TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Lawsky:  Formalizing The Tax Code

Sarah B. Lawsky (Northwestern), Formalizing the Code, 70 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2017):

The Internal Revenue Code is notoriously complex, both substantively and structurally. This article examines one source of structural complexity in the Internal Revenue Code: dependency among sections that stems from defined terms. In particular, the article examines what it terms the problem of “definitional scope”: when the structure of the Code leaves unclear to what a term refers. The article uses the problem of definitional scope as a case study to suggest that those who draft tax legislation should formalize proposed statutory language — translate it into logical terms — prior to its enactment.

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June 15, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Newspaper Editorializes Against GOP Senate's 30% Cut To UNC Law School Budget As 'Petty Revenge Politics' Against Gene Nichol

North Carolina LogoFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  News & Observer editorial, Cutting the UNC Law School Budget Is a Clumsy Attempt to Quiet a Critic:

The state Senate proposes to cut 30 percent of the school’s state appropriation, or $4 million. ... The proposed cut isn’t aimed at Martin Brinkley, the respected and affable dean who took over in 2015 after a successful career in corporate law. Brinkley is a North Carolinian who moves well among Republicans and Democrats and he’s most interested in preparing law students for careers.

Rather, the proposal seems to squarely target Gene Nichol, another unquestionably brilliant faculty member. ... That’s not responsible budgeting. It’s petty revenge politics, and at its worst, it’s a dangerous attempt to muffle free speech in a place where it should thrive. If anything, his outspokenness spurs more intelligent debate from the right as well as the left. ...

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June 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Kleinbard:  Business Taxes Reinvented — The Dual Business Enterprise Income Tax

Edward Kleinbard (USC), Business Taxes Reinvented: The Dual Business Enterprise Income Tax:

This short overview and accompanying term sheet summarize the key features of a proposed comprehensive business tax environment termed the Dual Business Enterprise Income Tax (the Dual BEIT). The term sheet format is a useful mode of presentation for capturing in one accessible document the major policy recommendations of the Dual BEIT (or any other comprehensive tax reform proposal).

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June 15, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nick Mirkay Leaves Creighton For Hawaii

Bursting The Legal Scholarship Bubble: Some Retrograde Recommendations

BubbleFrank O. Bowman III (Missouri), Days of Future Past: A Plea for More Useful and More Local Legal Scholarship, in The Fate of Scholarship in American Law Schools (Cambridge University Press 2017):

Legal scholarship is at an inflection point because the legal education industry, to which legal scholarship is merely an internally overvalued appendage, is passing from a period of affluent abundance to a period of relative austerity. Scarcity stimulates self-examination.

This essay describes how the population explosion in American law schools during the 1990s and the simultaneous rise of the U.S. News rankings mania created a kind of tulip bubble in legal scholarship — a bubble that is rapidly, and properly, deflating. I make several concededly retrograde recommendations for dealing with a post-bubble world, including changing law school hiring practices to favor professors with more legal experience than has long been the fashion, assessing scholarship more by effect and less by placement, and devoting more of our scholarly attention to questions of state law and practice.

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June 15, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (37)

A Tax Dead on Arrival: Classical Liberalism, Inheritance, And Social Mobility

Åsbjørn Melkevik (Harvard), A Tax Dead on Arrival: Classical Liberalism, Inheritance, and Social Mobility:

Historically, it is safe to say that very few laws did as much to stoke inequality as laws touching descents and hereditary transmissions. This paper attempts to see if the classical liberal tradition can endorse inheritance taxation so as to further fair equality of opportunity, as well as to lessen inequality of undeserved wealth. It argues that fair equality of opportunity is a necessary feature of market societies to make sure that they remain competitive.

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June 15, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Pepperdine On Skid Row

URMOne of the great joys of my first two weeks as dean has been learning more about the incredible work being done by so many people at Pepperdine. Today, my wife, daughter, and I had the privilege of spending part of the day at our Legal Aid Clinic and Low Income Taxpayer Clinic at the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. Pepperdine faculty members and clinic directors Brittany Stringfellow Otey and Isai Cortez gave us an inspiring tour of the facilities and introduced us to current Pepperdine law students who are working at the clinics over the summer.  Our Director of Clinical Education Jeff Baker joined us for a wonderful lunch at mission-driven HomeGirl Cafe before our trek back to Malibu.


