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Monday, May 5, 2014

Bird-Pollan: A Check-the-Box Style Regime for Same-Sex Couples’ Tax Filing Status

Jennifer Bird-Pollan (Kentucky), Electing Fairness: A Check-the-Box Style Regime for Same-Sex Couples’ Tax Filing Status, 6 Elon L. Rev. ___ (2014):

This Essay proposes a new regulatory regime in response to the Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor, overturning Section Three of DOMA. By analogy to the check-the-box regulations, allowing a regulatory election in the face of incongruities in state law, this proposal would allow taxpayers who live in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage to elect to be treated as married for federal tax purposes. While the IRS's issuance of Rev. Rul. 2013-17 allows taxpayers who travel to a so-called "recognizing state" to have a same-sex marriage ceremony performed to be treated as married for tax purposes, there is still a requirement that those taxpayers travel to a state that has same-sex marriage before they can claim the federal tax benefits. This will be especially burdensome to low-income taxpayers, for whom the costs may be prohibitive. These same low-income taxpayers would be especially helped by the tax benefits available in certain instances to taxpayers filing jointly. The Essay considers potential objections to the proposal, and ultimately finds that the proposed regulatory regime, while hopefully only necessary for the short time (as more states enact same-sex marriage laws) will cure an inequity in the tax law.

May 5, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

IBFD Seeks to Hire Two Tax Research Fellows

IBFDThe International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation is looking to hire two post-doctoral tax research fellows:

Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS):
IBFD is recruiting a part-time (50%) post-doctoral research fellow to do research in international taxation and particularly in selected topics on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS).

UN Tax Matters
IBFD is recruiting a part-time (50%) post-doctoral research fellow to do research in international taxation and particularly in selected topics on selected topics of UN’s work in Tax Matters.

The IBFD welcomes the application of professors and other candidates that have already positions in universities or research centres and that are enjoying sabbaticals, temporary or other leaves. ... Both positions are part-time (0.5 FTE) starting from July-August 2014. Candidates must be able to make themselves available to be at the IBFD headquarters in Amsterdam for 50% of the working days in the period of one year. The initial contract will be of one year (with the possibility of extension for another year). The gross yearly salary will be Euro EUR 65,000.

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May 5, 2014 in Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Many U.S. Companies Move Overseas to Skirt U.S. Taxes While Their CEOs Continue to Live Here

Bloomberg:  U.S. Firms With Irish Addresses Get Tax Breaks Derided as ‘Blarney’, by Zachary R. Mider:

Randall Hogan chairs the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Sandy Cutler ran the Greater Cleveland Partnership. Tony Petrello donated $5 million to the Texas Children’s Hospital.

They’re all chief executive officers who have given back to their communities. They oversee thousands of American workers. And they run companies that have opted out of the U.S. tax system.

The technique these companies use to lower their tax bills -- shifting legal addresses to low-tax Switzerland, Ireland, and Bermuda -- was in the spotlight last week. Pfizer Inc., the largest U.S. drugmaker, said it’s seeking a British address, a move that might save more than $1 billion a year in U.S. taxes.

Pfizer is the biggest company yet to follow a growing trend. At least 15 publicly traded U.S. companies have taken steps to reincorporate abroad in the past two years. Most of their CEOs didn’t leave. Just the tax bills did.

“In the normal, common sense way of looking at things, that’s a lot of blarney,” said Robert McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice, a Washington-based advocacy group that says corporations don’t pay enough. “They want to have all the joys of being American and none of the burdens.” ...

At least 31 publicly traded companies with U.S. roots and executive offices in the U.S. are incorporated overseas, according to an informal tally by Bloomberg News. They’re listed on U.S. exchanges including the New York Stock Exchange. Almost all obtained their foreign address through an inversion, rather than by initially incorporating overseas.

Bloomberg Map

May 5, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bard: Why Every Law Professor Should Read Elizabeth Warren's Book

PrawfsBlawg:  Sen Elizabeth Warren's New Memoir of Special Interest to Law Profs, by Jennifer Bard (Texas Tech):

A Fighting ChanceThere are a lot of reasons why law professors should read Senator Elizabeth Warren's recently published memoir--A Fighting Chance. ... I look forward to discussing how critical it is for the future of legal education that Senator Warren succeed in convincing her colleagues of the need to reform the way higher education is financed.   Whether she herself has the best plan for fixing student loans—well different people have different views-including just eliminating them.   But unless we can stop the ever increasing cycle of debt that is making our students’ lives so difficult, any of the important changes that need to be made in legal education risk being about as effective as bailing out a sinking boat with a bucket that itself has a hole in it.

As I will elaborate later, I’m very optimistic that we can all create a program about which students can say 5, 10, 15 years later that they are better off for having gone to our law school.  But we’re probably not there now.  Rather, we are in a situation similar to being attacked by a hive of bees.  Every individual bee, lack of job opportunities, bimodal salary distributions,  drop in state support for public institutions, lack of transparency about student outcomes, out dated curriculums, disconnect between the classroom and the practice of law, imposition of a value system that drives law students into disproportionate levels of depression that may well follow them  throughout their careers, is capable of inflicting painful or even lethal stings.   But the breach in the hive comes from a level of student loan debt that cannot be supported by any reasonably obtainable career path.  It’s not a perfect metaphor—student loan reform is necessary but not sufficient to developing a legal education that better prepares our students for the important role they will play in society.

May 5, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wal-Mart Has a Lower Acceptance Rate Than Harvard

HarvardWashington Post, Wal-Mart Has a Lower Acceptance Rate Than Harvard:

This year's Ivy League admissions totals are in. The 8.9 percent acceptance rate is impressively exclusive, but compared to landing a job at Wal-Mart, getting into the Ivy Leagues is a cakewalk.

