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Monday, May 11, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 732

IRS Logo 2The Hill, Two Years Later, IRS Probes Drag On:

Exactly two years after the IRS first admitted improperly scrutinizing Tea Party groups, congressional investigations into the tax agency show no sign of drawing to a close anytime soon.

Congressional Republicans say they are deeply irritated that they haven’t finished off the investigations launched after Lois Lerner apologized for the IRS on May 10, 2013, and insist that President Obama’s Justice Department has stonewalled their efforts.

Top lawmakers like Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) note that they’ve only just received thousands of emails to and from Lerner that the IRS said were unrecoverable close to a year ago.

Hatch recently said he hoped a bipartisan Finance report, which members once thought could be released more than a year ago, could come out by the end of June. But congressional investigators maintain that they'll need to make sure they have a fuller accounting of Lerner's email trail before any reports are circulated.

Asked about the repeated delays, Hatch said simply: “Every time we turn around we get more emails.”

Congressional committees have received about 5,000 of the roughly 6,400 newly recovered Lerner emails they expect from Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, a GOP aide said Friday. The aide said that there appears to be little new in the emails, and that the inspector general is expected to issue a broader report on the emails in the coming weeks.

Hatch is far from the only GOP lawmakers fuming about the status of the IRS investigation.

“That’s so egregious, for the tax collection agency of the United States to be in that kind of shape,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). “They have nobody to blame but themselves. I’d just like to see some accountability, you know?”

But even some Republicans acknowledge that the IRS controversy wasn’t quite the slam dunk case they thought it was two years ago, and House Republicans at least have seemed to put more emphasis on their investigation into the Benghazi attacks over the last year.

Still, Republicans aren't the only group frustrated by the IRS investigations – underscoring that the partisan divisions marking the inquiries aren’t going away, and that controversy will linger long after any reports are issued.

Tea Party groups say some organizations are still facing delays from the IRS, and that they believe Lerner and other agency officials are getting off easy.

“It's clear the IRS would like this scandal to disappear,” Jordan Sekulow, whose American Center for Law and Justice represents dozens of groups challenging the IRS in court, said recently.

Congressional Democrats, though, say that two years’ worth of investigations, costing millions of taxpayer dollars, have found what they long suspected – that the IRS’s scrutiny of Tea Party groups was caused not by political bias, but by bureaucratic mismanagement. ...

And while Republicans don’t want to speculate on when their IRS efforts might come to a close, Roskam dropped some hints that their interest in both the agency and Lerner won’t fade anytime soon.

“The statute of limitations doesn’t lapse until after the new administration comes in, so you could very easily see a newly constituted Justice Department having a new attitude about Lerner,” Roskam said.

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May 11, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Texas A&M Law School Dean Is Still Cheerful About The Future Of Legal Education

Following up on my previous posts:

Andrew Morriss (Dean, Texas A&M), Still Cheerful About the Future of Legal Education:

It was a privilege to have three such eminent commentators on my Reasons to Be Cheerful essay. Brian Tamanaha deserves enormous credit for being among the first to sound the alarm on the financial problems of legal education. Sam Estreicher is not only a pioneer in bringing bench, bar, and academy together through his programs at NYU but also deserves some of the credit and/or blame for my presence in the academy. Not only was he enormously helpful and kind in participating in a workshop on my dissertation, he has proven equally helpful and kind ever since. Finally, Ken Randall is not only without peer in the world of deans for his success at the University of Alabama, where I had the privilege of being a faculty member, but has become a good friend. Responding to such eminent commentators is thus a challenge.

Prof. Tamanaha is gloomier than I am, because he thinks tuition levels are too high, debt burdens too great, law schools are admitting unqualified applicants, and bar pass rates are likely to continue to decline. He thinks loans and Income Based Repayment (IBR) and Pay as You Earn (PAYE)  will continue to subsidize bad behavior by law schools and innovation will be blocked or slowed by a combination of faculty resistance and ABA accreditation standards. I think we should be cheerier than Prof. Tamanaha because I think that while there is some truth in each of his concerns, things are better than he recognizes. ...

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May 10, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

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

  1. [215 Downloads]  The Historical Origins of the Debt-Equity Distinction, by Camden Hutchison (Wisconsin)
  2. [213 Downloads]  Using the 'Smart Return' to Reduce Tax Evasion, by Joseph Bankman (Stanford), Clifford Nass (Stanford) & Joel Slemrod (Michigan)
  3. [179 Downloads]  Scholarship Against Desire, by Shari Motro (Richmond)
  4. [129 Downloads]  Tax Compliance as a Wicked System, by J. T. Manhire (U.S Treasury Department)
  5. [121 Downloads]  Tax Account Misstatements and the PCAOB's Restrictions on Auditors’ Tax Services, by Clive Lennox (Nanyang Technological University)

May 10, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tacha: Just Mom

Tacha 4TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Just Mom, by Deanell Tacha (Dean, Pepperdine):

As I drove down the street recently, I jerked to attention when I noticed the vanity license plate on the car in front of me. It said simply "Just Mom". My lifelong fascination with the written word went into high gear. I wondered what message the woman driving could be hoping to convey. Those two words carried all the ambiguities that have haunted my generation of mothers. One possible interpretation is that of the boasting stay-at-home Mom who somehow managed to inoculate those of us who chose not to be "just Mom" with a healthy dose of guilt and questioning about what mortal deprivations we had visited upon our children by making the choice to combine motherhood with other professional and economic endeavors. Another possible interpretation is the counterposition. It is the mother who deprecates her other talents, interests, and aspirations by an apologetic admission that she resigns herself to being "just Mom". Neither of these opposing messages resonates with me. The first denigrates and belittles women who have combined motherhood with other occupations. The second diminishes the rich array of talents beyond those required to be a mother that an individual woman possesses. I reject both interpretations.

