TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, April 29, 2016

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

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April 29, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

Tulane Is Seeking To Hire A Tax Visitor

Tulane (2015)Tulane Law School is seeking to hire a visiting tax professor for either Fall 2016 or the entire 2016-17 Academic Year:

Visitors would be expected to teach basic Income Tax and other tax related courses. Applicants at any career stage are encouraged. To apply, please submit a CV along with a statement of interest and any supporting documentation. Applications and questions may be directed to Vice Dean Ronald J. Scalise Jr.

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April 29, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through April 1, 2016) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

 

 

All-Time

 

Recent

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

55,096

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich)

10,291

2

Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)

31,513

Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)

4590

3

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

30,679

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

3936

4

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

26,229

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

2316

5

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

25,639

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2218

6

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

22,198

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1892

7

James Hines (Michigan)

21,571

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

1863

8

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

20,893

Nancy McLaughlin (Utah)

1737

9

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

20,843

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

1737

10

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

19,617

David Weisbach (Chicago)

1635

11

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

18,629

Jack Manhire (Texas A&M)

1622

12

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

17,517

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

1608

13

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

16,821

Chris Hoyt (UMKC)

1605

14

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

16,772

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

1586

15

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

16,688

Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)

1580

16

David Weisbach (Chicago)

16,656

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

1549

17

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

16,399

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

1496

18

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

16,270

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

1405

19

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

15,925

Steven Bank (UCLA)

1384

20

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

15,720

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

1377

21

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

15,399

Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)

1344

22

David Walker (BU)

14,917

Yariv Brauner (Florida)

1331

23

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

14,568

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

1297

24

Steven Bank (UCLA)

13,194

William Byrnes  (Texas A&M)

1236

25

Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)

13,131

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1209

Note that this ranking includes full-time tax professors with at least one tax paper on SSRN, and all papers (including non-tax papers) by these tax professors are included in the SSRN data.

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April 29, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call For Papers:  University Of Washington Symposium On Protecting Taxpayer Rights

University of Washington Logo (2016)The University of Washington’s Graduate Tax Program has issued a call for papers for its Fourth Annual Tax Symposium on October 7, 2016:

The 2016 Symposium will focus on Protecting Taxpayer Rights and feature keynote remarks by Nina E. Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate.

Papers should be well developed, but at a stage where they can still benefit from the group’s discussion. Priority will be given to papers that are consistent with the chosen theme. The symposium will include twelve to fifteen papers. Dinner with the keynote speaker will be held on the day of the conference.

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April 29, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

IRS:  The Tax Gap Is $458 Billion

IRS, Tax Gap Estimates for Tax Years 2008–2010:

The gross tax gap is the amount of true tax liability that is not paid voluntarily and timely. The estimated gross tax gap is $458 billion. ... The new estimates suggest that compliance is substantially unchanged since last estimated for TY 2006. Although the TY 2008–2010 gross and net tax gap estimates ($458 billion, $406 billion) are 1.8 percent and 5.5 percent higher, respectively, than the previously released TY 2006 estimates ($450 billion, $385 billion), those increases are driven by improvements in the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the estimates through updates in methods and the inclusion of new tax gap components.

Tax Gap

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April 29, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1086

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal, House Republicans Seek to Block IRS Collection of Nonprofit Donor Data:

House Republicans are expanding their assault on the Internal Revenue Service, this time trying to prevent the agency from collecting information about nonprofit groups’ donors.

The latest effort, led by Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), would change a requirement that nonprofits list all donors who give at least $5,000. That information is supposed to be redacted from the publicly available versions of the groups’ tax forms, but the IRS has inadvertently released donor information about the National Organization for Marriage and a group tied to the Republican Governors Association.

To Mr. Roskam and other Republicans, those failures are a reason to keep clamping down on the agency. “The IRS has demonstrated inability to hold confidential information close, and if it’s not necessary for tax administration, then let’s mitigate this problem and not require organizations to submit it,” he said. The House Ways and Means Committee approved his measure Thursday on a 23-15 party-line vote. ...

The IRS is never popular, but Republicans have been particularly agitated about the tax agency since 2013, when it said it had improperly given extra scrutiny to Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status. The agency’s leadership has since changed, but Republicans have maintained pressure and sought to limit its budget. ...

Under Mr. Roskam’s bill, nonprofits would only have to report information tied to certain tax shelters as well as donations from their directors, top employees and officers. The bill would also limit the information available to state charity regulators. A federal court last week ruled that California’s requirement to submit donor names to the state was unconstitutional.

Philip Hackney, a tax law professor at Louisiana State University, said the bill would make it harder for the IRS to police the line between charities and private foundations, the latter being subject to stricter rules. He said it might also be more difficult for the IRS to monitor self-dealing between a charity and its donors. “I think it’s problematic to not collect it, but I do respect the fact that there are some real disclosure issues that have been perennial,” Mr. Hackney said.

New York Times editorial, Dark Money and an I.R.S. Blindfold:

Under the proposal, the I.R.S. would no longer be told the identities of contributors to these nonprofits. Watchdog groups warn in a letter to the House that this would “open the door wide for secret, unaccountable money from foreign governments, foreign corporations and foreign individuals to be illegally laundered into federal elections.” The letter, signed by the Brennan Center for Justice, the Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21 and five other groups, stressed that the disclosure requirement is one of the few ways of guarding against foreigners influencing American elections.

Representative Peter Roskam, the bill’s sponsor, dismissed the reform groups’ warning, saying the I.R.S. “has a miserable track record when it comes to safeguarding sensitive data” and a history of targeting conservative nonprofits that are critical of administration policies. His office insisted that ending the disclosure requirement would not affect the foreign-donation ban, but the reform groups sensibly ask who else could monitor what has become a runaway system of big-money stealth politicking. ...

