TaxProf Blog

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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Aprill: Amending The Johnson Amendment In The Age Of Cheap Speech

Ellen P. Aprill (Loyola-L.A.), Amending the Johnson Amendment in the Age of Cheap Speech, 2018 U. Ill. L. Rev. Online ___:

On November 2, 2017, the House Ways and Means Committee released its proposed tax reform legislation. It includes a provision amending the provision of the Internal Revenue Code, sometimes called the Johnson Amendment, that prohibits charities, including churches, from intervening in campaigns for elected office, at risk of loss of their exemption under section 501(c)(3). Under the Ways and Means proposal, as later revised and passed by the House, organizations exempt as charities under section 501(c)(3) would be permitted to engage in campaign intervention if “the preparation and presentation of such content . . . is in the ordinary course of the organization’s regular and customary activities in carrying out its exempt purpose and . . . results in the organization incurring not more than de minimis incremental expenses.”

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December 10, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Zelinsky: What the House-Senate Conference Committee Should Do About The Johnson Amendment

Edward A. Zelinsky (Cardozo), What the House-Senate Conference Committee should do about the Johnson Amendment:

The Johnson Amendment is the part of Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) which bans tax-exempt institutions from participating in political campaigns. The US House of Representatives has passed H.R.1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, to revise the Code. Section 5201 of H.R. 1 would modify the Johnson Amendment. In contrast, the tax bill pending in the US Senate does not address the Johnson Amendment.

H.R. 1 gets three things right and wrong about the Johnson Amendment. The Conference Committee charged with reconciling the House and Senate tax bills should craft a true safe harbor from the Johnson Amendment limited to internal church communications. This safe harbor should protect internal church communications from government interference while keeping intact Section 501(c)(3)’s general prohibitions on the use of tax-exempt institutions (including churches) for political campaigning and legislative advocacy. ...

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December 10, 2017 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Blinded By Her Husband, Muslim Woman Aces Law School And Finds Success At DLA Piper

New York Times, Blinded by Her Husband, She Fights for Justice (and Aces Law School):

During the summer break from her graduate studies in Canada, Rumana Monzur returned home to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, to tell her husband she wanted a divorce. He reacted with leaden silence.

But a few hours later, he strode into the room where she was working on her thesis, locked the door and pinned her down on the bed. Then he dug his fingers into her eyes, blinding her. He also bit off the tip of her nose, and tore flesh from her cheeks and her right arm.

“I won’t let you be someone else’s and I won’t let you study,” she recalled him saying as their terrified 5-year-old daughter tried to pull him off Ms. Monzur’s chest. “He told me in a hissing voice, ‘I wanted to kill you with acid, but good for you, I couldn’t find any.’”

In the days and weeks after, Ms. Monzur endured multiple surgeries and a smear campaign by her husband and his family, who tried to paint her as the aggressor in the attack. Refusing to stay silent, Ms. Monzur demanded justice from her hospital bed.

The savage assault and her outspoken defiance of female victimization made headlines in Bangladesh and Canada, galvanizing public support that prompted the Canadian government to allow Ms. Monzur to immigrate with her daughter and parents in 2011.

And here in Vancouver she again garnered attention in the news media, earning a master’s degree from the University of British Columbia in 2013. This year she graduated from the university’s law school. Today, she is studying for the bar exam while working at DLA Piper, a prominent law firm.

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December 10, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

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 #3:

  1. [447 Downloads]  Background and Current Status of FATCA and CRS, by William Byrnes (Texas A&M)
  2. [393 Downloads]  The Senate Introduced a Pragmatic and Geopolitically Savvy Inbound Base Erosion Rule, by Itai Grinberg (Georgetown)
  3. [374 Downloads]  Tax Reform: Process Failures, Loopholes and Wealth Windfalls , by Stephen Shay (Harvard)
  4. [233 Downloads]  Once More, with Feeling: The 'Tax Cuts and Jobs' Act and the Original Intent of Subpart F, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan) & Nir Fishbien (S.J.D. 2018, Michigan)
  5. [169 Downloads]  Brigham Young vs. The Bureau of Internal Revenue, by Samuel Brunson (Loyola-Chicago)

December 10, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

George Washington Shrinks Incoming Class Size To Stop Rankings Slide

George Washington Law Logo (2016)George Washington Hatchet, Law School Shrinks Incoming Class Size to Stop Slide in Rankings:

The law school deliberately enrolled a smaller class this fall in an effort to keep the GPA and standardized test scores of its incoming class in the top-tier of law schools nationwide, the school’s dean told the Faculty Senate Friday.

