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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Charitable Donations to Colleges Reached All-Time High in 2014 ($38 Billion)

Top 10Wall Street Journal, Harvard, Stanford Lead Record Year for College Gifts; $37.5 Billion Is 10.8% Jump; Top 10 Schools Bring in 18% of Donations:

Colleges and universities received a record $37.5 billion in donations last year, led by massive gifts to Harvard University, Stanford University and other already-wealthy schools.

The new high, a 10.8% jump from the prior year, was due in part to stock-market increases that boosted capital gifts, as well as a jump in donations of art, according to an annual survey being released Wednesday by the nonprofit Council for Aid to Education. ...

The top 10 recipients brought in nearly 18% of all gifts last year, up from 15% a decade earlier, according to Ann E. Kaplan, who directs the survey.

Inside Higher Ed, Deep-Pocket Donors:

Top Fund-Raisers in 2014

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

New Emmanuel Saez Data: Gains From Economic Recovery Still Limited to the Top 1%

New York Times:  Gains From Economic Recovery Still Limited to Top One Percent, by Justin Wolters:

Emmanuel Saez, the economics professor who crunches these numbers based on data provided by the Internal Revenue Service, has just released preliminary estimates for 2013. The share of total income (excluding capital gains) going to the top 1 percent remains above one-sixth, at 17.5 percent. By this measure, the concentration of income among the richest Americans remains at levels last seen nearly a century ago.

It is tempting to note that the latest reading is somewhat below the 18.9 percent share that was recorded in 2012. But Professor Saez warns against reading too much into this year-to-year change. The problem is that his estimates rely on tax data, and tax rates on the rich rose sharply in 2013, leading many to shift taxable income out of 2013, and into 2012. Thus, the latest estimate is probably too low, just as the previous year’s number was probably too high.

Saez Table 1

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January 28, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

How Student Debt Harms the Economy

Student LoansWall Street Journal op-ed:  How Student Debt Harms the Economy, by Mitch Daniels (President, Purdue University):

To the growing catalog of damage caused by the decades-long run-up in the cost of higher education, we may have to add another casualty. On top of the harm high tuition and other charges are inflicting on young people, and the way their struggles are holding back today’s economy, we must add the worry that tomorrow’s economy will suffer, too.

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

Fleming, Peroni & Shay: Formulary Apportionment in the U.S.

J. Clifton Fleming (BYU), Robert J. Peroni (Texas) & Stephen E. Shay (Harvard), Formulary Apportionment in the U.S. International Income Tax System: Putting Lipstick on a Pig?, 36 Mich. J. Int'l L. ___ (2015):

Perhaps surprisingly, this Article has shown that the debate over formulary apportionment is little more than an alternative path to the larger debate over worldwide taxation versus territorial taxation. The present U.S. international income tax regime for U.S. MNEs is an implicit, overly-generous, and incoherent quasi-territorial system that relies on residence rules, source rules, and the arm’s-length approach to apportion international business profits between domestic income that is currently taxable by the United States and foreign income that is effectively exempt, or nearly so, from U.S. taxation because of deferral and cross-crediting. This version of territoriality is quite ugly because it is highly complex and it imposes only modest restraints on the ability of U.S. MNEs to shift income out of the U.S. tax base to low-tax foreign countries.

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

Cockfield: David Foster Wallace on Tax Policy

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

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

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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

SSRN Tax Faculty Rankings

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







Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina) 



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine)



James Hines (Michigan)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Omri Marian (Florida)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


David Gamage (UCBerkeley)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Dan Shaviro (NYU)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


DIck Harvey (Villanova)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


James Hines (Michigan)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


Vic Fleischer (San Diego)



David Walker (Boston Univ.)


Bridget Crawford (Pace)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Chris Sanchirico (Penn)



Dan Shaviro (NYUt)


Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)



Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)


Carter Bishop (Suffolk)



Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)


Christopher Hoyt (UMKC)



Ed McCaffery (USC)


Steve Willis (Florida)


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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January 28, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

BP Can Deduct 80% of Gulf Oil Cleanup Payments

BP Logo (2015)U.S. PIRG, Real Value of Deepwater Horizon Disaster Payments Depend on BP’s Tax Deductions:

As British Petroleum (BP) goes through the final phases of closing out its liabilities under the Clean Water Act, public understanding of the real value of the corporation’s payments to address the damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster must include the tax deductions BP has taken and will likely take by writing the payments off as ordinary costs of doing business. ...

Over 80 percent of the total money BP has paid in connection with the Gulf oil spill so far qualifies for tax deductions. Only the Department of Justice’s $4 billion criminal fine and the SEC’s $535 million penalty were explicitly non-deductible by law. Any Clean Water Act payments will likely be non-deductible, because they will qualify as legal penalties, and the EPA, unlike many agencies, tends to be explicit that such payments be regarded as penalties. ...

Type of Payment

Tax Status

Amount Paid

Potential Tax Deduction

Damages paid to individuals/businesses


$13 billion

$4.55 billion

Penalties to the DOJ and SEC


$4.5 billion


Cleanup Costs


$15 billion

$5.25 billion

Anticipated future damages


Estimated $18 billion

$6.3 billion

Anticipated NRDA payments


Estimated $1 billion

$350 million

Anticipated Clean Water Act penalties


Maximum $13.7 billion


January 28, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Yahoo To Avoid Billions In Taxes By Spinning Off Alibaba Stake

The IRS Scandal, Day 629

IRS Logo 2Power Line, Sharyl Attkisson to Testify on Lynch Confirmation, But Why?:

Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee for Attorney General, will testify tomorrow before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It should be an interesting day. ... Its witness list includes Sharyl Attkisson and Catherine Engelbrecht. Both have grievances against the Obama administration. Attkisson says the Justice Department hacked her electronic devices when she was investigating “Fast and Furious.” Engelbrecht says the administration unfairly targeted her group, True the Vote. Both have filed lawsuits. Engelbrecht’s has been dismissed.