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June 14, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Avi-Yonah & Mazzoni:  The Trump Tax Reform Plan — Implications For Europe

Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan) & Gianluca Mazzoni (S.J.D. 2017, Michigan), The Trump Tax Reform Plan: Implications for Europe:

On April 26, 2017, the Trump administration unveiled a one page tax reform outline (the “Trump Plan”) that differs significantly from the tax reform plan proposed in June, 2016 by the House Republicans (the “House Blueprint”). The two most important changes are deleting both the cash flow element and the destination based element of the House Blueprint. These changes have significant implications for European foreign direct investment (FDI) into the US and for US FDI into Europe.

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June 14, 2017 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shaviro:  The Rise And Fall Of The Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax

Daniel Shaviro (NYU), The Rise and Fall of the Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax: What Was that All About? (Presentation Slides):

These slides, prepared for the keynote address at the Nordic Tax Research Council Annual Conference in Haikko Borga, Finland, on June 1, 2017, offer background regarding the reasons for the rise and fall of the destination-based cash flow tax (DBCFT) as an apparently live legislative option. They place this saga in the broader context of the U.S.'s being the only major country without a value-added tax (VAT).

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June 14, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Del Wright Leaves Valparaiso For UMKC

WrightDel Wright (Valparaiso) has accepted a lateral offer to join the University of Missouri Kansas City Law School faculty. Del's recent publications include:

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June 14, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (2)

$110 Million Buys You Nothing At The University Of Wisconsin

WisconsinInside Higher Ed, A School Money Can't Buy:

The price to buy nothing has gone up over the last 10 years, and an exclusive group of donors is very interested in finding out what the next 10 will bring.

In the fall of 2007, the University of Wisconsin Madison announced an unusual naming partnership for its business school. A group of 13 donors made gifts totaling $85 million. In exchange, the Wisconsin School of Business would not change its name for a period of at least 20 years.

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June 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weidner:  Sarbanes-Oxley And The New FASB Rules On Accounting For Leases

Donald J. Weidner (Florida State), New FASB Rules on Accounting for Leases: A Sarbanes-Oxley Promise Delivered, 72 Bus. Law. 367 (2017):

Congress responded to the financial accounting scandals of the new millennium by enacting the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which required the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to study filings by issuers and report on the extent of off-balance sheet arrangements, particularly those involving leases. In 2005, the SEC reported that there “may be approximately $1.25 trillion in non-cancellable future cash obligations committed under operating leases that are not recognized on issuer balance sheets, but are instead disclosed in the notes to the financial statements.” Accordingly, the SEC Report requested the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) to craft new rules to record more lessee liabilities on the balance sheet. In 2016, the FASB issued sweeping new rules that affect virtually every firm that leases assets “such as real estate, airplanes, and manufacturing equipment.” In a dramatic change in approach, every lease for more than 12 months will be capitalized and recorded on the lessee’s balance sheet as reflecting both a “right of use asset” and a corresponding liability.

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June 14, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Billion Dollar Blind Spot: How the U.S. Tax Code's Small Business Expenditures Impact Women Business Owners

BillionCaroline Bruckner (Kogod Tax Policy Center), Billion Dollar Blind Spot: How the U.S. Tax Code's Small Business Expenditures Impact Women Business Owners:

In 1976, the U.S. Census Bureau (Census) released its first ever report on the state of women's business ownership in the United States that counted 402,025 women-owned U.S. firms representing only 4.6% of all firms and 0.3% of all U.S. business receipts, as of 1972. Today, women-owned firms have increased to 11.3 million businesses representing 38% of all U.S. firms.

During this period of extraordinary growth, Congress has acted to promote women's business ownership by passing legislation designed to eliminate discriminatory lending practices and promote federal contracting and counseling opportunities for women business owners. At the same time, Congress has also worked to enhance the U.S. tax code (the "Code") to aid small businesses with tax expenditures that will cost U.S. taxpayers more than $255 billion in the next five years under current law.

However, at no point have policymakers looked at whether this will be money well spent when it comes to women business owners and the challenges they have growing their receipts and accessing capital.

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June 13, 2017 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Schools Must Restructure. It Won't Be Easy.

Forbes, Law Schools Must Restructure. It Won't Be Easy.:

Law schools and firms have long had a symbiotic relationship. It’s not surprising, then, that they are are confronting similar challenges -- an outdated model; entrenched stakeholders that oppose change; declining demand; high cost; failure to deploy technology and process/project management to promote more efficient delivery of services; high customer dissatisfaction; and customers ‘voting with their feet.’ Their challenges are the inevitable result of a failure to adapt to a changed marketplace. Most law schools and law firms—apart from a handful of elites—have two options: differentiate or die.