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May 10, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

The IRS Scandal, Day 731

IRS Logo 2National Review, America’s Politicized Tax Enforcement Is a Harbinger of Decline, by Victor Davis Hanson (Stanford University, Hoover Institution):

Why did Rome and Byzantium fall apart after centuries of success? What causes civilizations to collapse, from a dysfunctional fourth-century-B.C. Athens to contemporary bankrupt Greece?

The answer is usually not enemies at the gates, but the pathologies inside them.

What ruins societies is well known: too much consumption and not enough production, a debased currency, and endemic corruption.

Americans currently deal with all those symptoms. But two more fundamental causes for decline are even more frightening: an unwillingness to pay taxes and the end of the rule of law. ...

The Clinton Foundation is expected to refile its tax returns for 2010, 2011, and 2012 after failing to separate government grants from donations. If an average citizen tried to amend his taxes for such huge sums and from that long ago, he would probably be under indictment. News reports of undocumented donations from foreign governments caught the foundation underreporting its income. The well-connected Clinton clan apparently had assumed that their political status ensured them immunity. ...

Who will police the tax police?

Former IRS official Lois Lerner and her subordinates were found to have targeted conservative nonprofit groups for excessive federal scrutiny. While testifying before Congress, Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and investigators later found that two years of her e-mails had gone missing in a mysterious computer crash. Lerner has not been charged. ...

Our laws are becoming as politicized as our tax system. ...  In the last six years, the enforcement of federal laws has depended on their apparent political utility.  ... Increasingly in the United States, the degree to which a law is enforced — or whether a person is indicted — depends on political considerations. But when citizens do not pay any income taxes, or choose not to pay taxes that they owe and expect impunity, a complex society unwinds.

And when the law has becomes negotiable, civilization utterly collapses.

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May 10, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Why Some Men Pretend To Work 80-Hour Weeks

80 HourNew York Times, How Some Men Fake an 80-Hour Workweek, and Why It Matters, by Neil Irwin:

Imagine an elite professional services firm with a high-performing, workaholic culture. Everyone is expected to turn on a dime to serve a client, travel at a moment’s notice, and be available pretty much every evening and weekend. It can make for a grueling work life, but at the highest levels of accounting, law, investment banking and consulting firms, it is just the way things are.

Except for one dirty little secret: Some of the people ostensibly turning in those 80- or 90-hour workweeks, particularly men, may just be faking it.

Many of them were, at least, at one elite consulting firm studied by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. It’s impossible to know if what she learned at that unidentified consulting firm applies across the world of work more broadly. But her research, published in the academic journal Organization Science [Embracing, Passing, Revealing, and the Ideal Worker Image: How People Navigate Expected and Experienced Professional Identities], offers a way to understand how the professional world differs between men and women, and some of the ways a hard-charging culture that emphasizes long hours above all can make some companies worse off.

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

WSJ: How To Vet A Charity

Wall Street Journal, How To Vet A Charity:

Do you scrutinize your charities the way you do your stocks or mutual funds? You should. ...

The good news for careful givers is that in return for their tax-free status, nonprofit groups other than churches typically must make extensive public disclosures about their finances and governance. Some state authorities require useful disclosures as well.

The result is a wealth of information and analysis available to prospective donors, much of it free and easy to find online. Within minutes you can get data on an organization’s program expenses, fundraising, assets and executive compensation.

Guides for Giving:

Databases:

Rating Sites:

Wall Street Journal Law Blog, What to Scrutinize on a Charity’s Tax Form:

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May 9, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Tax Section May Meeting

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

  • Employee Benefits:  Kathryn Kennedy (John Marshall)
  • Pro Bono & Tax Clinics:  Scott Schumaker (U. Washington)
  • Sales, Exchanges & Basis:  Brad Borden (Brooklyn), Danshera Cords (Albany), Erik Jensen (Case Western), Calvin Johnson (Texas), Roberta Mann (Oregon)

May 9, 2015 in ABA Tax Section, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School To Offer 'Deflategate' Course

LiarWashington Post, University of New Hampshire Law School to Offer Deflategate Class:

“They’ll be teaching that at colleges one day.”

Usually when someone says that, it’s about an important scientific discovery, or a nation-altering leader, or a new way of communicating. Something big like that.

Or they could be talking about that time when the New England Patriots (probably) deflated a bunch of footballs to gain a very slight competitive edge and then got caught.

Michael McCann, an attorney who serves as the in-house legal expert for Sports Illustrated and NBA TV and founded the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute, will teach a course simply called “Deflategate” at the University of New Hampshire School of Law this fall.

The 4 credit course will enroll up to 75 students:

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May 9, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Two Years And Counting

IRS Logo 2The American Spectator, Making Sense of the IRS Scandal: Is Sympathy for the Devil Still Possible?:

Two years ago this month, former IRS official Lois Lerner revealed that the agency had discriminated against scores of right-leaning nonprofits on the basis of their political beliefs. The public called for accountability and got something vaguely resembling it in the form of resignations, investigations, and congressional debates. But despite the flurry of activity, the underlying issues that contributed to the IRS scandal remain unresolved, and the agency is still firmly embroiled in the messy business of policing political speech.

It’s enough to make one wonder: two years later, have things really changed? Or could it happen again?

Starting in 2010, IRS agents were instructed to apply extra scrutiny to applications for nonprofit status from conservative and tea-party organizations, culminating in those applications being sent to a special office where they were subjected to lengthy delays and invasive questioning. This was the agency’s inept response to the Citizens United decision, which freed all organizations to speak about elections, so long as they do so independently of candidates and parties. Critics of the decision, including several U.S. Senators, pressured the IRS to do anything in its power to stop groups from exercising their newfound freedom. Lerner herself remarked to a Duke University panel that “everybody is screaming at [the IRS] right now.”

