TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Facebook Ignores Seven Summonses From The IRS Demanding Documents On Its Offshore Tax Strategies

Facebook (2016)Following up on my previous post, IRS Sues Facebook For Billions In Undervalued IP Assets In 2010 Irish Transfers: Bloomberg, Facebook Fails to Show Up for Seventh Tax Summons From IRS:

Facebook officials failed to show up after getting seven summonses from the Internal Revenue Service demanding internal corporate records on one of its offshore tax strategies, according to an IRS court filing.

U.S. authorities are examining Facebook’s federal income tax liability for the period ending Dec. 31, 2010 and are looking at whether the company understated the value of global rights for many of its intangible assets outside the U.S. and Canada that it transferred to a subsidiary in low-tax Ireland.

Continue reading

July 28, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

State Outlines Evidence, Witnesses In Markel Murder Case

Markel & AdelsonTallahassee Democrat, State Outlines Evidence, Witnesses in Markel Case:

The State Attorney's Office has compiled an exhaustive list of possible witnesses and nearly 100 pieces of evidence in its cases against the two men accused of killing Florida State University law professor Dan Markel.

Most of the 175 possible witnesses are TPD officers and residents of the Betton Hills neighborhood, particularly people living on Randolph Circle and Trescott Drive. The list includes Markel’s ex-wife Wendi Adelson, her brother Charlie and parents Harvey and Donna. Others include a self-proclaimed anti-Semite and convicted killer, a woman Markel was romantically linked to and an FSU professor who was dating Wendi Adelson. ...

Continue reading

July 28, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1176

IRS Logo 2Legal Insurrection, Hillary: As President, Trump Could Use IRS to Target His Enemies:

Have you noticed that many of Trump’s critics accuse him of things he hasn’t done yet but which other people have actually done already? The latest example comes from the presumptive Democratic nominee who warns President Trump could use the IRS to target his enemies.

Imagine that.

Watch Hillary Clinton paint a picture of this potential travesty which already unfolded under President Obama.

Hillary has one thing going for her here. The media has pretty much abandoned all reportage of the IRS targeting scandal. How many average Americans even know Obama used the IRS to silence tax paying Americans in the run up to the 2012 election and got away with it?

David Reaboi made the point well on Twitter:


If we had an honest media, Hillary would have been laughed off the stage for saying this.

Continue reading

July 28, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tax Infinity And Beyond

InfinityGalya Savir (Michigan), Tax Infinity & Beyond:

Commercial activities in space are going to expand thanks to new game-changing technologies being developed by Space Entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs have pledged to reduce the cost of accessing space, and plan to unlock new horizons for innovative space markets, such as mining space-based resources and space tourism. Signs are showing in Congress of the impact that the space technology phenomenon is having on the U.S. legal system and on other governments’ policy decisions worldwide. Realizing the promise of expanding the United States' aerospace economy has raised myriad legal challenges, one of which is the issue of taxation. Thus, there is no time like the present to review the tax rules, at both the federal and the international levels, to ensure the sustainability of a policy that is clearly in the public interest.

Continue reading

July 27, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chodorow & Johnston:  Trump's Wrong-Headed Call For Tax-Subsidized Politicization Of The Pulpit

Trump (2016)Following up on Sunday's post, Trump's Call To Repeal The Johnson Amendment And Allow Churches To Endorse Political Candidates:  

Adam Chodorow (Arizona State), Donald Trump Wants to Politicize the Pulpit:

One of the biggest applause lines of the Republican convention was Donald Trump’s call to repeal the so-called Johnson Amendment, which, among other things, conditions churches’ tax-exempt status on ministers refraining from political speech at their pulpits. Critics such as Trump argue that ministers have First Amendment speech rights, which they say the government is infringing by restricting religious organizations in this manner. ...

In truth, it’s a lot more complicated than that. With Trump, it always is. Because on closer inspection, it’s clear that the Johnson Amendment, made law in 1954, serves an important function: preventing the government from subsidizing political speech. And repealing the law could lead to more entanglement of church and state—not less. ...

Continue reading

July 27, 2016 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top 10 Washington, D.C. Tax Law Firms

Following up on my previous post, 2017 Vault Law Firm Tax Rankings:  Above the Law, Tax Firm Power Rankings:

Over the next few months, we going to be hear A LOT about the presidential candidates' tax plans. But who is actually going to turn all of these proposals into actual laws? These people, that's who, the tax attorneys and lobbyists (who are often lawyers) in Washington, DC. While tax lawyers in, say, NYC help clients navigate the Tax Code, it is their peers in DC who exert influence on the *writing” of the laws themselves.

Here is our take on the most active and influential law firms and lobbying shops in the area of tax practice and policymaking. The law firm portion of our list comprises both elite specialist boutiques as well as top-tier full-service Biglaw firms that place a relatively outsized emphasis on tax practice in our nation’s capital. ...