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June 13, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

How Tax Policy Favors Robots Over Workers, And What To Do About It

Ryan Abbott (University of Surrey) & Bret N. Bogenschneider (University of Surrey), How Tax Policy Favors Robots over Workers and What to Do About It:

In an article forthcoming in the Harvard Law and Policy Review [Should Robots Pay Taxes? Tax Policy in the Age of Automation] we argue that existing tax policies encourage automation, even when a human worker would otherwise be more efficient than a machine. That’s because automating lets firms avoid wage taxes, which fund social benefit programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Only with human workers are firms responsible for paying taxes on wages to the federal government (and sometimes additional wage taxes at the state or local level) based on an employee’s salary.

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June 13, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

More On The Declining Quality Of Law School Applicants

Correction:  This post originally contained inaccurate data.  I have deleted the inaccurate data and urge readers to see my later post, The Quantity And Quality Of Law School Applicants.

Following up on yesterday's post:

American Lawyer Media Morning Minute:
American Lawyer 2




June 13, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Avi-Yonah:  Territoriality And The Original Intent Of Subpart F

Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan), Territoriality and the Original Intent of Subpart F:

On April 26, 2017, President Trump issued a one-page tax reform outline that included “territoriality,” i.e., exempting from tax dividends from the non-Subpart F income of controlled foreign corporations. Territoriality is also included in the House GOP “Better Way” Blueprint and was supported by the Obama Administration and in bipartisan legislation introduced in 2016 by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Thus, of all the current tax reform proposals, it may have the best chance of being enacted, especially given that it is linked with imposing some tax on the past offshore earnings of US multinationals.

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June 13, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Academic 'Mansplaining'

ManplainingInside Higher Ed, Academic 'Mansplaining' 101:

“Let her speak, please!” That’s what a member of the audience yelled at last weekend’s World Science Festival in New York during a panel on Pondering the Imponderables: The Biggest Questions of Cosmology. Video of the incident has since gone viral, with many calling it a prime example of "mansplaining" and general sexism.

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June 13, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Marian Presents The Making Of International Tax Law: Empirical Evidence From Natural Language Processing Today In Germany

Marian (2016)Omri Marian (UC-Irvine) presents The Making of International Tax Law: Empirical Evidence from Natural Language Processing (with Elliott Ash (Princeton)) at the University of Heidelberg today:

We offer the first attempt at empirically testing the level of transnational consensus on the legal language controlling international tax matters. We also investigate the institutional framework of such consensus-building. We build a dataset of 4,052 bilateral income tax treaties, as well as 16 model tax treaties published by the United Nations (UN), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United States. We use natural language processing to perform pair-wise comparison of all treaties in effect at any given year. We identify clear trends of convergence of legal language in bilateral tax treaties since the 1960s, particularly on the taxation of cross-border business income.

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June 12, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

People Are Bothered By Economic Unfairness, Not Economic Inequality

Nature: Why People Prefer Unequal Societies, by Christina Starmans (Yale), Mark Sheskin (Yale) & Paul Bloom (Yale):

There is immense concern about economic inequality, both among the scholarly community and in the general public, and many insist that equality is an important social goal. However, when people are asked about the ideal distribution of wealth in their country, they actually prefer unequal societies. We suggest that these two phenomena can be reconciled by noticing that, despite appearances to the contrary, there is no evidence that people are bothered by economic inequality itself. Rather, they are bothered by something that is often confounded with inequality: economic unfairness. Drawing upon laboratory studies, cross-cultural research, and experiments with babies and young children, we argue that humans naturally favour fair distributions, not equal ones, and that when fairness and equality clash, people prefer fair inequality over unfair equality. Both psychological research and decisions by policymakers would benefit from more clearly distinguishing inequality from unfairness.

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June 12, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)

Water And Taxes

Dave Owen (UC-Hastings), Water and Taxes, 50 UC Davis L. Rev. 1559 (2017) (reviewed by David Gamage (Indiana) here):

This article considers how water consumption in the United States is and should be taxed. It reviews the few federal and state tax code provisions that directly target water use and the somewhat larger number of provisions with indirect implications for water policy. It also draws upon existing literature on tax policy, water law, and water economics to evaluate whether taxation of water consumption makes sense.

