TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Bloom Receives Albany Law School's Annual Faculty Scholarship Award

BloomIra Mark Bloom, Justice David Josiah Brewer Distinguished Professor of Law, received Albany Law School's annual faculty scholarship award:

Professor Ira Bloom received the Faculty Award for Excellence in Scholarship for producing a body of work that that is seen as influential and required reading in his field for New York state and the country. Professor Bloom is the author of numerous law review articles, co-author of nine law school casebooks on tax and trusts and estates, and principal author of the two-volume treatise Drafting New York Wills and Related Documents.

June 4, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: Businesses Unplug Voice Mail

Voice MailWall Street Journal, Businesses Unplug Voice Mail:

Some on Wall Street are hanging up on voice mail.

Under pressure to cut costs and eliminate waste, large lenders including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. , are either eliminating or considering paring back a service once seen as essential to bank workers as calculators and business cards, said people familiar with the banks.

Bank executives said that, in a world dominated by email and instant messaging, phone messages are an expensive and unnecessary legacy from a bygone era when sensitive documents were sent via fax and offices buzzed with young workers chatting on their headsets. ...

Continue reading

June 4, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 756

IRS Logo 2Washington Times, IRS Official: ‘Lois Lerner Was the Tip of the Iceberg’:

The IRS’s director of privacy, governmental liaison and disclosure division testified Wednesday that the tax agency set up a special team with hundreds of lawyers to handle the probe into whether Tea Party groups were targeted, but repeatedly said she had no idea how it operated.

Mary Howard, who also works as the head Freedom of Information Act officer in the IRS, told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that once the “special project team” was created and operational, she never saw requests for information. ...

Republican Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz also asked about the information requests after news broke that the IRS was targeting conservative groups, holding up their requests for tax-exempt status. Those requests “went to the commissioner, and it went to the general counsel,” he said. “There’s only two political appointees in all of the IRS, the commissioner and the general counsel. Those are the only two out of 90,000.”…

“I think that Lois Lerner was the tip of the iceberg,” Howard said.

“Really?” Chaffetz said. “So do we.”

Continue reading

June 4, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Supreme Court Denies Cert. Petition Of Unsuccessful Baylor Law School Applicant; 55 Year Old CPA With 169 LSAT Demanded Inflation Adjustment To His 3.2 UGPA

KampsFollowing up on my previous posts (links below) on the age discrimination lawsuit filed by C. Michael Kamps, a 55 year old CPA who was denied admission to Baylor Law School despite his 169 LSAT. Mr. Kamps alleges that Baylor improperly failed to adjust his 3.2 GPA from Texas A&M (Class of 1979) for the effects of rampant grade inflation. The ABA Journal reports that after losing in the Fifth Circuit, Mr. Kamps' cert. petition was denied by the Supreme Court on Monday. Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

Continue reading

June 3, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sales Suppression Software Is Taking A Bite Out Of NYC Taxes

Wall Street Journal op-ed, Waiter, There’s a Tax Dodge in My Soup, by Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (Manhattan District Attorney) & Kathryn Wylde (President, Partnership for New York City):

Sales suppression software in underhanded New York restaurants is lending a new meaning to prix fixe.

Independent eating and drinking establishments are the lifeblood of Manhattan. They infuse our neighborhoods with the character, artistry and economic activity that make people want to visit, live and work here. They also are one of the few remaining economic sectors driven by small- and family-run businesses, with 93% of New York City restaurants having fewer than 50 employees.

The ambitious men and women who run these establishments face many challenges, from skyrocketing rents, to volatile food commodity pricing, to new regulatory obligations. Now, according to a grand jury report released on Wednesday by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, they confront another emerging threat: unsavory competitors who use “sales suppression software” to underreport and underpay state and municipal taxes.

Continue reading

June 3, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Albany Law School to Affiliate With SUNY-Albany Amidst 34% Enrollment Decline, Faculty Buyouts

Albany logoFollowing up on my previous posts (links below) on the financial troubles at Albany Law School (including a 34% decline in the entering 1L class to 123 students in 2014, from 187 in 2013 (and a 52% decline from 255 in 2009)):  New York Law Journal, Albany Law, University Move Toward Partnership:

Albany Law School and the University at Albany announced they are finalizing an agreement to affiliate.

Alicia Ouellette, who becomes dean of Albany Law on July 1, and Robert Jones, president of the University at Albany, posted a joint letter [and FAQ] online stating that the two schools have signed a memorandum of intent and plan to complete an agreement by the end of October.

Continue reading

June 3, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ventry Reviews Mehrotra's Making the Modern American Fiscal State

Book Cover 2Dennis J. Ventry Jr. (UC-Davis), Book Review, 46 J. Interdisc. Hist. 133 (Summer 2015) (reviewing Ajay K. Mehrotra (Director, American Bar Foundation), Making the Modern American Fiscal State: Law, Politics, and the Rise of Progressive Taxation, 1877-1929 (Cambridge University Press, 2013)):

Mehrotra’s award-winning book is a tour de force. It chronicles a transformative period in the development of the American fiscal state during which the old order — characterized by indirect, hidden, mercilessly regressive, and partisan taxation — gave way to a direct, transparent, steeply progressive, and professionally administered tax regime.

