TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, December 11, 2015

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

Fleischer:  Yahoo’s Spinoff Plan Does Not Change Its Tax Risk

YahooNew York Times Deal Book: Yahoo’s Spinoff Plan Does Not Change Its Tax Risk, by Victor Fleischer (San Diego):

Does the direction of the spin matter? Not for tax purposes.

Yahoo called off its plans to spin off its stake in Alibaba in a statement on Wednesday. The Yahoo board did not say that it was concerned about the tax risk. Instead, the board did a peculiar little dance. It reaffirmed its view that the transaction, a “forward” spin, would have been tax-free to the company and its shareholders. And then it acknowledged that the change of plans reflected concern about “the market’s perception of tax risk.”

The board’s careful choice of words — perception of tax risk, not actual tax risk — reveals that it is a true believer in sophisticated tax planning as the path to salvation. Instead of a “forward” spin, Yahoo is now planning a “reverse” spinoff, with the company’s core business assets and its stake in Yahoo Japan to be placed in a newly formed subsidiary distributed to shareholders, leaving its stake in Alibaba behind.

I’m flummoxed. With respect to the relevant tax issues, the direction of the spin does not matter. Corporate tax can be exceedingly formalistic, but not in this case. ...

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December 11, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

College Endowments Are Flourishing Again — And Critics Are Taking Note

Chronicle of Philanthropy: College Endowments Are Flourishing Again — and Critics Are Taking Note, by Ben Gose:

Victor Fleischer, a professor of law at the University of San Diego, kicked off the endowment-bashing this year with an August opinion piece in The New York Times. He opened with a startling statistic: Yale University paid about $480 million to its private-equity managers in 2014, nearly three times the amount that the endowment paid out for tuition assistance, fellowships, and prizes.

That column got the attention of Malcolm Gladwell, the best-selling author, who took to Twitter and National Public Radio to complain about how taxpayers were subsidizing the income of hedge funds and private-equity funds through elite-college endowments. "I was going to donate money to Yale," he tweeted. "But maybe it makes more sense to mail a check directly to the hedge fund of my choice."

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December 11, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Christians:  Understanding The Accidental American — Tina's Story

AccidentalAllison Christians (McGill), Understanding the Accidental American: Tina's Story:

I would like to tell you a story about the taxpayer's right to know what the law requires of her and to have the law administered fairly. This is just one story based on things happening now, but it is a common story. I'm telling this story instead of giving an exposition on the underlying legal texts because sometimes the rules are too complicated and too technical for anyone to really understand, even tax lawyers. Moreover, reading the law itself doesn't explain what isn't written on the books, which can matter more in how things play out in human terms. As you will see, the implementation of the law gives rise to a taxpayers' rights issue — one that wouldn't be clear from reciting the law alone.

The story I am going to tell you is about a woman named Tina. She's Canadian. She is 62. Tina is nearing retirement age and has been a cautious and diligent person all her life, carefully saving for her old age following the textbook investment advice that tells us we should invest in low-load pooled investment vehicles — mutual funds — and hang onto them for the long term.

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December 11, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)

Tax Prof Beer

PeroniCliff Fleming (BYU!) passed along this Christmas gift idea:  a 24-pack of the only beer named after a tax professor:  Peroni Beer.  Like its namesake Bob Peroni (Texas), reviewers say the beer is "robust," "earthy," "full-bodied" and "underrated."  Here is a full review:

The first time I had Peroni was in Boston while picking up my sister from college. My parents and I had walked the Freedom Trail and took a detour for some dinner in Little Italy. While most think that wine should be the standard drink of choice when in an Italian restaurant I have new for you. Have you ever tried a beer with your pasta? Normally, I stick with my favorite dish Fettuccine Alfredo, but that day a bowtie pasta with Vodka sauce caught my eye. Taking a quick look at the beverages Peroni seemed to be the best fit. After all it is brewed in Italy and I was in “little Italy” enjoying a nice Italian dish.

Fast forward a year to yesterday when I went attended a dinner party. The host prepared a wonderful meal of spaghetti and with meat sauce. I was responsible for beverages so what do you think I purchased? Peroni!!!

The back label says that it is the “No. 1 premium Italian beer” that has “an intensely crisp and refreshing taste with an unmistakable touch of Italian style.” I’m not sure what the “unmistakable style” was, but the rest of the quote was dead on. This beer went amazingly well with the pastas I had on both occasions. There is great carbonation to lift away medium-heavy sauces and cleans the palate for the next bite. It is very clear almost to the point of being mesmerizing. The aroma is of a classic lager/pilsner. Light malts, slight hints of sulfur from the yeast, and a mild spicy hop presence. The mouthfeel is similar to Pilsner Urquell and the finish is dry.

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December 11, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 946

IRS Logo 2Washington Times op-ed, Why IRS Commish John Koskinen Must be Impeached, by Jenny Beth Martin (President & Co-Founder, Tea Party Patriots):

Failing to comply with a subpoena for evidence in a major investigation; lying under oath in testimony before Congress; providing misleading and inaccurate information to Congress; hampering an ongoing investigation into the targeting of innocent American citizens. These are all serious offenses, violations of the public trust.

John Koskinen, the current IRS Commissioner, committed each one. Incredibly, he has not been removed from his post. Americans, are understandably disgusted that the rules that apply to the rest of us appear not to apply to government officials who enjoy comfortable jobs with guaranteed pension packages. ...

Apparently, some in Congress misunderstand the function of impeachment. They seem to think impeachment is a tool to be used only against a government official proven guilty of committing a crime. But impeachment is not a legal remedy; it is a political remedy.

As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 65, impeachment was meant as a remedy for “those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”

In an age where the Justice Department is unwilling to prosecute those seen to be doing the president’s will, even in violation of the law - or, at the very least, the public trust - impeachment is the necessary and appropriate response.

