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Friday, June 6, 2014

9th Annual Junior Tax Scholars Workshop Kicks Off Today at American

American Logo (2014)Panel #1:  Financial Innovation

Randle Pollard (Indiana, Kelley School of Business), Feeling Insecure – A State View of Whether Investors in Municipal General Obligation Bonds Have a Mere Promise to Pay or a Binding Obligation
Commentators:  Phil Hackney (LSU), Susan Morse (Texas)

Omri Marian (Florida), Designing a Regulatory System for Bitcoin Era
Commentators:  Andrew Blair-Stanek (Maryland), Jason Oh (UCLA)

Ben Leff (American), Income-Based Repayment Swap
Commentators:  Emily Cauble (DePaul), David Kamin (NYU)

Panel #2:  Uncertainty and Time

Jake Brooks (Georgetown), The Case for Incrementalism in Tax Reform
Commentators: Andy Grewal (Iowa), Leigh Osofsky (Miami)

David Kamin (NYU), Fiscal Policy in an Uncertain World
Commentators:  Andrew Blair-Stanek (Maryland), David Gamage (UC-Berkeley)

Rebecca Morrow (Wake Forest), Keep them Guessing: A Defense of Impermanent, Automatically-Expiring and Short-Term Tax Policies
Commentators:  Mirit Eyal-Cohen (Alabama), Itai Grinberg (Georgetown)

Jason Oh (UCLA), Estimating Uncertainty and the Politics of Tax Law
Commentators: Andrew Hayashi (Virginia), Tracey Roberts (Seattle)

Panel #3:  Optimal Tax

Andrew Hayashi (Virginia), Cash Taxes and Consumption Commitments
Commentators:  Susan Morse (Texas), Jason Oh (UCLA)

David Gamage (UC-Berkeley), Optimal Tax II
Commentators: Jake Brooks (NYU), Emily Satterthwaite (Toronto)

Panel #4:  International Tax

Micah Burch (Sydney), Extranational Income
Commentators:  Omri Marian (Florida), Rebecca Morrow (Wake Forest)

Itai Grinberg (Georgetown), Putting International Tax in Its International Economic Law Context
Commentators: David Herzig (Valparaiso), Emily Satterthwaite (Toronto)

Panel #5:  Marriage and Family

Tessa Davis (Tulane), Taxing Modern Families: Mapping the Families of Tax
Commentators: Ben Leff (American), Randle Pollard (Indiana, Kelley School of Business)

David Herzig (Valparaiso), Marriage Pluralism: Taxing Marriage After Windsor
Commentators: Tessa Davis (Tulane), Khrista Johnson (Pepperdine)

Prior Junior Tax Scholars Workshops:

June 6, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Virginia Inadvertently Reveals Grades, Class Ranks of All Judicial Clerkship Applicants

Virginia LogoVirginia yesterday inadvertently emailed to 160 student in a judicial clerkship email discussion group a spreadsheet containing confidential information about 155 clerkship applicants, including GPAs and class ranks (Virginia does not otherwise reveal the class rank of its students).  The data show rampant grade inflation at Virginia:

Top 5%:    3.792
Top 10%:  3.717
Top 20%:  3.620
Top 25%:  3.595
Top 50%:  3.405

June 6, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

UCLA Is Inhospitable to Women Faculty

UCLA LogoWall Street Journal, Gender Bias Alleged at UCLA's Anderson Business School:

One of the nation's top-ranked business schools is "inhospitable to women faculty," according to an internal academic review.

Faculty of the Anderson Graduate School of Management at University of California, Los Angeles, received a confidential copy of the review, conducted by a group of university professors and outside business-school deans, in April. The next day, the institution's first female dean, Judy Olian, met with the heads of several other elite business schools at the White House, where the group discussed business schools' roles in making workplaces friendlier to women and working families.

Back on campus, many professors noted the irony. Among the findings of the report, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal: Anderson is inconsistent in how it hires and promotes women as compared with men; has created "gender ghettos" in certain academic areas; and shows a "lack of confidence" in female faculty.

Dr. Olian said her administration is taking the findings seriously, and that the climate for women has been a priority since she became dean eight years ago. "This is going to require a lot more than numbers and policies. It's really soul-searching," Dr. Olian said. "I have to ask myself, what here might have had unintended consequences? And what subtle things should we, can we, must we be doing to improve the climate?"

Dr. Olian has notched many accomplishments during her tenure at Anderson: She raised $190 million for the school, successfully wrested administrative control away from the state education system and, in the past four years, oversaw a 60% jump in full-time M.B.A. applications.

But other than the dean herself, no women hold any of the school's 24 endowed chairs, prestigious positions used to attract and retain top talent.

WSJWomen made up 20% of tenure-track faculty at Anderson and 14.3% of those with tenure in the 2012-2013 academic year, including Dr. Olian, according to school figures.

By comparison, an analysis of 16 peer institutions—including the business schools at the University of Virginia, Stanford University and University of Michigan—found that, on average, about 30% of tenure-track and 19.5% of tenured faculty were women in the 2012-2013 year. ...

Interviews with professors and administrators at a number of top programs suggest that the problems are particularly acute at Anderson. The internal report states that women have high rates of job satisfaction when beginning careers at the school, but face a "lack of respect" regarding their work and "unevenly applied" standards on decisions about pay and promotions.

Twice in the past three years, the university's governing academic body took the relatively rare step of overruling Dr. Olian, who had recommended against the promotion of one woman and against giving tenure to another, according to four Anderson professors.

In one case, the university found that policies allowing faculty to take parental leave without falling behind on the tenure track had been incorrectly applied to the candidate. In that same period, they said, a male candidate for promotion passed through the Anderson review, but didn't get clearance from the university.

Daily Bruin, Report Reveals Gender Inequity in UCLA Anderson Faculty:


Wall Street Journal, A Look at Gender Diversity at B-Schools:

School Total Accounting Finance Management Marketing
Arizona State 24%
(37 of 154)
(5 of 21)
(5 of 17)
(5 of 23)
(9 of 20)
MIT 19.6%
(22 of 111)
(3 of 10)
(3 of 21)
(4 of 15)
(3 of 10)
Northwestern 21.9%
(30 of 137)
(3 or 13)
(5 of 25)
(12 of 41)
(7 of 25)
Stanford 19.5%
(23 of 118)
(5 of 14)
(2 of 21)
(6 of 25)
(3 of 15)
UCLA 17.9%
(15 of 84)
(2 of 9)
(1 of 18)
(6 of 13)
(2 of 13)
Chicago 14.8%
(19 of 128)
(4 of 17)
(2 of 25)
(2 of 4)
(2 of 10)
Minnesota 31%
(32 of 102)
(6 of 13)
(1 of 17)
(7 of 12)
(8 of 17)

June 6, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

IBFD Seeks to Hire Two Tax Research Fellows

IBFDThe International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation is looking to hire two post-doctoral tax research fellows:

Human Rights and Taxation):
IBFD is recruiting a part-time (50%) post-doctoral research fellow to do research in international taxation and particularly on Human Rights and Taxation.