Making the Modern American Fiscal State will appeal to historians across multiple disciplines with diverse research interests. Mehrotra’s diligent chronicling of “what actually happened in the past” aptly fulfills the historian’s mandate “to trace and explain change over time.” Moreover, Mehrotra identifies and informs all of the relevant schools of thought about state-building at the turn of the century, including the influence of national crises, the “corporate liberal” view that Progressive Era reforms were designed to deflect more radical change, “progressive” historical accounts of ineluctable advancement and “great men,” and “democratic-institutionalism” as advanced not just by historians but also political scientists, sociologists, and economists.

Continue reading

June 3, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Benefits Of Prayer In The Law School Classroom

PrayerDavid A. Grenardo (St. Mary's), Improving the Law School Classroom and Experience Through Prayer: An Empirical Study, 13 Ave Maria L. Rev. 68 (2015):

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” There are approximately 50 religiously affiliated law schools in the United States. As faith-based communities, these law schools can integrate their faiths into the education they provide by, among other things, incorporating in the classroom a central characteristic of most religions – prayer.

This article includes anonymous survey responses from students at four different Catholic law schools across the nation concerning whether the students liked the fact that their professors prayed at the beginning of class. The article, based on those responses, discusses the advantages of a professor praying in the classroom, including the following: (1) prayer creates a reverent, focused, and unified classroom environment; (2) prayer gives the students a chance to enjoy a few moments of peace, gain their composure, and prepare for class; (3) prayer creates community; (4) professors model positive behavior for the students by showing that one may stay true to one’s religion while still being a lawyer; (5) prayer reminds law students and professors of the world outside the law school, particularly when praying for others; (6) the power of prayer can result in positive results; (7) prayer fosters the faith-based communities that law schools promote as a plus to their students and recruits; and (8) professors can help mold law students to become better attorneys and better people. This article also discusses and responds to the real and perceived disadvantages of prayer in the classroom. Finally, the article includes recommendations for a professor who wants to incorporate prayer into the classroom.

Continue reading

June 3, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

University Of Texas Hosts Inaugural Texas Tax Faculty Workshop

Texas LogoThe University of Texas School of Law is hosting the inaugural Texas Tax Faculty Workshop today with these papers:

  • Bret Wells (Houston), The Foreign Tax Credit War
    Discussants:  Susie Morse (Texas), Bob Peroni (Texas)
  • Bryan Camp (Texas Tech), How the IRS Can Regulate Return Preparers Without New Law
    Discussants:  Dennis Drapkin (Jones Day, Dallas), John Dzienkowski (Texas)
  • Bob Peroni (Texas), Designing a U.S. Minimum Tax on Foreign Business Income (with Stephen Shay (Harvard) & Clifford Fleming (BYU))
    Discussant:  Bret Wells (Houston)
  • Susie Morse (Texas), Tax Anti-Avoidance Law in Australia and the United States (with Robert Deutsch (University of New South Wales))
    Discussants:  Stephen Black (Texas Tech), Calvin Johnson (Texas)

June 3, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Furor Erupts Over Female Cal-Tech Science Prof's Advice To Post-Doc: 'Put Up With' Adviser Looking Down Her Shirt

Eyes 1Inside Higher Ed, Science, Not Sexism:

AAAS pulls advice column telling a female postdoc to ignore her adviser's attempts to look down her shirt, amid outcry from scientist.

“His attention on your chest may be unwelcome, but you need his attention on your science and his best advice.”

With those words, Alice S. Huang, a senior faculty associate in biology at California Institute of Technology known for her pioneering research in molecular animal virology, and a regular columnist for Science, launched a wave of criticism Monday that resulted in the disappearance and subsequent retraction of her advice piece. Questions about the journal’s editorial process also linger, along with commentary on what some have described as a “one step forward, two steps back” path to gender equity in the sciences. ...

Here’s how it started. Huang, a former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science who offers regular career advice to young scientists on AAAS’s Science Careers website, received the following query:

Dear Alice,

I just joined a new lab for my second postdoc. It’s a good lab. I’m happy with my project. I think it could really lead to some good results. My adviser is a good scientist, and he seems like a nice guy. Here’s the problem: whenever we meet in his office, I catch him trying to look down my shirt. Not that this matters, but he’s married. What should I do?

-- Bothered

Continue reading

June 3, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (21)

TIGTA: IRS Ignored Recommended Security Upgrades That Would Have Prevented Last Week's Hack Of 100,000 Taxpayer Accounts

ID TheftFollowing up on last week's post, GAO, TIGTA Warned Of IRS's Lax Computer Security For Years Before Hack Of 100,000 Taxpayer Accounts On IRS Website:  Washington Post, IRS Failed to Address Computer Security Weaknesses, Making Attack on 104,000 Taxpayers More Likely, Watchdog Says:

A government watchdog told lawmakers Tuesday that the Internal Revenue Service has failed to put in place dozens of security upgrades to fight cyberattacks, improvements he said would have made it “much more difficult” for hackers to gain access to the personal information of 104,000 taxpayers in the spring.

