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Saturday, March 14, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 674

IRS Logo 2Forbes, As Hillary Faces Emailgate, Ex IRS Chief Runs For President, by Robert W. Wood:

As Republicans and Democrats start vying for spots on the 2016 presidential tickets, the presumed Democratic nominee remains Hillary Clinton. Yet she faces what could emerge as a scandal, and like the IRS and its nemesis Lois Lerner, Mrs. Clinton could be undone by emails. The surprise and belated disclosure that Mrs. Clinton used private email rather than State Department email during her term as Secretary of State is at least awkward. ...

With this email gaffe, it could be worth considering dark horse candidates like the head of the IRS. Not the current email-losing-tax-czar Commissioner John Koskinen mind you, but a prior Commissioner of the IRS, Mark Everson. Mr. Everson was head of the IRS for four years under President Bush. Fox’s Neil Cavuto suggested that it would be an unlikely campaign pitch to say “I’m from the IRS and I’m here to help.” ...

But most people in America may not warm to a tax man as President, even without such issues. Mr. Everson’s term at the IRS was not marred in the way of the current IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. For most Americans, the IRS targeting scandal and seeming cover-up of the last two years has damaged greatly the image of an already unattractive agency. Anyone associated with the IRS is likely to be viewed with skepticism.

After the targeting scandal had been underway for over a year, Mr. Koskinen testified that recovery efforts had been thorough, but the tapes and emails just couldn’t be found. As if to goad Republicans, he said that millions in taxpayer money was spent looking. Over 250 IRS employees spent 100,000 hours, costing taxpayers at least $14 million. However, the Treasury Inspector General has revealed that the IT people at the IRS say no one even asked them to recover the emails.

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March 14, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Herzig & Brunson: Using the Tax Law to Combat Racist Fraternities and Sororities

SAESlate:  Subsidized Injustice: Racist Fraternities and Sororities Should Have Their Tax-exempt Status Revoked, by David Herzig (Valparaiso) & Samuel Brunson (Loyola-Chicago):

The video of an inexcusable racist chant by members of the University of Oklahoma chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity came as a shock to most viewers. The fraternity’s national headquarters acted swiftly to close the chapter, and the university quickly removed the fraternity from its campus. But the discussion seems to end there.

Treating this as an isolated incident, rather than as a symptom of a larger problem, is shortsighted. ... These incidents show structural inequities in the Greek system. ...

As tax law professors, we naturally see solutions through the prism of the tax law.

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March 13, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

A California Law Schools Rankings Renaissance?

2016 U.S. News RankingsFollowing up on my previous posts on the complaints by California law school deans last year that the U.S. News rankings penalize the state's schools:

The overall rankings at eight California law schools—USC, UC-Davis, UC-Hastings, Loyola, University of San Diego, Santa Clara, Pacific McGeorge and University of San Francisco—have fallen, in some cases plunged, in recent years.  The rankings at four other programs—Stanford, UC-Berkeley, UCLA and Pepperdine—have remained relatively stable. (The remaining eight schools remain unranked.)

I have updated the Deans' data with the new 2016 U.S. News rankings.  Of the 12 ranked California law schools, the ranking of eight (67%) increased from 2015; two (17%) decreased; and two (17% were unchanged. The same four law schools either increased their ranking over four years (Stanford, UC-Berkeley, and Pepperdine) or remained the same (UCLA).

 

Name

2012

Rank

2014

Rank

2015

Rank

2016

Rank

1 Year

Change

4 Year

Change

Stanford

3

2

3

2

+1

+1

UC-Berkeley

9

9

9

8

+1

+1

UCLA

16

17

16

16

0

0

USC

18

18

20

20

-2

-2

UC-Irvine

30

UC-Davis

23

38

36

31

+5

-8

Pepperdine

54

61

54

52

+2

+2

UC-Hastings

42

48

54

59

-5

-17

Loyola-L.A.

54

68

87

75

+12

-21

San Diego

67

68

79

71

+8

-4

Santa  Clara

84

96

107

94

+13

-10

Chapman

104

126

140

127

+13

-23

McGeorge

100

124

146

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

San Francisco

100

144

Tier 2

138

n/a

-38

Cal Western

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Golden Gate

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Southwestern

121

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

-25

T. Jefferson

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Western State

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

Whittier

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

Tier 2

n/a

n/a

March 13, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law School Rankings by BigLaw Partners

I received a press release and  executive summary of a forthcoming article in the Buffalo Law Review by Edward Adams (Minnesota) & Samuel Engel, Does Law School Still Make Economic Sense?: An Empirical Analysis of “Big” Law Firm Partnership Prospects and the Relationship to Law School Attended:

This study is the first to comprehensively examine the relationship between law school attended and achieving partnership in the 100 largest American law firms. Seeking to address issues related to a previous study by Ted Seto [Where do Partners Come From, 62 J. Legal Educ. 242 (2012)], the extensive empirical analysis included in this paper is a critical and seminal addition to the increasingly visible debate regarding the value of a legal education, law school rankings, and the factors that should be considered by potential law students when choosing a law school to attend. ...

Table 1 ranks the top 100 law schools, according to an index score based on the number of partners from each school and their weighted class size as further described below.  The table also includes an indicator that states the difference between this ranking and the United States News and World Report ranking.  Although the celebrated T-14 nearly stayed intact, significant differences are seen immediately outside that range.  The index score is included to demonstrate the actual magnitude between different rankings, and the last four columns provide supplementary information helpful in properly analyzing the index score. ...

Table 1:  Index Scores Evaluation

Rank

USNWR-Index

School

Index

% Younger than Mean

2025 Score

Value per Partner

Value Added

1

+3.5

Chicago

437

53.8

425.67

2.22

9.70

2

=

Harvard

413

42.7

368.89

2.29

9.46

3

-2

Yale

341

38.9

267.74

2.36

8.05

4

+.5

Columbia

329

45.1

283.61

2.48

8.16

5

+7

Northwestern

315

54.0

322.14

1.93

6.08

6

+2

Virginia

310

47.7

287.68

1.91

5.92

7

=

Penn

293

48.7

265.17

2.08

6.09

8

-2

NYU

273

52.2

256.89

2.39

6.52

9

-6

Stanford

261

46.5

256.82

2.21

5.77

10

+.5

Michigan

235.79

48.5

224.94

1.97

4.65

11

-.5

Duke

235.71

53.5

234.06

1.99

4.70

12

+1.5

Cornell

233

48.8

201.78

2.15

5.01

13

+.5

Georgetown

231

53.6

241.16

2.04

4.71

14

+7

G. Washington

197.0

53.7

188.14

1.87

3.68

15

-6

UC-Berkeley

196.6

45.4

171.61

2.08

4.10

16

+.5

Vanderbilt

176

51.5

183.39

1.66

2.92

17

+23.5

Illinois

164.2

55.4

197.20

1.77

2.90

18

+9.5

Boston U.

164.0

50.1

157.28

2.01

3.30

19

+18.5

Boston College

161

51.7

167.28

1.95

3.14

20

+6

Notre Dame

160

56.0

168.64

1.73

2.77

21

-6

Texas

157

54.0

155.74

1.81

2.84

22

-3

Emory

156

60.7

175.97

1.75

2.73

23

-2

USC

139

62.9

144.28

1.90

2.64

24

+13.5

Fordham

138

58.2

137.31

2.20

3.04

25

-8.5

UCLA

136

54.1

125.8

1.99

2.71

26

+17.5

Wash. & Lee

128.5

57.2

141.09

1.70

2.19

27

+2.5

Indiana–Bloom.