Last year when Wal-Mart came to D.C. there were over 23,000 applications for 600 jobs. That's an acceptance rate of 2.6%, twice as selective as Harvard's and over five times as choosy as Cornell.

ivy league admission rates wal-mart

May 5, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

The IRS Scandal, Day 361

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, May 4, 2014

WSJ: Law School Job Data Shows Wide Gulf Between Elite and the Rest

Wall Street Journal, Law School Job Data Shows Wide Gulf Between Elite and the Rest:

In an unforgiving job market, graduates of top-ranked law schools have had a far easier time landing full-time employment than their peers from the lower ranks. That much is obvious. But how much easier?

A Law Blog analysis of the latest American Bar Association employment data paired with the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings suggests the gulf between the top 50 schools and the rest of the bunch is huge.

The unemployment rate for graduates from the top 50 is more than 60% lower than the unemployment rate for everybody else. About 5% of class of 2013 graduates from a top 50 school were still looking for work in February, about nine months after spring 2013 graduation. Meanwhile, 14% of graduates of schools below the top 50 were searching for a job. ...

Also striking are the differences in the percentage of graduates employed in long-term, full-time jobs for which passage of the bar exam was required. Roughly 75% of graduates from top 50 schools landed that kind of job. For all other graduates, the rate was 50%.

May 4, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Liberals Eat at Au Bon Pain, Chipotle; Conservatives Eat at Cracker Barrel, Whataburger

Wall Street Journal, Liberals Eat Here. Conservatives Eat There.

LogosExperian Marketing Services does a rolling survey of thousands of people who patronize restaurants and retail establishments to determine, among other things, the politics of stores’ customers.

The survey assigns liberal and conservative scores to different establishments based on their customers’ political preferences. A 100 is average, a 120 is 20% more liberal or conservative than average, 80 is 20% less than average, and so on. ...

Among fast-food establishments, the most liberal customers eat at Au Bon Pain and Chipotle. The most conservative: Krystal, Schlotsky’s Deli and Whataburger.

Chain restaurants that score the highest on the conservative index are O’Charley’s and Cracker Barrel. The most liberal: California Pizza Kitchen.

And the supermarket with the most conservative customers is Houston-based Randall’s. There’s no surprise that the most liberal shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

Here are three sortable charts showing how liberal or conservative customers are at America’s chain restaurants, fast-food establishments and supermarkets, based on Experian Marketing Services’s gauge.

May 4, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

The IRS Scandal, Day 360

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Rattner: It Is Time to Eliminate the Corporate Tax

New York Times op-ed:  End Corporate Taxation, by Steven Rattner:

After years of post-recession somnolence, corporate takeovers and mergers have ballooned to their highest level since 2007, fueled in part by American companies’ fleeing the United States to save tax dollars. Gaming the tax system has, of course, long been a popular blood sport for American business, particularly for pharmaceutical concerns and for technology. But these days, tax avoidance feels like a full-fledged business strategy, with American citizens as the losers. ...

Action is clearly needed. But most of the proposals floating around the capital are more focused on helping companies compete in the global tax race to the bottom. Nor has President Obama been able to gain international cooperation to end this self-defeating competition.

At a minimum, Congress should embrace the president’s recent proposal to both restrict the use of inversions and tax a merged company as an American company if it is managed in the United States and has substantial business here. That meritorious provision needs to be coupled with more aggressive action against other egregious practices, such as using tax havens to transfer vast amounts of profits out of Uncle Sam’s reach.

A more ambitious, and therefore more politically difficult idea, would be to scrap our unworkable corporate tax system altogether and instead tax shareholders, first by eliminating low tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

 NYT

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May 3, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law School Entry-Level Faculty Hiring Down 33%

Tracey Kaye to be Fulbright Visiting Professor in Luxembourg

Kaye (2014)Professor Tracy Kaye Selected for a Fulbright Scholarship:

Seton Hall Law congratulates Professor Tracy Kaye, who has been selected for a J. William Fulbright research award. She will spend a semester at the University of Luxembourg where she will conduct research on tax transparency and tax evasion. ...

Professor Kaye specializes in federal income, international and comparative tax law, and has both taught tax law and conducted research internationally throughout her career. In 2013, as a Visiting Professor, she taught a course in international taxation at the Renmin University of China Law School. In 2012, Professor Kaye was selected as the PwC Visiting Professor at the Vienna University of Economics and Business and also taught a course on U.S. international taxation at their Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law. In 2007, Professor Kaye was a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition and Tax Law in Munich. Previously, she was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universitat, Freiburg, Germany. Professor Kaye is also an Associate Member of the European Association of Tax Law Professors.

May 3, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 359

Friday, May 2, 2014

Taite: The Two-Trust Tango in Trombetta

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Phyllis C. Taite (Florida A&M), Trombetta: The Two-Trust Tango, 143 Tax Notes 503 (Apr. 28, 2014):

Taite discusses [Estate of Trombetta v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2013-234 (Oct. 21, 2013)], in which the Tax Court held that the value of properties transferred to the annuity trust and residence trusts were properly includable in the gross estate of the decedent as retained interests. The court also held that the estate was entitled to deduct the full unpaid amount of a promissory note for mortgage indebtedness because the decedent was personally liable on the debt. Finally, the Tax Court concluded the estate was not entitled to a charitable deduction based on a postmortem trust reformation. 

May 2, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Deans Are Either Stuck Defending a Collapsing Status Quo or Serious About Design-Centric Reform

ABA Journal Legal Rebels:  Law School Leaders Are Dividing Into Two Camps: Stuck v. Serious, by Paul Lippe (Founder & CEO, Legal OnRamp):

Legal RebelsAs law schools continue to struggle with an extraordinary decline in applications, their leaders—deans—seem to be dividing themselves into two camps: the stuck and the serious.

The stuck camp is exemplified by the New York Times op-ed by University of California at Irvine Dean Erwin Chemerinsky two weeks ago. ”This crisis mentality is not only unfounded, but is also creating pressure for reforms that would make legal education worse, not better.” The stuck can’t see their way to a better place, so they defend the status quo. ... The financial underpinning of law schools has been full-freight, unqualified federal student loans, which are in rapid decline and subject to tighter repayment standards—as Bill Henderson said to me the other day: “Things are better today for law schools than they will ever be in the future." ...