Amid fierce Republican criticism, the I.R.S. has grown ever more gun-shy about enforcement, with Tea Party and other right-wing groups accusing tax officials of bias in daring to investigate conservative “social welfare” claims. As I.R.S. wariness grows, so does the attraction of 501(c)s for donors more interested in stealth politicking than charity work. Enabling foreigners to join this dark money debacle would be disastrous.

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April 29, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Prof's Email To 1Ls Who Skipped Class:  Con Law Is Way More Important Than Legal Writing Paper; 'Get Your Asses In Gear'

Con Law DummiesAbove the Law, Con Law Professor Has Meltdown In Email Blast To Students:

Look, being a law professor is rough. Especially if one finds himself teaching a gaggle of Younglings who don’t quite yet “Think Like A Lawyer". ... [W]e understand why Professor Steven Winter lost it on his students at Wayne State Law. We may not wholly agree, but it’s easy to see where he’s coming from.

There were way too many people — about 30% of the class — absent today. This is unacceptable.

A handful had valid excuses (although pinkeye isn't really one of them). For the rest of you, missing class because you have a legal writing paper is neither a valid excuse nor an exercise of good judgment.

It is not just that Con Law is way more important (to your education, not to mention your GPA) than legal writing. As I told those who were there the single best predictor of bar passage is your grade in Con Law. And standing usually is one third of the exam. So all of you who were out today are already significantly behind the eight ball.

So get your asses in gear.

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April 28, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

How Big Is The Income Tax Gap In Your State?

HowMuch.net, How Big is the Income Tax Gap in Your State?:

Most states have progressive tax systems: high-income earners pay a higher percentage of their income in tax. But some states are fiscally more progressive than others, resulting in a bigger difference between those taxed least and those taxed most. Again, California leads the nation, with a tax gap of 9.31% - that’s how much more those in the top bracket are taxed than those in the bottom one. New Jersey comes in second, at some distance (6.60%). Vermont, Minnesota and Hawaii all have tax gaps over 5%.

HowMuch

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April 28, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Intersection Of EU State Aid And U.S. Tax Deferral

Florida Tax Review  (2015)Romero J.S. Tavares, Bret N. Bogenschneider & Marta Pankiv (Vienna University), The Intersection of EU State Aid and U.S. Tax Deferral: A Spectacle of Fireworks, Smoke, and Mirrors, 21 Fla. Tax Rev. ___ (2017):

The Advance Pricing Agreements or transfer pricing rulings granted to U.S. multinationals by Ireland, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg were principally designed to achieve U.S. tax deferral and not EU tax avoidance. Adverse BEPS effects within the European Union would be immaterial in comparison to the deferral of U.S. tax on residual IP related profits, and would have occurred primarily in countries other than those charged with the granting of unlawful State aid. The Irish, Dutch, and Luxembourgish treasuries have not foregone tax revenues in favor of the U.S. multinationals they allegedly aided, which is a requirement for a finding of prohibited State aid.

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April 28, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Rankings By Employment Outcomes:  Florida, Texas

Following up on my previous posts on Law School Rankings By Employment Outcomes:

Derek Muller (Pepperdine) blogs legal employment outcomes among Florida's 11 law schools and Texas's 9 law schools:

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April 28, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

George Mason Faculty Senate Votes 21-13 To Oppose Naming Law School For Justice Scalia

Scalia 2George Mason's Faculty Senate voted 21-13 yesterday to condemn naming the law school in Justice Scalia's honor.

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April 28, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The U.S. News Law School Rankings:  Engines Of Anxiety

EnginesWendy Nelson Espeland (Northwestern) & Michael Sauder (Iowa), Engines of Anxiety: Academic Rankings, Reputation, and Accountability (Russell Sage Foundation 2016):

Students and the public routinely consult various published college rankings to assess the quality of colleges and universities and easily compare different schools. However, many institutions have responded to the rankings in ways that benefit neither the schools nor their students. In Engines of Anxiety, sociologists Wendy Espeland and Michael Sauder delve deep into the mechanisms of law school rankings, which have become a top priority within legal education. Based on a wealth of observational data and over 200 in-depth interviews with law students, university deans, and other administrators, they show how the scramble for high rankings has affected the missions and practices of many law schools.

Engines of Anxiety tracks how rankings, such as those published annually by the U.S. News & World Report, permeate every aspect of legal education, beginning with the admissions process. The authors find that prospective law students not only rely heavily on such rankings to evaluate school quality, but also internalize rankings as expressions of their own abilities and flaws. For example, they often view rejections from “first-tier” schools as a sign of personal failure. The rankings also affect the decisions of admissions officers, who try to balance admitting diverse classes with preserving the school’s ranking, which is dependent on factors such as the median LSAT score of the entering class. Espeland and Sauder find that law schools face pressure to admit applicants with high test scores over lower-scoring candidates who possess other favorable credentials.

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April 28, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times:  President Obama Weighs His Economic And Tax Legacy

New York Times Magazine:  President Obama Weighs His Economic Legacy, by Andrew Ross Sorkin:

Eight years after the financial crisis, unemployment is at 5 percent, deficits are down and G.D.P. is growing. Why do so many voters feel left behind? The president has a theory.