Continue reading

July 27, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

How Grads Would Fix Law School: More Experiential Learning And Diversity, Reformed Grading Policies

Fix ItFortune, Here's How Law School Grads Would Fix Law School:

Law grads want more experiential learning, more diversity, and reformed grading policies.

As part of its survey of this year’s “Best & Brightest” 3Ls, Tipping The Scales asked nominees to share how they would change law school. From experiential learning to grading practices and diversity, the 2016 Class didn’t hold back. ...

Unsurprisingly, their complaints start with experiential learning opportunities (or the lack thereof). ...

Continue reading

July 27, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Beyer:  Estate Planning Ramifications Of Obergefell

Gerry W. Beyer (Texas Tech), Estate Planning Ramifications of Obergefell v. Hodges:

One year ago, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges holding that “same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.” Since then, an estimated 123,000 same-sex marriages have occurred bringing the total number of same-sex marriages in the United States to almost one-half million. The number of Texas same-sex marriages will be difficult to track because the government does not plan on keeping a separate count of same-sex marriage licenses. Nonetheless, with over three percent of Texans identifying themselves as gay or lesbian, it is of vital importance for estate planners to understand the current and potential future impact of same-sex marriage on estate planning in Texas.

Continue reading

July 27, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through July 1, 2016) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):







Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)



Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)


Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



James Hines (Michigan)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Nancy McLaughlin (Utah)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Chris Hoyt (UMKC)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


David Weisbach (Chicago)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


William Byrnes (Texas A&M)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Dan Shaviro (NYU)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


Vic Fleischer (San Diego)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


Yariv Brauner (Florida)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Jack Manhire (Texas A&M)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)



Dan Shaviro (NYU)


Richard Kaplan (Illinois)



David Walker (Boston Univ.)


Steven Bank (UCLA)



Steven Bank (UCLA)


Jordan Barry (San Diego)



Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)


Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)


Note that this ranking includes full-time tax professors with at least one tax paper on SSRN, and all papers (including non-tax papers) by these tax professors are included in the SSRN data.

Continue reading

July 27, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Are The Google Law Review Rankings 'Worthless'?

Google Scholar (2015)Following up on yesterday's post, 2016 Google Law Review Rankings:

Brian Leiter (Chicago), Annals of "Bullshit" Rankings:

The problem (we've encountered it in philosophy in the past, but now everyone there knows Google  Scholar is worthless for measuring journal impact) is that there is no control for the volume of publishing by each journal, so any journal that publishes more pages and articles per year will do better than a peer journal with the same actual impact that publishes fewer articles and pages.

Rob Anderson (Pepperdine), Google Scholar Releases 2016 Journal Rankings, Controversy Ensues:

Leiter's arguments are (mostly) incorrect. And as my previous posts about Google Scholar were used as part of the ranking, I felt the need to respond. ...

Continue reading

July 27, 2016 in Law Review Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

AALS Call For Participation: Discussion Group On The Future Of Tax Administration And Enforcement

AALS (2018)AALS, Call for Participation in a Discussion Group on The Future of Tax Administration and Enforcement:

The Annual Meeting Program Committee introduced a new program format, Discussion Groups, at the 2016 Annual Meeting to facilitate scholarly discussion and engagement. Discussion Groups provide a small group of faculty an opportunity to engage in a sustained conversation about a topic of interest. The objective is to facilitate a lively and engaging real-time discussion among participants. Discussion Group participants will typically be expected to write and share a short presentation summary (3-5 pages) as part of their participation. The Discussion Group sessions, however, will not feature formal presentations. Instead, the written summaries are intended to facilitate a lively and engaging real-time discussion among the participants. Participants in this Discussion Group will consist of a mix of the people identified in the original proposal along with additional individuals selected on the basis of this call for participation. There will be limited audience seating for those not selected in advance to be discussion participants.

The following is a Call for Participation in a Discussion Group on The Future of Tax Administration and Enforcement, to be held at the AALS Annual Meeting, Saturday, January 7, 2017 from 8:30–10:15 am, in San Francisco.

Continue reading

July 27, 2016 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Business Insider:  The 50 Best Law Schools In America

Business InsiderBusiness Insider, The 50 Best Law Schools in America:


  • 32% — Percentage of graduates securing a highly coveted position [BigLaw & federal clerkships]
  • 20% — Percentage of graduates securing full-time, long-term positions requiring bar passage
  • 20% — Percentage of graduates still seeking employment (negatively weighted)
  • 12% — Percentage of graduates who pass the bar on their first try 
  • 8% —  Cost of tuition for full-time, non-resident students
  • 8%—  Median LSAT score for admitted students

Here are the Top 10:

Continue reading

July 27, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1175

IRS Logo 2Hot Air, Hillary: Can You Imagine Electing a Vindictive Man Who Might … Send the IRS After His Critics?:

You know what? I can imagine it. Pretty vividly, actually. Right down to the names of the “hypothetical” IRS officers involved.