Fortunately for all of us, the serious camp is now ascendant, the intrinsic value of the rule of law is enormously high, and most deans are grappling with reality, trying to preserve the best of law school while enabling appropriate change. Three of the most serious deans—Phil Weiser from Colorado, Dan Rodriguez from Northwestern and Trish White from Miami—were key players at the Future of Law School Innovation conference at Colorado Law last week and see various videos linked.

The heart of the conference was two presentations by George Kembel, the head of the Institute of Design at Stanford ... Kembel describes a six-step approach to “design-centric thinking” for complex problem-solving: empathy, problem definition, ideation, prototype, test, iterate. ... The big reveal from Kembel came in his second talk.  First, when he disagreed with the moderator’s emphasis on “how law schools should prepare students to get jobs” by saying: “We think schools should prepare students to create their own jobs,” and second, when he disclosed that he himself was born prematurely, and so had a natural empathy for the “incubator problem.” ...

Although she wasn’t at the conference, probably the single most “design-centric” move in law in the last decade was Harvard Dean Martha Minow’s putting Jonathan Zittrain in charge of Harvard’s library. “The faculty is the heart of our law school” is common talk, but the library has been the heart of the university for 800 years. If you connect law’s biggest library with its best technologist, something design-ish is bound to happen.

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May 2, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

May 2, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

Kirsch & Schneider Debate Citizenship-Based Taxation v. Residence-Based Taxation Today in Toronto

ACAThe American Citizens Abroad Global Foundation hosts its inaugural symposium in Toronto on Citizenship-Based Taxation vs. Residence-Based Taxation featuring a debate between Michael S. Kirsch (Notre Law School) (arguing for citizenship-based taxation) and Bernard Schneider (Queen Mary University of London School of Law) (arguing for residence-based taxation). The debate will be followed by practical observations on the impact of current law on Americans resident abroad, presented by tax experts, investment advisors, businessmen and citizens abroad.

May 2, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fordham Hosts Roundtable Discussion Today on Changes in the Tax Law

Fordham LogoFordham hosts a roundtable discussion today on Changes in the Tax Law: How Are Effects Measured, and Who is Affected? at noon EST (webcast here):

  • Rosanne Altshuler (Professor and Chair of the Economics Department, Rutgers)
  • Alan J. Auerbach (Robert D. Burch Professor of Economics and Law, UC-Berkeley)
  • Hank Gutman (Principal, KPMG)
  • David J. Shakow (Gabelli Fellow, Fordham; Professor of Law Emeritus, Pennsylvania)
  • Eric J. Toder (Co-Director, Tax Policy Center)

May 2, 2014 in Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Six California Law Schools Offer Fast Track to Community College Students

California Community College Students to Get Leg Up on Way to Top Law Schools Under First of its Kind Pathway Program:  Twenty-Four Community Colleges and Six Law Schools Sign Agreement to Smooth Way to Law Degree:

California State BarThe California Community Colleges and the State Bar of California today announced a new initiative that will provide students at 24 community colleges a smoother pathway to six of California’s top law schools.  The project, sponsored by the State Bar ’s Council on Access and Fairness, will establish agreements with two dozen community colleges and six law schools and their respective undergraduate institutions [USC, UC-Davis, UC-Irvine, Loyola-L.A., Santa Clara, San Francisco].  Students in the program w ill receive assurances that credits in prescribed courses will transfer, early exposure to the law school experience, individual advisement and mentoring from law school advisors, financial aid counseling, LSAT preparation and waived application fees for admission to the participating law schools.

May 2, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 358

IRS Logo 2Power Line:  Bill Henck: Inside the IRS, Part 2:

William Henck has worked inside the IRS Office of the Chief Counsel as an attorney for over 26 years. We posted his personal account, including his testimony to a retaliatory audit conducted by the IRS against him, this past February in “Inside the IRS.” This post follows up on the matters discussed in that post. 

IRS executives are confident in their lack of accountability because the decision makers in Washington will not hold them accountable. Ordinary people understand that misconduct and corruption in the national tax collection agency is a critical problem. They also understand the difference between right and wrong. Ordinary people, however, are not running things.

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May 2, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Andy Morriss Named Inaugural Dean at Texas A&M Law School

Andy MorrissNew Texas A&M Law School Dean Named, University Commits $25 Million To School In AUF Funds:

A nationally prominent legal scholar known for his work in a variety of regulatory issues, as well as for his teaching background, Andrew Morriss, Ph.D., J.D., is the new dean of the Texas A&M University School of Law, effective July 1. ...

Prof. Morriss, who holds a Ph.D. degree in economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in addition to his J.D. earned at The University of Texas at Austin, is currently the D. Paul Jones, Jr. & Charlene A. Jones Chairholder of Law at the University of Alabama School of Law. He is an acknowledged leader regarding regulatory issues involving environmental, energy and offshore financial centers. ...

“Carol and I are thrilled to get to be part of the team at Texas A&M,” Morriss said. “This is a unique opportunity in American legal education, combining the excellent faculty, staff and students at the law school with one of America’s premier research universities.” His wife, Dr. Carol Akers, is a graduate of Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. ...

Chancellor Sharp received authority to provide $5 million from the Available University Fund (AUF) for the law school now and up to $20 million over the next five years on a dollar-for-dollar basis regarding funds raised in the private sector. The AUF represents proceeds from the Permanent University Fund to enhance excellence in teaching, research and related initiatives. Fundraising and donor engagement activities are already under way. ...

In joining in the recommendation to the board, interim President Hussey noted:  “Prof. Morriss has not only distinguished himself in his field of scholarship, but comes to us with unique perspective as a faculty member who was integrally involved in enhancing two previous schools of law. Serving at the University of Illinois as it advanced from the Top 100 to No. 23 and at the University of Alabama, which advanced from Top 80 to No. 23.”

