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Sunday, January 4, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 605

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Bungled IRS Liens, Levies, Audits...But No Targeting, Just Ask Christine O'Donnell, by Robert W. Wood:

IRS audits are infrequent, usually impacting only a tiny fraction of the populace. Yet if you are audited multiple times, you might think you were targeted. If you are a Tea Party political candidate like former Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, you might have good reason, especially when the IRS ‘mistakenly’ penalizes you again. She says the IRS audited her for the second time in five years and erroneously levied her bank accounts.

She couldn’t access her checking account as she was preparing to visit relatives. The tea party figure says the IRS mistakenly levied her accounts.“The day before I was heading out of town for the Thanksgiving weekend, my bank told me the IRS had frozen my accounts,” said Ms. O’Donnell. She called the IRS, who said she owed $30,000 in taxes from a 2008 house transaction (one she had fully reported).

She was eventually told the levy was an error and would be released. But the IRS took all her funds, later saying the funds would be returned. The funds have still not been replaced, Ms. O’Donnell said. “They said it was a mistake, and they removed the levy. I’m grateful, but I also wonder what someone with less government experience might do when they find themselves frozen from their money because the IRS got its paperwork mixed up.”

Ms. O’Donnell was asked where she thought her latest IRS run-in fit in the larger controversy over the IRS’s dealings with conservatives. “While I don’t believe in coincidences, it’s possible that this was just bureaucratic bungling. But either way, the IRS has to be held accountable. It needs to do its job right and not target or inconvenience taxpayers unfairly,” she said.

Since the IRS is made up of humans, sometimes the IRS is wrong. Opinions vary whether the IRS has ever targeted people for improper reasons. Richard Nixon supposedly asked the IRS to audit his political enemies. There has been no proof that President Obama tried to influence the IRS in the Tea Party targeting scandal. Yet lost emails from Lois Lerner and other key IRS employees, and numerous changes in the ‘narrative,’ have generated many conspiracy theories.

The topic is always sensitive, and the more it is pooh-poohed, the more tempers flare. For example, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, said, “Nobody believes you,” to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen when the IRS Chief testified that IRS emails really aren’t official records anyhow. As for Ms. O’Donnell, she already had a run in with the IRS when Delaware state authorities accessed her IRS tax file (!) in 2010, right around the time she announced her candidacy.

A story was leaked alleging that she owed back taxes to the IRS. The story was false, and Delaware authorities claim the records check was routine. Even so, a tax lien was placed on a house she had sold two years earlier. The lien was publicized and used to discredit Ms. O’Donnell’s candidacy even though she no longer owned the home in question. The IRS eventually removed the lien, blaming it on a computer error.

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January 4, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Pepperdine Reception Tonight at the AALS Annual Meeting

Pepperdine LogoIf you are at the AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.:  please stop by the Pepperdine reception tonight from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. to say hello (and enjoy some wine and hors d'oeuvres before Markelfest).  The reception is in the Marriott Wardman Park, Center Tower Suite 1022.

Update:  Photo from post-reception Tax Prof dinner:

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January 3, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Today's AALS Annual Meeting Highlights

AALSToday's highlights at the AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.:

  • Designing a Regulatory System for the Age of Decentralized Virtual Currencies (8:30 - 10:15) (Delaware Suite, Lobby Level):  Victor Fleischer (San Diego), James Gatto (Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman), Jim Harper (Global Policy Counsel, The Bitcoin Foundation), Sarah Jane Hughes (Indiana), Omri Marian (Florida), Nicco Mele (EchoDitto), Christopher Peterson (Utah)
  • Implementing Innovation in Law Schools (10:30 - 12:15) (Roosevelt 1 & 2, Exhibition Level):  Daniel Rodriguez (Northwestern; AALS President), Martin Katz (Denver), Paul Lippe (OnRamp Systems), Michael Madison (Pittsburgh), Kelllye Testy (University of Washington)
  • IRS Oversight of Charitable and Other Exempt Organizations – Broken? Fixable? (10:30 - 12:15) (Maryland Suite B, Lobby Level):  Ellen Aprill (Loyola-L.A.), Philip Hackney (LSU), James Fishman (Pace), Terri Helge (Texas A&M), Donald Tobin (Maryland), Daniel Tokaji (Ohio State)
  • Recent Developments in Human Capital Investing (3:30 - 5:15) (Roosevelt 1 & 2, Exhibition Level):  Diane Ring (Boston College), John Brooks (Georgetown), Victor Fleischer (San Diego), Heather Hughes (American), Benjamin Leff (American), Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane), Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)

Photo of Tax Court Judge Halpern from last night's Tax Prof Dinner (from Leandra Lederman):

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

Kleinbard: The Trojan Horse of Dynamic Scoring

DynamicNew York Times op-ed:  A Republican Ruse to Make Tax Cuts Look Good, by Edward D. Kleinbard (USC):

As Republicans take control of Congress this month, at the top of their to-do list is changing how the government measures the impact of tax cuts on federal revenue: namely, to switch from so-called static scoring to “dynamic” scoring. While seemingly arcane, the change could have significant, negative consequences for enacting sustainable, long-term fiscal policies. ...

Federal deficits are on an unsustainable path (as it happens, because of undertaxation, not excessive spending). Simply cutting taxes against the headwind of structural deficits leads to lower growth, as government borrowing soaks up an ever-increasing share of savings.

The most optimistic dynamic models get around this by assuming that the world today is in fiscal equilibrium, where the deficit does not grow continuously as a percentage of gross domestic product. But that’s not true. If you add the reality of spiraling deficits into those models, they don’t work. ...

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January 3, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 604

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  IRS Hid Conservative Targeting Until After 2012 Presidential Election. Smidgen Corrupt?, by Robert W. Wood:

Was the IRS used for politics? It’s a fair question, yet one that suggests an answer when you look at numerous ‘coincidences’ that are too hard to fathom. Add that to that the testimony of key IRS figures and their inconsistent emails. The result is a mismatch revealing an IRS run amok in political spin it later admitted was wrong.

Ironically, a new report issued by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee concerns some handlers at the IRS who seemed to be playing politics while criticizing conservative organizations for playing politics. That is only one irony wrung from the more than 200 page report. The report summarizes its investigation into the IRS’s treatment of politically active nonprofit groups. ...

