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Monday, May 4, 2015

President Obama Nominates Elizabeth Ann Copeland To Be U.S. Tax Court Judge

CopelandWhite House Press Release (May 1, 2015):

Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Elizabeth Ann Copeland as a Judge to the United States Tax Court. ...

Elizabeth Ann Copeland, Nominee for Judge, United States Tax Court
Elizabeth Ann Copeland is a Partner in the Tax Practice Group of Strasburger & Price, LLP in San Antonio, Texas, where she has practiced law since 2012.  She practiced with Oppenheimer, Blend, Harrison & Tate, Inc. from 1993 to 2012 and was named as Shareholder in 2000.  Ms. Copeland handles all matters pertaining to Federal income taxation, including planning and tax controversies, and she is also experienced in dealing with the Internal Revenue Service at the administrative appeals level and in litigation.  Ms. Copeland has been Board Certified in Tax Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2002. 

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May 4, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Covey Receives Inaugural RPTE Award

CoveyPress Release, ‘Legend’ Richard Covey Recipient of First RPTE Award at Spring Symposia:

“I thank you very much,” a humble Richard B. Covey said upon receiving the inaugural 2015 American Bar Association Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Award. Covey was presented with the award during the RPTE Spring Symposia, April 30 in Washington, D.C.

“It’s been an absolute joy,” Covey said of his long and distinguished career advising clients on trusts and estate planning matters. “Now at age 85, almost 86 … (working) keeps me happy.”

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May 4, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Taxpayer Standing In International Tax Disputes

Limor Riza (Carmel Academic Center, Haifa, Israel), Taxpayers’ Lack of Standing in International Tax Dispute Resolutions: An Analysis Based on the Hybrid Norms of International Taxation, 34 Pace L. Rev. 1064 (2014):

This paper examines whether a taxpayer should have “standing” in international dispute resolutions. To answer this question the primary task is to identify the nature of international taxation. In other words, this paper discusses how to classify the field of international taxation. Is it part of public international law, private international law (i.e., conflict of laws), national (domestic) law, or is it a hybrid field that requires specific attention? Making this distinction is vital for resolving disputes when a taxpayer is taxed twice for cross-border transactions in cases where the double tax convention is unclear and both contracting states claim full or partial tax on accrued income.

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May 4, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: A Woman-Led Law Firm That Lets Partners Be Parents

GellerNew York Times, A Woman-Led Law Firm That Lets Partners Be Parents:

Ms. Simon is a partner at the Geller Law Group, a six-woman firm, the founding credo of which is family-friendliness and whose stance on office face time is best described as “militantly against.”

In addition to practicing law, Ms. Simon and her law partner, Rebecca Geller, have a near-evangelical determination to show that parents can nurture their professional ambitions while being fully present in their children’s lives. Ms. Simon has such conviction on this point that she is almost personally offended by suggestions it might not be possible. The widely read and debated 2012 essay in The Atlantic, Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, by Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former State Department official, is a particular source of irritation. “I think women can have it all,” she said. “It’s just based on your paradigm of ‘all.’ ”

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

The U.S. News Law School Academic Reputation Scores, 1998-2015

2016 U.S. News RankingsRobert L. Jones (Northern Illinois), Academic Reputation Scores for Law Schools Continue Their Decline in 2015:

This essay summarizes the results of the U.S. News & World Report rankings published in 2015 with respect to the academic reputation scores of law schools.  In addition to analyzing the most recent results for the U.S. News rankings, the essay supplements the more extensive longitudinal study published by this author in 2013 [A Longitudinal Analysis of the U.S. News Law School Academic Reputation Scores between 1998 and 2013, 40 Fla. St. L. Rev. 721 (2013)].  The article also includes updated appendices from the prior study that catalog the U.S. News academic reputation scores for every law school between 1998 and 2015.

Chart A

Chart E

Chart F

Biggest Changes in U.S. News Peer Reputation, 1998-2015

Law School








Michigan State








Texas A&M




Florida State




Georgia State




















New York Law School








Case Western




Wayne State




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May 4, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS Seeks Grant Applications for Funding for Low Income Taxpayer Clinics

IRS Logo 2The IRS announced on Friday (IR-2015-75) that it is accepting grant applications for Low Income Taxpayer Clinics for the 2016 grant cycle (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2016). Applications will be accepted through June 1, 2015. The LITC program awards matching grants of up to $100,000 per year to qualifying organizations to develop, expand, or maintain a low income taxpayer clinic. 

The LITC program funds organizations to represent low income taxpayers who have a tax controversy with the IRS and to educate individuals who speak English as a second language (ESL) about their rights and responsibilities as U.S. taxpayers. An LITC must provide services for free or for no more than a nominal fee.

Beginning in grant year 2016, the LITC Program will no longer award discrete funding amounts to organizations to operate separate Controversy and ESL programs. Instead, all LITC grant recipients will be required to operate unified programs that provide direct representation in tax controversies with the IRS on behalf of low income taxpayers and use education and outreach efforts to make representation and consultation services available to ESL taxpayers.