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May 1, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Bill Clinton: 'I Thank God Every Day That Hillary and I Live in NY and Pay the Highest Aggregate Tax Rate in America'

New York Times, Bill Clinton Defends His Economic Legacy:

Former President Bill Clinton, who has grown increasingly frustrated that his economic policies are viewed as out-of-step with the current focus on income inequality, on Wednesday delivered his most muscular defense of his economic legacy.

The speech reflected a strategic effort by Mr. Clinton and his advisers to reclaim the populist ground now occupied by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and other ascendant left-leaning Democrats, and, potentially, to lay out an economic message that could propel his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to the White House in 2016.

“My commitment was to restore broad-based prosperity to the economy and to give Americans a chance,” Mr. Clinton told students at Georgetown University, his alma mater, as Mrs. Clinton looked on from the front row. For nearly two hours, the former president defended the impact of policies like welfare overhaul and the earned-income tax credit, and displayed a series of charts detailing the number of people his policies lifted out of poverty. ...

As president, Mr. Clinton presided over one of the healthiest economies in recent memory, but he also forged a new model of a pro-business, pragmatic Democrat who championed public-private partnerships and open markets. His language as president was more focused on lifting the middle class than castigating the wealthy. That should not be confused with a lack of concern for the poor, Mr. Clinton says now. ...

On Wednesday, Mr. Clinton said he thanked God every day that “Hillary and I and some of our friends in this audience who live in New York probably pay the highest aggregate tax rates in America.”

May 1, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Google Stops Scanning Faculty and Student Email for Advertising Key Words

Inside Higher Ed, Privacy or Pretense?:

Gmail (2014)Google, pressured by privacy advocates and looming legal challenges, on Wednesday announced it will no longer scan student and faculty emails for advertising keywords, seeking to end a seven-year-long conflict that some university technology officers have said violates federal law.

Google makes its living on the information it can learn about its users, which can then be served back to them in the form of targeted ads. In Google Apps for Education, which includes the email service Gmail and its suite of productivity software, ads are turned off by default -- but Google automatically scanned students’ emails anyway.

With the changes that went live on Wednesday, the option to turn ads back on has been removed, and the automatic ad scanning has been switched off.

May 1, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

John Colombo Named Interim Dean at Illinois

Tax Prof John D. Colombo has been named Interim Dean at Illinois:

JcolomboBruce Smith, the twelfth dean of the University of Illinois College of Law, announced today that he is stepping down from the deanship of the state’s flagship public law school, effective June 1, 2014, after more than five years of service. He will remain on the Illinois law faculty as a tenured professor and Guy Raymond Jones Faculty Scholar. Professor John Colombo, the Albert E. Jenner, Jr. Professor of Law and a 1981 graduate of the college, will serve as the college’s interim dean while a national search is conducted for a permanent successor.   ...

“Bruce Smith was called upon to steer the College of Law through some pretty rough seas,” noted Professor Matthew Finkin, Albert J. Harno and Edward W. Cleary Chair in Law and Center for Advanced Studies Professor. “He steadfastly navigated the college into calmer waters with brighter prospects ahead. He enjoys our deep appreciation for all that he has accomplished.” 

“Dean Smith has worked tirelessly to guide the College of Law through many challenges and opportunities,” stated Margareth Etienne, the college’s Nancy Snowden Research Scholar in Law. “Recent gains in student admissions, job placement, and fundraising demonstrate that he has firmly placed the College on a positive trajectory. Interim Dean Colombo, who worked closely with Dean Smith as his Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, is an excellent choice to lead the law school toward continued success.”

May 1, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Field: The Real Problem with Carried Interests

Heather M. Field (UC-Hastings), The Real Problem with Carried Interests, 63 Hastings L.J. 405 (2013):

The recent proposals to reform the tax treatment of private equity, venture capital, and hedge fund managers are misguided. Policymakers and commentators often take industry-focused, results-oriented approaches to the “carried interest” debate, thereby obscuring the real source of the policy objection to carried interests. Instead of starting with a result that is objectionable and trying to find a way to change the law to avoid the objectionable result, this Article begins with the law and facts relevant to carried interests and systematically unpacks the tax rules that combine to produce the current tax treatment of carried interests. As a consequence, this Article provides structure to the voluminous discourse about carried interests, identifies the key features of the tax law that are most likely to cause hostility toward carried interests, and analyzes how to design reform proposals that are most responsive to each objection. More generally, this Article redirects attention away from the narrow carried interest issue and toward the more fundamental aspects of the tax system that need reform.

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May 1, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Number of Taxpayers Who Renounced U.S. Citizenship Continues to Skyrocket

International Tax Blog:  2014 First Quarter Published Expatriates -- Second Highest Ever:

Today the Treasury Department published the names of individuals who renounced their U.S. citizenship or terminated their long-term U.S. residency (“expatriated”) during the first quarter of 2014.

The number of published expatriates for the quarter was 1,001. This is the second highest quarterly number of published expatriates ever and is only surpassed by the second quarter of 2013. ... Last year there was a record setting 2,999 published expatriates.  With just over 1,000 expatriates in the first quarter, 2014 may very well set another record.

Expat 2

Update:  Wall Street Journal, Number of Americans Renouncing Citizenship on Record Pace

May 1, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Forced Sale of the L.A. Clippers Could Cost Donald Sterling $100-$200 Million in Taxes

Forbes, How Clipper's Sterling Could (Maybe) Avoid a Tax Bill Today:

Could Sterling look to treating the sale as an involuntary conversion under Section 1033 of the tax code?  Basically the code section allows in cases where property is compulsorily or involuntarily converted  – the owner can have nonrecognition of gain if he/she purchases replacement property (assuming of equal value).  The owner has basically two years after the close of the tax year in which the gain was made to buy replacement property.

Translation – Sterling could seek to claim that his property (ownership of the Clippers) was compulsorily or involuntarily converted (being forced to sell it by the NBA) under Section 1033.  NOTE:  the argument that Sterling had to sell because of his own actions – not the NBA’s – is a fair one and could be a possible IRS line of attack.