Tax Treaty Related Issues
IBFD is recruiting a part-time (50%) post-doctoral research fellow to do research in international taxation and particularly on Tax Treaty related issues.

The IBFD welcomes the application of professors and other candidates that have already positions in universities or research centres and that are enjoying sabbaticals, temporary or other leaves. ... Both positions are part-time (0.5 FTE) starting from October 2014. Candidates must be able to make themselves available to be at the IBFD headquarters in Amsterdam for 50% of the working days in the period of one year. The initial contract will be of one year (with the possibility of extension for another year). The gross yearly salary will be Euro EUR 65,000.

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June 6, 2014 in Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 393

IRS Logo 2New York Post editorial, Schumer’s IRS:

Did Chuck Schumer try to use the IRS to sidestep the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling — and stick a dagger in the heart of conservative groups? That’s the gist of a complaint filed this week with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. ...

The complaint notes Schumer signed letters asking the IRS if it was investigating “social welfare organizations” to see if they were improperly campaigning. Turns out the IRS did investigate. And — surprise! — almost all the groups singled out for special IRS scrutiny were conservative.

It also points to a Schumer speech made earlier this year called “The Rise of the Tea Party and How Progressives Can Fight Back.” The speech, says the complaint, explains how the IRS could be a tool “to stamp out Tea Party organizations.”

Up to now, the press has not regarded the clear and deliberate IRS targeting of conservative organizations as a scandal, because it’s found no evidence it was ordered by the White House. If the Center for Competitive Politics is right, maybe the media should start looking at the Senate.m. 

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June 6, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Blair-Stanek: Intellectual Property Law Solutions to Tax Avoidance

Andrew Blair-Stanek (Maryland), Intellectual Property Law Solutions to Tax Avoidance, 62 UCLA L. Rev. __ (2015):

Multinational corporations use intellectual property (IP) to avoid taxes on a massive scale, by transferring their IP offshore for artificially low prices. Economists estimate that this abuse costs the U.S. Treasury as much as $90 billion each year. Yet tax policymakers and scholars have been unable to devise feasible tax-law solutions to this problem. This Article introduces an entirely new solution: change IP law rather than tax law. Multinationals’ tax-avoidance strategies rely on undervaluing their IP. This Article proposes extending existing IP law so that these low valuations make it harder for multinationals subsequently to litigate or to license the IP. For example, transferring a patent for a low price to a tax-haven subsidiary should make it harder for the multinational to demonstrate the patent’s validity, a competitor’s infringement, or entitlement to any injunctions. The low transfer price should also weigh toward lower patent damages and potentially even a finding of patent misuse. Extending IP law in such ways would deter multinationals from using IP to avoid taxes. Both case law and IP’s theoretical justifications support this approach, which also has the counterintuitive benefit of encouraging the flourishing of creative professionals such as inventors and authors.

June 5, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morriss: Law, Economics, and Religion

Andrew P. Morriss (Dean, Texas A&M), On the Usefulness of a Flat Economics to the World of Faith, 11 Econ. J. Watch 194 (2014):

DollarIs economics unduly flat? Perhaps, sometimes. But part of the power of economics comes from the parsimony of its approach to human nature. If and when we search for more complex approaches, we will need to understand the tradeoffs involved in choosing between that power and simplicity and the alternatives. Rather than deepening our economics with faith, it may be that we are better off using a relatively flat economics to enrich religious understandings.

(Hat Tip: Greg McNeal.)

June 5, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Galle: How Do Nonprofit Firms Respond to Tax Policy?

Brian D. Galle (Boston College), How Do Nonprofit Firms Respond to Tax Policy?:

We investigate the effects of variations in the value of the charitable contribution deduction on nonprofit firm behavior, including exploring for the first time the effects of the tax-price of giving on fundraising and returns to fundraising. We find that a one-percent increase in tax subsidies drives a 1.7-percent increase in fundraising, and decreases average returns to fundraising by two percent. We also find that tax subsidies deliver less than a dollar of value, net of fundraising, for each dollar foregone by the government, and that program-related expenditures are largely unresponsive to subsidies, at least in the short run. We argue that these results may imply that the charitable contribution deduction is less effective than prior research has suggested. For example, we argue our results are consistent with the hypothesis that subsidies trigger a destructive arms’ race for donor funds. The modest elasticity of real charitable output to tax price implies that tax subsidies may simply crowd out other revenue sources, such that the efficacy of the subsidy depends on the relative efficiency of these alternative sources.

June 5, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lempert Reviews Tamanaha's Failing Law Schools

FailingRichard O. Lempert (Michigan), Book Review, 43 Contemp. Sociology 269 (2014) (reviewing Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.), Failing Law Schools (University of Chicago Press, 2012)):

This review of Brian Tamanaha's Failing Law Schools argues that the book has considerable strengths and is a must read for anyone interested in contemporary legal education, but also has serious shortcomings and suggests reforms of questionable desirability. The burden of the review's argument is (1) Tamanaha's analysis is insufficiently sociological. Confounding cost-related problems facing law schools and peculiar to them with problems confronting higher education generally and hence unlikely to be correctable by law schools acting on their own. (2) It similarly ignores the degree to which changes in the law and the legal profession have placed new and costly demands on legal education. (3) Tamanaha's suggestion that legal education be reduced to 2 years to cut costs puts the cost horse before the educational cart and has little to commend it.

Other reviews of Failing Law Schools:

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June 5, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

NY Times: IRS Blocks Popular Employer-Provided Health Insurance Reimbursement Plans

New York Times, Risking a Health Insurance Strategy the IRS May Not Approve:

In a technical guidance issued last year [Notice 2013-54] and reiterated in May [Employer Health Care Arrangements Q&A], the IRS issued a clear warning about such health reimbursement arrangements, according to eight health and tax lawyers as well a half-dozen lobbyists and analysts who have followed the Affordable Care Act’s adoption. The guidance “makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for an employer to pay for an employee’s individual insurance with tax-free dollars,” said Seth Perretta, a health and tax lawyer with the Groom Law Group in Washington.

The issue, at least on the surface, is language in the health law meant to make sure there are no dollar limits on the coverage for a person’s basic medical needs, which the law calls essential health benefits. The IRS asserts that a plan reimbursing employees for insurance they buy on their own cannot comply with this prohibition on annual limits because the company’s contribution is by definition limited — even though the health insurance the employee ends up buying would have no annual limits. ... “It is abundantly clear that the IRS thinks that you cannot use one of these arrangements to use tax-free dollars to pay for individual health insurance,” said Amy B. Monahan, a law professor at the University of Minnesota. ...

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June 5, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking

Scientific AmericanScientific American, A Learning Secret: Don’t Take Notes with a Laptop:

Students who used longhand remembered more and had a deeper understanding of the material.

