax Policy Institute hosts a conference today on Taxation and Migration organized by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan) and Joel Slemrod (Michigan) in Washington, D.C.:

The conference assesses the effects of taxation on the migration across national and state boundaries of individuals at various stages of their lives. It will also evaluate whether corporate migrations (such as "inversions") involve migration of individuals, and what are the tax policy implications for the US and other jurisdictions. 

October 17, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Albany Law School Dean Steps Down Amidst 34% Enrollment Decline, Faculty Buyouts

Albany logoFollowing up on my previous posts (links below) on the financial troubles at Albany Law School (including a 34% decline in the entering 1L class to 123 students in 2014, from 187 in 2013 (and a 52% decline from 255 in 2009)), Penelope Andrews is stepping down as Dean at the end of this academic year (her third year as Dean), while the Board of Trustees has appointed Alicia Ouellette, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Intellectual Life, as Acting Dean.  As Bridget Crawford (Pace) asks, "Does it happen at other schools [that] an interim/acting dean is appointed while the existing dean is still serving out the last year of the dean's term?"

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

October 17, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

62nd Annual Montana Tax Institute

62The 62nd Annual Montana Tax Institute kicks off today:

  • Jonathan Blattmachr (ILS Management), Asset Protection and Related Tax Consequences
  • Jessica Browde (Montana), Professional Responsibility in Tax Practice: Circular 230 Update
  • Martin Burke (Montana) & Michael Friel (Florida), Income in Respect of a Decedent: Section 691
  • Sam Donaldson (Georgia State), Annual Federal Income Tax Update
  • Elaine Gagliardi (Montana), Annual Wealth Transfer Tax Update
  • Kristen Juras (Montana), Limitations of Activities of Nonprofit Organizations
  • Roberta Mann (Oregon), Earth, Wind and Fire: Comparing the Taxation of Energy Sources
  • Nancy McLaughlin (Utah), Conservation Easements: Contemporary Issues and Challenges
  • Martin McMahon (Florida), Corporate and Partnership Tax Recent Developments
  • Daniel Simmons (UC-Davis), Impact of Partner and Partnership Liabilities under Subchapter K
  • Chris Treharne, (Gibraltar Business Appraisals), Justifying Discounts for Farm and Ranch Minority Ownership Interests

October 17, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NPR: The Most Common Jobs For The Rich, Middle Class And Poor

The IRS Scandal, Day 526

IRS Logo 2Statesman Journal:  Wehby Attempts to Tie Sen. Jeff Merkley to IRS Scandal:

Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby released a web video Thursday with the goal of tying Sen. Jeff Merkley to the scandal surrounding the Internal Revenue Service targeting tax-exempt groups for their political leanings.

The 35-second video entitled "Corrupt" explains that Merkley was one of several Democratic Senators who wrote a letter to the IRS in 2012 requesting the agency "immediately change the administrative framework for enforcement of the tax code as it applies to groups designated as 'social welfare' organizations." ... The ad lays that targeting of conservative groups at Merkley's feet and asks whether voters can trust him.

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October 17, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Call for Nominations: CALI Board of Directors

CALI Logo (2014)The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) is seeking nominations to fill vacant positions on its Board of Directors:

If you know of someone who would like to contribute to the research and development, strategic planning and governance of CALI, then consider nominating them for the CALI Board of Directors. Self-nominations also are welcome. ...

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October 16, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Virginia Tax Review Publishes New Issue

Virginia Tax Review (2014)The Virginia Tax Review has published Vol. 33, No. 4 (Spring 2014):

October 16, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cauble: Relying on the IRS

Emily Cauble (DePaul), Relying on the IRS:

The IRS issues different types of guidance to taxpayers, and the extent to which taxpayers can rely on IRS guidance depends on the form in which it was offered. For instance, taxpayers generally cannot rely on oral advice provided over the phone but can rely on more formal types of advice. The current state of the law harms unsophisticated taxpayers who disproportionately obtain informal advice -- the least reliable type of IRS guidance.

Existing literature lacks a thorough discussion of why, as a policy matter, we allow taxpayers to rely on some forms of IRS guidance more than others. This Article fills that gap by suggesting and critically evaluating potential justifications for this practice.