“It would have been much more difficult if they had implemented all of the recommendations we made,”  J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, told the Senate Finance Committee at a hearing on the data breach, which the IRS says was part of an elaborate scheme to claim fraudulent tax refunds.

Continue reading

June 3, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Metacognition And Law Students

MetaCheryl Preston (BYU), Penee Stewart (Weber State) & Louise Moulding (Weber State), Teaching 'Thinking Like a Lawyer': Metacognition and Law Students, 2015 BYU L. Rev. 1053:

With a study of 150 beginning law students in 2010 and 2013, this article provides the first empirical data on law student thinking skills. The results of this study challenge prevailing wisdom about the most critical reforms for legal education.

From an interdisciplinary perspective, this article considers legal education in light of learning theories. It explains the concept of “metacognition,” and its role in learning and expert-thinking theory. It then translates this critical component into law and illustrates how specific metacognitive skills relate to the intellectual demands of law school and, especially, of a career in law that will demand life-long learning.

Continue reading

June 3, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 755

IRS Logo 2The Hill, Watchdog: Lerner Report by End of Month:

A federal watchdog investigating the missing Lois Lerner emails said Tuesday he expects to give lawmakers a final report by the end of the month. 

J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, said at a Senate Finance hearing that his office conducted almost 150 interviews as it sought to track down the former IRS official's emails. ...

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told George that he hoped to have the inspector general’s report by the middle of this month.

George, while insisting his office would do his best, also stressed that he needed to be extra careful with an investigation this sensitive. He said the office still had to interview some people important to the case.

“As you can imagine, with each interview, that leads to more information that needs to be tracked down,” George told Hatch. “Given the nature of this matter, we need to be as thorough as possible, and we’re endeavoring to do just that.” ...

GOP lawmakers have said little so far about what was in those emails, though one Republican aide has said there appeared to be little new in the documents.

Hatch told reporters Tuesday that he believed the Finance Committee would be able to quickly wrap up its own bipartisan investigation into the IRS once it got the inspector general’s report.

“The entire delay has been we kept getting more and more emails, after they said that was it,” said Hatch, who had previously stated that he wanted to get his committee’s report out this month. “We’ve had to go through them all.”

Hatch and committee aides had previously said that the Finance report was all but done when the panel found out last year that the IRS couldn’t recover some of Lerner’s emails.

But Finance aides have declined to put out a timeline for when their report could be released, noting that committee investigators will have to square what the inspector general uncovered with their own findings.

Continue reading

June 3, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Blank Presents The Timing Of Tax Transparency Today In Sweden

BlankJoshua D. Blank (NYU) presents The Timing of Tax Transparency in Gävle, Sweden today at a Conference on Secrecy and Transparency in Tax Administration”co-hosted by Gävle University College, Vienna University of Economics and Business and Örebro University:

Fairness in the administration of the tax law is a subject of intense focus in the United States. As myriad recent headlines reveal, the Internal Revenue Service has been accused of failing to enforce the tax law equitably in its review of gift and estate tax returns of millionaires, the international tax structures of multinational corporations and applications for tax-exempt status by political organizations, among others. Many have argued that greater “tax transparency” would better empower the public to hold the IRS accountable and the IRS to defend itself against accusations of malfeasance. Mandatory public disclosure of taxpayers’ tax return information is often proposed as a way to achieve greater tax transparency. Yet, in addition to concerns regarding exposure of personal and proprietary information, broad public disclosure measures pose potential threats to the taxing authority’s ability to enforce the tax law.

Continue reading

June 2, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Tax Papers: Akron Law Review

AkronFrom Rich Lavoie:  The Akron Law Review is seeking tax articles for its annual tax issue (formerly the stand-alone Akron Tax Journal).  For more information or to submit an article, contact Jesse Moses.

June 2, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS Risks Data Breach Repeat While Expanding Online Services

ID TheftBloomberg, IRS Risks Data Breach Repeat While Expanding Online Services:

The IRS’s initiative to expand online services for taxpayers makes it more likely that the U.S. tax agency will be hit by “hackers and other fraudsters,” the agency’s inspector general said Tuesday.

One of the Internal Revenue Service’s early forays into interactive service was halted last month after the agency said identity thieves had accessed past tax returns of 104,000 people.

Continue reading

June 2, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Five Things You Might Not Know About The Beatles' Taxman

TaxmanNewsmax, 5 Things You Might Not Know About Beatles 'Taxman':

With countless hits, the Beatles remain an iconic music figure today. Yet, every year as tax season rolls around, one particular hit is refreshed in the minds of many: “Taxman.”

