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Monday, December 29, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 599

IRS Logo 2IRS Statement Regarding FOIA Lawsuit:

There are a number of news accounts that incorrectly identify the Internal Revenue Service as being involved in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit with Cause of Action (D.C. District Court Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-01225-ABJ). That lawsuit involves the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and its investigations, not the IRS.

Moreover, press and Internet accounts regarding this particular FOIA lawsuit inaccurately suggest that the IRS is withholding documents in the lawsuit. The IRS is not withholding documents in the FOIA lawsuit because the IRS is not a party to the lawsuit. Moreover, any suggestions that the IRS is not cooperating or somehow withholding documents from TIGTA are also inaccurate. The IRS remains committed to cooperating with TIGTA as well as other oversight bodies.

We understand the FOIA lawsuit seeks records relating to TIGTA’s investigations of allegations of improper disclosures — and that TIGTA has identified approximately 2,500 pages worth of records concerning its investigations into such allegations. Based on the public record, there is no basis to conclude that these records identified by TIGTA involve 2,500 taxpayers or tax returns.

Additional questions on this matter should be directed to TIGTA.

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December 29, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Sunday, December 28, 2014

University of Mississippi Intentionally Cuts Law School Enrollment by 36%

Mississippi LogoThe Clarion Ledger, Ole Miss Law School Enrollment Drops Intentionally:

The University of Mississippi School of Law’s first-year enrollment has dropped from 199 in 2010, to 156 in 2012 and just 127 students this year.

The decrease was intentional. Officials began reducing the class sizes at a time when a recovering economy and improving job market began to lure potential students away from law school. “We were much more concerned about placement. If we had a large class, that impacts the profession in a negative way when the market isn’t real strong for lawyers. What we’ve found by getting smaller is placement percentages have gone up,” law school dean Richard Gershon told The Sun Herald. Last year, about 85 percent of the law school graduates had a job in the legal field nine months after graduation, Gershon said.

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December 28, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Jim Harbaugh Takes His 'Dad Pants' to Michigan

HarbaughWall Street Journal:  ‘Jim Harbaugh’ Goes to Michigan, by Jason Gay:

For years, bossy men’s magazines have been telling us it’s all about plain fronts and narrow silhouettes; basically, they want everyone to dress like Daniel Craig’s butler. Harbaugh does not dress like Daniel Craig’s butler. He has alternated between pleats and flat fronts, but he likes his pants roomy and airy like a McMansion’s wine cellar. Harbaugh’s wife Sarah did a hilarious mock PSA [below] in which she lamented her husband’s condition of “dad pants,” and her description is perfect. It doesn’t matter if you have kids or not—if you wear Jim Harbaugh pants three days in a row, you wind up buying a minivan.

But I loved these khakis. I loved them the second I put them on. Harbaugh is a sartorial genius. You wear these khakis and within two minutes, you forget you’re wearing pants. You’re free, relaxed, comfortable, happy. In Harbaugh pants, I felt like Brando in Tahiti.

Los Angeles Times, Jim Harbaugh Agrees to Michigan Coaching Job, Reports Say:

Those rumors about Michigan making Jim Harbaugh an offer he couldn't refuse appear to be true. Multiple reports say the embattled San Francisco 49ers coach has agreed to become the Wolverines' next coach. ... The New York Times first reported that Harbaugh has accepted the deal, which has been reported to be six years at nearly $50 million.

December 28, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new paper debuting on the list at #5. The #1 paper is now #76 in all-time downloads among 10,606 tax papers:

  1. [1487 Downloads]  A Compendium of Private Equity Tax Games, by Gregg D. Polsky (North Carolina)
  2. [274 Downloads]  Piketty in America: A Tale of Two Literatures, by Joseph Bankman (Stanford) & Daniel Shaviro (NYU)
  3. [176 Downloads]  The Rise and Fall of the Consumption Tax: A Historical Perspective, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)
  4. [173 Downloads]  Corporate Inversions -- Background, Causes, and Policy Options, by J. Richard (Dick) Harvey (Villanova)
  5. [146 Downloads]  California Dreamin': Tax Scholarship in a Time of Fiscal Crisis, by Joseph Bankman (Stanford) & Paul L. Caron (Pepperdine)

December 28, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 598

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Exactly What Kind Of A Criminal Might Lois Lerner Be?, by Peter J. Reilly:

If Lois Lerner is a criminal, exactly what kind of criminal is she? If you spend much time reading IRS scandal or, as I like to call it, Teapartygate material, you will often encounter some form of the question that Joe Otto asks in his post titled Why Isn’t Lois Lerner In Prison Yet? , since as he notes “ Lois Lerner’s decision to weaponize the IRS against Tea Party groups is absolutely criminal!”

OK. Well, I’m a little bit of a geek and I’m fairly certain that there is not a section in the United States Code titled – Weaponizing IRS against Tea Party groups -, at least not yet. Give them time. There will probably be a constitutional amendment to say that the Eighth Amendment does not apply in cases of IRS Weaponizing, so that the punishment can be really unusual. Anyway we’re not there yet, so I’ve been trying to figure out what the specific crimes are that Lois Lerner can be charged with. ...

One of the scenarios that fits a lot of the facts that have come out so far is that Lois Lerner was frustrated that people inside the IRS were not serious enough about dark money 501(c)(4) groups being in violation of the law. ... A prosecutor would have to prove that Lois Lerner knew she had a legal duty not to disclose the information to the FBI and chose to violate that duty knowing that the violation was criminal – not that she should have known, rather that she did know.

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December 28, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

More on Teaching (and Examining) Today's Sensitive Law Students

Following up on my previous posts on whether today's law students are too sensitive to study rape law or take exams in the wake of the recent grand jury decisions in Ferguson and Staten Island  (links below):

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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December 27, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

LSU Law School Offers Buyouts (1 Year's Salary) to Seven Tenured Profs Over 65; Dean Hopes They Will 'Retire With Dignity'

LSU Logo (2015)Baton Rouge Advocate, LSU Law Center Offers Buyouts to 7 Professors as Interest in Law Schools Dwindles Nationally:

LSU’s Law Center is offering an incentive to seven professors if they retire next summer as it looks to cut costs amid a dwindling interest in law schools nationally.