Of all the examples she could have cited to make the point that Trump is a loose cannon, how did she and her speechwriters conclude that this was one worth floating? I understand calling him out for wanting to issue illegal orders to the military; that’s the most alarming thing he’s said since he got in the race. But attacking Trump over a potential IRS gone rogue is like attacking him for potentially wanting to intervene in foreign civil wars without Congress’s approval. We’ve seen that movie already. In fact, Hillary Clinton produced that movie.

Even lamer, if the IRS decides to start taking down political enemies, it’s more likely they’d focus on taking down President Trump himself than his adversaries. Judging by their political donations, IRS employees lean in exactly the partisan direction you’d expect the taxman to lean. Obama didn’t need to tell Lois Lerner to target tea partiers. That sort of thing would occur to her naturally given the agency’s institutional lean.

Continue reading

July 27, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

If California Is A 'Bad State for Business,' Why Is It Leading The Nation In Job And GDP Growth?

Real GDPLos Angeles Times: If California's a 'Bad State for Business,' Why Is It Leading the Nation in Job and GDP Growth?, by Michael Hiltzik:

State and federal statistics released as recently as Friday make it clear: California is smoking hot, economy-wise.

The state gained 40,300 jobs in June and 461,000 over the year. With a gain of 2.9%, that was the best 12-month record of any large state except Florida, which won by a nostril with a gain of 3%, and much better than the nation as a whole (1.7%). According to the congressional Joint Economic Committee, California leads the nation in growth in its gross domestic product, which grew by 4.2% in 2015 — more than twice the national rate.

This record raises numerous questions, the most interesting of which is: So what’s all that guff about California being a “business-unfriendly” state?

Continue reading

July 26, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Conservative Backlash Against Vic Fleischer's Appointment As Co-Chief Tax Counsel For Senate Finance Committee Democrats

Fleischer (2016)Following up on my recent posts:

Politico, Morning Tax: Backlash Begins:

It took a little while, but prominent conservatives in the tax field are starting to question Sen. Ron Wyden’s decision to bring on Victor Fleischer as co-chief tax counsel for Finance Committee Democrats. Fleischer, a University of San Diego law professor, helped jump-start the movement to end the preferential tax treatment of carried interest, which has become something of a cause celebre among Democrats.

Continue reading

July 26, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Johnson:  How And Why We Built A Majority-Minority Faculty At UC-Davis Law School

UC Davis Logo (2017)Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed: How and Why We Built a Majority-Minority Faculty, by Kevin R. Johnson (Dean, UC-Davis):

In the summer of 1989, the law school at the University of California at Davis added three new faculty members: two Latino men and an African-American woman. I was one of the Latinos, and I didn’t know until I read it in the local paper that the new arrivals were the only people of color on a previously all-white faculty.

I wasn’t surprised. At that time, the faculty at every top-tier American law school was overwhelmingly white and predominantly male. There was nothing unusual about the situation on my new campus, nor about the law school’s apparent intention to diversify.

What has proved unusual is that we succeeded. Today I am dean of the law school, and our faculty diversity is broad: gay and straight, white, Latino, African-American, and Asian. On a faculty of 36 tenured and tenure-track scholars, we have Filipino-, Iranian-, Indian-, and Algerian-Americans, as well as Korean-, Japanese-, and Chinese-Americans. With our most recent hires, we now have a faculty that is 47 percent female and 56 percent minority.

Continue reading

July 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Alstott:  Tax And … Housing Policy

EvictedAnne Alstott (Yale), Tax and … Housing Policy:

In his new book, Evicted, Harvard sociologist Matt Desmond recounts the human cost of the frequent evictions that disrupt life in poor communities. Desmond doesn’t focus on the role of the tax code in housing policy, but his work suggests directions for further thought. ...

We know that renters are second-class citizens in federal housing policy: taking into account tax expenditures and direct spending, the feds spend about $190 billion per year to subsidize housing, but as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities demonstrates, the subsidies are poorly matched to housing need.

The upside-down distribution of federal housing subsidies isn’t news to tax folks, of course. Still, I think it’s worth looking beyond the home mortgage interest deduction and its glaring flaws. Instead, or addition, we might consider whether the federal government can — and should — redirect subsidy funds toward rental housing need and toward the goal of housing stability in particular.

Continue reading

July 26, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Li:  'Strangers In A Strange Land'—Chinese Companies In The American Tax System

Ji Li (Rutgers), 'Strangers in a Strange Land'—Chinese Companies in the American Tax System, 68 Hastings L.J. ___ (2016):

Two distinct features describe foreign direct investment (“FDI”) from emerging economies: (1) most of the investors thrive in poor regulatory environments, and (2) the visible hand of the state exerts a powerful influence. Due to these two features, emerging market FDI poses novel questions to tax law scholars and U.S. policymakers. For instance, will the investors import noncompliance practices? Or will they adapt to the complex and stringent regulatory regime of the host country?

