TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Friday, May 9, 2014

Moody's Law School Rankings

Moody'sFollowing up on yesterday's post, Moody's: Standalone Law Schools Without 'Premier Brands' Face Credit Stress:  Dan Filler (Drexel), Analyzing Moody's New Report On Law Schools:

[Moody's] ignored outside ranking organizations and instead clustered law schools into four groups, based on job placement.  For this purpose, Moody's used the number of students in JD or JD advantage jobs, full or part-time, long or short-term.  (We can infer they included school-funded positions.)    Using this method,  the top quartile of schools (including all the super-elites) placed at least  84.1% of grads [Top 25]; the second quartile placed between 78% and 84%; the third quartile placed between 71% and 77%; and the lowest quartile placed less than 71% of graduates.

May 9, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Tax Roundup

 Weekly Roundup

May 9, 2014 in Tax, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

May 9, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

May 9, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Tax Section May Meeting

ABA Tax Section Logo (2012)The ABA Tax Section May meeting continues today in Washington, D.C. The full program is here. Tax Profs with speaking roles today include:

  • Employee Benefits Update:  Jonathan Forman (Oklahoma)
  • Exempt Organizations:  Ellen Aprill (Loyola-L.A.)
  • Tax Policy and Simplification:  Mihir Desai (Harvard), Jonathan Forman (Oklahoma), Itai Grinberg (Georgetown), Dick Harvey (Villanova), Edmund Outslay (Michigan State), Stephen Shay (Harvard)
  • Teaching Taxation:  Leslie Book (Villanova), Adam Chodorow (Arizona State), Danshera Cords (Albany), G. Ellis Duncan (Georgetown), Kerry Ryan (St. Louis), Sara Sternberg Greene (Duke)
  • Transfer Pricing:  Peter Barnes (Duke)

May 9, 2014 in ABA Tax Section, Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hawaii's Top Marginal Tax Rate: 367,100%

Terrance Jalbert (Hawaii), Gary Fleischman (Texas Tech) & Mercedes Jalbert (Institute for Business and Finance Research), Marginal Tax Rates Around the Hawaii Itemized Deduction Cliff:

HawaiiThe State of Hawaii allows paid State taxes as an itemized deduction on the State income tax return. The deduction is available only for individuals with Federal adjusted gross income less than $200,000. Hawaii also limits total itemized deductions to $50,000 for individuals with Federal adjusted gross income of $200,000 or above. These provisions create a tax cliff that implies extraordinary marginal tax rates. The added dollar of income from $199,999 to $200,000 triggers a loss of the entire tax paid deduction and caps itemized deductions at $50,000. We compute marginal tax rates for adjusted gross income levels around the $200,000 tax cliff. Results indicate marginal tax rates reach levels as high as 367,100 percent. The paper provides taxpayers with concise information regarding the importance of these Hawaii tax cliffs and suggests policy changes.

UpdateForget France's 75% and 100% Tax, Tax Rate in Hawaii Hits 367,000%

May 9, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Women Lag Men in Publications, Citations -- And What To Do About It

Chronicle Vitae:  Are You Reading Enough Academic Women?, by Kelly J. Baker:

In January, writer and illustrator Joanna Walsh created a collection of bookmarks, each of them featuring one of her favorite female novelists or nonfiction writers, and she mailed them out to friends. The bookmarks encouraged people to make 2014 “The Year of Reading Women.”

Women read more than men, yet male authors still dominate literary journals. In an annual count, VIDA draws attention to gender inequality in publishing with pie charts demonstrating how major literary magazines are often dominated by male bylines, reviewers, and authors reviewed. ...

After her project drew attention online, she created the Twitter hashtag #readwomen2014 (now she’s got her own account: @ReadWomen2014) and began tweeting the names of more than 250 authors who had appeared on the back of her bookmarks. The hashtag quickly became popular, not only as a way to catalog women writers and their achievements, but also as a rallying cry. Walsh suggested doing a “VIDA count on your own bookshelf” to see if there are imbalances. “While female writers may encounter similar obstacles,” she said, “their work is as diverse as men’s: There is a book by a woman for every kind of reader.” ...

How does gender affect who does what kinds of scholarship? Is there a gender gap in academic publishing? What would a VIDA count of scholarship show us? Luckily, some recent studies and news reports have explored the impact of gender on publishing.

While gender bias in academia is widely discussed, it is not always easily documented. That’s why B.F. Walter, Daniel Maliniak, and Ryan Powers collected data to demonstrate how it plays out in a key metric of academic life: citations. Their study focused on 12 leading journals in international relations, examining 3,000 articles published between 1980 and 2006. The researchers analyzed “citation counts” because, Walter notes, “they are increasingly used as a key measure of a scholar’s performance and impact”—the currency of influence and prestige, as well as factors in hiring and promotion.

After controlling for factors including venue, methodology, subject, the author’s institution, and the significance of the publication, Walter and her colleagues discovered that gender mattered even when all other factors were held constant. In fact, gender was one of the best predictors of whether an article would be cited or not. Walter writes that women authors received “0.7 cites for every 1 cite that a male author would receive.” Untenured women were the least likely to be cited.

While that study was limited to one field, its findings were similar to those of another one conducted by the Bergstrom Lab at the University of Washington. The lab’s Eigenfactor project seeks to map the currents of scientific knowledge in publishing by using JSTOR articles to create a large network of citations. Its gender study was the result of Jennifer Jacquet’s suggestion to see what would happen if the team analyzed the JSTOR data through the filter of gender.

What followed was the largest analysis we have of academic articles by gender. The study examined 1.8 million scholarly articles, from 1665 (!) to 2011. It found that women accounted for just 21.9 percent of authorships and 17 percent of single-authored papers. Those rates jump to 27.2 percent and 26 percent—slightly more respectable numbers, but still nothing to write home about—if you shorten the time frame to 1990 through 2012. Oh, and if an article had multiple authors, less than 20 percent of those listed first were women. (To see the breakdown of various disciplines, click here.)