127.6

52.8

121.86

1.52

1.95

28

+41.5

Loyola–Chicago

121

61.3

136.37

1.69

2.04

29

+67

Villanova

120

42.2

103.2

1.59

1.91

30

+3

North Carolina

114

53.8

123.35

1.64

1.87

31

-13

Washington U.

113

61.2

134.58

1.57

1.77

32

+77.5

Catholic

107

51.3

92.98

1.84

1.97

33

+9

SMU

104.2

56.2

113.99

1.71

1.78

34

+41

American

103.7

61.7

107.54

1.96

2.04

35

+14.5

Florida

100.3

50.6

95.69

1.60

1.60

36

+26

Temple

99.8

55.4

100.4

1.60

1.60

37

+18.5

UC-Hastings

97.1

49.9

87.2

1.81

1.81

38

-13.5

William & Mary

97.0

62.6

105.34

1.68

1.68

39

-6

Wake Forest

95

58.3

104.5

1.44

1.44

40

+61.5

SUNY

94

36.7

72.57

1.72

1.72

41

-20

Minnesota

93

68.2

105.74

1.64

1.64

42

+54

South Carolina

92

50.7

102.95

1.28

1.28

43

-13.5

Georgia

90

52.1

92.7

1.48

1.48

44

+37.5

Pittsburgh

89

56.5

85.53

1.44

1.44

45

-20.5

Washington

88

58.6

97.77

1.46

1.46

46

+19.5

Case Western

86

45.7

82.216

1.32

1.32

47

+18.5

Missouri

84

56.5

95.26

1.30

1.09

48

-10.5

UC-Davis

82

55.6

85.61

1.89

1.55

49

+13

Miami

79.1

56.3

88.04

1.62

1.28

50

-17

Wisconsin

79.0

50.0

69.52

1.74

1.38

51

-23.5

Iowa

78.3

55.6

86.21

1.62

1.26

52

+17.5

Kansas

78.0

60.9

88.61

1.34

1.05

53

-20

Ohio State

76.5

58.2

78.72

1.62

1.25

54

+71.5

DePaul

75

60.9

83.55

1.69

1.27

55

-8

Tulane

72.1

71.6

83.28

1.82

1.31

56

+53.5

St. John’s

71.4

55.3

64.76

1.93

1.37

57

-10

Maryland

70.8

56.0

67.76

1.81

1.29

58

+79

Hofstra

70.25

56.7

68.96

1.89

1.32

59

+30.5

Loyola-L.A.

70.24

60.2

72.14

1.76

1.23

60

-8

Baylor

70.1

55.4

69.05

1.56

1.09

61

-14

George Mason

69.8

76.1

85.57

1.68

1.18

62

-10

Richmond

68.9

49.1

62.42

1.73

1.19

63

+56

Albany

66.98

46.5

52.11

2.10

1.41

64

+11

Chicago–Kent

66.94

67.8

78.32

1.64

1.10

65

+24.5

Seattle

66

77.0

93.72

1.54

1.02

66

+43.5

Santa Clara

65.1

70.3

79.62

1.77

1.15

67

N/A

San Francisco

64.6

53.0

65.83

1.76

1.14

68

-18.5

Utah

64.5

37.3

50.76

1.69

1.10

69

-10

Houston

64.0

65.2

77.38

1.71

1.09

70

-18

Penn State

63.8

56.1

61.76

1.57

1.00

71

+8.5

San Diego

63.4

68.6

78.05

1.65

1.04

72

-28.5

Colorado

61.4

55.8

68.22

1.57

0.96

73

-17.5

Pepperdine

60.77

76.9

78.27

1.73

1.06

74

+31

UMKC

60.76

56.8

69.78

1.23

0.75

75

+6.5

Rutgers-Camden

60.71

59.1

70.12

1.56

0.95

76

+8.5

Brooklyn

60

52.4

55.32

1.97

1.18

77

+19

Saint Louis

59

55.9

65.02

1.32

0.78

78

+31.5

Syracuse

57

58.5

52.27

1.83

1.04

79

N/A

Widener

56.4

78.5

60.63

1.30

0.73

80

+4.5

Rutgers–Newark

55.8

57.7

52.56

1.96

1.10

81

-43.5

Brigham Young

54

64.0

82.89

1.75

0.95

82

-16.5

Yeshiva

53

73.5

68.16

1.99

1.05

83

-8

Tennessee

50

42.9

41.35

1.49

0.75

84

+12

Northeastern

48

67.9

64.99

1.74

0.84

85

-5.5

Cincinnati

47

46.0

40.42

1.59

0.75

86

-16.5

Denver

44.3

62.4

58.83

1.43

0.63

87

+55

NY Law School

43.8

52.7

40.47

1.87

0.82

88

-43

Florida State

43.669

56.4

49.87

1.54

0.68

89

+35.5

Duquesne

43.666

54.8

41.00

1.44

0.63

90

-24.5

Georgia State

42

89.1

53.72

1.59

0.67

91

+5

Franklin Pierce

40.2

75.6

52.38

1.59

0.64

92

-36.5

Nebraska

39.6

55.6

48.27

1.28

0.51

93

-70

Alabama

38

61.3

34.77

1.70

0.65

94

+22

Creighton

37.3

58.6

41.59

1.41

0.52

95

+47

Pace

37.2

65.8

38.20

1.59

0.59

96

-55.5

Arizona

36.2

62.5

43.04

1.52

0.55

97

-7.5

Indiana-Ind.

36.1

62.6

44.11

1.46

0.53

98

-65

Arizona State

36.0

58.6

38.02

1.53

0.55

99

+10.5

Texas Tech

35.3

59.0

41.8

1.75

0.61

100

+5

Mercer

35.2

65.3

39.67

1.58

0.55

March 13, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WaPo Fact Checker: Ted Cruz’s Claim That the Tax Code Has More Words Than the Bible

CruzWashington Post Fact Checker, Ted Cruz’s Claim That the IRS Tax Code Has More Words Than the Bible:

“On tax reform, we, right now, have more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible — not a one of them as good.”

–Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), speech at International Association of Fire Fighters legislative conference, March 10, 2015

Comparing the number of words in the U.S. tax code with the number in the Bible is a common theme among conservatives who fault the tax code for being overly burdensome. In fact, the claim has been made in some variation for at least 10 years.

Cruz is correct on the comparison of words in both texts. But regular readers of The Fact Checker know we frown on such counting exercises, like the number of pages in “Romneycare” health-care law in Massachusetts or the number of pages in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Such comparisons — in this case, the word count of the evolving tax code of the most industrious country in the world to words in a religious document that was written thousands of years ago — don’t really tell you much of anything.

We will not issue a Pinocchio rating or award a Geppetto Checkmark. But it is worth exploring this word-count comparison and how the tax code’s complexities affect taxpayers. ...

The literally translated King James Version of the Bible contains just over 800,000 words. There are as many as 3.7 million individual words in the IRS tax code. (Another count places it as low as 2.6 million words without substantive words such as “is” and “and.”) This number came from copying the text of the code, pasting it into a Microsoft Word document and using the word count function. ...

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March 13, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

ABA Journal: As Law School Enrollment Drops, Experts Disagree on Whether the Bottom Is In Sight

ABA Journal, As Law School Enrollment Drops, Experts Disagree on Whether the Bottom Is In Sight:

Given recent trends, it came as no surprise that enrollment at ABA-accredited law schools fell again in 2014, according to figures released in December by the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. It was the fourth straight year in which law school enrollment dropped after peaking in 2010.

Total enrollment in JD programs (including both full-time and part-time students) at the nation’s 204 ABA-approved law schools fell to 119,775 in 2014, down nearly 7 percent from 2013 and about 18.5 percent from its historic high of 147,525 in 2010, according to the data collected by the legal education section. ... The last time total enrollment was so low ...  was 1987—when there were 29 fewer ABA-approved law schools than there are today.