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October 16, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Case for Simpler Gain Bifurcation for Real Estate Developers

Florida Tax ReviewBradley T. Borden (Brooklyn), Nathan Brown (Proskauer Rose, Boca Raton) & John Wagner II (Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen, Sarasota), A Case for Simpler Gain Bifurcation for Real Estate Developers, 15 Fla Tax Rev. 279 (2014):

This Article examines the judicially-sanctioned bifurcation of real estate developers’ gain. The Article recognizes that even though some commentators oppose granting favorable tax treatment to capital gains, the law most likely will not change. With that in mind, the Article examines the all-or-nothing approach of characterizing gain from the sale of real estate as either capital gain or ordinary income. The Article rejects the all-or-nothing approach of characterizing income under the current statutory system. Instead, it embraces gain bifurcation in the second-best setting that taxes capital gains and ordinary income differently. Illustrating the policy justification for gain bifurcation and judicially-sanctioned bifurcation structures, the Article recommends that lawmakers should more fully embrace gain bifurcation for real estate developers by creating a simple statutory election for bifurcating gain that would enhance equity, accuracy, and transparency of gain bifurcation. Although the Article limits its analysis to real estate developers, the idea of gain bifurcation, once improved in this area, could be a catalyst for exploring bifurcation in other areas.

October 16, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dharmapala: Base Erosion and Profit Shifting -- A Simple Conceptual Framework

Dhammika Dharmapala (Chicago), Base Erosion and Profit Shifting: A Simple Conceptual Framework:

BEPSThe issue of tax-motivated income shifting within multinational firms – or “base erosion and profit shifting” (BEPS) – has attracted increasing global attention and has become the subject of an ongoing OECD initiative. This paper provides a simple conceptual framework that helps to clarify aspects of governments’ responses to the BEPS phenomenon and the potential role of the OECD initiative. An important implication of this framework is that multilateral cooperation of the type envisaged in the BEPS initiative has the potential to reduce the deadweight costs of MNCs’ tax planning and compliance activities, thereby enhancing global welfare. 

October 16, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top 55 Law School Buildings

Prelaw Magazine, Best Law School Facilities:

MemphisPreLaw magazine did an exhaustive review of the nation's 200-plus law schools to identify the very best facilities. We started by looking at numerous sources, including our own staff visits and The Princeton Review's 2014 edition of The Best 169 Law Schools to narrow the pool down to the top 60 based primarily on student satisfaction. ...

[A]esthetics and student feedback accounted for 35% of our score, library hours and seating for 27.5%, amenities [dining, fitness center, lockers, study carrels] for 20%, and square footage per student for 17.5%. ... In the end, even though we had initially set out to identify the 50 best buildings, we felt compelled to honor 55.

  1. Memphis
  2. Marquette
  3. Duke
  4. Baylor
  5. Colorado
  6. Richmond
  7. Villanova
  8. Yale
  9. Notre Dame
  10. Penn State-Dickinson
  11. Washington University
  12. Stetson
  13. Southwestern
  14. Nebraska
  15. Connecticut
  16. Penn State
  17. Fordham
  18. Stanford
  19. Quinnipiac
  20. Catholic
  21. William Mitchell
  22. UNLV
  23. Arizona
  24. Chapman
  25. Cornell

October 16, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Penalizing Tax Petitions: Why the Erroneous Refund Penalty in § 6676 Violates Taxpayers’ First Amendment Rights

Derek T. Ho & Christopher Klimmek (both of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, Washington, D.C.), Penalizing Tax Petitions: Why the Erroneous Refund Penalty in Code § 6676 Violates Taxpayers’ First Amendment Rights, 68 Tax Law. ___ (2015):

In 2007, Congress enacted the so-called “erroneous refund penalty,” which imposes a 20% penalty on any taxpayer who submits a claim for tax refund that the IRS deems “inaccurate,” even if the taxpayer’s position is legally non-frivolous and asserted in good faith. In part because the IRS has rarely imposed the penalty since its enactment, the statute has thus far not been analyzed extensively by legal scholars or policymakers. However, the penalty continues to impose a significant chilling effect on tax refund claims, and the Treasury Department has now signaled the possibility of more aggressive application in the future. This article argues that the erroneous refund penalty is unconstitutional under the Petition Clause of the First Amendment. Penalizing taxpayers financially for asking their government to return money they believe is legally theirs strikes at the heart of the Petition Clause’s protections. Indeed, protecting citizens’ right to complain about abusive taxation by the national Government was one of the Framers’ core motivations for enacting the First Amendment. The article draws on the history of the First Amendment, the Supreme Court’s Petition Clause jurisprudence, and recent lower court decisions in exposing the constitutional infirmity of the penalty. The article also explains that the erroneous refund penalty is unjustified as a matter of tax policy, because it fails to promote voluntary compliance, is irrationally harsh and unfair to taxpayers, and is not necessary to solve the narrow, targeted problems that Congress intended to address in enacting the statute. Finally, the article suggests ways in which the penalty could be amended, if it is not repealed altogether, to avoid infringing on taxpayers’ First Amendment rights and ensure that refund claims are treated fairly.