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May 4, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Policy And The Invisible Hand Of God

We Are Better Than This (2014)Huffington Post:  The Invisible Hand of God, by Jim Burklo (Associate Dean of Religious Life, USC):

The United States has the highest poverty rate, the greatest income inequality, and the greatest wealth inequality of any major developed economy in the world. Edward Kleinbard, We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money (Oxford University Press, 2014) (p 98).

America ought to be better than these statistics imply. It's time for us to live up to the moral values espoused so long ago by Adam Smith. The real Adam Smith, that is.

I've just finished a dense but important and surprisingly readable book by a University of Southern California professor of tax law, Ed Kleinbard. I had the privilege of enjoying a vegetarian lunch with him last week at USC's Good Karma Cafe. He was eager for me to do what I could in the faith community to spread the message of his recent book. And I'm eager to do so, because there is good theology lurking amid the wonky details of tax and spending policy in We Are Better Than This.

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May 4, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 725

IRS Logo 2Robert W. Wood (Forbes), IRS Approved Clinton Foundation And Scientology, But Targeted Tea Party:

Will there be an IRS investigation of the Clinton Foundation? Even suggesting it sounds laughable, for few can stand up to the Clintons, let alone to a Democratic administration. Besides, the IRS Exempt Organizations Division used to be run by Lois Lerner, and it isn’t clear how much has changed. In fact, we may never get to the bottom of the Tea Party targeting scandal. It almost looks as though the IRS will attack conservative groups but is silent on the Clinton Foundation. Heck, even Scientology got its IRS church status.

When it was revealed in 2013 that the IRS targeted conservative groups, the IRS Commissioner had to resign, but that was about it. Lois Lerner was at the center of the scandal but didn’t suffer any consequences. In fact, she got $129,000 in cash bonuses and retired with a full government pension. She evidently did a good job targeting at the Federal Election Commission, and then she moved over seamlessly to the IRS to do the same. Ms. Lerner is now out of the prosecutor’s eye with no criminal charges, nice bonuses, and a nice retirement. When she broke her silence to Politico, she said she did nothing wrong, claiming that she was the victim.

Given Mrs. Clinton’s email proclivities,Mrs. Clinton’s emails are even harder to find than Lois Lerner’s. And the Treasury Inspector General has just found 6,400 missing Lois Lerner emails. We surely will not see the IRS looking at the enormously wealthy Clinton Foundation, even though several watchdog groups suggest there’s something fishy there. First is the politics, since the tracking of who gives money and who needs something from Hillary’s State Department tracks closely.

In fact, a whopping 181 donors lobbied the State Department while Mrs. Clinton was there. Coincidence? Even apart from the political pay-for-play fears we may have, just look at the numbers. Charity Navigator says that the Clinton Foundation took in nearly $140 million in donations from individuals and groups. Boy, that must do a lot of good works, right?

Not so fast. It turns out that only approximately $9 million was paid out in direct aid. More than $130 million went to so-called ‘administrative and other expenses.’ Even if that is entirely on the up and up, it sure looks bad. If Clinton family members or friends end up with much of it, there could be a private inurement problem. Charities are supposed to benefit charitable goals, not line private pockets. ...

Perhaps there are undeleted emails about this on that private email server. The Foundation downplays the errors, noting that the money was included in the overall revenue figures reported to the IRS. Maybe, but the amendments are awkward, highlighting the Foundation’s continued receipt of foreign money while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. Besides, sometimes the IRS views amended tax returns as too little, too late. Lucky for Mrs. Clinton, as President Obama told Fox News, there is ’not even a smidgen of corruption’ at the IRS.

Even thinking the best of all of this, the Clinton Foundation’s administrative costs seem awfully high. Of course, we now know that the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation will be amending multiple years of tax returns. Upon becoming Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton promised that the Foundation would stop accepting donations from foreign governments. It turns out there were exceptions, and that the Foundation’s tax filings with the IRS were less than transparent.

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

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, May 3, 2015

New Mexico Dean Resigns After Two Years, Citing 'Poor Fit With Faculty'; New Dean Will Be Selected From Senior Faculty By July 1

HerringDavid Herring has resigned as Dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law after serving two years in the position:

“It’s just a poor fit between me and the law school faculty at this point,” Herring said. “I have certain goals that I articulated from the beginning when I joined this law school about two years ago. The faculty was excited about those goals but now they’ve changed their minds so it’s time to part ways.”

The goals he had highlighted were a “rigorous assessment of student learning outcomes” and to “create incentives for faculty to pursue interdisciplinary, empirical scholarship.”