But the IRS is a revenue collection agency, not a campaign finance regulator, so it was hopelessly ill-equipped for the task. It failed to treat groups equally or fairly, instead singling out conservative and tea party groups for an incredible level of scrutiny. The IRS demanded the personal information of groups’ supporters, copies of minutes from board meetings, résumés of current and former individuals involved with the organization, and even past intern history, copies of social media postings, and print outs of every page of an organization’s website.

President Obama called the IRS’s conduct “outrageous” and promised “I will not tolerate it. And we will make sure that we find out exactly what happened.” Lerner and IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller resigned, countless congressional hearings were held to rail against the violation of taxpayers’ First Amendment rights, and multiple investigations — some of which are still ongoing — commenced to shed bits of light on the matter. ...

Lois Lerner may be gone, but the IRS is still threating to infringe upon First Amendment rights. In the same vein, a new TIGTA report issued on April 30 praised the IRS for reducing its backload of applications and making some changes to its screening process, such as standardizing the questions asked of groups, but noted that the IRS still “does not have a clearly defined test for determining whether an organization’s request for exemption as a social welfare organization should be approved.”

Things might be a little better, but they’re still not good, and there’s nothing to stop the IRS from deciding to target groups again in the future. The failure to secure the rights of nonprofits in the aftermath of the scandal is a sobering reminder that passion for accountability is not enough. We also have to be wise, and address policy problems where they exist instead of merely searching for individuals to blame.

Disputes over the language of the 501(c)(4) statute, combined with a lack of clear guidance from the Federal Election Commission and gridlock in Congress, left the IRS to regulate in an area where it lacked sufficient expertise to act responsibly. The IRS deserves more than its fair share of rebuke for targeting groups with views it didn’t like, for being dishonest about its activities, and for responding to criticism by proposing even more restrictive regulations. But whether its errors were committed in good faith or not, whether they were catastrophic or mere blunders, the IRS simply should never have been put in position to make them.

As the agency works on its new proposal, it should rely on the feedback it received last time. That means recognizing that nonprofit advocacy groups have a valuable role to play in civic life, protecting that role, and clarifying the rules so that small and volunteer-run organizations can be assured their activities are legal and their supporters’ private information is secure.

That’s the best we can hope for, but it shouldn’t be up to the IRS to make these decisions. That job belongs to Congress. Clarifying the language of the 501(c)(4) statute to explicitly protect the political speech of nonprofit groups would finally chart a path forward out of this regulatory morass. It would be a blessing both to nonprofit groups and the IRS.

On the two-year anniversary of revelations of the IRS scandal, perhaps it is time to leave behind the search for a villain and instead solve the problem. Until advocacy nonprofits have their First Amendment rights secured, the threat of future targeting lingers, no matter who is in charge

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May 9, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Tax Lawyer Publishes New Issue

The Tax Lawyer (2013)The Tax Lawyer has published Vol. 68, No. 2 (Winter 2015):

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May 8, 2015 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

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May 8, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

Congressional Briefing Today on Historical Perspectives on Tax Reform

Congress (2015)The Joint Committee on Taxation and National History Center of the American Historical Association are co-sponsoring a Congressional briefing today on Historical Perspectives on Tax Reform in the United States:

Tax reform is a perennial issue in modern American politics.  Over the past century, the federal tax system has been pilloried for being unfair, inefficient, complex, and generally dysfunctional. “Tax reform” seems like the obvious answer to such problems, but the meaning and substance of that reform is anything but obvious. Indeed, “tax reform,” like many political slogans, is a moving target, its meaning derived less from ideal notions of “good” tax policy and more from changing social and economic conditions of American society.

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May 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (2)

University College London Hosts Conference Today on The Philosophical Foundations of Tax Law

UCLUniversity College London Faculty of Laws hosts a two-day conference beginning today on The Philosophical Foundations of Tax Law:

There is currently very little literature considering the philosophical aspect of tax law. Yet given the controversy that surrounds tax, particularly in a turbulent economic environment, it is an excellent time to explore tax from a philosophical perspective. It is essential that we have a complete understanding of the answers to some of the seemingly basic questions which surround tax, before we can begin to think about what a tax system should look like. Questions such as what in fact is a tax? Why should we tax? How much should we tax and on whom should tax be levied? What should taxes be used for? How do ideas of fairness and justice tie in with the tax system?  The consideration of all these questions is crucial to a complete understanding of the tax system and the future of the tax system.

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May 8, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Tax Section May Meeting

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

  • Bankruptcy & Workouts:  Don Leatherman (Tennessee)
  • Diversity:  Allen Madison (South Dakota)
  • Foreign Activities of U.S. Taxpayers:  Robert Peroni (Texas)
  • Foreign Activities of U.S. Taxpayers, Foreign Lawyers Forum, Transfer Pricing & U.S. Activities of Foreigners and Tax Treaties:  Karen Brown (George Washington)

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May 8, 2015 in ABA Tax Section, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kahn & Kahn: The Agency Exception to the Anticipatory Assignment of Income Doctrine

Douglas A. Kahn (Michigan) & Jeffrey H. Kahn (Florida State), The Agency Exception to the Anticipatory Assignment of Income Doctrine, 147 Tax Notes 555 (May 4, 2015):

One consequence of having graduated income tax rates is that it becomes advantageous to shift income from a high bracket taxpayer to a person in a lower tax bracket. A number of different vehicles have been tried to shift the incidence of the income tax to another person, and the courts and Congress have adopted a number of rules to prevent that from occurring. As early as 1930, the Supreme Court adopted the anticipatory assignment of income doctrine to prevent a person who anticipates earning income from his services from shifting that income to another person in a lower tax bracket. Income is taxed to the person whose services produced it rather than to the person who has the beneficial right to possess the income once it is earned.

This article discusses the tax treatment of an employee whose services create income for his employer. The anticipatory assignment of income doctrine does not apply in these circumstances under the so-called agency exception. This article explains the policy justification of the agency exception and uses examples to help illustrate when and when not the agency exception should apply.