Dean Blake Morant told faculty that the law school brought in about 9 percent fewer new students this fall as compared to years past. In total the school’s enrollment dropped by about 250 students compared to last fall, according to statistics from the Office of Institutional Research and Planning.

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December 9, 2017 in Conferences, Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Joint Tax Committee: Comparison Of The House And Senate Tax Bills

Joint Tax CommitteeJoint Committee on Taxation,  Comparison of the House- and Senate-Passed Versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (JCX-64-17) (Dec. 7, 2017) (51 pages):

This document ... compares the provisions of the House- and Senate-passed versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”).

Largely following the organization of the House bill, the document is divided into four sections, individual tax reform, business tax reform, taxation of foreign income and foreign persons, and exempt organizations. Within each section of the document, provisions of the legislation are divided into three categories: (1) provisions for which there are no differences between the House bill and the Senate amendment; (2) provisions for which there are differences between the House bill and the Senate amendment; and (3) provisions that are in only the House bill or the Senate amendment. Except for provisions that are only in the Senate amendment, within each category provisions are generally listed in the order in which they appear in the House bill.

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December 9, 2017 in Congressional News, Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Schmalbech: The AMT Has Metastasized. It Is Time To Rip It Out Of The Tax Code.

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  End the Alternative Minimum Tax, Don’t Mend It, by Richard Schmalbech (Duke):

There are many unfortunate provisions in the tax-reform bills recently passed by the House and Senate, but at least one good one: The House bill would repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax. The Senate bill, in an effort to find a little revenue, would preserve the AMT but somewhat reduce its bite.

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December 9, 2017 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 8, 2017

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: 12 Tax Profs Highlight Flaws Of GOP Tax Plan

This week, David Gamage (Indiana) discusses a new report, The Games They Will Play: Tax Games, Roadblocks, and Glitches Under the New Legislation

Gamage (2019)The House and Senate Republicans’ tax bills are now headed to conference.  This may well turn out to be the most substantial new tax legislation since 1986. It threatens to be overwhelming to even list the ways in which these bills might transform important aspects of the U.S. economy. 

Given the massive scale and importance of this legislative effort, it is imperative that the new legislation be considered carefully and deliberately. Unfortunately, Republican leadership is currently rushing to meet a self-imposed deadline of passing this legislation before December 22nd.

I agree with some of the policy goals underlying these bills, and disagree with others. Yet whatever one thinks of these broad policy goals, draftsmanship is also important. Without careful drafting, tax law provisions can easily have numerous unintentional harmful effects.

Led by the primary drafters of Ari Glogower (Ohio State), David Kamin (NYU), Rebecca Kysar (Brooklyn), and Darien Shanske (UC-Davis), this new report explains some of the “games, roadblocks, and glitches” in these bills.  Nine other signatories also joined as signatories and secondary drafters of this report, and—full disclosure—I am one of these additional co-drafter/signatories.

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December 8, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Tax Profs:

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December 8, 2017 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Students From Elite Law Schools Vow to Combat Mental Health Suffering On Campuses, Students From Elite Law Schools Vow to Combat Mental Health Suffering on Campuses:

The student leaders from 13 of the nation’s top law schools have pledged to broaden mental health initiatives on their campuses and to fight the stigma of seeking treatment.

The pledge comes at a time that law schools nationwide have launched initiatives to address students’ mental health struggles, in the wake of several eye-popping studies showing the levels of anxiety, depression and substance abuse among both law students and practicing lawyers are far surpassing the general population. Read the pledge here.

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December 8, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Most Underrated Law Schools In America

2018 U.S. News Law 2Following up on my previous posts:

The Seven Most Underrated Law Schools:

Christopher Ryan of Vanderbilt University and Bryan Frye of the University of Kentucky conducted the analysis that will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Alabama Law Review.

Their premise is simple: Judge the quality of law schools based on where the most qualified students go. These candidates have the most at stake and gather a huge amount of information, so you can gauge school quality based on their choices.

Compared to their position in the U.S. News rankings, seven law schools made significant gains and placed in the Top 50 of the country's 204 law schools.

