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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Schmalbeck: Ending the Sweetheart Deal Between Big-Time College Sports and the Tax System

NCAA LogoRichard Schmalbeck (Duke), Ending the Sweetheart Deal between Big-Time College Sports and the Tax System:

This paper was prepared for the annual conference of the National Center for Philanthropy and Law, held at the NYU Law School, held October 24-25, 2013. The overall topic was “Tax Issues Affecting Colleges and Universities,” and I was asked to address specifically those issues relating to athletics. This paper considers two specific issues that have in common only that they involve college sports, and are plagued by egregiously bad, (in this case, egregiously generous), tax treatment: the failure of the IRS to regard any part of the revenue from college sports as unrelated business income, and the choice by Congress to allow taxpayers to deduct 80% of contributions that they make to colleges or their “booster clubs,” even when those contributions entitle the donors to special privileges in purchasing tickets to college athletic events.

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February 18, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Call for Papers: International Energy Taxation

Call for papers:  International Taxation in the Energy Sector:

Oil, Gas and Energy Law Intelligence invites submissions for a special issue on International Taxation in the Energy Sector. ... Submissions of relevant tax articles are invited for inclusion in this special tax issue. It is intended that the majority of papers will cover international taxation, but country specific tax issues related to the energy sector will also be welcomed. Potential topics related to these international tax issues could include:

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February 18, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Drexel Symposium: ERISA at 40

Drexel LogoSymposium, ERISA at 40: What Were They Thinking?, 6 Drexel L. Rev. 257-587 (2014)

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February 18, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Princeton Review: The 200 Best Value Colleges

PrincetonPrinceton Review, Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Best Value Colleges and What It Takes to Get In (2015):

The Princeton Review has released a new book and online resource that addresses two of the major concerns of college applicants and their parents: paying for college and graduating with a good job and paycheck"  ... [A] one-of-a-kind guide to the nation's academically best and most affordable colleges that also have excellent records of alumni employment. The Princeton Review ... developed a unique “Return-on-Education” (ROE) rating to winnow its list of colleges for this book. ROE measures 40 weighted data points. Everything from academics, cost, financial aid, and student debt to statistics on graduation rates, alumni salaries and job satisfaction.

The Princeton Review lists the Top 5o Schools for Return on Education.  Here are the Top 10:

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February 18, 2015 in Book Club, Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 650

IRS Logo 2Bayou Buzz, Attorney General: Final Report On IRS Probe To Come Out Soon:

Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday he expects the Justice Department to soon release a list of final recommendations stemming from its probe into whether the Internal Revenue Service wrongfully targeted conservative groups.

"I am satisfied with the progress that the criminal division has done; the civil rights division as well," Holder told reporters at a press conference. "I expect that we will have some final recommendations coming up relatively soon.

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February 18, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Death of Marvin Chirelstein

ChirelsteinColumbia Law School, Marvin A. Chirelstein: Revered Professor and Leading Scholar of Federal Taxation, Corporate Law, and Contracts:

Columbia Law School Professor Emeritus Marvin A. Chirelstein, a leading scholar of federal taxation, corporate law, and contracts whose textbooks are still used by students across the country, died on Feb. 16. He was 86.

Chirelstein first joined Columbia Law School in 1954 to work on the Federal Income Tax Project under Dean William C. Warren. He then joined the government as an attorney in the U.S. Department of the Treasury and later taught at Rutgers School of Law and Yale Law School. Chirelstein returned to Columbia Law School as a visiting professor in 1981 and became a full-time faculty member in 1984. Two years later, he was named the first Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, an appointment announced by then-Columbia University President Michael I. Sovern ’55.

In addition to being a highly sought after academic expert on taxation, contracts, and corporate law, Chirelstein was a beloved professor who once taught a seminar on the legal side of one of his favorite sports: boxing. A music lover who played the violin, he was known for his dry sense of humor and quiet wit and was adored by students. Two of his textbooks, Concepts and Case Analysis in the Law of Contracts and Federal Income Taxation: A Law Student’s Guide to the Leading Cases and Concepts, have guided generations of future lawyers through the complexities of the law. A third, Cases and Materials on Corporate Finance, opened the way to interdisciplinary analysis of corporate law.

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February 17, 2015 in Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Peroni Presents Getting Serious About Cross-Border Earnings Stripping Today at Minnesota

Peroni (2015)Robert Peroni (Texas) presents Getting Serious About Cross-Border Earnings Stripping: Establishing an Analytical Framework today at Minnesota as part of its Perspectives on Taxation Lecture Series hosted by Kristin Hickman:

Earnings stripping the U.S. corporate tax base is a major objective of U.S. corporations that engage in “inversion” transactions to become a subsidiary in a foreign-parented group. Prof. Peroni will discuss how the earnings stripping problem extends beyond corporate inversions to U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-parent groups regardless of how the groups were formed, and also how this problem is independent of the debate over whether the U.S. should adopt a territorial approach. He will share his theoretical framework, developed with Steve Shay (Harvard) and Cliff Fleming (BYU), for analyzing earnings stripping and identifying the scope of an appropriate response. He will also address these issues in context of international tax reform more broadly.