At the heart of our system of government, and in fact the entire fabric of our society, is the notion of trust. Americans must be able to trust our government and have confidence that the IRS has not become a political weapon silencing people who disagree with the current administration. For violating the public trust, and for damaging the public’s faith in the integrity of our government, Mr. Koskinen must be removed from his position. There is simply no better first step to restore the public’s confidence in our government.

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December 11, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Scheve Presents Taxing The Rich: A History Of Fiscal Fairness In The U.S. And Europe At Columbia

TaxingKenneth Scheve (Stanford) presented Taxing the Rich: A History of Fiscal Fairness in the United States and Europe (Princeton University Press, 2016) (with David Stasavage (NYU)) at Columbia on Tuesday as part of its Davis Polk & Wardwell Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex Raskolnikov and Wojciech Kopczuk:

In today's social climate of acknowledged and growing inequality, why are there not greater efforts to tax the rich? In this wide-ranging and provocative book, Kenneth Scheve and David Stasavage ask when and why countries tax their wealthiest citizens—and their answers may surprise you.

Taxing the Rich draws on unparalleled evidence from twenty countries over the last two centuries to provide the broadest and most in-depth history of progressive taxation available. Scheve and Stasavage explore the intellectual and political debates surrounding the taxation of the wealthy while also providing the most detailed examination to date of when taxes have been levied against the rich and when they haven't. Fairness in debates about taxing the rich has depended on different views of what it means to treat people as equals and whether taxing the rich advances or undermines this norm. Scheve and Stasavage argue that governments don't tax the rich just because inequality is high or rising—they do it when people believe that such taxes compensate for the state unfairly privileging the wealthy. Progressive taxation saw its heyday in the twentieth century, when compensatory arguments for taxing the rich focused on unequal sacrifice in mass warfare. Today, as technology gives rise to wars of more limited mobilization, such arguments are no longer persuasive.

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December 10, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Death Of Dick Pugh

PughRichard C. Pugh, a long-time tax professor at San Diego, passed away on December 5 after a battle with cancer. From Dean Stephen Ferruolo:

Dick taught and wrote in the areas of corporate tax, international tax, international law, international criminal law and human rights. He joined our law faculty in 1989 after a prestigious career at Columbia University School of Law. Dick was instrumental in building USD's tax program. He not only set a standard of excellence that helped build the reputation of the law school, he was a paragon of the civility and collegiality that has endured among our distinguished faculty.

From Ed Kleinbard:

Richard Pugh, one of the leading international tax law scholars of his generation, and a mentor to hundreds of practicing lawyers and younger scholars, passed away Sunday.

Dick was a Rhodes Scholar. He joined Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton as an associate in 1958.  He left for a time to become a Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, and in 1966-1968 served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Tax Division of the Department of Justice.  Dick returned to Cleary Gottlieb as a partner in July 1969.  

In 1989, Dick joined the faculty of the University of San Diego School of Law, where he was instrumental in building USD's tax program.  At USD, Dick taught and wrote in the areas of corporate tax, international tax, international law, international criminal law and human rights.

Dick set a standard of excellence that helped build the reputation of every institution with which he was affiliated. He was a paragon of the civility and collegiality that made one proud to be his colleague, and his calming presence and mentoring talents made a very significant contribution to the lives of all who were fortunate enough to work with him.

A memorial service will be held on December 23 at 11:00 AM at the Church of the Epiphany at 5450 Churchwood Dr, Oak Park, CA 91377, with a lunch reception to follow at his son Rich’s home in Westlake Village, California.

Dick's work at San Diego is remembered in the annual Richard C. Pugh Lecture in Tax Law & Policy:

  • 2010:  Eric Solomon (Director of National Tax Practice, Ernst & Young)
  • 2011:  Carr Ferguson (San Diego/Davis Polk & Wardwell)  
  • 2013:  Stephen Shay (Harvard)
  • 2014:  Ed Kleinbard (USC)
  • 2015:  Michael Graetz (Columbia/Yale)

I was honored to get to know Dick during my eleven summers teaching at San Diego and to participate in the tribute to Dick published at the 2010 dedication of his lecture series.  I am reprinting below the spotlight profile of Dick I published in June 2004:

 

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December 10, 2015 in Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Is Law School A Better Investment Than Medical School?

Greedy Associates, Is Law School a Better Investment Than Med School?:

Hey lawyers, ever wish you went to med school instead of spending three years and a ton of cash on your J.D.?

Well, you can be happy that you didn't. It turns out, doctors might actually be chumps. A new report suggests that law school has a better return on investment than med school.

The news comes from Credible, an online student loan refinancing company. Credible looked at its data for lawyers, doctors, teachers, and other professions, to find out which degrees had the highest return on investment. That data suggests that a J.D. has a better ROI than an M.D. According to Credible:

Lawyers have a median student debt of $89,926, 90 percent of their median salary ($100K), whereas doctors have a median debt of $130,641, 98 percent of their median salary ($133K). Furthermore, the average starting salary of lawyers in the private sector is $84K, compared to the $55K doctors make in residency.

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December 10, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Hillary Clinton's Corporate Tax Reform Plan

Book Recommendations From The University Of Chicago Law School Faculty

Book

Book recommendations from the University of Chicago Law School faculty.

December 10, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

ABA Approves Merger Of William Mitchell And Hamline Law Schools

WMHABA Section on Legal Education Memorandum (Dec. 8, 2015):

The Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association, at its meeting on December 4-5, 2015, granted acquiescence in the application submitted by Hamline University School of Law and William Mitchell College of Law to combine the two schools into Mitchell I Hamline School of Law, and to recognize the Mitchell I Hamline School of Law as a fully ABA-approved law school. The Council's acquiescence is effective immediately. The Mitchell I Hamline School of Law wi ll be led by President and Dean Mark C. Gordon and will be located on William Mitchell's existing campus, at 875 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN, 55105.

