TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

$10 Million Gift To Wayne State Law School To Honor Departing Dean Jocelyn Benson

BensonFollowing up on last week's post, Jocelyn Benson, Youngest Woman To Ever Lead An American Law School, Steps Down From Wayne State To Be CEO Of National Campaign In Sports For Equality:  Press Release, Ross, Gilbert Donate Largest Gifts in Wayne Law History, Totaling $10 Million:

Real estate developers, professional sports team owners and alumni Stephen M. Ross and Dan Gilbert today announced their intentions to donate $5 million each to Wayne State University Law School, for a joint gift of $10 million.

Both gifts represent the largest donations in the law school’s history.

Ross and Gilbert’s gifts will create the Benson Legacy Fund for Wayne Law and the Benson Endowed Enhancement Fund for Wayne Law. Ross and Gilbert named the funds in recognition of Wayne Law Dean Jocelyn Benson and her successful efforts as dean to elevate the law school’s national reputation and prestige.

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September 13, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call For Tax Papers And Panels: Law & Society Annual Meeting

Mexico CityNeil Buchanan (George Washington) has issued his annual call for tax papers and panels for next year's annual meeting of the Law & Society Association in Mexico City (June 20-23, 2017):

For the thirteenth year in a row, I will organize sessions for the the Law, Society, and Taxation group (Collaborative Research Network 31).  New this year, I am joined in my organizational efforts by Professors Jennifer Bird-Pollan and Mirit Eyal-Cohen.

Although there is an official call for papers, please remember that you are not bound by the official theme of the conference.  We will give full consideration to proposals in any area of tax law, tax policy, distributive justice, interdisciplinary approaches to tax issues, and so on.

Good news:  Law & Society now only requires a 1500- to 3000-character description of your topic.  This is less demanding than last year’s new 6000 character requirement, which was the subject of many (well founded) complaints.

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, October 19, 2016.  To submit your proposal, please follow the instructions immediately below.

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September 13, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

2017 U.S. News College Rankings

US NewsU.S. News & World Report today released its 2017 College Rankings. Here are the Top 25 National Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges (along with their 2014-2016 rankings):

2017

Rank

 

National Universities

2016

Rank

2015

Rank

2014

Rank

1

Princeton

1

1

1

2

Harvard

2

2

2

3

Chicago

3

4

5

3

Yale

3

3

3

5

Columbia

4

4

4

5

Stanford

4

4

5

7

MIT

7

7

7

8

Duke

8

8

7

8

Penn

9

9

8

10

Johns Hopkins

10

12

12

11

Dartmouth

12

11

10

12

Cal-Tech

10

10

10

12

Northwestern

12

13

12

14

Brown

14

16

14

15

Cornell

15

15

16

15

Notre Dame

18

18

18

15

Rice

18

19

18

15

Vanderbilt

16

17

17

19

Washington (St. Louis)

15

15

14

20

Emory

21

21

20

20

Georgetown

21

21

20

20

UC-Berkeley

20

20

20

23

USC

23

25

23

24

Carnegie Mellon

23

25

23

24

UCLA

23

23

23

24

Virginia

26

23

23

Pepperdine is ranked #50 (tied with Florida, Penn State, and Villanova, above #54 Ohio State and University of Washington).

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September 13, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Viswanathan:  The Hidden Costs Of Cliff Effects In The Internal Revenue Code

Manoj Viswanathan (UC-Hastings), The Hidden Costs of Cliff Effects in the Internal Revenue Code, 164 U. Pa. L. Rev. 931 (2016):

Cliff effects in the Internal Revenue Code trigger a sudden increase of federal tax liability when some attribute of a taxpayer—most commonly income—exceeds a particular threshold value. As a result, two taxpayers in nearly identical economic situations can face considerably different tax liabilities depending on which side of the triggering criterion they fall. The magnitude of the equity and efficiency costs associated with cliff effects is significant: cliff effects are attached to tax provisions amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars, the majority of which are targeted at low- and moderate-income taxpayers.

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September 13, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Five Myths About Economic Inequality In America

CatoMichael D. Tanner (Cato Institute), Five Myths about Economic Inequality in America:

Over the past several years, economic inequality has risen to the forefront of American political consciousness. Politicians, pundits, and academics paint a picture of a new Gilded Age in which a hereditary American gentry becomes ever richer, while the vast majority of Americans toil away in near-Dickensian poverty. As economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman puts it, “Describing our current era as a new Gilded Age or Belle Époque isn’t hyperbole; it’s the simple truth.” Political candidates have leapt on the issue. ...

It’s a compelling political narrative, one that can be used to advance any number of policy agendas, from higher taxes and increases in the minimum wage to trade barriers and immigration restrictions. But it is fundamentally wrong, based on a series of myths that sound good and play to our emotions and sense of fairness, but that don’t hold up under close scrutiny.

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September 13, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (5)

Ohio Northern Welcomes 59 1Ls, Down 15% From Last Year (51% From 2010)

Ohio Northern LogoOhio Northern University College of Law (unranked by U.S. News (#168 in peer reputation)) welcomed 59 1Ls this Fall, down 15% from last year's 69 (and 51% from 2010's 120). Despite the enrollment decline, Ohio Northern's 25% LSAT fell to 143 in 2016 (from 144 in 2015), and their 25%/50%/75% LSAT of 143/148/152 is down from 149/154/156 in 2010. Here are Ohio Northern's admission data for the prior six years from Law School Transparency:

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September 13, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1223

IRS Logo 2Seattle Times, Conservative Effort to Impeach IRS Chief Won’t Succeed:

A campaign-season drive by conservative House Republicans to impeach the IRS commissioner won’t succeed. With solid Democratic opposition and resistance from many in the GOP, there simply aren’t enough votes to oust John Koskinen from his post.