May 8, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 729

IRS Logo 2Orange County Register editorial, Emails Keep IRS Scandal Probe Afloat:

John Koskinen has some ’splaining to do. Last June, Mr. Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, told Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and ranking member Orrin Hatch that a computer malfunction somehow zapped thousands of emails to and from Lois Lerner, the scandalized IRS official whose office targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny when applying for tax-exempt status.

Last week, those potentially incriminating emails were recovered – not because Mr. Koskinen was determined to get to the bottom of the IRS targeting scandal, but because of the diligence of J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Mr. George is in the process of turning over some 6,400 emails to the Senate Finance Committee, which last year tasked the inspector general’s office with figuring out what emails had been lost, if someone at IRS intentionally destroyed them and if the emails could possibly be retrieved.

That seemed to us at the time a project Mr. Koskinen’s staff could have undertaken. Instead, it appeared that Mr. Koskinen – and, perhaps, Obama administration officials further up the food chain – were hoping the scandal would just fade away.

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May 8, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Charleston Law School May Not Enroll Students In Fall; Owners Who Withdrew $25m In Profits Refuse To Pay $21k For Graduation Reception; Students With $147k Average Debt Take Up Collection

Charleston LogoPost and Courier, Charleston School of Law May Not Enroll New Students in the Fall:

The Charleston School of Law has been trudging along on life support for months, but could it be about to take its final breath?

While students were taking final exams Tuesday, George Kosko and Robert Carr, the remaining owners of the troubled law school, released a statement that said they might not enroll a new class of students in the fall.

They did not elaborate on what the statement might mean for the future of the for-profit law school, and said they would not make additional comments until next week, when they plan to release an update on the school’s situation.

American Bar Association and state rules prohibit the school from simply closing its doors. If the board decides to close the school, it would have to submit a “teach-out” plan that details how students who already are enrolled would finish their education programs.

In their prepared statement, Kosko and Carr said they could not in good faith enroll another class when “like last year, the school is spending more money than is coming in.”

Post and Courier, Charleston School of Law Scales Back Graduation Events:

If Charleston School of Law’s newest graduates want better than Ramen noodles at their commencement reception, they and their friends are going to have to pay for it.

The troubled law school’s two-member board cut the traditional post-commencement reception from its budget this year — despite pulling in $25 million in profit from the school between 2010 and 2013. The move has pushed student and alumni groups to take up a collection to cover the cost, said Matt Kelly, president of the Student Bar Association.

He and others, through Dean Andy Abrams, have asked board members and owners George Kosko and Robert Carr to reconsider holding the reception, which last year cost $21,000. “We’ve given them two weeks to stand up and do the right thing, but they haven’t,” Kelly said. ...

Tuition at the law school this year is $39,096, and many students borrow more than a $100,000 in student loans to pay for their law degrees.

Above the Law, Law School Cuts Graduation Events To Protect Profits:

Charleston may be a failing law school right now — shortchanging the graduates and turning away 1Ls certainly doesn’t sound like a recipe for success — and closing up shop may be the right thing to do long-term. What Kosko and Carr should do is wrap-up operations covering the shortfall with the millions in profits they personally collected to ensure every current student gets to graduate with the same dignity as their predecessors. There’s more than enough.

But that’s probably not going to happen. No, like Mr. Burns, the powers behind Charleston appear more than willing to trade the goodwill of their students to pinch out just a little bit more. 

Update

May 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

Virginia Tax Review Publishes New Issue

Virginia Tax Review (2014)The Virginia Tax Review has published Vol. 34, No. 2 (Fall 2014):

May 7, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Journal of Tax Administration Publishes Inaugural Issue

JOTA LogoThe Chartered Institute of Taxation and the University of Exeter Business School have launched the Journal of Tax Administration:

This open access, peer reviewed and on-line journal provides an interdisciplinary forum for scholars and practitioners to share knowledge and research on issues of concern to tax administrations, governments, the tax practitioner community and wider society. An international editorial board includes leading academics in the field.

The inaugural issue (Vol. 1, No. 1) contains these articles:

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May 7, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stanford B-School Offers Grads $140k To Leave Bay Area

StanfordWall Street Journal, For Stanford’s Business School, Bay Area’s Pull Is Mixed Blessing:

Stanford University’s tech-heavy alumni network, close ties to Silicon Valley and nearby pool of venture investors attract top M.B.A. students. Trouble is, those students don’t leave.

More than half of recent graduates from the M.B.A. program at the Graduate School of Business stay in the San Francisco Bay Area, mainly to join—or start—tech companies. That gives the school, which is near Palo Alto, Calif., formidable contacts in the tech industry and region. But it also limits networking opportunities for some young alumni trying to establish themselves elsewhere, said Madhav Rajan, the program’s dean.

This year the school will offer as many as 13 fellowships, worth over $140,000 each, to foreign students willing to commit to returning home after graduation. ...

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May 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Maynard: Reimagining Wealth Taxation As A Tool For Building Wealth

Goldburn P. Maynard Jr. (Louisville), Addressing Wealth Disparities: Reimagining Wealth Taxation as a Tool for Building Wealth, 92 Denv. U. L. Rev. 145 (2014):

In the past three decades, research has indicated that the building of assets can have a sustainable impact on well-being. Yet to the extent that the tax system has incorporated this insight, it has been done in a piecemeal, ad hoc fashion, disproportionately benefiting those with wealth and further reinforcing wealth inequality. This paper argues that while reducing wealth concentrations is important, there should be an increased emphasis on how our tax system can build wealth or, put differently, level up. While the problem of wealth disparities may be too large for any one part of the federal policy toolkit to solve, I argue that the tax system can and should play a vital role.