February 17, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

2016 U.S. News Law School Rankings

U.S. News Logo (2014)Robert Morse (Director of Data Research, U.S. News & World Report) has announced that the new law school rankings will be released online on March 10 and in hard copy later in March. Here are the current 2015 law school rankings:

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February 17, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NLJ: Minorities Gain at Less Prestigious Law Schools

National Law Journal,  Lower Tier Leads in Diversity: Minorities Gain at Less Prestigious Law Schools:

DiversityThe percentage of African-American and Hispanic students enrolled in law school increased between 2010 and 2013, but those gains came almost exclusively at less prestigious law schools with lower admission standards, according to new research.

Aaron Taylor, an assistant professor at the Saint Louis University School of Law, examined application trends, Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores and enrollment figures for minority and white students in both 2010 and 2013. He hoped to better understand how the dramatic downturn in law school applications nationwide has affected diversity.

He found that law schools at the bottom of the prestige ladder — those with the lowest median LSAT scores for incoming students — have relied disproportionately on African-American and Hispanic students to fill their classes. That shift may have served as an economic lifeline for law schools during a difficult period, but bolstered the racial stratification that already existed. Elite law schools with higher median LSAT scores actually saw a proportional decrease in African-American and Hispanic students between 2010 and 2013, Taylor found.

"You've got more black and Hispanic students attending schools that are considered less prestigious in 2013," he said of his paper, Diversity As A Law School Survival Strategy, which will appear in the Saint Louis University Law Review.

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February 17, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Rosenzweig: Does Punishment Work (At Least In International Tax)?

Jotwell Adam Rosenzweig (Washington University), Does Punishment Work (At Least In International Tax)? (Jotwell) (reviewing Niels Johannesen (University of Copenhagen) & Gabriel Zucman (UC-Berkeley & London School of Economics), The End of Bank Secrecy? An Evaluation of the G20 Tax Haven Crackdown, 2014 Am. Econ. J. Econ. Policy 65):

The best way to describe the project is to quote the abstract:

During the financial crisis, G20 countries compelled tax havens to sign bilateral treaties providing for exchange of bank information. Policymakers have celebrated this global initiative as the end of bank secrecy. Exploiting a unique panel dataset, our study is the first attempt to assess how the treaties affected bank deposits in tax havens. Rather than repatriating funds, our results suggest that tax evaders shifted deposits to havens not covered by a treaty with their home country. The crackdown thus caused a relocation of deposits at the benefit of the least compliant havens.

This paper provides an extremely important and timely contribution to the international tax literature. Anecdotal evidence about the effectiveness of punishment has been mixed to date, and there has been little empirical data directly on the question. Further, the question taps into a larger debate over the underlying, root causes of tax competition more generally. By providing empirical data directly on this question, Johannesen and Zucman move the debate forward in an extremely valuable way.

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February 17, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Pedigree and Law Firm Success

Above the Law, Translating Talent Into ‘Success': Another Look At Law School Pedigree:

How do law firms fare in translating expected talent to actual success? Recently, we published the ATL Top Litigation Firms By Law School Pedigree ranking, a look, focusing on litigation practice, at how longstanding assumptions about attorney credentials are holding up in this new environment. ...

[H]ow does expected talent (as measured by law school credentials) correlate with other indicators of “success”? Below is a comparison — for amusement purposes only! — of the interplay between School Pedigree Rank and Am Law PPP Ranking. Keep in mind that this group only includes those firms in the intersection between “Top Litigation Firms” (as defined in our methodology) and the Am Law 100 (i.e., the boutiques are generally missing):

Chart A

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February 17, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

2015 Tannenwald Tax Writing Competition

Tannenwald (2013)The Theodore Tannenwald, Jr. Foundation for Excellence in Tax Scholarship and American College of Tax Counsel are sponsoring the 2015 Tannenwald Tax Writing Competition:

Named for the late Tax Court Judge Theodore Tannenwald, Jr., and designed to perpetuate his dedication to legal scholarship of the highest quality, the Tannenwald Writing Competition is open to all full- or part-time law school students, undergraduate or graduate. Papers on any federal or state tax-related topic may be submitted in accordance with the Competition Rules.