“More is better.”  From the number of gigs in a cellular data plan to the horsepower in a pickup truck, this mantra is ubiquitous in American culture.  When it comes to college students, the belief that more is better may underlie their widely-held view that laptops in the classroom enhance their academic performance.  Laptops do in fact allow students to do more, like engage in online activities and demonstrations, collaborate more easily on papers and projects, access information from the internet, and take more notes.  Indeed, because students can type significantly faster than they can write, those who use laptops in the classroom tend to take more notes than those who write out their notes by hand.  Moreover, when students take notes using laptops they tend to take notes verbatim, writing down every last word uttered by their professor.

Obviously it is advantageous to draft more complete notes that precisely capture the course content and allow for a verbatim review of the material at a later date.  Only it isn’t.  New research by Pam Mueller [Princeton] and Daniel Oppenheimer [UCLA] demonstrates that students who write out their notes on paper actually learn more [The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking].  Across three experiments, Mueller and Oppenheimer had students take notes in a classroom setting and then tested students on their memory for factual detail, their conceptual understanding of the material, and their ability to synthesize and generalize the information.  Half of the students were instructed to take notes with a laptop, and the other half were instructed to write the notes out by hand.  As in other studies, students who used laptops took more notes.  In each study, however, those who wrote out their notes by hand had a stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in applying and integrating the material than those who used took notes with their laptops. ...

Technology offers innovative tools that are shaping educational experiences for students, often in positive and dynamic ways.  The research by Mueller and Oppenheimer serves as a reminder, however, that even when technology allows us to do more in less time, it does not always foster learning.  Learning involves more than the receipt and the regurgitation of information.  If we want students to synthesize material, draw inferences, see new connections, evaluate evidence, and apply concepts in novel situations, we need to encourage the deep, effortful cognitive processes that underlie these abilities.  When it comes to taking notes, students need fewer gigs, more brain power.

Taking notes on laptops rather than in longhand is increasingly common. Many researchers have suggested that laptop note taking is less effective than longhand note taking for learning. Prior studies have primarily focused on students’ capacity for multitasking and distraction when using laptops. The present research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing. In three studies, we found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.

Fig 1

(Hat Tip:  Glenn Reynolds.)

June 5, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Standing in the Shadow of Tax Exceptionalism

Lynn D. Lu (CUNY), Standing in the Shadow of Tax Exceptionalism: Expanding Access To Judicial Review of Federal Agency Rules, 66 Admin. L. Rev. 73 (2014):

As the U.S. Supreme Court recently confirmed, regulation of behavior through the tax code is "nothing new." Nat’l Fed’n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius, 132 S. Ct. 2566, 2596 (2012). From the individual mandate’s "shared responsibility payment" to the income-tax deduction for charitable donations, tax provisions raise or lower the cost of particular conduct. In doing so, tax rules, like all administrative rules, reflect normative values and protect important public interests. Yet the need for swift and certain collection of revenue has historically excused tax regulation from general administrative law principles that promote government accountability in the implementation of federal mandates.

This Article explores one critical instance in which tax exceptionalism swallowed the rule of government accountability to insulate much federal agency rulemaking from judicial oversight in all administrative arenas: constitutional standing doctrine. Under current standing doctrine, a wide range of regulatory stakeholders lacks access to federal court review of agency rules that adversely affect their concrete interests. Where such stakeholders are members of historically or politically marginalized populations, the lack of access to judicial review exacerbates process defects that limit their participation in rulemaking decisions. The result is an imbalance in regulatory influence between entities subject to the burdens of regulation and those who stand to benefit from the enforcement of regulatory mandates.

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June 5, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 392

IRS Logo 2Washington Post:  The Rhythm of a Federal Scandal, by Tom Hicks:

Federal scandals tend to share certain common characteristics, especially with the way they play out. Let’s review some recent examples of government misconduct to understand the trends.

As case studies, we’ll use the the cover-ups of treatment delays at Veterans Affairs hospitals, the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups and the General Service Administration’s lavish training conference in Las Vegas. 

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June 5, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

InfiLaw Suspends Bid to Buy Charleston Law School

Charleston LogoFollowing up on this morning's post, NY Times on InfiLaw's Proposed Acquisition of Charleston Law School:  InfiLaw has temporarily suspended its application to buy Charleston Law School.

June 4, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

University Provides $2.2 Million Lifeline to Minnesota Law School to Help Close $3 Million Budget Deficit Caused by 18% Enrollment Decline

Minnesota Daily, Facing Low Enrollment, Law School Gets a $2.2 Million Boost:

Minnesota LogoA lower number of new students creates financial problems for the school, Wippman said.

As its enrollment continues to drop, the University of Minnesota’s Law School is set to receive more money to fight financial woes. President Eric Kaler’s proposed budget for next year includes a $2.2 million allocation to help the Law School cover a loss in tuition revenue, an issue plaguing law schools nationwide.

The University’s Law School has had relatively consistent enrollment over the past few years, but Dean David Wippman said the applications to the school and the number of first-year students are sharply declining. In fall 2014, he said, about 180 students will enroll, compared to about 220 first-year students in 2013. ...

If the Law School received no aid from the University and didn’t make changes to its operations, he said, it would face a deficit of about $3 million next year.

To cover the gap, the administration is taking steps like lowering raises for employees, not renewing contracts with adjunct faculty members and moving publications to the web, Wippman said. The school has also admitted more transfer students than normal, Wippman said, and will launch a new one-year master’s program in patent law to attract new students. ...

Wippman said Law School leaders are working to alleviate the need for additional University financial support, but he hopes to get continued monetary help if it’s needed. Last year, the University gave the Law School $950,000 for scholarships, and tuition rose by 5 percent or more for full-time resident students for the 2013-14 school year.

2013-14 tuition was $40,058 (resident), $47,330 (nonresident).

(Hat Tip: Dan Filler.)

June 4, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Fahey: The Movement to Destroy the Income Tax and the IRS

Diane L. Fahey (New York Law School), The Movement to Destroy the Income Tax and the IRS: Who Is Doing It and How They Are Succeeding, 15 Fla. Tax Rev. 157 (2014):

Florida Tax ReviewThe passage of the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1913 enabled the federal government to enact an income tax. Until 1941, only a small number of Americans paid the income tax; however, when the United States entered World War II, the income tax was expanded so that most citizens paid something. After the war ended, the federal income tax remained in place as a mass tax. Further, as the tax was expanded it became a major source of revenue for the federal government during and after World War II, thereby enabling the federal government to grow in size and power.

However, from the time the income tax was enacted, there has been a movement to undermine the income tax by financial elites who not only stand to benefit enormously but who are philosophically offended at both the idea of being subject to an income tax and an expanded and powerful federal government. The wealthy who were dismayed by the federal government’s increasingly prominent role in the lives of ordinary Americans recognized that reducing the federal government’s access to funds would reduce its influence and power. This movement has used a several-pronged approach: (1) attack the legitimacy of the federal government itself, and (2) attack the income tax and attack the manner in which the tax is collected.