Continue reading

July 26, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

2016 Google Law Review Rankings

Google Scholar (2015)PrawfsBlawg: Google Scholar Law Review Rankings — 2016, by Bryce C. Newell (Tilburg University):

Includes only flagship/general law reviews at ABA accredited schools (I think I've captured (almost) all of these, but let me know if I've missed any). Rankings are calculated based on the average of Google's two scores (h5-index and h5-median), as proposed here by Robert Anderson. The final column shows how much a journal's rank has changed in 2016 versus last year's ranking (0 indicates no change, a positive number indicates the ranking has gone up in 2016, while a negative number indicates a drop in ranking in 2016).

Bryce lists 194 flagship law reviews. Here are the Top 25:

Continue reading

July 26, 2016 in Law Review Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Chevron In The Circuit Courts:  IRS Is Afforded 4th Least Judicial Deference Among 22 Federal Agencies

Kent H. Barnett (Georgia) & Christopher J. Walker (Ohio State), Chevron in the Circuit Courts:

This Article presents findings from the most comprehensive empirical study to date on how the federal courts of appeals have applied Chevron deference — the doctrine under which courts defer to a federal agency’s reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous statute that it administers. Based on 1561 agency interpretations the circuit courts reviewed from 2003 to 2013, we found that the circuit courts overall upheld 71% of interpretations and applied Chevron deference 75% of the time. But there was nearly a twenty-five percentage-point difference in agency-win rates when the circuit courts applied Chevron deference than when they did not. Among many other things, our study reveals important differences across circuits, agencies, agency formats, and subject matters as to judicial review of agency statutory interpretations — as our rankings based on these variables illustrate.

Table 2

As Table 2 indicates, the subject matters for which courts defer most often to agency interpretations included telecommunications (8.60), Indian affairs (8.33), federal government (8.18), pensions (8.17), education (8.15), health and safety (8.14), and entitlement programs (8.03). Conversely, the subject matters for which courts defer the least were civil rights (5.99), followed by housing (6.04), prisons (6.64), tax (6.74), and employment (6.96). ...

Continue reading

July 26, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

G20 Calls For Tax Policy Overhaul

G20Following up on Friday's post, G-20 To Scrap 30 Years Of Tax Policy And Recommend Taxing Capital Income At Higher Rates Than Wages:  Sydney Morning Herald, G20 Calls For Tax Policy Overhaul:

Group of 20 finance ministers say taxation policies should be improved worldwide to reflect globalisation and promote socially balanced, sustainable economic growth.

US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said that not only specific tax rules but entire "taxation administrations [based on national boundaries] have to be updated."

Continue reading

July 26, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vermont Law School Seeks $15 Million Federal Loan To Restructure Its Debts Via Sale-Leaseback With Related LLC

Vermont Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below) on the financial difficulties at Vermont Law School: VT Digger, Vermont Law School Seeking Federal Loan to Ease Debt Costs:

Vermont Law School is hoping to borrow $15 million from the federal government to help restructure its debts and take advantage of lower interest rates.

Continue reading

July 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1174

IRS Logo 2The Hill, Hatch: Senate Won't Remove IRS Head:

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee says a House effort to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has no chance of moving through the Senate.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the most senior Senate Republican, on Thursday said his colleagues and Koskinen don’t always agree but that those conflicts shouldn’t cost the commissioner his job.

“We can have our disagreements with him, but that doesn't mean there's an impeachable offense,” Hatch told reporters at the Capitol. “And for the most part he's been very cooperative with us."

Continue reading

July 26, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, July 25, 2016

U.S. News:  Law Schools With The Lowest Debt, Highest Rank—BYU, Georgia State, Nebraska, Tennessee

2017 U.S. News LogoU.S. News & World Report, 10 Law Schools Where Alumni Have the Least Debt:

With tuition and fees often running at $30,000 per year or more, many students take out loans. Among the 183 ranked law schools that submitted debt data to U.S. News, the average debt for 2015 graduates who borrowed was $112,748. ... Of the 10 schools where graduates borrowed the least, the average debt was $62,735. ...

Below are the 10 schools where 2015 graduates who borrowed for law school had the least debt. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.

School Average Debt U.S. News Rank
Hawaii $54,988 92 (tie)
South Dakota $57,170 143
North Carolina Central $57,924 RNP*
Nebraska $58,744 57 (tie)
BYU $62,423 38 (tie)
Arkansas (Fayetteville) $64,901 86 (tie)
Georgia State $66,637 57 (tie)
Tennessee $66,939 65 (tie)
Liberty $68,667 RNP
Arkansas (Little Rock) $68,960 136 (tie)

Continue reading

July 25, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

NY Times:  FASB's New Stock Option Treatment Raises Profits, Highlights Low Effective Tax Rates Paid By Most Companies

The New York Times: A Profit Bump for Companies, and Tax Transparency for Investors, by Gretchen Morgenson:

Think the world of accounting is dull? Then you don’t know about the new auditing rule that is about to raise many companies’ reported profits and bring greater clarity to the actual taxes big corporations pay.

