TaxProf Blog

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

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Seven Tax Profs Arrested On Corruption Charges In Rigging Academic Research Award

The Italian Insider, Professors Arrested on Corruption Charges:

Seven university professors of tax-law have been arrested on charges of corruption as part of a national investigation into rigged competitions for research posts.

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September 28, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

'Clickbait' Is Corrupting Scholarship: 'The Academe Has Been Hacked By Scholars And Journals Looking To Up Their Citation And Impact Numbers'

ClickbaitInside Higher Ed, ‘Colonialism’ Article Flap Highlights Push for Transparency in Publishing:

“The [article] is a travesty, the academic equivalent of a Trump tweet, clickbait with footnotes.”

Third World Quarterly is in no hurry to pull The Case for Colonialism, despite author Bruce Gilley’s request last weekthat the journal withdraw his contentious essay.

Many see transparency in scholarly publishing as lacking across journals, but it’s particularly germane to the Third World Quarterly debate. That's because critics of the journal have charged that it published Gilley’s article, against the advice of expert reviewers, as “clickbait.” ...

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September 28, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tax Code Statutes With No Hammer?

Generally, the Tax Code contains statutory consequences for taxpayers who fail to obey statutory commands.   Most of those statutory consequences are in the form of: "Additions to Tax" found in sections 6651-6658; "Accuracy-Related and Fraud Penalties" found in sections 6662-6664; "Assessable Penalties" found in sections 6671-6725; and, of course, all the various criminal and forfeiture statutes found in 7201-7345.

But what about statutory commands imposed on the IRS?  It turns out not all such commands carry a statutory hammer.  Let me give one example.  When the IRS assesses a tax and the tax is unpaid, section 6303 requires the IRS to send the taxpayer notice and demand for the unpaid tax within 60 days of the assessment.  But the statute is silent as to what consequence, if any, should occur if the IRS sends the notice and demand later than 60 days.  Treas. Reg. 301.6303-1 provides "the failure to give notice within 60 days does not invalidate the notice."

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September 28, 2017 in Bryan Camp, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Yin Presents Tax Law Codification And The Emergence Of The Joint Committee On Taxation Staff Today At Penn

Yin (2015)George Yin (Virginia), presents Codification of the Tax Law and the Emergence of the Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation at Pennsylvania today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Chris Sanchirico and Reed Shuldiner:

In 1926, Congress created the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) and its staff. This article explains how, partly by design but largely by happenstance, the JCT staff helped change the nature of the legislative process. By serving at or near the intersection of three great divides in government — those between the parties, the houses of Congress, and the legislative and executive branches — the staff demonstrated the value of unelected professionals assisting directly in the formation of legislation and led Congress to rely more on its own resources in the legislative process rather than those of the executive branch.

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September 27, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lukic Presents The Taxation On Goods And Services In Brazil Today At Toronto

LukicMelina Rocha Lukic (Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) Law School, Brazil) presents The Taxation on Goods and Services in Brazil: The Canadian System as a Model? at Toronto today as part of its James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series:

The paper aims to analyze the possibility to implement a VAT system in Brazil based on the Canadian GST system. The tax system of goods and services in Brazil is composed of several taxes that were divided according to different bases (distribution of goods, services provisions, industrialization and revenue/turnover). The competence for imposition and collection was distributed to the three federal entities: Federal Government, States and Municipalities. This peculiarity — segmentation of the tax bases and several taxes levied on the same basis — causes various problems and obstacles to Brazilian system, as we describe in the paper.

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September 27, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Crit Classroom, A Battlefield: Lessons From The Student Walkout In Greg Mankiw's Harvard Econ Class

Aníbal Rosario Lebrón (Howard), If These Blackboards Could Talk: The Crit Classroom, a Battlefield, 9 Charleston L. Rev. 305 (2015):

“You hear it said that fathers want their sons to be what they feel they themselves cannot be, but I tell you it also works the other way.”

With those simple words in one of the most heartfelt self-discovery stories in “American” literature, Sherwood Anderson subtly unmasked how yearnings and aspirations are a two-way street. As parents project their aspirations upon their children, so do their children upon them. The same holds true for teachers and students, especially in legal academia. As law professors, we have a specific idea of what type of learners and legal professionals law students should be; but just as daughters and sons, law students also have in their minds an ideal law professor.

However, when these aspirations and ideals do not correspond with each other, conflict usually ensues, as it did for the young man in Sherwood Anderson's Discovery of a Father. This conflict puts a strain on any relationship and creates a tense atmosphere that can dampen communication. In the case of parents and their children, this might be resolved with time or a serendipitous event that reopens the communication channels and sheds light on the reasonableness of their yearnings--as a young Sherwood discovered himself. Yet, in the classroom, time is always pressing and those types of serendipitous events are scarce. 