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May 3, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

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

  1. [247 Downloads]  Can Sharing Be Taxed?, by Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane) & Diane M. Ring (Boston College)
  2. [199 Downloads]  Using the 'Smart Return' to Reduce Tax Evasion, by Joseph Bankman (Stanford), Clifford Nass (Stanford) & Joel Slemrod (Michigan)
  3. [188 Downloads]  The Historical Origins of the Debt-Equity Distinction, by Camden Hutchison (Wisconsin)
  4. [171 Downloads]  Scholarship Against Desire, by Shari Motro (Richmond)
  5. [126 Downloads]  Fairness and Taxation in a Globalized World, by Sigrid Hemels (Eramus)

May 3, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Remembering Dan Markel

MarkelIn Memoriam: Dan Markel, 42 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 1-15 (2015):

From Dan's father:

On April 26, 2015 we had the “Unveiling of the Headstone” for Dan.


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

The IRS Scandal, Day 724

IRS Logo 2Robert W. Wood (Forbes), IRS $20 Million Response To Latest Pile of Lois Lerner Emails Is Worrisome:

Lois Lerner’s latest lost and found hoard of 6,400 newly discovered emails may end up not showing much. The IRS didn’t find them. A watchdog did. Maybe they will underscore the targeting and Ms. Lerner’s political chops honed at the Federal Election Commission. But at least the Treasury Inspector General found the 6,400 additional emails. A little more than 10% (650) are tied to 2010 and 2011. The rest date to 2012.

But the IRS statement in response to this latest revelation is, well, a little disturbing:

We welcome the Inspector General’s recovery of these Lois Lerner emails. This is an encouraging development that will help resolve remaining questions and dispel uncertainty surrounding the emails.

The IRS has been committed to cooperating fully with the investigations. We understand that, during the course of the past 10 months, the Inspector General found about 650 emails from the period affected by the hard-drive crash. It’s important to note that last summer, the IRS produced 24,000 emails from that period.

The IRS will continue to cooperate with the Inspector General and the congressional committees to complete work in this area, and we look forward to the results to determine what additional steps the IRS can take to ensure that we continue to improve our processes.

It’s important to note that the IRS has produced to Congress more than 1.3 million pages of documents related to the investigation, including more than 147,000 emails. Total estimated cost of just the IRS portion is at least $20 million.

The IRS has not exactly seamlessly cooperated, and Mr. Koskinen who runs the IRS has had a prickly relationship with investigators and with Congress. He has sometimes appeared to be annoyed that he is being asked any questions at all. Of course, the IRS said in 2014 (a little late?) that Ms. Lerner’s computer crashed in 2011.

Oops, no one’s fault that we lost a few years worth of emails. We kept being reminded how hard the IRS looked and how terribly expensive it was that the IRS had to do this. Yet the inspector general found about 35,000 emails from recycled back-up tapes. It then turned out that the key IRS IT people weren’t even asked to look at back up tapes. Isn’t this a little insulting? ...

A spokesman for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said the committee hopes the new emails will bring the panel closer to releasing the findings of its IRS investigation. Wouldn’t some answers be nice?

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

Saturday, May 2, 2015

98% Of Harvard Law Faculty Political Donations Go To Democrats

Harvard 2015The Crimson, Harvard Faculty Donate to Democrats by Wide Margin:

Eighty-four percent of campaign contributions made by a group of 614 Harvard faculty, instructors, and researchers between 2011 and the third quarter of 2014 went to federal Democratic campaigns and political action committees, according to a Crimson analysis of Federal Election Commission filings.

During the three years, the Harvard affiliates represented in analyzed public filings gave nearly $3 million to federal campaigns and candidates. Each of Harvard’s schools leaned to the left in the contributions made by their affiliates, many by wide margins. Ninety-six percent of donations in the data set from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which includes Harvard College, supported Democratic efforts. That figure was even higher—nearly 98 percent—at Harvard Law School. Harvard Business School was the most Republican, with 37 percent of its contributions supporting Republicans and 62 percent going to Democrats.


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May 2, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

ABA Rejects Indy Tech's Accreditation; Law School Calls It A 'Temporary Setback'

Indiana Tech Law SchoolFort Wayne News Sentinel, Indiana Tech Law School Fails in First Bid for Accreditation:

An ABA committee has recommended against accreditation for Indiana Tech's two-year-old law school, but officials say the decision was not unusual and should represent only a temporary setback. ...

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

Slate: Is The Lost Generation Of Law School Graduates Still Lost?

Slate (2015)Slate:  Is the Lost Generation of Law School Graduates Still Lost?, by Jordan Weissmann:

The class of law school students who graduated immediately after the Great Recession is sometimes referred to as the industry's lost generation, thanks to the barren job market that left so many young J.D.'s struggling to find work. Of course, 2010 and 2011 weren't really a great time for anybody in the United States. But the legal business seemed to be experiencing a special sort of meltdown, with big firms laying off droves of young lawyers and rescinding offers to new recruits. Both because it appeared that law firms might be suffering a permanent correction—shrinking after having grown too quickly, too fast during the good times—and because firms tend to hire entry-level talent straight out of school, there was a sense that those whose careers had been derailed by the downturn might never recover.