The rule change involves a new approach to stock option accounting, and it will have the greatest impact at companies that dispense oodles of these awards as employee compensation. It arrived in March to little fanfare and was imposed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which sets auditing standards for United States corporations.

The new rule relates to the tax benefit that a company receives when it gives options to executives and workers. The change doesn’t affect what a company must pay in taxes related to its stock option grants. It simply shifts the place where a company reports the options-related tax benefit. The shift makes the benefit more evident to investors.

The standards board changed the rule as part of its accounting simplification program, intended to reduce the costs and complexities of auditing standards and maintain “the usefulness of the information provided to users of financial statements,” as the regulator put it.

But the change will have other effects. Along with appearing to juice many companies’ net earnings, it is likely to bring the spotlight back to the issue of low corporate taxes in America, possibly reigniting that debate.

Continue reading

July 25, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ:  Tax Complications From A Summer Job

Wall Street Journal Tax Report: Congratulations on the Summer Job! Here’s What You Owe the Government; Some Children’s Returns Are as Complicated as Their Parents’, by Laura Saunders:

Summertime living is supposed to be easy, but for those who take seasonal jobs the taxes can be tricky.

Now is a good time for a checkup if you are a student with a summer job or have a young worker in the family.

Continue reading

July 25, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Department Of Education's New Fraud Defense To Loan Repayment Will Spur Spurious Lawsuits

Department of Education LogoFollowing up on my previous posts:

Law360 op-ed: No Good Reason For New Student Loan Forgiveness Rules, by Anthony T. Caso (Chapman):

You may have read news reports over the past few years that new lawyers are having more and more trouble finding a job. The recession that hit in 2008 seems to linger on, especially in the legal market. The U.S. Department of Education has a solution. It has proposed new regulations that will spawn a new industry of spurious lawsuits against colleges and universities. Everybody will have to hire lawyers — and lawyers will be the only clear winners in the battles to come.

Continue reading

July 25, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Brooks Posts Three Tax Papers On SSRN

John R. Brooks (Georgetown):

  • Don't Forget the Standard Deduction, 150 Tax Notes 1589 (Mar. 28, 2016):  "The presidential candidates this campaign season are a diverse group with a wide range of tax policy proposals, but they agree unanimously about one thing: the need to limit itemized deductions. Sadly, however, none of their proposals tackles how limits on itemized deductions would affect the other side of the equation — the standard deduction — which is also very much in need of reform."
  • Student Loans As Taxes, 151 Tax Notes 513 (Apr. 25, 2016):  "The growth of college tuition and the corresponding rise in student loan debt have become major issues of public importance. Total outstanding student debt is at least $1.3 trillion, and tuitions keep growing, even while we arguably need to invest more in higher education to add skills and grow our economy. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has made higher education reform a major part of his Democratic presidential campaign platform, proposing a new financial transactions tax to pay for large grants to states that offer free tuition to public universities. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, has proposed grants to states to offer ‘‘no-debt-tuition,’’ paid for in part by repealing several tax expenditures. These and other plans would essentially increase federal spending on higher education through expanded progressive taxation."

Continue reading

July 25, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fall 2016 Law Review Article Submission Guide

SubmissionsNancy Levit (UMKC) & Allen Rostron (UMKC) have updated their incredibly useful document, which contains two charts for the Fall 2016 submission season covering 204 law reviews.

The first chart (pp. 1-51) contains information gathered from the journals’ websites on:

  • Methods for submitting an article (such as by e-mail, ExpressO, regular mail, Scholastica, or Twitter)
  • Any special formatting requirements
  • How to request an expedited review
  • How to withdraw an article after it has been accepted for publication elsewhere

The second chart (pp. 52-58) contains the ranking of the law reviews and their schools under six measures:

  • U.S. News: Overall Rank
  • U.S. News: Peer Reputation Rating
  • U.S. News: Judge/Lawyer Reputation Rating
  • Washington & Lee Citation Ranking
  • Washington & Lee Impact Factor
  • Washington & Lee Combined Rating

They also have posted a list of links to the submissions information on each law journal’s website. Nancy notes two highlights in this updated document:

Continue reading

July 25, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vic Fleischer—'The Closest Thing The Tax World Has To A Rock Star'—Goes To Washington

Fleischer (2016)Following up on Friday's post, Vic Fleischer Named Co-Chief Tax Counsel For Democrats On Senate Finance Committee:  Bloomberg, Mr. Higher-Tax-on-Carried-Interest Goes to Washington, by Lynnley Browning:

He made his name in academia by criticizing a lucrative tax break for private-equity managers. Now Victor Fleischer is taking his anti-loophole thinking to Washington.