Enrollment of first-year law students also fell in 2014 for the fourth straight year, to 37,924, down 4.4 percent from 2013 and nearly 28 percent off the all-time high of 52,488 1Ls in 2010, according to the numbers collected by the legal ed section. Enrollment of first-year students hasn’t been that low since 1973, according to the section, when there were only 151 ABA-approved law schools in existence—53 fewer than the current count.

ABA 2

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March 13, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 673

IRS Logo 2Washington Examiner, Politico Sat on Allegations Lois Lerner Had Prior History of Targeting Conservatives:

Politico scored a journalistic coup with its exclusive 2014 profile on Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the agency's targeting of conservative groups.

But a former Illinois lawmaker who said Politico contacted him repeatedly that year with questions regarding claims he was targeted by Lerner in the mid-1990s has been left wondering why the news group chose to ignore his documented dealings with the former federal official.

"I was shocked," Al Salvi told the Washington Examiner's media desk, describing what he characterizes as several "lengthy" interviews with Politico reporter Rachael Bade.

Lerner went after his 1996 Senate campaign with a lawsuit totaling $1.1 million — an enforcement action that was eventually thrown out of court — when she was working at the Federal Election Commission, according to Salvi.

"I spent something like an hour and a half talking to Politico about this," said Salvi, whose dealings with the FEC are well documented by the federal agency. "And I'm nowhere in the story. They had no intention of using anything I said." ...

And it seems Politico is not the only news organization to ignore Salvi's story, as conservative columnist George Will recently noted. After the IRS hearing and Salvi's Fox News appearance, the Washington Post's George Will in a 2013 column titled "Lois Lerner, the scowling face of the state," repeated the former lawmaker's story.

In another column last week, titled "Rein in the IRS," Will repeated the Salvi story, this time accusing national news organizations of ignoring the serious charge against Lerner. "Roskam's telling of Salvi's story elicited no denial from Lerner," Will wrote. "Neither did the retelling of it in this column. ... No wonder: The story had not been deemed newsworthy by the three broadcast networks' evening news programs, by the New York Times or by the Post."

A Lexis search dated June 4-June 11, 2013, of the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times for coverage of the Salvi story produced no results. A similar Lexis search dated March 2-6, 2014, also produced no results.

Similarly, a TV Eyes search dated June 4-June 11 2013, revealed that neither NBC News, nor CBS News nor ABC News covered Roskam's claim during the IRS hearing. The same was found for a TV Eyes search dated March 2-6, 2014, for Will's repeating of Roskam's claim.

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March 13, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thomas Presents User-Friendly Taxpaying Today at UCLA

Thomas (2015)Kathleen DeLaney Thomas (North Carolina) presents User-Friendly Taxpaying at UCLA today as part of its Colloquium on Tax Policy and Public Finance hosted by Jason Oh and Alexander Wu:

Our income tax system is notoriously complex. The sheer volume of the tax code, along with the technical nature of its provisions, means that many individuals don’t fully understand the tax rules that apply to them. This Article refers to this type of tax complexity as “substantive complexity.” Although many commentators have argued for reforms that would simplify the substance of our tax laws, others have argued that substantive complexity is necessary if we want to tax each person according to his or her individual circumstances.

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March 12, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Columbia Journal of Tax Law's Tax Matters: King v. Burwell

Columbia Journal of Tax Law LogoThe Columbia Journal of Tax Law has published a new issue of its Tax Matters feature, with three short pieces by tax practitioners responding to a specific cutting-edge tax law issue posed by a tax academic. This issue's prompt is by David Gamage (UC-Berkeley):

Once again, the U.S. Supreme Court will be deciding the fate of Obamacare—in the case of King v. Burwell. Also, once again, the future of American healthcare reform will turn on how the Supreme Court reviews a provision of Obamacare that was enacted through the tax code.

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March 12, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Marian Reviews Sanchirico's International Tax and Ownership Nationality

JotwellOmri Marian (Florida), So Who, at the End of the Day, Owns Google (or Apple, or Microsoft, or Pfizer ... )? (Jotwell) (reviewing Chris William Sanchirico (Pennsylvania), As American as Apple Inc.: International Tax and Ownership Nationality, 68 Tax. L. Rev. ___ (2014)):

Clearly, the taxation of “U.S. Companies” plays a major role in public discourse. Roughly speaking, the two sides of the debate can be outlined as follows: U.S. multinational corporations either pay too much (because our tax system is not competitive compared with the rest of the world), or too little (because our tax system is riddled with loopholes). We need to reform our tax system so “U.S. Companies” are at par with their foreign competitors; or, we need to tighten our tax rules so as to make sure that “U.S. Companies” share the burden. While political views differ, the terms of the debate seem clear. Whichever side of the debate one takes, something must be done about how we tax “U.S. companies.”

Sanchirico, however, questions the core terms of the debate: “When we speak of ‘U.S. multinationals,’ what do we mean by ‘U.S.’? More specifically, to what extent are these ‘U.S.’ companies owned by non-U.S. investors?” Sanchirico’s ultimate answer is quite a shocker: we have no idea what we are talking about when we speak of “U.S. Companies,” at least in terms of who owns these companies. ...

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March 12, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Official Dies in Office, Co-Workers Don't Notice for Two Days

BBC News, Finns Miss Death in Tax Office:

A tax office official in Finland who died at his desk was not found by his colleagues for two days.

The man in his 60s died last Tuesday while checking tax returns, but no-one realised he was dead until Thursday.

The head of personnel at the office in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, said the man's closest colleagues had been out at meetings when he died. ...

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March 12, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (12)

Senate Holds Hearing Today on Protecting Taxpayers from Schemes and Scams During the 2015 Tax Filing Season

Senate LogoThe Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing today on Protecting Taxpayers from Schemes and Scams During the 2015 Tax Filing Season (links to statements and testimony below):

  • Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Statement
  • Ron Wyden (D-OR), Statement
  • Caroline Ciraolo (Acting Assistant Attorney General, Tax Division, U.S. Department of Justice), Testimony
  • Timothy Camus (Deputy Inspector General for Investigations, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, U.S. Treasury Department), Testimony
  • Mike Alley (Commissioner, Indiana Department of Revenue), Testimony
  • John Valentine (Commission Chair, Utah State Tax Commission), Testimony
  • Ellen Klem (Director of Consumer Outreach & Education, Office of the Attorney General, Oregon Department of Justice), Testimony

March 12, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

New 2016 U.S. News Tax Rankings

2016 U.S. News RankingsHere are the new 2016 U.S. News Tax Rankings, along with last year's rankings:

2016

Rank

 Tax

Program

2015

Rank

1

NYU

1

2

Florida

2

2

Georgetown

3

4

Northwestern

4

5

Virginia

11

6

San Diego

8

7

Boston University

5

8

Columbia

8

8

Harvard

8

10

Loyola-L.A.

14

11

UCLA

12

12

USC

12

13

Miami

5

13

Michigan

15

15

U. Washington

10

16

Indiana

n/r

17

Pennsylvania

n/r

18

Villanova

n/r

19

Boston College

n/r

19

Chicago

n/r

19

Texas

n/r

22

Duke

n/r

22

Washington U.

n/r

24

Denver

n/r

24

Yale

n/r

The biggest upward moves:

  • +6:  Virginia (#5)
  • +4   Loyola-L.A. (#10)
  • +2:  San Diego (#6), Michigan (#13)

The biggest downward moves:

  • -8:  Miami (#13)
  • -5:  U. Washington (#15)
  • -2:  Boston University (#7)

Here are the rankings of the graduate tax programs, along with last year's rankings.