Both sets of grievances should be taken seriously, but I don’t understand how they materially bear on Lynch’s confirmation. The problems with the Holder Justice Department extend far beyond the particular concerns of Attkisson and Engelbrecht. Republican members presumably take it as a given that if they can expect a repeat performance under Lynch, then she is not a suitable replacement.

The key, then, is not to attack Holder but to test the extent to which Lynch professes allegiance to his policies. Whatever her private views, Lynch will not endorse, as a general matter, hacking journalists’ computers or having the IRS target conservative advocacy groups.

The Hill, Stonewalled author Attkisson to Testify on Obama’s AG Nominee:

Also testifying will be Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of the Tea Party-aligned True the Vote, which was unfairly targeted by the IRS, she has said, when it attempted to seek tax-exempt status. ...

The inclusion of Attkisson and Engelbrecht points to a fiery hearing that could turn into a referendum on Holder's time at the helm of the Justice Department. Conservatives accused Holder of politicizing his post to help Obama, and have pointed to the alleged hacking of Attkisson’s devices and the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups as evidence

Newsmax, The Hill: Sharyl Attkisson to Testify at AG Nominee Hearing:

Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of the tea party-aligned True the Vote, will also be testifying, according to The Hill, which noted that the group had claimed in a lawsuit that it was unreasonably targeted by the IRS when it attempted to seek tax-exempt status.

A federal judge threw out the case against the government brought by Engelbrecht and other conservative groups last October. The proposed testimony of Attkisson and Engelbrecht suggests that the hearing could turn into a contentious affair with the GOP and Democrats battling over Holder's term in charge of the Justice Department.

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January 28, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Kamin Presents Designing Legislation That Responds to Fiscal Uncertainty Today at NYU

Kamin (2015)David Kamin (NYU) presents In Good Times and Bad: Designing Legislation That Responds to Fiscal Uncertainty at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Viard:

Congress often moves slowly to change tax and spending laws when circumstances change, but there are ways to design legislation to anticipate and prevent the tendency towards “policy drift.”

Enactment of major pieces of legislation tends to be followed by periods of legislative stasis, even when economic conditions change. Policies during the Great Recession are an example of this. The Great Recession proved significantly deeper than forecasters had predicted, when the American Recovery And Reinvestment Act was enacted, but but as new information became available, Congress did little to alter the fiscal stimulus in response, other than to continue some expiring provisions.

There are ways to design legislation to anticipate and prevent the tendency towards “policy drift.” This paper identifies four mechanisms: delegation of legislative authority to administrative agencies, triggers that either automatically adjust policy for changed circumstances or try to force an issue onto Congress’s agenda, expirations of legislation that sunset laws on a predetermined date, and indexing to adjust policy in discrete increments in response to changes in conditions.

Responsive to Economic Conditions
Easy for Congress to Initiate
Reduces Uncertainty
Holds Congress Accountable
1. Delegation of legislative authority
2a. Automatic-adjustment triggers
2b. Alarm Bell Triggers
3. Expiration Dates for Legislation
4. Indexing
= Yes     = No     = Mixed    

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

TPC Program on Dynamic Scoring: Now What?

The Tax Policy Center hosted a program yesterday on Dynamic Scoring: Now What? (video here):

On January 26, the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at Brookings took a close look at how dynamic scoring is done, the models that JCT and CBO use for macroeconomic analysis of tax bills and other major legislation (immigration, Affordable Care Act, infrastructure), and how to communicate this analysis accurately.

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January 27, 2015 in Conferences, Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

CBO Projects Tepid Economic Growth, Rising Deficits Despite Rising Revenues

McCormack: (Over-)Taxing the Working Family

Shannon Weeks McCormack (University of Washington), Uncle Sam and the Childcare Squeeze: (Over-)Taxing the Working Family:

Today, it is more common for families to consist of two earners than one, and parents increasingly report that they require two incomes to make ends meet. But parents lucky enough to find themselves employed will also find themselves in the “childcare squeeze.” With childcare costs representing one of the highest costs incurred by young families, today’s working parents spend a strikingly large percentage of their income on childcare in order to work away from the home. Worse still, other families find themselves “squeezed out” entirely, unable to find employment with wages high enough to pay soaring childcare expenses. This Article describes the role that two provisions of the Internal Revenue Code have played in creating and aggravating these hardships and provides a blueprint for meaningful reform that will prevent the pervasive over-taxation of the working family.

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

Cutbacks Are Looming for Law School Income-Based Repayment Programs

IBRFollowing up on this morning's post, NY Times: Has IBR Solved the Student Loan Crisis?:

New York Times, A Quiet Revolution in Helping Lift the Burden of Student Debt:

The change in college financing has a potentially serious drawback when it comes to college pricing. Income-based repayment programs in Australia and Britain work in part because national governments keep tuition low. Public universities are, to different degrees, legally obligated to hold down tuition prices in exchange for financial support from state governments. But that system has been eroded by state budget cuts, driving tuition and borrowing up, and there are no price restraints attached to the federal IBR system.