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are pushing it anyway, and it could come to a head over the next week or two. A look at the effort:

Q: Why do conservatives want to impeach Koskinen?

A:  They accuse him of lying to Congress, not answering subpoenas and overseeing an agency that destroyed documents. They say those actions hindered the House GOP’s long-running investigation of how the Internal Revenue Service unfairly treated tea party groups that sought tax exemptions several years ago, before Koskinen was with the agency.

Two months to the election, going after Koskinen and the IRS is popular with many conservative voters, for whom the IRS has long been a dirty word. They’ve not forgiven its handling of tea party organizations. And Koskinen was appointed by President Barack Obama, another favorite conservative target.

Q: What do Koskinen and Democrats say?

A: They say the accusations are unfounded. “There is no evidence that Commissioner Koskinen ever in any way sought to impede Congress’ oversight of the IRS,” Koskinen’s personal lawyers wrote in documents they provided Sunday.

While the IRS acknowledged it subjected tea party groups to unfairly harsh treatment, the Justice Department and the IRS inspector general found no evidence the agency was motivated by political bias, and it’s not been proved that documents were purposely destroyed. Democrats say the impeachment effort is aimed at stirring up conservative votes and campaign donations.

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September 13, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Book Presents Taxpayer Rights, Social Psychology And The EITC Today At Loyola-L.A.

BookLes Book (Villanova) presents Thinking About Taxpayer Rights and Social Psychology to Improve Administration of the EITC at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Ellen Aprill and Katherine Pratt:

The IRS is a reluctant but key player in delivering social benefits to the nation’s working poor. The earned income tax credit (EITC) is generally praised for its role in reducing poverty and incentivizing low-wage work. While the EITC has generally received bipartisan support, the IRS faces strong criticism over EITC compliance issues. Opponents focus on headline-generating reports of improper payments and a characterization of errors as likely due to fraud. Advocates look to the intersection of legal complexity and the characteristics of recipients as the main driver of error and the relatively low share of the tax gap that is attributable to refundable credits in general and the EITC in particular.

The current compliance challenge presents an opportunity to think about the compliance problem differently than before.

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September 12, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

JFK & Reagan Provide Path Toward Brighter Economic Future: Bipartisan Tax Cuts

JFKWall Street Journal op-ed: Return to JFK’s ‘Rising Tide’ Model: Kennedy and Reagan Both Spurred Growth Through Bipartisan Tax Cuts. That’s Just What Is Needed Now., by Lawrence Kudlow & Brian Domitrovic (co-authors, JFK and the Reagan Revolution: A Secret History of American Prosperity” (Sept. 6, 2016)):

since 2000, U.S. economic output has inched along at a rate of 1.8% a year, an astoundingly low number almost half of the long-term average of over 3%. This is not the way America is supposed to be. The United States has regularly achieved more than 3% economic growth as a matter of course, as it has led the global industrial and technological revolutions with millions of new jobs, entrepreneurial wonders and mass prosperity in tow.

The two greatest political figures in America since World War II staked their presidencies on economic growth: John F. Kennedy in the 1960s and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Kennedy was the pioneer. When Reagan rallied to the cause of growth 20 years later, he did so explicitly following Kennedy’s “a rising tide lifts all boats” model. ...

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September 12, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Brooklyn Welcomes 350 1Ls, Down 11% From Last Year (28% From 2010)

Brooklyn Logo (2016)After suffering perhaps the largest decline among American law schools in LSAT scores of its entering class from 2010 (162/163/165) to 2015 (152/155/158), despite a 19% reduction in 1L enrollment (from 486 to 394), with a corresponding 30-place cratering in its U.S. News ranking (from 67 to 97), Brooklyn welcomed 350 1Ls this Fall (an additional 11% reduction from 2015) with across the board improvement in LSAT scores:  154/156/159.  Here are Brooklyn's admission data for the prior six years from Law School Transparency:

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September 12, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

WSJ:  A Stealth Death Tax Increase

DiscountsFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Wall Street Journal editorial, A Stealth Death Tax Increase:

January 20 cannot come soon enough for the owners of family businesses. Less than five months before President Obama leaves office, his Treasury Department is rushing to implement a de facto increase in the federal estate tax.

Since Congress does not agree that the Internal Revenue Service should suck more cash out of family firms, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is up to his usual tricks, trashing established interpretations of tax law to bypass the legislative branch. Not even Mr. Lew has the gall to claim he can raise the federal death-tax rate of 40% without congressional approval. So the game here is to contrive ways to expose more of the value—or imagined value—of an estate to IRS revenue collectors.

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September 12, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tulsa Law School Slashes Tuition 35%; Last Year, 100% Of Students Got Scholarships, 54% Average Tuition Discount

TulsapreLaw, University of Tulsa Slashes Tuition 35%:

The University of Tulsa College of Law will cut tuition by 35 percent for students entering in 2017 through its new Access to Legal Education Tuition.

Tuition at the private school had risen 10 percent over the past three years, to $37,960 for students entering this fall. But next year, tuition will be just $24,600.

“This tuition reduction is designed to be really transparent about the cost of legal education,” said Dean Lyn Entzeroth. ...

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September 12, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The 100th Anniversary Of The Federal Estate Tax

Average Private Law School Tuition Discount: 28% (55% W&L, 54% WashU, 53% Case)

How Much Does Law School Really Cost?, preLaw, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2016, at 26:

[T]he vast majority of law schools discount their tuition through scholarships, some as much as 50 percent. The average tuition discount for private law schools was 28 percent in 2014-15, up from 25 percent the year before. ...