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December 10, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Herzig:  Why We Should Stop Slamming Mark Zuckerberg And Priscilla Chan’s Philanthropic Plans

CZWashington Post op-ed:  Why We Should Stop Slamming Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s Philanthropic Plans, by David Herzig (Valparaiso):

For people who voluntarily decided to part with some $45 billion, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are getting absolutely skewered in the press. ... The promised donation has been questioned by both the conservative and liberal press. Both seemingly demonizing their decision to give 99 percent of their wealth to an entity engaged in charitable giving. Much of the vitriol directed toward them focuses on the preconceived notion of what charitable giving should look like. ...

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December 10, 2015 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Should Colleges Grant Waivers Of Minimum Teaching Loads To 50% Of The Faculty?

MIssouriInside Higher Ed, Too Many teaching Waivers?:

From Wisconsin to Iowa, it’s become somewhat typical for state legislators to question to the productivity and general usefulness of faculty members at public institutions. Their current campus climate troubles notwithstanding, the University of Missouri System and the University of Missouri at Columbia in particular are the newest targets of a legislative inquiry, and the finding that one-half of faculty members don’t meet the system’s minimum teaching load requirement has a prominent lawmaker threatening to withhold state funding. But the data point asks the questions of just who is seeking such teaching waivers, and how else faculty members with waivers are spending their time. Faculty advocates and additional data suggest that when professors seek waivers, they’re not shirking their responsibilities. Rather, they’re doing other kinds of work that contribute to a research university’s mission -- sometimes financially.

Earlier this year, Missouri State Senator Kurt Schaefer, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, asked the state’s university system for a report on faculty workload and productivity over the past several years. “Universities have to look internally and see what they are doing and what they are delivering,” Schaefer, a Republican from the Columbia area, told the Columbia Daily Tribune about his interest in the matter. “There are truths at the university that must be addressed, and this productivity issue is a big part of it.”

A memo prepared by the university for Schaefer revealed the following: for the past two years, more than one-third of tenured and tenure-track faculty members on the flagship Columbia campus did not meet the minimum teaching requirement of two classes with at least 15 students each in the fall and spring semesters, or 180 student credit hours per academic year (meaning, for example, 60 students in three-credit courses).

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December 10, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dodge:  Eliminating Accrual, Depreciation, And The Existing Tax Treatment Of Borrowing

Florida Tax ReviewJoseph M. Dodge (Florida State), Toward Income Tax Accounting Consistency: Eliminating Accrual, Depreciation, and the Existing Tax Treatment of Borrowing, 18 Fla. Tax Rev. 1 (2015):

The thesis here is that inconsistent tax accounting rules undermine the individual income tax, and the best available move for improving it—given the unassailability of the realization principle—is to eliminate its accrual (and quasi-accrual) features. Specifically, the agenda is to eliminate tax accrual accounting in the conventional sense, revamp the tax treatment of borrowing to (inter alia) abolish the Crane doctrine, and eliminate depreciation deductions for indivisible productive assets. The end result would be a consistent cash realization system for (at least) individual taxpayers.

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December 10, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 945

IRS Logo 2Forbes: National Organization For Marriage Denied Attorney Fees In IRS Lawsuit, by Peter J. Reilly:

It looks like the National Organization for Marriage has come to the end of the line in its hope for a big payday from the IRS for the unauthorized disclosure of the Schedule B (donor list) attached to its 2008 Form 990. Form 990 becomes public (The easiest way to find one is on guidestar.org), but the donor list is not publically disclosed.  The Fourth Circuit upheld a district court decision denying NOM attorney fees in its suit against the IRS.  IRS had admitted that it was wrong in releasing the Schedule B and settled with a payment of $50,000.  NOM was seeking $691,025.05 in fees.

The disclosure caused a bit of a stir, because it showed that a Mitt Romney related entity had given money to NOM.  Also, according to this story, two years after the disclosure Brian Eich was pressured to step down as CEO of Mozilla because of his $1,000 donation that was on the list.  The Mozilla story was Day 331 of Paul Caron’s IRS Scandal coverage.  The original story of the disclosure was covered by the Tax Prof on April 13, 2012 over a year before the launching of the scandal series. ...

The NOM disclosure issue wove its way into the IRS scandal narrative.  The core scandal is the delay and intrusive questions in processing the exemption applications of Tea Party and similar groups.  Earlier this week Paul Caron on The IRS Scandal, Day 943 noted that Brian Leiter of the University of Chicago Law School had queried his readers “Has there really been an IRS scandal going for nearly three years?” Professor Caron maintains that he will keep with the coverage as long as there is something out there.  He did indicate that there is not much in the queue right now, so there is some chance the series might go dark at least for a while.

In a private exchange with another blogger on that post, I noted that the NOM litigation was still outstanding.  So that’s one down.  I’m pretty sure that the Z Street litigation is chugging on.  Although Judicial Watch has not added to its IRS scandal blog since Labor Day, I think it is likely that they have some more cats to pull out of the bag.

I wonder whether the IRS scandal will go down in history like the Dreyfus Affair or the Sacco-Vanzetti trial or if it will just fade away.

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December 10, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

NYU Tax Law Review Publishes New Issue

NYU Law (2014)The Tax Law Review has published a new issue (Vol. 68, No. 2 (Winter 2015)):

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December 9, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Will Technology Create More Legal Jobs Than It Destroys?