October 16, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Symposium: Expanding the Boundaries of Legal Education

On TaskSymposium, On Task? Expanding the Boundaries of Legal Education, 65 S.C. L. Rev. 519-638 (2014) (Video):

October 16, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Afield: A Market for Tax Compliance

W. Edward Afield III (Ave Maria), A Market for Tax Compliance, 62 Clev. St. L. Rev. 315 (2014):

It is becoming increasingly clear that, due to political realities and budgetary constraints, the IRS is going to have to attempt to enforce the tax laws by doing more with less. Current enforcement efforts have yielded a tax gap (i.e., the difference between the amount of taxes that should be paid and the amount that are collected) of roughly $450 billion annually. Faced with this task, one of the steps that the IRS has recently taken is to try to improve the quality in services performed by paid tax preparers, a group that historically has been subject to little IRS regulation or monitoring but that continues to play an increasingly important role in the tax system.

Although the IRS’s recent efforts to better regulate paid preparers is a good step in improving the quality of tax services, its current structure as a mandatory regulatory regime causes it to miss a number of compliance oriented advantages that could be achieved through a voluntary system of tax preparer regulation in which tax preparers could choose to seek certifications indicating whether they had a positive track record of compliance.

This paper explores in detail for the first time in the literature how preparer regulation could achieve significantly more compliance gains if it were structured as a voluntary system designed to create a market that rewards tax compliance.

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October 16, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 525

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Do Too Many Faculty Stars Hurt Law School Performance?

SAScientific American, The Surprising Problem of Too Much Talent:

Whether you're the owner of the Dallas Cowboys or captain of the playground dodge ball team, the goal in picking players is the same: Get the top talent. Hearts have been broken, allegiances tested, and budgets busted as teams contend for the best athletes. The motivation for recruiting peak performers is obvious — exceptional players are the key to team success — and this belief is shared not only by coaches and sports fans, but also by corporations, investors, and even whole industries. Everyone wants a team of stars.

While there is no denying that exceptional players like Emmitt Smith can put points on the board and enhance team success,new research by Roderick Swaab and colleagues suggests there is a limit to the benefit top talents bring to a team. Swaab and colleagues compared the amount of individual talent on teams with the teams’ success, and they find striking examples of more talent hurting the team [The Too-Much-Talent Effect: Team Interdependence Determines When More Talent Is Too Much or Not Enough].

The researchers looked at three sports: basketball, soccer, and baseball. In each sport, they calculated both the percentage of top talent on each team and the teams’ success over several years. ... For both basketball and soccer, they found that top talent did in fact predict team success, but only up to a point. Furthermore, there was not simply a point of diminishing returns with respect to top talent, there was in fact a cost. Basketball and soccer teams with the greatest proportion of elite athletes performed worse than those with more moderate proportions of top level players.

Basketball
Table 4 (NBA)

Soccer
Table 3

Why is too much talent a bad thing? Think teamwork. In many endeavors, success requires collaborative, cooperative work towards a goal that is beyond the capability of any one individual. Even Emmitt Smith needed effective blocking from the Cowboy offensive line to gain yardage. When a team roster is flooded with individual talent, pursuit of personal star status may prevent the attainment of team goals. The basketball player chasing a point record, for example, may cost the team by taking risky shots instead of passing to a teammate who is open and ready to score.

Two related findings by Swaab and colleagues indicate that there is in fact tradeoff between top talent and teamwork. First, Swaab and colleagues found that the percentage of top talent on a team affects intrateam coordination. ... The second revealing finding is that extreme levels of top talent did not have the same negative effect in baseball, which experts have argued involves much less interdependent play. In the baseball study, increasing numbers of stars on a team never hindered overall performance.

Baseball
Table 5 (MLB)

Together these findings suggest that high levels of top talent will be harmful in arenas that require coordinated, strategic efforts, as the quest for the spotlight may trump the teamwork needed to get the job done. ...