Fleischer will serve as a formal adviser to Democrats on the powerful Senate Finance Committee, a perch from which he says he’ll seek ways to close the so-called “carried interest” loophole -- and to curb other tax benefits.

Continue reading

July 25, 2016 in Congressional News, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (4)

Social Media For Academics

Social Media for AcademicsMark Carrigan (University of Warwick), Social Media for Academics (Sage 2016):

Social media is an increasingly important part of academic life that can be a fantastic medium for promoting your work, networking with colleagues and for demonstrating impact. However, alongside the opportunities it also poses challenging questions about how to engage online, and how to represent yourself professionally.

This practical book provides clear guidance on effectively and intelligently using social media for academic purposes across disciplines, from publicising your work and building networks to engaging the public with your research.  It is supported by real life examples and underpinned by principles of good practice to ensure you have the skills to make the most of this exciting medium.

You’ll find advice on:

Continue reading

July 25, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1173

IRS Logo 2Politico, Hillary Clinton Warns: Trump Could Use Military, IRS To Punish Critics and Opponents:

At a campaign event in Springfield, Illinois Wednesday afternoon presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton warned Donald Trump would use the military and IRS "to go after his critics and opponents." ...

"Imagine if he had not just Twitter and cable news to go after his critics and opponents, but also the IRS, or for that matter our entire military," Clinton said. "Given what we have seen and heard, do any of us think he'd be restrained?"

Continue reading

July 25, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, July 24, 2016

If Black Lives Matter At Whittier, Shouldn't Law School Address Graduates' Abysmal Bar Passage And Employment Rates?

LBLMFollowing up on my previous posts (here and here):  The College Fix, Law Professor Who Wore Black Lives Matter Shirt to Class Has a Long Trail of Student Grievances, by Samantha Figueroa:

When a law professor wore a Black Lives Matter shirt to class earlier this year, she saw it as a teaching tool and exercise in academic freedom.

Some of her “concerned students” saw the gesture as an attempt to push her “personal beliefs” on them, but also a threat to their ability to become practicing lawyers – and told her so in a much-derided memo.

The incident was revived this month after Inside Higher Ed confirmed the institution was southern California’s Whittier Law School, whose student body is majority-minority, and the professor was Patricia Leary.

Though Leary’s public critique of the anonymous memo has drawn most of the attention, the students’ deeper anxieties have been overshadowed: Whittier’s bar passage rate is plummeting.

And if new accreditation standards under review at the American Bar Association are implemented, the value of students’ degrees from the $46,000-a-year institution may be imperiled. ...

Continue reading

July 24, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Perry Fleischer Presents Autonomy, Uncertainty and the Poor: Reflections On 'Charity Law And The Liberal State' Today At Melbourne

Fleischer (Miranda)Miranda Perry Fleischer (San Diego) presents Autonomy, Uncertainty and the Poor: Reflections on Matthew Harding's "Charity Law and the Liberal State", 41 Australian J. for Legal Phil. ___ (2016), today at the Australian Society Of Legal Philosophy Annual Conference at Melbourne Law School:

In Charity Law and the Liberal State [Cambridge University Press 2014], Matthew Harding argues that one can best justify the existence, scope, and substance of charity law as reflecting the state’s desire to further the political ideal of autonomy as grounded in Razian principles.  Complicating Harding’s job, however, is the problem of factual uncertainty:  it is frequently hard to identify the impact of a given state policy on a specific currency such as autonomy, equality, opportunity, or well-being. This commentary argues that Harding both under- and over-values the importance of this uncertainty.

He over-values this uncertainty in his discussion of the charitable tax subsidies, when he implies that the complex nature of distributive questions surrounding the subsidies renders them an ultimately unfulfilling line of inquiry.  Despite the fact that the charitable tax subsidies are but one component by which a state might further the autonomy of the poor, however, understanding the extent to which the subsidies do or do not do so is necessary for determining whether the poor in a given state can adequately exercise their autonomy.

Continue reading

July 24, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump's Call To Repeal The Johnson Amendment And Allow Churches To Endorse Political Candidates

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

The IRS Scandal, 1172

IRS Logo 2Politico, IRS Manager Punished for Attending Obama Rally on Work Trip:

A supervisor at the Internal Revenue Service has received a 14-day suspension for ditching work in 2012 to attend a re-election rally for President Barack Obama.

The IRS official's actions violated the Hatch Act, a federal law limiting politicking by government employees, according to a statement Wednesday from the Office of Special Counsel. ...

The statement did not name the IRS staffer, but said she is an "operations manager" for the tax agency. The 14-day unpaid suspension was agreed to by the worker as part of a settlement that also resolved charges she violated the tax agency's internal code of conduct, the statement said.