Sterling could then seek over the next two years to purchase like property – another sports team(s) of equal value.  While Sterling is banned from the NBA there are many other sports teams out there (think European soccer teams) that he might look to purchase.   Sterling’s argument would be that the Clippers are a professional sports team and he has bought another sports team – that he is not limited to just purchasing an NBA team.

The tax benefit for Sterling – transferred basis to the new sports team and deferral of capital gains taxes (ie will have to pay tax when he sells the soccer team down the road (or at death) – assuming no sharp pencils on estate tax planning).  Bottom line – no tax bill today.

May 1, 2014 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (12)

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May 1, 2014 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

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May 1, 2014 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chemerinsky & Menkel-Meadow Ignore Bloat in Legal Education

American Lawyer LogoAmerican Lawyer:  NYT Op-Ed Authors Ignore Bloat in Legal Education, by Matt Leichter:

Like the last law school dean who ventured to discuss legal education on The New York Times' opinion pages, Lawrence Mitchell in 2012, University of California, Irvine School of Law dean Erwin Chemerinsky has not been well received by many who read the piece he authored with UC Irvine professor Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Don't Skimp on Legal Training.

Most of the negative response to the piece, though, has focused on the authors' misinterpretation of employment data in a way that trivializes the jobs crisis that law graduates currently face. What's been missing so far is an evaluation of the actual argument advanced by Chemerinsky and Menkel-Meadow, if only in the last third of their article: that relaxing undergraduate prerequisites or reducing law school class time to two years will result in insufficient training in diverse subjects at a time that new lawyers need it most. I will deal with each of these points in turn. ...

[T]he best empirical evidence shows that contrary to the authors' pleas—and despite the variety of courses and clinics students are exposed to, thanks to there being so many more law professors—law school graduates' incomes have not only failed to increase but have obviously declined with the Great Recession.

 

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May 1, 2014 in Law School Rankings | Permalink | Comments (6)

The IRS Scandal, Day 357

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Above the Law 2014 Rankings of the Top 50 Law Schools

ATLAbove the Law has released its 2014 Rankings of the Top 50 Law Schools. Here are the Top 25, along with each school's U.S. News ranking:

ATL

US News

Law School

1

1

Yale

2

2

Harvard

3

3

Stanford

4

4

Columbia

5

4

Chicago

6

6

NYU

7

10

Duke

8

7

Penn

9

8

Virginia

10

10

Michigan

11

12

Northwestern

12

9

UC-Berkeley

13

13

Cornell

14

16

Vanderbilt

15

15

Texas

16

13

Georgetown

17

26

Notre Dame

18

27

Iowa

19

16

UCLA

20

29

Georgia

21

36

Boston College

22

72

New Mexico

23

31

North Carolina

24

36

BYU

25

42

SMU

Methodology:

Employment score (30%)
We are staying out of all of the hairsplitting about the definitions of “J.D. Advantage” versus “J.D. Preferred,” or whether employment data should be captured at 9 or 10 months after graduation. Much of the debate around law school employment data strikes us as so much fiddling around the edges of a larger problem. Thus for the employment score, we only counted full-time, long-term jobs requiring bar passage (excluding solos and school-funded positions).

Quality jobs score (30%)
This measures the schools’ success at placing students on career paths that best enable them to pay off their student debts. We’ve combined placement with the country’s largest and best-paying law firms (using the National Law Journal’s “NLJ 250”) and the percentage of graduates embarking on federal judicial clerkships. These clerkships typically lead to a broader and enhanced range of employment opportunities.

SCOTUS clerk & Federal judgeship scores (7.5% each)
Though obviously applicable to very different stages of legal careers, these two categories represent the pinnacles of the profession. For the purposes of these rankings, we simply looked at a school's graduates as a percentage of (1) all U.S. Supreme Court clerks (since 2009) and (2) currently sitting Article III judges. Both scores are adjusted for the size of the school.

Education cost (15%)
Solid data on individual law student educational debt is hard to come by. Published averages exist, but the crucial number, the amount of non-dischargeable government funded or guaranteed educational loan debt, is not available. So as a proxy for indebtedness, we’ve scored schools based on total cost. For those schools placing a majority of their graduates into the local job market, we’ve adjusted the score for the cost of living in that market.

Alumni rating (10%)
This is the only non-public component of our rankings. Our ATL Insider Survey asks students and alumni to rate their schools in terms of academics, financial aid advising, career services advising, social life, and clinical training. For the purposes of the ATL Top 50, we only counted the alumni ratings, as that was more in keeping with our “outcomes only” approach. 

Four of the five California law schools ranked in the Top 50 by both Above the Law and U.S. News rank lower in the ATL ranking due to its heavy (60%) reliance on placement data and California's comparatively weak legal employment market.

ATL

US News

Law School

3

3

Stanford

12

9

UC-Berkeley

19

16

UCLA

35

20

USC

42

36

UC-Davis

Like U.S. News, ATL has not heeded the call by California law school deans to use state-adjusted employment measures.

Update:  Brian Leiter (Chicago), ATL's Approach to Ranking Law Schools: Decide What the Result Should be, Then Adjust the Criteria Accordingly

April 30, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

EBay Bucks Trend, Repatriates $9 Billion to U.S. at $3 Billion Tax Cost

Wall Street Journal, EBay to Take $3 Billion Tax Charge Online Marketplace to Bring Overseas Cash Back to U.S.:



EBay (2014)EBay is taking the unusual step of bringing most of its foreign-held cash back to the U.S.—and with it a $3 billion tax bill. ... "We are an acquisitive company and we need to ensure we have the resources available to capitalize on targets that become available," said Bob Swan, the San Jose, Calif., company's chief financial officer. "To be clear, we are not announcing any large U.S.-based acquisition."

EBay said it would bring as much as $9 billion that it had previously designated as permanently invested overseas back to the U.S., meaning it will pay tax on the difference between the U.S. and foreign tax rates. The move appears to be one of the largest repatriations in recent years.