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June 12, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Proportion Of Law School Applicants By LSAT Bands

Correction:  This post originally contained inaccurate data.  I have deleted the inaccurate data and included corrected charts from my later post, The Quantity And Quality Of Law School Applicants.

Although the number of LSAT test-takers increased 3.3% in the Fall 2017 admissions season, the LSAC has announced that the number of law school applicants decreased 0.5%. The applicant decline continues to be most pronounced in the highest LSAT score bands:

Chart 1

Chart 2


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June 12, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

Tulane Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Tulane (2015)Tulane University School of Law invites applications for several faculty positions beginning in the 2018-19 academic year:

Both lateral and entry-level candidates are welcome to apply. Although all subject areas will be considered, we are especially interested in candidates interested in teaching tax courses. Applicants must possess a J.D. or equivalent degree and have strong academic credentials. We are especially committed to a diverse faculty, staff, and student body. Applications from women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and others whose background, experience, and viewpoints contribute to the diversity of our institution are encouraged.

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June 12, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Erin Scharff (Arizona State) reviews a new working paper by Jay Soled (Rutgers) and James Alm (Tulane), W(h)ither the Tax Gap?, 92 Wash. L. Rev. 521 (2017).

Scharff (2017)In their thoughtful new article, W(h)ither the Tax Gap?, Jay Soled and James Alm make a persuasive case that several economic trends are likely to narrow the tax gap in the near future.  As they note, such progress on tax compliance could play a significant role in closing the deficit. 

In particular, Soled and Alm highlight three trends that they suggest make it more likely that tax authorities will be able to improve compliance in the coming years.  First, the increasing reliance on electronic payments makes it more difficult for would-be tax cheats to hide income.  These days, even taxicabs, convenience stores, and valet attendants accept credit cards.  (Not to accuse all of these occupations of cheating, but those paid in cash can more easily hide their earnings.)  Second, as Soled and Alm observe, as the use of cash declines, “[t]hose who use cash, especially large denomination notes, will likely be flagged as potential tax evaders.”

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June 11, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chaired Professor Wages Court Battle Against Tenure

WWInside Higher Ed, Case Against Tenure:

James Wetherbe, Richard Schulze Distinguished Professor at Texas Tech University’s Rawls College of Business, is the rare academic who doesn’t want tenure. He thinks so little of tenure, in fact, that he’s been waging a four-year legal battle against the notion that professors must assume it to advance their careers.

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June 11, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (28)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

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

  1. [220 Downloads]  Can New York Publish President Trump's State Tax Returns? , by Daniel Hemel (Chicago)
  2. [198 Downloads]  Recent Developments in Federal Income Taxation: The Year 2016 , by Martin J. McMahon Jr. (Florida) & Bruce A. McGovern (South Texas)
  3. [156 Downloads]  A Taxonomy for Tax Loopholes , by Heather Field (UC-Hastings)
  4. [133 Downloads]  Why Don't White Supremacists Pay Taxes?, by Eric Franklin Amarante (UNLV)
  5. [130 Downloads]  Shareholder Wealth Effects of Border Adjustment Taxation, by Fabio B. Gaertner (Wisconsin), Jeffrey L. Hoopes (North Carolina) & Edward L. Maydew (North Carolina)

June 11, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

UNC Law School Alums Rally Against Proposed 'Catastrophic' 30% Budget Cut As Payback To Liberal Faculty (Especially Gene Nichol)

North Carolina LogoFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  News & Observer, UNC Law School Rallies as Legislators Consider Big Budget Cut:

UNC law alumni are building their case against a budget cut that they say would be catastrophic to the state’s oldest professional school.

As state House and Senate budget negotiators work out their differences in the coming days, supporters of the UNC School of Law are working the phones and sending emails to try to win legislators over. The Senate, which rolled out its budget last month, proposed a $4 million reduction, which amounts to 30 percent of the school’s state appropriation. The more recent budget plan, from the House, had no cut for the law school.

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June 10, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (19)

Keith Fogg Leaves Villanova For Harvard

FoggT. Keith Fogg Named Clinical Professor of Law:

Keith Fogg, an expert in tax law and procedure and director of Harvard Law School’s Federal Tax Clinic at the Legal Services Center, has been named clinical professor of law at Harvard Law School.