Two months ago, across an assembly-room table in a factory in Jacksonville, Fla., President Barack Obama was talking to me about the problem of political capital. His efforts to rebuild the U.S. economy from the 2008 financial crisis were being hit from left, right and center. And yet, by his own assessment, those efforts were vastly underappreciated. “I actually compare our economic performance to how, historically, countries that have wrenching financial crises perform,” he said. “By that measure, we probably managed this better than any large economy on Earth in modern history.”

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April 28, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times:  Fantasy Math Is Helping Companies Spin Losses Into Profits

New York Times:  Fantasy Math Is Helping Companies Spin Losses Into Profits, by Gretchen Morgenson:

Companies, if granted the leeway, will surely present their financial results in the best possible light. And of course they will try to persuade investors that the calculations they prefer, in which certain costs are excluded, best represent the reality in their operations.

Call it accentuating the positive, accounting-style.

What’s surprising, though, is how willing regulators have been to allow the proliferation of phony-baloney financial reports and how keenly investors have embraced them. As a result, major public companies reporting results that are not based on generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, has grown from a modest problem into a mammoth one.

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April 28, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Is Social Security Tilted Toward the Rich?

New York Times:  Rich People Are Living Longer. That’s Tilting Social Security in Their Favor, by Neil Irwin:

Social Security is designed to ensure that no workers go penniless in old age and also as an equalizer between rich and poor. It is structured to give more generous retirement benefits to low-income people, given the taxes they pay during their working years. ...

[A] large body of research shows that the rich live longer — and that the life span gap between rich and poor is growing. And that means that the progressive ideal built into the design of Social Security is, gradually, being thwarted. In some circumstances, the program can actually be regressive, offering richer benefits to those who are already affluent.

Daniel Hemel (Chicago), Is Social Security Tilted Toward the Rich?:

A fascinating column in the New York Times Sunday Business section claims that the growing life span gap between the rich and the poor is undermining the Social Security system’s redistributive design. ...

The Times’ analysis, if correct, is quite dispiriting for those of us who favor greater redistribution of wealth and considered Social Security to be a great progressive achievement. But is it correct? I’m doubtful. That’s because — as best I can tell — the Times’ analysis fails to account for the tax treatment of Social Security benefits. And once one accounts for the taxation of Social Security benefits, the system begins to look a lot more progressive than the Times’ analysis suggests. ...

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April 28, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Write A Blog Post, Get An 'A' In Your Tax Class

Forbes (2017)Forbes:  Get Published And Win An A In Tax Law, by Kelly Phillips Erb:

That’s right, I said, “Win an A in Tax Law.” My popular contest for law and paralegal students is back. So let’s get right to the good stuff…

Here’s how it works: simply write a guest post for consideration on the site about a hot tax policy issue. I don’t mean a news or legal summary. I want a policy post: tell me what the issue is and why it matters. In other words, pick a topic and take a position. ...

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April 28, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1085

IRS Logo 2American Thinker:  IRS Dereliction Aids California AG's Donor Privacy Violations, by Mark J. Fitzgibbons:

California's Democrat attorney general, Kamala Harris, was recently slapped down by a federal judge for violating the First Amendment in a donor privacy case brought by conservative nonprofit Americans for Prosperity Foundation. The Internal Revenue Service needs to shoulder a substantial part of the blame for that case, because the IRS could and should have prevented Harris's lawlessness.

AFPF was granted an injunction against Ms. Harris on April 21 prohibiting her from demanding the nonprofit organization's donor names and addresses listed on confidential federal tax return "Schedule B." At trial, AFPF presented "ample evidence" that its donors received "threats, harassment, intimidation, and retaliation" for their private association with the organization. The right of private association is constitutionally guaranteed as expressed in the 1958 landmark civil rights case NAACP v. Alabama.

General Harris is acquiring confidential Schedule B donor names using a dragnet registration method for charities that communicate with fundraising appeals to Californians. The injunction order noted that Harris's claims for needing Schedule B donor information for law enforcement purposes was not credible, given the lack of an enforcement track record and the availability of such information from other sources on a case-by-case basis.

Judge Manuel Real's order was blunt, noting that "the amount of careless mistakes by the Attorney General's registry is shocking," and "[t]he pervasive, recurring pattern of uncontained Schedule B disclosures [is] irreconcilable with the Attorney General's assurances and contentions as to the confidentiality of Schedule Bs collected by the Registry." ...

What hasn't been reported is how the IRS could have prevented this mess. The federal tax code gives the IRS control over the flow of confidential federal tax return to state officials, who may actually need it to enforce laws. By its own interpretations of the law, the IRS requires states to enter into confidentiality agreements and establish protocols to prevent precisely what California did in accessing and publicly disclosing Schedule Bs.

The IRS's failure to act to protect confidential donor information on Schedule Bs means it may be treated as an "indispensable party" in litigation brought by other charities. Also, Congress should investigate why the IRS was derelict in protecting the confidentiality of donors, and whether Ms. Harris is acting as an Obama IRS surrogate in hampering First Amendment rights of conservative organizations such as AFPF and others.

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April 28, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Law School LL.M.s:  'Encouraging International Cultural Diversity Or Cynical Method Of Revenue Generation'?

LLM 2Steven J. Harper (Adjunct Professor, Northwestern; author, The Lawyer Bubble), Warm Bodies:

Colleges have entered a game that law schools have been playing for years. According to a recent New York Times front page headline, “Colleges Seek Warm Bodies From Overseas.” The title of the online version was equally pointed: “Recruiting Students Overseas to Fill Seats, Not to Meet Standards."

For years, law schools have been dropping standards to fill classrooms. Marginal schools have been the worst offenders, and the profession is now paying the price in declining bar passage rates. But even among top schools, a more subtle and profitable technique has pervaded law school business plans for years: expanding LLM programs.