So what happened next?

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 723

Friday, May 1, 2015

Barry Presents Tax Regulation, Transportation Innovation, and the Sharing Economy Today at Georgia

BarryJordan M. Barry (San Diego) presents Tax Regulation, Transportation Innovation, and the Sharing Economy, 82 U. Chi. L. Rev. Dialogue 69 (2015) (with Paul L. Caron (Pepperdine)) at the 6th Annual Meeting of the Association for Law, Property & Society (ALPS) today at the University of Georgia School of Law:

Many emerging companies’ business models center on helping consumers to share assets in new ways. This “sharing economy” has already experienced tremendous growth and attracted considerable investment capital and talent. Yet, as is often the case with economic innovations, existing regulatory structures have hindered the growth of the sharing economy, reducing its popularity and slowing its development.

This Article explores the tension between innovation and regulation, both in general and in a specific context: the intersection of the transportation sector of the sharing economy and the qualified transportation fringe benefit rules of Internal Revenue Code Section 132.

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May 1, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

Weekly Student Tax Notes Roundup

May 1, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ohio Supreme Court Strikes Down Cleveland’s ‘Jock Tax’

Jock TaxWall Street Journal, Ohio High Court Strikes Down Cleveland’s ‘Jock Tax’:

Ohio’s highest court on Thursday struck down Cleveland’s so-called “jock tax,” ruling that the city was excessively taxing visiting professional athletes using an illegal method to calculate their bills. ...

Mr. Hillenmeyer, a former Chicago Bears linebacker who retired in 2010, played one game a year in Cleveland — over a 20-game season — between 2004 and 2006. Cleveland applied its income tax to 5% (1/20) of his earnings.

The city taxed Mr. Saturday, a former center for the Indianapolis Colts, for a single game in Cleveland in 2008. In his case, he never stepped foot in the city but missed that game due to an injury. He owed money anyway because the city’s regulation applied the tax to any game in Cleveland “in which the athlete was excused from playing because of injury or illness.”

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May 1, 2015 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Former NFL Star Plaxico Burress Shoots Himself In Foot, Drops Tax Payment Ball

BurressFormer NFL star receiver, Plaxico Burress, who famously served time in prison after accidentally shooting himself in the leg in a nightclub in 2008, has been indicted in New Jersey on one count of issuing a bad check or electronic funds transfer and one count of willful failure to pay state tax in the amount of $47,903. The charges carry maximum sentences of five years in prison and a $15,000 fine. 

May 1, 2015 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

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

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 722

IRS Logo 2Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Status of Actions Taken to Improve the Processing of Tax‑Exempt Applications Involving Political Campaign Intervention:

In a prior audit, TIGTA found that ineffective management resulted in 1) inappropriate criteria being used to identify for review organizations applying for tax-exempt status based on names and policy positions instead of indications of political campaign intervention, 2) substantially delayed processing of certain applications, and 3) unnecessary information requests being issued.  Recommendations from the prior audit were made to help ensure that applications for tax-exempt status are processed in a fair, impartial, and timely manner.

The overall objective of this audit was to assess the IRS’s actions in response to TIGTA’s recommendations to improve the identification and processing of applications for tax-exempt status involving political campaign intervention.

The IRS has taken significant actions to eliminate the selection of potential political cases based on names and policy positions, expedite processing of Internal Revenue Code (I.R.C.) Section (§) 501(c)(4) social welfare organization applications, and eliminate unnecessary information requests. 

First, the IRS eliminated the use of Be On the Look Out (BOLO) listings, which TIGTA determined had contained inappropriate criteria regarding political advocacy cases.  TIGTA conducted interviews with a random sample of employees, who confirmed that BOLOs or similar listings were no longer being used.

Second, the Exempt Organizations function completed processing for 149 of the 160 applications for tax-exempt status that, as of December 2012, had been open for lengthy periods.  To expedite processing of I.R.C. § 501(c)(4) social welfare applications, the IRS developed an optional expedited self-certification process.  This expedited process is not available to other types of organizations, e.g., labor organizations and business leagues, with similar political campaign intervention limitations. 

Third, the IRS has developed preapproved questions and has instituted a quality review process to provide better assurance that unnecessary information requests are not sent to applicants. 

The Department of the Treasury is revising draft guidance to address how to measure the “primary activity” of social welfare organizations.  Until this guidance is finalized, the IRS does not have a clearly defined test for determining whether an organization’s request for exemption as a social welfare organization should be approved.  As a result, for those applicants not choosing the optional expedited process, the IRS continues to use a subjective facts and circumstances process.

Bloomberg, IRS May Be Trying to Stop Tax Exemption of Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS:

The IRS may be trying to block the tax exemption of one of the largest politically active nonprofit groups, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, an organization founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove.