Overall, the results of Eigenfactor’s gender project demonstrated that the percentage of female authors is less than the proportion of women in the full-time ranks of the academy.

Chronicle of Higher Education, Women as Academic Authors, 1665-2010:

Women’s presence in higher education has increased, but as authors of scholarly papers—keys to career success—their publishing patterns differ from those of men. Explore nearly 1,800 fields and subfields, across four centuries, to see which areas have the most female authors and which have the fewest, in this exclusive Chronicle report


Income Tax

Chronicle Vitae:  Are You Reading Enough Academic Women?, by Kelly J. Baker:

So what can we do to shrink it? The researchers themselves have a couple of smart ideas. Walter suggests that authors should use only their last names and first initials when they submit their work to journals, which would help eliminate implicit bias against female scholars. Additionally, she notes that female authors are less likely to cite our own work than that of male authors. Women, then, should starting citing ourselves.

Maliniak and Powers, meanwhile, encourage faculty to make a point to achieve a gender balance in both their bibliographies and syllabi. That way, they argue, professors can avoid passing the the gender gap onto our students. These suggestions bring thoughtful consideration to how we construct our bodies of knowledge and how we might work against forms of bias—unconscious or conscious—to embrace more perspectives and create more well-rounded scholarship.

I’ve got one more suggestion. Academics, here’s my modest plea. How about we mimic Walsh’s #readwomen2014 by reading more women academics for the rest of 2014? Set your own time frame and read only scholarship by women. Do a VIDA count of your bookshelves. How might including more work from female academics change your bibliographies and syllabi? If you have trouble finding research by women scholars, what might that tell you about your field?

May 9, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tax Credit School Scholarship Plans

Stephen D. Sugarman (UC-Berkeley), Tax Credit School Scholarship Plans, 43 J.L. & Educ. 1 (2014):

The overall theme of this article, as the architect Mies van der Rohe once emphasized, is “God is in the detail.” 229 Tax credit school sc holarship plans are a new and growing idea, with a dozen states now having put them in place. But the terms of these plans differ substantially, and potentially could differ even more so as the idea diffuses across the country. People have different motivations to support the adoption of these plans and tryi ng to sort out how a political majority can be put together in th eir support is perhaps anal ogous to trying to understand how sausage is made. Nonetheless, the dominant theme underlying these plans appears to be that they are meant to empower more low (and perhaps middle) income families in making school choices for their children. Judged by that measure, some state plans are more on target than others. Florida’s seems the best targeted, most generous and robust.  

May 9, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 365

Continue reading

May 9, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

ABA Tax Section May Meeting

ABA Tax Section Logo (2012)The ABA Tax Section May meeting kicks off today in Washington, D.C. The full program is here. Today's highlight is the annual Laurence Neal Woodworth Memorial Lecture in Federal Tax Law and Policy delivered by former IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman (Senior Advisor, McKinsey & Co.; Senior Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School Center for Business and Government). Tax Profs with speaking roles today include:

  • Low Income Taxpayers Representation Workshop:  Diana Leyden (Connecticut), Miriam Marton (Connecticut), Kathryn Sedo (Minnesota), Jack Snyder (Baltimore), George Willis (Chapman)

May 8, 2014 in ABA Tax Section, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hatfield: Tax Lawyer Ethics, 1965-1985

Florida Tax ReviewMichael Hatfield (University of Washington), Committee Opinions and Treasury Regulation: Tax Lawyer Ethics, 1965-1985, 15 Fla. Tax Rev. 675 (2014):

In the 1940s-1960s, the writings of tax lawyers about their professional responsibilities tended towards the philosophical and patriotic, often focusing on the special role of the tax lawyer in the funding of the civic good. However, by 1985 the ethics literature was focused on technicalities, probabilities, and penalties. From 1965 to 1985—a period bookended by ABA committee opinions on ethics for tax lawyers—committees and their reports ascended into primary importance in the debates on tax lawyer ethics. This Article documents the literature's transformation during this period. 

May 8, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Avi-Yonah: Corporate Taxation and Corporate Social Responsibility

Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan), Just Say No: Corporate Taxation and Corporate Social Responsibility:

This article will address the question whether publicly traded US corporations owe a duty to their shareholders to minimize their corporate tax burden in any way that they may be able to get away with from a purely legal perspective. First, however, to render the subsequent discussion a bit more concrete, I will describe a recently unveiled case study of corporate tax aggressiveness

May 8, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Experiential Sabbatical

Journal of Legal EducationMartin H. Pritikin (Whittier), The Experiential Sabbatical, 63 J. Legal Educ. ___ (2014):

Although many law schools are purporting to move in a more “experiential” direction, few institutions and even fewer professors are utilizing the consummate tool for faculty development — the sabbatical — to spend time gaining practical experience. Having spent my own sabbatical volunteering as a prosecutor, I provide evidence about how my time in practice has enhanced my teaching, scholarship, and service to the institution. I further address the political, financial, and logistical obstacles that may deter schools or individual faculty members from pursuing experiential sabbaticals, and offer recommendations to overcome those obstacles.

May 8, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ryan: EITC as Income (In)Stability?

