TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

NY Times: Bill de Blasio Will Push For Tax On Wealthy To Fix Subway

NYCNew York Times, Bill de Blasio Will Push for Tax on Wealthy to Fix Subway:

Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to push for a tax on wealthy New Yorkers to pay for improvements needed to address the crisis engulfing New York City’s subway, city officials said on Sunday.

The proposal is the latest move in the battle between Mr. de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over who bears responsibility for repairing the deteriorating transit system. The plan would also pay for half-price MetroCards for low-income riders — part of a national movement that has gained momentum in New York.

Mr. de Blasio will announce a so-called millionaires tax on Monday for wealthy New York City residents to pay for subway and bus upgrades and for reduced fares for more riders, an idea that has been successful in Seattle.

His funding push comes as the subway faces a multitude of problems, and leaders at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subway, have called on Mr. de Blasio to provide more money for the system.

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August 9, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Amid Criticism, ABA Pulls Back On Change To How Law Schools Report Jobs

Following up on last week's post, Without Any Transparency In The Process, ABA Legal Ed Council Approves Changes To Employment Report And Classification Of Law-School-Funded Positions That Erode Transparency:  National Law Journal, Amid Criticism, ABA Pulls Back on Change to How Law Schools Report Jobs:

The American Bar Association has pumped the brakes on newly adopted changes to how law schools report graduate employment, after critics complained that they obscure the number of recent graduates in jobs paid for by the schools themselves.

The ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved the changes at its last meeting in June, but is scheduled to revisit them when it meets Friday in New York in light of the negative response they’ve generated from legal transparency advocates and legal educators, who said they were instituted without the chance for public input.

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August 9, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Three Donald Trump Appointees Owe IRS Back Taxes

Center for Public IntegrityCenter for Public Integrity, Three Donald Trump Appointees Owe IRS Back Taxes:

At least three of President Donald Trump’s political appointees are drawing taxpayer-funded paychecks while owing the Internal Revenue Service tens of thousands of dollars, a Center for Public Integrity review of federal financial disclosures reveals.

Trump’s appointment of federal debtors to his administration perpetuates a pattern that’s dogged presidential administrations — including that of President Barack Obama — for decades.

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August 9, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

TIGTA: The IRS Continues To Rehire Hundreds Of Former Employees With Conduct And Performance Issues

TIGTAThe Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has released The Internal Revenue Service Continues to Rehire Former Employees With Conduct and Performance Issues (2017-10-035):

From January 1, 2015, through March 31, 2016, the IRS hired nearly 7,500 employees, of which more than 2,000 had been previously employed by the IRS. ... The IRS has not effectively updated or implemented hiring policies to fully consider past IRS conduct and performance issues prior to making a tentative decision to hire former employees, including those who were terminated or separated during an investigation of a substantiated conduct or performance issue.

While most employees who are rehired do not have prior conduct or performance issues, TIGTA found that more than 200 (approximately 10 percent) of the more than 2,000 former employees who were rehired between January 2015 and March 2016 were previously terminated from the IRS or separated while under investigation for a substantiated conduct or performance issue.

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August 9, 2017 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Our Broken Economy, In One Simple Chart

New York Times:  Our Broken Economy, in One Simple Chart, by David Leonhardt:


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August 9, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Amar: A Guided Tour Through The Debate Over Changing The ABA Employment Data Form

Vikram Amar (Dean. Illinois), A Guided Tour Through The Debate Over Changing The ABA Employment Data Form:

It is, I think, a sign of the lingeringly tight job and law school applicant markets that over the past few weeks many law deans have been weighing in on a contentious change in the form the American Bar Association (ABA) uses to record and communicate employment outcomes for each law school’s most recently graduated class. As I explain below, the issue involves a complicated mix of arguments about substantive policy, procedural thoroughness, and perceptions by the outside world.

As other commentators, such as Kyle McEntee (for this website) and Jerry Organ (on TaxProf Blog), have documented in great detail, the ABA Council on Legal Education earlier this summer amended the form to be used to depict employment results, beginning with the Class of 2017. 

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August 8, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Seto: The Most Significant Proposed Change In The History Of U.S. Corporate Taxation

Jotwell (Tax) (2016)Theodore Seto (Loyola-L.A.), The Most Significant Proposed Change in the History of U.S. Corporate Taxation (JOTWELL) (reviewing Alan Auerbach (UC-Berkeley), Michael Devereux (Oxford), Michael Keen (IMF) & John Vella (Oxford), Destination-Based Cash Flow Taxation):

The House Republican Blueprint for corporate tax reform would replace our century-old corporate income tax, which we all know and love (or hate), with a “destination-based cash flow tax” (DBCFT), which for many of us remains a mystery. The academic foundation upon which the House proposal is built is a working paper by Alan Auerbach (UC Berkeley), Michael Devereux (Oxford), Michael Keen (IMF), and John Vella (Oxford) (collectively “the authors”), entitled “Destination-Based Cash Flow Taxation.” Given the current turmoil in Washington, it seems unlikely that a DBCFT will be enacted any time soon. Problems with our current system for taxing business income with an international dimension, however, are unlikely to go away on their own. If you want to get up to speed on a radical solution with substantial academic and political support, this paper is an absolute must-read. ...