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April 27, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Organ:  Fall 2016 Law School Enrollment Projections

Jerry Organ (St. Thomas), Projections for Law School Enrollment for Fall 2016:

In this blog posting I am doing two things. First, I provide a detailed analysis to estimate the likely total applicant pool we can expect at the end of the current cycle based on trends from March through the end of the cycle in 2013 and 2014 and 2015. Second, given the increase in the strength of the applicant pool, I suggest that law schools in the top 60 or 70 of USNEWS ranking will see more enrollment growth and profile stability in comparison with law schools further down the rankings continuum. ...

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April 27, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Video Of Tom Bost's Last Class At Pepperdine

Following up on yesterday's post, Tom Bost's Last Class At Pepperdine:

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April 27, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ventry:  Lawyers As Whistleblowers

Dennis J. Ventry, Jr. (UC-Davis), Stiches for Snitches: Lawyers as Whistleblowers, 50 U.C. Davis L. Rev. ___ (2017):

This Article challenges the prevailing wisdom that ethics rules forbid lawyers from blowing the whistle on a client’s illegal conduct. While a lawyer is not free to disclose confidential information in every jurisdiction for every legal violation, the ethics rules in all jurisdictions permit disclosure of confidential information pertaining to a client’s illegal activities under certain conditions. Proving the lie of the prevailing wisdom, this Article examines a high profile case in the state of New York that ruled a lawyer whistleblower violated the state’s ethics rules by revealing confidential information to stop his employer-client from engaging in a tax fraud of epic proportions. The Article argues that the court undertook a deficient analysis of New York ethics rules pertaining to permissive disclosure of confidential client information. Even if the whistleblower had violated his ethical obligations, the New York False Claims Act (the statute under which he brought his action) expressly protects disclosure of confidential employer information made in furtherance of the statute. In addition to New York’s statutory shield, federal courts across the country have developed a public policy exception safeguarding whistleblowers for disclosing confidential information that detects and exposes an employer’s illegal conduct.

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April 27, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call For Papers:  AALS Program On Philanthrocapitalism

AALS (2017)Call for Papers:  Joint Program of the AALS Sections on Agency, Partnerships LLCs, and Unincorporated Associations & Nonprofit and Philanthropy on LLCs, New Charitable Forms, and the Rise of Philanthrocapitalism:

In December 2015, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, pledged their personal fortune—then valued at $45 billion—to the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), a philanthropic effort aimed at “advancing human potential and promoting equality.” But instead of organizing CZI using a traditional charitable structure, the couple organized CZI as a for-profit Delaware LLC. CZI is perhaps the most notable example, but not the only example, of Silicon Valley billionaires exploiting the LLC form to advance philanthropic efforts. But are LLCs and other for-profit business structures compatible with philanthropy? What are the tax, governance, and other policy implications of this new tool of philanthrocapitalism? What happens when LLCs, rather than traditional charitable forms, are used for “philanthropic” purposes?

From the heart of Silicon Valley, the AALS Section on Agency, Partnerships LLCs, and Unincorporated Associations and Section on Nonprofit and Philanthropy Law will host a joint program tackling these timely issues. In addition to featuring invited speakers, we seek speakers (and papers) selected from this call.

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April 27, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Foundation Press Publishes Election Law Stories (36th Book in the Law Stories Series)

Election LawFoundation Press has published Election Law Stories (2016), by Joshua A. Douglas (Kentucky) & Eugene D. Mazo (Rutgers):

One of the most dynamic fields in the legal academy now has its own Stories book. This title offers a rich and detailed account of the most significant cases in election law, including the landmark decisions of Reynolds v. Sims, Bush v. Gore, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and Shelby County v. Holder. The book relies on a unique encapsulated approach to storytelling, as each of its authors surveys an important doctrinal area in the field through the telling of his or her story. The volume’s thirteen cases concern the right to vote, redistricting and gerrymandering, campaign finance, and election administration. The book is suited for courses in the law of democracy at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

The table of contents is here.  Other titles in the Law Stories Series (for which I serve as Series Editor) are:

April 27, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pew:  54% Of Adults With Post-Graduate Education Are Liberal, 24% Are Conservative

Pew Research Center, A Wider Ideological Gap Between More and Less Educated Adults:

Two years ago, Pew Research Center found that Republicans and Democrats were more divided along ideological lines than at any point in the previous two decades. But growing ideological distance is not confined to partisanship. There are also growing ideological divisions along educational and generational lines.

Highly educated adults – particularly those who have attended graduate school – are far more likely than those with less education to take predominantly liberal positions across a range of political values. And these differences have increased over the past two decades.

Pew 3

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April 27, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

America Changes, But All the Presidential Candidates Want To Keep the Tax Code the Same

Final 5The Daily Beast:  America Changes, But All the Presidential Candidates Want To Keep the Tax Code the Same, by David Cay Johnston:

The tax reform plans of the five remaining presidential candidates tell us a lot about our outdated federal tax system, which was designed for the industrial economy of the last century. All five candidates promise reform, but their plans just tinker around the edges. None of the five addresses the major reasons the federal tax system imposes far more economic pain than necessary on most Americans.

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April 27, 2016 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

May 1 Deadline For Call For Papers For NTA 109th Annual Conference On Taxation

NTA LogoThe National Tax Association has issued a Call for Papers for its 109th Annual Conference on Taxation to be held Nov. 10-12, 2016 in Baltimore:

The 109th Annual Conference on Taxation will cover a broad range of topics including, but not limited to, taxation and tax policies; expenditure policies; government budgeting; intergovernmental fiscal relations; and subnational, national, and international public finance. The conference will focus, as always, on policy-relevant research bearing on taxation and government spending.