Florida Tax ReviewKerry Ryan (St. Louis), EITC as Income (In)Stability?, 15 Fla Tax Rev. 583 (2014):

Congress enacted the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to entice poor single mothers to work (or work more) as a means of lifting themselves out of poverty. Its design as a wage subsidy that phases out at higher earnings levels is intended to accomplish this goal. A strong labor market is crucial to the success of work-based benefit programs, like the EITC. The EITC can motivate female household heads to work (or work more) but they cannot act on that motivation if no jobs or additional hours exist. This article demonstrates that during economic downturns, the EITC wage subsidy contributes to, rather than prevents, poverty in single mother families. Lost EITC benefits exacerbate recession-induced earnings losses, a phenomenon this article refers to as income destabilization. In contrast, the EITC stabilizes the incomes of its wealthier beneficiaries as increased credit amounts offset underlying salary declines. While this pattern of income (de)stabilization is an unintended by-product of the design of the EITC as a targeted wage subsidy, its negative impact on the economic welfare of female-headed households is problematic, given that these same families are the historically-targeted program beneficiaries. This article offers a narrowly-tailored proposal that alters the structure of the EITC during recessionary periods in order to prevent EITC-induced income destabilization.

May 8, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Moody's: Standalone Law Schools Without 'Premier Brands' Face Credit Stress

Moody's Investors Service, Law Schools Challenged to Adapt to Fundamental Changes in the Legal Industry:

Moody'sDeteriorating student demand for law schools reflects a structural shift in the legal industry, not just cyclical trends. Enrollment declines and heightened price sensitivity reflect reduced job opportunities and income expectations in the legal field, driven by new technologies, increased globalization and a movement to flat-fee contracts from billing for time spent. As students evaluate the return on investment for a high-priced professional degree, law schools without premier brands or the resources of a comprehensive university will face greater credit stress and risk of closure, requiring leadership teams to reevaluate business models and strategies.

  • Fundamental shift in the legal industry contributes to shrinking applicant pool and heightened competition. The current decline in demand reflects a fundamental shift in the legal field, rather than the typical cyclical rise and fall in demand.
  • New tuition pricing strategies provide short-term solutions, but don’t alter cost structure. There may be a short-term enrollment boost, but new pricing schemes do not provide a fundamental change in the cost students are paying for legal education and are therefore unlikely to increase long-term demand.
  • Business model changes will be essential for long-term sustainability, particularly for standalone law schools and those without strong brands. Top-tier schools face significant challenges but benefit from being part of a strong university, shown by higher job placement rates and greater availability of merit-based aid. Demand for lower-tier law schools will remain depressed due to lower job placement rates, while standalone law schools are most at risk in this environment.

May 8, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Washington University Law Prof Declines 'Experiential Professor of the Year' Award, Calling it 'Offensive and Marginalizing'

QuinnAbove the Law reports that Mae C. Quinn, Professor of Law and Director of the Juvenile Law and Justice Clinic at Washington University Law School, has declined an award for “Experiential Professor of the Year,” calling it both "offensive and marginalizing":

Thank you very much for thinking of me and for your hard work in generating such a tremendous list of honorees. But I find being named “Experiential Professor of the Year” both offensive and marginalizing. In fact, I shared these views about this award with a number of students last year after another “clinical” colleague was given the award for the first time. In my mind it would be fine to have two teacher of the year awards, allowing the students to describe why each faculty member demonstrates excellence – in all of its many forms. But this kind of express ghetto-ization and limitation through labeling was exactly what I was told did NOT exist at Washington University when I was recruited to teach both in our clinics and outside of our clinics. So receiving such an award makes me very sad.

I am sure that those who conceived of the award meant well – that is, wanting to make sure professors who do not generally teach “traditional” classes, which are usually larger than “experiential” class sections, are not forgotten. But I do teach such classes – and I do so using a podium, as well as experiential exercises, simulations, films, community engagement and the like. More than this, to truly address this oversight what is necessary is new thinking around what it means to be an excellent teacher and professor in the 21st century. Reinforcing divisions between experiential and non-experiential, clinic and non-clinic, skills and non-skills is out of step with modern norms and developments in law schools and legal institutions across the country. It normalizes other unnecessary divides and hierarchies in legal education. And it does not serve our students well. In my mind, every class should teach students to both think – and do – as lawyers. I fear this award absolutely sends the wrong message about this school and its views on the future of legal education.

At Tennessee I was named Teacher of the Year. Period.

In light of my feelings about this award and its implications, I respectfully decline the designation.

May 8, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Arizona Launches Nation's First B.A. in Law

University of Arizona News, University of Arizona to Offer Nation’s First Bachelor of Arts in Law:

Arizona LogoStarting this fall, the University of Arizona will be the first university in the country to offer a Bachelor of Arts in Law.

Undergraduate degrees in law are already offered in numerous countries such as England, Australia, Canada, Mexico and China. The degree is seen as a good way to prepare individuals for a number of professions in which a strong knowledge of law is advantageous, such as corporate compliance, city planning, water resources management, business management, health care administration, human resources, policy analysis, and legal technology consulting.

“A Juris Doctor is a highly valuable degree and there are roles that only lawyers can serve,” said Marc Miller, dean of the James E. Rogers College of Law at the UA. “But training a broader range of students will serve society, open careers in areas of substantial regulation, respond to changes in technology and the forces of globalization, and invite opportunities for the delivery of new and more accessible legal services.” ...

A 3+3 program also will be offered and allow students to complete their Bachelor of Arts in law and a Juris Doctor in six years of study.

(Hat Tip: Brian Leiter.)

Update #1:

Update #2:  From Michael Musheno (Faculty Director, Legal Studies Program, Center for the Study of Law and Society, UC-Berkeley):

The program announcement of the UofA Law School about there forming the first U.S.-based academic undergraduate program in "law" is totally misleading. The undergraduate BA major in "legal studies" at UC/Berkeley is over 40 years old and based in Berkeley Law. Among others, both Northwestern and the University of Wisconsin have long-established undergraduate academic majors in law/legal studies. The only thing about the program announcement that is true on its face is that they are calling the major "law" rather than "legal studies."