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September 27, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Helge: Why The IRS Denies Tax Exemption To 501(c)(3) Applicants

Terri Lynn Helge (Texas A&M), Rejecting Charity: Why the IRS Denies Tax Exemption to 501(C)(3) Applicants, 14 Pitt. Tax. Rev. 1 (2016):

New charitable organizations generally must file an application for exemption (Form 1023) and await approval from the Internal Revenue Service. Unfortunately, the criteria the Internal Revenue Service uses to evaluate applications has not always been transparent. If an application is approved, the Internal Revenue Service determination letter and the application for exemption are required to be made publicly available and can be requested from the Internal Revenue Service or the organization itself. Prior to 2004, in the case of denials, neither the application nor the Internal Revenue Service’s correspondence setting forth its rationale for the denial were made publicly available.

This project is the first of its kind. While others have commented on isolated denial letters, this study is the first to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the Internal Revenue Service denial letters issued from when they first became available in 2004 through January 31, 2017.

Table 1B

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September 27, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Burke: Exploiting The Medicare Tax Loophole

Karen C. Burke (Florida), Exploiting the Medicare Tax Loophole:

Section 1411 imposes a 3.8 percent surtax on investment income of high earners that mirrors Medicare taxes on earned income. The enactment of the net investment income tax highlights gaps in the employment tax rules for passthrough entities — particularly limited partnerships, S corporations, and limited liability companies. This article considers how businesses can be structured to allow active high-income owner-employees of passthrough entities to avoid all three of the 3.8 percent Medicare taxes (SECA, FICA and section 1411).

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September 27, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Georgetown Law Profs Take A Knee To Protest Jeff Sessions' Appearance On Campus To Discuss Free Speech

Georgetown

Huffington Post, Georgetown Law Faculty Take A Knee To Protest Jeff Sessions’ Campus Visit:

In what may be a first, a style of protest that started in the NFL has spread directly to ... Georgetown Law.

Faculty members at the prestigious law school took a knee Tuesday morning in dissent of a visit by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was on campus to “give remarks about free speech.”

Professors at the school have vociferously opposed the visit by Sessions. In an open letter published ahead of the event, signed by around a third of the law school’s faculty, professors lambasted it as “hypocritical” and “troubling.”

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September 27, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Follow Up On § 7434 Suits For Filing False Information Returns

ABA Tax Section (2017)I previously blogged about a great panel presentation I attended at the Fall ABA Tax Section Meeting in Austin. The presentation was about how to sue someone under § 7434 for filing a false information return.

This past week one of the panelists, Stephen Olson, has blogged more about this subject here and here.  The blogs are worth calling to your attention. He dives a bit deeper into this subject to look at whether an Information Return that states the correct payment amount but is otherwise false and misleading, is sufficient to support suit under § 7434.

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September 27, 2017 in ABA Tax Section, Bryan Camp, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink | Comments (0)

India Eyes Spending Cuts As Glitches In New Tax Hit Revenue

Reuters, India Eyes Spending Cuts as Glitches in New Tax Hit Revenue 

India could be forced to cut spending on key infrastructure such as railways and highways as lower-than-expected tax collections and sluggish growth have upset the government’s budget calculations, two finance ministry officials said.

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September 27, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Homonoff Presents The Timing Of SNAP Issuance, Food Expenditures, And Grocery Prices Today At Columbia

HomonoffTatiana Homonoff (NYU) presents Is There an Nth of the Month Effect? The Timing of SNAP Issuance, Food Expenditures, and Grocery Prices (with Jacob Goldin (Stanford) & Katherine Meckel (Texas A&M)) at Columbia today as part of its Davis Polk & Wardwell Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex Raskolnikov and Wojciech Kopczuk:

Previous research on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) suggests that participants consume more food on days immediately following benefit issuance, prompting retailers to raise food prices to capture a portion of the transfer. Partly in response to such findings, some have called for states to stagger benfit issuance over multiple days of the month. To study the effect of staggering benefits, we link variation among states in the timing of benefit issuance to a large panel of transaction-level data from households and retailers. We document large intra-month cycles in food expenditures among SNAP-eligible households that closely track state issuance policies. However, we rule out economically signficant effects on retailer pricing, which suggests that staggering benfits would not meaningfully shape the incidence of SNAP benfits.