The song, driven out of astonishment and hatred of Britain’s super-tax, is well known for its musical artistry and the Beatles’ experimentation with sound. But the song’s history is also unique.

Here  are five facts you might not know about “Taxman.”

Continue reading

June 2, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Atkinson: Inequality — What Can Be Done?

Inequality 2Anthony B. Atkinson (Oxford & London School of Economics),  Inequality: What Can Be Done? (Harvard University Press, May 11, 2015):

Inequality is one of our most urgent social problems. Curbed in the decades after World War II, it has recently returned with a vengeance. We all know the scale of the problem—talk about the 99% and the 1% is entrenched in public debate—but there has been little discussion of what we can do but despair. According to the distinguished economist Anthony Atkinson, however, we can do much more than skeptics imagine.

Atkinson has long been at the forefront of research on inequality, and brings his theoretical and practical experience to bear on its diverse problems. He presents a comprehensive set of policies that could bring about a genuine shift in the distribution of income in developed countries. The problem, Atkinson shows, is not simply that the rich are getting richer. We are also failing to tackle poverty, and the economy is rapidly changing to leave the majority of people behind. To reduce inequality, we have to go beyond placing new taxes on the wealthy to fund existing programs. We need fresh ideas. Atkinson thus recommends ambitious new policies in five areas: technology, employment, social security, the sharing of capital, and taxation. He defends these against the common arguments and excuses for inaction: that intervention will shrink the economy, that globalization makes action impossible, and that new policies cannot be afforded.

Continue reading

June 2, 2015 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Johnson: Tax ‘Simplification’ As A Trojan Horse For Terrible Tax Policy

Calvin H. Johnson (Texas), When ‘Simplification’ Is a Trojan Horse for Great Harm, 147 Tax Notes 565 (May 4, 2015):

In this article, Johnson argues that simplification is sometimes used as a cover for terrible tax policy. A flat tax, for instance, will increase harm by shifting the burden of tax from Uncle Scrooge, who can bear tax on a dollar without much loss in value, to the Little Match Girl, who cannot. Flat tax does not accomplish substantial simplification. An add-on VAT is not a simplification, but another level of complication. So too, expensing of inventory, repeal of net operating loss carryover limitations, and repeal of straddle rules are not are not well illuminated by calling them simplification and are not justified by simplification.

Continue reading

June 2, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Microsoft And The IRS Are Fighting Again

IRS MicrosoftBloomberg, Microsoft and the IRS Are Fighting Again:

Microsoft Corp. and the IRS are back in court, this time fighting about the U.S. tax agency’s interest in hiring David Boies, the lawyer who beat Microsoft in an antitrust case in 2000.

The software company filed a federal lawsuit May 29 in Seattle, marking the latest legal flurry over an ongoing Internal Revenue Service audit. At issue are “tens of billions of dollars” in corporate income, according to the IRS.

Microsoft is asking a court to enforce its public-records request for documents on the government’s decision to enter into a contract with Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP in 2013.

Continue reading

June 2, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Muller: The Top 22 Law Reviews On Twitter

Twitter (2014)Derek Muller (Pepperdine), The Twenty-two Law Reviews You Should Follow on Twitter:

While you could follow a pretty sizeable list of law reviews I've maintained on Twitter, there are a handful of law reviews that rise above the rest.

Last year, I listed the sixteen law reviews to follow on Twitter. I've modified the criteria slightly and updated it. ...

Continue reading

June 2, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Should Investigate Scientology's Tax-Exempt Status

ScientologyHarvard Political Review, Scientology and Tax Exemptions:

Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney’s latest picture Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief has stirred controversy within the Scientologist community and beyond. The film documents the experiences of ex-practitioners and alleged abuse within the Church of Scientology, prompting some observers to call for the IRS to revoke the institution’s tax-exempt status. It has also prompted a vigorous backlash from the Church and alleged physical threats against those who critique the Church’s practices in the film. ...

Continue reading

June 2, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 754

IRS Logo 2Newmax, GOP Calls on AG to Prosecute Lois Lerner in IRS Scandal:

Republican lawmakers are petitioning the new attorney general, Loretta Lynch, to criminally prosecute former IRS official Lois Lerner over the agency's targeting scandal, having failed to convince her predecessor to do so.

According to The Hill, 24 Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to Lynch asking for her to take up the panel's 2014 request to charge Lerner for possible crimes.

The allegations include using her position at the agency to pursue heightened scrutiny of conservative groups; obstructing investigations by giving misleading information; and disclosing confidential taxpayer information, The Hill said.

Before former Attorney General Eric Holder stepped down from his post, House Speaker John Boehner was informed by the department that Lerner would not be prosecuted for refusing to testify at a congressional hearing.