For more than 30 years, Fogg worked in the Office of Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service. He joined the faculty of Villanova Law School, and has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School. He developed a course for the Georgetown LL.M. program, Federal Taxation of Bankruptcy and Workouts, which he taught there for 15 years as an adjunct. He has also taught as an adjunct professor at William and Mary and University of Richmond law schools and as a visiting professor at University of Arizona.

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June 10, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, June 9, 2017

How Could Silicon Valley Re-Invent Law School?

Silicon ValleyFollowing up on my previous post, MIT Law School: Legal Education in the 21st Century:  Andrew Guthrie Ferguson (District of Columbia), If Silicon Valley Re-Invented the Law School:

What would a Silicon Valley-inspired law school look like?  I ask because I have been spending the last few years studying disruptive technologies, and, I wondered — as a thought experiment — how Silicon Valley entrepreneurs might rethink how to teach law for the digital age.

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June 9, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Big Law Adopts 'Rooney Rule' To Increase Diversity; Should Law Schools Be Next?

Following up on my previous post:  American Lawyer, 'Mansfield Rule' Eyes a Big Law Diversity Breakthrough:

After Arabella Mansfield took and passed the Iowa bar exam in 1869, she challenged the state law excluding her from practicing law, in the process becoming the first female lawyer in the U.S. Nearly 150 years later, Mansfield is lending her name to a new rule aimed at closing the gaps between women and minorities in leadership roles in Big Law.

Derived from the National Football League’s so-called Rooney Rule, which requires that NFL teams interview at least one minority candidate for head coach or general manager positions, the Mansfield Rule states that at least 30 percent of a law firms’ candidate pools for any leadership or governance position — including equity partnership promotions and lateral positions — must be comprised of women or minorities. Earlier this month, 30 large law firms signed on to pilot this new approach within the next year.

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June 9, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (15)

Bach:  (Re)Viewing The American Social Welfare State

Florida Tax Review  (2015)Wendy A. Bach (Tennessee), Poor Support/Rich Support: (Re)Viewing the American Social Welfare State, 20 Fla. Tax. Rev. ___ (2017):

Since at least the 1970s a variety of scholars have redefined the U.S. social welfare state to include not only traditional benefit programs (for example Food Stamps and social security) but also a variety of tax benefits that are “hidden” or “submerged” forms of “welfare for the wealthy.” Including these benefits in the overall picture of U.S. social welfare provision reveals a system that is both larger in size than popularly believed and that, in addition to providing some support for the poor, distributes significant benefits regressively, to households with substantial wealth. Although a variety of scholars and policy analysts have described these outcomes, scholars have yet to focus on the ways in which structural inequality is written directly into the means of administration of U.S. social welfare programs. This article is the first to turn to those questions and to systematically demonstrate that those who are economically (and disproportionately racially) disadvantaged are offered a social welfare state that is meager, punitive and tremendously risky for those who receive its benefits.

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June 9, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Eight Of The Twelve Law Schools With The Highest Unemployment Rates Are In California, Where the Law Jobs Are: The 2016 Edition:

We’ve delved into the ABA’s trove of jobs data to determine which schools had ... the highest unemployment rates. ... The charts are based on data submitted to the ABA by the law schools.


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June 9, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Cravath School Of Law: Should Law Firms Own Law Schools?

Cravath (2016)Huffington Post:  Should Law Firms Own Law Schools?, by Jay Conison (Charlotte):

Legal education reform proposals abound. One frequent recommendation is that lawyers and law firms should have greater involvement in training lawyers and in shaping curriculum. These recommendations, however, have had limited impact, so the calls continue for the profession to have more involvement and influence in educating lawyers. The question then arises of how greater involvement and influence can be achieved. This note offers one such approach.

Consider first that, in recent years, some law schools have established law firms or similar entities, such as incubators. The motivations vary but generally relate to career development. One motivation is rooted in the example of a medical school owning (or otherwise closely associating with) a hospital; the law firm or incubator analogously seeks to help law students or recent graduates develop practical skills and client experience. Another motivation is assisting graduates to move into solo or small law firm practice, under the guidance of experienced attorneys.

These firm and incubator structures can clearly benefit students, recent graduates, and the school. They provide a close connection between law schools and law practice organizations. But what about the reciprocal structure? What about law schools owned by law firms? I believe such a business model can facilitate meaningful involvement of lawyers and firms in law schools, and yield other benefits to firms, schools, students, and legal education as a whole.