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May 7, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Number of Americans Renouncing Their U.S. Citizenship Hits Yet Another All-Time High

International Tax Blog, The Exodus Continues (2015 1st Quarter Published Expatriates):

Today the Treasury Department published the names of individuals who renounced their U.S. citizenship or terminated their long-term U.S. residency (“expatriated”) during the first quarter of 2015. The number of published expatriates for the quarter was 1,335. This is the highest quarterly number of published expatriates ever.

Expat

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May 7, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Tax Prof Moves, 2015-16

Moves VAP Hire

  • Hayes Holderness (McDermott, Will & Emery, New York) to Illinois

Entry Level Hires

Lateral Moves

Promotions, Tenures, Chairs, and Professorships

  • Steve Arsenault (Charlotte) to Professor of Law With Tenure
  • Craig Boise (Dean, Cleveland-Marshall) to Baker & Hostetler Chair
  • David Herzig (Valparaiso) to Professor of Law With Tenure
  • Stephanie Hoffer (Ohio State) to Professor of Law With Tenure
  • Benjamin Leff (American) to Professor of Law With Tenure
  • John Plecnik (Cleveland-Marshall) to Associate Professor With Tenure
  • Susannah Tahk (Wisconsin) to Associate Professor With Tenure
  • Robert Wooten (Northwestern) to Professor of Practice

Administrative Appointments

Visits

  • Jennifer Bird-Pollan (Kentucky) to Indiana-Bloomington (Fall 2015)
  • Danshera Cords (Albany) to Pittsburgh (2015-16)
  • Cliff Fleming (BYU) to Vienna University (Oct. 2015), Central European University (May 2016)
  • Keith Fogg (Villanova) to Harvard (2015-16)
  • David Gamage (UC-Berkeley) to Dule (Fall 2015), Georgetown (Spring 2016)
  • Myron Grauer (Capital) to Ohio State (Fall 2015)
  • Edward Kleinbard (USC) to Stanford (Fall 2015)
  • Sarah Lawsky (UC-Irvine) to Northwestern (Fall 2015)
  • Leandra Lederman (Indiana-Bloomington) to Chicago (Fall 2015)
  • Charlene Luke (Florida) to Boston College (Spring 2016)
  • Gail Richmond (Nova) to Stetson (Fall 2015)
  • Tracey Roberts to UC-Hastings (2015-16)
  • David Schizer (Columbia) to Harvard (Fall 2015), Yale (2016)

Retirements

For prior years' Tax Prof Moves, see:

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May 7, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (1)

ABA Tax Section May Meeting

LectureThe ABA Tax Section May meeting kicks off today in Washington, D.C. The full program is here. Today's highlight is the annual Laurence Neal Woodworth Memorial Lecture in Federal Tax Law and Policy on Prospects for Tax Reform delivered by Dave Camp (Senior Policy Advisor, PricewaterhouseCoopers; Former Chair, House Ways & Means Committee).  Tax Profs with speaking roles today include:

  • Low Income Taxpayers Representation Workshop:  Keith Fogg (Villanova), Robert Nassau (Syracuse)

May 7, 2015 in ABA Tax Section, Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TIGTA: 61% of IRS Employees Who Cheated On Their Taxes Were Allowed To Keep Their Jobs

TIGTAThe Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday released  Review of the Internal Revenue Service’s Process to Address Violations of Tax Law by Its Own Employees (2015-10-002):

According to Section 1203 of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (RRA 98), the IRS shall terminate employment of any IRS employee if there is a final determination that the employee committed certain acts of misconduct, including willful violations of tax law, unless such penalty is mitigated by the IRS Commissioner.  As the agency primarily responsible for administering Federal tax law, the IRS must ensure that its employees comply with the tax law in order to maintain the public’s confidence.

TIGTA reviewed records for cases closed in Fiscal Years 2004 through 2013 (prior to the term of the current Commissioner). For this period, IRS records show that 1,580 employees were found to be willfully tax noncompliant. While the RRA 98 states the IRS shall terminate employees who willfully violate tax law, it also gives the IRS Commissioner the sole authority to mitigate cases to a lesser penalty. Over this 10-year period, 620 employees (39 percent) with willful tax noncompliance were terminated, resigned, or retired. For the other 960 employees (61 percent) with willful tax noncompliance, the proposed terminations were mitigated to lesser penalties such as suspensions, reprimands, or counseling.

TIGTA

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May 7, 2015 in IRS News | Permalink | Comments (5)

The IRS Scandal, Day 728

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial, The IRS Goes to Court:

The agency suggests it can discriminate for 270 days. Judges gasp.

It isn’t every day that judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals declare themselves “shocked.” But that happened on Monday when an animated three-judge panel eviscerated the IRS and Justice Department during oral argument in a case alleging the agency delayed the tax-exempt application of a pro-Israel group due to its policy views.

In December 2009, Pennsylvania-based Z Street applied for 501(c)(3) status to pursue its pro-Israel educational mission. In July 2010, when the group called to check on what was taking so long, an IRS agent said that auditors had been instructed to give special attention to groups connected with Israel, and that they had sent some of those applications to a special IRS unit for additional review.

Z Street sued the IRS for viewpoint discrimination (Z Street v. Koskinen), and in May 2014 a federal district judge rejected the IRS’s motion to dismiss. The IRS appealed, a maneuver that halted discovery that could prove to be highly embarrassing. Justice says Z Street’s case should be dismissed because the Anti-Injunction Act bars litigation about “the assessment or collection of tax.” Problem is, Z Street isn’t suing for its tax-exempt status. It’s suing on grounds that the IRS can’t discriminate based on point of view.

The three judges—Chief Judge Merrick Garland,David Tatel and David Sentelle—were incredulous. You say they want a tax exemption, but that’s not the complaint, Judge Sentelle admonished government lawyer Teresa McLaughlin: “They are not in court seeking to restrain the assessment or collection of a tax, they are in court seeking a constitutionally fair process.”