  • 1st Place:  $5,000, and publication in the Florida Tax Review
  • 2nd Place:  $2,500
  • 3rd Place:  $1,500

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February 17, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Systematic Inequality and Hierarchy in Faculty Hiring Networks

Aaron Clauset (Colorado), Samuel Arbesman (Colorado) & Daniel B. Larremore (Harvard), Systematic Inequality and Hierarchy in Faculty Hiring Networks:

F1.large-1The faculty job market plays a fundamental role in shaping research priorities, educational outcomes, and career trajectories among scientists and institutions. However, a quantitative understanding of faculty hiring as a system is lacking. Using a simple technique to extract the institutional prestige ranking that best explains an observed faculty hiring network—who hires whose graduates as faculty—we present and analyze comprehensive placement data on nearly 19,000 regular faculty in three disparate disciplines. Across disciplines, we find that faculty hiring follows a common and steeply hierarchical structure that reflects profound social inequality. Furthermore, doctoral prestige alone better predicts ultimate placement than a U.S. News & World Report rank, women generally place worse than men, and increased institutional prestige leads to increased faculty production, better faculty placement, and a more influential position within the discipline. These results advance our ability to quantify the influence of prestige in academia and shed new light on the academic system.

Inside Higher Ed, Study Suggests Insular Faculty Hiring Practices in Elite Departments:

By now, the secret is out in some disciplines: if you want to land a tenure-line faculty job, you’d better attend a highly ranked graduate program -- not necessarily because they’re better but because the market favors prestige. But a new study suggests that “social inequality” might be worse than previously thought, across a range of different disciplines.

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February 17, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (5)

Does the U.S. System of Taxation on Multinationals Advantage Foreign Acquirers?

Andrew Bird (Carnegie Mellon), Alexander Edwards (Toronto) & Terry J. Shevlin (UC-Irvine), Does the U.S. System of Taxation on Multinationals Advantage Foreign Acquirers?:

The ability for deferral of home country taxation on multinationals’ foreign earnings within the U.S. tax code creates an incentive for firms to avoid or delay repatriation of earnings to the U.S. Consistent with this incentive, prior research has documented a substantial lockout effect resulting from the current U.S. worldwide tax and financial reporting systems. We hypothesize and find that U.S. domiciled M&A target firms with more locked-out earnings are more likely to be acquired by foreigner acquirers, compared to domestic acquirers as a result of this tax advantage. The effect is economically significant; a standard deviation increase in our proxy for locked-out earnings is associated with a 14% relative increase in the likelihood that an acquirer is foreign. We also examine the impact of the home country tax system of the foreign acquirers. Because multinationals facing territorial tax systems are able to shift income to save taxes to a greater extent than firms domiciled in worldwide countries, the tax advantages for a foreign firm acquiring a U.S. target with locked-out earnings are potentially greater when the foreign firm operates under a territorial tax system. We find that foreign acquirers of U.S. target firms with locked-out earnings are more likely to be residents of countries that use territorial tax systems.

February 17, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 649

IRS Logo 2Breitbart,  House Republicans To Pressure Senate Judiciary Members To Oppose Loretta Lynch Nomination:

More than 20 House Republicans have already signed on to a letter that Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) is circulating—and planning to send to the Senate Judiciary Committee later this week—calling on Senate Republicans to block the nomination of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General of the United States in committee, Breitbart News has learned exclusively. ...

“We appreciate Ms. Lynch for her many years of outstanding service to our nation,” the House Republicans write. “Nonetheless, having observed her nomination hearing testimony, we can only conclude that she has no intention of departing in any meaningful way from the policies of Attorney General Eric Holder, who has politicized the Department of Justice and done considerable harm to the administration of justice.” ...

They cite specific concerns with Lynch’s ... unwillingness to support the appointment of a truly independent special prosecutor to oversee the investigation of the IRS scandal. “When given chances to differentiate herself from Attorney General Holder, she chose not to,” the House Republicans write. ...

[W]hen asked whether, unlike Attorney General Holder, she would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service, she deflected the question, saying “[m]y understanding is that that matter has been considered and that the matter has been resolved to continue with the investigation as currently set forth.

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February 17, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Call for Proposals: Association for Mid-Career Tax Law Professors

The Association for Mid-Career Tax Law Professors (“AMT”) has issued a  Call for Proposals:

Mid-CareerAMT is a recurring conference intended to bring together relatively recently-tenured professors of tax law for scholarly discussion. Our inaugural meeting will be held on Thursday and Friday, June 4 & 5, 2015, on the campus of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. We anticipate that official proceedings will wrap up by noon on June 5. Thanks to the generous support of Law, Finance and Governance @ Ohio State and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, AMT is able to provide attendees with conference meals and refreshments. AMT can commit to ensuring that these meals will not be “lavish or extravagant under the circumstances.” Attendees will be expected to cover their own travel and lodging expenses.

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February 16, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Iowa Law School Admits Iowa Undergrads Without LSATs

Iowa LogoIn the wake of the new ABA Accreditation Standard permitting law schools to admit up to 10% of their class without LSAT scores:  Iowa has announced that it will admit Iowa undergraduates without LSAT scores as long as they (1) are in the Top 10% of their class or have at least a 3.5 GPA after their junior year, and (2) scored in the 85th percentile of higher on the ACT, SAT, GMAT, or GRE.