Many democrats have dismissed the report as more political theater with facts taken out of context. But it is hard to argue with the facts: A top IRS official considered going public with the agency’s targeting of conservative groups at a hearing just months before the 2012 presidential election. One wonders what might have happened in the election if he had. Ultimately, the IRS official decided against revealing the bombshell news, according to the new House committee report.

The IRS official was none other than the Deputy IRS Commissioner Steven Miller. He would become Acting Commissioner, then would be fired by the President in May of 2013. Would a more prompt disclosure to Congress have made for a different Presidential election?

It is impossible to say, but it is hard to argue with the notion that this truly is political. Mr. Miller wrote to his Chief of Staff in June 2012, a month before a House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing. Significantly, Mr. Miller wrote that he was weighing whether to testify to “put a stake” in the “c4” issue — apparently a reference to allegations about politics playing a role in the agency’s denial of tax-exempt, 501(c)(4) status to conservative groups.

At the very least, the email makes it plain that Mr. Miller was aware of the situation. Mr. Miller ultimately testified on July 25, 2012 but never revealed his knowledge of the IRS misconduct. ...

Mr. Miller testified before Congress six times from May 2012 until May 2013, before being forced to resign. Until the bitter end, Mr. Miller said the targeting was not motivated by politics, but his emails show otherwise. And the administration’s handling of the investigation was appalling, the report claims.

The belated disclosure that emails were destroyed, the who’s-on-first routine about the recycled hard drives, the no smidgen of corruption, were all telling. Too many excuses generally are. How was the administration’s cooperation? The report says that, “Even as recently as July 2014, after the IRS informed Congress that it had destroyed two years of Lerner’s e-mails, the FBI continued its refusal to provide any information about its investigation.”

The Justice Department even considered criminal prosecutions, a topic the Justice Department discussed with disgraced Exempt Organizations Chief Lois Lerner. It’s all rather amazing when one recalls President Obama’s testy “not even a smidgen of corruption” remark to Fox News in February 2014.

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

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 AALS Annual Meeting: Legal Education at the Crossroads

AALSIn the parable of the Delta blues player, the musician considers carefully his choice: to make his pact with the Devil and preserve his guitar greatness or to take the other path. He considers this fateful decision at the crossroads. We are at the crossroads. Our law schools face critical choices: Are we going to continue on the path which, while suitable to the previous world in which we pursued glory and economic progress and our graduates took their rightful place in the generally remunerative legal economy, now has significant pitfalls and predicaments. Or are we going to take the path toward a more promising, albeit risky and uncertain, destination for our students, our faculty, our profession?

As faculty members and law school leaders, we are engaged deeply with questions concerning the efficacy of our current educational and economic model. Some prophesize the demise of this model and, with it, doom and gloom for (many? most? all?) or our member schools; others, for sure, remain ever optimistic. Moreover, we are engaged with complex questions of pedagogical strategy and educational performance. In our teaching, in our scholarship, and in our external engagement with the bench, bar, and business sector, we ask: Are we doing all we can and should to prepare our students for this dynamic new world? Ideally, these questions should be omnipresent parts of our strategies. But, realistically, they have garnered our focused attention in this era in which law schools are under pressure and, in a meaningful way, under siege.

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January 2, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Amar: Additional Thoughts (and Concerns) About the Low Bar Pass Rates in California and Elsewhere

California State Bar (2014)Following up on my previous posts:

The Verdict:  Additional Thoughts (and Concerns) About the Low Bar Pass Rates in California and Elsewhere in 2014, by Vikram David Amar (UC-Davis):

About a month ago I wrote an essay for this website commenting on the drop in bar passage rates in many states in the fall of 2014. I focused on the large national decrease in scores that test takers received on the so-called Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), a 190-question multiple-choice exam that accounts for much of the entire bar exam in most states, and on remarks made by Erica Moeser, who heads the organization that makes and scores the MBE (the National Committee of Bar Examiners or NCBE), to the effect that this year’s takers were “less able.” Much has happened since I wrote that essay: on November 25, about 80 law deans (I should note my dean at UC Davis was not among them) joined in a letter to Ms. Moeser requesting that “a thorough investigation of the administration and scoring of the July bar exam” be conducted, and that “the methodology and results of the investigation . . . be made fully transparent to all law school deans and state bar examiners” so that there might be “independent expert review” of the exam’s “integrity and fairness”; on December 18, Ms. Moeser responded with a letter, and an attached essay from NCBE’s quarterly magazine that provided additional analysis and data; and other states, including the largest state, California, have in recent weeks released details on bar passage within their jurisdictions. In the space below, I analyze some of these recent developments, with specific reference to what likely accounts for the large drop in MBE performance (and thus bar pass rates in many states) this year. ...

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January 2, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

The Top 10 Tax Stories Of 2014

Top 10 (2014)Accounting Today, Top Tax Stories of 2014:

Things never get boring in the world of tax. Tax preparers, tax practitioners and taxpayers may all have been hoping for a quiet 2014 after the tumult of 2013, but regulators and legislators weren’t complying. Here are our editors’ picks for the most important stories of the year.

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January 2, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 603

IRS Logo 2Washington Post, The Year in Review 2014, by Dave Barry:

[I]t was a miserable 12 months. In case you have forgotten why, let’s take one last look back, starting with …

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, who oversaw the rollout of Obamacare, resigns from the Cabinet to take a position overseeing e-mail storage for the Internal Revenue Service. ...

In Washington scandal news, the Internal Revenue Service, responding to a subpoena, tells congressional investigators that it cannot produce 28 months of Lois Lerner’s e-mails because the hard drive they were stored on failed, and the hard drive was thrown away, and the backup tapes were erased, and no printed copies were saved — contrary to the IRS’s own record-keeping policy, which was eaten by the IRS’s dog. “It was just one crazy thing after another,” states the IRS, “and it got us to thinking: All these years we’ve been subjecting taxpayers to everything short of rectal probes if they can’t produce EVERY SINGLE DOCUMENT WE WANT, and here we lose YEARS’ worth of official records! So from now on, if taxpayers tell us they lost something, or just plain forgot to make a tax payment, we’ll be like, ‘Hey, whatever! Stuff happens!’ Because who are we to judge?”

But all kidding aside, you can bet that before this thing is over there will be a strongly worded report.