Rather than repatriate foreign earnings and pay the tax, many more companies are borrowing for domestic purposes. Apple on Tuesday said it would sell $12 billion in bonds, just a year after agreeing to a $17 billion bond sale.

"Firms as strong as eBay could go the Apple route and just use foreign cash to service their debt," said Edward Kleinbard, a professor at University of Southern California's Law School and a former chief of staff for Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation. "It's surprising that a company would incur current costs when they could just issue debt."

April 30, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wells & Lowell: Tax Base Erosion and Section 482


Bret Wells (Houston) & Cym Lowell (McDermott Will & Emery, Houston),  Tax Base Erosion: Reformation of Section 482's Arm’s Length Standard, 15 Fla. Tax Rev. 737 (2014):

Florida Tax ReviewThe United States has repeatedly attempted to stop tax base erosion for almost the entire post-World War I era, and yet the same problems exist today. The need for fundamental tax reform is front-page material in the major newspapers with the US transfer pricing rules and US multinationals portrayed as public enemy #1. This year, the OECD issued a report entitled “Addressing Base Erosion and Profit Shifting” and last month it issued a “Action Plan” for how it plans to proceed to address base erosion and profit-shifting. In a competing fashion, several important developing countries have initiated their own pact to develop cooperative strategies on these issues outside of the framework of the OECD and UN. It is fair to say that a solution to the base erosion and profit-shifting practices of multinational corporations is the “holy grail” of international tax policy.

This article proposes a solution to the base erosion and profit-shifting phenomenon in what many believe is an unlikely place: within the arm’s length standard itself.

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April 30, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should Faculty Know Their Colleagues' Salaries?

Business Insider, Here's Why Whole Foods Lets Employees Look Up Each Other's Salaries:

Whole FoodsHave you ever wondered how much money your boss makes? If you worked at Whole Foods, you could look it up and find out.

Leaders of the supermarket chain believe in keeping employees as informed as possible, even when it comes to pay. Under the company's open policy, staff can easily look up anyone's salary or bonus from the previous year — all the way up to the CEO level.

The unusual Whole Foods policy is designed to both encourage conversations about salary among staff members and to promote competition within the company, according to The Decoded Company: Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers, a new book by entrepreneurs Leerom Segal, Aaron Goldstein, Jay Goldman, and Rahaf Harfoush on innovative management practices. Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey introduced the policy in 1986, just six years after he co-founded the company. In the book, he explains that his initial goal was to help employees understand why some people were paid more than others. If workers understood what types of performance and achievement earned certain people more money, he figured, perhaps they would be more motivated and successful, too.

(Hat Tip: Greg McNeal.)

April 30, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Estate Planning Is a Game

The Virtual Law Practice is launching a RocketHub crowdfund campaign to raise funds to build out the estate planning game, Estate Quest:

(Hat Tip: ABA Journal.)

April 30, 2014 in Tax | 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, 2014) 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 Downloads

 

Recent Downloads

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

37,817

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

7179

2

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

25,488

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

2901

3

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

22,328

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2624

4

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

19,501

D. Dharmpala (Illinois) 

2488

5

D. Dharmpala (Illinois)

19,381

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

2425

6

James Hines (Michigan)

19,315

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

2280

7

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

18,676

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

2032

8

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

18,472

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

2011

9

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

15,467

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

1981

10

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

15,187

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

1898

11

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

14,574

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

1850

12

David Weisbach (Chicago)

13,963

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

1800

13

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

13,820

James Hines (Michigan)

1665

14

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

13,818

Omri Marian (Florida)

1622

15

David Walker (BU)

13,681

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

1611

16

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

13,385

Vic Flesicher (San Diego)

1507

17

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

13,289

Dick Harvey (Villanova)

1504

18

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

13,276

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chiago)

1409

19

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

13,179

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

1404

20

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

13,064

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

1386

21

Herwig Schlunk (Vand.)

12,370

Susan Morse (Texas)

1366

22

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

12,093

David Weisbach (Chicago)

1213

23

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

11,733

David Gamage (UCBerkeley)

1197

24

Ed McCaffery (USC)

11,587

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

1187

25

Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)

11,513

Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)

1177

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 30, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fleischer: How Tax Laws Distort the Pfizer Deal

Pfizer 2Following up on yesterday's post, Pfizer's Acquisition of AstraZeneca May Spur Rush of Tax-Avoidance Inversions: New York Times DealBook, How Tax Laws Distort the Pfizer Deal, by Victor Fleischer (San Diego):

It’s tempting to look at the Pfizer deal simply as a loss for taxpayers in the United States. But it’s worse than that. A Coasean perspective is useful because it focuses attention on how taxes distort “real” (nonfinancial) management decisions, like how to organize a firm, whether to buy or make major aspects of production, where to locate assets and production functions inside the firm, and how and where to reinvest profits. Because reinvested profits are taxed more lightly than distributed profits, taxes may often have the effect of causing firms to grow larger than is economically efficient.

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April 30, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Winchester: Carried Interest for the Common Man

TaxSymposiumHeaderRichard Winchester (Thomas Jefferson), Carried Interest for the Common Man, 142 Tax Notes 1250 (Mar. 17, 2014) (Symposium on Tax Reform in a Time of Crisis):

This article describes how a self employed individual can minimize federal tax on his earnings when he operates his business through a formal business entity. The article also assess the merits of a proposal to address the situation.

April 30, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beyond Elitism: Legal Education for the Public Good

George Critchlow (Gonzaga), Beyond Elitism: Legal Education for the Public Good, 45 U. Tol. L. Rev. ___ (2014):

The possibilities for legal education reform are endless once an institution has unshackled itself from elitist traditions, copycat curricula and cultures, and the belief that law schools exist primarily to serve the needs of affluent clients, students who want to be rich, and faculty who want protection from markets and the demands of practice. This article describes the confluence of historical and recent forces that make this a good time to reflect and act on the relationship between legal education and the availability of legal services to the ordinary public. We have an opportunity to reassess the assumptions and costs associated with years of copying an elitist model of legal education – a model that has neglected to train lawyers and other legal services providers to meet society’s substantial unmet legal needs. The article sketches out what a truly innovative, affordable, and public interest-minded law school might look like. It argues for a new definition of education excellence based on the ability of law schools to serve the interests of both students and the underserved public.