Iowa's 1L enrollment the past five years:

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February 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Villanova Seeks to Hire Lawyer to Teach Online Courses in Graduate Tax Program

VillanovaVillanova seeks to hire a tax practitioner to teach online courses in its Graduate Tax Program and coordinate faculty coverage of online tax classes:

Teaching responsibilities include teaching multiple online sections of classes in the Graduate Tax Program. In addition, this position will coordinate class coverage with adjuncts or other faculty teaching in the online curriculum. The person will also work closely with full-time faculty in the Graduate Tax Program and instructional designers involved in assisting with the development and maintenance of courses in the online curriculum.

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February 16, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Eleven Law Schools Offer Online Tax LL.M.s

Online DegreeThe National Jurist reports that eleven law schools now offer tax or tax-related online LL.M.s:

Boston University
Western Michigan-Cooley

Estate Planning
John Marshall
Western New England

International TaxThomas Jefferson

Employee BenefitsJohn Marshall

February 16, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Benefit Corporations: The Latest Development in the Evolution of Social Enterprise

Mystica M. Alexander (Bentley University), Benefit Corporations—The Latest Development in the Evolution of Social Enterprise: Are they Worthy of a Taxpayer Subsidy?, 38 Seton Hall Legis. J. 219 (2014):

Benefit CorporationThe purpose of this Article is twofold: (1) placing the Benefit Corporation within the historical context of the social enterprise movement in the United States, and (2) considering whether Benefit Corporations should qualify for the preferred tax treatment given to nonprofit organizations. Part II of this Article explores the evolution of the social enterprise movement and the path leading to the hybrid entity’s rise in the United States. Part III provides a closer look at the legal requirements imposed on Benefit Corporations. Part IV outlines the requirements that must be met for a nonprofit organization to qualify for tax benefits and the rationale behind such benefits. Part V addresses whether the tax benefits made available to nonprofit organizations should be extended to Benefit Corporations. This Article concludes that although the Benefit Corporation represents a natural progression in the evolution of social enterprise, its organizational and operational structure does not provide sufficient grounds for extending special tax treatment to these organizations.

February 16, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yin: Goodbye to Tax Notes?

Yin (2015)TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Goodbye to Tax Notes?, by George K. Yin (Virginia):    

In Goodbye to Tax Notes, Michael Graetz bids adieu to one of my favorite sources of tax information because of dramatic changes in their subscription practices. He states that “there are many alternative sources of information and new outlets to publish the kinds of short articles that Tax Notes contains.” He mentions SSRN, ITPF, Paul Caron’s blog, and other possibilities. While I and my school are not happy with the subscription changes, I am not sure there are good alternatives available and would be happy to learn otherwise.

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February 16, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Livingston: Rutgers Administration Is 'Pulling a Fast One' With Merger of Camden and Newark Law Schools

Rutgers Law SchoolsFollowing up on my previous post, Rutgers-Camden and Rutgers-Newark Law Schools to Merge:  Tax Prof Michael Livingston (Rutgers-Camden), The Rutgers Law "Merger":  Lots of Form, Not Much Substance:

[T]he proposed merger of the Camden and Newark Law Schools into one "R-Law" brand ... is high on form, but low on content, and the style is--well, read on.

The merger was originally prompted by a desire to fend off a proposed takeover of the Camden law school by Rowan University, which was perceived as less prestigious than Rutgers. An unstated goal is to distract attention from the relatively poor performance of both, but especially the Camden, law schools since the Rowan proposal was blocked. In the most recent US News survey, the Camden law school ranked 81 and Newark 83; since Camden has since been forced to accept more (read weaker) students by the central administration, there is a good chance it will fall out of the top 100 in the next survey.

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February 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Is The Bluebook Subject to Copyright Protection?

BluebookABA Journal, Legal Minds Differ on Whether The Bluebook Is Subject to Copyright Protection:

Controversy is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of The Bluebook, but the bible of legal citation is at the center of an increasingly nasty dispute over whether it is subject to copyright protection.

Open-source advocates are contending that the style and citation manual is an essential piece of legal infrastructure and can't be preserved as private property under copyright law. The book's publishers say otherwise.

The dustup began when Frank Bennett, an academic at Nagoya University Graduate School of Law, wanted to add The Bluebook to Zotero, an open-source citation tool. "He was told to stay off the grass," says Carl Malamud, president of, whom Bennett later contacted. "It really bothered me."

Lawyers at Boston's Ropes & Gray, who represent the Harvard-Yale-Columbia-Penn consortium that publishes the manual, claimed that The Bluebook contains "carefully curated examples, explanations and other textual materials" that are protected by copyright.