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

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The 10 Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts Of 2014

  1. Top 10 (2014)Median LSAT Scores for the 2015 U.S. News Law School Rankings (Mar. 5, 2014) (158,325 page views)
  2. Details Emerge in Murder of Dan Markel (Aug 31, 2014) (150,744 page views)
  3. Ten Life Lessons From Navy SEAL Training (May 26, 2014) (71,258 page views)
  4. Farewell, My Friend (Apr. 6, 2014) (70,757 page views)
  5. The Most Overrated and Underrated Law Schools (Mar. 13, 2014) (55,853 page views)
  6. Law School Rankings by Graduates in BigLaw Jobs (Feb. 24, 2014) (49,396 page views)
  7. What College Presidents Do While Students Are Away on Winter Break (Jan. 5, 2014) (46,312 page views)
  8. NY Times:  Two Monitors Are Not Better Than One (Mar. 24, 2014) (40,192 page views)
  9. House Releases Report on Lois Lerner's Role in the IRS Scandal (Mar. 11, 2014) (36,875 page views)
  10. 2015 U.S. News Peer Reputation Rankings (v. Overall Rankings) (Mar. 11, 2014) (36,819 page views)

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

The Top 10 Tax Cases (And Rulings) Of 2014

Top 10 (2014)Forbes:  The Top Ten Tax Cases (And Rulings) Of 2014, by Anthony J. Nitti (WithumSmith & Brown, Aspen, CO):

  1. Obamacare Endures Additional Attacks (Halbig v. Burwell, 758 F.3d 390 (D.C. Cir. 2014)/King v. Burwell, 759 F.3d 358 (4th Cir. 2014))
  2. Loving And Ridgely Take On The IRS (Loving v. IRS, 742 F.3d 1013 (D.C. Cir. 2014)/Ridgely v. Lew, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96447 (D. D.C. 2014))
  3. Aragona Trust Changes The Way We Look At Real Estate Professionals (Aragona Trust v. Commissioner, 142 T.C. 9 (2014))
  4. IRS Rules on Self-Employment Income Of LLC Members (CCA 201436049)
  5. Is The Sale Of A Right To Buy Land Ordinary Income Or Capital Gain? (Long v. Commissioner (11th Cir. 2014), rev'g T.C. Memo. 2013-233)
  6. The IRS (Finally) Figures Out The Real Estate Professional Rules (CCA 201427016)
  7. Buy A Building, Get An Immediate Deduction? (ABC Beverage Corp. v. United States, 113 AFTR 2d 2014-2536 (6th Cir. 2014))
  8. A Big Break For Home Builders (Shea v. Commissioner, 142 T.C. 3 (2014))
  9. Tax Court Further Muddies The 'Dealer Versus Investor' Issue (Allen v. US, 113 AFTR 2d 2014-2262 (DC CA 2014))
  10. IRA and Qualified Plan Rollovers Are More Treacherous Than You Realize (Bobrow v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2014-21)

January 1, 2015 in New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top 12 Legal Education Stories Of 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 602

IRS Logo 2Breitbart:  True The Vote Appeals Dismissal of Lawsuit Against IRS:

True the Vote, a Houston, Texas-based non-profit organization focused on “voters’ rights and election integrity,” has appealed a U.S. District Court’s order dismissing their lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Breitbart Texas has learned. The lawsuit had alleged that the IRS had improperly delayed granting True the Vote’s application for 501(c)(3) status and targeted them as a conservative organization, but the opinion, issued by Judge Reggie B. Walton in October, found that the IRS had taken sufficient “remedial steps to address the alleged behavior.” In an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas, True the Vote representatives shared why they believe their appeal is valid and represents an important issue for conservative grassroots organizations to follow.

“The IRS targeting scandal is not over and neither is our effort to seek justice in the federal courts,” said True the Vote Founder Catherine Engelbrecht in a statement provided to Breitbart Texas. “Since the dismissal, ‘lost’ emails specific to our case have been found and assertions that the agency changed its ways have yet to prove true by any verifiable manner. Until the Court fully addresses the IRS’ wrongdoing, the risk of future political abuses without consequences will only compound.” ...

True the Vote’s Notice of Appeal was officially filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Thursday, December 18.

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January 1, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Organ: The Declining LSAT Scores of Law School Matriculants

The Legal Whiteboard:  The Composition of Graduating Classes of Law Students -- 2013-2016 -- Part One, by Jerry Organ (St. Thomas):

This is the first of two blog posts regarding the changing composition of entering classes and the changing composition of graduating classes.  In Part I, I analyze the distribution of LSAT scores across categories based on the LSAC’s National Decision Profiles for the years 2009-2010 through 2012-2013, and then analyze the distribution of law school median LSATs and the 25th percentile LSATs across ranges of LSAT scores.  In Part II, I will analyze how attrition trends have changed since 2010 to assess what that might tell us about the composition of graduating classes three years after entering law school as a way of thinking about the likely impact on bar passage over time.

Chart 1

Chart 2

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December 31, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (14)

Osofsky Reviews Zelenak's Custom and the Rule of Law in the Administration of the Income Tax

JotwellLeigh Osofsky (Miami), The IRS as Tax Law Nonenforcer (Jotwell) (reviewing Lawrence Zelenak (Duke), Custom and the Rule of Law in the Administration of the Income Tax, 62 Duke L.J. 829 (2012)):

Zelenak laments the difficulty in challenging customary deviations. He usefully explores how the pro-taxpayer nature of customary deviations and limitations on third-party taxpayer standing leave little room for outsiders to step in and prevent customary deviations from going too far. Zelenak leaves the reader with the sense that customary deviations can in some cases be desirable, in some cases problematic, but in all cases difficult to do anything about as a result of limitations on taxpayer standing and the real threat that allowing standing to challenge the deviations may pose to the administrability of the tax system. Zelenak’s most concrete proposal is for “Congress to enact a new Code provision specifically authorizing the Treasury Department to issue regulations narrowing the statutory definition of gross income with respect to non-cash benefits received outside of an employment context, whenever the IRS decides that administrative concerns make such a narrowing advisable,” and that “Congress might decide to give the Treasury Department similar authority to revise by regulation other specified Code sections”  

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

Department of Education Finds That Harvard Law School's Sexual Assault Policy Violates Title IX

Harvard Law School Logo (2014)Bloomberg, Harvard Law Loses a Four-Year Fight Over Its Sexual Assault Policy:

For the past several months, members of the Harvard Law School faculty have lobbied hard against Harvard’s new sexual harassment policy, which they said lacked “the most basic elements of fairness and due process.” They demanded the university withdraw the policy.