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March 12, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The End of College

The End of CollegeNew York Times:  College for a New Age, by Joe Nocera:

Kevin Carey has a 4-year-old girl. Carey, the director of the education policy program at the New America Foundation, has been thinking about the role of universities in American life for virtually his entire career. But after his daughter was born, that thinking took on a new urgency.

“All of a sudden there is a mental clock,” he told me the other day. “How am I going to pay for her college education? I wanted to write a book that asked, ‘What will college be like when my daughter is ready to go?’ ”

His answer is his new book, The End of College, which is both a stinging indictment of the university business model and a prediction about how technology is likely to change it. His vision is at once apocalyptic and idealistic. He calls it “The University of Everywhere.”

“The story of higher education’s future is a tale of ancient institutions in their last days of decadence, creating the seeds of a new world to come,” he writes. If he is right, higher education will be transformed into a different kind of learning experience that is cheaper, better, more personalized and more useful.

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March 12, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Has $1 Billion In Tax Refunds for People Who Have Not Filed a 2011 Return

BillionIR-2015-44, IRS Has Refunds Totaling $1 Billion for People Who Have Not Filed a 2011 Federal Income Tax Return:

Federal income tax refunds totaling $1 billion may be waiting for an estimated one million taxpayers who did not file a federal income tax return for 2011, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. To collect the money, these taxpayers must file a 2011 tax return with the IRS no later than Wednesday, April 15, 2015.

"Time is running out for people who didn’t file a 2011 federal income tax return to claim their refund," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "People could be missing out on a substantial refund, especially students or part-time workers. Some people may not have filed because they didn’t make much money, but they may still be entitled to a refund.” ...

Here is the state-by-state breakdown:

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March 12, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Senate Seeks Input on Bipartisan Tax Reform

Senate LogoSenate Finance Committee Press Release, Hatch, Wyden Launch New Effort to Seek Input on Bipartisan Tax Reform:

Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today announced a bipartisan effort to begin soliciting ideas from interested members of the public and stakeholders on how best to overhaul the nation’s broken tax code to make it simpler, fairer, and more efficient. The goal of this effort is to provide additional input, data, and information to the Committee’s bipartisan tax working groups, which are currently analyzing existing tax law and examining policy trade-offs and available reform options within each group’s designated area.

“By opening up our bipartisan working groups to public input, we hope to gain a greater understanding of how tax policy affects individuals, businesses, and civic groups across our nation,” Hatch and Wyden said. “In doing so, we will also equip our working groups with valuable input, and we hope these suggestions will help guide the groups through the arduous task of putting forth substantive ideas to reform the tax code in each of their areas.”

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March 12, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 672

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial, Eric Holder’s Speech Police: Justice Gears Up to Prosecute Campaign ‘Coordination’:

You know the 2016 election is heating up when the Justice Department announces it’s gearing up to prosecute campaign-finance “coordination” between candidates and outside groups. If you thought the IRS targeting of conservative nonprofits was troubling, watch what Justice can do to criminalize political speech. ...

A coordination investigation can be started on almost any pretext. All you need is an allegation that someone talked to someone they should not have. Once the investigation makes it over that low evidentiary hurdle, the feds can comb through every shred of personal and group communications to find illegal contact.

We’ve seen how this wrecking ball works in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker’s conservative allies had their records seized and homes raided based on mere claims of coordination. Justice is now essentially giving itself sway to probe every Republican presidential campaign based on an accusation from some left-wing activist. ...

The head of Justice’s Election Crimes Branch, Richard Pilger, is a proponent of criminal coordination investigations at the Justice Department. Two attendees tell us that at a Practicing Law Institute seminar in September 2014 Mr. Pilger said this explicitly.

Mr. Pilger was also a foot on the gas pedal during the IRS’s increased screening of conservative 501(c) groups. In 2010 he reached out to then IRS tax-exempt chief Lois Lerner about prosecuting nonprofits that engaged in political activity for making false statements on their tax returns. In an October 2010 email exchange, Ms. Lerner and Mr. Pilger discussed the transfer of data on 501(c) organizations. The Justice Department ended up with a database of 1.1 million documents, including protected taxpayer information.

Ms. Lerner knows all about campaign “coordination,” having led a multiyear FEC coordination investigation into the Christian Coalition in the 1990s. Ms. Lerner was pursuing a theory that the group had illegally coordinated its issue advocacy with candidates. That theory was rejected in federal court.

The Justice Department may now be trying to pick up where the IRS and Ms. Lerner left off. Justice spokesman Peter Carr emailed us a statement that the universe of potential criminal prosecution is broad: “The opportunity to commit the crime has increased dramatically with changes in the law that have caused a substantial increase in the amount of independent expenditures and the number of independent expenditure entities.” That’s a new business opportunity for activists at the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 who wrote to Justice last week celebrating the news. But coordination investigations touch on the core of First Amendment protected political speech.

The prospect of a Justice Department asking who talked to whom and when during a political campaign should give even liberals the chills.

Meantime, GOP campaigns better lawyer up because Mr. Pilger’s speech police are gunning for you.

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March 12, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Columbia Journal of Tax Law Publishes New Issue

Columbia Journal of Tax Law LogoThe Columbia Journal of Tax Law has published  Vol. 6, No. 1:

March 11, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Can A Tenured Professor Be Fired For Being Rude?

McCardInside Higher Ed,  Discourteous Dismissal:

Is the University of North Georgia moving to terminate a tenured professor of Spanish at its Dahlonega campus for being rude? Some North Georgia faculty members say that’s what’s happening to their colleague, Victoria McCard, and that her case demonstrates the university’s disregard for the tenets of tenure.

Various faculty accounts of exactly what transpired between McCard and a guest lecturer on campus in mid-October differ slightly, but they’re essentially the same on key issues. McCard, whom colleagues described as outspoken, asked the guest lecturer to speak up during a public presentation in the library -- either because he was too quiet or because McCard thought he wasn’t being direct enough in his remarks about the political climate in his home country of El Salvador, or both. Either way, McCard offended the lecturer, who later met with her to discuss what had happened. He and McCard did not see eye to eye, and the lecturer lodged a complaint against her with the department chair. The chair reported it to the administration, which investigated the claim through a series of interviews with Spanish department faculty members.

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March 11, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Miller & Chevalier Releases Tax Policy Forecast Survey: Only 5% Expect Tax Reform in 2015

2015 Tax Survey Report CoverMiller & Chevalier (Washington, D.C.) and the National Foreign Trade Council today released their 2015 Tax Policy Forecast Survey measuring the current perspectives and attitudes of leading corporate tax executives on the direction of tax policy in the coming year:

In last year’s survey, a majority (71 percent) of respondents said that Republican control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate would tip the scales in favor of tax reform in 2015. But while the November elections brought that political change, our respondents now expect the stalemate between Congress and the White House to sink the chances for meaningful tax reform this year and next. While newly minted tax-writing-committee chairmen Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have both said they consider tax reform a top priority, our respondents believe the administration will halt any and all congressional action.

However, for the first time in years, respondents do see a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Almost half (49 percent) say that tax reform will be enacted in 2017 — after the next presidential election. If and when tax reform does happen, 53 percent of respondents believe the most important issue to address will be the high statutory tax rates.

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March 11, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sugin: Rethinking the Tax Consequences of Naming Rights in Light of David Geffen’s Gift for Avery Fisher Hall

AveryFollowing up on my previous post, The Tax Consequences of the Lincoln Center's Naming Rights:  New York Times op-ed:  Your Name on a Building and a Tax Break, Too: Rethinking Taxes and David Geffen’s Gift for Avery Fisher Hall, by Linda Sugin (Fordham):

Last week, the entertainment mogul and philanthropist David Geffen promised $100 million toward the renovation of Avery Fisher Hall, the home of the New York Philharmonic, which will be renamed Geffen Hall.