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February 16, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 648

IRS Logo 2New York Post editorial, Let’s See Her E-mails:

It’s been nearly two years since Lois Lerner planted a question at an American Bar Association gathering to slip in the fact that the IRS had singled out Tea Party groups for special scrutiny. ...

Contrary to earlier assertions by the IRS, the Lois Lerner ­e-mails Congress sought were not lost forever. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), who chairs the Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, says authorities have now managed to recover roughly 16,000 Lerner e-mails. ...

We prefer the way the senator put it on Fox News: “I smell a rat. I smell a number of rats, and that’s what we are going to get to the bottom of.”

We’re as curious as anyone about why the IRS told us the Lerner e-mails were gone forever. But what we really want to know is this: What the heck is in them?

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February 16, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Citi: Law Firm Revenues, Profits Up Sharply in 2014, With More to Come in 2015

CitiWall Street Journal Law Blog, Better Times for Law Firms, With More on the Horizon, Says Report:

Citi Private Bank Law Firm Group has some very welcome news to report to the nation’s largest law firms and the people who run them: things are looking up.

American Lawyer, Citi Report: M&A Work Boosts Firm Profitability in 2014:

Stronger industry performance in 2014 caused bigger smiles at more firms than in 2013. As we forecasted, legal industry performance in 2014 was stronger than the year before, with net income and profits per equity partner up 6 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively, compared with 3.2 percent and 3.5 percent in 2013. In fact, profitability performance was the strongest since 2010.  ... These results are based on a sample of 179 firms (78 Am Law 100 firms, 47 Second Hundred firms and 54 niche/boutique firms). ...

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February 15, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Huang & Rosen: The Zombie Lawyer Apocalypse

ZombiePeter H. Huang (Colorado) & Corie Lynn Rosen (Colorado), The Zombie Lawyer Apocalypse, 41 Pepp. L. Rev. ___ (2015):

This article uses a popular cultural framework to address the near-epidemic levels of depression, decision-making errors, and professional dissatisfaction that studies document are prevalent among many law students and lawyers today.

Zombies present an apt metaphor for understanding and contextualizing the ills now common in the American legal and legal education systems. To explore that metaphor and its import, this article will first establish the contours of the zombie literature and will apply that literature to the existing state of legal education and legal practice — ultimately describing a state that we believe can only be termed “the Zombie Lawyer Apocalypse”. The article will draw parallels between the zombie state of being — the state of being mindless, thoughtless, and devoid of hope — and the state of some aspects of legal culture and legal education today.

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February 15, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The 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, with a new #1 paper and new papers debuting on the list at #3, #4, and #5:

  1. [149 Downloads]  David Foster Wallace on Tax Policy, How to Be an Adult, and Other Mysteries of the Universe, by Arthur J. Cockfield (Queen's University)
  2. [121 Downloads]  Taxation and Surveillance -- An Agenda, by Michael Hatfield (University of Washington)
  3. [116 Downloads]  Fiscally Transparent Entities: Eligibility for Tax Treaty Benefits, by Sumeet Khurana & Ashish Karundia
  4. [108 Downloads]  Inevitable: Sports Gambling, State Regulation, and the Pursuit of Revenue, by Anastasios Kaburakis (St. Louis), Ryan M. Rodenberg (Florida State) & John T. Holden (Florida State)
  5. [97 Downloads]  Tax Regulation, Transportation Innovation, and the Sharing Economy, by Jordan M. Barry (San Diego) & Paul L. Caron (Pepperdine)

February 15, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 647

IRS Logo 2Government Executive, IRS Chief Refuses to Apologize to Lawmakers on Missing Emails:

Internal Revenue Commissioner John Koskinen late Wednesday turned aside a demand that he apologize for untimely notification of Congress that the tax agency had lost thousands of emails sought by investigators probing political targeting allegations.

At a hearing on agencies perpetually on the Government Accountability Office’s high risk-list, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, confronted Koskinen on a letter he sent to the Senate Finance Committee last March in which he said the Internal Revenue Service had completed its submission of all requested emails on handling of nonprofits’ applications -- without mentioning that some from former Exempt Organizations chief Lois Lerner had been lost.

“Will you admit that, like Lois Lerner and [former Commissioner] Doug Shulman, you misled this committee, this Congress and, more importantly, the American people,” Jordan asked. “Have you withdrawn the letter to Senate Finance?”

Koskinen replied, “Absolutely not. We waited six weeks to tell while trying to find as many of the emails as we could. We gave you all of Ms. Lerner’s emails we had.  We couldn’t make up Lois Lerner emails we didn’t have.”

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February 15, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

America’s New Aristocracy: The Hereditary Meritocracy

EconomistThe Economist, America’s New Aristocracy: As the Importance of Intellectual Capital Grows, Privilege Has Become Increasingly Heritable:

When the robber barons accumulated fortunes that made European princes envious, the combination of their own philanthropy, their children’s extravagance and federal trust-busting meant that Americans never discovered what it would be like to live in a country where the elite could reliably reproduce themselves. Now they are beginning to find out, because today’s rich increasingly pass on to their children an asset that cannot be frittered away in a few nights at a casino. It is far more useful than wealth, and invulnerable to inheritance tax. It is brains.