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June 4, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Warren: Credit v. Deduction of Foreign Taxes of a Multinational Corporation

Alvin C. Warren (Harvard), The Relationship between a Credit and a Deduction for the Foreign Taxes of a Multinational Corporation:

A credit for foreign taxes paid by a multinational company is usually described as fundamentally different from a deduction for foreign taxes. The credit has been criticized for eliminating the taxpayer's incentive to reduce foreign taxes, whereas a deduction is said to maintain that incentive. On the other hand, the credit is traditionally defended as a method of eliminating double taxation of cross-border income, whereas the deduction is often criticized for producing multiple levels of taxation (and is therefore not an acceptable method of dealing with double taxation under the standard international tax treaties). The argument of this note is that a credit and a deduction for foreign taxes paid by a multinational company are not as different as the foregoing assertions would suggest. Indeed, credits and deductions can be interchangeable, with the distinction only a matter of labels or nominal tax rates.

June 4, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

McGeorge Symposium: The State and Future of Legal Education

McGeorgeSymposium, The State and Future of Legal Education, 45 McGeorge L. Rev. 1-160 (2013):

June 4, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

NY Times on InfiLaw's Proposed Acquisition of Charleston Law School

NY Times Dealbook (2013)Following up on my previous posts (links below): Potential Sale of Law School Raises Debate Over Who Should Profit, by Steven M. Davidoff (Ohio State):

The notion of legal education is colliding with the profit motive in Charleston, S.C., where “for profit” and “private equity” are being tossed around as dirty words in the fight against the acquisition of a regional law school.

The battle centers on the proposed acquisition of the Charleston Law School by the InfiLaw System, which runs three for-profit law schools and is owned by the private equity firm Sterling Partners. Opponents are skeptical of InfiLaw’s for-profit business model. The irony is that the law school’s current owners have taken out more than $25 million in profits over the last few years without protest. It all may just boil down to snobbery and who should be allowed to attend law school.

InfiLaw will not be Harvard, but for those who go in with open eyes, it may be a path to being a lawyer. The point is really to make sure that students know the costs and benefits before they matriculate so they can make a sound judgment about whether to attend. In other words, if InfiLaw or Charleston cannot provide an education that helps students obtain jobs, then presumably students will know and not attend. That is really what legal education these days is about at the regional law schools — perhaps they should just acknowledge that they can’t be Harvard and provide students the training they need.

The full commission is meeting on the InfiLaw petition on Thursday. Instead of arguing about who will profit from them, Charleston’s students may instead want to ask who will give South Carolina’s residents the best opportunity to succeed as lawyers at an acceptable price. It’s probably something that would work well for all law schools these days.

Prior TaxProf Blog posts:

(Hat Tip: Mike Talbert.)

Update #1:  Dan Filler (Drexel) reports that the South Carolina Attorney General's office has issued an advisory opinion stating that the Commission of Higher Education lacks the authority to deny the proposed acquisition for reasons outside of the statutory criteria.

Update #2:  Steven J. Harper (Northwestern) criticizes Davidoff's article in The Battle for Charleston:  "Why should anyone profit at all when non-dischargeable student loans are the source of those profits?"

Update #3:

June 4, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sullivan: How Will Japan Pay for a Lower Corporate Rate?

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Martin A. Sullivan (Tax Analysts), How Will Japan Pay for a Lower Corporate Rate?, 74 Tax Notes Int'l 788 (June 2, 2014):

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's second term began in December 2012. In the first 12 months, prices on the previously moribund stock market soared 63 percent. In the following six months, they have dropped by 10 percent. ... The rise and fall are largely explained by Abenomics.

TNIThe prime minister's radical break from Japan's previous economic policies has three components, referred to as the three arrows. The first arrow is an enormous expansion of the money supply by the Bank of Japan. The second arrow is a big boost in government spending. By all accounts, both of these measures have been successful in providing short-term stimulus to the economy. ...

But Japan's miraculous made-in-Tokyo recovery is now stalled by a lack of progress on the third arrow of Abe's program: promised but unspecified structural, supply-side reforms like reduced regulation of the labor market, reductions in trade barriers and other protections of favored industries, and a reduction in the corporate tax rate, currently the second highest in the world after the United States. The government's fiscal and economic blueprint, due later this month, is expected to offer proposals on these issues. ...

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June 4, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (1)

Cheating: An Insider's Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA

CheatingTim Groseclose (UCLA, Department of Political Science), Cheating: An Insider's Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA (2014):

Because of California's Proposition 209, public universities such as UCLA cannot use race as a factor in admissions. However, as this book shows, UCLA gives significant preferences to African Americans, while it discriminates against Asians. The author, a professor of political science and economics at UCLA, documents what he witnessed as a member of UCLA's faculty oversight committee for admissions.

He also describes findings from a UCLA internal report as well as statistics from a large data set that he has posted online. All show that UCLA is breaking the law. The discrimination is not simply a byproduct of class-based preferences. For instance, for one aspect of the admissions process, a rich African American's chance of admission is almost double that of a poor Asian, even when the two applicants have identical grades, SAT scores, and other factors.

June 4, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (17)

Kidder & Lempert: The Law School Mismatch Myth

William C. Kidder (UC-Riverside) & Richard Lempert (Michigan), The Mismatch Myth in American Higher Education: A Synthesis of Empirical Evidence at the Law School and Undergraduate Levels:

This paper presents a comprehensive examination of the empirical literature testing the academic mismatch hypothesis as it applies to affirmative action and students of color in U.S. higher education. The primary focus of this paper is the mismatch research addressing American legal education (Part II). This includes a detailed assessment of the empirical basis of claims made by Richard Sander and, more recently, by Doug Williams, showing flaws in their work, including questionable claims and methodological choices. In particular, this paper calls into question all research using the LSAC Bar Passage Study data that treats schools in tiers 2 and 3 in that study as separate and hierarchically ordered, arguing that this treatment is statistically unjustified and due to idiosyncrasies in the data and factors that in fact distinguish these tiers serves to enhance the odds of finding a mismatch effect while lowering the likelihood of finding reverse mismatch effects. The paper also reviews research on mismatch at the undergraduate level (Part III), specifically examining the outcomes of graduation rates and earnings and again finding that the mismatch hypothesis lacks empirical support and is, if anything, empirically less plausible than claims made for a reverse mismatch effect. In examining both legal and undergraduate education, this paper both critiques work that purports to find evidence of mismatch and references numerous studies that find no evidence of mismatch effects or evidence of reverse mismatch effects, including studies that use state of the art methods to control for selection bias. Overall the social science evidence points clearly in one direction: affirmative action as practiced today is not plagued by mismatch effects; indeed the evidence indicates that underrepresented minority students tend to do better over the life course if they attend the most selective school that will admit them.