The suit should also be foreclosed, the government argued, because under Section 7428(b)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code groups may sue to obtain their tax-exempt status if no action has been taken for 270 days, and that should be an alternative to Z Street’s approach.

“You don’t really mean that, right? Because the next couple words would be the IRS is free to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint, religion, race [for 270 days]. You don’t actually think that?” Judge Garland said. “Imagine the IRS announces today a policy that says as follows: No application by a Jewish group or an African-American group will be considered until one day short of the period under the statute . . . Is it your view that that cannot be challenged?”

The judges also asked why the government had buried the key precedent in a footnote in its brief. In Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl, the Supreme Court decided that the language of the Anti-Injunction Act did not preclude cases like Z Street’s. In a previous case before the D.C. Circuit, Judge Garland noted, the court also “rejected” the exact arguments the government was making, “so in a way we have already decided every issue before us today, against you.” ...

The Beltway media may be bored, but the IRS scandal is a long way from over.

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May 7, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Oei & Ring: Human Equity? Regulating The New Income Share Agreements

Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane) & Diane M. Ring (Boston College), Human Equity? Regulating the New Income Share Agreements, 68 Vand. L. Rev. 681 (2015):

A controversial new financing phenomenon has recently emerged. New “income share agreements” (“ISAs”) enable an individual to raise funds by pledging a percentage of her future earnings to investors for a certain number of years. These contracts, which are offered by entities such as Fantex, Upstart, Pave, and Lumni, raise important questions for the legal system: Are they a form of modern-day indentured servitude or an innovative breakthrough in human financing? How should they be treated under the law?

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May 6, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

LoPucki: Disciplining Legal Scholarship

Lynn M. LoPucki (UCLA), Disciplining Legal Scholarship, 95 Tul. L. Rev. ___ (2015):

American law schools are hiring large proportions of J.D.-Ph.D.s in tenure-track faculty positions in an effort to increase the quantity and quality of empirical legal scholarship. That effort is failing. The new recruits bring methods and objectives unsuited to law. They produce lower-than-predicted levels of empiricism because they compete on the basis of methodological sophistication, devote time and resources to disputes over arcane issues in statistics and methodology, prefer to collaborate with other Ph.D.s, and intimidate empiricists whose work does not require high levels of methodological sophistication. In short, Ph.D.s impose the cultures of their disciplines on legal scholarship.

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May 6, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Federal Judge Allows Prof's Lawsuit Against Law School, Faculty Colleague For Bullying To Proceed

GerberNational Law Journal, Law Prof’s Assault, Workplace Claims Cleared for Trial:

A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit brought by a professor at the Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law against the university and a colleague to move forward.

Professor Scott Gerber filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in December 2014, claiming faculty members had bullied him for years and retaliated against his for seeking redress. He also claimed the university mishandled his retirement account and owes him money as a result.

U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary on April 30 dismissed four of Gerber’s eight claims, but allowed the remaining four.

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May 6, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Silver: The Responsible Way Out Of The Law School Crisis

Jay Sterling Silver (St. Thomas), Pedagogically Sound Cuts, Tighter (Not Looser) Accreditation Standards, and a Well-Oiled Doomsday Machine: The Responsible Way Out of the Crisis in Legal Education, 66 Rutgers L. Rev. 353 (2014):

This Article outlines the actual causes of exorbitant tuition and graduate unemployment, the pedagogical problems posed by the proposed solutions urged upon the ABA as the accrediting body for law schools, and the solutions that will preserve legal education as both a public and a private good.

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May 6, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fleischer: Libertarianism And The Charitable Tax Subsidies

Miranda Perry Fleischer (San Diego), Libertarianism and the Charitable Tax Subsidies, 56 B.C. L. Rev. ___ (2016):

Tax scholarship is largely silent about the interaction between libertarian principles and the structure of our tax system. If all taxation is indeed slavery, as Nozick suggested, why bother analyzing libertarianism for insights into our tax system? This dismissal, however, ignores the diversity of libertarian thought. To that end, this Article mines the nuances of libertarian theory for insights into one feature of our tax system: the charitable tax subsidies.

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May 6, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Muller: College Majors That Produce The Highest (And Lowest) LSATs And UGPAs

MajorAs he did last year, Derek Muller (Pepperdine) has mined the latest data to produce this neat visualization of the college majors that produce the highest (and lowest) LSATs and UGPAs among law school applicants, with this caveat:

One cannot identify causation based upon these scores. Students self-identify majors, sometimes more than one, or sometimes none at all; others self-select into taking the LSAT altogether (opting for medical school, business school, or a lucrative career instead of law school). Therefore, it is emphatically not necessarily the case, based on this data, that these majors cause students to perform better or worse on the LSAT. It simply describes them.

Here are the Top 10 and Bottom 10 college majors by LSAT:

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May 6, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

TIGTA: IRS Allowed $5.6 Billion In Erroneous Education Tax Credits

TIGTAThe Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday released Billions of Dollars in Potentially Erroneous Education Credits Continue to Be Claimed for Ineligible Students and Institutions (2015-40-027):

The IRS still does not have effective processes to identify erroneous claims for education credits.  Although the IRS has taken steps to address some of our recommendations, many of the deficiencies TIGTA previously identified still exist.  As a result, taxpayers continue to receive billions of dollars in potentially erroneous education credits.  Based on our analysis of education credits claimed and received on Tax Year 2012 tax returns, TIGTA estimates that more than 3.6 million taxpayers (claiming more than 3.8 million students) received more than $5.6 billion in potentially erroneous education credits ($2.5 billion in refundable credits and $3.1 billion in nonrefundable credits).  Specifically, TIGTA estimates:

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May 6, 2015 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

We Would Be Better Off If 30 Law Schools Closed

30Following up on last week's post, Law School Moral Hazard:  Above the Law, We Would Be Better Off If 30 Law Schools Closed:

In Steven J. Harper’s recent article, The Real Moral Hazard: Law Schools Exploiting Market Dysfunction ... he details how misguided bankruptcy policy and unlimited, indiscriminate federal student loans have isolated schools from any accountability. In laying out his case, Harper describes how law schools actually operate in distinct submarkets. He identifies three of these submarkets, each offering drastically different employment prospects for their graduates:

1. National schools
2. Regional schools
3. The “Problematic Submarket”

By Harper’s reckoning, there are 89 law schools in that third category. Generally speaking, most graduates of the Problematics are simply not finding work as lawyers. ... Harper’s prescription for this market dysfunction includes linking a law school’s eligibility for the 100% federal guarantee for its students’ loans to employment outcomes. If a school meets a fixed minimum threshold (he suggests 55%) for placing its graduates in FTLT-JD positions, then it would qualify for the full federal guarantee. Below that threshold, the percentage of the guarantee would adjust downward on a sliding scale.

Independently, our friends at M7 Financial — who really have been on a roll lately with data on law student debt — have reached essentially the same conclusions: there ought to be a rational nexus between federal student loan guarantees and graduate employment. ... The straightforward and unsentimental M7 proposal to reform the legal education market is to reduce the number of ABA-approved law schools. This is hardly a novel idea, and probably seems like common sense to most anyone who is not a law school dean. However, M7 takes the analysis a further step and quantifies its implications. M7 estimates that if the 30 law schools with the highest unemployment rates were excluded from the statistics, then the law school Class of 2014 would have an unemployment rate of 17% (way down from 29%). Moreover, the aggregate student loan burden would be reduced by an estimated $500 million (click to enlarge image):

Chart

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May 6, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Preparing The Online Generation For The Occupational Hazards Of The Legal Profession

Brittany Stringfellow Otey (Pepperdine), Buffering Burnout: Preparing the Online Generation for the Occupational Hazards of the Legal Profession, 24 S. Cal. Interdisc. L.J. 147 (2014):

OnlineThis article explores legal education’s “elephant in the classroom”: the innate psychological toll of the legal profession and legal education’s failure to adequately prepare law students for that reality. This article will address the increasing need for reform by: 1) examining several unique qualities of Millennials and their use of technology; 2) exploring the occupational hazards of lawyering, namely stress, burnout and compassion fatigue; 3) identifying the ways in which technology increases Millennials’ vulnerability to these occupational hazards and subsequent professional impairments; and 4) providing best practices and preventative tools to be used in a professional formation curriculum aimed at preparing Millennial students to thrive in legal practice.

May 6, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 727

IRS Logo 2Fox News op-ed:  IRS Scandal: I Was Targeted and I've Got Proof it Was a Democratically-led Conspiracy, by Wayne Allyn Root:

I was targeted by the IRS in a coordinated attack at the highest levels of government...and we now have the proof.

My IRS files, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Judicial Watch, clearly implicate the IRS and a Democratic U.S. senator.

Per Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch: 

“The Obama IRS obstructed the release of Wayne Root’s tax documents. The abuse of process Judicial Watch and Wayne suffered through to get these documents is scandalous. Now we know why the Obama IRS was hesitant to give Wayne his own IRS files. These documents show the Obama IRS scandal was more than just suppressing the Tea Party, it was also about auditing critics of President Obama. Richard Nixon had to resign from office for less. The first order of business for AG Loretta Lynch should be to appoint a special counsel who can convene a grand jury to look into the Obama IRS outrages.”

As you’ll read below, the fingerprints of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party are all over my case. Until now, no one could prove the IRS was using politics as a basis for vicious attacks against critics of the president. That just changed.

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May 6, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Polsky Presents Private Equity Tax Games Today At NYU

Polsky (2015)Gregg D. Polsky (North Carolina) presents A Compendium of Private Equity Tax Games at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Viard:

This paper will describe and analyze tax strategies, lawful and unlawful, used by private equity firms to minimize taxes. While one strategy — the use of “carried interest” — should by now be well understood by tax practitioners and academics, the others remain far more obscure. In combination, these strategies allow private equity managers to pay preferential tax rates on all of their risky pay (through carried interest), pay preferential tax rates on much of their non-risky pay (through management fee waivers and misallocations of their expense deductions), and push much of the residual non-risky pay down to their funds’ portfolio companies who, unlike the fund, can derive significant tax benefits from the resulting deductions (through monitoring fees and management fee offsets).

May 5, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

New York Becomes 16th State to Adopt UBE, Predicts 'Domino Effect' Will End Local Law Testing In Remaining States

NCBENew York Times, New York State to Adopt Uniform Bar Exam:

New York State will begin using a standard bar examination given in 15 other states next summer, making it the largest state so far to adopt what amounts to a national credential for lawyers, the state’s chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, announced on Tuesday.

While other states already use the so-called Uniform Bar Examination, Judge Lippman said in an interview that he expected the move by New York to result in a “domino effect” with the remaining states, given New York’s prominence in the legal world.

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May 5, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Soled Reviews Zelenak's Learning To Love Form 1040

Learning to Love 1040Jay A. Soled (Rutgers), Book Review, 87 Temp. L. Rev. 111 (2014) (reviewing Lawrence Zelenak (Duke), Learning to Love Form 1040: Two Cheers for the Return-Based Mass Income Tax (University of Chicago Press, 2013)): 

For the last several decades, a few days immediately before and on April 15 itself, our country has experienced an annual ritual as taxpayers nationwide form long lines at their local post offices to file their income tax returns. Akin to military service, undoubtedly few relish this obligation but recognize it as their civic obligation worthy of fulfillment. In a fascinating new book, Learning to Love Form 1040, published by the University of Chicago Press, Duke University School of Law professor Lawrence Zelenak details the origins of this obligation, traces its history, and explores how it has fostered what he terms fiscal citizenship, or “the important civic purpose of recognizing and formalizing the financial responsibilities of citizenship.”