Now, Harvard Law School no longer has a choice. The Department of Education announced on Tuesday that the law school violated Title IX by failing to properly respond to two student complaints of sexual harassment and using the wrong standard of evidence in campus cases. As part of an agreement it reached with the government, Harvard Law must revise its sexual harassment policy and change how it responds to sexual assault cases.

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December 31, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 601

IRS Logo 2Washington Free Beacon:  IRS Watchdog Continues to Hide Records on White House Leaks; Of 2509 Documents, Government Agrees to Release 31:

An independent IRS monitor announced Monday it will block the release of roughly 400 more pages of documents related to unauthorized leaks of confidential taxpayer information to the White House.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) told the watchdog group Cause of Action it would be withholding nearly all of the 2,500 documents it located that were related to unauthorized IRS leaks to the White House. Earlier this month, TIGTA told Cause of Action it was withholding roughly 2,100 of the documents and said it would take an additional two weeks to review the rest.

TIGTA released 31 pages of documents on Monday to Cause of Action, 27 of which were already publicly available. Most were responses to letters from Republican senators.

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December 31, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Legal Educators to Gather at AALS to Set the Agenda for 2015

AALS (2015)National Law Journal, Legal Educators Gathering to Set the Agenda for 2015:

More than 2,000 law professors and law school administrators are expected to attend the Association of American Law Schools’ annual meeting this week in Washington. It’s the largest yearly gathering of legal educators, but attendance is projected be down by about 15 percent as law schools have been cutting spending amid enrollment declines. Still, plenty of big legal names are scheduled to speak, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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December 30, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Next Moneyball Frontier: Facial Coding?

New York Times, Teams Turn to a Face Reader, Looking for That Winning Smile:

FACSWhen two financiers purchased the Milwaukee Bucks for $550 million last April, they promised to pour not only money and new management into the moribund franchise, but also the same kind of creative and critical thinking that had helped make them hedge fund billionaires.

It was not enough to increase the franchise’s sales force or beef up the team’s analytics department — the Bucks were looking for a more elusive edge. So in May, the team hired Dan Hill, a facial coding expert who reads the faces of college prospects and N.B.A. players to determine if they have the right emotional attributes to help the Bucks.

The approach may sound like palm reading to some, but the Bucks were so impressed with Hill’s work before the 2014 draft that they retained him to analyze their players and team chemistry throughout this season.

With the tenets of “Moneyball” now employed in the front offices of every major sport, perhaps it was inevitable that professional teams would turn to emotion metrics and neuroscience tools to try to gain an edge in evaluating players.

“We spend quite a bit of time evaluating the players as basketball players and analytically,” said David Morway, Milwaukee’s assistant general manager, who works for the owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry. “But the difficult piece of the puzzle is the psychological side of it, and not only psychological, character and personality issues, but also team chemistry issues.”

Hill contends that faces betray our true emotions and can predict intentions, decisions and actions. He employs the psychologist Paul Ekman’s widely accepted FACS, or Facial Action Coding System, to decipher which of the 43 muscles in the face are working at any moment. Seven core emotions are identified: happiness, surprise, contempt, disgust, sadness, anger and fear. ...


Hill said he was inspired to take his work into sports after observing “profound sadness” in the face of Rafael Nadal soon before he lost the 2008 United States Open semifinal match to Andy Murray. The epiphany convinced Hill he could help teams find the “heart of a champion” by predicting and improving performance through facial coding. ...

Hill has worked with a few other teams, but the use of facial coding in sports is hardly widespread. Its acceptance may rest on the success of the Bucks. If you want to be creative, Smith, the Bucks’ psychologist, said, “you have to be willing to be ridiculed." "People laugh until they see results.”

New York Times, What Expressions Can Say About a Player:

Many sports teams have adopted advanced data analytics to help determine a player’s athletic abilities and value. Now, some are taking it a step further — trying to analyze psychological aspects as well. These teams are using facial-expression coding, which is based on the premise that human faces cannot hide true emotions, intentions or decisions.

December 30, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Debate: How Low Can the InfiLaw Law Schools Go?

InfiLaw (2014)Following up on last week's post, How Low Can You Go, InfiLaw?:

Jay Conison (Dean, Charlotte), Guest Post:

Mr. David Frakt purports to be an expert on legal education and in particular the relationship between LSAT and educational outcomes. He has asserted that no one with an LSAT below 145 has more than a trifling chance of passing a bar examination, and that schools that admit students with such low LSATs are deceiving students and the public. Mr. Frakt has chosen in particular to attack the Charlotte School of Law, the Florida Coastal School of Law, and the Arizona Summit Slaw School. The crux of his attack is the relatively low LSAT profile of the students. ... I can shed light on how Mr. Frakt has gone astray.

LSAT scores have two functions for law schools. One is as a measure of prestige. ... This function of LSAT, however, has been put under severe stress by the sharp downturn in applicants. Many schools want to simultaneously publish a high LSAT profile, in order to continue to compete for status, but also maintain the high enrollment needed to provide large operating revenues. This tension has led many schools to reduce first-year class size, in order to preserve LSAT profile and thus prestige, while engaging in aggressive transfer admissions to build revenues from students whose LSAT scores are not counted (in U.S. News and other measures of status). As a result, first-year LSAT profile no longer accurately represents the real student body LSAT profile.

The other function of the LSAT—and the one for which it was designed—is as a predictor of academic success. While it does have predictive value, an important question is just how good, and that varies from school to school. Charlotte uses the LSAT only as a predictor of academic success, and not as a measure of prestige. Charlotte also understands the limits of the LSAT as a predictor, and understands that it is possible to have other, even better, predictive models using other forms of assessment. ...

Thus, it is wildly over simplistic to look—as Mr. Frakt does—only at first-year LSAT profile and believe that it tells a dispositive story about a law school. LSAT profile is not destiny, and it is not now (if it ever was) an unequivocal indicator of aggregate likelihood of academic success, because many schools hide their lower LSAT students from public reporting, and because some schools, like Charlotte, utilize more comprehensive, validated predictors of success. ...

Mr. Frakt’s view rests on model of a law school as just a black box, into which one inputs LSAT scores and outputs bar passage. But as anyone in a law school knows, it is no such thing. Rather, it is a complex system for delivery of educational services, the details of which are very important for assessing the quality and value of a school.