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June 8, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Glogower:  Taxing Capital Appreciation

Ari D. Glogower (Ohio State), Taxing Capital Appreciation, 70 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2016):

The realization rule — which defers tax on asset gains and losses until a disposition — is a well-known flaw in the income tax. Tax scholars have long recognized that the rule causes inequity, inefficiency, complexity, and revenue loss; allows wealthy taxpayers to avoid the income tax; and distorts the taxation of corporations and capital gains. The realization rule was a problem in the past, and a greater problem now, as financial innovations increase the opportunities for abuse and the need for reform. Prior proposals have generally favored replacing the realization rule with an accrual method accounting for the timing of gains and losses, through mark-to-market taxation, which taxes observed changes in asset value, formulaic taxation, which taxes deemed changes in asset value, or a combination thereof in a mixed regime. While these proposals have attracted much academic interest, they have not gained political traction, due to concerns of administrative feasibility, taxpayer liquidity, behavioral distortions, and public acceptance. This Article first introduces a framework for evaluating realization rule reform proposals, based on the rule’s harms and justifications, and demonstrates that none of the prior proposals adequately satisfies the framework’s criteria. It then introduces a new approach to taxing capital appreciation, “Deferred Tax Accounting,” which integrates accrual principles within the current realization system.

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June 8, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ:  Improvement In Student Critical Thinking Skills Often Lags At Prestigious Schools

Wall Street Journal, Exclusive Test Data: Many Colleges Fail to Improve Critical-Thinking Skills:

Freshmen and seniors at about 200 colleges across the U.S. take a little-known test every year to measure how much better they get at learning to think. The results are discouraging.

At more than half of schools, at least a third of seniors were unable to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document or interpret data in a table, The Wall Street Journal found after reviewing the latest results from dozens of public colleges and universities that gave the exam between 2013 and 2016 (full results).

At some of the most prestigious flagship universities, test results indicate the average graduate shows little or no improvement in critical thinking over four years.

Some of the biggest gains occur at smaller colleges where students are less accomplished at arrival but soak up a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum.


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June 8, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Chemerinsky, Testy, Caron All Take On New Roles

CTCNational Jurist, Chemerinsky, Testy, Caron All Take on New Roles:

The three most influential leaders in legal education are taking on new positions and challenges. Erwin Chemerinsky and Paul Caron head a list of new deans and Kellye Testy will take over leadership of LSAC.  

Chemerinsky, listed by The National Jurist as the most influential person in legal education, will step down on June 30 as dean of University of California-Irvine Law School and move north to take over as dean at University of California-Berkeley School of Law. ...

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June 8, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Profs Remember Bill Andrews

AndrewsFollowing up my post on the May 20 death of Harvard tax legend Bill Andrews: below the fold are remembrances of Bill from these Tax Profs:

  • Alice Abreu (Temple)
  • Huge Ault (Boston College)
  • Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)
  • Jennifer Bird-Pollan (Kentucky)
  • Paul Caron (Pepperdine)
  • Alan Feld (Boston University)
  • Cliff Fleming (BYU)
  • Susan Morse (Texas)

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June 8, 2017 in Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

76 Countries, But Not The U.S., Sign OECD BEPS Convention To Curb International Tax Avoidance

OECD Logo (2015)OECD, Ground-Breaking Multilateral BEPS Convention Signed at OECD Will Close Loopholes in Thousands of Tax Treaties Worldwide:

Ministers and high-level officials from 76 countries and jurisdictions have signed today or formally expressed their intention to sign an innovative multilateral convention that will swiftly implement a series of tax treaty measures to update the existing network of bilateral tax treaties and reduce opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises. The new convention will also strengthen provisions to resolve treaty disputes, including through mandatory binding arbitration, thereby reducing double taxation and increasing tax certainty.

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June 8, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

ABA Seeks Input On Proposed Changes To Bar Passage Accreditation Requirement, Bar And Employment Questionnaires

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)ABA Journal, ABA To Ask Law Schools How Tightening Bar Passage Standards Could Impact Accreditation Compliance:

A questionnaire about the proposed revision to Standard 316, which deals with bar passage rates, will be sent to ABA-accredited law schools, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar decided this weekend. The questionnaire will ask law schools how the revised standard, if implemented, might change their ability to be in compliance with the rule, according to a statement from the section. Under ABA rules, the house can send the proposed rule back to the council twice for review with or without recommendations, but the council has the final decision on Standard 316 and other matters related to law school accreditation. Survey results will be made public, according to the statement, and the proposed revision could return to the House of Delegates at the 2018 ABA Midyear Meeting.