Chart 11James E. Bessen (Boston University), How Computer Automation Affects Occupations: Technology, Jobs, and Skills:

This paper investigates basic relationships between technology and occupations. Building a general occupational model, I look at detailed occupations since 1980 to explore whether computers are related to job losses or other sources of wage inequality. Occupations that use computers grow faster, not slower. This is true even for highly routine and mid-wage occupations. Estimates reject computers as a source of significant net technological unemployment or job polarization. But computerized occupations substitute for other occupations, shifting employment and requiring new skills. Because new skills are costly to learn, computer use is associated with substantially greater within-occupation wage inequality.

11BNew York Times:  Automation Is a Job Engine, New Research Says, by Steve Lohr:

The fear that technology is poised to kill jobs in unprecedented numbers is widely prevelent these days. Nothing is likely to ease that anxiety much, but a new research paper might prompt some second thoughts.

Using government data, James Bessen, a researcher and lecturer at the Boston University School of Law, examined the impact of computer automation on 317 occupations from 1980 through 2013. His conclusion, in a sentence, was: “Employment grows significantly faster in occupations that use computers more.” ... “The idea that automation kills jobs isn’t true historically, and if you look at the last 30 years, it’s not true then either,” he said in an interview. “Right now, the best thing that can happen to you is to get some automation to do your job better.” ...

His comment echoes the main finding of a recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute, which concluded that many work tasks within jobs can be automated in the next three to five years. But the impact, according to the McKinsey report, will be to alter jobs rather than eliminate them.

Frank Pasquale (Maryland), Complicating the Narrative of Legal Automation:

Experts with a bit more historical perspective differ on the real likelihood of pervasive legal automation. Some put the risk to lawyers at under 4%. Even the highly cited study by Carl Frey and Michael Osborne (The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Automation) placed attorneys in the “low risk” category when it comes to replacement by software and robots. They suggest paralegals are in much more danger.

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December 9, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (7)

Tax Lawyers Urge Rapid Confirmation Of Cono Namorato As Assistant Attorney General For The Tax Division

ConoA number of tax lawyers (many formerly at the IRS and Justice Department) sent this letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee calling for the rapid confirmation of Cono Namorato as the next Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice Tax Division.  Mr. Cano was nominated in April 2015 and had his confirmation hearing on July 22, 2015.

It is hard to imagine that there is a single individual more qualified than Mr. Namorato for the position of Assistant Attorney General – Tax Division. His 50 year career has been entirely in the field of tax enforcement. He began as a line criminal agent in Brooklyn in the early 1960s and, after attending law school at night and joining the Tax Division as a prosecutor, he quickly rose through the ranks to become Deputy Assistant Attorney General. Then, in the midst of a distinguished career in private practice, and during a period of critical tax enforcement developments arising from the prevalence of mass marketed tax shelters during the last decade, he returned to the IRS to serve as Director of its Office of Professional Responsibility.

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December 9, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Fleischer:  Abandoned Yahoo Spinoff A Sign That Tax Is Fading As A Deal Driver

YahooNew York Times Deal Book:  Abandoned Yahoo Spinoff a Sign That Tax Is Fading as a Deal Driver, by Victor Fleischer (San Diego),

Yahoo has reportedly abandoned its plan to spin off its stake in Alibaba.

Yahoo’s proposed spinoff had been driven by tax concerns. In a world without taxes, Yahoo could have simply sold its Alibaba shares and distributed the proceeds to shareholders. Yahoo will now concentrate on other strategic options, including possibly selling off the core business.

Tax considerations have been responsible for a lot of deal flow of late, including real estate investment trust spinoffs (Darden, Sears, Windstream), new energy master limited partnerships, and, of course, corporate inversions (Coca-Cola Enterprises, CF Industries, Burger King/Tim Hortons). But deal flow tends to be cyclical, and the tax phase is waning.

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December 9, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Joint Tax Committee Releases Tax Expenditure Estimates for 2015-2019

Joint Tax CommitteeJoint Committee on Taxation, Estimates of Federal Tax Expenditures for Fiscal Years 2015-2019 (JCX-141-15):

Tax expenditure analysis can help both policymakers and the public to understand the actual size of government, the uses to which government resources are put, and the tax and economic policy consequences that follow from the implicit or explicit choices made in fashioning legislation. This report on tax expenditures for fiscal years 2015-2019 is prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (“Joint Committee staff”) for the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance. The report also is submitted to the House and Senate Committees on the Budget.

As in the case of earlier reports, the estimates of tax expenditures in this report were prepared in consultation with the staff of the Office of Tax Analysis in the Department of the Treasury (“the Treasury”). The Treasury published its estimates of tax expenditures for fiscal years 2014-2024 in the Administration's budgetary statement of February 2, 2015. The lists of tax expenditures in this Joint Committee staff report and the Administration's budgetary statement overlap considerably; the differences are discussed in Part I of this report under the heading “Comparisons with Treasury.”

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December 9, 2015 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Smith:  Standing Issues In Direct APA Challenges To Tax Regulations

Patrick J. Smith (Ivins, Phillips & Barker, Washington, D.C.), Standing Issues in Direct APA Challenges to Tax Regulations, 149 Tax Notes 1033 (Nov. 23, 2015):

In a prior article [Challenges to Tax Regulations: The APA and the Anti-Injunction Act, 147 Tax Notes 915 (May 25, 2015)], I argued that after the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Direct Marketing, taxpayers will likely be able to bring direct challenges to the validity of tax regulations in district court without being barred by the Anti-Injunction Act, meaning that they will not have to first engage in a transaction to which the regulations are applied and thereby incur a tax liability based on the application of the regulations to that transaction.

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December 9, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Holding Law Schools Accountable

Shiva Bhaskar, Holding Law Schools Accountable:

Lower LSAT scores are a product of decreased law school attendance. The 2014 entering class was nearly 30% smaller than in 2010, and was the smallest crop of new law students since 1973. As interest in studying law has fallen, in order to maintain comparable class sizes, many schools have reduced admissions standards.