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October 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Borden Presents REIT Stuff at Florida

BordenBradley T. Borden (Brooklyn) presented REIT Stuff at Florida as part of its Graduate Tax Program Colloquium Series:

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) have made headlines recently because they provide favorable tax treatment to corporations that primarily own real estate, which contrasts with the typical double-tax that generally applies to corporations. The media appears to be particularly concerned that existing corporations are spinning off their real estate holdings into REITs, eroding the corporate tax base. It is also concerned that the IRS has extended REIT classification to entities that hold property, such as telecommunications equipment, billboards, mortgages, oil and gas pipeline systems, timber, casinos, and data centers, which do not fit within the traditional definition of real estate. Such extension broadens the scope of favorable REIT tax treatment to property that was not held in real estate trusts when Congress enacted the REIT regime. Despite all of this attention, the effect of REIT spinoffs and the formation of REITs with non-traditional real estate assets may not have a very significant effect on federal tax revenues. This Article will closely examine the revenue effect of REIT spinoffs and the extension of REIT treatment to non-traditional real estate assets. Early work in this are suggests that the revenue effect appears to be nominal, and it is a result of dual, overlapping tax policies—favorable tax treatment of real estate and tax-exempt status for retirement plans. The analysis will set the stage for discussing potential action in this area by recounting the history of REITs and the important events that have directed the course of REIT legislation to its current status. The early analysis appears to suggest that lawmakers should either reconsider the preference for real estate and pensions or consider relaxing the law to provide more efficient ways for corporations to bifurcate real-estate income from operating income and more easily obtain the benefits available under current law.

October 15, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

'Prospective Law Students Are Staying Away From Louisville — And Other Law Schools — In Droves'

Louisville Courier-Journal, Law School Applications Plummet -- At U of L Too:

LouisvilleProspective law students are staying away from the University of Louisville law school — and other law schools — in droves.

Mirroring a national trend, applications to Brandeis plummeted 59 percent over the past three years, to 618 from 1,495, while enrollment of first-year students dipped nearly 30 percent, to 94 from 132. Nationally, enrollment in law schools has declined 24 percent since 2010 as college graduates realize that law is no longer an automatic ticket to the good life. ... 

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October 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Need for a Patent Box Tax Regime to Encourage Domestic Manufacturing

Bernard Knight (Partner, McDermott, Will & Emery, Washington, D.C.) & Goud Maragani (Senior Counsel, USPTO), It Is Time for the United States to Implement a Patent Box Tax Regime to Encourage Domestic Manufacturing, 19 Stan. J.L. Bus. & Fin. 39 (2013):

In order to curb the outsourcing of industries and jobs, the United States must provide better incentives to encourage manufacturers to operate domestically. The United States is at a strategic disadvantage vis-à-vis many other industrialized nations that attract industry and jobs by taxing income from intellectual property sourced in those countries at a lower tax rate. This Article suggests that the United States should consider a patent box regime and outlines the benefits that such a regime should produce in terms of additional domestic manufacturing and job creation. The Article begins by discussing scholarly work that explores the link between domestic manufacturing and research and development, and explains why domestic manufacturing is critical to innovation. In turn, innovation leads to more productivity, higher paying jobs and lower unemployment. The next Section summarizes the significant features of the existing patent box tax regimes in certain European Union nations and China. Taking into account the positive attributes and deficiencies of the existing patent box regimes, the Article concludes by suggesting features that should be considered for inclusion in a U.S. patent box regime.

October 15, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deadline Today: Call for Tax Papers and Panels for 2015 Law & Society Annual Meeting

SeattleToday is the deadline for Neil Buchanan's call for tax papers and panels for next year's annual meeting of the Law & Society Association in Seattle (May 28-31, 2015):

For the eleventh consecutive year, I will organize sessions for the the Law, Society, and Taxation group (Collaborative Research Network 31).

Although there is an official call for papers, please remember that you are not bound by the official theme of the conference.  I will give full consideration to proposals in any area of tax law, tax policy, distributive justice, interdisciplinary approaches to tax issues, and so on.

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October 15, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 944 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 October 1, 2014) 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 (Mich.)

40,434

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

6677

2

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

26,751

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

5005

3

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

23,022

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2688

4

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

20,615

D. Dharmapala (Chicago) 

2630

5

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

20,156

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

2624

6

James Hines (Michigan)

19,969

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

2051

7

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

19,266

Omri Marian (Florida)

1986

8

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

19.122

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

1901

9

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

16,472

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

1824

10

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

16,334

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

1626

11

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

15,417

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

1583

12

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

15,230

Brad Borden (Brooklyn.)