The ABA makes available the number of scholarships per school, the percentage of students receiving scholarships, the median scholarship amount and the scholarship amounts at the 25th and 75th percentiles. With this data. preLaw estimated the average grant amount and the average tuition discount per school. (PreLaw focused on private schools only because it is difficult to determine how much public schools discount, given that most have two tuition rates — one for residents and one for non-residents.)

Here are the nine law schools with tuition discounts in excess of 50%, and the ten law schools with tuition discounts under 15%:

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September 12, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1222

IRS Logo 2Washington Times, IRS Refuses to Abandon Targeting Criteria Used Against Tea Party, Conservative Groups:

The IRS is refusing to recant the targeting criteria it used to single out tea party groups for intrusive scrutiny, according to court filings made public Wednesday that show the tax agency still struggling with the fallout from the scandal.

At least three tea party groups are still awaiting approval from the IRS more than three years after agents publicly admitted they’d asked inappropriate questions and put the groups through unreasonable delays in obtaining tax-exempt status.

Last month the IRS told both Congress and a federal judge that it would start processing the outstanding applications — but the agency has refused to say how or when, leaving the groups themselves struggling to make sense of things.

Making matters ever more difficult, the IRS specifically refused in court papers to reject further use of the criteria it used to single out tea party and conservative groups in the first place.

“Despite all the representations made by the IRS about having changed its ways, it still asserts that the viewpoint-based Targeting Criteria are relevant for making a determination of tax-exempt status,” Edward Greim, the lawyer representing tea party groups in a class-action lawsuit, told the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Just weeks ago, IRS Commissioner John G. Koskinen had assured Congress the targeting was a thing of the past, and said his agency will no longer use the “Be on lookout,” or BOLO, lists. ...

Mr. Greim said to be wary of IRS promises, saying the agency has been willing to mislead the court in the past with a “willingness to say one thing (in a sworn declaration, no less) and do the other.” And he said the IRS has hinted that while it may replace its targeting list, which delays or blocks applications at the front end, it could step up “less well-known forms of scrutiny,” including ongoing reviews of tea party groups.

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September 12, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Remembering September 11th At Pepperdine: Life, Death, And Light

Waves

Pepperdine University to Honor 9/11 Victims with Waves of Flags Display:

On Saturday, September 10, Pepperdine University’s Alumni Park will become home to the University’s ninth annual Waves of Flags installation. The display will commemorate the lives lost in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

Waves of Flags will feature a display of a total of 2,977 full-size flags—2,887 American flags for each American life lost and 90 various international flags representing the home countries of those from abroad who died in the 9/11 attacks.

On September 10, at 1 PM, a group of over 150 volunteers, including Pepperdine faculty, staff, students, and Malibu community members, will join together to install and raise the flags.

The installation became a Pepperdine tradition in 2008 when the College Republicans, inspired by a similar display, wanted to bring the tribute to the University. Now in its ninth year, Waves of Flags has become a significant service project for the Pepperdine community. ...

In addition to the Waves of Flags installation, the University is the permanent home of Heroes Garden, a public space for visitors to reflect and honor all those who live heroic lives, including Pepperdine alumnus Thomas E. Burnett, Jr. (MBA ’95), a passenger on United Flight 93 whose life was cut short in the 9/11 attacks.

Heores Garden

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September 11, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

UC-Berkeley Law School Dean's Return Stirs Campus Outrage

UC Berkeley (2016)Following up on last week's posts:

Daily Californian editorial, Choudhry Does Not Belong on UC Berkeley Campus:

Sujit Choudhry’s open letter in The Daily Californian’s opinion section demonstrates unequivocally that the former UC Berkeley School of Law dean still has no meaningful concept of his actions, their implications or sexual harassment in general. His diatribe weaves together the most prevalent tactics of sexual violence perpetrators — survivor shaming, self-victimization and false apologies — and further emphasizes why he does not belong on campus. ...

In the ongoing battle to create an environment where all people, particularly survivors of sexual violence, feel safe and supported on campus, Choudhry’s presence is a step in the wrong direction.

Choudhry implored readers of his op-ed to refrain from judgment until they understood the facts on both sides. His account has been published — in his own repugnant words. He can no longer hide behind the claim that his side has not been heard.

Daily Californian, Tyann Sorrell’s Statement:

When I read Professor Sujit Choudhry’s letter in The Daily Californian, I groaned, and then belted out the biggest, loudest and longest scream. I screamed for myself and UC Berkeley. I screamed for everyone who has been sexually harassed, including those who are too scared to come forward to accept, name and report what they are experiencing. Choudhry’s letter made me scream because it demonstrates how sexual harassment, including its profound effects, continues to be misunderstood, misaddressed and openly denied.

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September 11, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new #1 paper and new papers debuting on the list at #4 and #5:

  1. [411 Downloads]  The True Economic Effects of Corporate Inversions, by Doron Narotzki (Akron)
  2. [340 Downloads]  Property Is Another Name for Monopoly Facilitating Efficient Bargaining with Partial Common Ownership of Spectrum, Corporations, and Land, by Eric A. Posner (Chicago) & E. Glen Weyl (Yale)
  3. [323 Downloads]  Executive Pay: What Worked? , by Steven A. Bank (UCLA), Brian R. Cheffins (Cambridge) & Harwell Wells (Temple)
  4. [208 Downloads]  Framework for U.S. Transfer Pricing Analysis Under Treasury Regulation Section 1.482 and the OECD Guidelines Compared , by William Byrnes (Texas A&M) & Robert Cole (Deceased)
  5. [165 Downloads]  Ten Observations Concerning International Tax Policy, by Daniel Shaviro (NYU)

September 11, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

University Of Houston Gets Patent Office To Suspend South Texas's Trademark Application For 'Houston College Of Law'

Houston South TexasFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Houston Chronicle, Not So Fast: UH Brings Temporary Halt to Rival Law School's Trademark Efforts:

The downtown law school known for most of its existence as the South Texas College of Law has hit another snag in its rebranding effort.