The Most Undervalued Law Schools

Law School


US News Rank

Spots Gained













William & Mary












George Mason




Rob Anderson asks whether a law school's LSAT and UGPA meadians are a leading indicator of its future U.S. News ranking:

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December 8, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Why the End of This Year Is the Worst Possible Time to Pass Tax Reform

Sam Wice, Why the End of This Year Is the Worst Possible Time to Pass Tax Reform, Yale J. on Reg.: Notice & Comment (2017):

Republicans hope to pass tax reform before Christmas so that they can go back to their constituents over the Winter Holidays and talk about their accomplishments.  However, because of the Pay-As-You-Go Act (PAYGO), passing tax reform at the end of the year would be the worst possible time to pass tax reform as it would lead to an immediate sequestration.

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December 8, 2017 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Joe Bankman Co-Hosts Stanford Legal Radio Show On SiriusXM

BankmanPress Release, Stanford Legal To Launch on SiriusXM:

Stanford Law School announced today the launch of Stanford Legal, a new bi-weekly show that will get to the core of some of the legal issues making headlines today. Stanford Legal, part of SiriusXM’s programming arrangement with Stanford University, will premiere on SiriusXM Insight channel 121 starting Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 10:00 am ET.

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December 8, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Questions On California Bar Exam Line Up With Lawyer Jobs Data

California Bar ExamABA Journal, Questions on California Bar Exam Line Up With Lawyer Jobs Data, Study Finds:

The content of the California bar exam lines up with national surveys about skills expected for first-year lawyers, but a state-specific assessment would be helpful, according to a recent content validation study from the State Bar of California.

The report, sent to the California Supreme Court on Dec. 1, the report (PDF) follows earlier state bar cut score studiesand the court’s Oct. 18 announcement that the cut score would stay at 1440—for the time being—because it was not persuaded that changes should be made.

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

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Initial Fall 2018 Enrollment Projections Reflect Increases In Applicant Volume And Strength

Applicant Pool Projection – 61,000 to 63,000

With the first release of this admission cycle’s Current Volume Summary from the LSAC, we have the opportunity to compare the current applicant cycle data with that in prior years.

The good news reported by LSAC and posted here on TaxProf Blog by Paul Caron yesterday is that applicant volume is 15,083, up over 14% compared to this point in the cycle last year. The Current Volume Summary states that at this point in the cycle last year, applicants represented roughly 24% of the final applicant pool. (In past years, the applicant volume in the first Current Volume Summary has averaged roughly one-quarter of the total applicant volume for the given admissions cycle.) This means that, at the moment, as shown in the chart below, we can anticipate a total applicant pool for the year in a range from 61,000 to perhaps 63,000, depending upon exactly how things unfold over the coming months. Given that this is only the first of several data points, there remains a large margin of error. By mid-January, after a few more current volume reports, and with a larger percentage of the applicants accounted for, one can have a little more confidence in the estimate for total applicant volume.

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December 7, 2017 in Jerry Organ, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thompson: Taxing Trump And Curry Under The Republican Plan

Following up on my previous post, The Only Person Mentioned In The Republican Tax Bill Is ... Steph Curry:  Samuel C. Thompson, Jr. (Penn State), Taxing Trump and Curry under the Republican Plan, 157 Tax Notes 1149 (Nov. 20, 2017):

It looks like the Republicans will be successful in enacting the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCAJA). The House Republican version of the TCAJA would adopt a maximum 25% rate on certain business income of pass-through entities. In attempting to sell this provision, the House Republicans have compared Stephen Curry, a star professional basketball player, who would not qualify for the 25% rate, to Steve of “Steve’s Bike Shop,” who would be entitled to the 25% rate. Apparently, the House Republicans used Curry because he got into a fight with President Trump over Curry’s decision not to visit the White House in connection with a celebration of his team’s NBA championship. ...

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December 7, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

 'Holy Crap': Experts Find Tax Plan Riddled With Glitches

CrapPolitico, 'Holy Crap': Experts Find Tax Plan Riddled With Glitches:

Republicans’ tax-rewrite plans are riddled with bugs, loopholes and other potential problems that could plague lawmakers long after their legislation is signed into law.

Some of the provisions could be easily gamed, tax lawyers say. Their plans to cut taxes on “pass-through” businesses in particular could open broad avenues for tax avoidance.

Others would have unintended results, like a last-minute decision by the Senate to keep the alternative minimum tax, which was designed to make sure wealthy people and corporations don't escape taxes altogether. For many businesses, that would nullify the value of a hugely popular break for research and development expenses.