David Frakt (Barry), Response to Dean Conison:

I commend Dean Jay Conison of Charlotte School of Law for coming on to The Faculty Lounge and trying to defend the recent admission practices of Charlotte and his sister InfiLaw schools.  I appreciate that he is willing to engage, at least indirectly, in this important debate with me.  As an experienced criminal defense attorney (I’m currently back on active duty with the Air Force defending a capital murder case), I know very well what it is like to defend a position when the overwhelming weight of evidence is against you, so I don’t envy Dean Conison’s position.  Well, come to think of it, maybe I do envy his position.  Wasn’t I just trying to become Dean at Florida Coastal?  But I digress. . . 

In this post, I will respond to several of the points raised by Dean Conison and raise some questions that I hope he will consider answering in a follow-up post. ...

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December 30, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Do Colleges (and Law Schools) Need a Business Productivity Audit?

College TuitionWall Street Journal op-ed:  Colleges Need a Business Productivity Audit, by Frank Mussano & Robert Iosue (authors, College Tuition: Four Decades of Financial Deception (2014)):

College tuition rates are ridiculously out of hand. Since the late 1970s, tuition has surged more than 1,000%, while the consumer-price index has risen only 240%. ...

[T]hree quarters of a typical college budget is spent on personnel expenses, including benefits. Yet the average professor spends much less time in the classroom today than two decades ago. In 2010 44% of full-time faculty reported that they spent nine or more hours a week in the classroom, according to the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. In 1989 more than 60% said they did. The traditional 12-15 hours a week teaching load is changing into a six-to-nine-hour workweek, a significant decrease in productivity.

The typical defense of the reduced workload goes something like this: Professors have increased research demands, more extensive classroom preparation and committee work, as well as additional administrative and student-counseling responsibilities. Except for a handful of elite researchers, this argument doesn’t add up. ...

There’s another problem: The number of college administrators has increased 50% faster than the number of instructors since 2001, according to the Education Department. Administrative costs have far outpaced other college expenses during the past two decades. ...

All the while, colleges launched a prestige arms race, dropping millions on extravagant buildings. Higher-education construction spending has doubled since 1994, with a peak of $15 billion in 2006 that has leveled off at $11 billion in recent years. Adding to the frenzy are the various magazine rankings that base much of their quality-assessment formula on the amount of money spent on student services and facilities, even if the funds are wasted. Campuses have everything from lazy rivers to climbing walls to luxury dormitories.

On top of that, student-loan debt has skyrocketed to $1.2 trillion. Easy access to government loan money has given colleges license to boost tuition with no motivation to keep costs down. ...

[C]olleges and universities engaged in a spending spree because they can. But there’s one simple idea that might start to reverse the spending spree: audits of higher education. ...

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December 30, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through December 1, 2014) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):







Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine) 



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



James Hines (Michigan)


Gregg Polsky (North Carolina)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Omri Marian (Florida)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


David Gamage (UCBerkeley)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Dan Shaviro (NYU)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Dick Harvey (Villanova)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


James Hines (Michigan)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Vic Fleischer (San Diego)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Bridget Crawford (Pace)



David Walker (Boston Univ.)


Chris Sanchirico (Penn)



Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)


Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)



Dan Shaviro (NYU)


Carter Bishop (Suffolk)



Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)


Christopher Hoyt (UMKC)



Ed McCaffery (USC)


Steve Willis (Florida)


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

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December 30, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Anderson: The Best College Majors for Business Success: STEM

Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), The Best College Majors for Business:

STEMOne of the most daunting tasks college students face is the choice of a major. When students seek advice from counselors, they are often told to "follow their passions," on the theory that the choice of a major has little impact on future success. Students are often told that the most important thing is "critical thinking" and "communication" skills, and that all college majors prepare students for success in these ways.

Yet a forceful minority in education has long claimed that there is something special about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) majors that uniquely prepares students for success. STEM advocates argue that the rigor of a STEM education better prepares students for the skills that are most in demand in a modern economy. Still, sometimes students resist this, thinking that with a STEM education they will be "locked into" a job in a laboratory, without the opportunity to advance into broader endeavors.

One way of testing this proposition is to look at the leaders in the world of business, where the bottom line depends on hiring the best talent and where the (monetary) rewards are highest. This post examines the most visible and arguably prestigious slice of business leaders--the directors and senior executive officers of publicly traded companies. Combing through this data to extract the college majors of officers and directors may give some insight into which college majors are most valuable in the long term.

The results of this data collection, summarized below, are unequivocal. All majors do not lead to the same level of business success, and STEM graduates are not "locked in" to technical careers; indeed, STEM majors outperform virtually all other majors in the business world by a large margin. Perhaps counterintuitively, the best major for success in business clearly is not business administration. The top majors for success in business are engineering, science, mathematics, economics, and accounting. ... The bottom line is that ... [a]ny type of engineering or mathematics, as well as most types of science, outperform virtually all liberal arts (and other) degrees.

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December 30, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

What Do The July 2014 California Bar Exam Results Tell Us About Law Student Quality?

California State Bar (2014)Following up on yesterday's post, July 2014 California Bar Exam Results:

Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA), Is the Law School Slump Starting to Affect Student Quality?:

One might reasonably infer that the slump in law school applications has meant that all schools are taking in students today that they would not have taken 10 years ago, but that the bottom tier schools have been disproportionately affected by this trend, which makes sense. ... The bottom tier schools now are truly scraping the bottom of the barrel, which is reflected in their bar passage rates.

Orange County Register editorial, Bar Exam Failing Would-Be Lawyers:

Law schools have done their best to run from the plunge in fortunes brought on by the 2008 financial crisis. But they have never quite managed to hide. In California, where the legal-industrial complex hums as loudly as anywhere, new evidence suggests that the long-inflated law school bubble, at last, may be popping in earnest.

And no: that’s not a problem.

“Most law school graduates who took the summer California bar exam failed, adding to the pressure on law schools already dealing with plummeting enrollments, complaints about student debt and declining job prospects,” the Los Angeles Times reported. Law school administrators are quick to observe that pass rates dipped nationwide, suggesting that the exam may have ticked upward in difficulty this year.

Nevertheless, the structural issues are clear. In California, for instance, it’s been an open secret that the bar exam serves a harsh purpose: to cull those JDs who were good enough to graduate but not to practice law.

On the other hand, it’s also well known that the bar exam is an insanely exaggerated test of the skills one needs to succeed as a first-year associate at a respectable law firm.

Not only does the bar exam weed out those who truly can’t hack it; it also selects for those willing to hack anything in order to receive the credential that unlocks the big bucks.