This is less a problem for undergraduate programs, for which traditional students are allowed to borrow only up to $31,000 in total. Graduate students, by contrast, can borrow up to the full “cost of attendance” — tuition, fees, room and board. For medical and law schools, this can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, all potentially forgivable under IBR. This creates a strong incentive for graduate and professional schools to raise prices and pass federal taxpayers the bill.

To counter such practices, the Obama administration has proposed moving the forgiveness threshold for students with large graduate debts to 25 years from 20, and capping public service loan forgiveness at $57,000.

Above the Law, A Final Warning To Those Who Enter The Law School Black Hole:

Don’t expect income-based repayment plans to stay in its current form.

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

Blair-Stanek: Intellectual Property Law Solutions to Tax Avoidance

Andrew Blair-Stanek (Maryland), Intellectual Property Law Solutions to Tax Avoidance, 62 UCLA L. Rev. 2 (2015):

Multinational corporations use intellectual property (IP) to avoid taxes on a massive scale, by transferring their IP offshore for artificially low prices. Economists estimate that this abuse costs the U.S. Treasury as much as $90 billion each year. Yet tax policymakers and scholars have been unable to devise feasible tax-law solutions to this problem. This Article introduces an entirely new solution: change IP law rather than tax law. Multinationals’ tax-avoidance strategies rely on undervaluing their IP. This Article proposes extending existing IP law so that these low valuations make it harder for multinationals subsequently to litigate or to license the IP. For example, transferring a patent for a low price to a tax-haven subsidiary should make it harder for the multinational to demonstrate the patent’s validity, a competitor’s infringement, or entitlement to any injunctions. The low transfer price should also weigh toward lower patent damages and potentially even a finding of patent misuse. Extending IP law in such ways would deter multinationals from using IP to avoid taxes. Both case law and IP’s theoretical justifications support this approach, which also has the counterintuitive benefit of encouraging the flourishing of creative professionals such as inventors and authors.

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

Encouraging Engaged Scholarship: Perspectives from an Associate Dean for Research

Sonia Katyal (Fordham), Encouraging Engaged Scholarship: Perspectives from an Associate Dean for Research, 31 Touro L. Rev. ___ (2015):

Today, there is little question that faculty scholarship is intimately related to the reputation of a law school, and also relatedly, to the law school rankings game. Central to this reality are some emergent administrative positions — the position of Associate Dean for Research, for example — which carry important possibilities for a law school, both internally and externally, in terms of promoting attention to scholarship. Yet this position, which has only recently emerged in law schools over the last twenty years, is also one that is largely fluid and often determined by the relative institutional capabilities of the rest of the University administration, in addition to the larger landscape of legal education. Because there is no precise one size fits all model for an Associate Dean, the fluidity of the position enables us to consider a range of variables that impact scholarly visibility, both internally within a law school community, and externally within the larger scholarly world. How can we, as Associate Deans, strive to support the productivity of faculty members in these shifting times? How can Associate Deans navigate complex social relations on faculties, where issues of gender, race, class, and other variables often abound? How can we draw attention to scholarly endeavors at a time when law schools are undergoing a massive transformation for the future? How can we ensure that legal scholarship remains relevant and important? How can we value the many types of scholarly contributions that our faculty can make, without imposing a narrow view of what counts as “serious” scholarship?

Answering these questions is not an easy task. Just as there are many different types of research and scholarship, there are many different roles for an Associate Dean for Research. As Associate Dean for Research at Fordham, and one of the small number of minority women who have held this position in law school academia, I have been struck by how many of these issues can be indirectly tied to traditional, institutional questions about building a law school community. Here, questions about identity, seniority, productivity, and interdisciplinary scholarship emerge, often without clear answers. Indeed, also, identity politics — not just demographic identities, but institutional identities — affect so many of the range of questions that surround productivity and the way in which research is valued and embraced in a law school community. Mainstream law review publications, clearly, are an essential part of every law faculty in the country, and should be valued and encouraged, but an administration, should also have a greater sense of the importance of other types of engaged scholarship. Here, I draw on the history and trajectory of American Indian legal scholarship as an illustrative example.

For my perspective, see The Associate Dean for Faculty Research Position: Encouraging and Promoting Scholarship, 33 U. Tol. L. Rev. 233 (2001) (Leadership in Legal Education Symposium) (with Joseph P. Tomain):

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

NY Times: Has IBR Solved the Student Loan Crisis?

Student LoansNew York Times, A Quiet Revolution in Helping Lift the Burden of Student Debt:

Has the student loan crisis already been solved?

This might seem an absurd question. Student loan debt is at a record high of $1.1 trillion, and the average undergraduate who borrows to attend school graduates nearly $30,000 in debt. Almost 20 percent of student borrowers are in default.

Yet a couple of little-noticed legislative tweaks to a small, obscure loan repayment program — revisions made under two very different presidents — appear to have created the conditions for far-reaching changes in how a college education is bought and paid for. The result may make it much easier for students to get out from under their debts.

The first changes happened in September 2007, when Congress passed a major overhaul of the federal college financial aid system. ... Under an income-based repayment, if you make little money, you repay little money. If you make nothing, you owe nothing, and your loan doesn’t go into default. The loan forgiveness provision protects borrowers from too much interest accumulating over time.