While the freshly renamed Houston College of Law awaits a judge's ruling in a federal lawsuit filed by its crosstown rival the University of Houston Law School, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has officially suspended the application for a logo featuring the scales of justice with its new name, on the heels of a complaint filed by UH.

The private law school, which opened 93 years ago, applied for the trademark on May 12. It began using its new name and logo - a peachy red-and-white image of balanced scales of justice with the words "Houston College of Law" and "Established in 1923" beneath - on billboards, promotional materials and letterhead shortly thereafter.

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September 11, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1221

IRS Logo 2The Daily Signal, ‘Just a Charade’: House Conservatives Decry IRS Chief’s Capitol Hill Visit:

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen made the rounds Wednesday on Capitol Hill to discuss his potential impeachment, meeting with two of the largest GOP House caucuses.

Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus were furious about Koskinen’s visits with lawmakers who belong to the moderate Tuesday Group or the conservative-leaning Republican Study Committee.

These conservatives have been calling for the top taxman’s impeachment since October.

One of the members who quarterbacked the impeachment effort, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., described the Koskinen tour as tantamount to allowing a defendant to chat up a jury “while the prosecuting attorney is away.”

“You’re going to give the most hated official in the Obama administration a free platform, without testifying under oath, to defend himself and his targeting of conservative groups?” Huelskamp told The Daily Signal. “This is just a charade.” ...

One member of the Freedom Caucus suggested conservatives might be persuaded to soften their stance on Koskinen if the establishment would agree to keep any spending bills from taking flight during the lame-duck session.

”It might very well be that we back off of Koskinen until the first of [next] year,” the lawmaker told The Daily Signal on condition of anonymity, “if you [GOP leaders] do a continuing resolution through March.”

Other members of the Freedom Caucus remain intent on getting their political pound of flesh. The IRS targeting scandal has been a focal point for Republicans since the public first learned in 2013 that the agency put conservative groups under extra scrutiny.

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September 11, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Police Reach Out To Feds As Tensions Flare With Prosecutor Over Decision Not To Charge Adelson Family In Markel Murder; Ex-Brother-in-Law Discussed Killing Undercover Agent

Adelson Family

Following up on yesterday's post, Adelson Family Will Not Be Charged In Dan Markel's Murder Despite Circumstantial Evidence Released By Police (Including $1 Million Offer To Allow Children To Move To Miami, Communication And Money Trail To Hit Men):

Tallahassee Democrat, Tensions Flare in Markel Case After Unexpected Document Drop:

After two years of investigation into the murder-for-hire plot of Dan Markel, prosecutors are unlikely to approve the arrest of his former in-laws.

Police chipped away at leads, drafting arrest affidavits filled with evidence laying out investigators’ case against Charlie and Donna Adelson, the brother and mother of Markel’s ex-wife Wendi Adelson.

Documents detailing their theories were made public Thursday.

But State Attorney Willie Meggs said the speculations of police investigators do not make a case for murder. 

TPD's release of the documents is an indication of the tension between police — who have devoted extensive resources to piece together evidence — and prosecutors, who must rely on that evidence to try to secure a conviction.

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September 10, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Federal College Tax Credits Cost $32 Billion/Year And Have Zero Effect On Applications Or Enrollment

Peter Bergman (Columbia), Jeffrey T. Denning (BYU) & Dayanand Manoli (Texas), Is Information Enough? Evidence from a Tax Credit Information Experiment with 1,000,000 Students:

This study examines the effect of information about tax credits for college using a sample of over 1 million students or prospective students in Texas. We sent emails and letters to students that described tax credits for college and tracked college outcomes. We find that for all three of our samples—already enrolled students, students who had previously applied to college but were not currently enrolled, and rising high school seniors—that information about tax credits for college did not affect reenrollment, application, and enrollment respectively.

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September 10, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Faculty Office Hours: The Cure For FMOOWMP
(Fear of Meeting One-on-One With My Professor)

From Arizona State:

September 10, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1220

IRS Logo 2Washington Post op-ed: Congress Should Impeach The IRS Commissioner — Or Risk Becoming Obsolete, by George F. Will:

Republican congressional leaders ardently want conservative members of the House to not force a vote on impeaching the IRS commissioner. The public does not care about John Koskinen’s many misdeeds. And impeachment will distract attention from issues that interest the public. And because Democrats are not ingrates, the required two-thirds of the Senate will never vote to convict Koskinen, whose behavior continues the pattern of doing what Democrats desire with the most intrusive and potentially punitive government agency.

These Republican leaders’ reasons are cumulatively unpersuasive. Resuscitating the impeachment power would contribute to revitalizing Congress’s Article I powers. Impeachments are rare — no appointed official of the executive branch has been impeached in 140 years. But what James Madison called the “indispensable” power to impeach should not be allowed to atrophy, as has Congress’s power to declare war. ...

In June testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University Law School noted that the Obama administration stands accused of “effectively weaponizing the IRS.” And the Koskinen controversy comes as Congress “is facing an unprecedented erosion of its authority vis-a-vis the executive branch.” The “increasing obstruction and contempt displayed by federal agencies in congressional investigations reflects the loss of any credible threat of congressional action. Congress has become a paper tiger within our tripartite system — a branch that often expresses outrage, yet fails to enforce its constitutional authority.”

The Koskinen controversy, Turley said, “falls at the very crossroads of expanding executive power, diminishing congressional authority, and the rise of the Fourth Branch,” which consists of “federal agencies that exercise increasingly unilateral and independent powers.” As Turley noted (and as Hillary Clinton can ruefully attest), “private litigants like Judicial Watch” are nowadays more successful than Congress in prying information from the executive branch. And (as the Lerner case illustrates) “the administration has effectively foreclosed avenues like the referral of criminal contempt and other sanctions that should be imposed for providing misleading statements to Congress.” ...