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August 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

GAO: IRS Provides Only 'Minimal Oversight' Of Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, Refuses To Collect Data That Would Allow It To Impose 'Basic Accountability'

GAO (2016)NPR, Housing Program Worth Billions Lacks 'Basic Accountability':

An $8 billion federal program to build housing for the poor is so lacking oversight that virtually no one in government knows how it is working, a government auditor testified before Congress today [Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: Actions Needed to Strengthen Oversight and Accountability (GAO-17-784T) (Aug. 1, 2017)].

IRS and no one else in the federal government really has an idea of what's going on," said Daniel Garcia-Diaz, an auditor with the Government Accountability Office while testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. "These are basic accountability requirements we would expect of any program, especially one as important as this one."

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August 8, 2017 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Villanova Seeks To Hire A Tax Clinician

Villanova Logo (2015)Assistant/Associate/Full Professor of Law and Director of the Federal Tax Clinic:

Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law seeks an outstanding lawyer-educator to direct and teach its nationally regarded Federal Tax Clinic. The Clinic represents low-income taxpayers in controversies with the IRS. The Director oversees students working in teams on examinations, administrative appeals, collection matters, and cases before the United States Tax Court, Federal District Courts and Appeals, as well as on comments projects relating to guidance issued by the IRS or Treasury.

The Director will be either a full-time continuing non-tenure track (governed by ABA Standard 405(c)), tenure-track, or tenured member of the faculty, depending on the qualifications and aspirations of the successful candidate.

Preferred Qualifications:

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August 8, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Journal Of Legal Education Symposium: ABA Accreditation Standard 405(c) And Security Of Position For Faculty

Journal of Legal Education (2018)American Bar Association Accreditation Standard 405(c) Symposium, 66 J. Legal Educ. 538-652 (2017):

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August 8, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

For Tax Reform Estimates, Look To JTC (Not CBO)

Sam Wice, For Tax Reform Estimates, Don’t Look to CBO, Look to JCT, Yale J. on Reg.: Notice & Comment (Aug. 7, 2017):

The shift in focus from healthcare to tax reform will mean that the little known Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) will soon play a starring role. During discussions about healthcare reform, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) played an important role in estimating how many people would be insured under competing Republican proposals. With the shift to tax reform, a little known agency with most of its offices one floor above CBO will make the cost estimates for tax refor. While CBO estimates the impact of most legislation, it does not impact direct changes to taxes. Instead, JCT estimates tax proposals and will play a central role in tax reform. ...

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August 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Georgetown Is Fourth Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions, Finds It Is Just As Accurate As LSAT In Predicting 1L Grades; LSAC Disagrees, Says 'The Rest Of The Top 14 Will Go Like Lemmings Off The Cliff'

GRE or LSATFollowing up on yesterday's post, Northwestern Is Third Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions, Finds It Is Just As Accurate As LSAT In Predicting 1L Grades:

Don’t Let the LSAT Get You Down — Georgetown Law Admissions Now Accepts the GRE:

You would like to apply to law school, but for whatever reason, the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) process is not serving you well. Maybe the LSAT test dates — four dates per year — aren’t ideal. Maybe the problem is financial. You’d also like to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), and the cost of prep classes and fees for multiple standardized tests, on top of applications and other expenses, is a burden. Or maybe you feel that the LSAT does not reflect your skills, in a competitive law school admissions process, as well as the GRE. For some, the dream of Georgetown Law and its peer schools may appear, perhaps unfairly, out of reach. 

Or is it? Georgetown Law hopefuls facing this dilemma may see some relief, since the Law Center will now consider GRE scores — in addition to the LSAT or in place of the LSAT — if applicants wish to submit them.  

“We did a correlation study, which tells us that the GRE is an equally reliable indicator of academic success, if not more predictive than the LSAT,” said Georgetown Law Dean of Admissions Andy Cornblatt.

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August 8, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1552: The IRS's Email Retention Policies Still Do Not Ensure That Emails Are Retained And Produced When Requested

IRS Logo 2Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Electronic Record Retention Policies Do Not Consistently Ensure That Records Are Retained and Produced When Requested (2017-10-034):

IRS policies do not comply with certain Federal requirements that agencies must ensure that all records are retrievable and usable for as long as needed. For example, IRS e-mail retention policies are not adequate because e-mails are not automatically archived for all IRS employees. Instead, the IRS’s current policy instructs employees to take manual actions to archive e-mails by saving them permanently on computer hard drives or network shared drives.  

This policy has resulted in lost records when computer hard drives are destroyed or damaged. In addition, a recently instituted executive e-mail retention policy, which should have resulted in the archiving of e-mails from specific executives, was not implemented effectively because some executives did not turn on the automatic archiving feature.