As a result, the legal-industrial complex breeds two kinds of problems – a class of misbegotten losers and a class of misbegotten winners. The losers have an all-but-useless legal degree, and, often, the dizzying tuition tab to match. The winners have relatively plum legal jobs – not because they’re the soundest and sharpest legal minds, but because they’re the most ruthless and efficient hoop-jumpers.

Both these outcomes tarnish the legal profession, no matter how noble its aims. Lawyering attracts too many young Americans. It disappoints too many, and turns too many into intellectual hustlers. Reforming the bar exam is just one element of the change that must come.

December 30, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Days 501-600

December 30, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 600

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Rev. Al Sharpton's Key Tax Tips...From Lois Lerner, by Robert W. Wood:

In Tell it to the Reverend Al, the New York Post says Rev. Sharpton still owes New York State $916,000 from tax liens filed against him between 2008 and 2010. In all, Mr. Sharpton is said to have $4.5 million of tax liens. He claims he paid them, but state officials say otherwise. This isn’t the first time his records do not line up. Indeed, on two prior occasions he suffered inconvenient fires that destroyed records.

It’s a little like the crash of Lois Lerner’s hard drive. Those fires destroyed Mr. Sharpton’s financial records just as he was about to turn them over to officials. And records are key to tax disputes. As Mr. Sharpton works though his tax problems with or without records, he appears to have a suit made of Teflon, even when it comes to taxes.

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December 30, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Boston Law Schools (Other Than Harvard) Suffer Large (24%) Enrollment Declines

BostonFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Boston area law schools suffered a 17.7% enrollment decline from 2011 to 2014:


US News Rank

2011 1Ls

2014 1Ls







Boston Univ.





Boston College











Tier 2




New England

Tier 2




Excluding Harvard, the enrollment decline of the other 5 law schools is 23.8%

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December 29, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

NLJ: 2014 Legal Education Year in Review

2014National Law Journal, Law Schools: Growth, Retrenchment:

  • Accreditation Overhaul
  • Murder in Tallahassee
  • Bar Exam Blues
  • New School in Dallas
  • Empty Coffers
  • Big Law Bound
  • A Dearth of Students
  • Breaking Ground
  • A Hostile Takeover
  • Campus Calls for Justice


December 29, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Business Tax Papers: Oxford University Symposium

OxfordCall for Papers: Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation 9th Annual Symposium:

We invite you to submit a paper for the ninth annual symposium of the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation. The symposium will take place at the Saïd Business School in Oxford, from Monday 22 – Thursday 25 June 2015. As ever, we welcome research on any topics related to business taxation in its broadest sense, including papers from economics, law and other disciplines, as well as interdisciplinary contributions. The programme from last year’s symposium can be found here.

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December 29, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The End of the Professions?

EndNational Review, The End of the Professions?:

We also read that much of what lawyers do now will be turned over to machines. (Insert lawyer joke here.) The supply of lawyers already far exceeds the demand. This seems, of course, bad news for political science as a liberal-arts, pre-professional major. Constitutional law used to be touted as a really tough course that would show your readiness for law school. Well prepared by all the reading and writing you did in college, you will, it’s very, very likely, do well enough in law school to be rather securely set for life in a good firm. Many a Berry grad has followed some version of that “career path.”

But things have changed.  I’s easier to get into law school. Some pretty decent programs, in fact, aren’t filling up and are getting desperate for warm bodies. Even grads from the best programs are having trouble getting secure jobs, and compensation for lawyers is, in general, getting worse. The business of borrowing huge bucks to fund your legal education is now way too risky. Everyone knows of underemployed law-school grads (many of whom got good grades in law schools) drowning in debt. So the new challenge is to go to law school for free or at least on the cheap, and that is getting a lot easier to do, as law-school discounting is getting closer to college discounting. A reputable law school not far from where I’m sitting now used to basically stiff their students with an exorbitant tuition, and the profit was redistributed to the rest of the campus programs. Now, money is being frantically redistributed to the law school for financial aid to keep it afloat.

It’s still the case that if you want to be a lawyer you should “follow your passion” and go to law school. But you have to do so with a much more entrepreneurial spirit. Jobs aren’t guaranteed for the nerds who get all A’s. Everyone has to hustle to find gainful employment. And lawyers are more and more stuck with being independent contractors selling their labor piecemeal for a price.

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December 29, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 2014 California Bar Exam Results

California State BarThe July 2014 California bar passage rates by school are out. Here are the results for first time test takers for the 21 California ABA-approved law schools, along with each school's U.S. News ranking (California and overall):

Bar Pass

Rank (Rate)



US News Rank

CA (Overall)

1 (88.3%)


2 (9)

2 (87.6%)


1 (3)

3 (86.6%)


4 (20)

4 (85.6%)


5 (36)

5 (81.7%)


3 (16)

6 (79.9%)


9 (87)

7 (77.7%)


6 (54)

8 (77.1%)



9 (74.8%)


11 (140)

10 (72.7%)

San Diego

8 (79)

11 (71.3%)

California Western

Tier 2


Statewide Ave. (CA ABA-Approved)

12 (68.3%)


6 (54)

13 (65.5%)

La Verne


14 (61.4%)

San Francisco

Tier 2

15 (60.5%)


12 (146)

16 (60.4%)

Santa Clara

10 (107)

17 (58.8%)

Western State

Tier 2

18 (54.4%)


Tier 2

19 (44.7%)

Thomas Jefferson

Tier 2

20 (43.8%)

Golden Gate

Tier 2

21 (42.7%)


Tier 2

The big story this year is the striking decline in the bar passage rate:

  • First time test takers from ABA-aproved law schools:  down 6.5 percentage points
  • All test takers:  down 7.1 percentage points

These declines are concentrated in the lowest ranked schools:

  • First time test takers at the 5 highest ranked schools:  down 1.5 percentage points
  • First time test takers at the 5 lowest tanked schools:  down 12.3 percentage points

Among the individual law schools, the biggest underperformers in bar passage are:

  • UC-Hastings:  #6 among California law schools in U.S. News (#54 overall), #12 in bar passage (and below the statewide average)
  • UC-Irvine:  its stated goal is to be a Top 20 law school in its inaugural U.S. News ranking to be announced this March, which would place it 4th in the state (tied with USC), but its bar passage rate is only 8th in the state, below UC-Davis, Loyola-L.A., and Pepperdine.  UC-Irvine was also 8th in the state in bar passage in 2013 (again below UC-Davis, Loyola-L.A., and Pepperdine)
  • Santa Clara:  #10 among California law schools in U.S. News (#107 overall), #16 in bar passage (and below the statewide average)
  • UCLA:  #3 among California law schools in U.S. News (#16 overall), #5 in bar passage
  • McGeorge:  #12 among California law schools in U.S. News (#146 overall), #15 in bar passage

Among the individual law schools, the biggest overperformers on bar passage are:

  • Loyola-L.A.:  #9 among California law schools in U.S. News (#87 overall), #6 in bar passage
  • Chapman:  #11 among California law schools in U.S. News (#140 overall), #9 in bar passage
  • California Western:  Tier 2 in U.S. News, 11th in bar passage
  • La Verne:  unranked in U.S. News, 13th in bar passage

Here are the out-of-state schools with the highest and lowest pass rates:

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December 29, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Enrollment Declines at Washington, D.C. Law Schools: A Tale of Two Cities

D.C.Washington Post, First-year Enrollment Down From 2010 Levels at Some Washington-area Law Schools:

The number of people entering U.S. law schools is at its lowest point in 41 years, as the shrinking job market for young lawyers continues to chip away at demand for legal education.

Nationally, 37,924 people started their first year of law school in fall 2014 — down 4 percent compared with 2013, and down nearly 28 percent compared with the peak enrollment of 52,488 in 2010, according to data released this month by the American Bar Association. It is the fourth consecutive year of enrollment declines. ...

Although nationally the numbers are down, enrollment trends are more mixed at some of the Washington area’s law schools. ... Enrollments by first-year students at both Georgetown (#13 in U.S. News) and GWU (#20) are roughly at the same levels they were in 2010. Georgetown has slipped less than 2 percent, and GWU has actually increased by 3 percent. ... At American U (#72) and George Mason (#46) , enrollment by “first years” is down 15 percent and 35 percent, respectively, compared with 2010.

[At lower ranked Washington, D.C. law schools, the declines are:

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December 29, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 599

IRS Logo 2IRS Statement Regarding FOIA Lawsuit:

There are a number of news accounts that incorrectly identify the Internal Revenue Service as being involved in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit with Cause of Action (D.C. District Court Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-01225-ABJ). That lawsuit involves the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and its investigations, not the IRS.

Moreover, press and Internet accounts regarding this particular FOIA lawsuit inaccurately suggest that the IRS is withholding documents in the lawsuit. The IRS is not withholding documents in the FOIA lawsuit because the IRS is not a party to the lawsuit. Moreover, any suggestions that the IRS is not cooperating or somehow withholding documents from TIGTA are also inaccurate. The IRS remains committed to cooperating with TIGTA as well as other oversight bodies.

We understand the FOIA lawsuit seeks records relating to TIGTA’s investigations of allegations of improper disclosures — and that TIGTA has identified approximately 2,500 pages worth of records concerning its investigations into such allegations. Based on the public record, there is no basis to conclude that these records identified by TIGTA involve 2,500 taxpayers or tax returns.

Additional questions on this matter should be directed to TIGTA.

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December 29, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Sunday, December 28, 2014

University of Mississippi Intentionally Cuts Law School Enrollment by 36%

Mississippi LogoThe Clarion Ledger, Ole Miss Law School Enrollment Drops Intentionally:

The University of Mississippi School of Law’s first-year enrollment has dropped from 199 in 2010, to 156 in 2012 and just 127 students this year.

The decrease was intentional. Officials began reducing the class sizes at a time when a recovering economy and improving job market began to lure potential students away from law school. “We were much more concerned about placement. If we had a large class, that impacts the profession in a negative way when the market isn’t real strong for lawyers. What we’ve found by getting smaller is placement percentages have gone up,” law school dean Richard Gershon told The Sun Herald. Last year, about 85 percent of the law school graduates had a job in the legal field nine months after graduation, Gershon said.

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December 28, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Jim Harbaugh Takes His 'Dad Pants' to Michigan

HarbaughWall Street Journal:  ‘Jim Harbaugh’ Goes to Michigan, by Jason Gay:

For years, bossy men’s magazines have been telling us it’s all about plain fronts and narrow silhouettes; basically, they want everyone to dress like Daniel Craig’s butler. Harbaugh does not dress like Daniel Craig’s butler. He has alternated between pleats and flat fronts, but he likes his pants roomy and airy like a McMansion’s wine cellar. Harbaugh’s wife Sarah did a hilarious mock PSA [below] in which she lamented her husband’s condition of “dad pants,” and her description is perfect. It doesn’t matter if you have kids or not—if you wear Jim Harbaugh pants three days in a row, you wind up buying a minivan.

But I loved these khakis. I loved them the second I put them on. Harbaugh is a sartorial genius. You wear these khakis and within two minutes, you forget you’re wearing pants. You’re free, relaxed, comfortable, happy. In Harbaugh pants, I felt like Brando in Tahiti.

Los Angeles Times, Jim Harbaugh Agrees to Michigan Coaching Job, Reports Say:

Those rumors about Michigan making Jim Harbaugh an offer he couldn't refuse appear to be true. Multiple reports say the embattled San Francisco 49ers coach has agreed to become the Wolverines' next coach. ... The New York Times first reported that Harbaugh has accepted the deal, which has been reported to be six years at nearly $50 million.

December 28, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

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, with a new paper debuting on the list at #5. The #1 paper is now #76 in all-time downloads among 10,606 tax papers:

  1. [1487 Downloads]  A Compendium of Private Equity Tax Games, by Gregg D. Polsky (North Carolina)
  2. [274 Downloads]  Piketty in America: A Tale of Two Literatures, by Joseph Bankman (Stanford) & Daniel Shaviro (NYU)
  3. [176 Downloads]  The Rise and Fall of the Consumption Tax: A Historical Perspective, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)
  4. [173 Downloads]  Corporate Inversions -- Background, Causes, and Policy Options, by J. Richard (Dick) Harvey (Villanova)
  5. [146 Downloads]  California Dreamin': Tax Scholarship in a Time of Fiscal Crisis, by Joseph Bankman (Stanford) & Paul L. Caron (Pepperdine)

December 28, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 598

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Exactly What Kind Of A Criminal Might Lois Lerner Be?, by Peter J. Reilly:

If Lois Lerner is a criminal, exactly what kind of criminal is she? If you spend much time reading IRS scandal or, as I like to call it, Teapartygate material, you will often encounter some form of the question that Joe Otto asks in his post titled Why Isn’t Lois Lerner In Prison Yet? , since as he notes “ Lois Lerner’s decision to weaponize the IRS against Tea Party groups is absolutely criminal!”