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September 26, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Perry Fleischer And Leff Present Tax Papers Today At Basic Income Earth Network Annual Congress In Lisbon

BienMiranda Perry Fleischer (San Diego) and Benjamin Leff (American) are presenting tax papers at the Basic Income Earth Network Annual Congress (program) in Lisbon, Portugal:

Miranda Perry Fleischer, Atlas Nods: The Libertarian Case for a Universal Basic Income:

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September 26, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

'When Clients Sneeze, Law Firms Catch A Cold; Law Schools Get The Flu; And Law Students Contract Pneumonia'

Forbes, Who Will Train Tomorrow's Lawyers and How Will They Learn?:

The legal industry is an ecosystem; there’s an inter-dependency between and among its elements. So, for example, when clients sneeze, law firms catch a cold; law schools get the flu; and law students contract pneumonia. A recent American Lawyer article, Pay for Associate Hours? More Companies Say'No Thanks' underscored the interdependency — and misalignment — of law's stakeholders. It quoted from a speech by Mark Smolik, the general counsel of DHL Supply Chain Americas, saying he would no longer subsidize on-the-job-training of law firm associates. That’s an industry secret everyone knows, but it is newsworthy when the GC of a major corporation says it publicly.

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September 26, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Penn Alumni Speak Out Against Breakdown Of The 'Bourgeois Culture' Op-Ed

Penn (2017)Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Above the Law, Alumni Of Top Law School Speak Out Against Professor:

After co-authoring a delightful op-ed exploring “bourgeois values” as a thinly veiled effort to denigrate women and minorities, Professor Amy Wax of Penn Law School and Professor Larry Alexander of USD Law have gotten their share of deserved criticism from all corners. Not that they didn’t expect to be pilloried — it’s all part of the right-wing martyrdom pageant — but neither probably guessed, when they published this days before Charlottesville, that opposition to this editorial would become a such rallying point for the law school community.

Professors have carefully debunked the shoddy “facts” — mostly unevidenced assertions — that Wax and Alexander laid out in their piece. Student groups have developed action plans to protect students, and the USD administration has made a commitment to address diversity and bias concerns.

It’s one thing for faculty and students to get inspired to make law schools a better place, since they have to deal with that environment every day. But now, Penn alumni have added their voices in response:

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September 26, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

11th Circuit: Gay Man Cannot Deduct Costs To Father Children Through In Vitro Fertilization As Medical Expenses

Morrissey v. United States,  No. 8:15-cv-02736 (11th Cir. Sept. 25, 2017)(citations omitted):

This is a tax case. Fear not, keep reading. In determining whether the IRS properly denied a taxpayer’s claimed deduction on his 2011 return, we must decide two important and (as it turns out) interesting questions. First up: Was the money that a homosexual man paid to father children through in vitro fertilization — and in particular, to identify, retain, compensate, and care for the women who served as an egg donor and a gestational surrogate — spent “for the purpose of affecting” his body’s reproductive “function” within the meaning of I.R.C. § 213? And second: In answering the statutory question “no,” and thus in disallowing the taxpayer’s deduction of his IVF-related expenses, did the IRS violate his right to equal protection of the laws either by infringing a “fundamental right” or by engaging in unconstitutional discrimination?

We hold that the costs of the IVF-related procedures at issue were not paid for the purpose of affecting the taxpayer’s own reproductive function — and therefore are not deductible — and that the IRS did not violate the Constitution in disallowing the deduction. ...

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September 26, 2017 in New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Kahn: The Business And Personal Casualty Loss Deductions

Florida Tax Review  (2015)Jeffrey H. Kahn (Florida State), The Misfortune of the Deductions for Business and Personal Casualty Losses, 21 Fla. Tax Rev. ___ (2017):

Losses suffered on an individual’s personal property generally are not deductible. One exception to this rule applies when “such losses arise from fire, storm, shipwreck, or other casualty, or from theft.” The principal issue that arises is determining the meaning of the term “other casualty.” Taking what they deemed to be the common elements in the three explicitly identified casualties, the courts and the Internal Revenue Service determined that an event will qualify as an “other casualty” only if it is “sudden, unusual and unexpected.”

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September 26, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reynolds: It Is Time Academics Preach the Virtues They Practice

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  USA Today op-ed:  It Is Time Academics Preach the Virtues They Practice, by Glenn Harlan Reynolds (Tennessee):

Last week, ironic juxtaposition came to San Diego. University of San Diego Law Dean Stephen Ferruolo issued a statement critical of one of his faculty, Larry Alexander, who had committed the sin of coauthoring an oped with Amy Wax of Penn Law School. The two professors praised the “bourgeois virtues.” Also in San Diego that week, crews began hosing things down with bleach solution in an effort to halt a hepatitis A outbreak spread by people pooping in the street.  And within the academy itself, the bourgeois virtues are seldom praised but often practiced. Nobody is better at deferring gratification than a graduate student or junior professor. In their own lives, most professors are quite temperate and hardworking. Their children are almost always encouraged to work hard, go to good schools, and get good jobs, and academic parents are inclined to brag when they do. (The original “Tiger Mom,” Amy Chua, is herself a law professor.) ...

University of Chicago law professor Brian Leiter has called on Ferruolo to apologize or resign for his attack on Alexander and Wax. Leiter writes:  “As Dean, his job is to defend freedom of speech and inquiry, even when it is unpopular. He has failed.”