Several years ago, two other $100 million gifts renamed two more key cultural centers: the main New York Public Library, now called the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, and the New York State Theater, now called the David H. Koch Theater.

When most of us make gifts to charity, we are allowed to deduct those gifts on our taxes, just as big philanthropists can. Deductions for gifts to the arts are appropriate because donors finance public goods and allow others to pay less for music, dance and even literature. But Congress could do more to encourage current philanthropy — with an eye to encouraging more philanthropy in the future — by revising the way tax law treats naming rights.

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March 11, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dean Advises Other Deans to Punish Law Schools in U.S. News Peer Reputation Voting for Manipulating Rankings With School-Funded Jobs and Transfer Students

2016 U.S. News RankingsFollowing up on my previous posts (here and here) on the 2016 U.S. News Law School Rankings:  Law Deans on Legal Education Blog:  Using USNWR to Impose Reputational Costs, by Rick Bales (Dean, Ohio Northern):

Much as I despise the USNWR ranking system, I’m a bit surprised that we deans (and associate deans) don’t use our relatively outsized influence as voters in the peer-assessment component of the ranking to police our own ranks.

When a school subsidizes the employment of large numbers of graduates for nine months and a day after graduation, or a quarter of its second-year class is comprised of students who it rejected for admission as first-year students, it’s obvious that the school is playing games to artificially inflate its employment outcomes and student selectivity and ultimately its USNWR ranking. In my mind, this is unethical, because it actively seeks to mislead consumers (prospective students and employers of current students) who may not understand the numbers-manipulation that is occurring behind the curtain. It’s also, I believe, a sure sign of structural weakness – if a school has to play games to maintain its employment statistics or entering-student credentials, the school is masking significant underlying problems. ...

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March 11, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

TRAC-IRS: The IRS and the April Surprise

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University has released The IRS and the April Surprise:

TRAC-1Analysis of the latest government case-by-case data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University shows that during January 2015 a total of 131 taxpayers were prosecuted as a result of IRS investigations.

The data tracking trends also show that many IRS prosecutions are timed to coincide with tax filing season, presumably to help remind taxpayers of their legal obligations to avoid underreporting taxes owed on the returns they file.

Year after year, April consistently has the greatest number of criminal prosecutions as a result of IRS investigations — two-thirds or more higher than those seen in January. Figure 1 and Table 1 show both the 10-year average as well as prosecution figures from January through December 2014.

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March 11, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Practice Ready? Law Students and Practitioners Disagree

BarBriNational Law Journal, Practice Ready? Law Students and Practitioners Disagree:

Are most law graduates ready to practice once they have their diplomas and bar cards in hand? That depends on whom you ask.

More than 70 percent of the third-year law students surveyed by bar exam prep company BARBRI believed they “possesses sufficient practice skills.” Another 76 percent believed they were ready to practice law “right now.”

By contrast, just 56 percent of lawyers who work with new graduates believed most third-year students were prepared to practice. And only 23 percent believed new lawyers have the necessary practical skills.

Law faculty fell in the middle, with 45 percent responding that third-year students have sufficient skills.

BARBRI surveyed more than 1,500 law students, faculty and lawyers for its inaugural State of the Legal Field Survey, which it said it would conduct annually from now on.

NLJ 1

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March 11, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Vote for 2015's Best Tax Blog

Wallet

WalletHub, 2015’s Best Tax Blog Contest:

It’s time to find the Best Tax Blogs the Internet has to offer! WalletHub’s Editors have identified 50 finalists, from industry titans like TurboTax to one-man dynamos like the Tax Girl. Now it’s your job to vote. Tell your friends, alert the neighbors and show us why your favorite website deserves the title of 2015’s Best Tax Blog.

To vote for your favorite tax blog, go here.

March 11, 2015 in About This Blog, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

What America Thinks: Tax Season

Rasmussen 2Rasmussen Reports, What America Thinks: Tax Season:

They say only two things are certain in life: death and taxes. It doesn’t mean we have to like either one. Tax season is unavoidably upon us again, so we decided to find out what America thinks.

When asked which is worse, going to the dentist or filing their income taxes, it’s a close call. Nearly half of Americans would rather sit in the dentist’s chair than do tax paperwork. Nonetheless, most plan to file their income taxes by the April 15 deadline, and a third have already filed. Forty-three percent (43%) expect a refund this year, and they're the most likely to have filed already. Very few Americans worry about getting audited by the IRS.

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March 11, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 671

IRS Logo 2Washington Post, Clinton’s E-mail Drama Is Acted Out on the World Stage:

Several days before the world found out that Hillary Clinton used a private e-mail account exclusively for all communication as secretary of state, including work-related conversations, a Republican congressman sought to bar Internal Revenue Service employees from using their non-official e-mail for government business.

Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Tex.) introduced a bill on Feb. 27 directed at the IRS and intended to address allegations that former IRS official Lois Lerner used her personal account to discuss IRS matters. A House Republican-conducted report released in March 2014 said: “Her willingness to handle this information on a non-official e-mail account highlights her disregard for confidential taxpayer information.”

Marchant’s somewhat prescient legislation highlights a loophole in the Federal Records Act. While employees of the federal government are discouraged from using personal e-mail, it’s not barred. The law was updated in late 2014 to say that if personal e-mail is used for work, it must be turned over to be officially archived within 20 days.

In September 2014, during a House Oversight Committee hearing on the Lerner e-mails, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said it’s policy not to use personal e-mail.

“One of the things we’re doing is making sure everybody understands that you cannot use your e-mail for IRS business,” he said. “That’s been a policy; we need to reinforce that.”

But the IRS employee manual says only that “sensitive but unclassified” data can’t be e-mailed outside the IRS network — there’s nothing about an outright prohibition.

In the case of Lerner, House Republicans wanted her e-mails during their investigation into whether the IRS had targeted nonprofits for their political leanings when considering tax-exempt status.

Though the Clinton story shone a light on the federal government’s e-mail policy, Marchant’s office said he doesn’t have any plans to expand the bill to prohibit official business on all feds’ personal e-mail accounts.

Human Events, No One in Government Knows How to Use Email — Except Hillary Clinton:

[R]evelations that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used her private email address, hdr22@clintonemail.com, during her tenure to conduct State Department business, [brought] the topic of email and Internet security back into the national limelight. ... A public probing of Clinton’s email set-up has revealed a staggering ignorance on the part of government officials when it comes to email specifically, and technology more generally. ...

A much bigger technological foul on the part of the government is the scandal surrounding the Internal Revenue Service’s handling of the emails of Lois Lerner, the former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit.

Faced by the House Committee on Oversight’s investigation into its alleged targeting of tax-exempt conservative nonprofit organizations, the IRS claimed to have lost up to two years’ worth of Lerner’s emails.

How could this be possible?

Because of a “computer crash,” IRS officials claimed. And any back-ups were automatically deleted, said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. This, despite the fact that emails are stored on cloud servers and were explicitly required by law to be recorded and backed up in a secure location.

Months later, it’s now been revealed those emails are not only recoverable, but an archive of up to 33,000 emails, up to 10 years’ worth, were easily found by a separate department.

Tim Camus, deputy inspector general of the Treasury Department, said finding the emails was done without issue. “They were right where you would expect them to be,” he told the Oversight Committee on Feb. 27.

Federal officials are now probing for potential criminal activity related to the covering-up of Lerner’s emails.