The professors, all older than 65 and tenured faculty members, have until Monday to decide whether they will retire June 30 and get paid a bonus of roughly a year’s salary in return. The total that would be saved if all decide to take the buyout: $1.12 million a year.

“This is really part of a necessary effort to provide additional financial flexibility for the Law Center,” LSU Law Center Chancellor Jack Weiss said during a recent LSU Board of Supervisors meeting, at which the plan was unanimously approved. ...

The LSU Law Center’s fall 2014 enrollment is about 570 students — 200 of them in their first year. That’s a slight uptick from the year before, but LSU has seen a significant drop in interest in recent years, reflective of the national trend. It’s down nearly 16 percent from LSU law’s 238 first-year student enrollment in 2011. ...

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December 27, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Listokin Named Shibley Family Fund Professor of Law at Yale

Listokin (2015)Yair J. Listokin has been named the inaugural Shibley Family Fund Professor of Law at Yale Law School:

Yair J. Listokin ... examines tax law, corporate law, and contract law from both empirical and theoretical perspectives. After receiving his A.B from Harvard University, Listokin attended Princeton University, where he was awarded an M.A. and a Ph.D., both in economics. He then received his J.D. from Yale Law School. After serving as a law clerk for the Honorable Richard A. Posner, Listokin came to Yale as associate professor of law in 2006. He became professor of law in 2011. He has held visiting teaching positions at Harvard Law School and New York University School of Law.

Listokin has contributed numerous articles to academic and professional journals on topics such as shareholder power, the finances of criminal gangs, and statistical methods for the interpretation of contracts. His research has been featured in Fortune, cnn.com, The Boston Globe, and Slate. He is currently at work on a monograph exploring law and macroeconomics.

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December 27, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 597

IRS Logo 2The Hill:  IRS: Search for Lerner Emails Almost Over:

A Treasury inspector general will likely conclude its search for former IRS official Lois Lerner’s missing emails “in the next several weeks,” John Koskinen, the agency’s commissioner, said Thursday.

Once Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration is finished, the Senate Finance Committee would be able to put the final touches on its investigation into the IRS’s singling out of Tea Party groups, something Koskinen said he hoped to see early in 2015.

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December 27, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Chicago (22%), Philadelphia (35%) Law Schools Suffer Large Enrollment Declines

Crain's Chicago Business, Chicago Law Schools See First-Year Enrollment Shrink:

Chicago

Philadelphia Business Journal, Local Law School First-Year Enrollment Down 35 Percent Since Recession:

The six local law schools have seen first-year enrollment drop by 34.6 percent from its historic high in 2009-10 — exceeding the national drop off of 27.7 percent. ... Locally, the law schools at Widener University's Wilmington campus (-67 percent), Villanova University (-40 percent), Rutgers University-Camden (-33 percent), Temple University (-29 percent) and Drexel University (-17 percent) saw double-digit declines in first-year enrollment since 2010. University of Pennsylvania (-1 percent) was the only local school to have relatively flat enrollment compared to five years ago.

Phil

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December 26, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 596

IRS Logo 2Newsmax:  Barack Obama IRS Scandal: 8 Key Figures Caught Up in Tea Party Tax Targeting Controversy:

The longer the IRS scandal stays around, the worse it gets. Conservative and, particularly, Tea Party organizations were targeted by the IRS leading up to the 2012 campaign, creating a controversy that surrounds President Barack Obama.

Here are eight key figures involved in it, investigating it, or who were victims of it:

  1. Lois Lerner ...
  2. Douglas Shulman ...
  3. Darrell Issa ...
  4. Jay Carney ...
  5. Tom Fitton ...
  6. Chris Littleton ...
  7. Drew Ryan ...
  8. Catherine Engelbrecht ...

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December 26, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Hallelujah Christmas


I've heard about this baby boy
Who's come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I'm singing Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God's only Son was born, oh Hallelujah
Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You'll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah
Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wisemen three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah
Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah

December 25, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

In Hoc Anno Domini

The Wall Street Journal has published this wonderful editorial each Christmas since 1949, In Hoc Anno Domini:

When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in bondage. There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.

Everywhere there was civil order, for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so.

But everywhere there was something else, too. There was oppression -- for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar. There was the tax gatherer to take the grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave largess to the people. There was the impressor to find recruits for the circuses. There were executioners to quiet those whom the Emperor proscribed. What was a man for but to serve Caesar?

There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.

And the voice from Galilee, which would defy Caesar, offered a new Kingdom in which each man could walk upright and bow to none but his God. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. And he sent this gospel of the Kingdom of Man into the uttermost ends of the earth.

Read the rest here.

December 25, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Canada's First Christian Law School Sues Over Denial of Accreditation Due to Student Code of Conduct

Trinity WesternTrinity Western University Press Release, TWU Challenges BC Law Society in Court:

Trinity Western University announced today that it will commence legal proceedings to challenge the Law Society of British Columbia’s (LSBC) October 31st decision to reverse its earlier recognition of TWU School of Law graduates.

Both the Law Society of British Columbia and the BC Ministry of Advanced Education originally approved TWU’s School of Law. “We have no choice but to proceed legally,” said Bob Kuhn, President of Trinity Western. “By prejudging our future law graduates not on their qualifications but the Community Covenant they agree to abide by while students at TWU, the Law Society has infringed on the human rights of TWU and its students.”

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December 25, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 595

IRS Logo 2The Verdict:  Not All Scandals Are Created Equal: The CIA vs. the IRS, by Neil H. Buchanan (George Washington):

When the news of the wrongdoing at the IRS emerged last year, I was one of the people who was most concerned about the possible abuse of power by the agency. Knowing that the IRS had been used in decades past as a political weapon, in particular by the rogue Nixon Administration, it would have been truly horrible if our worst fears had turned out to be true. If there had been a political operation that was using the IRS for partisan purposes, that would have been a scandal.

No one ever said that it was a bad idea to gather evidence, and no one even once suggested that the correct response to any wrongdoing at the IRS would be to “look forward, not backward,” as an excuse to allow guilty parties to walk free. Instead, we all wanted to know whether there was sufficient evidence to suggest that any wrongdoing was directed by political operatives (answering to the White House or others), or instead that this was a matter of isolated bad decisions.