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December 7, 2017 in Congressional News, Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (3)

Christina Rice Named Director Of BU Graduate Tax Program

Christina-RiceChristina Rice Appointed Director of BU Law’s Graduate Tax Program:

Christina Rice (JD’07, LLM’13) has been named the director of Boston University School of Law’s Graduate Tax Program. She has served as a teaching assistant and then as a member of the adjunct faculty teaching tax accounting courses in the Graduate Tax Program since completing her LLM in Taxation in 2013.

As a JD student at BU Law, Rice discovered her passion for tax law after taking Federal Income Tax with Professor David Walker and Trusts & Estates with Professor Fran Miller. After graduation, she began her legal career in the business law group at Foley Hoag LLP focusing on venture capital financing just as the venture capital markets began to collapse. She received her undergraduate degree in theater education from Emerson College with a minor in broadcast journalism.

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December 7, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Richest 1% Now Own 40% Of The Country’s Wealth

Washington Post, The Richest 1 Percent Now Owns More of the Country’s Wealth Than at Any Time in the Past 50 Years:

The wealthiest 1 percent of American households own 40 percent of the country's wealth, according to a new paper by economist Edward N. Wolff [Household Wealth Trends in the United States, 1962 to 2016: Has Middle Class Wealth Recovered?]. That share is higher than it has been at any point since at least 1962, according to Wolff's data, which comes from the federal Survey of Consumer Finances.

From 2013, the share of wealth owned by the 1 percent shot up by nearly three percentage points. Wealth owned by the bottom 90 percent, meanwhile, fell over the same period. Today, the top 1 percent of households own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. That gap, between the ultrawealthy and everyone else, has only become wider in the past several decades.

WaPo 1

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December 7, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Lawyering In The Nation's Capital

LNCNancy Hunt is the director of our unique Washington, D.C. externship program located at Pepperdine's property four blocks from The White House at 2011 Pennsylvania Avenue (more here):

The Washington, DC, Externship Semester offers students the practical experience of working full-time in a legal capacity for the government, non-profits, or other related entities, while completing coursework, networking for post-graduate employment, and experiencing the legal and cultural environment of our nation's vibrant and exciting capital. Classes take place and limited housing is available on the graduate floor of the University's Washington, DC, building, located in the heart of DC just four blocks from the White House.

Nancy has literally written the book on Lawyering in the Nation's Capital (West 2017):

Lawyering in the Nation’s Capital examines legislative process, congressional oversight, administrative law, executive power, statutory interpretation, judicial review of agency action, and the work and impact of Washington, D.C., attorneys working in government, lobbying, law firms, and nonprofits. In undertaking this survey, this text analyzes the sources of authority for those attorney functions and discusses the power struggle between the branches and, at times, between the offices within a single branch. This text further uncovers some of the more complex issues about how our federal government operates and asks thought-provoking questions about the outer limits of the power of each of the branches. It is ideal for companion courses for Washington, D.C., legal externship programs or for survey courses regarding government lawyers. The text is likewise a powerful reference book that clearly and succinctly explains complicated procedures, legal issues, and conflicts arising in and among the branches of government and within the private sector.

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December 7, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

How A Solo Tax Lawyer Paid Off $150,000 In Student Loans In 7 Years Without BigLaw

Above the Law, How A Solo Tax Lawyer Paid Off $150,000 In Student Loans In 7 Years Without Biglaw:

I want to share an interview I had with a solo tax attorney who was able to pay off his student loans from undergrad, law school, and a tax LL.M. degree within seven years even though he did not anticipate being a solo for long. This interview will be divided into two parts.

When did you finish school and how much did you owe then?

I finished school in 2008 and I think I owed about $150,000. My federal loans were consolidated at 2% while my private loans were on a variable interest rate which were between 4-7%.

Which schools did you attend?

I went to a relatively low-ranked law school. Then I got a Tax LL.M. at one of the schools on this list.

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December 7, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wildfires, The Bar Exam, And Pepperdine

Yet another reason why I love Pepperdine Law:  due to the raging SoCal wildfires [NY Times, California Fires Enter The Heart Of Los Angeles], we had to cancel last night's swearing in ceremony and reschedule it for Monday. But we gave our grads the option of getting sworn in if they had family in town for the ceremony or needed to be sworn in early for work-related reasons.