June 4, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 391

IRS Logo 2The Hill, Conservative Group Accuses Nine Dem Senators of Unethical Conduct:

A conservative group is calling on the Senate ethics committee to examine nine top Democrats, accusing them of pushing the IRS to investigate specific groups.

The Center for Competitive Politicsannounced their complaint Tuesday, in which they charge that lawmakers tried to get the tax agency to probe outside conservative groups.

“These senators improperly attempted to use the IRS to suppress the free speech of American citizens for their party’s electoral gain,” said Brad Smith, chairman of the Center and a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission. “We will fight this type of abuse of power and work to ensure that those who have violated Senate Ethics rules are held to account.”

The group wants the ethics panel to look at Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Carl Levin (Mich.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Al Franken (Minn.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), and Tom Udall (N.M.).

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June 4, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What Does It Take for a School Ranked 35 in U.S. News to Move Into the Top 20? 'Hundreds of Millions of Dollars and Prayer'

U.S News LogoInside Higher Ed, Rankings Noise:

What would it take for a well-regarded institution -- such as the University of Rochester, and a few dozen more like it -- to be among U.S. News & World Report’s top 20 national universities? Hundreds of millions of dollars and a prayer, according a new peer-reviewed paper co-written by a former Rochester provost and his staff.

The study [Modeling Change and Variation in U.S. News & World Report College Rankings: What would it really take to be in the Top 20?], published by the journal Research in Higher Education, argues that small movements in the rankings are simply “noise” and that any kind of sustained upward movement is both immensely expensive and nearly impossible. ...

The paper found that small movements up or down in the rankings are more or less irrelevant. For most universities in the top 40, any movement of two spots or less should be considered noise, the paper said. For colleges outside the top 40, moves up or down of four spots should be thought of as noise, too. “For example, a university ranked at 30 could be 95 percent confident that its rank will fall between 28 and 32, and only when the rank moves beyond those levels can a statistically significant change be claimed,” the paper said.

Colleges that want to move any farther have a hard row to hoe, the paper argues, because “meaningful rank changes for top universities are difficult and would occur only after long-range and extraordinarily expensive changes, not through small adjustments.”...

[T]he paper, by authors who have all worked at Rochester, adds to the ruminating by administrators over the U.S. News list with several arguments, including in-depth exploration of what it would take for Rochester, consistently in the mid-30s on the list, to break into the top 20. Emory University, Georgetown University and the University of California at Berkeley currently tie for No. 20. ...

If it wanted to move into the top 20, Rochester would have to do a lot on several of the various factors U.S. News uses to rank colleges. To move up one spot because of faculty compensation, Rochester would have to increase the average faculty salary by about $10,000. To move up one spot on resources provided to students, it would have to spend $12,000 more per student. Those two things alone would cost $112 million a year.

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June 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Graetz: The Tax Reform Road Not Taken -- Yet

Michael J. Graetz (Columbia), The Tax Reform Road Not Taken -- Yet, 67 Nat'l Tax J. 419 (2014):

National Tax Journal Logo (2013)The United States has traveled a unique tax policy path, avoiding value added taxes (VATs), which have now been adopted by every OECD country and 160 countries worldwide. Moreover, many U.S. consumption tax advocates have insisted on direct personalized taxes that are unlike taxes used anywhere in the world. This article details a tax reform plan that uses revenues from a VAT to substantially reduce and reform our nation’s tax system. The plan would (1) enact a destination-based VAT; (2) use the revenue produced by this VAT to finance an income tax exemption of $100,000 of family income and to lower income tax rates on income above that amount; (3) lower the corporate income tax rate to 15 percent; and (4) protect low and-moderate-income workers from a tax increase through payroll tax credits and expanded refundable child tax credits. This revenue and distributionally neutral plan would stimulate economic growth, free more than 150 million Americans from having to file income tax returns, solve the difficult problems of international income taxation, and remove the temptation for Congress to use tax benefits as if they are solutions to the nation’s pressing social and economic problems.

June 3, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Barnhizer: Rat Time in Law Schools and the Legal Profession

David Barnhizer (Cleveland State), Of Rat Time and Terminators:

RatsAbout twenty years ago Canadian scientists used a community of rats living in a glass cage to determine the effects of population growth within a finite system. As long as the rat population remained relatively low and resources were sufficient, the rats behaved well. But rats breed rapidly. As the population inside the closed system grew but the total food available stayed relatively constant, the per capita resources shrank. The rats exhibited increasingly aggressive behavior, including savagery and cannibalism. Eventually the population fell to a level that once again allowed the rat version of civility to emerge. When rat time hits and the population of a finite system begins to exceed the resources needed for basic sustenance, it is silly to expect rats -- or lawyers -- to behave civilly. When the rat population reaches extremely high levels, mother rats had better lock their doors and hide the little rats.

A version of rat time is being created within the legal profession as law schools pump 40,000 graduates a year into a saturated system. Understanding our present condition as a period of rat time can help us diagnose the problems of the legal profession, identify the future responsibilities of law schools and the profession, and create more effective solutions than the bandaids that have been proposed or applied thus far. This is particularly important because lawyers and law schools have lost their way. They are afraid to address their most troubling problems and to take the principled actions necessary for meaningful reform.

June 3, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Mayer & Ganahl: Taxing Social Enterprise

Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer (Notre Dame) & Joseph R. Ganahl (J.D. 2013, Notre Dame), Taxing Social Enterprise, 66 Stan. L. Rev. 387 (2014):

The fairly strict divide in the United States between for-profit and nonprofit forms presents a quandary for many entrepreneurs who want to combine doing good with doing well. On the one hand, for-profits offer great flexibility and access to capital and so attract entrepreneurs who would like to take advantage of the ability of for-profits to scale up rapidly to meet growing demand. At the same time, however, for-profit forms also limit entrepreneurs’ ability to engage in philanthropy, due to the fiduciary duties managers owe to the equity holders. On the other hand, nonprofits offer their founders the freedom to prioritize public benefit but limit both their access to capital, in large part due to the bar on equity financing for a nonprofit, and their flexibility in addressing changing societal needs as a result of constraints in the law designed to deter nonprofits from straying into activities unrelated to their narrow primary mission. Hybrids — low-profit limited liability companies, benefit corporations, and other related forms — have been touted as the “both-and” solution to this problem by marrying the capital and innovation that results from the ability to generate a profit for investors with the public benefit goals that characterize most nonprofits.