For certain cases that TIGTA reviewed, IRS policies were not implemented consistently to ensure that all relevant documents were searched and produced when responding to external requests for records. TIGTA’s review of 30 completed Freedom of Information Act requests found that in more than half of the responses, the IRS did not follow its own policies that require it to document what records were searched. TIGTA also found that IRS policies for preserving records from separated employees were not adequate.

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August 8, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Northwestern Is Third Law School To Accept GRE For Admissions, Finds It Is Just As Accurate As LSAT In Predicting 1L Grades

GRELSATNational Law Journal, Northwestern Is Latest Law School to Accept GRE for Admissions:

A third law school has joined the GRE party, and it’s another big name.

The Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law is set to announce Monday that it will start accepting scores from the GRE in addition to the LSAT, starting with the fall 2019 admissions cycle. It joins the Ivy League’s Harvard Law School as an early adopter of the GRE, as well as the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. The GRE, or Graduate Record Exam, is used in admissions for nearly all graduate programs outside of law, medicine and business. ...

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August 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Kleinbard: The Debt Ceiling Crisis May Remove Remaining Constraints On Congressional Irresponsibility

New York Times op-ed:  The Debt-Ceiling Crisis Is Real, by Edward D. Kleinbard (USC):

Sometime in October, the United States is likely to default on its obligation to pay its bills as they come due, having failed to raise the federal debt ceiling. This will cost the Treasury tens of billions of dollars every year for decades to come in higher interest charges and probably trigger a severe recession.

The debt ceiling is politically imposed, and the decision not to raise it, and therefore to choose to default, is also political. It’s something America has avoided in the past. This time, though, will be different. ...

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August 7, 2017 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Does UNC Board's Vote To 'Defang' Civil Rights Clinic Unduly Intrude On Law School's Curricular Decisions And Academic Freedom?

North Carolina LogoFollowing up on last week's post, UNC Votes To Block Law School Civil Rights Clinic From Taking On New Clients:  Inside Higher Ed, Banning the Right to Sue:

UNC Board of Governors may bar civil rights center from litigation, raising questions about the role of law schools and academic freedom.

The University of North Carolina School of Law's Center for Civil Rights has long been a thorn in the side of the state government from its perch in Chapel Hill, as it sometimes files and joins in on lawsuits against the state.

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August 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Quinnipiac Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Quinnipiac LogoFull-Time Tenure Track Faculty Job Posting:

Quinnipiac University School of Law invites applications for two full-time tenure-track faculty positions for the fall of 2018. The principal curricular focus for one position will be tax law. Applicants for this position should expect to teach at least one section of Federal Income Taxation plus other courses in taxation and/or related fields of interest, including real estate, trusts & estates, business entities, and non-profit organizations. The principal curricular focus for the second position will be property law, broadly construed to include the traditional first-year Property course, plus real estate transactions and financing, land use, and planning and zoning. ...

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August 7, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Microsoft Shifts From Paying Its Outside Lawyers By The Hour

Microsoft (2015)New York Times, Microsoft Shifts From Paying Outside Lawyers by the Hour:

Companies have long chafed at law firms’ practice of billing by the hour.

Now, a huge corporation, Microsoft, is taking steps to move away from the traditional billing arrangement.

David Howard, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, said that under a program begun last month, the software giant planned to rely much more heavily on alternative fee arrangements. Microsoft is aiming to move 90 percent of the company’s legal work to such arrangements within two years, he said in a phone interview this week.

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August 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Senate Confirms David Kautter As Assistant Treasury Secretary For Tax Policy

KautterFollowing up on previous posts (links below):  the Senate has confirmed David Kautter as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Tax Policy.  From President Trump's nomination announcement:

Mr. Kautter currently serves as Partner-in-Charge of the Washington National Tax practice for RSM, an audit, tax, and consulting services firm. He was also previously the Managing Director of the Kogod Tax Center and Executive-in-Residence at the Kogod School of Business at American University (AU).

Prior to his work at AU, Mr. Kautter spent over 30 years at Ernst and Young, including serving as Director of National Tax for over 13 years. Mr. Kautter also worked on Capitol Hill as Tax Legislative Counsel for former Senator John C. Danforth of Missouri. He is a high honors graduate of the University of Notre Dame and received his J.D. from Georgetown Law Center. 

From his webpage at American University's Kogod Tax Center:

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August 7, 2017 in Congressional News, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

National Taxpayer Advocate: IRS Allowable Living Expense Standards Do Not Provide Taxpayers With A Sustainable Standard Of Living

National Taxpayer Advocate Tax News: IRS Allowable Living Expense Standards Do Not Provide Taxpayers With a Sustainable Standard of Living:

At TAS, we help taxpayers from all walks of life. When it comes to taxpayers with tax debt, some taxpayers have the resources to pay their debt. This blog focuses on the method the IRS uses to determine the amount of basic living expenses it should take into account if a taxpayer needs to pay his or her tax debt over time.