We were fortunate that the scandal became public news because of the release of an inspector general’s report about the IRS employees’ improper screening techniques. Therefore, rather than starting from a blank slate, with everyone in the dark about even the most basic facts, we were presented up front with an independent report that laid bare what had happened.

And once people digested that report, it was obvious that this was not a scandal. Correct procedures had not been developed or followed within the IRS, but internal measures had already corrected the behavior. In fact, we later found out that the inspector general’s report had underreported facts that would have made the situation look even less suspicious, because the “targeting” of political groups actually covered the political spectrum from right to left, whereas the report had initially made it appear that only extreme conservative groups had been subjected to additional scrutiny.

I wrote two columns on Verdict (here and here), as well as some posts on the Dorf on Law blog (for example, here), in which I concluded that this was a “non-scandal scandal.” John Dean (who knows something about the Nixon Administration’s abuse of power) reached the same conclusion in a Verdict column in May 2013, describing the IRS situation (as well as two other candidates for “scandal” status) as “all smoke and no fire.”

Even so, Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to let go of the IRS story, spending thousands of hours and millions of taxpayer dollars trying to gather more evidence of possible wrongdoing. They have failed spectacularly. This must mean either that there is no evidence, or that the evidence is being skillfully hidden.

For those who believe that there might yet be evidence out there regarding this still-not-a-scandal, the question has been what to do next. My colleague Ronald Rotunda, for example, suggested in a recent Verdict column that a special prosecutor should be appointed, with special powers to pry loose evidence that might exist to prove a political connection between the Obama Administration and the IRS’s misdeeds.

Although I strongly disagree with Professor Rotunda’s reading of the evidence and his conclusions, I can at least respect his fundamental concern. If there were sufficient reason to believe that there is hidden evidence, then certainly we would want to pursue such evidence through appropriate means. My take on the current situation is that there is not even much smoke, much less fire, and that any further inquiries are based on little more than the hope among Republicans that such inquiries might turn up something to suggest a real scandal. Those who disagree with that assessment can (and do) argue for further efforts to investigate.

There is, therefore, nothing particularly unusual about the IRS non-scandal, at least categorically. Some government actors did something that they should not have done. We have tried to figure out what happened, and why. The available evidence cannot support any prosecutions. Now, we are arguing about a judgment call regarding when to say that enough is enough.

Dorf on Law:  Playing With Scandals: Everything is a Cynical Farce, by Neil H. Buchanan (George Washington):

[T]he worst-case scenario in the IRS non-scandal scandal was, as I have always acknowledged, truly bad, if it had been true.  If there really were any credible evidence suggesting that the Obama Administration had orchestrated an effort to harm its political opponents by abusing the power of the IRS, that would be scandalous.  Happily, no such evidence has emerged.  Instead, the dead-enders have been reduced to saying, "There must be something going on.  We just need to keep digging."

Why are they so certain that something evil was afoot?  Apparently, they find it hard to believe that their opponents are not as cynical as they are.  (Dick Cheney himself said that the Obama people must have been using the IRS for political ends -- presumably because he could easily see himself doing the same thing.)  Because these people simply believe as a matter of deep commitment that something must be out there, the game is then to infer evil intent from every comment and action by the President.  Remember when Obama, in a State of the Union Speech, criticized the Citizens United decision?  Most people remember that moment because of Justice Alito's angry facial expression, caught on camera.  IRS scandal-mongers, by contrast, have insinuated that there is somehow a connection between Obama's comments and the IRS employees' actions.

Again, however, I concede in the column that this could have been a bad thing.  The people who worry about the IRS possibly being misused for political ends are not worrying about something that is inherently harmless.  They are simply refusing to give up the ghost on an investigation that has gone nowhere, and that shows no signs of ever leading anywhere. ...

One idea that I mention briefly toward the end of the column, but which I do not develop in any detail, is the comparison between possible excuses for refusing to prosecute or investigate the CIA, but to go after the IRS with guns blazing.  Remember, in order even to compare the IRS non-scandal scandal with the CIA torture scandal, we had to "go meta," in order to find some way in which the two situations could be comparably bad.  Once we have done that, however, then we must also be willing to apply the same level of generality to the arguments for and against aggressive prosecution of wrongdoing.  If the argument is, "We would harm America by failing to understand the important public service that the CIA provides," then the argument could also be, "We are harming America by vilifying the IRS." ...

[A]t a sufficiently high level of generality, one could make the argument that the future of America depends on a functioning government, and the government depends on revenue, and the ability to collect future revenues is threatened by politicians "looking backward" and attacking the IRS and its employees (and, hardly coincidentally, cutting its budget even as the IRS's legal responsibilities expand).  Attacking the CIA makes Americans less safe (an assertion that is obviously false)?  Well, attacking the IRS puts American democracy itself at risk!! ...

The common thread, then, is that the CIA's actions must be defended, because doing so reinforces the notion that the government is lawless (and always will be), while the IRS must be attacked because it is essential for the cynics to make everyone believe that the government is out to get them.  The less trust we have in our institutions, the better for those who want to further pervert those institutions.

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December 25, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

'Twas the Night Before Christmas (Legal Edition)

Check out the original and legal versions of the classic poem, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas [click on chart to enlarge]:

Twas_the_night_before_christmas_pag

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December 24, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

How A Christmas Carol Shaped My World

Christmas CarolBarry Sullivan (Loyola-Chicago), A Book that Shaped Your World: Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 50 Alberta L. Rev. 934 (2013):

To celebrate the Alberta Law Review's fiftieth volume, the book review editors invited friends and alumni to put aside for a moment their required reading, and reflect briefly on the books that have shaped their approaches to life and the law. Professor Sullivan chose to reflect upon the perennially popular A Christmas Carol, to thoughtful and poetic effect.