The letter, which was circulated by the committee's chairman, Paul Ryan, also prompted statements of support from Boehner and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Continue reading

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

Monday, June 1, 2015

NY Times: Beyond Publish Or Perish, Academic Papers Look To Make A Media Splash

SplashNew York Times, Beyond Publish or Perish, Academic Papers Look to Make a Splash:

Each July, many of the top economists in the world gather in Cambridge, Mass., at a conference hosted by the National Bureau of Economic Research. While the work they present comes in all shapes and sizes, from the highly technical to the trendy and provocative, the coveted first day of a key weeklong session is given over to research that will make a media splash.

“I choose the papers,” said David Card, a prominent labor economist at the University of California, Berkeley. “I choose papers that are going to be written up” in the mainstream press.

Professor Card explained that the elders of the field recognized the growing importance of media visibility, and he felt obliged to give it to them. “It’s what the people want,” he said.

Continue reading

June 1, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

RIP, Westlaw

WestlawRobert Ambrogi, Westlaw’s Days Are Numbered:

No, Thomson Reuters is not about to go out of business or shut down its Westlaw legal research service.

But it is about to shut down Westlaw Classic, as the original version has been called ever since the introduction of WestlawNext.

As of August 31, 2015, Westlaw Classic will go the way of New Coke, becoming only a haunting memory among aging associates of legal research past. In a recent email to Westlaw Classic subscribers, the company said access would be shut off as of Aug. 10. ...

Continue reading

June 1, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

American Lawyer Special Report: Big Law Is Failing Women

American Lawyer LogoAmerican Lawyer Special Report, Big Law Is Failing Women:

Why aren't there more women at the top of the nation's biggest firms? Consider that at the current growth rate of women equity partners, gender parity will be reached in the year 2181. Our investigation includes firm-by-firm data plus a look at innovative firms that are addressing problems in novel ways.

Continue reading

June 1, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: To Fill Budget Hole, Kansas GOP Considers Raising Taxes

New York Times, To Fill Budget Hole, Kansas G.O.P. Considers the Unthinkable: Raising Taxes:

With the state facing a $400 million budget hole for the coming fiscal year, the conservatives who dominate the Legislature here say they are agonizing over the likelihood of doing something that did not seem to be in their DNA: raising taxes.

Continue reading

June 1, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Job Opportunity For Estate Planning Attorney With 1-2 Years Experience: Pepperdine University

Pepperdine Campus PhotoPepperdine University has a wonderful opportunity for an estate planning attorney with 1-2 years experience in its planned giving office:

Purpose: The purpose of the Legal Associate position is to work with internal and external constituents to strengthen the advancement work of the University, specifically the planned giving and estate planning efforts of the Center for Estate and Gift Planning (CEGP). 

Duties: Draft charitable remainder trusts, charitable gift annuities, and other planned giving documents; prepare planned giving proposals for donors; works with CEGP staff, advancement officers, donors, faculty, and staff to assist in the preparation of estate plans; administers and oversees estates, bequests, and probates; conducts research on legal, tax, estate planning, and planned giving issues and pursues continuing education opportunities; drafts pledge, scholarship, and gift agreements;

Continue reading

June 1, 2015 in Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (1)

WSJ: Lawyer Sues Skadden For Overtime Pay — Is Document Review 'Practicing Law'?

Skadden LogoWall Street Journal, Lawyer Sues Skadden for Overtime:

A lawsuit against legal heavyweight Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is testing whether some purportedly professional work might in fact be eligible for overtime.

The case pits Skadden against a contract attorney hired by a legal staffing agency to review documents for $25 an hour on a Skadden case.

Under federal labor laws, licensed lawyers can’t earn overtime pay for work in excess of 40 hours a week if what they are doing is considered legal work. But the plaintiff, David Lola, says he deserves overtime pay because the tasks he did were so basic they shouldn’t qualify as practicing law.

Continue reading

June 1, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Subscribing to TaxProf Blog

SubscribeWe offer three ways to have TaxProf Blog content automatically delivered to your computer, tablet, or smart phone:

RSS Feeds:  You can subscribe to one of three different feeds to receive TaxProf Blog posts via your RSS reader:

Email:  You can subscribe to receive TaxProf Blog posts via email through one of three approaches:

  • FeedBlitz:  Enter your email address here to receive TaxProf Blog posts via email, delivered to you either daily, every 12 hours, every 8 hours, every 4 hours, or hourly (at your option).
  • TaxProf Blog Tax Email Service:  Email me to be added to my twice daily (during the week) and once daily (on the weekend) emails to the TaxProf Discussion Group with titles and links to recent TaxProf Blog posts on tax topics.
  • TaxProf Blog Legal Education Email Service:  Email me to be added to my email distribution list with titles and links to recent TaxProf Blog posts on legal education topics.

June 1, 2015 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Feminist Northwestern Prof: My Title IX Inquisition

KipnisChronicle of Higher Education:  My Title IX Inquisition, by Laura Kipnis (Northwestern):

When I first heard that students at my university had staged a protest over an essay I’d written in The Chronicle Review about sexual politics on campus — and that they were carrying mattresses and pillows — I was a bit nonplussed. For one thing, mattresses had become a symbol of student-on-student sexual-assault allegations, and I’d been writing about the new consensual-relations codes governing professor-student dating. Also, I’d been writing as a feminist. And I hadn’t sexually assaulted anyone. The whole thing seemed symbolically incoherent.