Congress directed the IRS to make sure taxpayers who enter into offers in compromise still have enough money to cover their basic expenses. Specifically, in Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 7122(d)(2)(A), Congress told the IRS to “develop and publish schedules of national and local allowances designed to provide that taxpayers entering into a compromise have an adequate means to provide for basic living expenses.” The resulting Allowable Living Expense (ALE) standards have come to play a large role in many types of collection cases. For instance, if you want a non-streamlined installment agreement or are claiming an economic hardship, the IRS will want you to give them the information found on IRS Form 433-F, Collection Information Statement. IRS Form 433-F relies on the ALE standards to calculate a taxpayer’s monthly expenses, which in turn affects the resolution of the taxpayer’s case because it reflects how much he or she can afford to pay the IRS. ALEs cover common expenses such as food, clothing, transportation, housing, and utilities.

In its efforts to base the ALEs on reliable and consistent data, the IRS relies heavily on the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In particular, the IRS uses the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES), which measures what people spend to live. I’ve identified these problems with the current ALE standards:

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August 7, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Bloomberg: DeVos Offers Lifeline To For-Profit Law School That Hired Her Former Advisor

Charlotte Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts:

Bloomberg, DeVos Offers a Lifeline to For-Profit Law School That Hired Her Former Advisor:

The feds had cut off federal student aid to Charlotte School of Law. Then it hired Betsy DeVos’s confirmation “sherpa.”

Early this year, Charlotte School of Law looked ready to collapse. The government had cut off the private equity-backed, for-profit law school’s access to federal student loans, determining in a review that it had violated federal law and misled students, allegations the school denied. But for a school that more than nine in 10 students borrow money to attend, the decision had the ring of a death knell.

Until Donald Trump took office.

One day before Betsy DeVos was confirmed as secretary of education, Charlotte Law hired the adviser who had just steered her through her confirmation hearings to lobby her agency on its behalf. Lauren Maddox, a lobbyist with the Podesta Group in Washington and a former Education Department spokeswoman, has worked for senior Republicans in Congress. But in lobbying for Charlotte Law, she and her colleagues would appear to have a tougher task: Charlotte graduates are leaving school owing more than three times as much on their loans as they wind up earning every year. Fewer than half pass the bar in their first try.

Some $130,000 in fees later, the lobbying effort appears to have paid off. Last week, according to a copy of official correspondence reviewed by Bloomberg News, DeVos's agency told the law school that — provided it puts up $6 million in collateral and agrees to certain conditions, such as offering refunds to first-years and hiring a monitor — it would consider reinstating its access to the federal student-aid program.

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August 6, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tax Panel At Today's SEALS 2017 Annual Conference

SEALs Logo (2013)Tax panel at today's concluding session of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools 2017 Annual Conference in Boca Raton (program):

Tax Policy
This discussion group is broadly concerned with issues of taxation. Discussants address individual income tax, corporate income tax, state & local tax, estate & gift tax, tax expenditure policy, international tax and entitlements. While these disparate themes might seem only loosely related, a common thread of the difficulties of balancing equity, simplicity, incentives and transparency runs through all of them. These scholars will grapple with the central tax topics of the day and address the looming concerns that must be dealt with by all levels of government.

  • Jennifer Bird-Pollan (Kentucky) (moderator)
  • Alice Abreu (Temple)
  • Arthur Acevedo (John Marshall)
  • Neil Buchanan (George Washington)
  • Terri Lynn Helge (Texas A&M)
  • Gary Lucas (Texas A&M)
  • Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College)
  • Gregg Polsky (Georgia)
  • Diane Ring (Boston College)
  • Elaine Waterhouse Wilson (West Virginia)
  • Richard Winchester (Thomas Jefferson)

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August 6, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

SSRN LogoThis week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads is the same as last week's list:

  1. [630 Downloads]  Family Limited Partnerships and Section 2036: Not Such a Good Fit, by Mitchell Gans (Hofstra) & Jonathan Blattmachr (Milbank, New York)
  2. [396 Downloads]  The Front Door Opens Wide for the Backdoor Roth IRA, by Philip Manns (Liberty) & Timothy Todd (Liberty)
  3. [313 Downloads]  The Rise and Fall of the Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax: What Was That All About?, by Daniel Shaviro (NYU)
  4. [224 Downloads]  The Case Against BEPS: Lessons for Coordination, by Mindy Herzfeld (Florida)
  5. [188 Downloads]  Formalizing the Code, by Sarah Lawsky (Northwestern)

August 6, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times: Trump Can’t Save American Christianity

New York Times op-ed:  Trump Can’t Save American Christianity, by Rob Dreher:

According to Genesis 1, in four days, God made the heavens, the earth and all the vegetation upon it. But four days after Anthony Scaramucci’s filthy tirade went public, Team Trump’s evangelical all-stars — pastors and prominent laity who hustle noisily around the Oval Office trying to find an amen corner — still had not figured out what to say.

Fortunately, the White House relieved them of that onerous task by firing Mr. Scaramucci — not, please note, on the president’s initiative, but rather at the request of John Kelly, the new chief of staff. Meanwhile, the Christian Broadcasting Network ran a puff piece proclaiming that a “spiritual awakening is underway at the White House,” thanks to a Bible study with what “has been called the most evangelical cabinet in history.” That ought to still any skepticism emerging among the true believers for a while.