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December 24, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Special Snowflake Trigger Warning: I’m A Jerk

SnowflakeAbove the Law:  Special Snowflake Syndrome Trigger Warning: I’m A Jerk, by Keith Lee (Hamer Law Group, Birmingham, AL):

So when did law students start acting like a bunch of wimps? Cause that’s the takeaway I’m getting after these past couple of weeks. Don’t get me wrong, some pretty upsetting events have gone down recently. But that doesn’t translate into Harvard Law Students asking to delay their exams because “feelings.” It’s also bizarre to expect to go into a criminal law class and never discuss rape law. What happened? When did law students become so spineless?

There has been speculation around the web. Notably from Judge Kopf in his post Batshit crazy law students. ... And from Scott Greenfield, in The Environmental Cleanup of Toxic Academia.

It drives me crazy to think that there are law students out there with nothing better to do than wring their hands in desperation as they look at their Twitter feed and have their feelings hurt. ... You do realize you’re in law school to become a lawyer, right? Adversarial system, competition, zealous advocacy for your client, etc.? I’ve made the point before, but it bears repeating: lawyers are professional a**holes. Like, that is your job. More importantly, it’s going to be other people’s job to be an a**hole to you. ...

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December 24, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 594

IRS Logo 2U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, The Internal Revenue Service’s Targeting of Conservative Tax- Exempt Applicants: Report of Findings for the 113th Congress (Dec. 23, 2014) (226 Pages):

The Committee’s investigation has resulted in the following findings to date about the Internal Revenue Service’s inappropriate treatment of tax-exempt applicants:

  • The Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative-oriented applicants for taxexempt status;
  • Unlike applications from conservative groups, the small batch of applications from liberal-oriented groups received additional scrutiny for non-political reasons. Of the applications that received additional scrutiny, only seven contained the word “progress” or “progressive,” all of which were subsequently approved by the IRS, while Tea Party groups were subjected to an unprecedented degree of review and years-long delays.
  • Senior Internal Revenue Service officials covered up the misconduct and misled Congress about the existence and nature of the targeting;
  • The Internal Revenue Service sought to rein in conservative-oriented non-profits as early as 2010;
  • The Administration is using the targeting as pretext to support its proposed regulation to limit political speech of conservative non-profits;
  • Mismanagement among the senior leadership of the Internal Revenue Service contributed to the targeting;
  • The Internal Revenue Service and the Obama Administration knowingly and wrongly blamed line-level employees for the misconduct;
  • Employees of the Internal Revenue Service inappropriately used non-official e-mail to conduct official government business;
  • The Internal Revenue Service has compromised its traditional position as an independent tax administrator;
  • The Obama Administration exhibited a lack of accountability for the IRS misconduct;
  • Lois Lerner’s refusal to testify hindered the Committee’s investigation;
  • The Internal Revenue Service obstructed the Committee’s investigation; and
  • The White House and congressional Democrats obstructed the Committee’s investigation.m

New York Times:  Inquiry Into I.R.S. Lapses Shows No Links to White House:

An 18-month congressional investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s mistreatment of conservative political groups seeking tax exemptions failed to show coordination between agency officials and political operatives in the White House, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The I.R.S. has admitted that before the 2012 election it inappropriately delayed approval of tax exemption applications by groups affiliated with the Tea Party movement, but the I.R.S. and its parent agency, the Treasury Department, have said that the errors were not motivated by partisanship.

Wall Street Journal, IRS Considered Tax on Donations to Political Groups; Move Could Have Disproportionately Hurt Conservative Activists:

Internal Revenue Service officials considered imposing a tax on large donations to many tax-exempt political organizations in 2011, recently released emails show, a move that could have disproportionately hurt conservative activists.

The discovery comes as part of Republican lawmakers’ broader investigation into the IRS’s treatment of conservative groups. It is further fueling GOP suspicions that some agency officials sought to suppress conservatives’ use of tax-exempt organizations for political speech.

The internal emails “demonstrate that the IRS sought to use the gift tax as one part of a larger effort to crack down on the political speech” of conservative tax-exempt groups, said Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. ...

The separate IRS effort to impose gift tax on big donors to tax-exempt organizations has gotten less attention. But GOP lawmakers are concerned about the gift-tax effort since it first surfaced in 2011, in part because conservatives have made extensive use of nonprofit entities, such as Crossroads GPS, in recent years for political outreach to voters.

Establishing such groups as tax-exempt entities is attractive, because it allows organizers to keep donors’ identities secret. Imposing a gift tax on those donations could discourage them, advocates fear. The top gift tax rate was 35% in 2011 and is now 40%.

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December 24, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Faculty Data Correction

Following up on last week's post, Law Schools Have Shed 986 Full-Time Faculty (11%) Since 2010:  Chapman has subsequently filed a corrected Form 509 with the ABA, so I have updated my post to remove references to data in Chapman's original Form 509 filed with the ABA.  Matt Leichter has also updated his post with the corrected Chapman data.

December 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dean Optimistic About Thomas Jefferson Law School's Future; Predicts 50% Enrollment Cut Will Stabilize School by 2020

Thomas Jefferson Logo (2015)Following up on my previous posts (links below):  San Diego Union-Tribune, Dean Optimistic About Law School's Future:

Just months after missing a payment to creditors who financed construction of its new home, the nonprofit Thomas Jefferson School of Law is finalizing an agreement that its dean said will make it financially stable.

“It puts the school on a solid financial footing,” said Thomas Guernsey, who took over as president and dean of the school in July 2013.

The agreement will give bondholders possession of the school’s eight-story building at 1155 Island Ave. in downtown San Diego. The school will become a tenant, cutting its expenses in half and its debt by two-thirds.

Guernsey is optimistic that the restructured debt and other steps will usher in a new era at Thomas Jefferson. ... Enrollment at Thomas Jefferson was 1,000 at its peak, and its new home was meant to accommodate up to 1,050. By the time the Island Avenue building opened in 2011, enrollment at the school already was dropping. After a steady decline over the years, enrollment is 650 this semester. ...

Guernsey said he expects enrollment at Thomas Jefferson will level out at about 500 in about five years, and he believes the number of students in law school will equal the market demand for new attorneys at that time. So does Brian Leiter, a professor of jurisprudence at the University of Chicago Law School and director of its Center for Law, Philosophy and Human Values.