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September 26, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thimmesch: Tax Privacy?

Adam B. Thimmesch (Nebraska), Tax Privacy?, 89 Temp. L. Rev. ___ (2017):

Legal scholars have discussed the concept of privacy at length, but that discussion has virtually ignored the federal income tax and its impact on individual privacy. Tax privacy has developed in that void to mean only a limited right of confidentiality notwithstanding the Tax Code’s extensive use of personal information. That limited form of privacy is at odds with how scholars generally view privacy and fails to account for the numerous privacy interests identified in the broader literature. Recent tax scholarship has recognized this deficiency and has called for greater academic attention to tax-privacy interests. What is missing in the current literature, though, is a discussion of what exactly tax privacy means. This Article fills that void.

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September 26, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, September 25, 2017

PwC Launches U.S. Law Firm, Seeks Market Share From BigLaw, Especially In Tax

PWCNew York Times DealBook:  PwC, the Accounting Giant, Will Open a Law Firm in the U.S., by Elizabeth Olson:

Law firms already elbowing one another for multinational clients will soon have a new competitor: The Big Four accounting firm PwC, formerly known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, plans to open a law firm in Washington, D.C., next week.

The law firm, ILC Legal, will advise clients on international matters such as corporate restructuring. Its lawyers will act as special legal consultants, rather than fully licensed United States lawyers, allowing them to provide counsel on foreign law but not United States law.

ILC Legal, nonetheless, aims to vie with big law firms as a one-stop shop offering multinational companies access to other PwC services, including tax consulting and its network of 3,200 lawyers spread across 90 countries. The firms in that network operate separately but follow the same standards and practices under the PwC brand name. ...

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September 25, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Should Student Evaluations Rate A Professor's Inclusiveness?

Student Evaluations (2017)Inside Higher Ed, Should Students Be Asked if Professors Are Inclusive?:

Ball State University promotes diversity and does not tolerate discrimination. Everyone says they can agree on that.

But the best way to gauge how professors live up to that standard isn’t quite settled, as the Ball State Faculty Council discovered in its most recent meeting.

Last year, Charlene Alexander, who was then the university’s associate provost for diversity and director of the Office of Institutional Diversity, introduced an open-ended question for the Faculty Council to potentially use on the teaching evaluations that are offered to students at the end of a course. Alexander has since moved on to Oregon State University, but the council took up the question in this month's meeting.

“The university does not tolerate discrimination and is committed to work with diversity in a wholly positive way,” the text reads. “Please indicate below anything in relation to this course that supports or runs counter to this objective.”

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September 25, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Mazur: Social Impact Bonds As A Tax-Favored Investment

Orly Mazur (SMU), Social Impact Bonds: A Tax-Favored Investment?:

Social impact bonds (SIBs) have recently generated a lot of excitement nationwide as an innovative way to finance social projects. A SIB is a financing mechanism that uses private capital to fund social services, with the government only repaying investors their capital plus a potential return on investment if improved social outcomes are achieved. As such, it brings together the private, public and non-profit sector in a manner that unlocks an additional source of capital to fund social service providers, promotes innovation, encourages interagency cooperation and creates more accountability. Despite these benefits, the tax law likely hinders the development of SIB-funded programs in the United States by discouraging private investment in SIBs.

This Article is the first to consider the role of the U.S. tax law in promoting SIB investments by examining the tax implications of a SIB investment from both a doctrinal and policy perspective.

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September 25, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

L.A. Times: University Of California Is Handing Out Generous Pensions, And Students Are Paying The Price With Higher Tuition

University of California (2015)Los Angeles Times, UC Is Handing Out Generous Pensions, and Students Are Paying the Price With Higher Tuition:

As parents and students start writing checks for the first in-state tuition hike in seven years at the University of California, they hope the extra money will buy a better education.

But a big chunk of that new money — perhaps tens of millions of dollars — will go to pay for the faculty’s increasingly generous retirements.

Last year, more than 5,400 UC retirees received pensions over $100,000. Someone without a pension would need savings between $2 million and $3 million to guarantee a similar income in retirement.

The number of UC retirees collecting six-figure pensions has increased 60% since 2012, a Times analysis of university data shows. Nearly three dozen received pensions in excess of $300,000 last year, four times as many as in 2012. Among those joining the top echelon was former UC President Mark Yudof, who worked at the university for only seven years — including one year on paid sabbatical and another in which he taught one class per semester.

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September 25, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Kleinbard: A Grand Bipartisan Bargain On Tax Reform — Fund Lower Corporate Rates With A Carbon Tax

Wall Street Journel op-ed:  A Grand Bipartisan Bargain on Tax Reform, by Edward Kleinbard (USC):

A levy on carbon would satisfy Democrats, while Republicans would get far lower corporate rates.