You are invited to submit a paper or a complete session. May 1, 2016 is the deadline for submitting papers or sessions. Decisions concerning the inclusion of papers and sessions will be announced in July 2016. Authors of accepted papers will be offered the opportunity to include them in the Proceedings. All presenters will be required to register and pay a conference registration fee.

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April 27, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Hillary Speech Issue No One Is Talking About: Assignment Of Income

Hillary 2016Forbes:  The Hillary Speech Issue No One Is Talking About, by Robert W. Wood:

There are long lists of Hillary Clinton scandals, but the vortex of issues surrounding her speeches remains a major one. The speech issue is multi-faceted, raising questions about what she said to whom and at what price. In this sense, Hillary may be her own worst enemy. She has stalled endlessly, and has still failed to release the transcripts. That kind of stonewalling fuels more speculation, and it is hardly in her favor.

For example, you can read an amusing imagined text of Hillary’s speech to Goldman Sachs. We presumably will never see the real one, though it can hardly be worse than an imagined version. Arguably, though, just as major an issue is the money trail from Hillary’s speeches. The data has had to be teased out. However, the connections between a former President and Secretary of State hobnobbing with foreign government and corporate chieftains over U.S. policy issues remains of interest. The money was big for Bill and Hillary, with even some for Chelsea.

And just think of the tax treatment.

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April 27, 2016 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

ABA Teleconference Today On The Tax Code And Income Inequality

LogoThe ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice and the ABA Tax Section are offering a free teleconference today at 3:30 - 5:00 EST on The Tax Code and Income Inequality: Limitations and Political Opportunities:

“Welfare” has become “workfare,” delivered through the Tax Code, e.g., the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. How well is that really working for low and middle income Americans, much less those in poverty? At the same time, tax deductions, credits—and avoidance/evasion schemes—are increasingly benefitting wealthy individuals and big corporations, which increasingly pay a smaller portion of federal tax revenue—revenue that could fund government programs, bolster economic growth and benefit the bottom 99% by providing jobs and increase skills of lower income American. Panelists will discuss how changes to the Tax Code can address income inequality in the U.S. and political opportunities for reform.

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April 27, 2016 in ABA Tax Section, Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1084

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Should IRS Pay Employee Bonuses? Recall Lois Lerner's $129,300 On Top Of Salary, by Robert W. Wood:

Should IRS employees receive bonuses, and based on what? The topic is controversial–again–although perhaps not as vitriolic as it was during the Lois Lerner targeting episode. Recall that the face of IRS targeting, Lois Lerner–who took the Fifth and refused to testify about it–received big cash bonuses. So did the fired Acting IRS Commissioner Miller who was also caught up in the targeting scandal. (Yes, it is tempting to ask, ‘bonuses for what?’)

These bonuses were not small pats on the back. In fact, Lois Lerner received $129,300 in bonuses between 2010 and 2013. As head of the IRS tax-exempt division at the  heart of the targeting scandal, she received a 25% bonus each year—averaging $43,000 a year—on top of her regular salary. As you read about bonuses, you might recall other reports saying that 61% of IRS employees caught willfully violating the tax law aren’t fired, but may get promoted. Many of the bonuses can be traced to IRS Commissioner Koskinen, who took the helm of the IRS in December 2013.

His tenure hasn’t been smooth. Most of the IRS bonuses were paid in February and March 2014, with 238 awards totaling $976,387. No further awards were recorded until November and January 2015, with 218 awards totaling $1,000,108. In all, the IRS paid 1,269 bonuses, totaling $5.97 million from January 1, 2010 to February 2, 2015. The average was $4,483, but totals ranged from $250 to $285,688. There is considerable detail on the bonuses here.

And with this kind of track record in the face of scandal, perhaps it is no wonder that there is a House Bill, H.R. 4890, called the IRS Bonuses Tied to Measurable Metrics Act. Sponsored by Rep. Pat Meehan, R-Pa., it would prohibit the IRS from paying bonuses to employees until the Treasury Secretary develops and implements a comprehensive customer service strategy that puts taxpayers first. The House Ways and Means Committee passed four IRS bills recently, and the House voted to approve several. Yet Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, objected to tying IRS employee bonuses to the development of a customer service strategy. ...

There are plenty of hard-working and honest employees at the IRS. They do a terribly important job under tough circumstances, and it is usually a thankless job. Maybe they do deserve bonuses. Perhaps there might be agreement on this, especially if they could hang up a big ’Under New Management’ sign.

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April 27, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tom Bost's Last Class At Pepperdine

Today was a day of transitions at Pepperdine, as legendary Tax Prof Tom Bost retired after 16 years on the faculty, following an illustrious 31 year career as a tax associate and then partner at Latham & Watkins in Los Angeles.  Tom served for many years as member and chair of Pepperdine's Board of Regent and was Interim Dean when Pepperdine hired me (the only black mark on his otherwise distinguished career).  Like everyone at Pepperdine, I have enormous respect and affection for Tom, and will miss his daily presence in our lives.

We shamelessly stole the idea from Michigan and organized a moving "clap-off" send-off for Tom's last class today, as the faculty and staff joined with Tom's students in sending him out of a Pepperdine classroom for the last time to thunderous applause (and not a few tears). Pepperdine will forever more be a profoundly different place because of this extraordinary man.