Driving this exodus from legal education are the rather dismal economics of today’s legal industry. According to the National Association for Law Placement, from 2008 to 2013, the overall employment rate for recent graduates fell every single year. Numbers for 2014 graduates were slightly better, though in part due to a smaller graduating class.

What’s more, many of those who obtained jobs ended up in positions which didn’t even require passage of the bar exam, raising serious concerns about the value of law school. Additionally, some of those who were reported as employed were actually in temporary, unpaid positions, funded by stipends from their law schools. ...

Law school administrators thus face two choices. One approach is to maintain admissions standards, slashing class sizes thanks to fewer applicants. The other option is to lower acceptance requirements, and prop up student headcount, preserving overall tuition inflows, while delaying hard choices around downsizing and restructuring. ...

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December 9, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Barro:  Why It’s Too Soon To Sour On The Zuckerberg Charity Plan

ZuckerbergFollowing up on my previous posts:

New York Times:  Why It’s Too Soon to Sour on the Zuckerberg Charity Plan, by Josh Barro:

Mr. Zuckerberg “has moved money from one of his pockets to another,” as Michael Graetz, a tax professor at Columbia Law School, put it. If they’re going to get the tax benefits associated with charitable giving, they’ll have to give their wealth to a real charity sooner or later. As for now, the transaction is neither an irrevocable gift to charity nor a tax dodge; it’s more as if you moved your money to Chase from Bank of America.

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December 9, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Manhire:  Beyond The U.S. News Index — A Better Measure Of Law School Diversity

2016 U.S. News RankingsJ. T. Manhire (Texas A & M), Beyond the U.S. News Index: A Better Measure of Law School Diversity, 101 Iowa L. Rev. Online 1 (2015):

The U.S. News & World Report publishes a diversity index along with its annual ranking of U.S. law schools. Race and ethnicity are the only factors the magazine uses to measure law school diversity. But is this a meaningful measure of student difference? Are race and ethnicity all that count or are there other differences that contribute to a richer educational experience for students and better outcomes for law schools? In a 2011 Iowa Law Review article, Kevin Johnson argues that law school diversity is not limited to only race and ethnicity. He further argues that law school diversity, defined broadly, is critical to the success of legal education; both for the students and the institutions that serve them.

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December 9, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 944

IRS Logo 2Following up on yesterday's post on Brian Leiter's poll on whether I should continue my daily coverage of the IRS Scandal,  Brian writes:

Prior to the invasion of the Insta-gnorance readers, the normal intelligent readership was 30% in favor of the scandal-mongering, the rest against with about one quarter deeming the Blog Emperor's continued coverage the real scandal.

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December 9, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

As ABA Inches Closer To Approving Paid Externships, George Mason 3L Urges ABA To Prioritize Financial Interests Of Law Students Over Clinical Law Profs

ABA Logo 2Following up on my previous posts (links below):  ABA Journal, Proposal to Eliminate Ban on Academic Credit for Paid Externships Moves Forward:

The governing council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has approved for notice and comment a proposed change in the law school accreditation standards that would eliminate the current ban on students receiving academic credit for paid externships.

The council, which met Friday in Atlanta, also approved for notice and comment a proposal that would forbid law schools from discriminating on the basis of gender identity, as well as several proposed changes in the wording of the diversity and inclusion requirements. One proposed change offers possible actions a school might take to reflect a commitment to an environment that is diverse and inclusive.

My Pepperdine colleague Rob Anderson previously called on law students to speak up for paid externships:

[A] small but organized minority of law professors don't want you to be able to be paid for work and receive academic credit at the same time, and they are the ones being heard by the ABA. The Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) and the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), which are special interest groups that advocate for the interests of law school professors, are lobbying the ABA to try to stop it from allowing you to receive pay and credit for the same externship. ...

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December 8, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Fleischer: Curb Your Enthusiasm For Pigovian Taxes

Victor Fleischer (San Diego), Curb Your Enthusiasm for Pigovian Taxes, 68 Vand. L. Rev. 1673 (2015):

Pigovian (or “corrective”) taxes have been proposed or enacted on dozens of harmful products and activities: carbon, gasoline, fat, sugar, guns, cigarettes, alcohol, traffic, zoning, executive pay, and financial transactions, among others. Academics of all political stripes are mystified by the public’s inability to see the merits of using Pigovian taxes more frequently to address serious social harms, some even calling for the creation of a “Pigovian state.”

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

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December 8, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Masur & Posner: Toward A Pigovian State

Jonathan Masur (Chicago) & Eric Posner (Chicago), Toward a Pigovian State, 164 U. Pa. L. Rev. 93 (2015):

Most economists believe that the government should impose Pigovian taxes on firms that produce negative externalities like pollution, yet regulatory agencies hardly ever use their authority to create Pigovian taxes. Instead, they issue command-and-control regulations. Our major point is that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, regulators typically have legal authority to create Pigovian taxes — they just do not use it. While regulators may hesitate to impose Pigovian taxes for a range of political and symbolic reasons, we argue that these reasons do not justify this massive failure of regulatory efficiency. It is time for the regulatory state to take a Pigovian turn.

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December 8, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. Supreme Court To Decide If California Franchise Tax Board Can Be Held Liable By Nevada Court For Fraud Committed During Audit Of Taxpayer

Supreme Court (2014)National Law Journal, Nevada Inventor's Tax Dispute Tests Power of State Courts:

Two veterans of the U.S. Supreme Court bar sparred on Monday over the validity of a 36-year-old precedent that allows states to be sued in other states' courts.