In 2010, Barack Obama was president, and he, too, pushed a financial aid overhaul through Congress. This time, the government-subsidized private sector loan program was entirely shut down. ...

We appear to be in the middle of a rapid transition in how student loans are repaid, one that is moving the federal government into the same role that state governments played for much of the 20th century: the foundational provider of broad, unqualified subsidies for higher learning. ...

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January 27, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

15th Annual Conducting Empirical Legal Scholarship Workshop

Wash.U. LogoThe 15th Annual Workshop on Conducting Empirical Legal Scholarship, co-taught by Lee Epstein (Washington University) and Andrew D. Martin (Michigan), will run from June 15-17 at Washington University in St. Louis. The workshop is for law school faculty, lawyers, political science faculty, and graduate students interested in learning about empirical research and how to evaluate empirical work. It provides the formal training necessary to design, conduct, and assess empirical studies, and to use statistical software (Stata) to analyze and manage data.

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January 27, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 628

IRS Logo 2National Review, The Attkisson File:

Attkisson is a dogged reporter, and Stonewalled is a gripping book, organized around the Obama-administration scandals she covered at CBS News. With the exception of the IRS scandal, she covered just about all of them: Fast and Furious, green-energy crony capitalism, Benghazi, and Obamacare. Attkisson devotes a chapter to her work on each one.

Each of the scandals falls into a larger pattern of scandal management practiced by the Obama White House. (The reader can infer how the IRS scandal fits the pattern precisely to a T.) Her book is invaluable for how it analyzes and exposes this pattern, combining her reportage and her behind-the-scenes work at CBS News.

The pattern begins with blatant denials — bald lies — and stonewalling. ... Next in the pattern, when the lies fail, comes the attribution of responsibility to the lowest level of bureaucrat. ... Attkisson also shows how the administration, using a technique she calls “controversialization,” disparages any sources and reporters who move the story forward. ...

Stonewalled covers two kinds of scandal: first, the various scandals within the Obama administration; second, the scandalous treatment of these White House scandals by CBS News. With each White House scandal, Attkisson demonstrates the success, more or less, of the Obama administration’s scandal management inside the newsroom at CBS.

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January 27, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, January 26, 2015

NY Times: Middle Class Continues to Shrink Under President Obama

New York Times, Middle Class Shrinks Further as More Fall Out Instead of Climbing Up:

The middle class that President Obama identified in his State of the Union speech last week as the foundation of the American economy has been shrinking for almost half a century.

In the late 1960s, more than half of the households in the United States were squarely in the middle, earning, in today’s dollars, $35,000 to $100,000 a year. Few people noticed or cared as the size of that group began to fall, because the shift was primarily caused by more Americans climbing the economic ladder into upper-income brackets.

But since 2000, the middle-class share of households has continued to narrow, the main reason being that more people have fallen to the bottom. At the same time, fewer of those in this group fit the traditional image of a married couple with children at home, a gap increasingly filled by the elderly. 

NY Times Chart 2

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January 26, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Amazon Offers Self-Publishing For Faculty Books

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

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

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

How Yahoo Might Sell Billions in Alibaba Stock and Pay No Taxes

YahooBloomberg,  How Yahoo Might Sell Billions in Alibaba Stock and Pay No Taxes, by Jesse Drucker:

Yahoo! on Tuesday is expected to reveal something most companies usually try to keep secret: how it plans to avoid a multibillion-dollar tax bill.

The Web portal has spent more than a year figuring out how to cash out a chunk of its $40 billion stake in China-based Alibaba. Typically, a U.S. company faces a federal tax bill of about 35 percent when it sells stock in another enterprise for cash.

Yahoo took a $3 billion tax hit last year when it sold about $10 billion in Alibaba shares. This time around, activist investors are leaning on the Sunnyvale, California-based company to be more savvy.

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s chief executive officer, probably will maintain at least part of the Alibaba holding to keep a finger in China’s fast-growing Web market. Were Yahoo to sell the entire stake, it could face a federal tax bill of as much as $14 billion.

Here are some of Yahoo’s options to avoid capital-gains tax, both legal:

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

U.S. News College Efficiency Rankings

U.S. News General Logo (2015)U.S. News & World Report, Data Show Which Top-Ranked Colleges Operate Most Efficiently:

Ohio's Miami University—Oxford took top honors as the most efficient school among National Universities and Michigan's Hope College was most efficient among National Liberal Arts Colleges in an exclusive U.S. News analysis that compared spending and educational quality.

For this analysis, U.S. News looked at the public and private colleges that scored the highest on overall undergraduate academic educational quality, as measured by their position in the 2015 Best Colleges rankings, but that spent relatively less on their educational programs to achieve that quality.

U.S. News measures financial resources by taking into account how much a school spends per student on instruction, research, student services and related educational expenditures. The financial resources indicator has a 10 percent weight in the Best Colleges ranking methodology.

The lists below are based on operating efficiency, which U.S. News has defined as a school's 2013 fiscal year financial resources per student divided by its overall score – the basis U.S. News uses to determine its overall numerical rank – in the 2015 Best Colleges rankings.

This calculation reveals how much each school is spending to achieve one point in its overall score and thus its position in the rankings. The premise of the analysis is that the less a school spent relative to its position in the overall rankings, the more efficient it was in its ability to produce a top-quality education.