May 8, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Sex, Politics, and Revenge at Case Western Law School

The IRS Scandal, Day 364

Continue reading

May 8, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fleischer: Tax Extenders

Victor Fleischer (San Diego), Tax Extenders:

In Tax Legislation in the Contemporary U.S. Congress, [67 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2013)], Michael Doran describes an equilibrium of gridlock punctuated by the occasional passage of strikingly clean, non-particularistic legislation. This Commentary explores how the mundane, unseemly, and largely unnoticed legislative ritual of extending tax breaks that are set to expire — through bills known as “tax extenders” — fits into the picture.

Renewal of the tax extenders package is frequent and highly particularistic, and so at first glance seems to contradict Professor Doran’s narrative. But extenders may, in fact, enable the gridlock that Doran describes. The extenders package allows members of the tax-writing committees to shape tax policy in small, incremental ways, to raise campaign funds, and to quietly pay favors to well-connected industries — all without unduly disrupting the “standing on principle” that created gridlock in the first place.

The practice of regularly renewing the extenders package is unfortunate and should be stopped. It distorts the budget process, encourages legislative rent seeking, and invites highly particularistic legislative provisions that are better characterized as windfalls and wasteful government spending rather than well-targeted tax incentives.

May 7, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Grewal: Taking Administrative Law to Tax

Andy Grewal (Iowa), Taking Administrative Law to Tax, 64 Duke L.J. ___ (2014):

Not too long ago, an academic symposium on Taking Administrative Law to Tax would have been just that -- academic. For decades, the tax law sat comfortably isolated from administrative law doctrines that governed other areas of law. Courts frequently applied tax-specific deference standards to IRS guidance, and the tax bar was largely indifferent to the Treasury's many violations of the Administrative Procedure Act.

But all that changed when the Supreme Court rejected tax exceptionalism in Mayo v. United States. As the articles in this Symposium show, the Court’s decision has brought great attention to the intersection between tax and administrative law, and this increased attention will have significant consequences for tax administration. This foreword weaves together and discusses the highlights of the articles in a short, easily digestible format, and will get the reader up to speed on Mayo's potential impact on tax law.

May 7, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Inspiring Professors, Low Debt Key to Future Success and Happiness, Not Rank of College Attended

GallupGallup:  Life in College Matters for Life After College: New Gallup-Purdue Study Looks at Links Among College, Work, and Well-Being:

When it comes to being engaged at work and experiencing high well-being after graduation, a new Gallup-Purdue University study of college graduates shows that the type of institution they attended matters less than what they experienced there. Yet, just 3% of all the graduates studied had the types of experiences in college that Gallup finds strongly relate to great jobs and great lives afterward.

The Undergraduate Experience


Chronicle of Higher Education, A Caring Professor May Be Key in How a Graduate Thrives:

If you believe the new "Gallup-Purdue Index Report," a study of 30,000 graduates of American colleges on issues of employment, job engagement, and well-being, it all comes down to old-fashioned values and human connectedness. One of the report’s big takeaways: College graduates, whether they went to a hoity-toity private college or a midtier public, had double the chances of being engaged in their work and were three times as likely to be thriving in their well-being if they connected with a professor on the campus who stimulated them, cared about them, and encouraged their hopes and dreams.

Wall Street Journal, Elite Colleges Don't Buy Happiness for Graduates: Poll of 30,000 Grads Finds Strongest Correlation Between Inspiring Professors and Future Well-Being:

A word to high-school seniors rejected by their first choice: A degree from that shiny, elite college on the hill may not matter nearly as much as you think.

A new Gallup survey of 30,000 college graduates of all ages in all 50 states has found that highly selective schools don't produce better workers or happier people, but inspiring professors—no matter where they teach—just might.

May 7, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Postlewaite: Optional Basis Adjustments Under Subchapter K

Florida Tax ReviewPhilip Postlewaite (Northwestern), Optional Basis Adjustments Under Subchapter K: Trap for the Unwary, Tax Planning Tool, or Both? Should They Be Mandatory?, 15 Fla. Tax Rev. 105 (2014):

The optional basis adjustments of Subchapter K have occupied a prominent position in tax planning and partnership operations for the past 60 years. In the dispositional context, the general approach of the Code treats the partnership as an entity, separate and distinct from its partners. Thus, if a partner disposes of his partnership interest, no adjustment or modification of the bases of the assets of the partnership occurs. Such is the case even though ownership of the partnership has been altered and the acquisition price for the interest reflects the fair market value of the partner’s underlying share of the partnership assets. Thus, in an appreciated setting, although the seller/distrubutee is taxed on the gain, the purchaser or the remaining partners, without a basis adjustment, will be taxed on the same gain when realized by the partnership. In a similar fashion, for a depreciated partnership interest, a duplication of loss will arise, i.e., at both the partner and the partnership level.

By affording the partners an elective basis adjustment in such settings, Congress has permitted the impacted parties to switch to an aggregate treatment of the enterprise and generate basis adjustments for the assets of the partnership. Through the adjustment, the aggregate inside basis of the partnership’s assets generally will equal the aggregate outside basis for the partnership interests. As a consequence, the duplication of gains and losses from a tax policy standpoint is minimized, if not eliminated.

After 60 years, the rationale for the continuation of the election should be scrutinized and assessed from a tax policy standpoint.

Continue reading

May 7, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rob Lowe on Sending His Son Off to College

Slate:  Rob Lowe on Sending His Son Off to College:

LoweI’m trying to remember when I felt like this before. Like an el­ephant is sitting on my chest, like my throat is so tight and constricted that I can feel its tendons, like my eyes are 100 percent water, spilling out at will, down pathways on my face that have been dry for as long as I can think of. I’m trying to remember: When was the last time my heart was breaking? ...