Tom 4

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April 26, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pepperdine Dean Deanell Tacha To Retire On Dec. 31, 2016

Tacha (2015)Pepperdine President Andy Benton and Provost Rick Marrs today announced that our wonderful Dean Deanell Tacha is extending her five-year term to continue serving through our ABA Re-Accreditation visit in Fall 2016 and will retire on December 31, 2016:

Deanell Reece Tacha, who has served as dean of the Pepperdine University School of Law since 2011, will retire on December 31, 2016. Deanell will continue her tenure at the School of Law during the American Bar Association accreditation process through fall 2016.

The first female dean of the School of Law, Deanell came to Pepperdine prepared to confront the challenges facing legal education, including a crippling debt crisis and an often unreliable job market. In her five years at the school, Deanell tirelessly raised money for student scholarships to assist with rising tuition costs, traveled cross-country to advocate for post-graduation job placements for Pepperdine Law students, and built relationships with leading legal scholars and thought leaders to develop a more robust faculty. She also led the effort to fully remodel the school to dramatically improve the 40-year-old facility.

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April 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Zelenak Presents Tax-Free Basis Step-Up At Death And The Charitable Deduction Of Unrealized Appreciation Today At Georgetown

Zelenak (2016)Lawrence Zelenak (Duke) presents The Tax-Free Basis Step-Up at Death, the Charitable Deduction of Unrealized Appreciation, and the Persistence of Error at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John Brooks and Itai Grinberg:

This article recounts, as a study in the remarkable persistence of early error even when the error is promptly recognized and addressed, the legislative and administrative histories of the taxfree basis step-up at death and the charitable deduction for unrealized appreciation. Part I describes the early development of the basis rules for property transferred by gift or bequest, and Part II covers the early history of the charitable deduction for appreciated property. Parts III and IV are concerned with less ancient events. Part III recounts the short unhappy life of the 1976 carryover basis reform, and Part IV does the same for the 1986 AMT reform. Part V briefly concludes.

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April 26, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Gravelle Presents Policy Options To Address Corporate Profit Shifting: Carrots Or Sticks? Today At NYU

GravelleJane Gravelle (Congressional Research Service) presents Policy Options to Address Corporate Profit Shifting: Carrots or Sticks? at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Chris Sanchirico:

Issues surrounding the U.S. tax treatment of foreign source income, focused in large part in the past on real investment, may, to some degree, have given way to concern about tax minimization strategies that allow firms to shift profits into low and no tax countries. Firms can benefit from profit shifting because, although the United States has a worldwide income tax system with a credit for foreign taxes paid, income earned by U.S. multinationals’ foreign subsidiaries is not subject to tax until it is repatriated, that is, paid to the parent firm as a dividend. (Current law requires some income easily subject to abuse, called Subpart F income, to be taxed currently). In addition, firms can shield repatriated profits from low tax countries from U.S. tax if they have excess foreign tax credits from operations in high tax countries. Profit shifting is largely a problem of lost revenue rather than inefficient location of investment, although widespread manipulation of the tax rules to avoid taxes also may undermine voluntary compliance with the tax system by others.

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April 26, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Prince Died Without A Will, According To Court Documents

PrinceNew York Times, Prince Died Without a Will, According to Court Documents:

Prince died without a will, according to court documents filed by his sister, which may cause complications for his financial estate and musical legacy.

In probate documents filed on Tuesday with the court in Carver County, Minn., Tyka Nelson, 55, Prince’s sister, said that her brother died without a spouse, children or surviving parents, and that “I do not know of the existence of a will.” ...

In addition to Ms. Nelson, the document lists five half-siblings of Prince as interested parties: his half-brothers John Nelson, Alfred Jackson and Omar Baker, and his half-sisters Norrine and Sharon Nelson. According to Minnesota law, surviving half-siblings are treated the same as full siblings. ..

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April 26, 2016 in Celebrity Tax Lore, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ex-Sprint Heads Blame IRS For Tax Shelter Woes 13 Years Ago

Sprint 3Bloomberg, Ex-Sprint Heads Blame IRS for Tax Shelter Woes 13 Years Ago:

The two top Sprint Corp. executives who were caught up in a tax-shelter scandal in 2003 now blame the Internal Revenue Service for losing their jobs.

Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William T. Esrey and Ronald T. LeMay, a former president and chief operating officer, sued the U.S. government Friday over claims they were unfairly forced out of the company after disclosing they were being audited over the use of shelters that deferred taxes from stock option profits. The two men are seeking almost $160 million in combined damages in a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court.

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April 26, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Michael Rich (Elon) On His Metastatic Kidney Cancer Diagnosis

ElonMichael Rich (Elon), Hard Prawf Choices:

A little less than three years ago, I was diagnosed with metastatic kidney cancer, a disease that does not lend itself to optimistic prognoses. I have been fortunate to be able to continue prawfing since then, but it has changed the way I understand my job and interact with my students and the prawf community.

One of my first challenges was deciding how much of my situation to share with my students. I pride myself on treating my students as much like adults as possible. So, the first semester after my diagnosis, knowing that treatment would interfere with their class schedule, I shared with them the general diagnosis (cancer) and let them know that it would require flexibility on their part. I also reconfirmed my commitment to them to do my best and to be available when I could. That semester was challenging, but the students were incredibly generous and forgiving. Since then, however, I've tended to share less and less with my students. I don't tell them I have cancer. I simply explain cancellations by pointing vaguely to medical necessity. The change didn't came about because I trust these students any less than the others, but because the process of disclosure was hard and I don't want to add my problems to the preexisting stress of law school. Moreover, my current set of treatments are not as disruptive to class schedules as the first ones were. I wonder sometimes if this is right decision -- if I value setting boundaries between myself and my students too much -- but fortunately my students have continued to be flexible and generous.