Is there anything Donald Trump can do to alienate evangelicals and other conservative Christians who support him? By now, it’s hard to think of what that might be. These are people who would never let men with the morals and the mouths of Mr. Trump and Mr. Scaramucci date their own daughters. And yet, Team Trump has no more slavishly loyal constituency.

This is not only wrong, but tragically so. The most pressing problem Christianity faces is not in politics. It’s in parishes. It’s with the pastors. Most of all, it’s among an increasingly faithless people.

The truth is, Christianity is declining in the United States. As a theologically conservative believer, it gives me no pleasure to say that. In fact, the waning of Christianity will be not only a catastrophe for the church but also a calamity for civil society in ways secular Americans do not appreciate.

But preparing for this post-Christian future requires a brutally honest assessment of both the modern church and the contemporary world. This is painful, but denial will only make the inevitable reckoning worse.

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August 6, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Sloan Speck (Colorado) reviews a new work by Manoj Viswanathan (UC-Hastings), Tax Compliance in a Decentralizing Economy.

Speck (2017)In a compelling new work, Manoj Viswanathan connects two seemingly disparate hot spots in taxation, the gig economy and blockchain-based cryptocurrencies, to argue that increasing economic decentralization presents a significant and underappreciated threat to tax compliance. For Viswanathan’s paper, decentralization essentially reflects the rise of direct peer-to-peer transactions through virtual means, rather than through institutional intermediaries. Companies such as Airbnb and Uber match sellers of lodging and transportation to buyers, while cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin allow secure transfers of value without banks. Independently, the gig economy and cryptocurrencies present serious issues for tax administration. When combined, Viswanathan argues, individuals could buy and sell entirely outside of taxing authorities’ traditional purview, which would enable rampant noncompliance. For Viswanathan, the solution is enhanced information reporting rules to account for decentralization, including incentives to disclose one’s own identity in transactions.

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August 5, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Turing on AI and Lawyer-Automatons

As I've mentioned previously, the Savannah Law Review is hosting a colloquium on September 15, 2017 entitled The Rise of the Automatons, examining the legal implications of automation.  Ominous predictions like "the Singularity is coming" usually provoke me, and this one prompted my project for this summer, Halting, Intuition, Heuristics, and Action: Alan Turing and the Theoretical Constraints on AI-Lawyering, now available.  

I'm unimpressed with frenzied reactions generally and in this area particularly. Here's the abstract:

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August 5, 2017 in Colloquia, Legal Education, Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1)

President Trump Nominates Elizabeth Copeland, Patrick Urda To U.S. Tax Court

Tax Court (2017)White House Office of the Press Secretary, Eighteen Nominations Sent to the Senate Today:

Elizabeth Ann Copeland, of Texas, to be a Judge of the United States Tax Court for a term of fifteen years, vice James S. Halpern, retired.

Patrick J. Urda, of Indiana, to be a Judge of the United States Tax Court for a term of fifteen years, vice Diane L. Kroupa, retired.

Elizabeth A. Copeland is a tax litigation partner at Strausburger & Price (San Antonio).  President Obama nominated her in May 2015, and the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved her nomination in April 2016. In November 2016 (before the election), 52 Tax Profs sent a letter urging the Senate to hold a hearing on her nomination, but the Senate refused and sent her nomination back to the White House in January (before President Trump's inauguration).  Here is her bio:

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August 5, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, August 4, 2017

President Trump’s Student Loan Plan Hurts Law Students

Following up on my previous posts:

Brookings Institution, Winners and Losers in President Trump’s Student Loan Plan:

President Trump proposed major changes to the federal student loan program in his first budget request to Congress. These include reforms to the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) program and the interest-free benefit on some loans for undergraduates. This paper offers a first look at the likely net effect of these changes proposed for undergraduate and graduate students (excluding the effects of eliminating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program). We use hypothetical borrower scenarios to compare how much borrowers with different loan balances would pay under the Trump proposal as compared to the existing program. Generally, we show that undergraduate students would receive a net increase in benefits relative to the current program due to earlier loan forgiveness. Those benefits are largest for borrowers with above-average debts and relatively higher incomes in repayment. The analysis also provides a reminder that graduate students can receive generous benefits under the current IBR program without having to earn a low income. The Trump proposal would substantially reduce benefits for graduate students below what they could receive under the current IBR program and even under the original 2007 version of IBR.


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August 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Herzig & Crawford: Trump's Bargain Sale Of Two Central Park Condos To His Son Looks Like Criminal Gift Tax Fraud

TrumpWashington Post op-ed: This Trump Real Estate Deal Looks Awfully Like Criminal Tax Fraud, by David Herzig (Valparaiso) & Bridget Crawford (Pace):

President Trump clearly doesn’t want to release his income tax returns to the public. Members of the public and commentators have progressed through stages of outrage, speculation and acceptance that they’ll never see the goods, while others have made attempts to pry the documents free (such as proposed legislation in New York and other states that would require presidential candidates to release their returns). But Trump’s most pressing tax problem may come from somewhere else entirely: a pre-election transfer of property to a company controlled by his son that could run afoul of the IRS.