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December 23, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Hatfield: Taxation and Surveillance -- An Agenda

Michael Hatfield (University of Washington), Taxation and Surveillance: An Agenda:

Among government agencies, the IRS likely has the surest legal claim to the most information about the most Americans: your hobbies; your religious affiliation; your reading; your travel; and your medical information are all potentially tax relevant. Privacy scholars have studied the arrival of Big Data, the internet-of-things, and the surveillance joint venture of government and private companies, but neither privacy nor tax scholars have considered how these technological advances could improve tax administration. As government agencies and private companies increasingly pursue what has been described as the “growing gush of data,” the use of these technologies in tax administration will become increasingly important to consider. This Essay provides an agenda of items for discussion, debate, and research related to the development, implementation, and effects of moving towards a surveillance-facilitated tax system.

December 23, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Economics of Guilds

Sheilagh Ogilvie (University of Cambridge), The Economics of Guilds, 28 J. Econ. Perspectives 169 (Fall 2014):

Occupational guilds in medieval and early modern Europe offered an effective institutional mechanism whereby two powerful groups, guild members and political elites, could collaborate in capturing a larger slice of the economic pie and redistributing it to themselves at the expense of the rest of the economy. Guilds provided an organizational mechanism for groups of businessmen to negotiate with political elites for exclusive legal privileges that allowed them to reap monopoly rents. Guild members then used their guilds to redirect a share of these rents to political elites in return for support and enforcement. In short, guilds enabled their members and political elites to negotiate a way of extracting rents in the manufacturing and commercial sectors, rents that neither party could have extracted on its own. First, I provide an overview of where and when European guilds arose, what occupations they encompassed, how large they were, and how they varied across time and space. I then examine how guild activities affected market competition, commercial security, contract enforcement, product quality, human capital, and technological innovation. The historical findings on guilds provide strong support for the view that institutions arise and survive for centuries not because they are efficient but because they serve the distributional interests of powerful groups.

December 23, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

DiRusso: A Charitable Flexible Spending Account

Alyssa A. DiRusso (Cumberland), Charity at Work: Proposing a Charitable Flexible Spending Account, 2014 Utah L. Rev. 281:

This Article will propose a Charitable Flexible Spending Account system to enhance the current regulatory regime of the itemized charitable deduction. Part II begins by explaining the current charitable income tax deduction, including its history and the policies underlying its enactment. Part III then explores academic critiques and criticisms of the charitable deduction, and it determines the extent to which the current system of charitable tax incentives is sufficient. Part IV discusses the parallel challenge and development of tax rules relating to medical expense deductions, and it explains both the itemized deduction for medical expenses and medical flexible spending arrangements. Building upon this foundation, Part V proposes a Charitable Flexible Spending Account system and explains the details of its implementation. Finally, the Article will conclude with thoughts on the future of the evolution of tax incentives for charitable giving. 

December 23, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top 10 Tax Presidents

Tax Analysys Logo (2013) Joseph J. Thorndike (Tax Analysts), The Top 10 Tax Presidents, 145 Tax Notes 1303 (Dec. 22, 2014):

[I]n the service of inspiration -- and perhaps consternation -- I've compiled a list of influential tax presidents. It bears repeating: This is not a roster of good tax presidents. It's an assessment of presidential influence on the development of the federal tax system, whether for good or bad. Indeed, given the politicization of tax policy, it's likely that several of these presidents will be judged as both heroes and villains, depending on who's doing the judging.

  1. Ronald Reagan
  2. Franklin Roosevelt
  3. Woodrow Wilson
  4. George Washington
  5. Thomans Jefferson
  6. George W. Bush
  7. Calvin Coolidge
  8. William Howard Taft
  9. John F. Kennedy
  10. George H.W. Bush

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December 23, 2014 in Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (1)

More on the Law School Transfer Market

TransferFollowing up on my previous post, The Law Student Transfer Market: Arizona State, Florida State, George Washington, Georgetown & Utah Lead The Way:  The Legal Whiteboard:  Further Understanding the Transfer Market -- A Look at the 2014 Transfer Data, by Jerry Organ (St. Thomas):

Starting this fall, the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar began collecting and requiring schools with more than five transfers in to report not only the number of students who have transferred in, but also the schools from which they came (indicating the number from each school) along with the 75%, 50% and 25% first-year, law school GPAs of the pool of students who transferred in to a given school (provided that at least twelve students transferred in to the school). This allows us to begin to explore the nature of the transfer market by looking at where students are coming from and are going and by looking at the first-year GPA profile of students transferring in to different law schools. ...

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December 23, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kaye: Innovations in the War on Tax Evasion

Tracy A. Kaye (Seton Hall), Innovations in the War on Tax Evasion, 2014 BYU L. Rev. 363:

Offshore tax evasion is a global problem that requires a global solution. Nevertheless, the United States unilaterally responded to the offshore tax evasion problem by enacting the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. FATCA requires foreign banks to report information about financial accounts held by U.S. taxpayers directly to the Internal Revenue Service and imposes a thirty percent withholding tax on certain U.S. payments to any bank that will not cooperate. Yet, U.S. banks were not required to report any information on nonresident account holders (except for Canadians) to anyone. FATCA garnered worldwide attention. The European Union expressed its concerns to the U.S. Treasury about the compliance burden on the financial industry and the conflict with EU Member States’ laws on privacy and data protection. Treasury is resolving these issues by negotiating bilateral agreements known as Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) that will require reciprocity on the part of the United States in the exchange of information. These IGAs are furthering the movement toward global transparency as most FATCA partner jurisdictions intend to require reporting on all nonresident accounts rather than just U.S. accounts. This could lead to the development of a multilateral platform for the exchange of information that is critical to combating offshore tax evasion. This Article urges the United States to adopt the regulations and legislation that are necessary before the United States can provide its FATCA partners with the same information that they have been asked to give the U.S. government. The United States should play a leadership role in furthering global transparency and take the steps required to no longer function as a tax haven for tax evaders from other countries. The IGA with Mexico that entered into force on January 1, 2013, is an appropriate vehicle for the United States to demonstrate this renewed commitment to the exchange of information.