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June 3, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Zelinsky: The Minnesota Snowbird Tax and Double Taxation of Dual Residents

Florida Tax ReviewEdward A. Zelinsky (Cardozo), Apportioning State Personal Income Taxes to Eliminate the Double Taxation of Dual Residents -- Thoughts Provoked by the Proposed Minnesota Snowbird Tax, 15 Fla. Tax Rev. 533 (2014):

As a matter of both tax policy and constitutional law, it is time to apportion state personal income taxes to eliminate the double taxation of dual residents. Individuals who, for income tax purposes, are residents are two or more states should be taxed along the lines recently proposed by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton for “snowbirds”: As to income with respect to which a state has source jurisdiction, that state should tax such income. As to income which two or more states tax only on the basis of residence, such states should apportion, based on the dual resident’s relative presence in each state of residence. This apportioned approach would eliminate the double taxation of dual residents’ income and would comport better with modern patterns of residence and mobility.

While Minnesota’s legislature did not adopt the Dayton proposal, that proposal should provoke reconsideration of the conventional understanding of personal residence for state income tax purposes. The traditional understanding can cause double taxation when an individual is deemed to be a resident of two or more states, each entitled to tax this dual resident’s entire income. As a matter of tax policy and constitutional law, the formula advanced by Governor Dayton for Minnesota snowbirds is the proper way to tax all dual residents. As to income with respect to which a state has source jurisdiction because the income arises within the state’s geographic boundaries, that state should tax that income, whether or not the taxpayer is a resident of such state. As to income with respect to which two or more states have only residence-based jurisdiction to tax, the states of residence should tax on a proportionate basis, based on the part of the year the dual resident spends in each state. In practice, the income apportioned between states of residence under this approach will typically be dual residents’ intangible investment income such as dividends and interest. To eliminate double residence-based taxation of such income, the Dayton formula should, both as a matter of tax policy and of constitutional law, apply to all individuals who are, for tax purposes, residents of two or more states.

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June 3, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

McGinnis: The Five Ways Computers are Revolutionizing Legal Practice (and Legal Education)

City Journal:  Machines v. Lawyers: As Information Technology Advances, the Legal Profession Faces a Great Disruption, by John McGinnis (Northwestern):

Big DataLaw schools are in crisis, facing their most substantial decline in enrollment in decades, if not in the history of legal education. Applications have fallen over 40 percent since 2004. The legal workplace is troubled, too. Benjamin Barton, of the University of Tennessee College of Law, has shown that attorneys in “small law,” such as solo practitioners, have been hurting for a decade. Attorney job growth has been flat; partner incomes at large firms have recently recovered from the economic downturn, but the going rate for associates, even at the best firms, has stagnated since 2007.

Some observers, not implausibly, blame the recession for these developments. But the plight of legal education and of the attorney workplace is also a harbinger of a looming transformation in the legal profession. Law is, in effect, an information technology—a code that regulates social life. And as the machinery of information technology grows exponentially in power, the legal profession faces a great disruption not unlike that already experienced by journalism, which has seen employment drop by about a third and the market value of newspapers devastated. The effects on law will take longer to play themselves out, but they will likely be even greater because of the central role that lawyers play in public life.

The growing role of machine intelligence will create new competition in the legal profession and reduce the incomes of many lawyers. The job category that the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls “other legal services”—which includes the use of technology to help perform legal tasks—has already been surging, over 7 percent per year from 1999 to 2010. As a consequence, the law-school crisis will deepen, forcing some schools to close and others to reduce tuitions. While lawyers and law professors may mourn the loss of more lucrative professional opportunities, consumers of modest means will enjoy access to previously cost-prohibitive services. ...

Five key areas of law now face encroachment by this machine intelligence. Some invasions are imminent, and others more distant but no less likely. ...

  1. E-discovery
  2. Computerization of Legal Search
  3. Automation of Legal Forms
  4. Automation of Briefs and Memos
  5. Legal Analytics

Discovering information, finding precedents, drafting documents and briefs, and predicting the outcomes of lawsuits—these tasks encompass the bulk of legal practice. The rise of machine intelligence will therefore disrupt and transform the legal profession.

A relatively small number of very talented lawyers will benefit from the coming changes. These superstars will prosper by using the new technology to extend their reach and influence. ...

But the large number of journeyman lawyers -- such as those who do routine wills, vet house closings, write standard contracts, or review documents on a contractual basis -- face a bleak future. They will have far less to contribute to legal analysis, and they will face relentless evaluation from clients using new data-driven metrics. ...

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June 3, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Look Up and Alone Together

(Click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video directly on YouTube to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate.)

I took a step back and opened my eyes
I looked around and realized
this media we call social is anything but
when we open our computers and it’s our doors we shut. ...

All this technology we have, it’s just an illusion
community, companionship, a sense of inclusion.
Yet when you step away from this device of delusion
you awaken to see a world of confusion.

Sherry Turkle (MIT), Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (2012):

Alone TogetherThirty years ago we asked what we would use computers for. Now the question is what don’t we use them for. Now, through technology, we create, navigate, and perform our emotional lives.

We shape our buildings, Winston Churchill argued, then they shape us. The same is true of our digital technologies. Technology has become the architect of our intimacies. Online, we face a moment of temptation. Drawn by the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy, we conduct “risk free” affairs on Second Life and confuse the scattershot postings on a Facebook wall with authentic communication. And now, we are promised “sociable robots” that will marry companionship with convenience.

Technology promises to let us do anything from anywhere with anyone. But it also drains us as we try to do everything everywhere. We begin to feel overwhelmed and depleted by the lives technology makes possible. We may be free to work from anywhere, but we are also prone to being lonely everywhere. In a surprising twist, relentless connection leads to a new solitude. We turn to new technology to fill the void,but as technology ramps up, our emotional lives ramp down.

Alone Together is the result of MIT technology and society specialist Sherry Turkle’s nearly fifteen-year exploration of our lives on the digital terrain. Based on interviews with hundreds of children and adults, it describes new, unsettling relationships between friends, lovers, parents, and children, and new instabilities in how we understand privacy and community, intimacy and solitude. It is a story of emotional dislocation, of risks taken unknowingly. But it is also a story of hope, for even in the places where digital saturation is greatest,there are people—especially the young—who are asking the hard questions about costs, about checks and balances, about returning to what is most sustaining about direct human connection. At the threshold of what Turkle calls “the robotic moment,” our devices prompt us to recall that we have human purposes and, perhaps, to rediscover what they are.

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June 3, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pete Rose: A Tax Dilemma

RoseKostya Kennedy, Pete Rose: An American Dilemma 123 n.5 (2014):

Rose liked giving things to coaches, including, in 1978, Jeeps to nine Reds coaches and trainers, a gift with a value of more than $50,000 that he wrote off on his tax return, saying they were for “services rendered.” When the deduction was denied, Rose sued the IRS, claiming that the coaches were necessary to his success. He testified in court that given his approach to the game, he in particular required coaches and trainers to work long and off hours (early morning treatments, off-day batting practice etc.) He won the case mainly because the jury, as Rose’s lawyer Robert Pitcairn put it, regarded Rose as a “unique athlete.” Rose was delighted that the deduction was restored and made a point of saying publicly that he felt coaches and trainers were too often undervalued and underpaid.