According to a recent story by ProPublica and the Real Deal, in April 2016 a limited liability company managed by Trump sold two condominium apartments to a limited liability company managed by Eric Trump. They were on the 13th and 14th floors of a 14-story, full-service, doorman building at 100 Central Park South in Manhattan. This is a prime Midtown neighborhood, yet the sale price for each condo was just $350,000.

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August 4, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tax Panels At Today's SEALS 2017 Annual Conference

SEALs Logo (2013)Tax panels at today's Southeastern Association of Law Schools 2017 Annual Conference in Boca Raton (program):

Issues in Corporate and International Taxation
Panelists explore the corporate and international tax rules, with particular attention to enforcement and implementation. The papers cover the consequences of failed start-ups, worldwide taxation and competitiveness, private equity fee waivers, the classification of business entities for tax purposes, and general issues of tax compliance. The papers address both theoretical and practical consequences of these various matters.

  • Francine Lipman (UNLV) (moderator)
  • Cliff Fleming (BYU)
  • Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College)
  • Gregg Polsky (Georgia)
  • Richard Winchester (Thomas Jefferson)

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August 4, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Some Law School Deans Embrace JD Advantage Jobs

JDBloomberg Law, Today’s Law Degree Takes on a Broader Meaning:

[T]he proportion of law school graduates obtaining JD advantage jobs has steadily increased — from 8 to 14 percent — since 2007. As a result, deans are reacting — but it’s a delicate issue to address, as schools are under pressure to report their graduates take jobs where people employ their hard-earned law degree.

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August 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Cui: A Critical Appraisal Of Destination-Based Cash-Flow Taxation

Wei Cui (British Columbia), Destination-based Cash-Flow Taxation: A Critical Appraisal, 67 U. Tor. L.J. 301 (2017):

This article offers the first comprehensive scholarly response to proposals for destination-based, cash-flow taxation (DCFT). DCFT proposals have attracted heightened public attention in 2016 because of the incorporation of one version into the US House Republican blueprint for tax reform and Donald Trump’s subsequent election to the White House. They also continue to fascinate tax specialists by suggesting that corporate profit can be taxed not only in countries of ‘source’ or ‘residence’ but also (or even exclusively) in the countries where sales to final consumers occur. This article clarifies the logical structure of DCFT proposals and exposes substantial gaps between their rhetoric and technical details.

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August 4, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oregon’s New Bicycle Excise Tax: Tax Policy Center And Tax Foundation Commentary

TaxVox, The Case of Oregon’s Bicycle Excise Tax:

Road trips are a staple of my family’s summer. We load up the van and head to the nearest state park, flash our Michigan Recreation Passport and off we go, hiking and biking. That “passport” is an annual $11 fee that we add to our license plate renewal payment. In exchange, we get unlimited access to all state parks, and the state uses the money, along with day-trippers’ fees, to maintain and improve the facilities.

Oregon, one of five states with no sales tax, just passed such a tax on bicycles to help fund trail maintenance and improvement. That decision generated a good bit of controversy, and as a bicycle-riding, trail-loving taxpayer, I wondered why a bicycle tax that supports bicycle trail use is so contentious.

Here are some details: Starting in October, Oregon will collect $15 on the purchase of every bicycle that retails for $200 or more. The state expects the excise tax to generate $1.2 million annually that will be used to “expand and improve commuter routes for non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians, including bicycle trails, footpaths and multi-use trails.”

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August 4, 2017 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Chodorow: Trump Got Tax Policy Right In His Rant Against The 'Amazon Washington Post'

WaPoAmazonSlate:  The One Thing Trump Got Right in His Rant Against the “Amazon Washington Post,” by Adam Chodorow (Arizona State):

Once again, President Donald Trump is slamming his perceived enemies on Twitter, this week returning to an old favorite: the Washington Post, whose owner is Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Though the Post is a separate company from Amazon, Trump tried to smear both by referring to the paper as the “Amazon Washington Post” and asking whether it was a “Lobbyist for Amazon and taxes?” In Trump’s rhetoric, Amazon is a “no tax monopoly”—an echo of an earlier tweet in which he accused Amazon of failing to pay “internet taxes.” ...

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August 3, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law Mart: Justice, Access, and For-Profit Law Schools

LawMartRiaz Tejani (Illinois), Law Mart: Justice, Access, and For-Profit Law Schools (Stanford Univ. Press 2017):

American law schools are in deep crisis. Enrollment is down, student loan debt is up, and the profession's supply of high-paying jobs is shrinking. Meanwhile, thousands of graduates remain underemployed while the legal needs of low-income communities go substantially unmet. Many blame overregulation and seek a "free" market to solve the problem, but this has already been tested. Seizing on a deregulatory policy shift at the American Bar Association, private equity financiers established the first for-profit law schools in the early 2000s with the stated mission to increase access to justice by "serving the underserved". Pursuing this mission at a feverish rate of growth, they offered the promise of professional upward mobility through high-tech, simplified teaching and learning.