Las Vegas-based inventor Gilbert Hyatt, represented by Farr & Taranto's H. Bartow Farr, is fighting to hold onto a million-dollar judgment he won in Nevada state courts against the Franchise Tax Board of California. The Nevada Supreme Court found the board liable for fraud committed during an audit that discovered the more than $10 million that Hyatt owed to California before he moved to Nevada in 1992.

Jessica Berch (Concordia) & Chad DeVeaux (Concordia), Franchise Tax Bd. v. Hyatt: State Sovereign Immunity, Our Federalism, and Jerry Springer:

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December 8, 2015 in New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Anderson: LSAC President 'Fundamentally Misunderstands' LSAT, Which LSAC's Own Studies Show Correlates With Bar Performance

LSACFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), LSAC Fires Off Bizarre Statement Attacking Law School Transparency:

Law School Transparency, an advocacy organization for the interests of law school applicants and students, recently released a report entitled 2015 State of Legal Education. ... The report attempted to draw attention to the fact that the declining quality of the law school applicant pool (as reflected by declining LSAT scores at many schools) is putting more law school graduates in jeopardy of failing the bar examination. The fact that this has been happening is not really controversial among those paying attention. 

Imagine one's surprise, therefore, when Daniel Bernstine, the president of the Law School Admissions Council (the organization responsible for the LSAT) emitted a bizarre statement attacking LST's report. The statement called three factual claims contained in the report "demonstrably false" and "patently wrong." In fact, however, the term "demonstrably false" would be more accurately attached to the LSAC's press release than to LST's relatively modest claims. Each of LST's claims was either misrepresented by Bernstine or otherwise substantially accurate. ...

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December 8, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Chodorow:  Will Taxes Bring Down ISIS?

FlagSlate:  Even ISIS Needs to Collect Taxes: Could That Threaten Its Rule?, by Adam Chodorow (Arizona State):

A week after the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, U.S. warplanes destroyed more than 100 gasoline trucks in the area of eastern Syria controlled by ISIS. These strikes were meant not just to bloody the extremist group but also to cripple its finances and infrastructure, since ISIS reportedly earns around $500 million a year from illegal oil sales. But as the New York Times recently reported, ISIS raises nearly twice as much each year by selling necessities such as electricity and water and taxing the people living in the areas of Syria and Iraq under its control. These revenue streams may help insulate ISIS from efforts to cut off its external revenue sources. But ISIS is quickly learning what every insurgent group, from Mao Zedong’s revolutionaries to the FARC in Colombia, had to figure out. Revolution is easy. Governing is hard. And there are few things more difficult than taxes. ...

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December 8, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gonzaga Law Student Crowned Miss Rodeo America, Receives $25k Tax LL.M. Scholarship

RodeoAbove the Law, Law Student Turned Pageant Queen With A Purpose:

Katherine Merck ..., a student at Gonzaga Law School, ... has a passion for rodeo that she hasn’t let law school kill. In fact, yesterday she was crowned Miss Rodeo America — the first ever from Washington State. In order to nab the national title, she beat out 33 other state queens by excelling in horsemanship, rodeo and equine knowledge, a speech, and a fashion show. 

According to Miss Rodeo Washington, Merck’s love of rodeo and time in law school dovetail nicely:

Since graduating from the University of Notre Dame, she is studying at Gonzaga University School of Law in hopes of helping farmers and ranchers preserve and pass their land on to the next generation.

Merck gets more than a brand-new cowgirl hat for winning the pageant. As the Spokesman Review notes, for her efforts Merck won a shiny new saddle and an LLM:

The crown is accompanied by $25,000 in educational scholarships and prizes including a saddle, jewelry and clothes. Merck plans to use the scholarship to attend the University of Washington law school’s Master of Laws in Taxation program. She has said she wants to help farmers and ranchers with estate planning and water rights.

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December 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Muller On The Bar Exam Carnage

Following up on my posts (links below) on the recent bar exam carnage:  Derek Muller (Pepperdine), Visualizing the Overall Bar Pass Rate Declines in 2015 Across Jurisdictions:

Cobbling together the overall results from July 2013 to July 2015, a two-year change, the trends are fairly stark in most jurisdictions, often joining together significant declines in 2014 with modest declines in 2015.

Muller 2

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December 8, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yale Finds Error In Bluebook: Harvard Did Not Create It (Despite What Erwin Griswold Claimed)

Bluebook 2New York Times, Yale Finds Error in Legal Stylebook: Harvard Did Not Create It, by Adam Liptak

Fred R. Shapiro (Yale) &  Julie Graves Krishnaswami (Yale), The Secret History of the Bluebook, 100 Minn. L. Rev. ___ (2016):

The Bluebook, or Uniform System of Citation as it was formerly titled, has long been a significant component of American legal culture. The standard account of the origins of the Bluebook, deriving directly from statements made by longtime Harvard Law School Dean and later Solicitor General of the United States Erwin N. Griswold, maintains that the citation manual originated at the Harvard Law Review in the 1920s and was created or adapted by Dean Griswold himself. This account is wildly erroneous, as proven by intensive research we conducted in the archives of Harvard and Yale. In fact, the Bluebook grew out of precursor manuals at Yale Law School, apparently inspired by a legal scholar even more important than Griswold, namely Karl N. Llewellyn. The "uniform citations" movement that began at Yale was actually at first opposed by Harvard.

In his most extreme misstatement, Griswold asserted that a collaborative decision was made in the 1920s by Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal, Columbia Law Review, and University of Pennsylvania Law Review to share the revenues from publishing the Bluebook (eventually amounting to millions of dollars) among the four journals. There is indeed now four-way revenue-sharing, but it did not commence until the 1970s, and then only after a revolt of the three "junior partners" against Harvard Law Review's complete monopolization of Bluebook income for half a century, a revolt initiated by Joan Wexler of the Yale Law Journal.