SchoolU.S. News RankOverall ScoreFinancial Resources RankSpending Per Student For Each Point in Overall Score
Miami Univ. (OH) 76 50 205 $383.66
Florida State 95 47 214 $392.77
Alabama 88 48 198 $423.02
SUNY-Binghamton 88 48 185 $437.23
William & Mary 33 67 110 $441.82
BYU 62 56 156 $457.29
Indiana 76 50 156 $469.00
Clemson 62 56 138 $486.02
Missouri 99 46 171 $499.61
Clark 76 50 145 $502.24

January 26, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

FBA Tax Section Hosts Tax Practice & Procedure Monthly Roundtable Today

FBA Tax SectionThe Federal Bar Association Tax Section hosts its free Tax Practice & Procedure Monthly Roundtable today from 1:00-2:00 p.m. EST (dial-in number: 866-690-2070; Password:  3008455329):

Auditing of Large Partnerships
Monte Jackel, Jackel Tax Law

The GAO recently issued a report on the audit of large partnerships. There was also a panel discussion on the topic at the most recent University of Chicago Tax Institute. The GAO report concludes that the audit rate is very low. But that is not really where the problem is. Monte Jackel, who has spent decades working on partnership issues on behalf of the government and the IRS, will address the significance of the developing IRS approach to auditing partnership returns

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January 26, 2015 in Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Prof Twitter Rankings

Twitter (2014)Ryan Whalen (Northwestern), The Law Prof Twitter Network:

Following recent discussions about the importance of blogging/tweeting to contemporary academia (see: LSE via TaxProf), and Bridget Crawford’s Law Prof Twitter Census (version 3.0) over at TheFacultyLounge, I thought I’d do some number crunching and network building.

I wrote a short script to read all of the law prof twitter handles included in the census and query the twitter API to get the follower lists and statistics for each user. This allowed me to both rank law prof twitterers (because we all know how much people like to rank things) and project them onto an interactive network so we can see how they relate to one another. ...

The law prof network (consisting of following relationships amongst law profs in the census) has 535 nodes and 16354 edges (directed density = 0.057). The entire network (including all of the followers of all of the law profs) is much larger. In total there are 741,385 unique twitter users who follow law profs.

The table below lists the top twenty profs by number of followers:

Handle Name School Followers
lessig Lawrence Lessig Harvard 324,336
SportsLawGuy Gabe Feldman Tulane 33,728
zittrain Jonathan Zittrain Harvard 30,787
McCannSportsLaw Michael McCann New Hampshire 29,771
ZephyrTeachout Zephyr Teachout Fordham 25,328
CassSunstein Cass Sunstein Harvard 21,333
gregorymcneal Greg McNeal Pepperdine 17,440
scrawford Susan Crawford Cardozo 15,641
superwuster Tim Wu Columbia 11,804
JonathanTurley Jonathan Turley George Washington 11,715
bethnoveck Beth Simone Noveck NYLS 10,422
patentlyo Dennis Crouch Missouri 9,889
PrivacyLaw Michael Scott Southwestern 9,024
garylfrancione Gary Francione Rutgers-Newark 8,844
adamwinkler Adam Winkler UCLA 8,706

Limiting our rankings to those professors who have the most followers amongst other law professors on twitter, changes the results quite a bit:

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January 26, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Spring 2015 Law Review Article Submission Guide

Nancy Levit (UMKC) & Allen Rostron (UMKC) have updated their incredibly useful document, which contains two charts for the Spring 2015 submission season covering 204 law reviews.

The first chart (pp. 1-52) contains information gathered from the journals’ websites on:

  • Methods for submitting an article (such as by e-mail, ExpressO, regular mail, Scholastica, or Twitter)
  • Any special formatting requirements
  • How to request an expedited review
  • How to withdraw an article after it has been accepted for publication elsewhere

The second chart (pp. 53-59) contains the ranking of the law reviews and their schools under six measures:

  • U.S. News: Overall Rank
  • U.S. News: Peer Reputation Rating
  • U.S. News: Judge/Lawyer Reputation Rating
  • Washington & Lee Citation Ranking
  • Washington & Lee Impact Factor
  • Washington & Lee Combined Rating

They also have posted a list of links to the submissions information on each law journal’s website. Nancy notes:

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

Reynolds: Obama's Proposed Tax Increases Target the Middle Class

USA Today op-ed:  Middle-class Savings Like Blood in the Water, by Glenn Reynolds (Tennessee):

Bank robber Willie Sutton is said to have explained his career this way: "That's where the money is." Whether Sutton ever really said that, it's an aphorism that, according to Bloomberg's Megan McArdle, explains President Obama's plans to go after middle class assets like 529 college savings plans and home appreciation.

Though millions of Americans have been putting money into "tax free" 529 plans to save for their children's increasingly expensive college educations, President Obama would change the law so that withdrawals from the plans to fund college would be taxed as ordinary income. So while you used to be able to get a nice tax benefit by saving for college, now you'll be shelling out to Uncle Sam every time you withdraw to pay for Junior's dorm fees.

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 627

IRS Logo 2Commentary, Contentions Obama Administration Again Proves It Cannot Be Trusted with Your Data:

Yesterday’s important ObamaCare revelation was the latest in a series of Obama-era developments in which big-government projects prove their conservative critics correct. This particular aspect of the administrative state is, however, worse than incompetence. It’s yet another proof that the government cannot be trusted with the private information it gathers from the public.