New School for Legal Services (NSLS):

Target enrollment for the new school is a total of 360 students, comprised of 300 J.D. students; 20 Legal Technician students, 20 Paralegal students, and 20 Masters students. The annual revenue for law school is $5,400,000. Twelve percent of this ($648,000) is paid to the main university to support the law school’s overhead leaving $4,752,000 for the educational program.

The NSLS faculty and personnel costs consist of:

  • Ten full-time tenure or tenure track professors who are expected to divide their time between teaching and scholarly activity. They are paid an average of $100,000 a year plus benefits that average $25,000 each. The Virtual Library Director is counted among these ten faculty. (Total cost: $1,250,000); 
  • Eight full-time professors on renewable five-year contracts who are not expected to engage in traditional scholarship. Five of these are former practicing lawyers who teach primarily in the classroom and online. Three are former practitioners who teach skills in simulated settings. They are paid an average salary of $100,000 per year plus benefits that average $25,000 each. (Total cost: $1,000,000);
  • Three full-time professors who are experienced lawyers, who have faculty status and renewable contracts, and who are placed in local for-profit and non-profit legal services offices with responsibility for training students how to practice law in the context of representing real clients. These faculty members have no faculty committee or other administrative responsibilities. They are paid an average of $100,000 annually plus $25,000 in benefits. (total cost: $375,000);
  • Ten adjunct professors who teach two classes each year for a total of $10,000/yr. (Total cost $100,000);
  • Total faculty personnel expenses: $2,725,000
  • Total full-time faculty/student ratio: 17/1
  • The Dean’s budget, including the Dean’s salary, travel, and discretionary expenses is $400,000.

April 30, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 356

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gamage Presents A Framework for Analyzing the Optimal Choice of Tax Instruments Today at NYU

Gamage (2014)David Gamage (UC-Berkeley) presents A Framework for Analyzing the Optimal Choice of Tax Instruments, 68 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2014), at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Auerbach:

What mix of policy instruments should governments employ to raise revenues or to promote distribution? The dominant answer to this question in the tax theory and public finance literatures is that (with limited exceptions) governments should rely exclusively on a progressive consumption tax. Thus, among other implications, the dominant view is that governments should not tax capital income or wealth, and that legal rules should not be designed to promote distribution.

In contrast, this Article argues that governments should make use of a number of tax and non-tax policy instruments to raise revenues and to promote distribution. Furthermore, this Article argues that governments may have much greater capacity to raise revenues and to promote distribution at lower efficiency costs than is generally recognized. Whereas the existing theoretical literature focuses on a small number of distortionary costs that result from taxation (in particular, on labor-to-leisure and saving-to-spending distortions), this Article analyzes the implications of taxpayers engaging in a diverse variety of tax-gaming responses. To the extent that taxpayers respond to different tax instruments through different forms of tax gaming, this Article demonstrates that governments can raise revenues and promote distribution more efficiently by employing a variety of different policy instruments.

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April 29, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pfizer's Acquisition of AstraZeneca May Spur Rush of Tax-Avoidance Inversions (and Congressional Action)

Bloomberg:  U.S. Treasury Seen Loser in Tax-Avoiding Pfizer Deal, by Jesse Drucker & Zachary R. Mider:

Pfizer 2If Pfizer is successful in its $98.7 billion takeover of London-based AstraZeneca, there is one big potential loser: the U.S. Treasury.

Under the proposed deal’s structure, the combined company would be owned by a new U.K. parent. That doesn’t mean any of New York-based Pfizer’s executives would need to move abroad: Chief Executive Officer Ian Read has said the drugmaker would be run from the U.S. It does mean, however, that Pfizer is joining a wave of U.S. companies using mergers as ways to slash income tax bills by shifting their head office overseas -- often on paper only.

“This is basically an opportunity to go outside the U.S. and still sell in the U.S. and strip the tax base,” said H. David Rosenbloom, an attorney at Caplin & Drysdale in Washington and director of the international tax program at New York University’s school of law. “If we ever had a legislature in the United States, we could do something about this, but I don’t expect to live that long.”

U.S. law seeks to stop companies from avoiding income taxes by simply ditching their home residence. Those rules only prevent companies from getting the tax benefit of an overseas merger if their existing shareholders still own 80 percent or more of the company’s stock after the deal.

In Pfizer’s case, shareholders likely would own less than that proportion of the new combined company.

By switching its parent company from the U.S. to the U.K., Pfizer could take advantage of a number of tax benefits. The U.K. corporate tax rate is 21 percent -- next year dropping to 20 percent -- compared with 35 percent in the U.S. In addition, the U.K. only taxes profits that companies say are earned within the country.

So earnings attributed to subsidiaries in tax havens aren’t then taxed when they are brought home. And the newest benefit: the U.K. is phasing in a 10 percent tax rate on profits attributed to U.K. patents, a big source of income for any drugmaker. ...

Last year, Pfizer reported an effective tax rate of 27 percent.

The U.S. Congress tried to impose a moratorium on such corporate moves overseas -- called inversions -- in 2002. Two years later, it passed legislation designed to limit that practice.

Nevertheless, since 2012, at least 15 large companies have either moved or announced plans to move offshore, including Chiquita Brands International Inc., the Charlotte, North Carolina-based banana importer, and New York-based Omnicom Group Inc., the largest U.S. advertising firm.

(Hat Tip: Bruce Bartlett)

April 29, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bridge to Practice Series™

Sponsored by West Academic

Michael Vitiello  (McGeorge):

BridgeFinding bad news about legal education is easy. And some of the bad news is deeply troubling. No one in legal education can be insensitive to the slowly recovering employment market and to concerns about student debt. But some of the gloom and doom about law schools is just wrong.