As Republicans take on tax reform, they seem hell-bent on repeating the tactical mistakes they made during their attempts at health-care reform. Again GOP policy makers have cloistered themselves to develop a bill whose prospects will hang by a thread in the Senate. Yet there is a powerful bipartisan grand bargain in corporate tax policy waiting to be struck.

Democratic and Republican policy makers agree that the corporate tax system is irredeemably broken. They even concur on the broad direction of a replacement system—lower rates and fewer loopholes. But the two parties are far apart on the most important issues in corporate tax reform: what exactly the new corporate tax rate will be, and whether companies can write off their business investments in the year those investments are made. ...

Republicans are between a rock and a hard place. Growth comes from a permanent low corporate tax rate, not one that expires in 10 years. The GOP should embrace a new revenue-raiser that can attract moderate Democrats without undercutting the economic benefits of reform. The answer? A carbon tax, which raises revenue, satisfies long-term economic efficiency and environmental goals, and is as important to Democrats as corporate tax rate reduction is to Republicans.

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September 25, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Muller: Projected School-By-School Improvement If California Drops Bar Exam Cut Score From 144 To 139

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), How a Change in the Bar Exam Cut Score Could Alter California Legal Education:

Virtually all the deans of law schools in California, of ABA-accredited and California-accredited schools, have come out in favor, at multiple stages, of lowering the cut score for the California bar exam. The score, 144, is the second-highest in the country and has long been this high. ...

The State Bar, in a narrowly-divided 6-5 vote, recommended three options to the California Supreme Court: keep the score; lower it to 141.1; or lower it to 139. ... The Court could adopt none of these options, but I imagine it would be inclined to adopt a recommended standard, and probably the lowest standard at that, 139. ...

The chart below illustrates a very rough projection of the improvement in performance of each school from the July 2016 bar exam if the score had been lowered to 139. ...

Muller

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September 25, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

New European Commission Report On The Taxation Of The Digital Single Market

European_CommissionThe European Commission published a new report on Thursday, September 21, 2017, on the taxation of the digital economy:  Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: A Fair and Efficient Tax System in the European Union for the Digital Single Market:

The Digital Single Market (DSM) is one of the 10 political priorities of the European Commission. The DSM strategy1 aims to open up digital opportunities for people and businesses in a market of over 500 million EU consumers. Completing the Digital Single Market could contribute to EUR 415 billion per year to Europe's economy, create jobs and transform our public services. In the 18 months following the adoption of the DSM Strategy, the European Commission delivered the announced proposals. In the mid-term review of the strategy 2 it has updated its analysis and focused on the next series of challenges. Digital technologies are transforming our world and having an important impact on taxation systems. They help improving their management, offering solutions to reduce administrative burdens, facilitate collaboration between tax authorities, and address tax evasion. However, they transform business models, with intangibles playing an increasingly important role, putting pressure on Europe's taxation system.

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September 25, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Gamage & Shanske: Using Taxes To Support Multiple Health Insurance Risk Pools

David Gamage (Indiana) & Darien Shanske (UC-Davis), Using Taxes to Support Multiple Health Insurance Risk Pools, 85 State Tax Notes 871 (Aug. 28, 2017):

In most markets, it is considered desirable for consumers to have more choices. But health insurance regulation is different. When it comes to health insurance, giving consumers more choices can result in the market collapsing — leaving the sickest and most needy consumers without any good choices at all. To mitigate this problem, the Affordable Care Act’s Exchanges were designed around maintaining a single exchange-based risk pool. However, one problem with this approach taken by the Affordable Care Act is that the regulations designed to maintain the single exchange-based risk pool have the side effect of limiting some potentially positive aspects of consumer choice and provider competition.

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September 24, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

IFA International Tax Student Writing Competition

IFA Logo (2015)The International Fiscal Association is sponsoring the 2017 International Tax Student Writing Competition:

Subject:  Any topic relating to U.S. taxation of income from international activities, including taxation under U.S. tax treaties.

  • Open to:  All students during the 2016-17 academic year pursuing a graduate degree. Any appropriate papers written in fall 2016 or spring and summer 2017.
  • Submission Deadline:  September 30, 2017.
  • Prize:  $2,000 cash, plus expenses-paid invitation to the IFA USA Branch Annual Meeting in February 2018.