This has been an ongoing debate that conservatives have lately been winning handily. Democrats moved to require more transparency in those who make political donations, though the Democrats sought to protect major liberal donor groups like unions. Conservatives said the information would be used to harass and target donors. The Obama administration then promptly proved conservatives right, by doing just that.

Then the IRS scandal came to light. Conservative and pro-Israel groups were targeted for nonprofit status, and part of the targeting was invasive questioning. It was unnecessary and unfairly applied, but conservatives also said the IRS couldn’t be trusted with the information. The IRS then proved them right, going on a leaking spree and releasing confidential information, in some cases to ideological allies for cooperative (and very much illegal) targeting. Concerns about government use of private information have infused opposition to gun-control legislation as well.

And now comes perhaps the least surprising entry in the list: the government’s ObamaCare website is sharing insurance customers’ personal information with advertisers.

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January 26, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, January 25, 2015

CBS News: Are Law School Admission Standards Slipping?

CBS NewsCBS News, Are Law School Admission Standards Slipping?:

Good news for aspiring lawyers: It's getting easier to get into law school, and the legal job market is showing some signs of improvement. The bad news: Many experts worry that unqualified entrants will have little chance to pass the bar exam and will be saddled with unaffordable levels of debt.

According to an analysis by Jerome Organ, a professor at the University of St. Thomas, 33 percent of law school entrants had median LSAT scores of 160 or higher in 2013, compared with 40.8 percent in 2010 (the LSAT is scored on a scale between 120 and 180). Conversely, first-year students with scores of 149 or lower rose from 14.2 percent to 22.5 percent.

"Not all law schools are lowering admission standards," wrote Wendy Margolis of the Law School Admissions Council in an email. "If some of them are, you would need to ask them about their individual reasons. ...

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January 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

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 #1 paper and a new paper debuting on the list at #5:

  1. [230 Downloads]  The Rise and Fall of the Consumption Tax: A Historical Perspective, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)
  2. [216 Downloads]  Important Developments in Federal Income Taxation (2014), by Edward A. Morse (Creighton)
  3. [169 Downloads]  Do Audits Matter?: A Parallax Theory of the Relation between Tax Enforcement and Underreporting, by J. T. Manhire (U.S. Treasury Department)
  4. [139 Downloads]  Thomas Piketty and Inequality: Legal Causes and Tax Solutions, by Paul L. Caron (Pepperdine)
  5. [139 Downloads]  Return on Political Investment in the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, by Hui Chen (Zurich), Katherine Gunny (Colorado) & Karthik Ramanna (Harvard)

January 25, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bainbridge: Solve the Law School Crisis by Unleashing the Free Market

Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA), Want to Solve the Law School Scam? Expose Law Schools to a Market for Control:

If you think of law schools as companies selling a product, our customer base has skrunk dramatically and continues to shrink:

In a market system, the result would be business failures and a lot of mergers. Sadly, higher education is effectively insulated by the government from market forces, so we're not seeing the kind of consolidation process that is necessary.

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January 25, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

The IRS Scandal, Day 626

IRS Logo 2Commentary, Contentions Obama Administration Again Proves It Cannot Be Trusted with Your Data:

Yesterday’s important ObamaCare revelation was the latest in a series of Obama-era developments in which big-government projects prove their conservative critics correct. This particular aspect of the administrative state is, however, worse than incompetence. It’s yet another proof that the government cannot be trusted with the private information it gathers from the public.

This has been an ongoing debate that conservatives have lately been winning handily. Democrats moved to require more transparency in those who make political donations, though the Democrats sought to protect major liberal donor groups like unions. Conservatives said the information would be used to harass and target donors. The Obama administration then promptly proved conservatives right, by doing just that.

Then the IRS scandal came to light. Conservative and pro-Israel groups were targeted for nonprofit status, and part of the targeting was invasive questioning. It was unnecessary and unfairly applied, but conservatives also said the IRS couldn’t be trusted with the information. The IRS then proved them right, going on a leaking spree and releasing confidential information, in some cases to ideological allies for cooperative (and very much illegal) targeting. Concerns about government use of private information have infused opposition to gun-control legislation as well.

And now comes perhaps the least surprising entry in the list: the government’s ObamaCare website is sharing insurance customers’ personal information with advertisers.

Continue reading

January 25, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It Is Time to End Tenure at Age 70

Retire AlreadyDan Subotnik (Touro), Untenuring Tenure:

A specter haunting the academy today is of an intellectually wizened white male professoriate refusing to step aside for au courant, energetic, ambitious, and of course diverse younger faculty. Part of a larger concern with tenure itself, the fear in question is that tenured old-timers, of which I am one, are holding fast to financial and administrative perks, limiting institutional control and stifling institutional development in the process.

Sometimes the fear is expressed openly.  Intractable seniors, according to a recent, widely debated Chronicle Review post (The Forever Professors) often “crush the young” through their “selfish[ness].” A law school colleague argues that, having enjoyed our share of university bounty, responsible seniors should facilitate succession by quickly and gracefully exiting the stage.  Such a development might be contrasted with what is actually happening today:  seniors in effect extorting rich buyouts to retire.

More of the time, of course, the critique is not explicit. Yet who among us seniors has not felt the sting of “what are you still doing here, gramps” looks from junior law faculty and deans? ...