When I was a boy, I had to leave my friends in the summer, just as Malibu was becoming Malibu, say goodbye to my first girlfriend and go to Ohio to stay with my dad. There is a little of that sense memory at play too, a feeling that I’m about to be left out of important events, separated from life as I know it, the world as I love it. ...

Today is my son Matthew’s last night home before college.

Through the grief I feel a rising embarrassment. “Jesus Christ, pull yourself together, man!” I tell myself. There are parents sending their kids off to battle zones, or putting them into rehabs and many other more legitimately emotional situations, all over our country. How dare I feel so shattered? What the hell is going on?

One of the great gifts of my life has been having my two boys and, through them, exploring the mysterious, complicated and charged relationship between fathers and sons. As I try to raise them, I discover the depth and currents of not only our relationship but ones already downstream, the love and loss that flowed between my father and me and how that bond is so powerful.

I have been emotionally blindsided. I know that this is a rite many have been through, that this is nothing unique. I know that this is all good news; my son will go to a great school, something we as a family have worked hard at for many years. I know that this is his finest hour. But looking at his suitcases on his bed, his New England Patriots post­ers on the wall, and his dog watching him pack, sends me out of the room to a hidden corner where I can’t stop crying. ...

Now, standing among the accumulation of the life of a little boy he no longer is, I look at my own young doppelgänger and realize: it’s me who has become a boy again. All my heavy-chested sadness, loss and longing to hold on to things as they used to be are back, sweeping over me as they did when I was a child.

In front of Matthew I’m doing some of the best acting of my ca­reer. I’ve said before that the common perception that all good actors should be good liars is exactly the opposite; only bad actors lie when they act. But now I’m using the tricks of every hack and presenting a dishonest front to my son and wife. To my surprise, it appears to be working. I smile like a jack-o’-lantern and affect a breezy, casual man­ner. Positive sentences only and nothing but enthusiasm framing my answers to Matthew’s questions.

The clothes are off the bed and zipped into the bags. The bed is tidy and spare; it already has the feel of a guest bed, which, I realize to my horror, it will become. I replay wrapping him in his favorite blan­ket like a burrito. This was our nightly ritual until the night he said in an offhanded way, “Daddy, I don’t think I need blanky tonight.” (And I thought that was a tough evening!)

I think of all the times we lay among the covers reading, first me to him, Goodnight Moon and The Giving Tree, and later him to me: my lines from The West Wing or a movie I was shooting. The countless hours of the History Channel and Deadliest Catch; the quiet sanctu­ary where I could sneak in and grab some shut-eye with him when I had an early call time on set, while the rest of the house was still bustling. I look at the bed and think of all the recent times when I was annoyed at how late he was sleeping. I’ll never have to worry about that again, I realize. I make up an excuse to leave the room and head to my secret corner. ...

I’m surprised at how little we say to each other, and how good that feels. There is nothing we are withholding and I know that our “being current” with each other, as the shrinks would say, is a result of years spent in each other’s company. Not just dinner or good-nights or drop-offs; it’s time coaching his teams, being in the stands, on fishing boats, in the water surfing or diving, watching stupid television, being home on nights when he is with his friends and talking smack with them, standing up to and getting in the face of teachers, parents, other kids or anyone who so much as thought about treating him badly.

We put in the time together; we built this thing we have of com­fort and love. And now, as we both prepare to let go of each other, it is paying off.

I recounted my similar feelings five years ago in A Bittersweet Day.

May 7, 2014 in Legal Education, 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 May 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


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


D. Dharmapala (Illinois) 



D. Dharmapala (Illinois)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



James Hines (Michigan)


Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Bridget Crawford (Pace]



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


Richard Kaplan (Illinois)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


Omri Marian (Florida)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


James Hines (Florida)



David Walker (BU)


Dick Harvey (Villanova)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Ted Seto (Loyola-L.M.)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


Dan Shaviro (NYU)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


Carter Bishop (Suffolk)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Susan Morse (Texas)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


Vic Fleischer (San Diego)



Herwig Schlunck (Vanderbilt)


David Gamage (UCBerkeley)



Dan Shaviro (NYU)


David Weisbach (Chicago)



Ed McCaffery (USC)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)



Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)


Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)


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.

Continue reading

May 7, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Forms Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education

Press Release, ABA Announces New Task Force on Financing of Legal Education:

ABA Logo 2ABA President James R. Silkenat today announced the formation of the ABA Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education.

The task force is charged with looking at the cost of legal education for students, the financing of law schools, student loans and educational debt. It will also consider current practices of law schools regarding the use of merit scholarships, tuition discounting and need-based aid.

“As law school tuitions and educational debt loads increase at the same time employment opportunities for recent graduates are constrained, the ABA needs to lead a thorough examination of the financing of legal education and law schools,” Silkenat said. “Members of the ABA Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education will conduct a comprehensive study of the complex economic and political issues involved and produce sound recommendations to inform policymakers throughout the legal community.”

Members of the task force include:

  • Dennis W. Archer (chair), a Detroit lawyer, Detroit mayor for two terms from 1994 to 2001 and associate justice of the Michigan Supreme Court from 1986 to 1990. He was ABA president from 2003 to 2004 and is chairman emeritus of the Detroit-headquartered law firm Dickinson Wright. Archer serves on the boards of Johnson Controls and Masco Corp. He is also on the board of Progressus Therapy, a nationwide provider of school-based therapy and early intervention services for school districts and communities across the country, and InfiLaw, a consortium of independently owned and operated ABA-approved law schools.
  • Luke Bierman, who will become the dean of Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, N.C., on June 1 and formerly served as general counsel to the comptroller of the State of New York.
  • Christopher Chapman, president and CEO of Access Group, a nonprofit membership organization of 192 ABA-approved law schools that works to further access, affordability and the value of legal education through research, policy advocacy, direct member and student educational services, and student financing options.
  • William Curry, partner with Sullivan & Worcester in Boston who focuses on general corporate and securities law.
  • Heather Jarvis, adviser on student loan issues ( and advocate for reducing the financial barriers to practicing public interest law.
  • Goodwin Liu, associate justice of the California Supreme Court and former professor at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law.
  • Rachel Moran, dean, University of California at Los Angeles School of Law.
  • Lucian Pera, treasurer of the ABA and partner with Adams and Reese LLP in Memphis.
  • Erika Robinson, associate at Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun & Rogers in Marietta, Ga., who focuses on education law. She is a former law student liaison to the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.
  • Jason Mark Sengheiser, law clerk with the Missouri Court of Appeals and a member of the Missouri Bar’s Young Lawyers Section Council.
  • Kurt Schmoke, interim provost and chief academic officer, vice president and general counsel of Howard University and former mayor of Baltimore.
  • Philip Schrag, professor at Georgetown University Law Center.
  • Joseph West, president and CEO of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.
  • Robert Wilcox, dean of the University of South Carolina School of Law.

May 7, 2014 in ABA Tax Section, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Zelenak: Tearing Out the Income Tax by the (Grass)Roots

Lawrence Zelenak (Duke), Tearing Out the Income Tax by the (Grass)Roots, 15 Fla. Tax Rev. 649 (2014) (reviewing Isaac William Martin (UC-San Diego, Department of Sociology), Rich People’s Movements: Grassroots Campaigns to Untax the One Percent (Oxford University Press, 2013)):

RPMWhy do rich people seeking reductions in their tax burdens, who have the ability to influence Congress directly through lobbying and campaign contributions, sometimes resort to grassroots populist methods? And why do non-rich people sometimes join the rich in their anti-tax movements? These are the puzzles Isaac William Martin sets out to solve in Rich People’s Movements. ...

The next section of this review summarizes Martin’s original and compelling work in uncovering the history of a century of rich people’s antitax movements. That is followed by sections on three shortcomings of the book—an inadequate explanation of why non-rich persons have joined in the movements, Martin’s odd decision to exclude from the book’s coverage two of the most important anti-tax movements of recent decades (the flat tax and the FairTax), and the scant attention paid by the book to the often-fascinating rhetoric of the anti-tax movements. Although I consider these criticisms to be considerably more than quibbles, they do not alter my view that Rich People’s Movements is a major contribution to the scholarly literature on the history of taxation in twentieth-century America. It shines a light on a series of related movements—many of which had been nearly forgotten even by tax history scholars—which are fascinating in their own right and which have continued significance today as the predecessors of the Tea Party and other grassroots anti-tax movements of the twenty-first century.

May 7, 2014 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bainbridge: No Law Student Left Behind

Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA), If Law Schools Were Serious About Evaluating Teaching Effectiveness, We'd ....:

NCLBOver at Prawfsblawg, Jennifer Bard runs the same old concerns about student evaluations up the flagpole one more time. She provides links to some of the vast literature on how lousy student evaluations are at measuring inputs. But who cares?

In 26 years of law teaching, I have yet to come across anybody in the legal academy who was really willing to face the hard reality that what matters are outcomes.

The question ought not to be how popular a given teacher is (which is what evaluations currently measure for the most part), but how well have our students learned the skills and knowledge they will need for practicing law. But how to measure that fact?

Well, how about a No Law Student Left Behind approach?

(Hat Tip: Greg McNeal.)

May 7, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 363

IRS Logo 2Washington Post:  There Are Plenty of Smidgens in the IRS Scandal, by Ed Rogers:

Today, the House Rules Committee is considering a resolution recommending that former IRS official Lois Lerner be held in contempt for refusing to answer questions about her role in the IRS targeting of President Obama’s political opponents. It is likely that the resolution will pass, and then it will come to the floor for a full vote in the House. When it does, the vote to hold Lerner in contempt should be bipartisan – if not unanimous. Any Democrats who vote “no” should be labeled as enablers of obstruction of justice. It should be impossible for Democrats to defend a vote that could only serve to encourage more corruption and non-cooperation in the future. Of course Lerner had the right to plead the fifth, but that doesn’t mean Democrats should not pay a price for voting to bless her stonewalling.

In an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly in February, President Obama pre-empted his own Department of Justice investigation and declared that there was not a “smidgen of corruption” in the IRS scandal. Well, I think a senior official at the center of the allegations pleading the fifth constitutes a smidgen. It is not unfair to draw logical inferences from her continued refusal to cooperate with the investigation into the IRS targeting of conservative groups. To the best of my knowledge, no one in this White House has ever called on Lerner to cooperate. Why? Because they know it is not in their interest for her to cooperate. They hope she will continue her silence in comfortable retirement and that Republicans and the media will be intimidated into giving up. Or, at the very least, they hope they can run out the clock on the remainder of Obama’s term.

Meanwhile, at the Justice Department, the White House has built a firewall by appointing Obama donor Barbara Bosserman to head the investigation into the IRS affair. No smidgens here folks. Move along, nothing to see. Please. Someone in this Administration is guilty of manipulating the IRS – or, is guilty of knowing that the IRS was engaging in activities that targeted the president’s political opponents. There are smidgens lying all over the place.

Continue reading

May 7, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tax Prof David Schizer Reflects on His Ten Years as Dean of Columbia Law School

Tax Prof David Schizer reflects on his ten years as Dean of Columbia Law SchoolA Transformational Decade: Q&A With Columbia Law School Dean David M. Schizer:

SchizerAfter ten years in office, David M. Schizer will step down as dean of Columbia Law School on June 30, 2014. As the head of one of the nation’s leading law schools, he led Columbia through a tumultuous era. The legal profession underwent tremendous changes during his tenure as large law firms cut back hiring after the 2008 economic crisis. Law school applications also dropped precipitously, leading critics to question the value of a legal education. As he prepares to return to full-time teaching at Columbia, Dean Schizer had a chance to look back at the changes the legal academy endured during this transformational decade and the adjustments Columbia made to thrive in this challenging epoch.