Intellectual capital drives the knowledge economy, so those who have lots of it get a fat slice of the pie. And it is increasingly heritable. Far more than in previous generations, clever, successful men marry clever, successful women. Such “assortative mating” increases inequality by 25%, by one estimate, since two-degree households typically enjoy two large incomes. Power couples conceive bright children and bring them up in stable homes—only 9% of college-educated mothers who give birth each year are unmarried, compared with 61% of high-school dropouts. They stimulate them relentlessly: children of professionals hear 32m more words by the age of four than those of parents on welfare. They move to pricey neighbourhoods with good schools, spend a packet on flute lessons and pull strings to get junior into a top-notch college.

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February 14, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (15)

New York Law School Launches 2-Year JD at 2/3 the Cost, With Guaranteed Post-Graduate Fellowship

NYLS Logo (2013)Crain's New York, New York Law School Launches 2-Year Degree:

With the launch of its honors program, New York Law students can receive a degree in two years instead of the typical three, and pay two-thirds of the $147,720 they would normally pay for a three-year degree program. 

New York Law School, Two-Year J.D. Honors Applicants:

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February 14, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

The IRS Scandal, Day 646

IRS Logo 2Forbes, Lois Lerner's Old IRS Team Looking Anti-tech, by Peter J. Reilly:

Pretty much everybody is mad at Lois Lerner, but it may be time to ease up on the people who used to work for her issuing rulings on whether organizations should be tax exempt.  I have a hunch that the budget cuts must have hurt them a lot in the technology area.  Maybe that’s not it, but I have noted a kind of anti-tech trend in their rulings.  Just a trace of paranoia too as they worry about open source software aiding our enemies.

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February 14, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Lawsky Presents Statutory Reasoning at Northwestern

LawskySarah B. Lawsky (UC–Irvine) presented Statutory Reasoning at Northwestern yesterday as part of its Tax Colloquium Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

Sarah Lawsky examines the structure of statutory reasoning after ambiguities are resolved and the meaning of the statute’s terms established. For statutory reasoning is not best understood as merely deductive.  And while statutory reasoning can be fruitfully modeled using formal logic, standard formal logic is not the best approach for modeling statutory reasoning. Rather, this paper argues, using the Internal Revenue Code and accompanying regulations, judicial decisions, and rulings as its primary example, that at least some statutory reasoning is best characterized as defeasible reasoning—reasoning that may result in conclusions that can be defeated by subsequent information—and is best modeled using default logic.

February 13, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

William Mitchell and Hamline Law Schools to Merge Amidst Enrollment Declines

MitchellWilliam Mitchell College of Law and Hamline University School of Law have signed a merger agreement to create Mitchell|Hamline School of Law, which will be located primarily on William Mitchell’s existing campus.

Press and blogosphere coverage:

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February 13, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

February 13, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

The 50 Law Schools Whose Students Outperform on the Bar Exam

NJBest Schools For Bar Examination, National Jurist (Feb. 2015):

LSAT scores are designed, in part, to predict success on the bar exam. But 33 schools excel above and beyond what their LSAT scores predict. How are these schools bucking the odds? ...

[W]hich schools are adding the most value to their students when it comes to the bar exam? The National Jurist sought to answer this question by undertaking a statistical analysis of the nation's law schools, using linear regression. We compared incoming LSAT scores with bar passage rates. We looked at two classes -- the Class of 2011 and the Class of 2012. ... We also took into account the difference of state bar passage rates.  The end result: more than 62 percent of law schools are within 5 percent of their expected score. But there are some that struggle and some that perform far better than expected.

The National Jurist ranked the Top 50 law schools whose students outperform on the bar exam. Here are the Top 25:

Top 25

Here is the methodology:

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February 13, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Law Schools Deploy 'Business Boot Camps' to Better Equip Students for Today's Job Market

BootNew York Times, Law Students Leave Torts Behind (for a Bit) and Tackle Accounting:

A group of 170 Brooklyn Law School students cut short their winter break and headed back to campus in January for an intensive three-day training session. But not in the law.

Instead, they spent the “boot camp” sessions learning about accounting principles, reading financial statements, valuing assets and other basics of the business world — subjects that not long ago were thought to have no place in classic law school education. ...

Like Brooklyn Law, more law schools are adding business-oriented offerings to better equip students to compete in a job market that is being reshaped and slimmed down as more routine legal work is being outsourced and corporate budgets cut back. And in the contracting market, students are more focused on trying to land a well-paying job to pay off sizable student loans.