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August 3, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Presentations At Today's Big 10 Junior Scholars Conference At Indiana

Big 102017 Big 10 Junior Scholars Conference:

  • Hayes Holderness (Richmond; former Illinois VAP), Strategic Non-Enforcement
  • James Puckett (Penn State), Tax Exceptionalist Rulemaking

August 3, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Without Any Transparency In The Process, ABA Legal Ed Council Approves Changes To Employment Report And Classification Of Law-School-Funded Positions That Erode Transparency

At its June 1-2 meeting, the ABA Council for the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved a proposal to completely eviscerate the steps it approved in 2015 to assure greater transparency in reporting law-school-funded positions.  Indeed, the Council went even further, changing the rules to make it impossible for anyone to discover what number/percentage of a law school’s graduates are in law-school-funded positions, so long as those positions pay $40,000. 

The Council did this with no notice, no chance for comment, and no presentation of possible concerns associated with this change.  Rather, it simply approved a proposal purporting to simplify reporting of employment outcomes that was submitted by one Council member, Paul Mahoney, whose law school was among several that would benefit from the reclassification of law-school-funded positions. 

More significantly, in approving the proposal, the Council also approved several other changes in reporting of employment outcomes that merit much more discussion.  These changes, discussed below, were not meaningfully discussed in the proposal, nor do they appear to have been meaningfully discussed by the Council in approving the proposal.  Once again, there was no notice of these changes, no chance for comment, and no presentation of possible concerns associated with these changes.

It pains me to write this, as I hold the members of the Council in high regard and believe the Council has done a very good job over the last several years navigating legal education through uncharted waters, particularly with its emphasis on increased transparency regarding conditional scholarships and employment outcomes. 

In this instance, however, the Council’s laudable desire to support simplification in reporting of employment outcomes meant that a number of other policy considerations that merit much more attention and thoughtful deliberation did not get due consideration prior to the Council taking action that effectively erodes transparency.

The Council should rescind its action, and send out the proposed changes for notice and comment and for consideration by the Standard’s Review Committee, which can give due consideration to intended and unintended consequences in recommending an appropriate set of changes regarding the reporting of employment outcomes.

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August 3, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (17)

Elsevier Acquires bepress

EBFollowing up on my previous post, Elsevier Acquires SSRN:  Press Release, Elsevier Acquires bepress, a Leading Service Provider Used by Academic Institutions to Showcase Their Research:

Elsevier, the global information analytics business specializing in science and health, today acquired bepress, a Berkeley, California-based business that helps academic libraries showcase and share their institutions’ research for maximum impact. Founded by three University of California, Berkeley professors in 1999, bepress allows institutions to collect, organize, preserve and disseminate their intellectual output, including preprints, working papers, journals or specific articles, dissertations, theses, conference proceedings and a wide variety of other data.

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August 3, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Holderness Presents Questioning Quill At Ohio State

Holderness (2017)Hayes R. Holderness Jr. (Richmond) presented Questioning Quill yesterday at Ohio State as part of its Summer Faculty Workshop Series:

The physical presence rule of Quill Corp. v. North Dakota is under increasing attack from the Kill Quill movement. This rule prohibits states from requiring remote vendors to collect use taxes on goods sold into the states. As a petition to the Supreme Court for certiorari in a case directly challenging the rule grows closer, the case for certiorari remains cloudy. Technology and the economy have changed in the 25 years since Quill was decided, but are these changes enough to convince the Court to rehear the case?

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August 3, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Allard: Valuing The Bar Exam — A Call To 'Poll the Customers'

Allard (2018)TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Valuing the Bar Exam: A Call to "Poll the Customers," by Nicolas W. Allard (Dean, Brooklyn):

No doubt you have heard the aphorism: "everybody complains about the weather but no one can do anything about it".  Well, the bar exam is easier to change than the weather and at least this time of year there are more complaints about it.

Recently, I and other legal educators and leaders, such as Georgia State University, School of Law Professor Andrea Curcio (Scholarship on Bar Exam Alternatives Needed (July 28, 2017)), noted that there has been little change despite years of growing concerns about the need to overhaul the outdated structure of the bar exam.  The entire process is a painfully time consuming, costly, creaky drawbridge to law practice that neither serves the profession nor the public.  The many responsibilities and calendars of those concerned in the judiciary, professional organizations and law schools leads to episodic reactive responses to problems as they pop up.  It is like an unsatisfying game of whack-a-mole rather than sustained critical thinking and research with an eye to meaningful, comprehensive reform.   The sheer inertia favoring the status quo is formidable and it is reinforced by the interlocking relationships of those who benefit from perpetuating the only game in town: a testing business that impolitely might be described as an unregulated monopoly.  Unchallenged by competition and tolerated by the establishment, the bar exam continues to offer an expensive time consuming all or nothing rite of passage only twice a year whose benefits are assumed but not proven.