  1. What are the most dramatic changes to legal education you’ve seen in the past decade?
  2. How have you seen those changes play out at Columbia Law School?
  3. Considering the cost of legal education and the difficult job market, do you think law school should be two years instead of three?
  4. What advice would you give prospective law students about the legal profession?
  5. What do you consider to be your greatest successes or achievements as dean?
  6. What were the most challenging and surprising moments of your tenure?
  7. What advice will you give your successor?

May 6, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kane Presents Transfer Pricing, Integration and Novel Intangibles Today at NYU

Kane (2014)Mitchell Kane (NYU) presents Transfer Pricing, Integration and Novel Intangibles: A Consensus Approach to the Arm's Length Standard at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Auerbach:

This paper will be organized as follows. In the first part I undertake two basic framing problems, one related to the continuous versus discontinuous nature of arm's length versus formulary methods and the second related to a proposed categorization of intangible value arising from integration of assets. In the second part I describe how the perceived inability of the arm's length standard to handle gains from integration through a comparable analysis could be expected to produce the temptation to introduce novel intangibles into the analysis. In the third part I develop what I refer to as a consensus approach to the arm's length standard. The version of consensus developed here is not the typical one, which suggests that one of the key reasons to embrace the arm's length standard is the existing international consensus regarding its status as the preferred means of income allocation across countries. Rather, the vision of consensus I here is one that should read Article 9 of the OECD Model Convention as stating a preferred methodology for reaching a consensus non-overlapping allocation of a portion of the profit earned by associated enterprises, namely that portion which could have been earned at arm's length. I then use that interpretation to argue affirmatively against the introduction of novel intangibles.

May 6, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Male Judges Are More Likely to Favor the Taxpayer in Valuation Disputes Than Female Judges

Mark Jackson, Sonja Pippin & Jeffrey Wong (all of the University of Nevada, Reno), Court Rulings in Estate Tax Cases: Is Gender a Factor?:

The U.S. court system plays an important role in resolving asset valuation disagreements between taxpayers and the taxing authority. A recent study examining the relation between court valuations of estates and case/judge attributes finds evidence suggesting that the number of appraisers used by the taxpayer, the type of asset being valued, and the age and complexity of the case are related to the decisions of the court. We extend this study by testing for the effect of judges’ gender. We find evidence that male judges tend to favor the taxpayer in valuation disputes.

May 6, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Lessons for University Leaders on the Professional Lives of Women Faculty of Color

Maria Pabon Lopez (Loyola (New Orleans) & Kevin R. Johnson (Dean, UC-Davis), Presumed Incompetent: Important Lessons for University Leaders on the Professional Lives of Women Faculty of Color:

PresumedAcademics have long known that the experiences of women faculty members of color differ in important respects from those of any other faculty members. Adding significantly to that body of knowledge, Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia [(Utah State University Press, 2012)] edited by Professors Angela P. Harris and Carmen Gonzalez in a collection of essays of different voices offers important lessons for scholars, university administrators and leaders, faculty members, and, for that matter, students interested in the experiences of women of color in academia. People of good faith who want to “do the right thing” may find it difficult to read the unsettling stories and pleas for empathy, internalize the lessons as based on common occurrences rather than outlier experiences, and consider how to address and redress the issues. Still, we as a collective have the obligation and responsibility to think about what might be done to improve the day-to-day lives of the next generation of women faculty of color.

Continue reading

May 6, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

IRS Seeks Grant Applications for Funding for TCE and VITA Programs

IRS Logo 2The IRS announced yesterday (IR-2014-60) that it is accepting grant applications for the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) grant programs through June 2, 2014:

The TCE program was established in 1978 to provide tax counseling and return preparation to persons who are 60 or older. Volunteers who provide free federal income tax help to seniors nationwide receive free training and technical assistance.

The VITA program, created in 1969, provides free federal income tax filing assistance to underserved communities. The VITA Grant program was established in 2007 to supplement the VITA program. The grant program enables VITA to extend services to underserved populations in hard-to-reach urban and non-urban areas. It increases the taxpayer’s ability to electronically file returns, and enhances volunteer training to improve the accuracy rate of returns prepared at VITA sites.

May 6, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yin: Saving the IRS

TaxSymposiumHeaderGeorge K. Yin (Virginia), Saving the IRS, 100 Va. L. Rev. Online 22 (2014) (Symposium on Tax Reform in a Time of Crisis):

The current controversy involving the IRS's administration of the exempt organization (EO) tax laws is simply the latest in a long succession of similar questions spanning at least five decades. This essay proposes addressing the problem through increased transparency of the IRS's administrative actions involving EOs. Opening up more decision-making to public scrutiny would tend to deter IRS misbehavior, reduce suspicions of such misconduct, and promote fuller communication both to establish impropriety and avert false charges against the agency.  

May 6, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Low Income Taxpayer Grant Recipients

LITC LogoThe IRS announced yesterday (IR-2014-61) that it has awarded nearly $10 million in matching grants to Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) for the 2014 grant cycle (Jan. 1, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2014). Through the LITC program, the IRS awards matching grants of up to $100,000 a year to qualifying organizations. For the 2014 grant cycle, the IRS awarded LITC grants to 133 organizations. For the full list of grant recipients, see here. For a list of the 37 law school tax clinic grant recipents, and the amount of their grants, see below the fold:

Continue reading

May 6, 2014 in IRS News | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tax Havens Hold Key to Success of Sanctions Against Russia

Bloomberg: How Russia Inc. Moves Billions Offshore -- and a Handful of Tax Havens May Hold Key to Sanctions, by Jesse Drucker, Alan Katz & Andy Hoffman:

Two years ago, a Dutch law firm prepared a pitch in Moscow to Russian businesses: come to the Netherlands and we can help you avoid taxes and keep your assets safe. “You can rely on our legal system!” the firm, Buren van Velzen Guelen, said in a slide presentation.