Here are the recent winners:

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September 24, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

BYU To Start Selling Caffeinated Soft Drinks On Campus

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. [640 Downloads]  Federal Tax Procedure (2017 Practitioner Ed.), by John Townsend (Houston)
  2. [347 Downloads]  Is Efficiency Biased?, by Zachary Liscow (Yale)
  3. [240 Downloads]  When Did Tax Avoidance Become Respectable?, by Steven Bank (UCLA)
  4. [162 Downloads]  Codification of the Tax Law and the Emergence of the Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, by George Yin (Virginia)
  5. [151 Downloads]  Distributive Justice and Donative Intent, by Alexander A. Boni-Saenz (Chicago-Kent)

September 24, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Law Prof (And Associate Dean For Academic Affairs) Kendra Fershee Announces Congressional Bid

KendraKendra Fershee, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at West Virginia University College of Law (and fellow Hamilton aficionado), announced on Thursday she is running for Congress as a Democrat in West Virginia's First District:

I am a working mom who has dedicated the majority of my professional life to public service. I am a law professor, a family law expert, and a mom of two kids. I’ve been married to the love of my life for almost nineteen years, and together we’ve built a life in West Virginia.

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September 23, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law Firms Plan To Increase First Year Associate Hiring By 22%; Average Salary Is $68,000

One-Quarter Of Law Firms To Expand First-Year Associate Hiring:

Newly minted associates may see employers extend more job offers, research indicates. Nearly one-quarter (22 percent) of lawyers recently interviewed by Robert Half Legal said their law firm plans to increase its hiring of first-year associates in the next 12 months, while 67 percent indicated no change in hiring activity and 7 percent plan a decrease.

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September 23, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Helicopter Pilot Lands In Tax Court, Successfully Establishes That His Tax Home Is In Iraq

Forbes, Helicopter Pilot Lands In Tax Court, Successfully Establishes That Tax Home Is In Iraq

Cowardice, it seems, is not a trait Jesse Linde and I share. A two-time Army helicopter pilot, after struggling to find work in the private sector, Linde jumped at the opportunity to relocate to the Middle East in order to continue flying. To date, he has successfully navigated the many dangers to be found in Iraq, but even halfway across the globe, he couldn't escape one domestic menace: the IRS.

Yesterday, Linde found himself in the Tax Court, and it's a decision that all tax professionals would be wise to review, as it addresses a fascinating area of the law:

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September 23, 2017 in New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Ari Glogower (Ohio State) reviews a new work by Gladriel Shobe (BYU), Private Benefits in Public Offerings: Tax Receivable Agreements in IPOs, 71 Vand. L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming 2018).   

Glogower (2016)Gladriel Shobe’s new work describes the evolution of Tax Receivables Agreements (TRAs) in IPOs, and evaluates the policy implications of these increasingly common agreements.

A TRA is contract entered into in connection with an IPO whereby the new public company agrees to pay the pre-IPO owners for the value of tax assets held by the historic company, which can offset the company’s future taxable income.  The most common such assets are depreciable asset basis and net operating losses (NOLs).  Under a TRA, the public company pays the pre-IPO owners for the value of these tax assets over a period of years following the IPO as the value is realized.

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September 22, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Galle: Deal To Swing Alaska Senator's Vote May Violate Uniformity Clause

Brian Galle (Georgetown), The "Alaska Purchase" Is Probably Unconstitutional

As Republican leadership searches for the 51st vote in favor of Cassidy-Graham-Heller, their apparently randomly chosen vehicle for repealing the ACA, rumors abound of a sweetheart deal aimed at securing Lisa Murkowski’s vote. The so-called “Alaska Purchase” would maintain existing premium support credits for those purchasing health insurance on the individual market…but only in Alaska and Hawaii.

They probably can’t do that. Article I, section 8 of the Constitution says “all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.” Joseph Story, writing in 1834, thought that the point of that provision was to prevent coalitions of states from ganging up, in Congress, to benefit themselves at the expense of others. While the “uniformity clause” has been watered down over time, it’s still enough to swamp the Alaska Purchase proposal.

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September 22, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Pepperdine Receives $8 Million Gift For Global Justice Program, Largest Single Endowment Gift In Law School's History

Laure Sudreau RippePepperdine School of Law Announces $8 Million Endowment of Sudreau Global Justice Program:

The Pepperdine University School of Law is proud to announce the endowment of the Sudreau Global Justice Program made possible by the generosity of alumna Laure Sudreau (JD ’97). The $8 million contribution is the largest single endowment gift ever to the School of Law and will help advance the profound impact of the Global Justice Program, which operates within the Herbert and Elinor Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics at the School of Law.

Since 2007, the Global Justice Program has touched all corners of the globe through its initiatives in international human rights and religious freedom, advancement of the rule of law, and global development. The Sudreau Global Justice Program will support and enhance current programs while envisioning new and innovative initiatives that will create a lasting impact in the lives of the Pepperdine law community and those experiencing injustices in the world’s most vulnerable places.

“We are humbled by Laure's generosity and confidence in the law school,” says School of Law dean Paul L. Caron. “This gift will empower us to expand our important work bringing justice to those around the globe who desperately need the legal assistance of our students, alumni, and faculty.”