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June 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Soled & Alm:  W(H)Ither the Tax Gap?

Jay A. Soled (Rutgers) & James Alm (Tulane), W(H)Ither the Tax Gap?:

For decades, policy makers and politicians have railed against the “tax gap,” or the difference between what taxpayers are legally obligated to pay in taxes and what they actually pay in taxes. To close the gap, Congress has instituted numerous reforms, with varying degrees of success. Notwithstanding these efforts, the tax gap has largely remained intact, and, if anything, its size has gradually grown over the last several decades.

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June 7, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Bard & Cunningham:  The Bench, Bar & Academy Should Join Forces To Expand Availability Of Legal Services

Washington Post op-ed:  The Legal Profession Is Failing Low-Income and Middle-Class People. Let’s Fix That., by Jennifer S. Bard (Former Dean, Cincinnati) & Larry Cunningham (Vice Dean, St. John’s):

80 percent of low-income individuals in the United States cannot afford the legal assistance they need to avoid the loss of their homes, children, jobs, liberty and even lives. The middle class doesn’t fare much better: Forty to 60 percent of their legal needs go unmet.

In case after case, people caught up in our court system must represent themselves in matters of landlord-tenant lawsuits, foreclosures and family disputes — often failing to navigate the complexities of substantive and procedural law. Less visible are people who do not seek legal representation because they do not realize they have a claim. No system of pro bono lawyers or government-funded legal-services organizations can meet these needs.

We do not expect charities and generous doctors to provide 80 percent of the medical needs for low-income patients, so why do we think this is possible for our legal needs? As law schools become increasingly unaffordable — resulting in plummeting enrollment and debt levels that make it impossible for graduates to offer legal services at affordable prices — the legal profession needs some major changes. 

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June 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Hemel:  The President's Power To Tax

Daniel Hemel (Chicago), The President's Power to Tax, 102 Cornell L. Rev. 633 (2017):

President Obama and his predecessors have used their regulatory authority to implement significant elements of their domestic policy agendas across a wide range of issue areas—including the environment, immigration, labor, and health care. But recent administrations have been much less willing to exercise regulatory authority in the realm of tax. More precisely, recent administrations have been reluctant to take regulatory actions that raise revenue (although quite willing, in certain cases, to take regulatory actions that move the law in a taxpayer-friendly direction). This is not because the Executive Branch lacks the legal authority to adopt significant revenue-raising tax reforms via regulation: as this article demonstrates, the Executive Branch’s “power to tax” under existing statutes is broad. Nor is it because the President is satisfied with the tax status quo: recent Presidents have repeatedly asked Congress to amend the tax code via legislation. Yet in many cases, the change that the President asks Congress to make is a change that the Executive Branch already has authority to make on its own. What explains the reluctance of recent administrations to raise revenue through regulatory action?

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June 7, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Median Pay For New Associates Has Not Budged In Two Years

NALP Press Release:

The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) today released its 2017 Associate Salary Survey report, showing that the overall median first-year salary as of January 1, 2017, was $135,000, the same as in 2015, the year of the most recent previous survey — with both survey years reflecting response pools in which offices in firms of 251+ lawyers accounted for about 70% of responses. 


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June 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

ABA Reverses Course, Gives Provisional Accreditation To Dallas Law School

UNT Dallas (2017)Following up on my recent posts (links below):  ABA Journal, Law School Previously Flagged By ABA Receives Provisional Accreditation:

The University of North Texas Dallas College of Law has received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association, according to a press release from the school on Tuesday. ...

In August 2016, the ABA’s accreditation committee recommended that the public law school not receive accreditation, reportedly because it admitted a large number of students with low LSAT scores, and there was concern about those students being able to pass the bar exam. Also, it was reported that 20 percent of the school’s initial class was placed on academic probation, and the school admitted 17 students in 2014 and 2015 who were dismissed from other law schools, mostly for bad grades.

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June 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Deans' Leadership In Legal Education Symposium

Toledo Logo14th Deans' Leadership in Legal Education Symposium, 48 U. Tol. L. Rev. 189-317 (2017):

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June 6, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Temple Symposium:  The Saga Of Unfulfilled Business Income Tax Reform

TempleSymposium, The Saga of Unfulfilled Business Income Tax Reform,  89 Temp. L. Rev. 267-363 (2017):

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June 6, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)