“There’s a broader shift for law schools to prepare students to be more practice-ready when they graduate,” said Brian Z. Tamanaha, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis who tracks changes in the legal profession and wrote the book, “Failing Law Schools.”

Law schools as diverse as Brooklyn, Cornell and the University of Maryland are offering focused sessions that aim to bring students up to speed on business practicalities. Like Brooklyn, many are offering brief business-centered workshops, prompted by the lack of exposure many graduates have to teamwork, business strategy, client interaction and other fundamentals of running a corporation.

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February 13, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tahk: The Tax War on Poverty

Susannah Camic Tahk (Wisconsin), The Tax War on Poverty, 56 Ariz. L. Rev. 791 (2014):

In recent years, the war on poverty has moved in large part into the tax code. Scholarship has started to note that the tax laws, which once exacerbated the problem of poverty, have become increasingly powerful tools that the federal government uses to fight against it. Yet questions remain about how this new tax war on poverty works, how it is different from the decades of non-tax anti-poverty policy and how it could improve. To answer these questions, this Article looks comprehensively at the provisions that make up the new tax war on poverty. First, this Article examines each major piece of the tax war on poverty. The Article looks at its mechanics of each, its political history and its effectiveness at addressing poverty. Second, this Article analyzes the tax war on poverty as a whole, identifying commonalities across its different provisions and highlighting its distinctive features. Third, this Article proposes ways that the tax war on poverty could be more effective. In particular, this Article examines how tax lawmakers and tax lawyers could approach this task. In so doing, this Article conceptualizes tax law as the new poverty law and proposes a growing role for public-interest tax lawyers.

February 13, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Robinson: Skin in the Game -- Invisible Taxpayers, Invisible Citizens?

Mildred Robinson (Virginia), Skin in the Game: Invisible Taxpayers, Invisible Citizens?, 59 Vill. L. Rev.729 (2014):

This essay was the basis for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture at the Villanova University School of Law on January 27, 2014. It examines economic justice from a tax perspective.

“Skin in the game” – some thing that the interested party has at risk – has become a part of everyday American political discourse. Personal financial risk – some personal stake – is demanded of all “players.” The implications are clear: no skin, no play. The requirement for “skin in the game” in the context of ongoing fiscal debate along with the “concern” that in 2011 almost fifty percent of Americans paid no federal income tax is the latest version of the ongoing “cut-taxes/reduce governmental size” wrangling. It is also another play on the high political salience of the federal income tax as an institution.

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February 13, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 645

IRS Logo 2U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Press Release, Chairman Asks IRS Commissioner Questions Raised by New Lerner E-mail Information:

Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) wrote to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen Tuesday  with questions raised by new information that has emerged about missing e-mails from former IRS official Lois Lerner. 

Senator Johnson’s staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) learned last week that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), an independent investigative agency, has recovered as many as 80,000 missing IRS e-mails, more than double the number that TIGTA investigators were estimating in November. The recovered files represent about 16,000 unique e-mails, TIGTA investigators told the senator’s staff. TIGTA is now finished identifying missing emails and must compare them to e-mails already turned over by the IRS, but “it is possible that a large number of these e-mails have not yet been produced to Congress,” Johnson’s letter said.

The IRS became embroiled in controversy after Lerner, who oversaw the agency’s office in charge of administering nonprofit status to groups, admitted that the IRS gave heightened scrutiny to conservative groups. Members of Congress, investigating whether a powerful federal agency discriminated among citizens on the basis of their political beliefs, were told by the IRS in 2014 that it had lost e-mails sent or received by Lerner over a period of more than two years and that it had failed to tell Congress about the loss in a timely way. The IRS said it went to “great lengths” to recover the emails but could not do so.

The revelation from TIGTA means that the e-mails the IRS could not originally recover off backup tapes may now be found. “Accordingly,” reads Senator Johnson’s letter, “I respectfully request your assistance in better understanding the IRS’s document retention and production process.”

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February 13, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Seto Presents Preference-Shifting and Optimal Tax Theory Today at UCLA

Seto (2014)Theodore P. Seto (Loyola-L.A.) presents Some Implications of Preference-Shifting for Optimal Tax Theory at UCLA today as part of its Colloquium on Tax Policy and Public Finance hosted by Jason Oh and Alexander Wu:

This paper is part of a larger project: to explore the extent to which the claims of optimal tax theory are sensitive to the assumptions that underlie them. The paper focuses on two canonical assertions of the standard model: (1) that taxes produce deadweight loss (Harberger 1964), and (2) that 100 percent of all taxes are borne by human beings, the only question being which. The assumption it relaxes is the standard welfarist assumption that preferences are fixed and exogenous and reflect welfare. Although this assumption is not widely accepted in other social sciences, economists generally treat situations in which it does not hold (situations involving “internalities”) as limited exceptions, and therefore of limited interest.