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September 22, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

More Law Prof Reactions To The Wax & Alexander Op-Ed On The Breakdown Of The 'Bourgeois Culture' 

LSAT, Law School GPA, Journals, Moot Court, Contracts, Evidence Predict Bar Exam Success; UGPA, Clinics, Con Law, Crim Law, Crim Pro, Property, Torts Do Not

Katherine A. Austin (Texas Tech), Catherine Martin Christopher (Texas Tech) & Darby Dickerson (Dean, John Marshall), Will I Pass the Bar Exam?: Predicting Student Success Using LSAT Scores and Law School Performance, 45 Hofstra L. Rev. 753 (2017):

Texas Tech University School of Law has undertaken a statistical analysis of its recent alumni, comparing their performance in law school with their success on the Texas bar exam. The authors conclude that LSAT predicts bar exam success while undergraduate GPA does not. The study also replicates findings in previous literature that both 1L and final law school GPA predict bar exam success.

Going beyond existing literature, this study also conducted more specific analysis of how student performance in specific courses can predict success on affiliated subcomponents of the bar exam; the Article identifies which courses [Contracts, Evidence] have significant impact on bar exam performance and which do not [Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Property, Torts].

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September 22, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1597: New Details Of Targeting Of Conservative Groups Emerge In Tea Party Lawsuits

IRS Logo 2Cincinnati Enquirer, New Details Emerge in Tea Party Suit Against IRS:

The IRS used the political views of conservative "tea party" groups trying to get nonprofit status as a reason for extra scrutiny and continued delaying applications until 2013 — long after they said they'd stopped — new federal court filings allege.

The new accusations counter previous IRS claims that agents did not consider political beliefs when slowing down tax-exempt applications from right-leaning groups in the months leading up to the 2012 presidential election.

The IRS had instead argued that it was merely monitoring whether the groups were conducting more political activity than was allowed.

The filings by conservative groups suing the IRS also state the agency continued the practice after IRS officials said it had stopped in 2011. ...

"By trying to make this about whether this was done to help Obama win is setting the goalpost artificially too high," Eddie Greim, a lawyer representing conservative groups in the class-action suit, said in an interview with The Enquirer. "All we have to prove is whether they had the intent and if they indeed treated a set of groups differently based on their ideology. ...

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Terrrace Park, who was one of the first in Congress to publicly complain in 2012 about the IRS' possible discrimination against conservative nonprofit groups, said that the practice was "an appalling abuse of power" in a statement to The Enquirer. “It’s clear that the Obama administration’s IRS illegally and intentionally targeted conservative groups for their ideological beliefs, and those responsible ... need to be held accountable," Portman said. ...

[O]thers testified in depositions that Lerner ordered IRS agents to send requests for additional information from the affected groups following that 2011 meeting. That included requests for donor information, normally considered off-limits. Lerner "wanted everyone to know that we are handling the cases as we should," testified Cindy Thomas, the top nonprofit official in Cincinnati at the time.

"So after they were told that this was possibly improper, they doubled down and kept going," Greim said. "This goes well beyond the narrative of what's been reported before."

Greim also said that the IRS removed two Washington agents who had raised questions about the extra scrutiny on the tea party cases. "These two found that ideology was indeed being used, raised questions about it and told their superiors about it and that it was going to cause delay," Greim said. "And wouldn't you know it, they were moved off the matter soon thereafter."

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September 22, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hadfield: Law Schools Are Letting Down Their Students And Society — A 3-Point Plan To Fix Legal Education

Quartz: Law Schools Are Letting Down Their Students and Society—Here Are Three Steps They Can Take to Fix Things, by Gillian Hadfield (USC; Member, ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Education):

Law schools in the US today have become depressingly single-purpose: training members of a closed profession and failing to equip them to tackle the full breadth of problems facing economies and societies that are undergoing extensive transformations.

Law schools are letting down their students. They’re requiring anyone who wants to do any type of legal work, even the pro-forma and routine, to enroll in three years of graduate school and take on an average debt of $140,000, all the while facing dwindling job prospects.

This is bad news for students. But it is even worse news for the rest of us. Today’s law schools are graduating hordes of would-be lawyers who are not prepared to respond to, or innovate new solutions for, the pressing legal and regulatory needs of citizens and businesses alike. ...

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September 21, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS FAQs Are A Trap For The Unwary

IRSFAQMarketWatch, What the IRS Does on its Website That’s Unfair to Taxpayers:

Taxpayers can’t rely on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and answers and other “unofficial” guidance that the IRS posts on its website, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson recently explained in a blog post [IRS Frequently Asked Questions Can Be a Trap for the Unwary]. While tax professionals already know about this issue, you may find it unsettling. Here’s what you need to understand.