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January 24, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (15)

Maine Governor Proposes Taxing Large Charities

Wall Street Journal, Maine Gov. LePage Wants to Tax Big Nonprofits:

A sweeping proposal to cut taxes for Maine families and businesses could upend one of the most widely accepted practices in the country: the property-tax exemption for nonprofit organizations.

A recent budget plan by Republican Gov. Paul LePage calling for an overhaul of individual, corporate and sales taxes also would make Maine the first state in the nation to require colleges, hospitals and other large charities to go on the property-tax rolls in their municipalities.

“It would be a stunning development,” said Daphne Kenyon, a fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, Mass. “I think there would be all kinds of reaction, from litigation to nonprofits’ possibly moving.”

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January 24, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (10)

Houston Hosts Moot Court National Championship This Weekend

The IRS Scandal, Day 625

IRS Logo, In the Garden of Dark Money, the Thorny Case of Rosebush Corp.:

Ever since news broke in 2013 that the IRS had targeted the exemption applications of tea party and some other politically-oriented groups for extra scrutiny, conventional wisdom had it that the agency throws up roadblocks for organizations trying to obtain its seal of approval.

But much evidence indicates the IRS backs down without much fuss when groups seeking 501(c)(4) “social welfare” status come calling.

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January 24, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 23, 2015

80% of Provosts Favor Civility as Factor in Faculty Hiring and Tenure Decisions

Inside Higher Ed, 2015 Survey of Chief Academic Officers:

CivilityA majority of provosts are concerned about declining faculty civility in American higher education. And a large majority of provosts believe that civility is a legitimate criterion in hiring and evaluating faculty members. Generally, the provosts are confident that faculty members show civility in their treatment of students, but have mixed views on whether professors show civility in dealings with colleagues and doubt how much civility is shown to administrators.

These results are clear from Inside Higher Ed's 2015 Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers. And after a year of intense debate over civility, the survey shows that provosts are not aligned with faculty leaders on the issue. ...

How Provosts View Civility on Their Campuses

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January 23, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

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

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

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

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

Tax Court: Payments for Donations of Eggs to Infertile Couples Constitute Income, Not Damages Excludable Under § 104

EggFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Perez v. Commissioner, 144 T.C. No. 4 (Jan. 22, 2014):

We acknowledge that this case has received some publicity in tax and nontax publications, which is why it is important to state clearly what it does not concern. It does not require us to decide whether human eggs are capital assets. It does not require us to figure out how to allocate basis in the human body, or the holding period for human-body parts, or the character of the gain from the sale of those parts. Fn.4

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January 23, 2015 in New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

ITPF, TPC Conference Today on Corporate Inversions and Tax Policy

TPC 2The International Tax Policy Forum and Tax Policy Center are co-hosting a conference today at the Brookings Institution from 8:50 - 11:15 a.m. (webcast here) on Corporate Inversions and Tax Policy:

Corporate inversions, which change the tax home of a multinational corporation by merging it with a foreign company that then becomes the parent of the multinational group, received considerable attention in 2014, including from the IRS, which in September released a notice describing regulations the government intends to issue to reduce the tax benefits of future inversion transactions. Corporate inversions elicit strong reactions: some call U.S. companies involved in these transactions “unpatriotic,” while others view them as symptomatic of an out-of-step U.S. corporate tax system, with its high rate and worldwide reach that differs from the territorial taxes widely used by other countries. These inversions are also not unique to the U.S, with firms in the United Kingdom and elsewhere also using them during periods when their foreign incomes were subject to high rates of domestic taxation.

On Friday, January 23rd, the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and the International Tax Policy Forum will co-host a conference examining the history, causes, and consequences of corporate inversions, the policy response in the United Kingdom, and what actions the U.S. should take. Experts from a variety of backgrounds will share their perspectives, and Senator Orrin Hatch will give keynote remarks at the close of the event.

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January 23, 2015 in Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TurboTax Apologizes for Bait-and-Switch, Provides $25 Refunds to Customers

Turbo Tax (2015)Following up on last week's post, TurboTax Customers Angry Over Change In Tax Return Software:  USA Today, TurboTax 'Messed Up,' Refunds Customers:

Investors outraged by TurboTax’ recent change that forced them to pay 50% more for the tax preparation software: put down your pitchforks. TurboTax isn’t just apologizing, but will refund your money.

Beginning Friday, TurboTax’ maker Intuit will issue $25 refunds back to any TurboTax customer forced to buy the most expensive version of the company’s software this year after buying the less-costly Deluxe version last year. Intuit will put a link up on its Web site on Jan. 23 where TurboTax customers can claim their refund. ...

In addition to refunding $25 to affected customers, TurboTax General Manager Sasan Goodarzi is issuing a lengthy written apology to TurboTax customers for the change.

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January 23, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (18)

Living Amidst Wildlife in Malibu

LionMy wife and I were watching our DVR'd Saturday Night Live Wednesday night in bed when we received an email warning us that a mountain lion had been spotted on campus a few hundred yards from our home. Pepperdine helpfully included an Emergency Preparedness Guide with specific safety guidelines for encountering a mountain lion: 

Should you encounter a mountain lion, take the following actions:

  • If you see a mountain lion, maintain eye contact and back away slowly. Do not run; the lion’s instinct will be to chase you. Appear as large, loud, and powerful as possible and yell and throw stones. ...
  • If attacked, fight back. Under no circumstances should you fall to the ground or roll into a fetal position. Hit as hard as possible, especially around the animal’s head. If you are attacked from behind, try to reposition yourself to meet the cat face to face.