The oblique disclosure can be found between the lines of an inspector general’s report released on Thursday, which said that 149 of 160 cases that had been stalled have been resolved. Of the other 11, six are in litigation with the IRS -- which Crossroads isn’t -- and the other five have received proposed denial letters or are appealing.

That suggests that the Internal Revenue Service has sent Crossroads a denial letter. Crossroads is one of the most politically involved nonprofit groups, and its bid for tax exemption is being closely watched by campaign-finance lawyers. ...

Crossroads applied for its tax exemption in September 2010.

Documents previously released by the House Ways and Means Committee showed that the IRS was drafting a denial letter to Crossroads in 2013, just before news broke of the controversy of the agency’s treatment of conservative groups.

Those documents list Crossroads among Tea Party groups that were being held up by the IRS and show that Lerner, the former IRS director of exempt organizations, was directly involved in asking about the group’s application.

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

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Brown Discusses Tax Fairness and the Racial Wealth Gap Today in Washington, D.C.

BannerDorothy Brown (Vice Provost, Emory) speaks on a panel on What's the Code Got to Do with It? Tax Fairness and the Racial Wealth Gap at the Color of Wealth Summit: The United States of Opportunity today at the Congressional Auditorium in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. (Program):

Out of the world’s top 22 industrialized countries, the United States has the highest level of wealth inequality after accounting for taxes and transfers. Despite redistributive measures such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the U.S. tax code and other transfers do less to address wealth inequality than has been commonly understood.

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

Do Prestigious Law Degrees Really Matter?

Inside Higher Ed, Do Prestigious Law Degrees Really Matter?:

Do prestigious law degrees really matter? Yes, according to a new study from Chris Rider, assistant professor of business strategy at Georgetown University, and Giacomo Negro, associate professor of organization and management at Emory University. The authors studied the career paths of 224 law firm partners after their prominent firm [Brobeck] failed and found that while as a group the partners were likely to accept new positions of lower status elsewhere, their individual success largely depended on where they'd earned their law degrees.

According to the study, published in Organizational Science, law partners who graduated from the most prestigious law schools were least likely to lose professional status as a result of the collapse of their firm -- likely because they were able to draw on a strong professional network and appeal more to clients to find new work. Quality and productivity, at least as measured by the graduates' precollapse compensation, wasn't a factor, the authors say. That's because the graduates of the most prestigious schools were not necessarily the highest paid.

Chris Rider (Georgetown Business School) & Giacomo Negro (Emory Business School), Organizational Failure and Intraprofessional Status Loss:

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April 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Davis: Mapping the Families of the Internal Revenue Code

Tessa R. Davis (South Carolina), Mapping the Families of the Internal Revenue Code, 22 Va. J. Soc. Pol'y & L. 179 (2015):

The Tax Code contains not one, but two conceptions of family. Existing scholarship does not address this puzzle but instead takes one of two views on the family—either the family is a tool for avoiding taxes or it is a source of discrimination. Current scholars, motivated by the discrimination concern, reject the relevance of kinship to tax and argue for an increased focus on the individual. This Article takes a different approach. Utilizing the “status” and “contract” distinctions familiar to family law scholars, it explains the puzzle of the multiple families in the Code, identifying the two families of the Code and their respective functions.

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

George Soros May Face a Monster $6.7 Billion U.S. Tax Bill

Soros 2Bloomberg, George Soros May Face a Monster Tax Bill:

George Soros likes to say the rich should pay more taxes. A substantial part of his wealth, though, comes from delaying them. While building a record as one of the world’s greatest investors, the 84-year-old billionaire used a loophole that allowed him to defer taxes on fees paid by clients and reinvest them in his fund, where they continued to grow tax-free. At the end of 2013, Soros—through Soros Fund Management—had amassed $13.3 billion through the use of deferrals, according to Irish regulatory filings by Soros.

Congress closed the loophole in 2008 and ordered hedge fund managers who used it to pay the accumulated taxes by 2017. A New York-based money manager such as Soros would be subject to a federal rate of 39.6 percent, combined state and city levies totaling 12 percent, and an additional 3.8 percent tax on investment income to pay for Obamacare, according to Andrew Needham, a tax partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Applying those rates to Soros’s deferred income would create a tax bill of $6.7 billion. That calculation is based on publicly available information such as the Irish regulatory filings, which provide only a partial glimpse into Soros’s finances. ....

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April 30, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Nussim & Tabbach: Tax-Loss Mechanisms

Jacob Nussim (Bar-Ilan University) & Avraham Tabbach (Tel-Aviv University), Tax-Loss Mechanisms, 81 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1509 (2014):

Business losses are a persistent reality and far from an insignificant economic phenomenon. They are disruptive for businesses and burdensome for tax authorities. This Article builds a theory of tax-loss-mechanism design and discusses its normative implications. Although income-tax laws in the United States and else-where conclusively adopt a loss-offset mechanism, economists often advocate that losses be governed by a tax-refundability regime. Tax scholars, on the other hand, largely ignore the question of the desirable tax-loss mechanism.