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December 8, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 943

Back in October, Forbes tax blogger Peter Reilly asked whether I had jumped the shark by continuing my daily coverage of the IRS Scandal.  My response ("very classy,'' said Peter) asked my readers whether I should continue daily coverage.  The response was overwhelming:  90% of the 973 voters directed me to continue daily coverage of the IRS Scandal:

Poll 3

The comments were even more emphatic (one reader said "Quite possibly the greatest post in the history of TaxProf, regardless of what one thinks happened at the IRS.").

Yesterday, Brian Leiter (Chicago), a member of our Law Professor Blogs Network, asked his readers What is your opinion about the Taxprof blogs daily postings about an IRS scandal that has allegedly been going on for almost three years?  Here were the results of the 38 votes when I checked last night:

Poll

I suspect Brian's readers are very different from the readers of this blog, and he attributed nefarious motivations to my daily coverage which undoubtedly influenced the voting.  But it is fair to ask, as Peter did, when my daily coverage will end. My answer is the same as it has been throughout the scandal:  I will stop when the daily commentary in the press and blogosphere on the scandal (from both the right and the left) ends.  At several points in the scandal, as I was running out of content, a new chapter would unfold and my daily coverage would continue.  Currently, the scandal has gone mostly quiet and I have only a few posts left in the queue. So it may be that my daily coverage will end soon, and will be resumed if and when the scandal heats up again. 

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December 8, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (11)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Muller:  Dramatic Increase In Quality Of Fall 2016 Law School Applicants

Following up on this morning's post:  Derek Muller (Pepperdine) reports that with roughly 25% of the applicant pool for the entering Fall 2016 law school class now in, not only are law school applicants up slightly, but the quality of those applicants (as measured by LSAT scores) is up significantly:

Muller

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December 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Harvard Law Students Issue 7-Page List Of Demands In Wake Of Racial Unrest

Federal Magistrate Recommends Dismissal Of Former SUNY-Buffalo Law Prof's Wrongful Termination Suit Against Former Dean

SUNY 2Following up on my previous posts:

The Spectrum, Judge Recommends Lawsuit Against Former UB Law School Dean Makau Mutua be Dismissed; Former Law Professor Jeffrey Malkan to Appeal Dismissal:

A federal judge has recommended dismissing a former UB law professor’s wrongful termination suit against former Law School Dean Makau Mutua.

The lawsuit, filed by Jeffrey Malkan in 2011, alleged that Mutua violated Malkan’s due process rights when the former dean fired him in 2009. U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder also granted sanctions against Malkan and his attorney for claiming Mutua committed perjury in the case.

Malkan, who says he hasn’t been given a fair trial, will appeal the dismissal. He has 14 days to do so. ...

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December 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

College And University President Salaries, 2013

Chronicle of Higher Education, Executive Compensation at Private and Public Colleges:

The Chronicle's executive-compensation package has been updated with information on private-college presidents for the 2013 calendar year.

The update provides data on 558 chief executives at 497 private nonprofit colleges in the United States. The median salary for leaders in office for the full year was $436,429. Thirty-two of the presidents earned more than $1 million.

The most recent data on public-college presidents, also from 2013, include information on 238 chief executives at 220 public universities and systems in the United States. The median salary for those in office for the full year was $428,250. Two of the presidents earned more than $1 million.

Here are the Top 15 private college presidents by total 2013 compensation:

Top 8
Top 15

Here are the Top 15 public college presidents by total 2013 compensation:

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December 7, 2015 in Law School Rankings | Permalink | Comments (7)

Deceased Spousal Unused Exclusion Preservation Planning

Austin W. Bramwell & Leah Socash (Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, New York), Preserving Inherited Exclusion Amounts: The New Planning Frontier, 50 Real Prop. Tr. & Est. L.J. 1 (2015):

Portability has forced estate planners to reconsider how they plan for married couples. But the impact of these rules stretches beyond married couples to affect surviving spouses who choose to remarry. In essence, these rules have created a whole new area of planning—deceased spousal unused exclusion preservation planning—that did not previously exist. This Article examines this new field in detail and the advantages and disadvantages of its various techniques.

December 7, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fall 2016 Law School Applicants Up 0.6%

LSACFollowing up on the nascent law school rebound (Number of LSAT Test-Takers Increases 7.4%, The Fourth Consecutive (And Biggest) Increase):  LSAC, Three-Year ABA Volume Comparison:

As of 11/27/15, there are 70,863 2016 applications submitted by 13,881 applicants for the 2016–2017 academic year. Applicants are up 0.6% and applications are down 4.1% from 2015–2016. Last year at this time, we had 25% of the preliminary final applicant count.

LSAC

Al Brophy (North Carolina), LSAC and Predicting Applications for Fall 2016, Part 1:

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December 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Congress Orders IRS To Use Private Debt Collection Companies

DebtForbes:  Congress Orders IRS To Use Private Debt Collection Companies, by Kelly Phillips Erb:

On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or “FAST Act.” It provides long-term funding for transportation projects, including new highways, over a period of ten years. And as you would expect in a bill targeting highways and infrastructure, it also requires Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to use private debt collection companies.

Wait? You didn’t expect that? Of course not. Because tax policy has no business being stuffed into an already bloated bill (1,300+ pages) ostensibly focused on highways. But when has that ever stopped Congress before?

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December 7, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Call For Junior Tax Papers: Sorbonne (Paris) Law School

Sorbonne 2The Sorbonne Law School Tax Law Department has issued a Call for Papers for the Fourth Junior Tax Scholars Conference on The Instruments of International Tax Law:

International tax law is composed of multiple instruments. Bilateral and multilateral agreements are, nowadays, standard means for the harmonious coexistence of national tax systems. The recent reforms in the USA as well as the current efforts carried by the OECD and the European Union question the value and the future of these instruments as part of the international tax system.