In 2011, David Segal wrote a series of articles that appeared on the front page of the New York Times. His articles did not say anything new about legal education. But the appearance of his views on the front page of the Times made Segal’s voice important.

Some of Segal’s criticisms are legitimate. But one aspect of his critique was galling. In one article, after observing that young lawyers have spent over $150,000 for their legal educations, Segal commented, “What that they did not get, for all that time and money, was much practical training.” Segal also contended that the law school curriculum has changed little since the days of Dean Langdell. Segal’s portrayal of legal education was stereotypical and one dimensional.

When I graduated from law school 40 years ago, the statement about limited practical training was true. Even then, law schools were putting in place legal clinics and volunteer programs to give students on-hands experience. To continue to insist that little has changed in the past three decades demonstrates a lack of awareness of what goes on in law schools around the country.

Start with changes in skills based courses like legal writing and moot court. Within the past 25 years, many schools have converted their programs from one or two unit pass-fail courses often taught by upper level students to far more demanding programs. Most schools hire tenure track or long term contract professionals. Many law schools offer rigorous writing programs and train students in oral advocacy skills. That has been the pattern at McGeorge. The directors of our Global Lawyering program have created a nationally recognized writing program. The program spans the first two years and offers students with a wide range of practical skills. For example, during their 2 L year, students argue multiple motions in a “district court” after they have submitted memoranda to the court. Their earlier memoranda culminate in a full appellate brief, submitted and argued individually to an appellate court. Each student argues before a three judge panel. The realistic litigation problem introduces students to international law as well. For example, students may have to argue whether domestic or foreign law applies because the problem presents a conflict of law question.

Skills education goes well beyond clinics, legal writing, trial advocacy, and externship programs. Many professors have integrated skills training into more traditional courses. I offer my own example as someone who came into the academy after three years of experience, mostly as a judicial clerk. Many years ago, I realized the necessity of integrating simulation exercises into my Civil Procedure course. Concepts like personal jurisdiction and summary judgment challenge the best students; students have trouble grasping concepts that lack any intuitive feel. For many years, I pieced together simulation exercises; but I did not provide systematic exposure.

That all changed when my acquisitions editor at West Academic Publishing accepted my proposal to publish a series of simulation books. The books in the Bridge to Practice Series™ are designed to supplement traditional casebooks across the curriculum. Priced reasonably, the paperbacks run between 100 and 200 pages. Each contains a series of simulations with a teacher’s manual detailing how the professor can integrate the simulations into their “podium” courses.

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April 29, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Schumacher: Sentencing in Tax Cases After Booker

Scott A. Schumacher (Washington), Sentencing in Tax Cases after Booker: Striking the Right Balance, 58 Vill. L. Rev. ___ (2014):

It has been nearly ten years since the Supreme Court’s seminal decision in United States v. Booker, in which the Court invalidated the mandatory application of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. In the cases that followed, the Court addressed subsidiary issues regarding the application of the Guidelines and the scope of appellate review. However, despite — or perhaps because of — these opinions, there is little consensus regarding the status and extent of appellate review, as well as the discretion afforded sentencing courts. More troubling, what consensus there is seems to permit judges to impose any sentence they wish, as long as the appropriate sentencing procedures are followed. As a result, we are in danger of returning to “the shameful lack of parity, which the Guidelines sought to remedy.”

The Sentencing Reform Act and the Sentencing Guidelines were designed to reduce disparity in sentencing and to reign in what one commentator described as a “lawless system.” However, the Guidelines as ultimately conceived drastically limited the sentencing judge’s ability to impose a sentence that was appropriate for the conduct and culpability of the defendant, creating a different kind of sentencing disparity. The current, post-Booker system provides more guidance than the pre-Guidelines system, but permits sentencing judges to disregard the Guidelines and develop their own sentencing policy. As a result, rather than having a system that allows for sentences to be tailored to individual defendants, the current system allows sentences to be imposed based on the penal philosophy of individual judges. This will inevitably lead to unwarranted sentencing disparity.

This article traces the recent history of criminal sentencing and, relying on the influential works of John Rawls and H.L.A. Hart on theories of punishment, argues for a better system that allows for both guidance to sentencing judges and appropriately individualized sentencing. My recommendation, although equally applicable to any federal sentence, will be examined through the lens of tax sentencing.

April 29, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Leiter's Research University Rankings

Brian Leiter (Chicago), Top Research Universities in the US, 2014:

[
T]his is an aggregation of reputational surveys done by U.S. News on graduate programs, which tend to give decent, if imperfect, information (based on my conversations with scholars in various fields). The fields included here are from the Social Sciences & Humanities (Economics, English, History, Political Science, Psychology & Sociology, plus Philosophy from the 2011 PGR), the Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Math, Physics, Statistics), Law, and Medicine. Universities received 4 points for each program in the top five; 3 points for each additional program in the top ten; 2 points for each additional program in the top 15; 1 point for each additional program in the top 25; and .5 points for each additional programa in the top 35. ... After each school name is the total number of points, the number of fields in which the school had a "top 25" program (maximum is 16), the number of fields in which the school had a top 35 program (if different), and the number of "top five" programs.

  1. Stanford (63 total, top 25/16 fields, 15 top five programs)
  2. Harvard (59 total, top 25/16 fields, 13 top five programs)
  3. UC-Berkeley (56 total, top 25/15 fields, 12 top five programs)
  4. Princeton (45 total, top 25/13 fields, 8 top five programs)
  5. Yale (43.5 total, top 25/15 fields, top 35/16, 4 top five programs)
  6. Columbia (43 total, top 25/16 fields, 3 top five programs)
  7. Michigan (43 total, top 25/16 fields, 4 top five programs)
  8. Chicago (40.5 total, top 25/15 fields, top 35/16, 5 top five programs)
  9. MIT (37.5 total, top 25/10 fields, top 35/11, 7 top five programs)
  10. UCLA (34.5 total, top 25/15 fields, top 35/16, 1 top five program)

The full list is here.

April 29, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)