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March 11, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

More on the 2016 U.S. News Law School Rankings

2016 U.S. News RankingsFollowing up on last night's post, 2016 U.S. News Peer Reputation Rankings (v. Overall Rankings):

Above the Law, The 2016 U.S. News Law School Rankings Are Here!:

Here are the biggest ranking declines:

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March 10, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Yin Presents Protecting Taxpayers from Congressional Lawbreaking Today at NYU

Yin (2015)George K. Yin (Virginia) presents Protecting Taxpayers from Congressional Lawbreaking at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Viard:

This paper describes how the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee broke the law in 2014 when it approved public release of the confidential tax return information of 51 taxpayers. Because the Speech or Debate Clause insulates the legislators and their staff from prosecution if they carry out their violation in the context of a protected legislative act, to prevent a future violation, the paper recommends a new restriction on the access of the tax committees to tax return information.

March 10, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

McIntyre & Simkovic: Lifetime Value of Law Degree Drops Only $30k For Those Who Graduate Into a Poor Economy

Frank McIntyre (Rutgers) & Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), Timing Law School:

We investigate whether economic conditions at labor market entry have persistent effects on law graduate earnings. We find that unemployment levels at graduation continue to affect law earnings premiums within 4 years after graduation. For law graduates entering the labor market in strong economies, early outcomes are particularly good. However, the effect quickly fades as law graduates gain experience and the impact on lifetime earnings is relatively small. Outcomes data available prior to matriculation do not predict unemployment or starting salaries at graduation. Earnings premiums are not predicted by either cohort size or projected job openings. Even an effective “timing” strategy would likely be outweighed by the opportunity cost of a two-year delay in law school completion.

M&S1

Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), Timing Law School:

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March 10, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tax Revenues in 30 States Are Below Pre-Recession Levels

Wall Street Journal, Many States' Tax Receipts Remain Depressed:

The recession ended more than five years ago, but the financial squeeze left by the downturn lives on for a majority of states.

Government revenues have been slow to recover across the country as sales-tax collections fall prey to many of the same forces buffeting the broader economic expansion, from cautious consumers who have seen scant growth in wages to a downturn in home construction that has sapped sales of building materials and furnishings. At the same time, states are facing down a decades-long shift in the economy to services from goods, leaving them to collect taxes on a shrinking number of purchases.

Nationally, sales-tax receipts last year reclaimed levels—on an inflation-adjusted basis—seen in late 2007 as the recession arrived. So while a highly unequal national recovery has lifted federal tax revenues, thanks to an upswing in earnings among corporations and the rich, states—which rely not just on incomes, but also the spending of average citizens—continue to struggle.

There are 30 states still collecting less in taxes, adjusted for inflation, than when the recession hit, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts study that examined the data through September. Income-tax collections grew on a real basis by 7.1% since late 2008, while sales-tax receipts rose by 1%, according to an analysis by Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York.

WSJ 1

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March 10, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Forman & Sabin: Tontine Pensions

Jonathan Barry Forman (Oklahoma) & Michael J. Sabin, Tontine Pensions, 163 U. Pa. L. Rev. 755 (2015):

Tontines are investment vehicles that can be used to provide retirement income. A tontine is a financial product that combines the features of an annuity and a lottery. In a simple tontine, a group of investors pool their money together to buy a portfolio of investments and, as investors die, their shares are forfeited, with the entire fund going to the last surviving investor. Over the years, this “last survivor takes all” approach has made for some great fiction. For example, in an episode of the popular television series M*A*S*H, Colonel Sherman T. Potter, as the last survivor of his World War I unit, got to open the bottle of French cognac that he and his buddies bought (and share it with his Korean War compatriots).

On the other hand, sometimes the fictional plots involved nefarious characters trying to kill off the rest of the investors to “inherit” the fund. Of course, tontines can be designed to avoid such mischief. For example, instead of distributing all of the contributions to the last survivor, a tontine could make periodic distributions. Indeed, tontines could be used to create “tontine annuities” that could be sold to individual investors. These tontine annuities would make periodic distributions to surviving investors, but unlike traditional tontines, tontine annuities would solicit new investors to replace those that have died. Structured in this way, a tontine annuity could operate in perpetuity.

In this Article, we consider how the tontine principle could be used to create “tontine pensions” through which large employers could provide retirement income for their employees. These tontine pensions would have several major advantages over most of today’s pensions, annuities, and other retirement income products.

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March 10, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Senate Holds Hearing Today on Tax Complexity, Compliance, and Administration: The Merits of Simplification in Tax Reform

Senate LogoThe Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing today on Tax Complexity, Compliance, and Administration: The Merits of Simplification in Tax Reform (links to statements and testimony below):

  • Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Statement
  • Ron Wyden (D-OR), Statement
  • Carol Markman (CPA & Tax Director, EP Caine & Associates), Testimony
  • Mihir Desai (Professor, Harvard Law School), Testimony
  • Bruce Bartlett (Former Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Treasury Department), Testimony
  • Keith Fogg (Professor and Tax Clinic Director, Villanova Law School), Testimony

In connection with the hearing, the Joint Committee on Taxation has released Complexity In The Federal Tax System (JCX-49-15):

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March 10, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Greece Proposes Using Tourists as Tax Spies to Fill Revenue Shortfall

New York Times, Greece Proposes Using Tourists as Tax Spies to Fill Shortfall:

Despite the European accord last month to extend a financial lifeline to Greece, Athens is rapidly running out of cash.

So it is scrambling to find new, even radical ways to fill the shortfall — including a proposal to recruit citizens and tourists to spy on suspected tax evaders. ...

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March 10, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blank: Reconsidering Corporate Tax Privacy

Joshua D. Blank (NYU), Reconsidering Corporate Tax Privacy, 11 N.Y.U. J. L. & Bus. 31 (2014):

For over a century, politicians, government officials and scholars in the United States have debated whether corporate tax returns, which are currently subject to broad tax privacy protections, should be publicly accessible. The ongoing global discussion of base erosion and profit shifting by multinational corporations has generated calls for greater tax transparency. Throughout this debate, participants have focused exclusively on the potential reactions of a corporation’s managers, shareholders and consumers to a corporation’s disclosure of its own tax return information. There is, however, another perspective: how would the ability of a corporation’s stakeholders and agents to observe other corporations’ tax return information affect the corporation’s compliance with the tax law?

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March 10, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Funk

March 10, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 670

IRS Logo 2Washington Times, Hillary Clinton Scandal Spreads as Tea Party Group Seeks Private IRS Emails:

One of the tea party groups targeted by the IRS asked Congress Monday to demand the private emails of some agency employees, while a top committee chairman issued a request for instant-chat messages from the EPA, as the Clinton emails scandal begins to envelop other parts of the Obama administration. ...

One of the tea party groups targeted by the IRS asked Congress Monday to demand the private emails of some agency employees, while a top committee chairman issued a request for instant-chat messages from the EPA, as the Clinton emails scandal begins to envelop other parts of the Obama administration.

Ms. Engelbrecht said in light of the revelation that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton used her own private email address and server to conduct official department business, the congressional committees investigating the IRS should pry more deeply into whether any agency employees did the same.

“Former Secretary Clinton’s latest news regarding third-party email use is just a continuation of a thriving culture of concealment within the Obama administration, which is growing increasingly apparent to the American public,” Ms. Engelbrecht said.

Emails from former IRS employee Lois G. Lerner, a central figure in the investigation, have already become a flashpoint in Congress‘ probe into the tax agency, with an inspector general last month saying investigators were quickly able to find backup tapes to restore some of Ms. Lerner’s lost emails, despite the IRS insisting the emails were irretrievably gone.