This Article constructs and applies an economic framework for analyzing three prominent tax mechanisms for the treatment of losses: offset, refundability, and transferability. The economic theory that we develop yields several new insights and results. We show that all three tax mechanisms diverge primarily by legal design choices rather than by any inherent feature, and therefore, contrary to the common understanding in the literature, any normative choice can be imple-mented through any of the three, setting aside implementation costs. The commonly perceived differences among these tax mechanisms are erroneously grounded in observations of existing tax rules; this has prevented scholars from envisioning a redesign according to policy preferences.

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

Harper: Law School Moral Hazard

Moral HazardSteven J. Harper (Adjunct Professor, Northwestern), Bankruptcy and Bad Behavior — The Real Moral Hazard: Law Schools Exploiting Market Dysfunction, 23 Am. Bankr. Inst. L. Rev. 347 (2015):

The widespread discussion about the market for law graduates ignores an essential fact: it's not a single market at all. Employment opportunities vary dramatically across schools, yet tuition prices fail to reflect those differences. As a consequence, many schools with the worst placement rates burden their students with the highest levels of educational debt. How is that possible?

The answer is market dysfunction. Current federal student loan and bankruptcy policies encourage all law school deans to maximize tuition and fill classrooms, regardless of their students' job prospects upon graduation. This law school moral hazard combines with prelaw students' unrealistic expectations about their legal careers to produce enormous debt for a JD degree that, for many graduates, does not even lead to a JD-required job.

This article proposes a way to identify three distinct law school submarkets [24 National Law Schools, 88 Regional Law Schools, 89 Problematic Law Schools]. Using those submarkets, it offers a plan to create a more functional market that enhances law school accountability, encourages meaningful price differences among schools based on outcomes, and spurs innovation.

Here are the 24 National Law Schools:

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April 30, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

ABA Releases Class of 2014 Law Graduate Employment Data

ABA Logo 2Following up on Saturday's post, Class of 2014 Law School Job Placement Rankings:  Press Release, ABA Releases Law Graduate Employment Data for Class of 2014:

Law schools reported a slight rise in the percentage of 2014 graduates obtaining entry-level jobs compared with 2013 and a slight decline in the total number of jobs, according to figures announced today by the American Bar Association's accrediting body. The two numbers are explained, in part, by the decrease in law school graduates from 2013 to 2014.

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar released aggregate national data on law graduate employment outcomes for the class of 2014 and posted individual schools' post-graduate employment figures online. An online table also provides select national side-by-side comparisons between the classes of 2014 and 2013.

The nation's 204 ABA-approved law schools reported that roughly 10 months after graduation, 31,160 graduates of the class of 2014, or 71 percent, were employed in long-term, full-time positions where bar passage is required or a J.D. is preferred. The 2014 figures break down as follows:

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April 30, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Blum: Migrants With Retirement Plans

Florida Tax ReviewCynthia A. Blum (Rutgers-Newark), Migrants with Retirement Plans: The Challenge of Harmonizing Tax Rules, 17 Fla. Tax Rev. 1 (2015):

Many countries seek to encourage retirement savings for their residents by offering tax preferences for privately-operated "qualified retirement plans." These tax preferences generally take the form of delaying taxation of contributions made to the plan and of the earnings thereon until funds are withdrawn by the participant during retirement. In a few cases, countries instead tax contributions immediately but forgo further tax. Because these rules encompass the tax treatment to be accorded throughout an individual’s lifetime, the individual is able to plan for retirement with some assurance of the eventual tax consequences. However, in recent years, it has become increasingly likely that an individual who has accumulated qualified retirement savings in one country will later migrate and retire in another country and, as a result, face unexpected tax consequences.

This Article examines (1) the tax rules commonly applied by the country of emigration in order to maintain its ability to tax a departing participant in a qualified plan, and (2) the tax rules commonly applied by the country of immigration when its new resident has accumulated savings in another country’s qualified plan. The Article then analyzes how the interaction of the two countries’ rules may lead to inappropriate tax consequences and administrative burdens. In addition, it considers the various ways that bilateral treaties and model tax treaties seek to ameliorate these concerns.

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

Fleming, Peroni & Shay: Formulary Apportionment in the U.S.