OK. Well, I’m a little bit of a geek and I’m fairly certain that there is not a section in the United States Code titled – Weaponizing IRS against Tea Party groups -, at least not yet. Give them time. There will probably be a constitutional amendment to say that the Eighth Amendment does not apply in cases of IRS Weaponizing, so that the punishment can be really unusual. Anyway we’re not there yet, so I’ve been trying to figure out what the specific crimes are that Lois Lerner can be charged with. ...

One of the scenarios that fits a lot of the facts that have come out so far is that Lois Lerner was frustrated that people inside the IRS were not serious enough about dark money 501(c)(4) groups being in violation of the law. ... A prosecutor would have to prove that Lois Lerner knew she had a legal duty not to disclose the information to the FBI and chose to violate that duty knowing that the violation was criminal – not that she should have known, rather that she did know.

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December 28, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

More on Teaching (and Examining) Today's Sensitive Law Students

Following up on my previous posts on whether today's law students are too sensitive to study rape law or take exams in the wake of the recent grand jury decisions in Ferguson and Staten Island  (links below):

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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December 27, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

LSU Law School Offers Buyouts (1 Year's Salary) to Seven Tenured Profs Over 65; Dean Hopes They Will 'Retire With Dignity'

LSU Logo (2015)Baton Rouge Advocate, LSU Law Center Offers Buyouts to 7 Professors as Interest in Law Schools Dwindles Nationally:

LSU’s Law Center is offering an incentive to seven professors if they retire next summer as it looks to cut costs amid a dwindling interest in law schools nationally.

The professors, all older than 65 and tenured faculty members, have until Monday to decide whether they will retire June 30 and get paid a bonus of roughly a year’s salary in return. The total that would be saved if all decide to take the buyout: $1.12 million a year.

“This is really part of a necessary effort to provide additional financial flexibility for the Law Center,” LSU Law Center Chancellor Jack Weiss said during a recent LSU Board of Supervisors meeting, at which the plan was unanimously approved. ...

The LSU Law Center’s fall 2014 enrollment is about 570 students — 200 of them in their first year. That’s a slight uptick from the year before, but LSU has seen a significant drop in interest in recent years, reflective of the national trend. It’s down nearly 16 percent from LSU law’s 238 first-year student enrollment in 2011. ...

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December 27, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Listokin Named Shibley Family Fund Professor of Law at Yale

Listokin (2015)Yair J. Listokin has been named the inaugural Shibley Family Fund Professor of Law at Yale Law School:

Yair J. Listokin ... examines tax law, corporate law, and contract law from both empirical and theoretical perspectives. After receiving his A.B from Harvard University, Listokin attended Princeton University, where he was awarded an M.A. and a Ph.D., both in economics. He then received his J.D. from Yale Law School. After serving as a law clerk for the Honorable Richard A. Posner, Listokin came to Yale as associate professor of law in 2006. He became professor of law in 2011. He has held visiting teaching positions at Harvard Law School and New York University School of Law.

Listokin has contributed numerous articles to academic and professional journals on topics such as shareholder power, the finances of criminal gangs, and statistical methods for the interpretation of contracts. His research has been featured in Fortune,, The Boston Globe, and Slate. He is currently at work on a monograph exploring law and macroeconomics.

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December 27, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 597

IRS Logo 2The Hill:  IRS: Search for Lerner Emails Almost Over:

A Treasury inspector general will likely conclude its search for former IRS official Lois Lerner’s missing emails “in the next several weeks,” John Koskinen, the agency’s commissioner, said Thursday.

Once Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration is finished, the Senate Finance Committee would be able to put the final touches on its investigation into the IRS’s singling out of Tea Party groups, something Koskinen said he hoped to see early in 2015.

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December 27, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Chicago (22%), Philadelphia (35%) Law Schools Suffer Large Enrollment Declines

Crain's Chicago Business, Chicago Law Schools See First-Year Enrollment Shrink:


Philadelphia Business Journal, Local Law School First-Year Enrollment Down 35 Percent Since Recession:

The six local law schools have seen first-year enrollment drop by 34.6 percent from its historic high in 2009-10 — exceeding the national drop off of 27.7 percent. ... Locally, the law schools at Widener University's Wilmington campus (-67 percent), Villanova University (-40 percent), Rutgers University-Camden (-33 percent), Temple University (-29 percent) and Drexel University (-17 percent) saw double-digit declines in first-year enrollment since 2010. University of Pennsylvania (-1 percent) was the only local school to have relatively flat enrollment compared to five years ago.


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December 26, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 596

IRS Logo 2Newsmax:  Barack Obama IRS Scandal: 8 Key Figures Caught Up in Tea Party Tax Targeting Controversy:

The longer the IRS scandal stays around, the worse it gets. Conservative and, particularly, Tea Party organizations were targeted by the IRS leading up to the 2012 campaign, creating a controversy that surrounds President Barack Obama.

Here are eight key figures involved in it, investigating it, or who were victims of it:

  1. Lois Lerner ...
  2. Douglas Shulman ...
  3. Darrell Issa ...
  4. Jay Carney ...
  5. Tom Fitton ...
  6. Chris Littleton ...
  7. Drew Ryan ...
  8. Catherine Engelbrecht ...

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December 26, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Hallelujah Christmas

I've heard about this baby boy
Who's come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I'm singing Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God's only Son was born, oh Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You'll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wisemen three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah

December 25, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

In Hoc Anno Domini

The Wall Street Journal has published this wonderful editorial each Christmas since 1949, In Hoc Anno Domini:

When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in bondage. There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.

Everywhere there was civil order, for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so.

But everywhere there was something else, too. There was oppression -- for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar. There was the tax gatherer to take the grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave largess to the people. There was the impressor to find recruits for the circuses. There were executioners to quiet those whom the Emperor proscribed. What was a man for but to serve Caesar?

There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.

And the voice from Galilee, which would defy Caesar, offered a new Kingdom in which each man could walk upright and bow to none but his God. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. And he sent this gospel of the Kingdom of Man into the uttermost ends of the earth.

Read the rest here.

December 25, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)