"Federal employees are encouraged to participate in the political process, but they must do so on their own time, outside the workplace, and in their personal capacity,” Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said.

Several enforcement actions have been taken against IRS personnel for political activity in the 2012 election cycle.

In 2014, Lerner's office announced that an IRS help line worker received a 100-day unpaid suspension for urging callers to support Obama and for reciting a pro-Obama chant "based on the spelling of the employee's last name."

The personnel actions come amid continuing Republican complaints of anti-conservative bias at the tax agency. Some House GOP lawmakers are pressing a drive to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over his alleged lack of cooperation with Congressional investigations into the bias claims.

Continue reading

July 24, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Perry Fleischer Presents How Is The Opera Like The Soup Kitchen? Today At Melbourne

Fleischer (Miranda)Miranda Perry Fleischer (San Diego) presents How is the Opera Like the Soup Kitchen? in The Philosophical Foundations of Tax Law (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2016) today at the Australian Society Of Legal Philosophy Annual Conference at Melbourne Law School:

The charitable tax subsidies are, at heart, redistributive. Some individuals (the recipients of charitable goods and services, such as students, museum-goers, and soup kitchen patrons) receive benefits. Other individuals pay for these benefits, both voluntarily (through donations) and involuntarily (in the form of higher taxes or reduced benefits). At first glance, it appears that the redistribution effectuated by the subsidies violates commonly-held notions of distributive justice. After all, the subsidies treat charities that serve the wealthy (like the opera) the same as charities that aid the poor (such as the soup kitchen). How can spending public funds on the wealthy in this manner be considered just? As this Chapter shows, so doing is just under expansive interpretations of resource egalitarianism and left-libertarianism that account for expensive tastes and talent-pooling.

Continue reading

July 23, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Senate Bill Would Exempt Student Loans Discharged For Any Reason From Being Taxed As Income

Student Loans CautionSenators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have introduced the Student Loan Tax Relief Act:

The bill amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exempt student loans discharged for any reason from being taxed as income, including through participation in the federal income-based repayment (IBR) and income-contingent repayment (ICR) loan forgiveness programs; through death or disability of the recipient; or due to fraud by an institution of higher education, known as "borrower defense to repayment."

Continue reading

July 23, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Amazon Enters Student Loan Business

Amazon logoWall Street Journal, Amazon Tiptoes Into Banking Business Through Student Loans:

Amazon is stepping into the student-loan marketplace.

The online retailer has entered into a partnership with San Francisco lender Wells Fargo in which the bank’s student-lending arm will offer interest-rate discounts to select Amazon shoppers. ...

Continue reading

July 23, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1171

WSThe Politicization of Everything, The Weekly Standard (Aug. 1, 2016):

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent outburst against Donald Trump has been roundly criticized by people of all political stripes. Insofar as her comments suggested a clear bias about cases that could come before the Supreme Court, they were clearly a mistake and a departure from the norms of Court behavior. After predictable media attempts to defend her by saying "everyone does it," Justice Ginsburg apologized and walked back her remarks.

This is not, however, a one-off incident. It is part and parcel of a clear and consistent pattern of the left's increasing politicization of everything. And the chief instigator of this behavior has been President Obama. In the modern era, presidents and ex-presidents once showed a degree of political restraint. President Obama has blasted through these restraints and spoken freely as a partisan rather than as a president. 

An early example is the president's criticism of the Citizens United case in his 2010 State of the Union address. It is one thing for a president to advance a view about the role of money in politics; it is quite another to launch a broadside about a specific Court decision in front of Supreme Court justices captive in the front row of a nationally televised speech, complete with cheering partisans standing all around. This, of course, resulted in a classic media deflection, namely, criticism of Justice Samuel Alito's silent (and accurate by the way) response. This was certainly no sign of presidential respect for the Court's independence.

President Obama's behavior here was of a piece with his comments about the unfolding IRS scandal in 2014. Here was a genuine abuse of government power, replete with lying, stonewalling, and the wanton destruction of public documents. It would be one thing if the president were to opine about a congressional investigation into the IRS scandal. It is quite another to do so when the president's Justice Department had launched its own investigation of the IRS.

It is perhaps fair to say that the administration's investigation, headed by Justice Department attorney (and Obama contributor) Barbara Bosserman, was a sham from the beginning. But is it acceptable for the president to pronounce there was not "even a smidgen" of IRS wrongdoing while the Justice Department's so-called investigation was underway? ...

With regard to IRS targeting of political opponents, for example—the temerity of which would make Richard Nixon blush—was there really a sufficient reason to excuse lying, stonewalling, and the destruction of computers and literally thousands of emails? Is there no single Democrat who can rise above his or her own partisanship and acknowledge that while there may be partisan gain for Republicans, an investigation might also be good for the defense of liberty and government restraint? Would they want the IRS to target them?

Continue reading

July 23, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bank, Cheffins & Wells:  Executive Pay—What Worked?