According to our campus newspaper, the mattress-carriers were marching to the university president’s office with a petition demanding "a swift, official condemnation" of my article. One student said she’d had a "very visceral reaction" to the essay; another called it "terrifying." I’d argued that the new codes infantilized students while vastly increasing the power of university administrators over all our lives, and here were students demanding to be protected by university higher-ups from the affront of someone’s ideas, which seemed to prove my point.

The president announced that he’d consider the petition.

Still, I assumed that academic freedom would prevail. I also sensed the students weren’t going to come off well in the court of public opinion, which proved to be the case; mocking tweets were soon pouring in. Marching against a published article wasn’t a good optic — it smacked of book burning, something Americans generally oppose. Indeed, I was getting a lot of love on social media from all ends of the political spectrum, though one of the anti-PC brigade did suggest that, as a leftist, I should realize these students were my own evil spawn. (Yes, I was spending a lot more time online than I should have.)

Being protested had its gratifying side — I soon realized that my writer friends were jealous that I’d gotten marched on and they hadn’t. I found myself shamelessly dropping it into conversation whenever possible. "Oh, students are marching against this thing I wrote," I’d grimace, in response to anyone’s "How are you?" I briefly fantasized about running for the board of PEN, the international writers’ organization devoted to protecting free expression.

Things seemed less amusing when I received an email from my university’s Title IX coordinator informing me that two students had filed Title IX complaints against me on the basis of the essay and "subsequent public statements" (which turned out to be a tweet), and that the university would retain an outside investigator to handle the complaints.

Continue reading

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 753

IRS Logo 2U.S. News & World Report, House Committee Chairman Subpoenas IRS Official to Hearing on Freedom of Information Act:

The chairman of the House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena Friday for an IRS official to testify at a hearing on the Freedom of Information Act.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said he issued the subpoena after the IRS declined to provide the official who oversees information requests. Instead, the IRS offered to have IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testify.

In a letter to Koskinen, Chaffetz said he wanted to hear from the agency's expert on responding to information requests. Chaffetz issued the subpoena for Mary Howard, the IRS director of privacy, governmental liaison and disclosure. She reports to a deputy commissioner.

The IRS said Friday it will send Howard to the hearing, which is scheduled for Wednesday. Officials from several government agencies are scheduled to testify.

"In order to conduct effective oversight we must hear from the individuals with the greatest insight into the issues we are exploring," Chaffetz said in a statement. "When an agency attempts to undermine the role of Congress by refusing to allow a witness to testify, issuing a subpoena is not only necessary but appropriate."

Continue reading

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

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Indiana Marijuana Church Granted Tax-Exempt Status, Plans 'Call To Worship' When Members Will Light Up

First ChurchChristian Post, Indiana's Marijuana Church Granted Tax-Exempt Status; Plans to Test Limits of Controversial Religious Freedom Law at First 'Worship' Service:

Indiana's marijuana-smoking church has been incorporated as a tax-exempt religious organization by the Internal Revenue Service according to the church's founder.

Bill Levin, the founder of the First Church of Cannabis, a controversial group looking to test the limits of Indiana's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act by indulging in the smoking of marijuana during "church" services said the IRS notified him earlier this week about the group's tax will allow donors to deduct their contributions.

"It means people in higher tax brackets will be more generous with the church," said Levin to News and Tribune. "There have been people who want us to succeed but they've [been] waiting [on] our 501(c)(3) exemption."

The organization was established by Levin in March, after Indiana's General Assembly passed the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act which will go into effect on July 1. ... The First Church of Cannabis hopes to test the new law by holding a service on July 1 where members will take part in recreational marijuana-smoking, an activity that is currently illegal in the state of Indiana.

Continue reading

May 31, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Today's Law, Society & Taxation Panels

L&SToday's Law, Society, and Taxation panels at the 2015 Law & Society Association Annual Meeting in Seattle:

  • Panel #14:  The Creation of Transnational Legal Orders in Tax: Actors, Processes and Their Implications
  • Panel #15:  Eclecticism in Tax Law

Panel #14:  The Creation of Transnational Legal Orders in Tax: Actors, Processes and Their Implications (Adam Rosenzweig (Washington University), Chair & Discussant)

Continue reading

May 31, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new #1 paper and new papers debuting on the list at #3, #4, and #5:

  1. [223 Downloads]  Taxation of E-Commerce, by Orkhan Abdulkarimli (Baku State)
  2. [181 Downloads]  Tax Compliance as a Wicked System, by J. T. Manhire (U.S Treasury Department)
  3. [143 Downloads]  Reducing Inequality With A Retrospective Tax On Capital, by James Kwak (Connecticut)
  4. [124 Downloads]  The Un-Precedented Tax Court, by Andy Grewal (Iowa)
  5. [113 Downloads]  Citizenship Taxation, by Ruth Mason (Virginia)

May 31, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 752

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Get the IRS Out of the Speech-Police Business, by Scott Blackburn (Center for Competitive Politics): 

In May 2013, an inspector general’s report detailed the politically motivated targeting of nonprofit groups by the IRS for harassment. Two years later, despite continuing Republican outrage and Democratic complaints about Republican anger, the agency continues to stick its nose where it does not belong.