Another challenge has been whether to disclose my disease broadly. ...

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April 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump Share A Delaware Tax Loophole Address

Gawker, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Share a Delaware Tax Loophole Address:

Thanks to Delaware’s strict corporate secrecy laws, more than 285,000 companies are registered, for tax reasons, at a two-story building in Wilmington—more than any other address in the world. Among them are holding companies belonging to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

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April 26, 2016 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Interest In Negative Income Tax Spreads: 'Freeing The World Of Bullshit Jobs'

538FiveThirtyEight, What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money?:

Daniel Straub remembers the night he got hooked on basic income. He had invited Götz Werner, a billionaire owner of a German drugstore chain, to give an independent talk in Zurich, where Straub was working as a project manager for a think tank. He had read an article about the radical proposal to unconditionally guarantee citizens an income and spent a few years casually researching the idea. Straub had heard Werner was a good speaker on the topic, and that night in 2009 he was indeed excellent at connecting with the audience, a sold-out house of 200. “It was a very intense evening; people were paying attention,” Straub recalled.

Werner posed a pair of simple questions to the crowd: What do you really want to do with your life? Are you doing what you really want to do? Whatever the answers, he suggested basic income was the means to achieve those goals. The idea is as simple as it is radical: Rather than concern itself with managing myriad social welfare and unemployment insurance programs, the government would instead regularly cut a no-strings-attached check to each citizen. No conditions. No questions. Everyone, rich or poor, employed or out of work would get the same amount of money. This arrangement would provide a path toward a new way of living: If people no longer had to worry about making ends meet, they could pursue the lives they want to live. ...

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April 26, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Former UC-Berkeley Law School Dean Files Grievance Over Attempt To Revoke His Tenure In Wake Of Sexual Harassment Complaint

UC Berkeley Primary Logo Berkeley BlueFormer UC-Berkeley Law School Dean Sujit Choudhry, who resigned last month amidst a sexual harassment scandal, which prompted calls for the revocation of his faculty tenure, has filed a grievance with the university's tenure committee:

Before President Napolitano used the power of her position to publicly condemn me, portray my conduct falsely, and make me a pariah at UC Berkeley, I would have had the chance to preserve my academic career. But her decision to shame me in the press and direct my ouster has destroyed my professional reputation. While the road forward for me as a faculty member at UC Berkeley is challenging, to say the least, the conduct of university officials in this grievance has made that road even rockier. President Napolitano's conduct in my case should serve as a  warning to all University of California faculty and staff whose careers and livelihoods are considered secondary to the leadership's need to direct public criticism and respond to public controversy. At the most basic level, I am an employee of the University of California, and the head of our university chose to pillory me publicly without first attempting to learn and understand the facts of what occurred, and then to fairly assess how the university's own processes had been followed and applied in my case, including the sanctions that the UC Berkeley administration had offered and I had accepted as part of a settlement. Had I known that my fate could turn on her reckless conduct, I could and would have pursued other options to preserve my future and protect my wife and children.

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April 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Senate Holds Hearing Today On Navigating Business Tax Reform

Senate LogoThe Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing today on Navigating Business Tax Reform:

  • Thomas A. Barthold (Chief of Staff, Joint Committee on Taxation)
  • James R. Hines, Jr. (Professor, University of Michigan)
  • Sanford E. Zinman (Owner, Sanford E. Zinman, CPA, Tarrytown , NY)
  • Gayle Goschie (Vice President, Goschie Farms, Silverton, OR)
  • Eric Toder (Co-director, Tax Policy Center)

In connection with the hearing, the Joint Committee on Taxation has released Background On Business Tax Reform (JCX-35-16):

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April 26, 2016 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Corporate Integration:  An Important Component Of Tax Reform

Tax Foundation logoScott Greenberg (Tax Foundation), Corporate Integration: An Important Component of Tax Reform:

Corporate integration would not fix all, or even most of the problems with the U.S. business tax system. The United States has one of the highest statutory corporate tax rates in the world, a counter-productive set of rules regarding overseas income, and a cumbersome system of depreciation and cost recovery. Corporate integration would not solve any of these issues.

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April 26, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1083

IRS Logo 2National Review, A Victory for Free Speech — and Democracy:

The Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a conservative-oriented nonprofit, has won a victory in its lawsuit against California attorney general Kamala Harris, who is attempting to do with her investigatory powers what Lois Lerner did with the IRS’s: weaponize them for political purposes.

Wall Street Journal editorial, Free Speech 1, Kamala Harris 0: A Federal Judge Blocks an Attempt to Disclose Conservative Donors:

Kamala Harris has been a hero of the left’s campaign to use donor disclosure as a tool of political intimidation. Since 2013 the California Attorney General has been demanding that nonprofits provide unredacted donor names if they want to solicit donations in the state. On Thursday a federal court declared her disclosure requirement an unconstitutional burden on First Amendment rights.

Federal Judge Manuel Real granted a permanent injunction against Ms. Harris in a lawsuit brought by the Americans For Prosperity Foundation. The group, which is affiliated with free-market supporters Charles and David Koch, has argued that as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, it should not be forced to supply the Attorney General with the organization’s IRS Form 990 Schedule B, which contains its donor names.

In his 12-page decision, Judge Real notes that while Attorney General Harris argued that she needed donor disclosure to identify lawbreaking like “self-dealing” or “improper loans,” that was a stretch. “[O]ver the course of trial, the Attorney General was hard pressed to find a single witness who could corroborate the necessity of Schedule B forms in conjunction with their office’s investigations,” the judge wrote.