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May 5, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Law School Hunger Games? Profs Debate The Ethics Of Conditional Scholarships

  • Hunger Games 2 Jeremy Telman (Valparaiso), Another Transparency Issue: Conditional Merit-Based Scholarships:  "Students who lose their merit-based scholarships for law school will have to choose whether to continue through two more years of law school at full price, transfer to a less expensive law school, or reconsider career options. It is good to have choices. It makes sense for law schools to continue to use conditional merit scholarships to attract students, and most likely, those students will benefit from the opportunities created by those fellowships, whether they enjoy those benefits for one year or three."
  • Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), Are Conditional Scholarships Good for Law Students?:  "Professor Telman ... [makes] a powerful argument. Are conditional scholarships yet another example of critics applying a double standard to paint law schools in the worst possible light?"
  • Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), Hunger Games:  "Some law schools ... impose conditions that, because of mandatory curves in required first-year courses, a significant percentage of recipients will fail to meet. It is mathematically impossible for all scholarship recipients to keep their awards at these schools, and the percentage who will fail is quite predictable to the schools. These are hunger-game scholarships."

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May 5, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (14)

ABA Tax Section Publishes Spring 2015 Issue Of News Quarterly

ABA News QuarterlyThe ABA Tax Section has published 34 News Quarterly No. 3 (Spring 2015):

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May 5, 2015 in ABA Tax Section, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yale Journal on Regulation Blog Joins Law Professor Blogs Network

LPBN LogoThe Law Professor Blogs Network is thrilled to announce that the Yale Journal on Regulation's Notice & Comment Blog has joined the Law Professor Blogs Network as an affiliate member.  We are delighted to welcome Nicholas Bagley (Michigan), Peter Conti-Brown (Stanford), Andy Grewal (Iowa), Bruce Huber (Notre Dame), Jeffrey Pojanowski (Notre Dame), and Chris Walker (Ohio State) to our fold.

Over the past several months, the Law Professor Blogs Network has launched a number of new blogs:

With the support of our sponsor, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business/Aspen Publishers, the Network is seeking to expand in two ways.

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May 5, 2015 in About This Blog, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Committee Wants To Either Eliminate Or Expand Admission Of Students Without LSATs

ABA Logo 2ABA Journal, ABA Committee Wants to End Use of Alternative Law School Admission Tests:

An ABA committee is recommending the elimination of a rule that allows most law schools to admit up to 10 percent of their entering classes with students who haven’t taken the Law School Admission Test.

Barring that, the committee is proposing to make the rule applicable to all schools.

The rule, approved last year by the governing council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, currently applies only to students enrolled in undergraduate programs at the same university as the law school and/or students pursuing another degree in addition to their JD.

Applicants admitted under the rule must have scored in the top 85th percentile nationally on one of four standardized college or graduate admissions tests and must either have ranked in the top 10 percent of their undergraduate class or achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better through six semesters of academic work.

The rule was adopted at the request of the section’s accreditation committee to provide a safe harbor and clear guidance to schools that want to use undergraduate admission tests such as the ACT or the SAT or graduate-level admission tests such as the GMAT or GRE as alternatives to the LSAT. It came after 16 schools had been granted variances from the requirement that all applicants must take a test that is valid and reliable in assessing an applicant’s capability of satisfactorily completing the school’s program of legal education. To date, only the LSAT has demonstrated such reliability.

But members of the section’s Standards Review Committee, which met Friday and Saturday in Chicago, are concerned that none of the alternative admissions tests have been shown to be valid and reliable predictors of law school performance.

So they voted to recommend that the council either do away with the rule altogether or amend it in a way that would make it available to all law schools. ...

At its meeting Friday, the committee also voted to recommend:

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May 5, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

NY Court Allows Fraud Claims Against Proskauer Over Tax Shelter Advice To Proceed

ProskauerNew York Law Journal, Fraud Claims Against Proskauer Over Tax Shelter Advice Upheld:

Fraud claims against Proskauer Rose stemming from a tax shelter scheme it helped sell to the heirs of the Johnson & Johnson fortune will survive a motion to dismiss, the Appellate Division, First Department, ruled Thursday. [Johnson v Proskauer Rose, 2015 NY Slip Op 03626 (Apr. 30, 2015)]

A unanimous panel, in an opinion written by Justice Angela Mazzarelli, affirmed a ruling by Manhattan Commercial Division Acting Justice Lawrence Marks, who dismissed legal malpractice claims against Proskauer on statute of limitations grounds but allowed the fraud and punitive damages claims to proceed. ...

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May 5, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Clark: Thoughts On The Uses (Or Uselessness) Of Legal Scholarship

Sherman J. Clark (Michigan), Drawing (Gad) Flies: Thoughts on the Uses (or Uselessness) of Legal Scholarship, 48 U. Mich. J.L. Reform ___ (2015):

The apparent uselessness of much legal scholarship is a recurring theme in the profession. As with the broader pressures law schools are facing, we should embrace and learn from this scrutiny. In that spirit, this brief essay makes two related points. First, at least some scholarship should question, rather than merely accept as given, the aims and priorities of the profession. We should be willing to rethink, rather than merely reflect, current assumptions about what matters — about what is or is not truly useful. Thus some of our work will, by definition, initially strike the profession as useless — at least if we are doing our job. Second, support for a certain amount of wide-ranging scholarship attracts and helps retain law teachers who are willing and able to do this sort of work — and who are thus able to help future members of the profession develop that same capacity. How we evaluate this latter consideration will depend on our views about who should be teaching law and what we should be teaching. In this way, responding thoughtfully to difficult questions from the profession about the value of our scholarship should prompt reflection not just about the uses of legal research but about the aims of legal education more broadly.

May 5, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)