Bar Collage

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December 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Fall 2018 Law School Admissions Season Opens With A Bang: Applicants Are Up 14.2%

From LSAC:

As of 11/24/17, there are 81,877 applications submitted by 15,083 applicants for the 2018–2019 academic year. Applicants are up 14.2% and applications are up 17.1% from 2017–2018. Last year at this time, we had 24% of the preliminary final applicant count.


This follows a surge in LSAT test-takers this cycle (19.8% in June and 10.7% in Sept/Oct).  Moreover, December LSAT registrants are up 26.4%.

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December 6, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Gergen Presents A Securities Tax And The Problems Of Taxing Global Capital Today At Penn

Gergen (2017)Mark P. Gergen (UC-Berkeley) presents A Securities Tax and the Problems of Taxing Global Capital at Pennsylvania today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series:

An earlier paper by the same author [How to Tax Capital, 70 Tax L. Rev. 1 (2016)] proposed a new approach to taxing capital that is owned by U.S. households and nonprofits. The cornerstone of the new approach would be a flat annual tax on the market value of U.S. publicly traded securities. A security issuer would remit the tax based on the market value of its securities and would receive a credit for U.S. publicly traded securities it holds. Income producing capital that is not subject to the securities tax, such as an interest in a closely held business or an interest in a private equity fund, would be covered by a complementary tax that would be at the same rate as the securities tax. The securities tax and the complementary tax are intended to replace the entire existing patchwork system for taxing capital income in the U.S., and would eliminate many of the distortionary features of the existing U.S. system, including the realization requirement, the distinction between debt and equity, and the double-taxation of corporate income.

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December 6, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ:  Law Schools Say: Please Come, No LSAT Required

LSATGREFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Wall Street Journal, Law Schools Say: Please Come, No LSAT Required:

This year, you can get into a top law school without taking the LSAT.

Some of the nation’s law schools — including at Harvard and Georgetown — are letting applicants take the Graduate Record Examination instead of the Law School Admission Test. The schools say they are changing in part to attract students from a wider variety of backgrounds, particularly with science, engineering and math experience.

Both tests, of course, are tough, but the LSAT holds a particular place as a grueling rite of passage. The GRE relies more on knowledge that can be memorized, as college-entrance tests do, than the skills-based LSAT that test-prep instructors say is like learning how to play a sport or instrument.

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

Chemerinsky Backs Out Of Investment In L.A. Weekly

LACFollowing up on Monday's post, Chemerinsky To Buy Stake In L.A. Weekly:  OC Weekly, Erwin Chemerinsky Is No Longer Investing In Semanal Media Group, LA Weekly's New Owner:

UC Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky emailed the Weekly today at 4:54 pm saying he will no longer be investing in Semanal Media Group, the company which now owns LA Weekly.

After we unveiled the fact LA Weekly is now owned by mostly Republican donors, many people online were questioning why the hell Chemerinsky would be willing to invest. ...

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

Volokh: With State Income Taxes No Longer Deductible, Will States Switch To Payroll Taxes?

Eugene Volokh (UCLA), Now That State Income Taxes Aren’t Going to be Deductible, Will States Switch to Payroll Taxes?:

[S]ay California replaces the state income tax (at least for employment income) with a state payroll tax that’s paid by the employer, and that it comes in at the same amount per employee. As I understand it, the payroll tax — like most other business expenses, such as salaries paid to employees — is deductible by the employer; and it’s not taxable income for the employee, because it’s not the employee’s income. ...

That’s how I understand the thinking of University of Chicago professor Dan Hemel, who wrote about this last month: ...

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December 6, 2017 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (7)

Roberts: The Constitutional Grounding For Environmental Taxation In The U.S.

Tracey M. Roberts (Cumberland), The Constitutional Grounding for Environmental Taxation in the United States:

This chapter of Constitutional Aspects of Environmental Taxation discusses the basis in the U.S. Constitution for the federal use of Pigouvian taxes and subsidies to manage natural resources and the environment. First, the chapter provides an overview of the dual system of state and federal governments, the state delegation of limited authority to the federal government under the U.S. Constitution, and the limitations on federal power under the Bill of Rights. Second, it outlines the role of the Commerce Clause as authority for Congress to enact environmental regulation and discusses the limits on that authority based on Tenth Amendment federalism concerns and the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause. Third, the chapter identifies a second source of constitutional authority for Congress to use environmental taxation: the Taxing Power.