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April 26, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Kahng Presents Who Owns Human Capital? Today At Pepperdine

Kahng (2017)Lily Kahng (Seattle) presents Who Owns Human Capital?, 93 Wash. U. L. Rev. ___ (2017), at Pepperdine today as part of our Tax Policy Workshop Series funded in part by a generous gift from Scott Racine:

This Article analyzes the tax law’s capital income preference through the lens of intellectual capital, an increasingly important driver of economic productivity whose value derives primarily from workers’ knowledge, experience and skills. The Article discusses how business owners increasingly are able to “propertize” labor into intellectual capital — to control their workers and appropriate the returns on their labor through the expansive use of intellectual property laws, contract and employment laws, and other legal mechanisms. The Article then shows how the tax law provides significant subsidies to the process of propertization and thereby contributes to the inequitable distribution of returns between business owners and workers. The Article’s analysis further reveals the tax law’s fundamental capital-labor distinction to be questionable, perhaps even illusory, an insight which has profound implications for the tax law.

Update:  Post-presentation lunch:

Lunch

April 25, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

2016 Outstanding Women In Tax

Tax Notes LogoTax Notes, 2016 Outstanding Women in Tax:

Several months ago, we decided to honor some of today's outstanding women in tax. We asked Tax Notes readers and other Tax Analysts stakeholders to nominate women from the public and private sectors who have had a significant impact on tax practice and policy.

We expected dozens of nominations; we received more than 300.

We should have expected such a large response. There are many noteworthy women in the tax world. We're fortunate to be working closely with some of them, including Tax Notes contributing editor Lee A. Sheppard and Tax Analysts board members Pamela Olson and Deborah Schenck (all of whom were nominated multiple times but who were ineligible because of their affiliation with Tax Analysts).

Selecting only 10 out of such a distinguished list was a daunting task. So we assembled a committee of editors, reporters, and executives who reviewed and carefully examined each of the more than 300 nominees before coming to the difficult decision.

This year's honorees include government trailblazers, rising stars, and women who have been the distinguished standard-bearers in the tax field for years. Those being recognized include the leader of a key congressional tax committee, a distinguished jurist, an IRS official, scholars from around the world, and accomplished partners in major accounting and law firms.

Individually and collectively they influence tax administration and policy globally every day. They inspire, educate, and empower people in their areas of tax.

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April 25, 2016 in Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nearly One-Fourth Of Texas Law School Grads Are Unemployed Or Underemployed

Texas  (JPEG)Dallas Morning News, Nearly One-Fourth of Texas Law Grads Are Unemployed or Underemployed:

Just a decade ago, earning a law degree was the sure fire way to a guaranteed job and a six-figure income. Not so much anymore.

Despite paying as much as $200,000 for their legal education, nearly one-fourth of the 2,072 Texas law school graduates of 2015 are unemployed or underemployed, according to new data compiled by The Texas Lawbook.

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April 25, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

Shaviro:  The Mapmaker's Dilemma In Evaluating High-End Inequality

Daniel Shaviro (NYU), The Mapmaker's Dilemma in Evaluating High-End Inequality:

The last thirty years have witnessed rising income and wealth concentration among the top 0.1 percent of the population, leading to intense political debate regarding how, if at all, policymakers should respond. Often, this debate emphasizes the tools of public economics, and in particular optimal income taxation. However, while these tools can help us in evaluating the issues raised by high-end inequality, their extreme reductionism – which, in other settings, often offers significant analytic payoffs – here proves to have serious drawbacks. This paper addresses what we do and don’t learn from the optimal income tax literature regarding high-end inequality, and what other inputs might be needed to help one evaluate the relevant issues.

April 25, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law School Rankings By Employment Outcomes:  Ohio

Following up on my previous posts on Law School Rankings By Employment Outcomes:

Derek Muller (Pepperdine) blogs legal employment outcomes among Ohio's 9 law schools:

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April 25, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Ecuador President To Use Emergency Powers To Impose Wealth Tax on Millionaires To Fund Earthquake Reconstruction

EcuadorFinancial Times, Ecuador President Promises ‘Millionaire Tax’ to Fund Quake Recovery:

Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador, has promised new measures to raise the billions of dollars needed to rebuild a country left reeling by its worst earthquake in decades, including a one-off tax on millionaires.

As Opec’s smallest member struggles to cope with the impact of Saturday’s tremor, which killed 570 people and devastated communities along its Pacific coast, the leftwing leader said a 0.9 per cent levy would be imposed on Ecuadoreans whose wealth exceeded $1m.

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April 25, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Michael Jackson's $1 Billion Tax Court Thriller: IRS Values His Name At $434,000,000, Estate Says $2,105

ThrillerHollywood Reporter, Michael Jackson Estate Faces Billion-Dollar Tax Court Battle:

Of all the befuddling legal matters in the entertainment business, there's perhaps none that causes attorneys to scratch their heads like the battle between Michael Jackson and the Internal Revenue Service over what the late entertainer should be paying in estate taxes. In the years after his death in 2009 at age 50, Jackson has experienced a commercial rebirth thanks to the savvy executors who have managed his assets. The 2009 documentary This Is It grossed $261 million, a Cirque du Soleil tribute show packs in fans, and there have been albums, video games and other lucrative memorials. Now the IRS wants its share, claiming the value of Jackson's name and image upon death amounted to more than $434 million. The estate's own valuation? Just $2,105.

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April 25, 2016 in Celebrity Tax Lore | Permalink | Comments (5)