December 23, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 593

IRS Logo 2Daily Caller:  BOMBSHELL REPORT: IRS Targeted ‘Icky’ Conservative Groups:

Top IRS officials specifically targeted tea party groups and misled the public about its secret political targeting program led by ex-official Lois Lerner, according to a bombshell new congressional report.

The Daily Caller has obtained an advance copy of a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee report set to be released Tuesday morning that definitively proves malicious intent by the IRS to improperly block conservative groups that an IRS adviser deemed “icky.” (That’s right. “Icky.”)

“The Committee has identified eight senior leaders who were in a position to prevent or to stop the IRS’s targeting of conservative applicants,” the Oversight report states. “Each of these leaders could have and should have done more to prevent the IRS’s targeting of conservative tax-exempt applicants.”

Here are six major takeaways from the report:

  1. The IRS admitted that the front office was “spinning” about the targeting rumors as early as 2012, after IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman denied the tea party targeting to Congress. ...
  2. Then-IRS commissioner Steven T. Miller almost broke down and told the truth about the tea party targeting at a July 2012 hearing, but Lerner’s sidekick Nikole Flax told him not to. ...
  3. The IRS definitely treated tea party applications by a different standard than applications from other (c)(4) groups. ...
  4. Lois Lerner expressed her frustration about having to potentially approve a lot of groups, and her colleagues in the agency assured her that she wouldn’t have to. ...
  5. So the IRS reached out to outside advisers to help come up with ways to deny tax-exempt status to “icky” organizations. ...
  6. A May 2011 email from a lawyer in the IRS chief counsel’s office made clear that the agency sought to use a new “gift tax” to target donors to nonprofit political groups.

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December 23, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, December 22, 2014

A California Assault on Free Speech

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  A California Assault on Free Speech That Would Shock the Founders, by Tim Phillips (Americans for Prosperity) & David Spady (Americans for Prosperity):

Americans for ProsperityIn the past four years, the Democratic Party and the progressive movement have been dealt devastating losses at the ballot box, in large part because voters rejected their policies as violations of fundamental liberties.

Yet rather than debate the merits of their policies, many on the left responded with a coordinated campaign to suppress free speech—primarily by intimidating, demonizing and silencing the people who opposed and defeated them. Examples include the Internal Revenue Services’ targeting of conservative nonprofit groups, Senate Democrats’ recent attempt to write a new constitutional amendment that would gut the First Amendment, and a host of other anti-free-speech efforts at both the state and federal level.

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December 22, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

D.C. Circuit Revives Law Prof's Discrimination Claim Over Tenure Denial

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Blog of the Legal Times, D.C. Circuit Revives Ex-UDC Law Prof’s Discrimination Case:

BrownA former professor at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law can proceed with a lawsuit accusing school officials of denying her tenure because of her race and gender, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled on Friday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit partially revived claims filed by Stephanie Brown, who was fired from the law school in May 2012 after she was denied tenure. Reversing the federal district judge who dismissed Brown’s case, a three-judge D.C. Circuit panel found Brown, who is black, presented enough of a nexus between her race and gender and her nonpromotion to survive at this stage of the litigation. [Brown v. Sessoms, No. 13-7027 (D.C. Cir. Dec. 19, 2014)]

Brown worked for more than two decades at the law school, according to court filings. In 2009, when she was an associate professor of law, she applied for tenure. Broderick expressed concerns that Brown hadn't produced enough legal scholarship, but ultimately approved the application after learning a law journal was about to publish one of Brown’s article. ...

Brown accused the school of discriminating against her based on her race and gender. She argued that the school granted tenure around the time she applied to a white male professor, William McClain, who had a similar scholarship record as she did. ...

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December 22, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Experiential Education and Our Divided Campuses

Margaret Reuter (Indiana) & Joanne M. Ingham (New York Law School), Experiential Education and Our Divided Campuses:

The Carnegie education masters, legal employers, and the ABA have appealed for more experiential teaching in law schools. The time is now; every school will soon have to provide at least 6 credits of clinic, field placement, and skills courses for each of their students according to the ABA’s most recent amendments to the Standards for Approval of Law Schools. Many educators and commentators proclaim the successes of the experiential courses to date, and assume that our current offerings just have to be expanded to accommodate the influx of students. However examination of the nature of the experiential coursework of 2,132 attorneys reveals that experiential courses have not been comparably pursued or valued by our former students as they have headed to careers in different settings and types of law practice. There are dramatic contrasts between public and private lawyers, litigators and transactional lawyers in the types of courses they took (or avoided) and in the lasting value they reaped. The Experiential Learning Opportunities and Benefits Survey and Study provides important insights and questions for deans, faculties, and curriculum committees to consider as they reorient their curricula to meet the new ABA requirements.

Chart 1

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December 22, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

'Law Schools Shouldn't Despair: If History Is Any Guide, the Legal Profession Will Be in Vogue Again Before Too Long'

Bloomberg View:  America's Chronic Surplus of Lawyers, by Stephen Mihm (University of Georgia, Department of History)

The legal profession has fallen on hard times in recent years. Big firms, such as Dewey & LeBoeuf in 2012, have gone under. Others, including Thacher Proffitt & Wood, have been downsized and absorbed by stronger competitors.

Now the law schools themselves are having trouble. Enrollment for 2014 was the lowest since 1973, according to figures released last week by the American Bar Association. The number of full- and part-time students, at 37,924, was down 28 percent from 2010, the all-time peak.

We shouldn’t be too surprised. The idea that law was a surefire, recession-proof path to success and financial security may have been a misconception all along: The U.S. has regularly had a surplus of lawyers. ...

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December 22, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

The Greatest Tax Story Ever Told: How Davis Polk Created the First Inversion, Then Celebrated With an Opera

Bloomberg:  The Greatest Tax Story Ever Told, by Zachary R. Mider:

The only operetta ever written about Subpart F of the Internal Revenue Code made its debut on a rainy Sunday evening in May 1990, in a Fifth Avenue apartment overlooking Central Park. In bow ties and spring blazers, partners of the law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell dined on lobster prepared by a Milanese chef. Then everyone gathered around a piano, and a pair of professional opera singers, joined by the few Davis Polk men who could carry a tune, performed what sounded like a collaboration of Gilbert & Sullivan and Ernst & Young.