The Constitution authorizes impeachment for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Madison favored this language and interpreted it to include “maladministration,” which surely encompasses perjury and obstruction of Congress. The idea that an IRS commissioner is not a high enough official for impeachment ignores, Turley says, “the realities of the modern regulatory state.” Commissioners have authority over 90,000 employees collecting $2.5 trillion in revenues annually. ...

One of the articles of impeachment filed by the House against Richard Nixon was that he, “acting personally and through his subordinates ” (emphasis added), had “endeavored” to use the IRS to violate Americans’ rights, causing IRS actions “to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.” If presidents are, as McCarthy says, “derivatively responsible” for misconduct by executive branch subordinates, surely those officials are responsible for their own misconduct and that of underlings. Refusing to impeach Koskinen would continue the passivity by which members of Congress have become, in Turley’s words, “agents of their own obsolescence.”

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September 10, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, David Gamage (UC-Berkeley) reviews a new paper by Dave Owen (UC-Hastings), Water and Taxes, 50 UC Davis L. Rev. ___ (2016):

Gamage (2016)The article begins by reviewing the basics of both water law and tax law, to explain that there are currently only modest interactions.  Water rights are indeed taxed, especially by state and local property tax regimes.  Yet the article explains that the ways in which water rights are currently taxed do not serve to meaningfully address concerns about inadequate water conservation.  The article thus proposes more robustly taxing water rights as a means for achieving better water conservation.

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September 9, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Corporate Inversions Benefit CEOs More Than Shareholders

Cato at Liberty:  Corporate Inversions, by Peter Van Doren:

Among industrialized countries, the United States has the highest official corporate tax rate and one of the highest effective tax rates. To take advantage of lower taxes in other countries, some U.S. firms elect to sell themselves to smaller foreign firms, a process called “inversion.”

For shareholders of those firms, the tax consequences of inversions are complicated. Some are harmed by the move while others benefit. Individual shareholders, who own shares in taxable accounts, are taxed on the increased value of their shares. This can result in different tax outcomes from inversions for shareholders who have held the stock for a long time prior to the inversion and short-term shareholders (including corporate officers exercising company stock options).

In the summer issue of Regulation, I described a new research paper that investigates 73 inversions that occurred from 1983 to 2014 [Anton Babkin (Wisconsin), Brent Glover (Carnegie Mellon) & Oliver Levine (Wisconsin), Are Corporate Inversions Good for Shareholders?]. For those investors who had owned stock for three years, half of the inversions resulted in a negative return. So if many long-term shareholders lose money on inversions, why do they occur?

The answer appears to be that corporate executives gain from inversions even if shareholders lose.

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September 9, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

More Controversy At Florida Over The Dean Calling Out Male Law Review Editor-in-Chief And Faculty Advisor (A Tax Prof) For Allegedly Sexist Remarks

Florida Logo (GIF)I previously have covered controversies at Florida involving faculty sick-leave payouts and changes in the graduate tax program.  A new controversy has erupted over this passage from Dean Laura Rosenbury's article, Channeling Mary Joe Frug, 50 New Eng. L. Rev. 305, 317 (2016) (Mary Joe Frug Memorial Symposium):

“You look too young to be a dean.” Since becoming a law school dean nine months ago, I have heard those words at least once a week, if not more. The (male) president of our law review also introduced me at a large banquet this fall by saying: “We feel so lucky to have such a young and vivacious dean.” The law review faculty advisor subsequently came to my office to explain I shouldn’t hold those words against the student because he, the advisor, had described me in that way and he didn’t mean it to be sexist; he sincerely believes a law school dean needs to be “energetic.” When I asked if he would describe another law school dean in that manner —a male dean who is exactly my age—the advisor replied: “But you look so much younger!”

I am 46, two years younger than Frug was at her death. As with my teaching and scholarship, I long to ask Frug how she would respond to such statements. Even more so, I would love to hear her thoughts on what those statements mean about current constructions of law professors, law school deans, and the legal academy as a whole.

Jeff Harrison (Florida), My Take on Young and Vivacious:

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September 9, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (17)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Adelson Family Will Not Be Charged In Dan Markel's Murder Despite Circumstantial Evidence Released By Police (Including $1 Million Offer To Allow Children To Move To Miami, Communication And Money Trail To Hit Men)

Adelson FamilyProbable Cause First Degree Murder/Principal First Degree Murder:

Daily Mail, Brother-in-Law Will NOT Be Charged in Murder of FSU Professor Who Was Locked in Vicious Custody Battle With His Sister Despite Years of Police Investigation:

The former brother-in-law of a prominent Florida State University law professor will not be charged in the alleged murder-for-hire plot that led to his death.  Charlie Adelson and his girlfriend Katherine Magbanua have both avoided charges in the murder of Dan Markel, the Tallahassee Police Department have revealed. ...

State Attorney Willie Meggs approved charges against Garcia and Rivera, but did not feel there was sufficient evidence to go forward with cases against Adelson and Magbanua.  Meggs said no additional arrests will be made in the case unless more evidence is found.

Garcia is the father of Magbanua's two children. In the three months before the murder, he called her 2,700 times, according to investigators. ... A number of phone calls also occured between midnight and 1am among Adelson, his mother Donna, Magbanua and Garcia on July 18, the day Markel was murdered. ...

The probable cause affidavit also reveals that in the days and months after the murder Garcia purchased a new car and motorcycle, according to WCTV. Records show Rivera also purchased a motorcycle within 10 days of the murder.