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

CBS To Air Comedy About SMU Law School Experience Of Dr. Phil's Son

SMU (2017), Dr. Phil and Son Developing TV Comedy Based on SMU Law School Experience:

CBS is developing a new law school comedy based on the experiences of Jay McGraw, Dr. Phil McGraw’s son, at SMU Dedman School of Law in Dallas.

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 1672: Ohio Attorney General Asks Federal Court To Release Lois Lerner's Deposition In Tea Party Targeting Case

IRS Logo 2Cincinnati Enquirer, Ohio AG DeWine Wants Lois Lerner's IRS Testimony Unsealed in Tea Party Case:

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has thrown his support behind efforts to unseal testimony by two former IRS officials at the center of the tea party scandal of 2013.

A federal judge previously sealed the depositions of former IRS divisional director Lois Lerner and her immediate subordinate after their personal lawyers said the two were receiving threats.

The Enquirer has since requested the documents be unsealed by U.S. District Court as the case has been tentatively settled. That request has been backed by the U.S. Justice Department and the lawyers suing the government. The two women's lawyers still oppose it.

DeWine joined in on The Enquirer's side last week by filing an amicus brief. The case "involves matters of profound public concern and ... the public’s right of access to documents filed in the litigation,” lawyers with DeWine's office wrote.

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December 6, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Boustan Presents Immigration In American Economic History Today At Columbia

BoustanLeah Boustan (Princeton) presents Immigration in American Economic History (with Ran Abramitzky (Stanford)) at Columbia today as part of its Davis Polk & Wardwell Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex Raskolnikov and Wojciech Kopczuk:

The United States has long been perceived as a land of opportunity for immigrants. Yet, both in the past and today, US natives have expressed concern that immigrants fail to integrate into US society and lower wages for existing workers. This paper reviews the literatures on historical and contemporary migrant flows, yielding new insights on migrant selection, assimilation of immigrants into US economy and society, and the effect of immigration on the labor market.

Figure 1

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December 5, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Policy Center: Comparing Current Law And The House And Senate Versions Of The Tax Cuts And Jobs Act

Black Female Lawyers Face The Double Jeopardy Of Racial And Gender Stereotyping

American Lawyer LogoAmerican Lawyer, Black Female Lawyers Face the Double Jeopardy of Racial and Gender Stereotyping:

As tough as it is for black lawyers to rise to the top in law firms, it’s even tougher for black female attorneys.

Though black women have outnumbered black men in law schools for about two decades, they constitute only a fraction of the already tiny number of black partners at major firms: Less than two percent of Big Law partners are black, and 0.56 percent are female and black. Black women are the minority within the minority.

Even the best-credentialed black female lawyers seem to fare poorly. According to a new Harvard Law School study of black alumni, male black alums were more likely to be partners than their female counterparts (of those in private practice, 47.4 percent men versus 28.6 women were partners), and far more likely to have leadership roles (92 percent of all black alums who’ve served as managing partners or department heads have been men).

If these high-credentialed women aren’t making it, what does it mean for African-American female lawyers overall?

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December 5, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Republicans Sought To Undercut Joint Tax Committee's Unfavorable Analysis Of Tax Plan

New York Times, Republicans Sought to Undercut an Unfavorable Analysis of the Tax Plan:

A Republican requirement that Congress consider the full cost of major legislation threatened to derail the party’s $1.5 trillion tax rewrite last week. So lawmakers went on the offensive to discredit the agency performing the analysis.

In 2015, Republicans changed the budget rules in Congress so that official scorekeepers would be required to analyze the potential economic impact of major legislation when determining how it would affect federal revenues.

But on Thursday, hours before they were set to vote on the largest tax cut Congress has considered in years, Senate Republicans opened an assault on that scorekeeper, the Joint Committee on Taxation, and its analysis, which showed the Senate plan would not, as lawmakers contended, pay for itself but would add $1 trillion to the federal budget deficit.

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December 5, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Kleinbard: Senators Picked Americans' Pockets Via Degraded Tax Policy Process

The Hill op-ed:  Senators Picked Americans' Pockets Via Degraded Tax Policy Process, by Edward Kleinbard (USC):

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, this year’s Christmas present to the donor class, is an abomination. Its top-heavy distribution of cuts, its wasteful mistargeting of incentives, and its funding of permanent corporate tax cuts via tax hikes on millions of ordinary taxpayers have been widely publicized.