Such appeals have worked on a grand scale. Russia’s biggest oil, gas, mining and retail companies -- including some run by billionaires close to President Vladimir Putin -- have moved tens of billions of corporate assets to the Netherlands and other European countries often used for tax avoidance and capital flight, such as Luxembourg, Cyprus, Switzerland and Ireland. The firms include OAO Rosneft (ROSN), OAO Gazprom, OAO Lukoil and Geneva-headquartered Gunvor Group Ltd., which was co-founded by a Putin associate now under U.S. sanctions.  

As a result, a handful of European tax havens may hold the key to pressuring Russia to pull back from Ukraine. The extensive use of foreign subsidiaries by Russia’s richest businessmen exposes their assets to sanctions. Yet capitalizing on this vulnerability requires help from countries that rely economically on Russian capital flight and have traditionally protected investors against foreign laws.

“If it can be shown that the owners, through these Dutch structures, are people who are sanctioned, there’s no question that those assets can be frozen,” said Jack Blum, a former U.S. Senate investigator and expert on money laundering and offshore havens. “The question is, ‘How far is anyone willing to go? Are the Swiss and the Dutch and Luxembourg prepared to do that?’ Everybody’s known this has been going on for years.”

May 6, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council: The Song

(Hat Tip: Above the Law.)

May 6, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 362

Monday, May 5, 2014

Could Forced Sale of the L.A. Clippers Save Donald Sterling $323 Million in Taxes as § 1033 Involuntary Conversion?

SterlingFollowing up on my previous post: The Daily Beast, Donald Sterling’s Last Laugh: Force Him to Sell the Clippers and He Could Pay No Taxes; Ironically, the NBA’s Ultimate Penalty Will Save the Owner as Much as $323 Million, by Nick Lum:

Donald Sterling’s reputation had a bad week, but his pocketbook has never looked better. The punishment meted out by NBA Commissioner Silver—the maximum league fine of $2.5 million—pales in comparison to the billion dollars Sterling stands to make from selling the Clippers. Ironically, the league’s nuclear option—a forced sale—could also end up lining Sterling’s pocketbook with millions in tax savings. Instead of his just deserts, will Sterling end up with a sweet tax treat?

If Sterling had voluntarily sold the team for $1 billion, he would have owed about $200 million in federal income tax and another $123 million in California state income tax. But thanks to a tax law that applies only to forced sales or other “involuntary conversions,” Sterling’s profits may all be tax-free.

Section 1033 of the tax code provides a special tax treatment for people whose property has been stolen, appropriated by the government (e.g. eminent domain), or otherwise “involuntarily converted.” The basic idea is that if you have received money because someone took your stuff away from you, you shouldn’t have to pay taxes since you didn’t enter into the transaction voluntarily. ...

Continue reading

May 5, 2014 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Suffolk Implements Post-Tenure Review Over Faculty Objections

Boston Globe, Suffolk Professors Fear Evaluations Could Erode Tenure:

Suffolk University LogoSuffolk University, taking aim at academia’s hallowed practice of providing lifelong job protection for veteran instructors, has decided to require all its tenured faculty to undergo performance reviews that in some cases could lead to dismissal. The recent move by the private university is drawing protests from dozens of professors and a national association of academics. ...

For its part, Suffolk says it is adding the reviews to ensure that tenured professors maintain the quality of research and teaching. “We have to be more explicit and rigorous about demonstrating that we are accountable,” said Suffolk president James McCarthy. “Parents, students, accrediting agencies, and the federal government are no longer willing to accept ‘take our word for it; we’re doing a good job.'" However, he stressed that “Suffolk is not ending tenure.”

Many professors, though, see the step as an erosion of the protections of tenure and the freedom to pursue academic studies without fear of political pressure from the university. “This is destroying tenure; there’s no other word,” said Charles Baker, head of the Massachusetts conference of the American Association of University Professors, which has issued a formal statement condemning the policy at Suffolk. ...

Under the new provisions, which take effect July 1, each of the university’s 246 tenured faculty members will be reviewed every five years by administrators — their dean and provost — and will be given a rating that shows they exceed, meet, partially meet, or do not meet expectations, according to a copy of the handbook provided to the Globe. Positive results would probably trigger a pay raise or other form of recognition. But professors who receive the lowest rating would be put on a development plan to improve performance. If they subsequently failed to meet expectations, those professors could face sanctions, up to and including dismissal.  ... Only about half of private universities require such reviews, according to studies done several years ago by Harvard University and the American Association for Higher Education and Accreditation. ... A report published in 2002 by the Chronicle of Higher Education found that post-tenure review “has not translated to significant firings of either lazy professors or controversial ones” and that some professors are in favor of the reviews.

May 5, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

FT: Countries Slow Race to Bottom on Tax Competition

Financial Times:  Countries Slow Race to Bottom on Tax Competition:

KPMG CoverThe proposed takeover of UK-listed drug group AstraZeneca by Pfizer of the US has reignited the debate over tax competition between countries.

A study by KPMG, the professional services group, published last week found that nearly one in six countries had cut their corporate tax rates over the past 15 months, but that the size of the cuts was smaller than in the past. [Corporate and Indirect Tax Rate Survey 2014]

Commenting on the report, Chris Morgan, a partner at KPMG, said rates appeared to be levelling off, marking an end to what economists have described as the ‘race to the bottom’ on corporate tax. “There is a natural level below which they are not going to fall below, which appears to be around 20 per cent.”


May 5, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

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.

Continue reading

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)