Some agency defenders have claimed that nothing was amiss in the IRS harassing hundreds of conservative and tea party groups. Since the agency also went after a few liberal groups, what’s the problem? The problem is that Americans deserve better than equal harassment under the law.

The job of the IRS should be to collect taxes, fairly and efficiently. Since the income tax was enacted in 1913, however, the IRS has appropriated to itself—sometimes on its own, sometimes with congressional blessing—the right to make political judgments about groups of citizens. That is the central failure revealed by this scandal.

The solution is to get the agency out of the business of policing political speech. ...

The IRS ... should not decide whether an organization is a political committee or a social-welfare group. As National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson advised Congress in 2013, that decision should be made by the FEC. This agency is set up to assure that neither major political party can use the determination of the organization’s status as a weapon against political opponents.

It is a bad idea to have a tax-collection agency monitoring the political activities of tax-exempt groups. Worse still that it would do so without any expertise. And silly when the job is already done by another agency.

The treatment of tea party groups is not the first time that the IRS has been used as a political cudgel to beat some organizations into silent submission. But this has been one of the most systematic efforts to do so. If we want to ensure that such abuse does not happen again, we must, and rather easily can, take the agency out of the speech-police business.

Continue reading

May 31, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

European Association Of Tax Law Professors Annual Meeting

EATLP Logo (2013)Tax panel at today's European Association of Tax Law Professors Annual Meeting:  

Peer Review in Tax Law

Part One – Fact Finding About Peer-Reviewing

Continue reading

May 30, 2015 in Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Today's Law, Society & Taxation Panels

L&SToday's Law, Society, and Taxation panels at the 2015 Law & Society Association Annual Meeting in Seattle:

  • Panel #10:  Social Issues and Taxation
  • Panel #11:  Using the Tax System to Address Social Problems
  • Panel #12:  The Tax System, Regulation, and the Environment
  • Panel #13:  Theory and Constitutionalism in Tax Law
  • International, Socio-legal Feminisms: Perspectives on Taxation Law

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

Continue reading

May 30, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 751

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal:  One More Chance for Justice at the IRS, by Kimberley A. Strassel:

Paul Ryan on Thursday sent his first official letter to Loretta Lynch, the new U.S. attorney general. With luck, Ms. Lynch will take a few moments out of her international soccer crackdown to give it a glance.

Signed by every Republican member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which Mr. Ryan heads, the letter is a forceful request that Ms. Lynch channel just a smidgen of her famed prosecutorial skill into the largest abuse of government power in decades: the IRS targeting scandal. It’s now been two full years since a little-known IRS bureaucrat named Lois Lerner admitted that her agency systematically collected the names of conservative groups, harassed them, and denied their right to participate in elections. It’s been two full years since the Justice Department opened an investigation. And it’s been two full years of crickets.

While Ms. Lynch was this week orchestrating a dramatic dawn raid and the arrest of seven international soccer officials, the IRS’s offices continued to operate as if nothing ever happened. Two years ago, in the days following the targeting revelations, the administration sacked Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller only because it had to. Ms. Lerner, who had led the exempt organizations division, was allowed to retire with full pension benefits. Holly Paz, her effective deputy, was put on administrative leave. Everyone else is still at their desks. Not a single official—there or gone—has faced prosecution.

The Ryan letter asks Ms. Lynch to finally answer his committee’s 2014 referral of Ms. Lerner to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. That referral has been largely lost to time and other headlines. Most of the focus last year was on the House’s decision to issue a contempt citation against Ms. Lerner, for improperly asserting her Fifth Amendment rights and refusing to answer its questions about her time at the IRS. In March of this year, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald Machen, who has since resigned, informed Speaker John Boehner that he was refusing to bring that contempt citation before a grand jury.

That’s a pity. Note, though, that the citation dealt only with Ms. Lerner’s after-the-fact behavior in front of Congress. Investigators have also compiled compelling evidence that she may have broken the law while overseeing the targeting of conservative groups. Nearly a month before Mr. Boehner sent out the citation, the Ways and Means Committee (then under Rep. Dave Camp) sent a letter to Justice making the case that Ms. Lerner should be criminally prosecuted for her time at the IRS. The Justice Department has never responded to that letter. ...