Meanwhile, Magbanua began receiving checks from Adelson and his father's dental practice, the Adelson Institute, from September 2014 to January 2016. In the year prior to Markel's murder, Magbanua was making cash deposits that totaled $15,000. In the months after the murder she was making deposits totaling $44,000, the affidavit states. ...

The probable cause affidavit for Charles Adelson revealed a judge refused to allow Wendi to move her sons to South Florida in June 2013. It states that the family then discussed paying Markel $1million to allow the children to relocate. ...

Wendi Adelson and several of her family members said in a statement earlier this month that speculation they had a role in Markel's murder is 'categorically false'.

Tallahassee Democrat, Documents Detail Potential Links to Markel's In-Laws:

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September 9, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (18)

Case Western Seeks To Hire A Tax Visitor

Case Logo (2014)Case Western Reserve University School of Law invites applications from entry-level or lateral candidates for a visiting assistant professor of law position beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year:

Areas of focus include business law and tax, including Business Associations, Mergers & Acquisitions, Business Planning and Corporate Tax. This is a one-year visiting position with the possibility of a one-year renewal at the end of the contract term based on Law School needs.

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September 9, 2016 in Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Amazon Saved Billions In Taxes

Amazon logoNewsweek, How Amazon Saved Billions in Taxes:

In the early 2000s, Amazon embarked on a yearslong mission to save billions by setting up operations in Luxembourg to radically reshape its tax structure. Using a complex patchwork of subsidiaries, the online shopping behemoth managed to shift vast quantities of its profit through a sophisticated mechanism that took external consultants and in-house tax specialists—who reported directly to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos—years to dream up.

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September 9, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1219

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal, House Republicans Weigh Impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen:

House Republicans have no affection for the Internal Revenue Service after three years of mounting frustration about what they see as the tax agency’s slow and incomplete responses to congressional investigations. But many are shying away from the aggressive step urged by some hard-liners: impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen now.

Lawmakers are debating how far to go as they weigh the political risks of irritating some of their most ardent supporters with any vote that even resembles letting Mr. Koskinen off the hook. What is giving them pause about impeachment are conservatives’ push to bypass the Judiciary Committee and the slim chances of removing Mr. Koskinen from office. That would require Senate Republicans to overcome their reluctance and also attract more than 20 Democratic votes—the number needed to get the necessary two-thirds majority in the Senate—making it a clear dead end.

House Republicans’ internal standoff shows the limits of raw politics in the general-election season after years of conservatives rallying against the IRS, a movement that has helped to restrict the agency’s budget and inspired calls from the right to eliminate the IRS entirely. ...

Impeachment backers plan to use a procedural tactic to force a vote on the House floor as soon as next week, and House Republicans will meet behind closed doors beforehand in an effort to hash out the internal disagreement. ...

The bill of particulars against Mr. Koskinen stems from his response to congressional investigations. Under his watch, the agency destroyed backup data that included emails belonging to Lois Lerner, who had led the office that oversaw nonprofit groups. The impeachment resolution says Mr. Koskinen “failed to act with competence and forthrightness” in disclosing the destruction and that the agency didn’t try hard enough to preserve all documents.

Mr. Koskinen has said the destruction was unintentional and that he waited to inform Congress until he had complete information.

Republicans say Mr. Koskinen’s actions prevented them from uncovering the truth about what happened to tea-party groups and why.

Democrats say there is no evidence the agency’s actions were politically motivated. Instead, they say it is clear the IRS was trying—clumsily and slowly—to come up with a rule for judging whether tax-exempt groups met the tax code’s rules that limit political involvement of nonprofits.

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September 9, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Students, Alleged Victim Of Sexual Harassment By Former UC-Berkeley Law School Dean Protest His Return To Campus

UC Berkeley (2016)Following up on Monday's post, Despite UC President Napolitano’s Previous Ban, Former UC-Berkeley Law Dean Still On Campus:

The Daily Californian, An Open Letter From Sujit Choudhry About Sexual Harassment:

To the students of the UC Berkeley School of Law:

Last week, I went to work in my office on campus. I understand that this has caused some of you confusion or even alarm. I know many of you thought I had been banned from campus. But even in times of controversy, and in fact especially in times of controversy, the facts still matter. The undisputed fact is that I am not and have never been banned from campus. There is not, and has never been, any legal or factual basis for banning me. I have the right to go to work. I am exercising that right, peacefully and unobtrusively.

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September 8, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Religious Diversity At Pepperdine

Once of the things I love most about Pepperdine is the religious diversity of faculty, staff, and students. Today, to conclude our week-long series of events commemorating Diversity Week, faculty members of four different faith traditions (Sukhsimranjit Singh, Naomi Goodno, Ahmed Taha, and Michael Helfand) participated in a lunchtime conversation about faith moderated by Pepperdine University Chaplain Sara Barton (left) and Dean of Graduate Studies Al Sturgeon (right).

Diversity Week

September 8, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kleinbard, Warren And Others On The EU-Apple $14.5 Billion Tax Dispute

Apple EUFollowing up on my previous coverage of the EU-Apple tax dispute (links below):

Financial Times op-ed: The Myths Behind Apple's Manufactured Tax Crisis, by Ed Kleinbard (USC):

The op-ed responds to the spin put on the case by Apple and its allies, by arguing that the controversy is not a tax case at all. To claim otherwise just confuses the core finding (that Ireland delivered subsidies to Apple in exchange for jobs) with the instrument used by Ireland to deliver those subsidies. The piece further debunks the claim that the US is the jurisdiction with the best claim to tax Apple’s pot of essentially tax-free income. Space constraints required that some of the thoughts had to be truncated a bit; had I unlimited room, I would have concluded the piece with something along these lines:

The myths put forward by the Apple spin machine, abetted by the US Treasury, threaten to fracture international tax administration comity when no tax crisis in fact exists. Tax here was just the instrument for delivering state aid. The US Treasury is expert in detecting tax shams used to disadvantage US tax collections, and should have recognized that the EC similarly is making a sham arrangement argument.