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March 10, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 9, 2015

2016 U.S. News Peer Reputation Rankings (v. Overall Rankings)

2016 U.S. News RankingsContinuing a TaxProf Blog tradition (see links below for 2009-2015), here is the full list of the 198 law schools ranked by academic peer reputation, as well as their overall rank, in the new 2016 U.S. News Law School Rankings (methodology here):

Peer Rank

Peer Score

School

Overall Rank

1

4.8

Yale

1

1

4.8

Harvard

2

1

4.8

Stanford

2

4

4.6

Columbia

4

4

4.6

Chicago

4

6

4.5

NYU

6

7

4.4

Penn

7

7

4.4

UC-Berkeley

8

7

4.4

Michigan

11

10

4.3

Virginia

8

11

4.2

Duke

8

11

4.2

Cornell

13

13

4.1

Northwestern

12

13

4.1

Georgetown

14

15

4.0

Texas

15

16

3.9

UCLA

16

17

3.8

Vanderbilt

17

18

3.5

Washington U.

18

18

3.5

Emory

19

18

3.5

USC

20

21

3.4

Minnesota

20

21

3.4

G. Washington

22

21

3.4

Notre Dame

22

21

3.4

North Carolina

34

25

3.3

Boston University

26

25

3.3

UC-Davis

31

25

3.3

Wisconsin

31

28

3.2

Alabama

22

28

3.2

Iowa

22

28

3.2

William & Mary

29

28

3.2

Boston College

34

28

3.2

Fordham

34

28

3.2

Indiana

34

28

3.2

Ohio State

34

35

3.1

U. Washington

28

35

3.1

Georgia

31

35

3.1

Colorado

40

35

3.1

Illinois

41

35

3.1

Wash. & Lee

42

35

3.1

Florida

47

35

3.1

UC-Hastings

59

42

3.0

Arizona State

26

42

3.0

UC-Irvine

30

42

3.0

Arizona

42

42

3.0

Wake Forest

47

42

3.0

Tulane

50

47

2.9

BYU

34

47

2.9

Maryland

47

47

2.9

Florida State

50

50

2.8

Utah

42

50

2.8

Connecticut

63

50

2.8

American

71

53

2.7

George Mason

42

53

2.7

Miami

63

53

2.7

Denver

67

53

2.7

Cardozo

75

57

2.6

SMU

46

57

2.6

Pepperdine

52

57

2.6

Temple

52

57

2.6

Tennessee

52

57

2.6

Missouri

59

57

2.6

Kansas

67

57

2.6

San Diego

71

57

2.6

Pittsburgh

78

57

2.6

Oregon

82

66

2.5

Richmond

52

66

2.5

Georgia State

56

66

2.5

Case Western

59

66

2.5

Houston

59

66

2.5

Kentucky

63

66

2.5

Loyola-L.A.

75

66

2.5

Brooklyn

78

66

2.5

Chicago-Kent

78

74

2.4

Baylor

56

74

2.4

Nebraska

56

74

2.4

Oklahoma

67

74

2.4

New Mexico

71

74

2.4

Loyola-Chicago

78

74

2.4

Hawaii

82

74

2.4

Rutgers-Newark

87

74

2.4

Lewis & Clark

94

74

2.4

Santa Clara

94

74

2.4

Indiana-Indy

102

74

2.4

Rutgers-Camden

102

85

2.3

Seton Hall

63

85

2.3

UNLV

67

85

2.3

Arkansas

75

85

2.3

Cincinnati

82

85

2.3

Northeastern

87

85

2.3

Villanova

87

85

2.3

Michigan State

94

85

2.3

Mississippi

94

85

2.3

South Carolina

94

85

2.3

Marquette

105

85

2.3

Howard

110

96

2.2

Penn State

71

96

2.2

St. John's

82

96

2.2

St. Louis

87

96

2.2

SUNY-Buffalo

87

96

2.2

Syracuse

87

96

2.2

LSU

94

96

2.2

Maine

110

96

2.2

Seattle

113

96

2.2

DePaul

122

96

2.2

UMKC

127

106

2.1

Louisville

94

106

2.1

West Virginia

94

106

2.1

Stetson

105

106

2.1

Catholic

108

106

2.1

Hofstra

122

106

2.1

Loyola-NO

135

106

2.1

Arkansas-LR

135

106

2.1

San Francisco

138

114

2.0

Wyoming

108

114

2.0

Gonzaga

110

114

2.0

CUNY

113

114

2.0

Mercer

118

114

2.0

Willamette

118

114

2.0

Baltimore

122

114

2.0

Vermont

122

114

2.0

Drexel

127

114

2.0

Idaho

127

123

1.9

Tulsa

82

123

1.9

New Hampshire

87

123

1.9

Wayne State

105

123

1.9

Creighton

113

123

1.9

Drake

113

123

1.9

Montana

113

123

1.9

Quinnipiac

127

123

1.9

Pace

138

123

1.9

North Dakota

138

123

1.9

Texas A&M

149

123

1.9

Southwestern

Tier 2

123

1.9

McGeorge

Tier 2

135

1.8

Texas Tech

118

135

1.8

Washburn

122

135

1.8

Chapman

127

135

1.8

New York L.S.

127

135

1.8

St. Thomas (MN)

135

135

1.8

Memphis

142

135

1.8

William Mitchell

142

135

1.8

South Dakota

145

135

1.8

Suffolk

Tier 2

144

1.7

Florida Int'l

102

144

1.7

Duquesne

118

144

1.7

Cleveland State

127

144

1.7

Akron

127

144

1.7

Albany

138

144

1.7

Toledo

142

144

1.7

Hamline

145

144

1.7

Dayton

145

144

1.7

Cumberland

149

144

1.7

S. Illinois

149

144

1.7

J. Marshall (CHI)

Tier 2

144

1.7

Widener

Tier 2

156

1.6

South Texas

149

156

1.6

Elon

Tier 2

156

1.6

Golden Gate

Tier 2

156

1.6

Mississippi C.

Tier 2

156

1.6

N. Illinois

Tier 2

156

1.6

Roger Williams

Tier 2

156

1.6

St. Mary's

Tier 2

156

1.6

Valparaiso

Tier 2

164

1.5

Ohio Northern

145

164

1.5

Oklahoma City

149

164

1.5

Cal-Western

Tier 2

164

1.5

Campbell

Tier 2

164

1.5

New England

Tier 2

164

1.5

N. Kentucky

Tier 2

164

1.5

Nova

Tier 2

164

1.5

Touro

Tier 2

164

1.5

Puerto Rico

Tier 2

173

1.4

Capital

Tier 2

173

1.4

N.C. Central

Tier 2

173

1.4

Southern

Tier 2

173

1.4

St. Thomas (FL)

Tier 2

173

1.4

Texas Southern

Tier 2

173

1.4

Detroit Mercy

Tier 2

173

1.4

Dist. of Columbia

Tier 2

173

1.4

W. New England

Tier 2

173

1.4

Whittier

Tier 2

182

1.3

J. Marshall (ATL)

Tier 2

182

1.3

Faulkner

Tier 2

182

1.3

Florida A&M

Tier 2

182

1.3

Inter-Americana

Tier 2

182

1.3

Pontifical Catholic

Tier 2

182

1.3

Regent

Tier 2

182

1.3

Thomas Jefferson

Tier 2

189

1.2

Appalachian

Tier 2

189

1.2

Barry

Tier 2

189

1.2

Charleston

Tier 2

189

1.2

Charlotte

Tier 2

189

1.2

Florida Coastal

Tier 2

189

1.2

Liberty

Tier 2

195

1.1

Arizona Summit

Tier 2

195

1.1

Ave Maria

Tier 2

195

1.1

W. Mich. Cooley

Tier 2

195

1.1

Western State

Tier 2

Prior years' rankings:

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March 9, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Brown: Law Schools Are in a Death Spiral

Brown (Dorothy) (2015)Washington Post:  Law Schools Are in a Death Spiral. Maybe Now They’ll Finally Change., by Dorothy Brown (Vice Provost and Professor of Law, Emory):

“March madness” holds a different meaning in the legal world. While most of the country looks forward to fast breaks and Cinderella upsets, law schools are bracing themselves for another type of madness: the annual carnage left by the US News & World Report rankings. ...