Ms. Lynch’s response will be enormously telling about her view of her job. Well before the IRS scandal broke, former Attorney General Eric Holder had already built a reputation as one of the most partisan and political holders of the office in history. It was never really a surprise that Justice assigned the IRS probe to a staff attorney who was a Obama donor, or that the FBI early on leaked that it didn’t intend any prosecutions, or that Mr. Holder ignored calls for a special prosecutor. The likelihood that he’d act dropped further as evidence came out that his own Justice attorneys were implicated in Ms. Lerner’s targeting.

Meanwhile, today’s IRS commissioner, John Koskinen, has been unable to acknowledge that someone at his agency might have engaged in intentional wrongdoing. This attitude, combined with Justice’s inaction, creates the scary potential of an IRS targeting repeat. When nobody in a position of authority or with police power is willing to even question whether some in the IRS might be bad actors, there is no guard whatsoever against a Lerner 2.0.

One of Ms. Lynch’s specialties in her previous post as U.S. attorney for the eastern district of New York was political corruption. She knows that government officials can and do break the law. If she ignores or skirts the Ryan letter, the country will see that it has another Obama partisan sitting in the attorney general seat. If she acts, she might instead restore some public faith in two of the nation’s least respected institutions: the Justice Department and the IRS. It doesn’t seem such a hard choice.

Continue reading

May 30, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 29, 2015

European Association Of Tax Law Professors Annual Meeting

EATLP Logo (2013)U.S. Tax Prof presentations at today's European Association of Tax Law Professors Annual Meeting:

May 29, 2015 in Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

May 29, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Today's Law, Society & Taxation Panels

L&SToday's Law, Society, and Taxation panels at the 2015 Law & Society Association Annual Meeting in Seattle:

  • Panel #5:  Business and Entity Taxation
  • Panel #6:  Inequality, Distribution and the State
  • Panel #7:  Topics in the Theory and Practice of Tax Law
  • Panel #8:  Taxation, Development and Emerging Countries
  • Panel #9:  Problems Raised by Nonprofit Organizations
  • Author Meets Reader:  Confidence Games: Lawyers, Accountants and the Tax Shelter Industry

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

Continue reading

May 29, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Former Assistant Dean, Tenured Law Prof Sue Cleveland-Marshall Dean, Claim Retaliation For Formation Of Faculty Union

Cleveland StateFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland State University's Law School Dean Retaliated Against Associate Dean and Professor, Lawsuit Claims:

The former [assistant] dean and a professor at Cleveland State University's law school have sued Dean [and Tax Prof] Craig Boise and CSU, claiming Boise retaliated against them because the faculty formed a union [complaint].

Jean Lifter and Sheldon Gelman, who are married, contend in the lawsuit in U.S. District Court that they lost income and their constitutional rights were violated by Boise's actions following Gelman's union activities. ...

Lifter served as [assistant] dean, a non-faculty position, for 37 years at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law until she was terminated on June 30, 2014.

Gelman, a tenured professor from 1980 until his retirement in May, led the effort in 2012 that resulted in about 37 faculty members affiliating with the American Association of University Professors.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

May 29, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS Should Be 'Red Carded' For This Lame FIFA Zing

FIFAUSA Today, IRS Official Should be 'Red Carded' For This Terrible 'Red Card' FIFA Zing:

The U.S. Government sent a shock wave through the sports world on Wednesday when it promptly indicted 14 FIFA officials — including two vice presidents — on charges of corruption and money laundering, among other things. Considering how long-standing FIFA’s corruption problem is, everyone was understandably impressed.

But one thing that wasn’t so impressive? This attempted zing from the IRS’s criminal investigation division head Richard Weber:

Continue reading

May 29, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thomas Jefferson Law School Ditches Federal Loan Program, Forces Non-JD Students To Take Out Private Loans

Above the Law, Law School Ditches Federal Loan Program, Forces Students To Take Out Private Loans:

Thomas Jefferson Logo (2015)The vast majority of those who are in law school rely heavily on federal loans to finance their legal educations. When graduation rolls around and they still haven’t found a job, they’ll celebrate the grace period on those loans that will give them a few months to get their acts together. If and when they aren’t able to find a job, they’ll be thanking their lucky stars that they can enroll in Income-Based Repayment (IBR) or Pay as You Earn (PAYE), which will allow them to pay a fraction of the cost of what would have been their monthly payments on a regular plan — sometimes, the monthly payment will be $0. Thank God for the federal loans that are handed out to prospective lawyers like candy. Law school graduates may be drowning in federal debt, but at least they have options.

Private loans are an entirely different beast. They carry with them far greater risk and far fewer protections than federal loans. There’s no potential for forgiveness in the future, and there aren’t programs like IBR and PAYE to save borrowers if they’re unable to make payment. Private loans can be dangerous, and law school graduates are often left with little to no recourse when struggling with this kind of debt.

That’s why we were very surprised when a law school recently announced that it was abandoning federal loans… in the middle the academic quarter. Which school would do such a thing to its students? None other than Thomas Jefferson School of Law, a much-maligned institution that’s seen its share of trouble over the past few years.

Continue reading

May 29, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)