The Hill op-ed: Apple’s Ireland Tax Avoidance Should Spur Major Reforms, by Ed Kleinbard (USC):

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September 8, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Does Learning To Code Make You A Better Lawyer?

ABA Journal (2014)ABA Journal (Sept. 2016), Hacking the Law: Does Learning to Code Make You a Better Lawyer?:

Learning to code can be portrayed as an essential job skill for all Americans, advocates say. But do lawyers need to learn it?

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September 8, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

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

Texas Tech Logo (2016)Katherine A. Austin (Texas Tech), Catherine Martin Christopher (Texas Tech) & Darby Dickerson (Dean, Texas Tech), Will I Pass the Bar Exam?: Predicting Student Success Using LSAT Scores and Law School Performance:

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

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September 8, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tax Development Journal Publishes New Issue

TDJ4The Tax Development Journal of California State University, Northridge (a double-blind, peer-reviewed journal), has published Volume 6 (Fall 2016):

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September 8, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Want To See The Inside Of A Faculty Meeting? Go To A Zoo

Faculty MeetingLawProfBlawg, Want To See The Inside of A Faculty Meeting? Go To A Zoo:

The neat thing about faculty meetings is the chance to see the people around the law school you very rarely see. All in the same room. Thus, it is vitally important you embrace these rare opportunities and be happy about them. Or so I’m told. But beyond all else, it is important to recognize how we really haven’t gotten too far from the animal kingdom. ...

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September 8, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1218

IRS Logo 2The Hill, IRS Chief Makes His Case to GOP Lawmakers:

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on Wednesday made his case against impeachment to two groups of House Republicans. Koskinen met with members of the moderate Tuesday Group as well as with members of the conservative Republican Study Committee, where some lawmakers support his impeachment. “He just wanted to state his case,” said Tuesday group co-chair Charlie Dent (R-Pa.).

Bloomberg, House Will Hold Vote on Whether to Impeach IRS Chief, Ryan Says:

Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday the House will vote on whether to impeach Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, and he indicated members won’t be pressured to vote one way or the other.

Daily Caller, Hatch Insists The Senate Will Never Impeach IRS Commissioner:

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch says there is not even the “slightest chance” the Senate will impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen anytime soon.

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September 8, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Hackney Presents Labor Unions And Tax Exemption Today At Northwestern

HackneyPhilip Hackney (LSU) presents Subsidizing the Heavenly Chorus: Labor Unions and Tax Exemption at Northwestern today as part of its Advanced Topics in Taxation Workshop Series hosted by Sarah Lawsky:

Labor interests are historically politically weak in our US democracy. They face classic collective action problems. Laborers are great in number, do not have strong political skills, and are unlikely to recoup the cost of participating in labor union activity. Without assistance, we should expect labor interests to engage in limited and sporadic organized political efforts. This presents big problems for a modern democratic state that depends upon organized interests to represent the interests of its citizens. This Article examines the impact of our federal income tax system on labor interests in the context of the provision of tax exemption to labor unions and the deduction of labor union dues.

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September 7, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harvard Law Review Inducts Most Diverse Class Of Editors In History

HarvardHarvard Crimson, Law Review Inducts Most Diverse Class of Editors in History:

For the first time in the publication’s nearly 130-year history, the Harvard Law Review inducted a group of editors this year whose demographics reflect those of their wider Law School class—including the highest-ever percentages of women and students of color.

The demographic composition of the new editors—who were selected over the summer—reflects the broader makeup of the Law School’s class of 2018, according to numbers provided by Harvard Law Review President Michael L. Zuckerman ’10. Forty-six percent of the incoming editors are women, an increase of about 10 percentage points from an average of the past three years. Forty-one percent are students of color, compared to the same three-year average of 28 percent on the Law Review. Both roughly reflect the corresponding breakdown of the wider Law School class.

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September 7, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Jocelyn Benson, Youngest Woman To Ever Lead An American Law School, Steps Down From Wayne State To Be CEO Of National Campaign In Sports For Equality

BensonCrain's Detroit Business, Wayne State Law Dean Takes Post as CEO of Ross Initiative:

Wayne State University’s law school dean of nearly four years, Jocelyn Benson, is stepping down to become CEO of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, founded by Wayne Law alumnus and The Related Cos. Chairman Stephen Ross.

Benson, 38, replaced Robert Ackerman as interim dean in December 2012, and became permanent dean in 2014 of the Detroit-based law school with more than 400 students and about 140 employees. She was previously associate director of the law school’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, and has been a faculty member since 2005.

The Ross initiative, a nonprofit founded in 2015, is led by representatives of sports organizations including the NFL, NBA and MLB, to improve U.S. race relations. Benson also becomes a special adviser on philanthropic investments to Ross. She is expected to make the transition later this month.

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September 7, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

GAO:  IRS Needs To Clarify Authority Of Published Guidance

GAO (2016)Government Accountability Office, Treasury and OMB Need to Reevaluate Long-standing Exemptions of Tax Regulations and Guidance (GAO- 16-720):

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses a variety of documents to communicate its interpretation of tax laws to the public, but only considers Internal Revenue Bulletin (IRB) guidance to be authoritative. IRS information published outside of the IRB can help taxpayers understand tax laws and make informed decisions, but does not always include information clarifying the limitations of its use. IRS has detailed procedures for identifying, prioritizing, and issuing new guidance. However, it lacks procedures for documenting the decision about what type of guidance to issue.