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August 3, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

NY Times: How The Panama Papers Changed Pakistani Politics (#PanamaPapers)

New York Times, How the Panama Papers Changed Pakistani Politics:

The Pakistani Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was based on corruption accusations stemming from the Panama Papers, a trove of leaked documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

The ruling is one of the most stunning outcomes of the documents’ release, which implicated dozens of politicians and powerful international figures in shady offshore business dealings. Mr. Sharif is the second world leader, along with Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, the former prime minister of Iceland, to resign as a result of the leak.

What did the Panama Papers reveal?

Mr. Sharif’s name never appears in the Panama Papers, but three of his six children – Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Hasan Nawaz Sharif and Hussain Nawaz Sharif – were determined to have purchased luxury properties in London using offshore holdings. His children have maintained that the companies were set up with legally obtained money, but critics claim otherwise.

According to detailed reports from the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), who first released the Panama Papers in early 2016 after a yearlong investigation, Mr. Sharif’s three children headed companies that owned four luxury flats in London’s Park Lane neighborhood.

His daughter Maryam, once seen as his likely political successor, was listed as the owner of two British Virgin Islands-based shell companies – Nielsen Enterprises Limited and Nescoll Limited – which were set up in the early 1990s, just after her father’s first term as prime minister ended. She was underage at the time. The companies owned “a U.K. property each” for use by the family of the owners, according to the documents.

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August 3, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Law Grad Class Of 2016 Secured Fewest Private Practice Jobs Since 1996, But Employment Rose 1% Due To Reduced Class Size

NALP 3NALP, Employment Rate for New Law School Graduates Rises as the Overall Number of Jobs, Class Size, Continue to Shrink:

The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) today released its Employment for the Class of 2016 – Selected Findings, a summary of key findings from the upcoming annual Jobs & JDs: Employment and Salaries of New Law School Graduates — Class of 2016 report, coming out in October 2017. Despite a drop in the number of jobs and the graduating class size, this year’s Selected Findings show a slightly improved employment rate of 87.5% for the Class of 2016 compared to 86.7% measured for the Class of 2015.

“For the third year in a row the employment rate is shaped by a smaller number of jobs and a smaller graduating class size, with graduates benefitting from slightly less competition for the jobs that exist. The employment rate has risen because the falloff in the size of the graduating class has been larger than the falloff in the number of jobs secured,” noted James G. Leipold, NALP’s executive director. “While the percentage of law school graduates who are unemployed and still seeking work ten months after graduation has come down by two and a half percentage points to 8.7% over the last three years, it continues to be more than twice as high as the unemployment rate measured nine months after graduation in the period prior to the recession, and this, more than anything, remains an important marker of the current job market for new law school graduates.” ...


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August 2, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Number Of Americans Renouncing Their U.S. Citizenship On Pace For All-Time High In 2017 (Up 14% From 2016)

International Tax Blog, 2017 Second Quarter Published Expatriates – Second Highest Ever:

Today the Treasury Department published the names of individuals who renounced their U.S. citizenship or terminated their long-term U.S. residency (“expatriated”) during the second quarter of 2017.

The number of published expatriates for the quarter was 1,759, which is the second highest quarterly number ever (second only to the fourth quarter of 2016 which had 2,365 published expatriates).  The number of published expatriates for the first two quarters of 2017 has been 3,072 (1,313 + 1,759). 


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August 2, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Following 20% Decline In UNLV Bar Pass Rate (To 63%), Nevada Lowers Cut Score By 2 Points (To 138)

Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada Lowers Bar For State Legal Exam as Passage Rate Skids:

In 2016, only 63 percent of first-time test-takers from UNLV’s Boyd School of Law — the state’s only public law school — received a passing score. Aside from an uptick in 2015, the passage rate among Boyd graduates has steadily declined since 2011, when 83 percent of first-timers passed. ...

Efforts to make the Nevada bar exam more user-friendly began with the decision in June to lower the “cut score,” the figure required to pass the multistate bar exam, from 140 to 138. ...

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August 2, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Brauner: Towards More Behaviorally-Intelligent Regulation

Yariv Brauner (Florida), Why Examples? Towards More Behaviorally-Intelligent Regulation:

Tax regulation authors habitually infuse regulations with explanatory examples. These examples are viewed favorably by both the government that encourages their drafting and the taxpayers who regularly rely on such examples to assist them in dealing with the notoriously complex tax rules. Despite the ubiquity of these examples, there is no published guidance for their drafting, their use, or their interpretation. The first original contribution of this Article is the exposition and classification of the advantages and deficiencies in the current use of examples in tax regulations. This Article is the first to question the rationale behind the ubiquitous use of examples in tax regulations. The Article uses data collected by original surveys of expert tax professionals and government employees involved in drafting tax regulations.

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August 2, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

UNC Votes To Block Law School Civil Rights Clinic From Taking On New Clients