SNL guest host Kevin Hart apparently lives near us (click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video directly on YouTube to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate):

January 23, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 624

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal, 7 Down, 1 to Go: An Ungracious Address Even By This President’s Standards, by James Taranto:

In four of the past six midterm elections, voters have administered what is sometimes called a “shellacking” or a “thumpin’ ” to the sitting president’s party. In 1994, 2006, 2010 and 2014, the president’s party lost seats in both houses of Congress and the majority in at least one. In 1995, 2007 and 2011 the president began his State of the Union address with an acknowledgment of the other party’s electoral success. ...

This year’s State of the Union was an ungracious address even by this president’s standards. There was no word of congratulation for the Republicans or even for the new Congress. Worse, Obama extemporaneously taunted his adversaries about his own past electoral success.

“I have no more campaigns to run,” the president declared during the speech’s coda. One suspects that was not intended as an applause line, but applaud some in the audience did. Obama began reading his next sentence, then interrupted with a #humblebrag: “My only agenda—I know because I won both of them.”

To which we add the obligatory asterisk: While it is true without qualification that he won the first one, the second came with the assistance of the Internal Revenue Service’s suppression of his opponents. To be sure, one cannot rule out the possibility that he would have won a licit campaign. But then again, it’s not as if it was a 45-7 blowout.

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January 23, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Knoll Presents Balancing State Sovereignty and Interstate Commerce Today at Northwestern

KnollMichael Knoll (Pennsylvania) presents Striking a Balance Between State Sovereignty and Interstate Commerce, 75 State Tax Notes ___ (2015) (with Ruth Mason (Virginia)), at Northwestern today as part of its Tax Colloquium Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

This Article discusses Wynne v. Comptroller, a dormant Commerce Clause case against Maryland pending before the Supreme Court. We use economic analysis to rebut Maryland’s claim that its tax regime does not discriminate against interstate commerce. We also argue that the parties’ framing of the central issue in the case as whether the Constitution requires states to relieve double taxation draws focus away from the discrimination question, and therefore could undermine the Wynnes’ case and lead to unjustified narrowing of the dormant Commerce Clause. We also show how our approach to tax discrimination resolves many of the issues that seemed to trouble the Justices at oral argument.

January 22, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

D.C. Tax Law Gave Washington Nationals Unique Advantage in Inking Max Scherzer to $210 Million Deal

MaxWashington Post, Can Max Scherzer’s Contract be a Model for Other Superstars Thinking of Washington?:

Washington may have at least one advantage over other pro sports cities when it comes to wooing high-priced free agent talent: the District’s tax laws.

Scott Boras, the agent for pitcher Max Scherzer and several other Nationals stars who has negotiated some of the biggest contracts in sports, said local tax laws allowed Scherzer and the Nationals to hammer out a creative contract that could provide a blueprint of sorts for other area teams courting big-name talent. That includes the kind of deals that likely would be required for the Wizards to lure, say, Kevin Durant back to his home town or for the Nationals to keep slugger Bryce Harper. ...

Boras said Scherzer’s $210 million contract is not only historic in terms of its size but noteworthy in structure. The deal takes advantage of District tax laws to save Scherzer money — possibly in the seven or eight figures — and keeps the team’s annual salary payments down. It would not have worked in New York, Los Angeles or most other baseball cities, he said. ...

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January 22, 2015 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Responsible Way Out of the Law School Crisis

Law School (2015)Jay Sterling Silver (St. Thomas), Pedagogically Sound Cuts, Tighter (Not Looser) Accreditation Standards, and a Well-oiled Doomsday Machine: The Responsible Way Out of the Crisis in Legal Education, 66 Rutgers L. Rev. 353 (2014):

With runaway tuition, sky-high graduate debt and unemployment, plummeting law school applications, and the tectonic shift in the nature and delivery of legal services further clouding the picture, we must do more than bitterly bemoan the plight of law students and loosely cast aspersions over how we got here. We must decide, very quickly, exactly what in legal education should be salvaged, what should be reengineered, and what should be tossed overboard. The trouble is, with little agreement on what legal education is supposed to do, how it should do it, or who it is supposed to serve, most of the solutions posed to date are shots in the dark, often liberally laced with acrimony, that will do more harm than good. Dean Erwin Chemerinsky got it right when he said that the measures recently proposed by the ABA's Task Force on the Future of Legal Education to address the crisis in legal education are “definitely not a blueprint for useful reform.”

With an eye to the role of legal education as a training ground, a public and private good, and a unit of the academy, this Article prescribes a clear set of pedagogically sound measures to root out the actual causes of the crisis and significantly reduce law school tuition, graduate debt, and graduate unemployment, while preserving the considerable, but underappreciated, good in legal education. The man who sounded the general alarm with his book Failing Law Schools lays much of the blame at the feet of the professoriate, which, he says, is overpaid, underworked, and resistant to change. According to Professor Brian Tamanaha, the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, and numerous others, the principal culprits are tenure, high salaries, the shunning of adjuncts, emphasis on scholarship, and the ABA accreditation standards that prop it all up, drive up tuition, and block competition and change. Deregulate legal education, they advise, and allow the marketplace to develop leaner alternatives to the one-size-fits-all model. Specific suggestions include replacing the third year of law school with apprenticeships or lopping it off altogether to eliminate a year of esoteric filler, and replace tenured faculty with adjuncts fresh from practice.

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January 22, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)