J. Clifton Fleming (BYU), Robert J. Peroni (Texas) & Stephen E. Shay (Harvard), Formulary Apportionment in the U.S. International Income Tax System: Putting Lipstick on a Pig?, 36 Mich. J. Int'l L. 1 (2015):

Perhaps surprisingly, this Article has shown that the debate over formulary apportionment is little more than an alternative path to the larger debate over worldwide taxation versus territorial taxation. The present U.S. international income tax regime for U.S. MNEs is an implicit, overly-generous, and incoherent quasi-territorial system that relies on residence rules, source rules, and the arm’s-length approach to apportion international business profits between domestic income that is currently taxable by the United States and foreign income that is effectively exempt, or nearly so, from U.S. taxation because of deferral and cross-crediting. This version of territoriality is quite ugly because it is highly complex and it imposes only modest restraints on the ability of U.S. MNEs to shift income out of the U.S. tax base to low-tax foreign countries.

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 721

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A J.D. Is The Sixth Best Graduate Degree For Jobs In 2015

Payscale LogoFortune, Best and Worst Graduate Degrees for Jobs in 2015:

PayScale crunched the numbers for Fortune and identified the grad degrees that lead to lucrative careers — and those that lead to high stress and low pay.

It’s that time of year when college graduates ponder their future plans, and those heading for more higher learning put down deposits for grad school tuition. In a knowledge economy, the pay gap is the widest it’s been in a generation, between those with more education, versus those with less. Which degrees are the best investment?

To determine the best and worst graduate degrees for jobs, Fortune consulted the careers site, PayScale. The site considered the full-range of graduate degrees, including Ph.D.s, master’s degrees, and law degrees.

The ranking is based upon these factors:

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April 29, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Ajay Mehrotra Named Director of American Bar Foundation

MehrotraAmerican Bar Foundation Names New Director:

The American Bar Foundation has announced that Ajay K. Mehrotra, Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Law at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, has been appointed Director of the American Bar Foundation, effective September 1, 2015. He is also appointed a full Research Professor at the ABF and will become a professor of law at Northwestern University School of Law. Mehrotra succeeds Robert L. Nelson, Director and MacCrate Chair in the Legal Profession and Professor of Sociology and Law at Northwestern University, who will return to full-time research and teaching.

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April 29, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tax Compliance As A Wicked System

WickedJ. T. Manhire (U.S. Treasury Department), Tax Compliance as a Wicked System:

This paper proposes a new typology and framework for tax compliance systems. Traditionally-competing approaches such as deterrence theory, behaviorist theory, and game theoretic models taken together suggest that tax compliance is perhaps a new type of system — a “wicked system” — that is only partially comprehensible by understanding the traditional theories alone. If correct, previously competing theories become simply different limiting cases of the same underlying “wicked system.” The paper concludes with a discussion of the framework’s limitations and presents initial solutions and challenges for future work.

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

Brookings Value-Added College Rankings

BrookingsBrookings Institution, Beyond College Rankings: A Value-Added Approach to Assessing Two- and Four-Year Schools (press release, report, FAQ):

New data and analysis of two - and four - year schools released today by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program provides fresh insight into how well colleges prepare students for high-paying careers.

The report is the first to develop measures of “value added” for a broad array of two- and four-year colleges. To do so, it analyzes data on economic outcomes for graduates of these institutions, adjusting them for the characteristics of their students at the time they are admitted, and other factors. The resulting measures capture the contributions that the colleges themselves make to their graduates’ eventual economic success. ... Compared to popular college rankings, the value-added method focuses on how well colleges contribute to student economic success, rather than simply their ability to attract top students.

Brookings ranked over 7,000 colleges.  The six four-year colleges with the biggest gap between  predicted and actual midcareer earnings for graduates are Cal-Tech, Carleton, Colgate, MIT, Rose-Hulman, and Washington & Lee:

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April 29, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Don't Law Professors Play Well With Others?

PlayMichael I. Meyerson (Baltimore), Law School Culture and the Lost Art of Collaboration: Why Don't Law Professors Play Well with Others?, 93 Neb. L. Rev. 547 (2015):

I have an Erdős number. Specifically, I have an Erdős number of 5. For the uninitiated, the concept of an “Erdős number” was created by mathematicians to describe how many “degrees of separation” an author of an article is from the great mathematician Paul Erdős. If you coauthored a paper with Erdős, you have an Erdős number of 1. If you coauthor a paper with someone with an Erdős number of 1, you have earned an Erdős number of 2. Coauthoring a paper with someone with an Erdős number of 2 gives you an Erdős number of 3, and so on.

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April 29, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

North Carolina Legislation Would Require All UNC Faculty To Teach Eight Courses Per Year

UNC LogoChronicle of Higher Education, N.C. Legislation Would Set teaching Load at 8 Courses a Year:

A bill introduced in late March in the North Carolina General Assembly has set college faculty members across the state abuzz with a bold suggestion:  Require all professors within the University of North Carolina system to teach at least eight courses each academic year.

Senate Bill 593, titled "Improve Professor Quality/UNC System," would reduce the salary of any professor who fails to hit that annual mark. ..