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February 12, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Tax Lawyer Publishes New Issue

The Tax Lawyer (2013)The Tax Lawyer has published Vol. 68, No. 1 (Fall 2014):

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February 12, 2015 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

2015 National Tax Moot Court Competition Results

Moot CourtHere are the results of the 2015 National Tax Moot Court Competition sponsored by the Florida Bar Tax Section:

  1. Charleston
  2. Liberty
  3. Baltimore
  4. Florida

Best Brief:  Texas Tech (runner-up: Suffolk)

Best Oralist:  Hank Young (Charleston)

For more, see Charleston Law Wins the National Tax Moot Court Competition for the 4th Year in a Row:

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February 12, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

BRICS and the Emergence of International Tax Coordination

BRICSBRICS and the Emergence of International Tax Coordination (IBFD 2015) (Yariv Brauner (Florida) & Pasquale Pistone (WU Vienna), eds.):

The BRICS have been all the rage from the beginning of the millennium. This book focuses on the shift of power in the global economy from the traditionally dominant nations that comprise the OECD, or, even more narrowly, the G7, to emerging economies, perhaps led by the BRICS. The remodeling of the power structure shaping the global economy and global economic governance more generally is possibly being paralleled by a corresponding reformatting of international taxation. The dominance of the richest countries in the world over the international tax regime that had evolved over the second part of the 20th century is being defied as the 21st century progresses. Emerging economies, within and outside the OECD, assert their newly found power to acquire voice and influence on the international tax agenda.

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February 12, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Loving v. IRS: The IRS's Achilles' Heel for Regulated Tax Advice?

Jamie Patrick Hopkins (The American College), Loving v. IRS: The IRS's Achilles' Heel for Regulated Tax Advice?, 34 Va. Tax Rev. 191 (2014):

In an attempt to regulate the multi-billion dollar tax preparer industry — which employs hundreds of thousands of employees — the Internal Revenue Service (Service) began developing rules pertaining specifically to non-professional tax return preparers, previously unregulated by the Service. However, the Service’s attempt to expand its regulatory reach over non-professional tax return preparers was short-lived. It resulted in a severely damaging decision in Loving v. IRS, in which the court concluded that the Service had only limited statutory authority to regulate non-professional tax preparers. While the Service focused its attention on additional ways to rein in tax return preparers, tax professionals took notice of the Loving I and II decisions as they might apply in a broader context, and an important question arose: to what extent can the Service regulate those tax professionals, such as lawyers and certified public accountants (CPAs), if the tax professional only provides tax advice or mere tax preparation services but does not “represent” taxpayers before the Service? Not more than six months later this question was partially answered in another landmark decision in Ridgely v. Lew in which Loving II was applied not only to non-professional tax preparers, but to tax professionals as well, further crippling the ability of the Service to regulate tax professionals and the tax preparation industry. Following Ridgely, the Service is left with one final beacon of hope to regulate tax professionals, 31 U.S.C. § 330(d), which the Service believes empowers it with the ability to regulate written tax advice provided by all tax practitioners. However, if the statutory analysis used in Ridgely and Loving is applied to 31 U.S.C. § 330(d), a reasonable interpretation might limit the Service’s ability to regulate written tax advice only to those situations in which a tax practitioner is practicing as a representative before the Service. 

February 12, 2015 in IRS News, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Zolt: Politics and Taxation

Eric M. Zolt (UCLA), Politics and Taxation: An Introduction, 67 Tax L. Rev. 453 (2014):

This essay provides some observations about the relationship of politics and taxation and reviews the articles and commentaries that were prepared for the Third Annual NYU/UCLA Tax Policy Conference on Politics and Taxation held in Los Angeles on October 18, 2013. Understanding the relationship between politics and taxation is important for several reasons. First, it may help explain why countries adopt different taxing and spending patterns. It may also explain why the frequency, success and stability of tax reform efforts vary among countries. Finally a better understanding of politics and taxation may provide insights into such questions on how institutions shape policy outcomes and how tax policy may contribute to successful democratic governments.

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February 12, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lawyers See Big Pay Growth After First 10 Years of Career

Washington Post, Your Lifetime Earnings Are Probably Determined in Your 20s:

new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York sends a ... sobering message to millennials:  Your first 10 years in the labor market likely shape your lifetime earning potential. ...

For the average person ...  earnings growth stagnates after the first 10 years of a career. Average earnings growth for the 35-to-55 set is zero, the data shows. ... Workers projected to earn the median lifetime amount will see pay swell 38 percent from age 25 to 55, with the strongest upswing in the first decade, the Fed study found.

Workers in the 95th percentile can expect a 230 percent increase over the same period. Those in the 99th percentile --  the doctors and lawyers and engineers --  will see earnings grow a whopping 1,450 percent.

(Photo provided by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

ABA Journal, Lawyers See Big Pay Growth After First 10 Years of Career, a New Report Shows:

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February 12, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)