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December 7, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 942

IRS Logo 2FedSmith.com, Legislation Would Make it Easier to Fire Senior Executives at IRS:

Lawmakers are continuing to target the Internal Revenue Service with new bills in the wake of news reports that said that senior executives within the agency were targeting conservative groups based on their political beliefs.

Legislation has recently been introduced in the Senate that would give the IRS Commissioner new authority to fire senior executives within the agency who have failed in their performance or committed misconduct.

Known as the Internal Revenue Service Accountability Act of 2015 (S. 2345), the text of the legislation says that the IRS Commissioner “may remove an individual employed in a senior executive position at the Internal Revenue Service from the senior executive position if the Commissioner determines the performance or misconduct of the individual warrants such removal.”

The Senators are introducing the bill in response to the recent stories in the media alleging that high level officials within the IRS were targeting conservative groups based on their beliefs. Investigations into the targeting were closed by the Department of Justice in October.

The Senators say that while the IRS Commissioner currently does have the authority to fire high ranking employees for certain forms of misconduct, this authority failed to be used in the political targeting situation.

press release from Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) describes the need for the bill as follows:

The Administration has claimed that only mismanagement occurred at the IRS and that mismanagement is not a crime and has used this logic to justify its failure to act in the case of Lois Lerner and others who targeted Americans based on their political beliefs. This bill seeks to rectify this problem by giving the Commissioner clear authority to fire employees who fail to meet the standards of conduct and performance we should demand of senior managers at Federal agencies. ...

The House has had its own share of efforts to clamp down on the IRS, one of the most recent examples being introducing a resolution to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for acts which lawmakers said violated the public’s trust.

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December 7, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Will Denying Admission To Students With 'At-Risk' LSAT Scores Keep Minorities, Poor From Becoming Lawyers?

Following up on Wednesday's post, LSAC, LST Debate The Use Of LSAT Scores As A Bar Passage Predictor:

Sheldon Bernard Lyke (Whittier), Adding Clarity to Law School Transparency:

Lower tiered law schools that admit students with low LSAT scores should be celebrated for providing an opportunity to enter the legal profession for those students at the margins of society. Unfortunately, their work has lately been characterized as predatory in popular media like The Atlantic and the NYT. With its 2015 State of Legal Education report, Law School Transparency (LST) has instigated a dangerous national discourse, arguing that some ABA-accredited law schools have been engaged in a process of admitting students with low LSAT scores (which the LST labels “high risk”) who do not have a reasonable chance of passing the bar. LST’s framing of these law school’s actions is disturbing given that: (1) the LSAT is at best a weak predictor of first-time bar passage, and (2) there is no evidence that law school graduates are not eventually passing the bar.

As a sociologist and law professor at Whittier Law School—one of the law schools that LST has labelled as high-risk—I decided to take a closer look at the results that LST relies on in coming to its conclusions about bar passage and risk.

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December 6, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

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 new papers debuting on the list at #3, #4, and #5:

  1. [402 Downloads]  Big Data and Tax Haven Secrecy, by Arthur J. Cockfield (Queen's University)
  2. [232 Downloads]  2015 Trying Times: Important Lessons to Be Learned from Recent Federal Tax Cases, by Nancy A. McLaughlin (Utah) & Steven J. Small (Law Office of Stephen J. Small, Newton, MA)
  3. [151 Downloads]  Friends with Tax Benefits: Apple's Cautionary Tale, by Allison Christians (McGill)
  4. [148 Downloads]  The State Administration Of International Tax Avoidance, by Omri Y. Marian (UC-Irvine)
  5. [145 Downloads]  The Three Causes of Inversions: Reflections on Pfizer/Allergan and Notice 2015-79, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)

December 6, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Christian University President:  This Is Not A Day Care, 1 Corinthians 13 Is Not A Microaggression

Day CareEverett Piper (President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University), This is Not a Day Care. It’s a University!:

This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.

I’m not making this up. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.”

I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience. An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad. It is supposed to make you feel guilty. The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins—not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization.

So here’s my advice:

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December 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 941

IRS Logo 2Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel op-ed:  Governors Should Be Wary of Syrian Refugees, by Merrill Mathews ( Institute for Policy Innovation):

President Barack Obama is once again faced with a problem of his own creation. After all, when you sow disgust you reap mistrust.

For seven years the president has dismissed, demeaned and denounced those who have raised legitimate concerns about his policies.

And when those concerns have turned out to be correct, as they often have — think "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it," the Islamic State being "contained," the promise of a post-partisan America, and so on — he ignores the evidence, berates his critics, and asserts that everything is going well.

So when 31 governors turned their thumbs down on Obama's decision to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees and distribute them among the states, the governors were sending a message that said, "We do not trust you and your administration to tell the truth or do the due diligence necessary to vet refugees."

Let's be clear: Every governor knows this is a country of immigrants with a long and cherished tradition of helping refugees.

And they know that the vast majority of the refugees would be honest and law-abiding, thrilled to get a chance at a new start in America. But even a vast majority isn't 100%, and that presents a legitimate safety concern.

But Obama, true to form, dismissed the concerns and ridiculed the critics. "Apparently they (the Republicans) are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America," the president sneered. He then claimed that the screening process would be the "most rigorous process conceivable." ...

Under normal circumstances, elected officials and most of the public would take the president's word. But this president has misled the public so often that he hasn't earned the benefit of the doubt — and he isn't getting it. ...

Remember the IRS scandal? The Environmental Protection Agency polluting a Colorado river? The Veterans Affairs’ health care scandal? And that “red line” in Syria?

I, for one, hope the administration, Congress and governors can find a solution that upholds the country’s long tradition as a haven for refugees. The mistrust in this case isn’t targeted so much at the Syrian refugees, but at the White House.

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December 6, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)