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April 29, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (20)

Why the NFL Gave Up Its Nonprofit Status: To Escape Scrutiny

NFLVox, Why the NFL Just Gave Up Its Nonprofit Status: To Escape Scrutiny:

For years, the NFL's tax-exempt status has been the subject of scrutiny and ridicule. To many people, the fact that a league headed by a commissioner making $44 million a year was categorized as a nonprofit was absurd.

On Tuesday, Richard Rubin at Bloomberg reports, the NFL has finally decided to shed its tax-exempt status. As a result, it will pay an estimated $10 million or so per year in taxes.

But it's important to put this number in the proper context: the league's teams pull in about $9.5 billion per year, nearly a thousand times as much. And since 2000, US taxpayers have spent an estimated $3.9 billion on stadiums for these teams.

The NFL's decision to give up its tax-exempt status isn't some noble recognition of the tax burden it's unfairly been shirking. It's a calculated move to pay a relatively small fee to avoid scrutiny and preempt possible Congressional action.

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April 29, 2015 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

McGinnis: The New Architecture of Legal Education

John O. McGinnis (Northwestern), The New Architecture of Legal Education:

One can think of higher education as providing three distinct services: transferring information and skills, signaling the quality of students to employers, providing professional networking opportunities for students.

Nothing better represents the decline of the first function than the plight of the university library. Historically, universities have flourished in part because of exclusive access to information, not just in the books they owned but also in the professors they employed. But their monopoly is fast eroding with the rise of the internet. Every year I have been at Northwestern, I have noticed fewer people in the library on my trip there. I now rarely cross its threshold myself: almost everything I need is available with a few keyboard strokes or mouse clicks. And, with its strict norms of silence and fragmented space, the library is not well-suited to networking. ...

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April 29, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Call for Papers: Global Conference on Environmental Taxation


The 16th Global Conference on Environmental Taxation to be held in Sydney, Australia  on September 23-26, 2015 has issued a Call for Papers:

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April 29, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Faculty Metro Area Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 720

IRS Logo 2Press Release, Statement By Senator John McCain on False Reports on IRS Targeting:

A recent press release by Judicial Watch sparked a series of online reports falsely claiming that my office was somehow involved in the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups – reports that are demonstrably untrue and totally contradicted by my all of my actions over the past several years on this issue.

“These reports ignore the fact that I released a 37-page dissenting report last September refuting the Democrats’ Majority Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) report claiming the IRS showed no bias against conservative groups. Media coverage at the time noted that I was in total disagreement with Senate Democrats on the issue of whether the IRS targeted conservative groups. ...

Like so many Americans, I was shocked and appalled by revelations that the IRS inappropriately singled out conservative groups for scrutiny, and that our tax system was used to target political opponents. “As Ranking Member of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, I devoted significant time and resources to help get to the bottom of this disturbing abuse of power by the IRS. Any article suggesting otherwise is simply wrong, and ignores the facts of my actions over the last several years.

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April 29, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tom Brennan Leaves Northwestern For Harvard

BrennanThomas Brennan (Northwestern) has accepted a tenured lateral offer from Harvard, effective July 2015:

Also trained as a mathematician, Brennan focuses his research on the use of finance and economics to analyze and inform tax policy, as well as the use of empirical methods to investigate the effects of tax laws and the strategic behavior of taxpayers. In addition, he analyzes how finance and economics can inform other areas of the law, with a recent focus on regulations designed to limit risk, and he applies mathematical methods to gain insight into the theory of finance.

“Tom is a triple-threat: his detailed knowledge of contemporary finance and tax, his talent for integrating doctrinal and empirical studies, and his teaching each reveal meticulous and rigorous work and imagination,” said Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law School. “His rigorous, empirical study of a wide range of subjects – from tax law to judicial decisions – yields important analyses of policy effectiveness and powerful lessons for law students, practitioners, policymakers, and scholars. Plus his generosity and kindness pervade his teaching and his collegiality. We are thrilled to welcome this wonderful alum to our faculty.”

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April 28, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

Schizer Presents Energy Tax Expenditures Today at NYU

Schizer (2016)David M. Schizer (Columbia) presents Energy Tax Expenditures: Worthy Goals, Competing Priorities, and Flawed Institutional Design at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Viard:

Part I outlines the environmental, national security, and economic goals of energy tax expenditures.  Part II discusses how empirical uncertainty and heterogeneity complicate efforts to pursue these objectives.  Part III considers challenges that arise because of conflicts in our goals.  Part IV canvasses the political economy advantages of subsidies over Pigouvian taxes, and offers suggestions about how to make Pigouvian taxes more politically palatable.  Part V surveys five institutional design challenges that arise under currently law – most of which are more acute with subsidies than with Pigouvian taxes – and offers suggestions about how to mitigate them.  Part VI is the conclusion.

April 28, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Symposium: The 100th Anniversary of the Income Tax

NYLSSymposium, The 100th Anniversary of the Revenue Act of 1913: Marking a Century of Income Tax Law in the United States, 59 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 261-420 (2014):

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April 28, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)