From the other direction, whatever virtues the bill might have are completely swamped by its trillion-dollar plus impact on government deficits. But before moving on, we should review some of the process through which this bill was fashioned.

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December 5, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Law Prof: Undoing The Dis-Education Of Millennials

New Boston Post op-ed:  Undoing the Dis-Education of Millennials, by Adam J. MacLeod (Faulkner):

I teach in a law school. For several years now my students have been mostly Millennials. Contrary to stereotype, I have found that the vast majority of them want to learn. But true to stereotype, I increasingly find that most of them cannot think, don’t know very much, and are enslaved to their appetites and feelings. Their minds are held hostage in a prison fashioned by elite culture and their undergraduate professors.

They cannot learn until their minds are freed from that prison. This year in my Foundations of Law course for first-year law students, I found my students especially impervious to the ancient wisdom of foundational texts, such as Plato’s Crito and the Code of Hammurabi. Many of them were quick to dismiss unfamiliar ideas as “classist” and “racist,” and thus unable to engage with those ideas on the merits. So, a couple of weeks into the semester, I decided to lay down some ground rules. I gave them these rules just before beginning our annual unit on legal reasoning.

Here is the speech I gave them.

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December 5, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Student Lives In A Van To Cut Costs Before Starting UVa Law School

Virginia LogoDaily Progress, Prospective UVa Law Student Sleeps in a Converted Van to Save Costs:

Jeremy Kemp was trying to think of ways to shave down his cost of living while saving up to hike the Pacific Coast Trail in 2018, so he stopped paying rent. Instead, he bought a cargo van for $5,000 and spent two weeks insulating it, building a bed and tacking patterned fabric to the ceiling. Now, he spends his nights in it and his days working in local restaurants and tutoring. ...

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December 5, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1671: Lois Lerner’s Secrets

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial, Lois Lerner’s Secrets: The Former IRS Official Wants a Court to Seal Her Testimony:

If only the National Security Agency were as good at keeping secrets as Lois Lerner. When news that the IRS had targeted conservative groups led to congressional hearings, the former director of the Exempt Organizations division declared her innocence and then clammed up. Now she and her former IRS associate, Holly Paz, are asking a federal judge to seal forever their depositions in a lawsuit that the IRS settled last month for $3.5 million.

Ms. Lerner and Ms. Paz say they or their families have endured harassment or death threats. But Edward Greim, the attorney for the roughly 400 tea-party clients who sued, notes in reply that the last threat Ms. Lerner and Ms. Paz cited was from early 2014.

Leave aside that the usual way of dealing with threats or harassment is to notify police or the FBI—not to keep information about an abuse of power by public officials from the public. Every other party is united for disclosure: the defense (i.e., the government, which has admitted wrongdoing and apologized); the plaintiffs; and the Cincinnati Enquirer, which has filed a motion to lift the seal. ...

American taxpayers who will fork out $3.5 million for Ms. Lerner’s actions have a right to hear how she justified what she did at the IRS.

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December 5, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Pepperdine Co-Hosts Interactive Program Today On Measuring Employment Success With 130 Law Schools

Pepperdine was honored to be one of six regional law school sites (along with Cardozo, John Marshall (Chicago), New Mexico, Suffolk, and Villanova) participating today in a half-day interactive discussion on  Measuring Employment Success: ABA Reporting and the U.S. News Effect organized by Deans Laura Rosenbury (Florida) and Bo Rutledge (Georgia) and hosted at the University of Florida.  180 deans and career service professionals from 130 law schools took part (as did Barry Courier (ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar), Jim Leipold (NAALP), and Kyle McEntee (Law School Transprancy).  We had 18 participants at Pepperdine, including Deans Jennifer Mnookin (UCLA) and Andrew Guzman (USC) and careeer service professionals from Arizona, Barry, California Western, Concordia, Gonzaga, Loyola-L.A., San Diego, Southwestern, UC-Irvine, and USC.

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December 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shay: Tax Reform – Process Failures, Loopholes And Wealth Windfalls

Stephen E. Shay (Harvard), Tax Reform – Process Failures, Loopholes and Wealth Windfalls:

This paper argues that the rushed legislative consideration of tax reform proposals without adequate time to review and analyze bill text has left open unintended loopholes. The paper identifies a loophole that would benefit multinationals in the proposals’ “repatriation holiday” provisions that if not fixed could result in large revenue losses. This loophole is illustrative of the pervasive failure in the proposals to incorporate guardrails around substantial rate reductions that would effectively police the many new boundaries between rate differences that the bill creates. Loopholes like that described in this paper are a sideshow compared to the proposals’ wealth windfall to the already wealthy from business tax rate reductions, but, incredibly, they would enhance it.