Unofficial guidance
The IRS puts out what it calls unofficial guidance in many forms. Unofficial guidance includes IRS tax forms and instructions (believe it or not), press releases, online publications, website articles, and website FAQs and answers. Such unofficial guidance is generally not subject to careful internal review or public commentary before being released. Worse yet, the IRS takes the position that taxpayers cannot rely on unofficial guidance even though the IRS has put it out there for public consumption. For example, FAQs and answers that are posted at www.irs.gov can be changed at any time and without any public notice. Ditto for information in IRS publications that are posted on its website. So if you rely on unofficial IRS guidance in taking a position on a federal tax return, the IRS can potentially audit you and assess additional taxes, interest, and even penalties because you did not “follow the rules” even though what you did was consistent with what the IRS said at the time. Not good!

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September 21, 2017 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

2016-17 Survey Of The Clinical Legal Education Programs At 187 Law Schools

Robert Kuehn (Washington University) & David A. Santacroce (Michigan) (with Margaret Reuter (UMKC) & Sue Schechter (UC-Berkeley), The 2016-17 Survey of Applied Legal Education (Center for the Study of Applied Legal Education ("CSALE") (2017)):

Over 1,100 law clinic and externship faculty from 187 law schools (94% of ABA accredited U.S. schools) participated in CSALE’s latest tri-annual survey. The 2016-17 survey (CSALE’s fourth) provides the most comprehensive, accurate picture to date of clinical legal education programs, courses, and faculty. The report summarizes the collective responses from schools and their faculty on questions relating to program design, capacity, administration, staffing, funding, and pedagogy, and the role of clinical legal education and educators in the legal academy.

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September 21, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Controversy Over Law Profs' Op-Ed On The Breakdown Of The 'Bourgeois Culture' Shifts From Penn To San Diego

USD (2016)Following up on my previous posts:

San Diego Dean Stephen Ferruolo has issed this statement:

I want to thank the student groups, as well as the many individual students, faculty and other members of the USD law school community who have spoken or written to me to express their concerns about the article written by USD School of Law Professor Larry Alexander, along with University of Pennsylvania Professor Amy Wax, and their subsequent interviews about the article.

As I said in my remarks at 1L Orientation, I am committed, as Dean of USD School of Law, to ensuring that there are opportunities for respectful discussion of important issues and for everyone's voices to be heard. The rights we must respect in an academic community include freedom of speech and academic freedom, and those rights and freedoms extend to every member of our community. No less importantly, however, in exercising our rights and expressing our views, we must be sensitive to all the members of our community, especially those who may feel vulnerable, marginalized or fearful that they are not welcomed. We must recognize that, for many students, racial discrimination and cultural subordination are not academic theories, they reflect the students’ personal experiences.

USD School of Law supports the rights of its faculty to comment as individuals on matters of public interest. When professors speak and write, they speak in their personal capacities and not for or on behalf of the law school or the university. The views expressed by Professor Alexander were his personal views. I personally do not agree with those views, nor do I believe that they are representative of the views of our law school community.

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September 21, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (18)

Suing Someone for a False Information Return

ABA Tax Section (2017)Last week I went to the ABA Tax Section Meeting in Austin and really enjoyed attending a terrific panel on Section 7434.  The moderator was Professor Leslie Book, of Villanova School of Law and the presenters were Stephen Olsen, of Gawthrop Greenwood, PC; and Mandi Matlock, of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Inc., Austin, TX.  

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September 21, 2017 in ABA Tax Section, Bryan Camp, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink | Comments (2)

Another Cellmate Implicates Hit Man In Dan Markel's Murder

Garcia 2Tallahassee Democrat, Another Garcia Cellmate Comes Forward With Information on Markel:

A former cellmate of Sigfredo Garcia said the accused murderer of Dan Markel believes he's beyond redemption.

The former cellmate told investigators that Garcia, 35, said “he did not believe he himself could be saved” during a January conversation in which he opened up about the July 2014 murder, according to court records obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat. ...

While they worked out, the conversation turned to religion and salvation. The former inmate said Garcia told him he was facing the death penalty for a murder he was paid to carry out.

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September 21, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Glogower Presents Progressive Taxation Of Income And Wealth Today At Northwestern

Glogower (2016)Ari Glogower (Ohio State) presents Progressive Taxation of Income and Wealth today at Northwestern as as part of its Advanced Topics in Taxation Workshop Series hosted by Sarah Lawsky:

Rising economic inequality has led commentators to reassess the base for progressive taxation, and to argue that wealth should be taxed in addition to, or instead of, income. This Article claims that, if income and wealth should both be periodically taxed as factors in economic well-being, then taxing an integrated measure of both factors is preferable to taxing income and wealth under separate instruments. Separate income and wealth taxes cannot consistently compare taxpayers on the basis of their total economic well-being during the taxing period, and will favor or disfavor taxpayers depending whether their economic well-being results from income, wealth, or a combination thereof.

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September 20, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)