The 13-minute operetta, Charlie’s Lament, told how the party’s host, John Carroll Jr., invented a whole category of corporate tax avoidance and successfully defended it in a fight with the Internal Revenue Service. The lawyers sang:

The Feds may be screaming,
But we all are beaming
’Cause we’ll never pay taxes,
We’ll never pay taxes,
Never pay taxes again!

The first corporate “inversion,” as Carroll’s maneuver came to be known, was obscure then and is all but forgotten now. Yet at least 45 companies have followed the lead of Carroll’s client, New Orleans-based construction company McDermott International, and shifted their legal addresses to low-tax foreign nations. Total corporate savings so far: at least $9.8 billion—money that otherwise would have gone to the U.S. government.

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December 22, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 2014 Illinois Bar Results: Chicago #1, Northwestern #2, Illinois #6

The IRS Scandal, Day 592

IRS Logo 2American Thinker:  How to Break Through the IRS Stonewall:

The Internal Revenue Service is currently employing a naked Catch-22 strategy in order to prevent disclosure of its potential misdeeds in disclosing private taxpayer information on conservatives to the White House.  The conservative legal group Cause of Action filed a Freedom of Information request in 2012, asking for documents that relate to disclosure, and was stonewalled, so then filed suit.

An Obama appointee, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, ruled for Cause of Action and ordered Treasury to search for them.  The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has disclosed that 2,500 have been found.  This is where the Catch-22 was invoked.  Because it is illegal to share private taxpayer information, the IRS is claiming that it would be illegal for it to reveal evidence of its disclosure of such information.  You have to admire the chutzpah. ...

I suspect there would be as much stonewalling as possible, but with two years in which to act, there could be ample opportunity for Congress to get to the bottom of this, especially since Judge Jackson has made her first ruling and does not seem to want to be flouted.  As the lame-duck Obama administration draws to a close, there will be a potential decision point for Democrats in Congress if the worst suspicions of politicizing the IRS appear to be turning out to be confirmed.  If it looks like evidence will be developed showing that the IRS and White House violated the law, Chick Schumer’s admission that Obamacare was a mistake could look in comparison like a day at the beach for the Obama wing of the party.

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December 22, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, December 21, 2014

One Nice Thing About Working on the Sunday Before Christmas ...

My choice of spaces in the law school parking lot:

IMG_1155

December 21, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Last Time So Few People Were Starting Law School, It Was 1973 (When There Were 53 Fewer Law Schools)

Slate:  The Last Time So Few People Were Starting Law School, It Was 1973, by Jordan Weissmann:

[F]irst-year law school enrollment is down to its lowest levels since 1973, according to the American Bar Association's new annual report. Just 37,924 new J.D. candidates enrolled this fall, 28 percent fewer than when the number of new students peaked in 2010. Since then, the ABA has also approved four new law schools, bringing the grand total to 204 (in 1973, there were just 151 schools). So there are more seats to fill, and fewer bodies to fill them.

1l_1963_2014

Which brings us to our next delightful stat. There are 186 first-year students per law school this year, down from 262 in 2010. You have to go all the way back to 1968 to find a number that low.

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December 21, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

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 #4 and #5. The #1 paper is now #78 in all-time downloads among 10,599 tax papers:

  1. [1449 Downloads]  A Compendium of Private Equity Tax Games, by Gregg D. Polsky (North Carolina)
  2. [255 Downloads]  Piketty in America: A Tale of Two Literatures, by Joseph Bankman (Stanford) & Daniel Shaviro (NYU)
  3. [180 Downloads]  Corporate Inversions and the Unbundling of Regulatory Competition, by Eric L. Talley (UC-Berkeley)
  4. [154 Downloads]  The Rise and Fall of the Consumption Tax: A Historical Perspective, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)
  5. [153 Downloads]  Corporate Inversions -- Background, Causes, and Policy Options, by J. Richard (Dick) Harvey (Villanova)

December 21, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Low Can You Go, InfiLaw?

InfiLaw (2014)David Frakt (Barry), How Low Can You Go, InfiLaw?:

When I visited Florida Coastal last spring for my Dean interview, my prescription to turn the school around was drastic. I told them they should immediately rescind offers of admission and refund deposits and application fees for all students with an LSAT of 144 and below, and refuse to admit any more students at 144 and below.

As readers of this blog well know, the response of the school’s president was to eject me from the campus. [Florida Coastal Law School Asks Dean Candidate to Leave Midway Through Lunch Presentation for Raising Concerns About Plummeting Student Credentials and Job Placement]

With the release of the 2014 Standard 509 Information reports, it is now clear that my hope that InfiLaw might be willing to consider reversing their dramatic and utterly irresponsible downward admissions trajectory was a fantasy, because just when you thought they couldn’t possibly sink any lower, they have. As I have noted in previous posts, FCSL had gone from an acceptable 153/150/147 in 2008 and 2009 all the way to an appallingly low 148/144/141 in 2013. This year, they have dropped across the board and are now down to an abysmal 147/143/140 for the 424 students who matriculated in 2014. In five years, what used to be their 25th percentile (147) is now their 75th percentile. And for those who think a 7 point drop (from 147 to 140) doesn’t sound all that significant, trust me, it is. A 147 is in the 33rd percentile, whereas a 140 is in the 13th percentile, a 20 percent drop. And just in case you might be thinking that FCSL is taking people with low LSAT’s but high grades, they aren’t. The GPAs are also very low, with a median of 2.93. For reference, in 2006, the average college GPA was 3.11 and that number has likely continued to rise.

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December 21, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (15)

The IRS Scandal, Day 591

IRS Logo 2Daily Caller:  Obama Admin Releases ONE PERCENT Of Its Documents About IRS-White House Coordination:

The Treasury Department released four new redacted pages of documents about the White House’s role in the Internal Revenue Service targeting scandal, bringing the total number of pages released up to 31 — a whole one percent of the total number of pages.

A federal court judge in the advocacy firm Cause of Action’s lawsuit against the Treasury inspector general set Jan. 30 as a starting date to begin briefings on whether or not the firm can get at the documents.