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December 4, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

More On Charles Ogletree's Alzheimer’s Battle

Ogletree 2Following up on my previous posts:

Washington Post, Civil Rights Atorney Charles Ogletree’s Mind Is a Weapon. Now, It’s Fighting Him.:

In his decades-long career, Ogletree’s mind has been his weapon in legal cases that took him from D.C. Superior Court to the U.S. Supreme Court. He represented Anita Hill when she made her 1991 sexual harassment claims against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. And he was a longtime moderator of a 1990s PBS series on ethics, where he challenged some of the nation’s top business and political leaders in debate.

Now Ogletree’s mind is battling him. Four years ago, when he was 60, family and colleagues noticed he had begun stumbling over names and repeating stories. The following year, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a disease that usually ensnares victims 65 and older.

“We initially felt hopeless,” said Ogletree’s wife, Pam. “But we have faith and we believe in prayer.” ...

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December 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

California State University Issues Call For Tax Papers

Cal StateThe Bookstein Institute for Higher Education in Taxation at California State University, Northridge, in collaboration with the College of Business at Central Washington University, has issued a Call for Papers for The 2018 Tax Development Conference to be held at California State University, Northridge on Friday, May 4, 2018:

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December 4, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Our Six Month Anniversary

Friday (December 1) marked six months since I became Dean of Pepperdine Law School.  It has been a  great ride, with some notable successes as well as some challenges due in part to the changing legal education landscape.   I can honestly say that I have been filled with joy each day as I get to work with this amazing collection of students, faculty, and staff.  I correctly predicted on Day 1 that my first decision as Dean would prove to be my best as I convinced these friends and colleagues to join my leadership team:

6 Months

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December 4, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Lesson From The Tax Court: The Perils Of Poor Drafting

Tax Court (2017)You might think that with the potential impending demise of the alimony deduction, a Tax Court case about that deduction would not teach a useful lesson. But note that it’s the House Bill that repeals the §71/§215 regime. The Senate Bill leaves those sections alone (at least I cannot find any repeal provisions searching for "alimony" with ctrl-f, but I also did not read all the handwritten stuff). Traditionally, it’s the House that caves in conference (for all the reasons you hear in long lingering lectures from political science folks). So there may be hope for payor spouses yet!

Even if the alimony deduction is repealed, however, I hope to convince you that the lesson in last week’s case of Gary A. Wolens v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2017-236 (Nov. 27, 2017), is worth your time. I consider it a useful lesson for lawyers about the level of care one needs in drafting agreements, particularly those relating to divorce. It also has a neat choice-of-law lesson. More below the fold.

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December 4, 2017 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chemerinsky To Buy Stake In L.A. Weekly

LACABA Journal, Chemerinsky Plans to Invest in Los Angeles Alternative Weekly Newspaper:

Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law and a columnist for the ABA Journal, has an additional title: media investor.

According to a blog post from LA Weekly, Chemerinsky plans to join a group of investors that bought the alternative newspaper serving Los Angeles, but who hadn’t been revealed before Friday.

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December 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Senate GOP Tax Bill Excludes House Provision Extending 529 College Savings Plans To Include 'Unborn Children'

Following up on my article, When Does Life Begin for Tax Purposes?, 68 Tax Notes 320 (1995):

Quartz, 'Unborn Child':  With Two Words, the Tax Bill Quietly Threatens Abortion Rights:

Hidden among the tax cuts [in the House GOP tax bill] ... is a short passage that could threaten women’s reproductive rights.

The bill lists “unborn children” among the allowed beneficiaries of 529 plans for college savings, breaking down the legal definition of an “unborn child” as follows:

Nothing shall prevent an unborn child from being treated as a designated beneficiary or an individual under this section. The term ‘unborn child’ means a child in utero. The term ‘child in utero’ means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.


New York Times, Tax Overhaul Bears Gifts for Conservatives, Including Rights for 'Unborn':

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December 3, 2017 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (2)

Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument In Accreditation Battle Over Canada's First Christian Law School