Hierarchy of Authority for IRS Guidance and Other Information Sources

Hierarchy of Authority for IRS Guidance and Other Information Sources

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September 7, 2016 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bard:  Law Schools As Baskin Robbins? Disentangling Correlation From Causation In Addressing Curriculum Challenges

BRJennifer S. Bard (Dean, Cincinnati), Disentangling Correlation from Causation in Addressing the Contemporary Challenges of the Law School Curriculum:

The disconnect between the actual curriculum of law schools in the United States meeting the ABA Standards for Accreditation and the multiple calls to reform that curriculum in order to create “practice ready” lawyers and increase bar passage is national in its scope and has led to considerable tension both in and out of the academy. I wrote this piece, Not Your Parents' Law School, last February to put the balance of classroom and experiential learning in context, but the on-going calls to increase bar passage, lower costs, cut a year out of the curriculum, and increase hands-on skills instruction continue to create a climate of considerable dissonance. If that wasn't hard enough, we are trying to address these issues in an environment where everyone involved has not just their own opinion, but their own facts. Baskin Robbins wouldn't launch a new flavor based on evidence equal to the paucity of reproducible research that supports either the claims about the scope of legal academe's problems or the proposals for solving them.

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September 7, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

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 September 1, 2016) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

 

 

All-Time

 

Recent

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

58,913

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

10,432

2

Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)

33,576

Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)

4860

3

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

31,985

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

3544

4

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

27,864

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

2769

5

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

26,435

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2336

6

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

22,843

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

2217

7

James Hines (Michigan)

22,048

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

2057

8

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

21,281

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

2032

9

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

21,234

William Byrnes (Texas A&M)

2016

10

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

20,689

Nancy McLaughlin (Utah)

1967

11

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

19,198

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1868

12

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

18,560

Chris Hoyt (UMKC)

1866

13

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

17,851

David Weisbach (Chicago)

1794

14

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

17,234

Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)

1779

15

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

17,206

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

1749

16

David Weisbach (Chicago)

17,122

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

1708

17

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

16,836

Steven Bank (UCLA)

1506

18

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

16,680

Yariv Brauner (Florida)

1505

19

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

16,398

Jack Manhire (Texas A&M)

1419

20

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

16,167

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

1407

21

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

15,873

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

1383

22

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

15,698

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1362

23

David Walker (Boston Univ.)

15,231

Richard Kaplan (Illinos)

1329

24

Steven Bank (UCLA)

13,802

Jordan Barry (San Diego)

1213

25

Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)

13,254

Stephen Shay (Harvard)

1203

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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September 7, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Did Wayne State Give Donor Too Much Control Over Curriculum, Dean's Salary In $40 Million Gift To B-School?

Wayne State 2Inside Higher Ed, Wayne State Donor Agreement Goes Under the Microscope:

Terms of a pizza-and-sports magnate family’s $40 million gift to build Wayne State University’s business school have come under scrutiny in Detroit, with clauses about donor consultation on curriculum and dean pay catching attention in particular.

But while a donation agreement between Wayne State and Michael and Marian Ilitch reveals intriguing details about the current tricks of the trade in university fund-raising, much of it is actually keeping with current trends. The university maintains that those much-dissected provisions on pay and curriculum aren’t out of the ordinary — even though many continue to worry it could leave open the door for the big-name donors to exert undue influence.

Others say that if anything is out of lockstep with current practices, it’s the length of the naming rights being awarded. The donation agreement calls for the school to be named after Michael Ilitch in perpetuity. But even if many of the conditions — including details on how the donors are to be recognized — are honored, others are raising concerns of faculty members. ...

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September 7, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1217

IRS Logo 2Washington Post editorial, House Conservatives Want to Impeach the IRS Director. That Would be a Big Mistake:

Congress returned from its summer break Tuesday to what may be a brief but contentious pre-election legislative spell. Among the likely arguments: whether Congress should radically change its relationship with the executive branch and hobble the government in the process.

For months, a group of hard-line conservative lawmakers has been pressing to impeach Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, in an effort that may soon come to a head. The context for the campaign against Mr. Koskinen is the continuing GOP obsession with the way the IRS reviewed nonprofit groups’ tax-exempt status, following reports that conservative groups were disproportionately scrutinized. The initial reports turned out not to reflect much of a scandal, which was more about bureaucratic obliviousness than purposeful anti-conservative activity. ...

The Founders designed federal impeachment procedures to be used sparingly, erecting barriers to removing executive officers that did not exist in the English system, Michael J. Gerhardt, a University of North Carolina law professor, told the House Judiciary Committee in June. They also purposely avoided allowing impeachment in cases of mere “maladministration,” raising the bar to the much more serious “high crimes and misdemeanors” standard. “The Founders did not want high-ranking officials in the executive or judicial branches to be subject to impeachment for their mistakes in office,” Mr. Gerhardt testified.

The cumbersome and partisan Senate confirmation process has made it hard enough to fully staff the highest realms of government with competent people. Never-ending, partisan impeachment proceedings against executive officers would make it even harder to keep the essential mechanics of government working. The result would be more bureaucratic bungling, not less.

Politico, Senate GOP Plots Way to Dodge Koskinen Impeachment:

Fighting to hold onto their slim majority, Senate Republicans are planning to wriggle out of considering the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen even if the House forces the issue.

It's a two-part plan: First Senate Republicans are attempting to convince their conservative House brethren to avoid the matter entirely. Then, if the House passes an impeachment resolution by a simple majority, Senate Republicans will seek a procedural out to avoid a controversial impeachment trial that would draw attention to a Senate GOP that's tried to portray itself as the stable arm of Congress.

But with House Republicans divided over the Freedom Caucus's charge to impeach Koskinen over his alleged obstruction of a congressional investigation, it's not too late, GOP senators say, to change course and punt on impeachment at least until after the November election.

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September 7, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)