1578

13

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

14,568

David Gamage (UCBerkeley)

1509

14

David Weisbach (Chicago)

14,483

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1502

15

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

14,317

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

1457

16

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

14,260

James Hines (Michigan)

1421

17

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

14,168

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1390

18

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

14,009

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

1376

19

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

13.974

Dick Harvey (Villanova)

1343

20

David Walker (Boston Univ.)

13,965

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

1308

21

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

13,955

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

1292

22

Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)

12,527

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

1252

23

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

12,171

David Weisbach (Chicago)

1176

24

Ed McCaffery (USC)

11,771

Gregg Polsky (North Carolina)

1156

25

Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)

11,759

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

1151

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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October 15, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Muller: Bar Exam Scores Dip to Their Lowest Level in 10 Years

Ireland Pulls Curtain on 'Double Irish' Tax Break

Rich States, Poor States

RSPS_7th_EditionArthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore & Jonathan Williams, Rich States, Poor States (7th ed. 2014):

In this seventh edition of Rich States, Poor States, Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore, and Jonathan Williams highlight specific policy choices throughout the 50 states that have led some states to economic prosperity and others to lackluster growth. The authors provide the 2014 ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, based on the economic policies of the states. Through the empirical evidence and analysis contained in this edition of Rich States, Poor States, the policies for economic growth are clear.

In chapter one, the authors provide updates on important policy developments that occurred throughout 2013 and the first half of 2014 in an in-depth, state-of-the-states analysis. ... Chapter two chronicles the movement of both people and income throughout the states. ... In chapter three, the authors provide a detailed explanation of not just which policies are conducive to economic growth and which ones are not, but also why this is the case. ... Finally, chapter four is this year’s comprehensive ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index.

Table 2

  Table 1

October 15, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 524

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  President Obama, Audit Threats, And Rogue IRS Employees, by Robert W. Wood:

The fallout from the IRS targeting flap isn’t over. The key lost emails could be the result of bona fide, unanticipated, and irreversible computer crashes. Yet some still see finger-prints of a cover-up. It provides fodder for the online equivalent of jawing around the water-cooler. Either way, conservative groups are outraged.

More broadly, there is a general malaise about the IRS and our tax system. It is not enough for the IRS to do a good job of enforcing the tax laws in a fair and non-discriminatory way. As important, the IRS needs to be perceived as fair. If profiling is a dirty word, it should be equally dirty when the IRS does it. Truly, audit targeting is scary. ...

Don’t forget President Obama’s audit quip in 2009 in a commencement speech. The President joked about Arizona State University’s decision not to award him an honorary degree:

“I really thought this was much ado about nothing, but I do think we all learned an important lesson. I learned never again to pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA brackets. . . . President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS.”

It was an innocent remark, but some pundits didn’t see any humor. Comedians joke about such things, not Presidents, especially not with the history this charged issue has had. It would only be a few years before the ‘rogue employees’ excuse could be used about IRS targeting. In the meantime, a clever remark can go a long way.

‘Gee, I thought you wanted me to ice that guy,’ a mafia button man might say. With plausible deniability, the don might get off scot free. Presumably, though, we can’t see what Ms. Lerner told her exempt organization subordinates in Cincinnati. If there were truly rogue employees, might they have misunderstood their mission and gotten overzealous?

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October 15, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Harvard Law School Seeks to Hire Bankruptcy Roundtable Research Director and Program Fellow

Harvard Law School LogoThe Harvard Law School Bankruptcy Roundtable seeks to hire a Research Director and Program Fellow:

The Harvard Law School Bankruptcy and Corporate Restructuring Project is seeking applicants for the position with the title “Research Director and Bankruptcy Program Fellow.”  Specific responsibilities include academic and policy-based research for the project, supervising the HLS Bankruptcy Roundtable and its student fellows, and assisting in teaching bankruptcy-based courses.

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October 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fleischer Presents Curb Your Enthusiasm for Pigouvian Taxes Today at Columbia

Fleischer Vic (2013)Victor Fleischer (San Diego) presents Curb Your Enthusiasm for Pigouvian Taxes at Columbia today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex RaskolnikovDavid Schizer, and Wojciech Kopczuk:

Pigouvian (or "corrective") taxes have been proposed or enacted on dozens of products and activities that may be harmful in excess: carbon, gasoline, fat, sugar, guns, cigarettes, alcohol, traffic, zoning, executive pay, and financial transactions, among others. Academics of all political stripes are mystified by the public’s inability to see the merits of using Pigouvian taxes more frequently to address serious social harms.