No law school has figured out how to handle the new normal of legal education: the lowest number of applicants in four decades; fewer legal jobs for graduates; and, according to Moody’s, “no relief in sight.”

While some argue that going to law school is still a safe bet, little evidence exists to support this position. The most elite law schools — the top 1 percent —  will thrive. The other 99 percent: not so much. ...

While law firms can fire lawyers, law schools cannot cut their largest expense: faculty. Most faculty have tenure, which equals lifetime job protection — as long as the school remains open. While faculty could be part of the solution to legal education’s woes, we are actually the problem.

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March 9, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hellwig Presents The Constitutional Nature of the U.S. Tax Court Today at Indiana

HellwigBrant Hellwig (Dean (as of July 1, 2015), Washington & Lee) presents The Constitutional Nature of the United States Tax Court at Indiana today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium hosted by Leandra Lederman:

Is the United States Tax Court part of the Executive Branch of Government? One would expect that question would be capable of being definitively answered without considerable difficulty. And as recently expressed by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, that indeed is the case. In the course of addressing a challenge to the ability of the President to remove a judge of the Tax Court for cause on separation of powers grounds, the D.C. Circuit rejected the premise that the removal power implicated two branches of government: “The Tax Court exercises Executive authority as part of the Executive Branch.” [Kuretski v. Commissioner]

This article will examine the Kuretski decision, using this case as a vehicle to examine the constitutional nature of the Tax Court.

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March 9, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Elizabeth Chamblee Burch, Michael Simkovic Awarded ALI Young Scholars Medals

BurchThe American Law Institute Announces Young Scholars Medal Recipients:

The American Law Institute has announced that the Young Scholars Medal will be awarded this year to two exceptional law professors— Elizabeth Chamblee Burch of the University of Georgia School of Law and Michael Simkovic of Seton Hall University School of Law. The award is presented every other year to one or two outstanding early-career law professors whose work has the potential to influence improvements in the law.

Justice Goodwin Liu of the California Supreme Court, who chairs of the Young Scholars Medal Selection Committee, will present the awards on Monday, May 18, at the ALI Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. "We are extremely proud of this year’s Medal recipients," said Justice Liu. “These two exceptional professors have produced first-rate scholarship that is already having an impact in legal debate and policy. Professor Burch’s work provides an innovative analysis of strategies for solving principal-agent problems in aggregate litigation, and Professor Simkovic's research on consumer finance and credit markets has influenced courts, regulators, fellow researchers, and the United States Congress.”

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March 9, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Symposium on The Role of the Associate Dean for Research

Symposium, Perspectives From an Associate Dean: Scholarship and School Visibility, 31 Touro L. Rev. 15-74 (2015):

Patricia Salkin (Dean, Touro), Associate Dean for Research & Scholarship Symposium Offers Perspectives on Engaged Scholarship and the Changing Definition of Scholarly Work:

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March 9, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Listokin: Tax Expenditure Estimates Approximate Revenue Estimates

Yair Listokin (Yale), Tax Expenditure Estimates Approximate Revenue Estimates, 145 Tax Notes 701 (Nov. 10, 2014):

Tax expenditure estimates are viewed with skepticism even within the fraught business of forecasting the revenue effects of policies. As the Joint Committee on Taxation emphasizes, ‘‘Unlike revenue estimates, tax expenditure estimates do not incorporate any behavioral response of taxpayers or changes in the timing of tax payments.

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March 9, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Law Schools That Most Goosed Their U.S. News Ranking With School-Funded Jobs

Following up on yesterday's post, ABA May Prohibit Reporting Law School-Funded Jobs as Full-Time, Long-Term Bar Passage-Required Jobs:  Robert R. Kuehn (Washington University) passed along this chart (from ABA data for the Class of 2013) of the 38 law schools that boosted their full-time, long-term reported numbers by 2% or more through school funded jobs:

Law School

# Employed    Bar Passage Required FTLT

# Funded Bar Passage Required FTLT

% Funded Bar Passage Required FTLT

1.   WILLIAM & MARY

166

43

25.90%

2.   EMORY

244

62

25.41%

3.   GEORGE WASHINGTON

469

88

18.76%

4.   VIRGINIA

348

58

16.67%

5.   AMERICAN

231

37

16.02%

6.   GEORGETOWN

540

73

13.52%

7.   UCLA

252

31

12.30%

8.   ILLINOIS

168

20

11.90%

9.   LEWIS & CLARK

144

15

10.42%

10. UMASS

29

3

10.34%

11. UC-BERKELEY

261

25

9.58%

12. VANDERBILT

178

17

9.55%

13. CORNELL

173

16

9.25%

14. BOSTON UNIVERSITY

187

17

9.09%

15. NYU

505

42

8.32%

16. MARYLAND

152

12

7.89%

17. UC-DAVIS

138

10

7.25%

18. COLUMBIA

415

29

6.99%

19. CHICAGO

199

13

6.53%

20. USC

154

10

6.49%

21. CHARLOTTE

129

8

6.20%

22. YALE

160

9

5.63%

23. PENNSYLVANIA

235

13

5.53%

24. PACE

122

6

4.92%

25. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

21

1

4.76%

26. COLORADO

123

5

4.07%

27. TEXAS

296

12

4.05%

28. HAWAII

53

2

3.77%

29. RUTGERS-NEWARK

151

5

3.31%

30. GEORGE MASON

129

4

3.10%

31. LIBERTY

33

1

3.03%

32. TULSA

67

2

2.99%

33. STANFORD

170

5

2.94%

34. MINNESOTA

192

5

2.60%

35. ARIZONA SUMMIT

126

3

2.38%

36. NORTHWESTERN

225

5

2.22%

37. PITTSBURGH

135

3

2.22%

38. HARVARD

505

11

2.18%

Placement data counts 20% in the U.S. News Law School Rankings Methodology.  Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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March 9, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Johnson: How Far Does Circular 230 Exceed Treasury's Statutory Authority?

Steve Johnson (Florida State), How Far Does Circular 230 Exceed Treasury's Statutory Authority?, 146 Tax Notes 221 (Jan. 12, 2015):

Treasury regulations defining the duties of those practicing before the IRS, commonly called Circular 230, are a cornerstone of federal tax practice. Recent judicial decisions, however, raise the genuine possibility that substantial portions of Circular 230 may be invalidated if challenged. 

March 9, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kahn & Kahn: Cancellation of Debt and Related Transactions

Douglas A. Kahn (Michigan) & Jeffrey H. Kahn (Florida State), Cancellation of Debt and Related Transactions, 68 Tax Law. ___  (2015):

If a taxpayer borrows money, the borrowed funds are not included in the taxpayer’s gross income. That treatment is proper even though the taxpayer has increased his assets by the amount he borrowed since he has also has created a corresponding liability to pay back the loan. The taxpayer’s net wealth has not increased. The more difficult and interesting questions arise when the taxpayer fails to repay the loan. At first blush, it would appear that upon cancellation of a loan, the taxpayer should have income for the amount that was canceled. However, the current tax treatment that simple. A number of exceptions exist to the straightforward treatment under which the cancellation requires the taxpayer to recognize income. Some of those exceptions reflect an application of normal tax principles while others exist for programmatic purposes. Those exceptions make the tax treatment of cancellation of debt particularly complex.

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March 9, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)