The Cause of Action federal court case for the documents was successful, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act. But the Justice Department began trying to delay the release of the documents by a matter of two weeks. Treasury Secretary and former Obama White House chief of staff Jacob Lew then seized the documents.

Lew is arguing that because the White House and IRS illegally exchanged confidential taxpayer information, then releasing the documents would be an illegal disclosure of confidential taxpayer information.

As The Daily Caller reported, at least some of the confidential taxpayer information the IRS’ Lois Lerner dished out went to senior White House domestic policy adviser Jeanne Lambrew.

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December 21, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

ABA Seeks Comments on Reporting of Law School Funded Jobs

ABA Logo 2The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar on Thursday released Possible Revisions to the 2015 Employment Questionnaire Relating to Law School Funded Positions by Stetson Dean (and Tax Prof) Christopher Petruszkiewicz and Scott Norberg:

At its January 16-17, 2015 meeting, the Data Policy and Collection Committee will consider possible revisions to the 2015 Employment Questionnaire (EQ) relating to the reporting of law school/ university funded positions. The concern is about transparency in the reporting of some of these positions as long-term under the current reporting requirements. ...

The number of graduates reported as holding long-term, full-time Bar Passage Required positions that are law school/university funded positions has increased markedly over the past several years.

 

Full-Time, Long-Term

Full-Time, Short-Term

Part-Time, Long-Term

Part-Time, Short-Term

Total

Class of 2012

517

264

74

411

1,266

Class of 2013

772

 

291

35

295

1,343

The Committee will consider a range of possible changes, including the following:

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December 20, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Uber's Growing Tax Problems

UberForbes:  Uber's Growing Tax Problems, by Robert W. Wood:

Uber’s latest $1.2 billion in financing and $40 billion valuation make it a valuation darling, but it’s PR problems are, well, huge. It seems often to ruffle rather than smooth feathers. As it fights regulatory and public relations battles, are tax authorities going to crack down too? It isn’t just the ubiquitous IRS that may want to hitch a ride to cash in. Consider state tax agencies and even some foreign ones.

It is a tech company, it claims, and just takes a fee for putting passengers and drivers together. Clearly, these drivers aren’t employees of the car services–er tech company–at least on paper. Besides, neither the company nor the drivers are likely to even think there is an employment or agency relationship viz. third parties. Or is there?

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December 20, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Judge Edwards on Rodell's Goodbye to Law Reviews

Harry T. Edwards (Senior Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit), Another Look at Professor Rodell's Goodbye to Law Reviews, 100 Va. L. Rev. 1483 (2014):

I am not advocating a return to the narrow-minded, provincial doctrinal scholarship that Professor Rodell singled out for criticism. My hope is that law schools will lead the way in valuing the work of all good scholars, those who write articles focused on professional practice, procedure, doctrine, legislation, and regulation, as well those who focus on theory, philosophy, and empirical studies. The law schools and law reviews should consider seriously Professor Rodell’s view that “law is supposed to be a device to serve society, a civilized way of helping the wheels go round without too much friction.” If the status quo remains, our profession may find itself criticized for merely “diddling while Rome burned.” Professor Rodell’s memorable phrase is as apt today as it was when he wrote it in 1936. 

Michael Dorf (Cornell), Judge Harry Edwards Is Still Unimpressed With Legal Scholarship:

In 1992, Judge Edwards took to the pages of the Michigan Law Review to decry what he called The Growing Disjunction Between Legal Education and the Legal Profession. Although Judge Edwards was careful to qualify his criticisms by acknowledging the existence of good scholarship, his basic attitude was nostalgia for a then-rapidly-fading era when legal scholarship was written almost exclusively by first-rate lawyers-turned-academics who were interested in the same sorts of questions as courts (and perhaps legislatures), rather than by the new generation of "ivory tower dilettantes, pursuing whatever subjects pique their interest, whether or not the subject merits scholarship, and whether or not they have the scholarly skills to master it." (Emphasis in original.) ...

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December 20, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 590

IRS Logo 2The Blaze:  The IRS Must Be Put Down Like a Rabid Dog, by John Linder (former Member, U.S. House of Representatives, 1993-2011):

Since it was first disclosed that the IRS abused the taxpayers and the law, the Democrat refrain has been, “…it is clear that there was no White House involvement…” Well, now it is clear that there was White House involvement, but it is against the law to disclose it.

A watchdog group, Cause of Action, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for email between the IRS and the White House. They have been informed by the Treasury Department that 2,509 such emails exist, but: “These pages consist of return information protected by 26 U.S.C. § 6103 and may not be disclosed absent an express statutory exception. Because no such exception exists here, we are withholding those.”

So, it is a felony to disclose the information that the IRS disclosed to the White House unless Congress passes a statutory exemption that will not become law unless this president, who broke the law, agrees to sign the statute so that we can see how he broke the law. Fat chance!

That, dear reader, is why the much talked about tax reform in the new Congress will fail. Any tax reform that leaves a corrupt system in place will be abused again by future administrations as unscrupulous as the Obama administration. ...

[T]he IRS will be put down like a rabid dog. No agency of government should have the power to abuse our personal information for political gain, which the IRS has proven its willing to do.

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December 20, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Iowa Reassigns Legal Writing Prof to Library Pending Retrial of Discrimination Claim Based on Her Conservative Views

Wagner 2Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Des Moines Register, Second Woman Makes Retaliation Claim Against University of Iowa:

The University of Iowa has reassigned another female employee involved in a pending legal matter against the school — an action called retaliatory and illegal in a new court document.

Teresa Wagner, a conservative Republican who is suing the university, was reassigned Nov. 17 to an hourly position that doesn't use her legal degree and requires her to sort boxes of old books, booklets or pamphlets, her motion says. Wagner, previously the associate director of the Writer Center at the Iowa College of Law, has said the school repeatedly denied her promotion because of her political leanings.

Wagner's reassignment occurred after she said she caught her supervisor, Nancy Jones, going through her backpack on Nov. 5. UI's human resources department said Nov. 10 that it could not conclude a university policy had been broken. Three days later, Wagner was notified that she was no longer in the position she'd held for eight years, Wagner alleges in a court motion. ...

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December 19, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Weekly Tax Roundup