This enthusiasm for Pigouvian taxes should be tempered. A Pigouvian tax is easy to design — as a uniform excise tax — if one assumes that each individual causes the same amount of harm with each incremental increase in activity on the margin. This assumption of uniform marginal social cost pairs well with the limited information and enforcement capacity of tax institutions. But when marginal social cost varies significantly, a Pigouvian tax will not lead to an optimal allocation of economic resources. Focusing on carbon emissions, where the assumption of uniform marginal social cost happens to be reasonable, obscures this common design flaw.

Broadly speaking, Pigouvian taxes should be employed only when (1) the harm is (or is properly analogized to) global pollution, and where the harm does not vary based on the source, or (2) the variation in marginal social cost is easily observed and categorized, as with traffic congestion charges.

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October 14, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fleischer: Charitable Giving and Utilitarianism

Miranda Perry Fleischer (San Diego), Charitable Giving and Utilitarianism: Problems and Priorities, 89 Ind. L.J. 1484 (2014):

Charitable giving is redistributive at heart. It is thus surprising that scholarship on the charitable tax subsidies focuses on the efficient and pluralistic production of public goods while largely ignoring distributive justice concerns. Existing scholarship and current law leave crucial questions unanswered: How should we prioritize among charities? Should subsidized groups be required to help the poor? Are criticisms that charities do too little to help the poor valid? This Article is part of a series that examines how each common theory of distributive justice would answer these questions.

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October 14, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Faculty Rankings Should Focus More on Non-Academic Influence

Patrick Arthur Woods, Stop Counting (Or At Least Count Better):

For American legal scholarship to fulfill its purpose, it must have an impact on the development of the actual law as it is enacted and interpreted in the United States. However, legal scholarship broadly — and law review articles in particular — has become less influential on judges and members of the practicing bar over time. This short essay argues that the decline is partly attributable to the open reliance on metrics that primarily represent influence within the legal academy when measuring the value of a scholar’s work. In particular, I argue that a focus on metrics with only a tenuous connection to non-academic usage of a new scholar’s work, such as download counts, law journal citation count-based rankings methodologies, and article placement, incentivizes new legal writers to write for other academics rather than for judges, attorneys in practice, or policy-makers.

October 14, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Epstein: We Need a Real Flat Tax, Not Kleinbard's Version

Hoover Institution:  We Need a Real Flat Tax, by Richard A. Epstein (NYU):

I was heartened recently to see Edward Kleinbard’s op-ed in the New York Times, with its alluring title, “Don’t Soak the Rich.” But as I read the piece by Kleinbard, a law school professor at the University of Southern California, it became clear that his proposed solution was a classic bait-and-switch operation. Kleinbard’s so-called flat tax soaks the rich by a different route. He proposes a tax hike on everyone evenly and then suggests that the government spend most of the extra revenues on the poor, either by direct grants or public expenditures from which they derive the lion’s share of the benefit.

The flat tax deserves a better send-off. Historically, the tax was championed by such notables as Aristotle, Locke, and Hayek as a device to reduce the government’s role in the lives of its citizens. Even a limited government must do many things—provide national defense, preserve internal order, and supply the infrastructure on which a well-organized private sector markets run. Accomplishing these daunting tasks requires public revenues. The challenge for the defender of limited government is to find that set of taxes that minimizes the distortions of a market economy while generating revenue to accomplish government’s necessary and proper goals. ...

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October 14, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Call for Papers: University of North Carolina Tax Symposium

North Carolina Tax SymposiumThe University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler School of Business has issued a call for papers for its Eighteenth Annual Tax Symposium to be held April 10-11, 2015. The symposium "is designed to bring together leading tax scholars from economics, accounting, finance, law, political science, and related fields." The deadline for the call for papers is January 1, 2015:

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October 14, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thimmesch: The Tax Hangover -- Trailing Nexus

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Adam B. Thimmesch (Nebraska), Evaluating the Tax Hangover: Trailing Nexus, 74 State Tax Notes 83 (Oct. 13, 2014):

In this article, which is adapted from a longer law review article [The Tax Hangover: Trailing Nexus, 33 Va. Tax Rev. 497 (2014)], Thimmesch examines the concept of trailing nexus. He argues that the concept is consistent with the physical presence standard and proposes an economic latency approach, which he asserts is consistent with both constitutional principles and economic reality.

October 14, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Symposium on the Work of Larry Ribstein: Unlocking the Law

Ribstein 2Symposium, Unlocking the Law: Building on the Work of Professor Larry E. Ribstein, 38 Int'l Rev. L. & Econ. 1-173 (2014):

October 14, 2014 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)