(Hat Tip: Erik Jensen.)

June 3, 2014 in Book Club, Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

IRS Releases Spring 2014 SOI Bulletin

SOIThe IRS's Statistics of Income Division has released (IR-2014-69) the Spring 2014 SOI Bulletin (Vol. 33, No. 4), with these articles:

June 3, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 390

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Congress Abetted the IRS Targeting of Conservatives, by Bradley A. Smith & David Keating (both of the Center for Competitive Politics):

On Monday the Center for Competitive Politics filed a complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics against nine U.S. senators [Sens. Bennet, Durbin, Franken, Levin, Merkley, Schumer, Shaheen, Udall, Whitehouse]: for interfering with IRS tax proceedings; for misusing official resources for campaign purposes; and for improper conduct that reflects poorly upon the Senate. Attempting to use the IRS to advance a partisan, electoral agenda is a fundamental assault on good government. We believe these elected officials have staged such an assault.

The complaint documents how the senators improperly interfered with IRS adjudications to further their party's electoral prospects. They pressured the IRS to undertake income-tax investigations of specific organizations, to find that specific organizations were in violation of the law, to reach predetermined results pertaining to pending applications by individual organizations for nonprofit status, and to adopt specific regulatory interpretations and policies to further their campaign goals.

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June 3, 2014 in IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Jones: The IRS Should Reevaluate its Floundering ADR Program

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Ken Jones (Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, Washington, D.C.), Appeals Arbitration: Not a Compelling Litigation Alternative, 143 Tax Notes 1059 (June 2, 2014):

IRS Appeals announced its initial arbitration program in 2000, and after 14 years, there apparently have been only a few cases resolved by binding arbitration. Appeals arbitration has failed to become popular in the tax controversy marketplace, and there are some likely reasons for the program's lack of success. ... I offer my observations about the arbitration program, why it has not been embraced by taxpayers as a viable alternative to litigation, and why Appeals should reevaluate the role of binding arbitration -- and, indeed, all of its alternative dispute resolution (ADR) tools -- to determine whether they are meeting the needs of the taxpayers and the IRS.

June 2, 2014 in IRS News, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Rankings by Social Life of Students, The 2014 Top Law Schools For Social Life:

Graduate Programs is pleased to announce the Top 25 Law Schools for Social Life. With votes from more than 60,000 students, Graduate Programs ranked the most social law schools in the nation:

  1. Florida (9.65 stars)
  2. Colorado (9.49 stars)
  3. Texas (9.46 stars)
  4. Georgia (9.33 stars)
  5. Alabama (9.24 stars)
  6. Washington (St. Louis) (9.23 stars)
  7. Virginia (9.19 stars)
  8. Northwestern (9.17 stars)
  9. Miami (9.15 stars)
  10. San Francisco (9.14 stars)

California has five law schools in the Top 25 (San Francisco (#10), Stanford (#13), UC-Berkeley (#18), USC (#20), UCLA (#23), the most by far of any state (Florida, Massachusetts, New York, and Texas each has two law schools in the Top 25).


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June 2, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Did State Taxes Drive Ken Whisenhunt to Coach Tennessee Titans Rather Than Detroit Lions?

Detroit Free Press,  Antonio Gates Thought Ken Whisenhunt Would Coach Detroit Lions ... But Income Tax Might've Tipped Scale:

TMSan Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates was as surprised as anyone when he found out that his offensive coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt, decided not to pursue the Detroit Lions’ head coaching job. And Gates has a pretty good idea why Whisenhunt took the Tennessee Titans’ job instead.

“I just knew he was coming here,” Gates, a Detroit Central product, said Thursday, while in town to watch his cousin, boxer Tony Harrison, fight tonight at Cobo Center. “But he took the job in Tennessee, which was a shocker to me. I think the state income tax had an impact on that. That’s my personal opinion.”

Tennessee doesn’t have a state income tax. Michigan does. The difference would be a sizable savings on a coach’s multimillion-dollar deal. In fact, Gates even texted Whisenhunt after he took the Titans job and said that he couldn’t fault his financial decision. 

I told him, ‘You went out there, and they have no state tax. You got a bigger house. You saved more money,’” Gates said. “I said, ‘That’s a smart decision.’

(Hat Tip: Mike Talbert.)

June 2, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: To Get an A in Philanthropy Class, Give Away $50,000

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times DealBook:   To Get an A in Philanthropy Class, Give Away $50,000, by William Alden:

Vinay Sridharan must make it through microeconomic theory and the writings of Proust before the end of his senior year at Northwestern in June. But in one course, the final project is far less abstract: give away $50,000.

It is also far more difficult than it may seem.

This course in philanthropy, endowed with a grant from a Texas hedge fund manager, requires students to find and investigate nonprofit organizations and, if they stand up to scrutiny, give them a portion of the five-figure cash pot.

“I didn’t realize they had real money to give,” said Margaret Haywood, the director of work force development at the Inspiration Corporation, a Chicago charity that received $25,000 from the Northwestern students last year.

The workshop — and others like it that have sprung up in the last few years at a dozen universities, including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton and Yale — offers a real-world experience of philanthropy that is rare in the cloistered halls of academia, and which otherwise is reserved for institutions and the affluent. Many students have embraced the challenge, viewing the courses as preparation for work in the nonprofit sector or even as training to one day become wealthy philanthropists themselves.

June 2, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sikh Groups Call on President Obama to Reinstate IRS Agent Fired for Wearing Knife to Work

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Sikh Groups Call on Obama to Reinstate IRS Agent Fired for Wearing Article of Faith (more here):

Tagore1According to information shared by United Sikhs, a US based NGO, [o]n January 28, 2014 letters were sent to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder by twelve major American Sikh advocacy organizations, including United Sikhs, calling on the Obama Administration to immediately reinstate Kawaljeet Tagore, a Sikh IRS Agent based out of Houston, TX fired in July, 2006 for wearing a kirpan, a Sikh religious article of faith.

Following her termination, Tagore sued the IRS and the Federal Protective Service (FPS),the federal agency responsible for the security of federal buildings, under Title VII and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act for failing to accommodate her Sikh religious practice of wearing the kirpan, a dagger-like article that symbolizes the Sikhs’ commitment to justice. Even though FPS and IRS allow saws, box cutters, letter openers, and cake knives into federal buildings for work-related purposes, the IRS and FPS defended Tagore’s lawsuit by claiming that a federal criminal law, 18 U.S.C. section 930, prohibits them from according Tagore any accommodation for her kirpan.

In 2012, a Houston federal judge sided with the government and dismissed Tagore’s lawsuit. However, on November 13, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit—relying on a December, 2012 FPS Policy Directive that requires accommodation of kirpans — reversed the federal judge’s ruling in favor of FPS [Tagore v. United States, No. 12-20214 (Nov. 23, 2013)]. The Fifth Circuit held that the new FPS Policy Directive “contradicts the arguments previously advanced by the government for denying Tagore an exception or exemption for the wearing of her kirpan.