Steven A. Bank (UCLA), Brian R. Cheffins (Cambridge) & Harwell Wells (Temple), Executive Pay: What Worked?,  42 J. Corp. L. ___ (2016):

CEO pay is a controversial issue in America but there was a time, often overlooked today, when chief executives were not paid nearly as much as they are now. From 1940 to the mid-1970s executive pay was modest by today’s standards even though U.S. business was generally thriving. What worked to keep executive pay in check? Economist Thomas Piketty and others credit high marginal income tax rates, leading to calls for a return to a similar tax regime. This paper casts doubt on the impact tax had and also shows that neither the configuration of boards nor shareholder activism played a significant role in constraining executive pay. It emphasizes instead the roles played by strong unions, a different and more circumscribed market for managerial talent, and social norms, explanations that do not easily lend themselves to generating modern policy prescriptions.


Continue reading

July 22, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Could Your Social Media Posts Prevent You From Becoming A Lawyer?

Social MediaKeith Lee, Could Your Social Media Posts Prevent You From Becoming A Lawyer?:

The July bar exam is coming up next week and is on the minds of many law school graduates. ... But after law school, and before the bar exam, there is one other hurdle law school graduates must clear on their path to becoming a licensed attorney – they must pass a Character and Fitness Evaluation (CFE). ...

[Otion] Gjini was denied admission to Bar of Maryland. [He is not] a sympathetic applicant. Gjini was mostly denied because he had frequent DUIs and did not disclose that he was facing a charge of violating his probation until the charge was found by the Maryland Character Committee (MCC) and brought up during his hearing.

But also at issue when Gjini appeared before the MCC, were his online postings. During law school, Gjini, like almost every law school student, frequently commented on various social media services. During his examination, the MCC came across Gjini’s public accounts and found the following comments:

Continue reading

July 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Mike Graetz Looks At International Tax From 30,000 Feet

Graetz (2015)TaxVox:  Mike Graetz Looks at International Tax From 30,000 Feet, by Howard Gleckman:

It is so easy to get lost in the weeds of tax policy. Nowhere is that more true than in the hyper-technical world of international tax that only a handful of economists and lawyers really understand. That’s why a recent short talk by Columbia University law professor Michael Graetz was so useful.

Mike spoke last Friday at a Tax Policy Center conference that examined two interesting corporate tax reforms designed by Alan Auerbach of the University of California Berkeley and Michael Devereux of Oxford University and colleagues. One was a destination-based corporate income tax and the other was a destination-based cash flow tax that would function much like a Value-Added Tax. ...

Graetz did the rest of us a great service by providing an easily understandable 30,000-foot overview of the challenges of international tax.

Continue reading

July 22, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Question Of The Week: Did You Like Law School?

ABA Logo (2016)ABA Journal Question of the Week:  Did You Like Law School?:

In the last week, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence—who graduated from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1986—was named Donald Trump’s running mate on the Republican presidential ticket. In a 1994 news story unearthed in response to Pence’s nomination, Pence said he didn’t like law school.

“No one I know likes law school,” he told the Indianapolis Business Journal at the time. “It was a bad experience. I wouldn’t wish it on a dog I didn’t like.”

Continue reading

July 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Trump Family Would Get $7 Billion Windfall From Estate Tax Plan

Trump (2016)The Hill, Trump Family Would Get $7B Windfall From Estate-Tax Plan: Analyst:

Donald Trump's family would get a $7.1 billion tax cut under the Republican presidential nominee's proposal to eliminate the federal estate tax, a centrist think tank estimated.

"The staggeringly high value of the tax cut for the Trump dynasty alone carries the same price tag as multiple high-value national priorities," Third Way said in an analysis Wednesday.

Continue reading

July 22, 2016 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

WSJ:  G-20 To Scrap 30 Years Of Tax Policy And Recommend Taxing Capital Income At Higher Rates Than Wages

G202Wall Street Journal, A Shrinking World Spurs Calls to Rewrite the Tax Guidebook:

The argument against taxing capital income relatively more than wages is losing its force.

The Group of 20 has spouted the importance of “inclusive growth” for years without spelling out what it really means or how to generate it. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, at least, will be telling G-20 finance ministers in Chengdu, China, this weekend what it thinks it should mean for taxation: less of it on low-income workers and more on high-income shareholders.

The Paris-based think tank has just junked the conventional economic wisdom on tax it had been promoting for years. That old view said income from capital that individuals receive—such as interest, rents, and dividends—should be taxed much more lightly than wages and salaries.

Continue reading

July 22, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Amidst Financial Free Fall, Nine Thomas Jefferson Faculty Retire

Thomas Jefferson Logo (2015)Amidst a very challenging budgetary environment caused by an ill-fated building project and a 38% enrollment decline since 2011 (links below), nine Thomas Jefferson Law School faculty have retired:

Continue reading

July 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)