Yet, to date, the government has refused to reinstate Tagore to her position as an IRS agent, compensate her, or accommodate her kirpan.

June 2, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Professor of the Year: 'If You Don’t Give Me Any of Your Shitty Papers, You Get an A'

Critical Theory:  Professor of the Year, “If You Don’t Give Me Any of Your Shitty Papers, You Get an A”:

Cover 3Slavoj Zizek fans and haters can finally agree on something: he probably doesn’t like any of you.

Zizek has always been vocal about his general disdain for students and humanity writ large. He once admitted in 2008 that seeing stupid people happy makes him depressed, before describing teaching as the worst job he has ever had. “I hate students,” he said, “they are (as all people) mostly stupid and boring."

In a recent interview at this year’s Zizek Conference at the University of Cincinnati, Zizek talked about his personal life before delving into his thoughts on teaching.

“I hate giving classes,” Zizek said, citing office hours and grading papers as his two biggest peeves.

“I did teach a class here [at the University of Cincinnati] and all of the grading was pure bluff,” he continues. “I even told students at the New School for example … if you don’t give me any of your shitty papers, you get an A. If you give me a paper I may read it and not like it and you can get a lower grade.” He received no papers that semester.

But it’s office hours that are the main reason he does not want to teach.

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June 2, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (14)

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June 2, 2014 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

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June 2, 2014 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 389

IRS Logo 2Thiago Sorrentino was kind enough to let me know that the Supreme Court of Brazil (the Supremo Tribunal Federal) has cited my daily roundup on the IRS Scandal in Medida Cautelar NA Susepnsao De Tutela Antecipada (STA/752):

Without revealing transparency of the criteria for application of the tax rules , the appeal of the State to protect free enterprise and fair competition declines to a cognitive framework of uncertainty , as that on which the fiscalizatórios thorough review procedures of the Internal Revenue Service U.S. , due to the selectivity of legal interpretation as non- legal criteria ( see, for all the record that Prof. . Caron Paul does in 17.html ); In these terms , the argument would only be permissible risk to free enterprise and fair competition that each taxpayer could realize the full control of the criteria used to apply tax rules , both those that define the tax burden as those that effectively prohibit the exercise of activity economic lawful. Given these caveats, impart pled measure to suspend the company - interested in the records of Action to advance protection 

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June 2, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Legal Education, Religious and Secular: The Trinity Western University Controversy and Beyond

Carissima Mathen (University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law) & Michael Plaxton (University of Saskatchewan, College of Law), Legal Education, Religious and Secular: TWU and Beyond:

TrinityThere has been a vigorous argument in Canada over whether a private Christian educational institution, Trinity Western University (TWU), should be able to open an accredited law school. TWU has come under scrutiny for requiring faculty, students and staff to sign a Community Covenant [FAQ] promising not to engage in a set of biblically prohibited activities, including sexual contact outside of heterosexual marriage. Arguing that the Covenant is discriminatory, many oppose the law school. Their objections have precipitated debates in both academic and regulatory settings.

This paper does not engage with the various constitutional and human rights issues at stake in the TWU controversy. Instead, it engages in a broader discussion of Canadian legal education – its existing conventions, animating aims, and relationship to the legal profession. Though we have deep concerns about the TWU Covenant, and its effect on gay and lesbian students, we also have concerns about the way in which some of the objections to TWU’s law school have been framed. In criticizing TWU, secular law schools and academics should be wary of setting out standards that, in their own institutions, they do not purport to observe.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

June 1, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

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

  1. [298 Downloads]  The New Flat Tax: A Modest Proposal for a Constitutionally Apportioned Wealth Tax, by John Thomas Plecnik (Cleveland State)
  2. [285 Downloads]  Just Say No: Corporate Taxation and Corporate Social Responsibility, by Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan)
  3. [195 Downloads]  Carried Interest for the Common Man, by Richard Winchester (Thomas Jefferson)
  4. [193 Downloads]  The Real Problem with Carried Interests, by Heather M. Field (UC-Hastings)
  5. [158 Downloads]  Avoidance, Evasion, and Taxpayer Morality, by Allison Christians (McGill)

June 1, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Other Harvard Law School Graduation Speech

Following up on Thursday's post, Mindy Kaling’s Harvard Law School Graduation Speech:   Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, also gave a wonderful speech:

[T]hat is where your focus should be always — being the guy who does his job. Whether you are an associate, a law clerk, an assistant DA, a public defender, or anything else.

Nothing else matters but doing your job and doing it well. Every day. Even when it’s hard. Even when it’s tedious. Even when it’s dull. Even when the work seems small and beneath your brand-name schooling and God-given talent. It means being the guy who does his job, even when no one is looking and no one will know the good ideas came from you.

If you do that, not only the next job, but your career, will take care of itself. 

(Speech begins at 11:20. Click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video directly on YouTube to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate.)

June 1, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 388

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Today's Law, Society & Taxation Panels

Law & SocietyToday's Law, Society, and Taxation panels at the 2014 Law & Society Association Annual Meeting in Minneapolis:

  • Panel #11:  Social Policy, Human Needs, and Tax Law
  • Panel #12:  Politics, Substance, and Taxation
  • Author Meets Readers: Ajay Mehrotra (Indiana), Making the Modern American Fiscal State

Today's paper presenters, topics, and abstracts are below the fold:

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May 31, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thomas Piketty Responds to Financial Times Criticism: 'If Anything, My Book Underestimates the Rise in Wealth Inequality'

CapitalFollowing up on my previous posts on the new book by Thomas Piketty (Paris School of Economics), Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Harvard University Press, 2014):

Thomas Piketty (Paris School of Economics), Response to FT:

This is a response to the criticisms -- which I interpret as requests for additional information -- that were published in the Financial Times on May 23 2014. ...

I welcome all criticisms and I am very happy that this book contributes to stimulate a global debate about these important issues. My problem with the FT criticisms is twofold. First, I did not find the FT criticism particularly constructive. The FT suggests that I made mistakes and errors in my computations, which is simply wrong, as I show below. The corrections proposed by the FT to my series (and with which I disagree) are for the most part relatively minor, and do not affect the long run evolutions and my overall analysis, contrarily to what the FT suggests. Next, the FT corrections that are somewhat more important are based upon methodological choices that are quite debatable (to say the least). In particular, the FT simply chooses to ignore the Saez-Zucman 2014 study, which indicates a higher rise in top wealth shares in the United States during recent decades than what I report in my book (if anything, my book underestimates the rise in wealth inequality). Regarding Britain, the FT seems to put a lot of trust in self-reported wealth survey data that notoriously underestimates wealth inequality.

May 31, 2014 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

My New Digs

I have spent the past week moving into my new faculty office at Pepperdine, complete with spiffy ocean view (and patio):


May 31, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)