TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sunstein:  The World According to Star Wars—Lessons On Faith, Fathers & Feminism

SunsteinCass Sunstein (Harvard), The World According to Star Wars (May 31, 2016):

There’s Santa Claus, Shakespeare, Mickey Mouse, the Bible, and then there’s Star Wars. Nothing quite compares to sitting down with a young child and hearing the sound of John Williams’s score as those beloved golden letters fill the screen. In this fun, erudite, and often moving book, Cass R. Sunstein explores the lessons of Star Wars as they relate to childhood, fathers, the Dark Side, rebellion, and redemption. As it turns out, Star Wars also has a lot to teach us about constitutional law, economics, and political uprisings.

In rich detail, Sunstein tells the story of the films’ wildly unanticipated success and explores why some things succeed while others fail. Ultimately, Sunstein argues, Star Wars is about freedom of choice and our never-ending ability to make the right decision when the chips are down. Written with buoyant prose and considerable heart, The World According to Star Wars shines a bright new light on the most beloved story of our time.

Continue reading

June 5, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1123

IRS Logo 2Fox News op-ed:  The Case for Impeaching the IRS Commissioner, by Jim Jordan (R-OH) & Ron DeSantis (R-FL):

Civil servants like Mr. Koskinen have historically been held to a higher standard than private citizens because they have fiduciary obligations to the public. Under Mr. Koskinen’s leadership, the IRS has breached these basic fiduciary responsibilities.

Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 65 that the power to impeach a civil servant would protect the public against “the abuse or violation of some public trust.” At nearly every turn, Koskinen both abused his power and violated the public’s trust in the IRS.

For years, the IRS abused its far-reaching power to systematically target groups based on their political views—a fundamental violation of American citizens’ First Amendment rights. 

In response to mass public outcry over this abuse of power, Congress called Lois Lerner, then-director of the IRS’s exempt-organizations unit, to explain her agency’s actions. Instead, she pled the Fifth Amendment.

Since the revelation that the IRS systematically targeted conservatives for years based on their beliefs, the agency—under Koskinen’s watch—has done virtually nothing to reform internal protocol to ensure that every Americans’ First Amendment rights are protected.

A Government Accountability Office report found that no significant measures have been implemented to ensure that civil servants at the IRS don’t unlawfully target Americans based on their political or religious views.

Congress has the duty to hold Commissioner Koskinen accountable for failing to live up to his obligations of service to the American people. As even President Obama has said, we must help restore confidence going forward.

Continue reading

June 5, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

InfiLaw And The Three Myths Used to Justify Predatory Law School Admission Practices

InfiLaw (2016)David Frakt (Law Office of David Frakt, Orlando, FL), Three Myths Used to Justify Predatory Admission Practices — The Instructive Example of InfiLaw:

For some time now, I have been warning of the catastrophic consequences of admitting students with very poor LSAT scores and correspondingly low grades because such students are at very high risk of failing the bar even if they manage to make it through law school.  The plummeting bar passage statistics from the last several administrations of the bar exam have borne out these warnings.

The Law Schools engaged in these irresponsible admission practices have offered a variety of explanations for admitting significant numbers of students with very low indicators.  These explanations of what are really exploitative admission practices typically fall into three general categories or themes, which I call the “Magic Formula Myth” the “Miracle Worker Myth” and the “Fairness Through Failure Myth.” Often, predatory law schools will use these themes in combination. ...

Continue reading

June 4, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

The Politics Of A Universal Basic Income: WSJ For, NY Times Against

BasicFollowing up on my previous post, Interest In Negative Income Tax Spreads: 'Freeing The World Of Bullshit Jobs'

Wall Street Journal Saturday Essay:  A Guaranteed Income for Every American, by Charles Murray (American Enterprise Institute):

When people learn that I want to replace the welfare state with a universal basic income, or UBI, the response I almost always get goes something like this: “But people will just use it to live off the rest of us!” “People will waste their lives!” Or, as they would have put it in a bygone age, a guaranteed income will foster idleness and vice. I see it differently. I think that a UBI is our only hope to deal with a coming labor market unlike any in human history and that it represents our best hope to revitalize American civil society.

Continue reading

June 4, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Anatomy Of The Hit On Dan Markel

Tallahassee Democrat, Anatomy of a Hit:

TD

Above the Law, More Details From The Dan Markel Murder Investigation, Plus A Closer Look At The Adelson Family:

A second suspect in the killing — Luis Rivera, who allegedly carried out the killing with Sigfredo Garcia — is already in custody, on separate federal charges. ...

Chief DeLeo did say more arrests are likely. He declined to comment on the Adelsons, except to say with a smirk, when asked if he knew their whereabouts, “We aren’t on speaking terms.”

So let’s talk about the Adelsons. Based on the emails and texts we’ve received from readers, they are a subject of great public interest right now.

It’s important to note what law enforcement authorities do not allege about the Adelsons (at least at this point in the investigation). The affidavit claims that Charles Adelson “was involved in a personal relationship” around the time of the murder with one Katherine Magbanua, who happens to be the mother of the two children of Sigfredo Garcia, one of the alleged killers. The affidavit does not allege that Wendi Adelson knew about Dan Markel’s killing in advance or had any involvement in it (and in my story yesterday, I cited some evidence suggesting a lack of knowledge by Wendi). The affidavit also does not allege advance knowledge or involvement by Wendi and Charlie Adelson’s parents, Donna Sue Adelson and Dr. Harvey J. Adelson.

It is possible, of course, that members of the Adelson family in addition to Charlie Adelson had knowledge of or involvement with the alleged plot (or acquired knowledge at some point in the almost two years since Dan Markel’s death). But as of now, investigators do not make such allegations. ...

In terms of where they are now, Wendi joined Dan on the FSU faculty, but resigned from her post as a clinical professor in January 2015. As we mentioned yesterday, she was not eligible for tenure, so one can understand why she wanted to leave FSU and Tallahassee; there wasn’t much keeping her there after her divorce from Markel, finalized in 2013. She moved back to South Florida, where her parents and brother live, and currently clerks for Judge Adalberto Jordan of the Eleventh Circuit. ...

As for the other three Adelsons — Dr. Harvey Adelson, Donna Adelson, and Dr. Charlie Adelson — they continue to work at their South Florida dental practice, the Adelson Institute for Aesthetics and Implant Dentistry. The Institute’s elaborate website features video footage of the Doctors Adelson. ...

[Donna Adelson's] ... access to her grandchildren, the two sons of Wendi Adelson and Dan Markel, was going to be litigated at a hearing that was scheduled [and was] going to take place had Markel not been murdered; Markel claimed that Donna Adelson was saying negative things about him to her grandkids. ... The hearing had been continued, and no new date had been set when Markel was killed.

Tallahassee Democrat, Markel Case Surely Will Satisfy Our Infatuation With Crime:

While [Chief] DeLeo wouldn’t go into detail, he did make clear that the fallout from the couple’s divorce, including Markel’s infighting with his estranged mother-in-law; the custody battle over the children and money, are summed up as “a motivating factor in this murder.”

Tallahassee Democrat, TPD Concerned Other Markel Suspects May Flee:

Tallahassee Police didn’t want details of their case against a Miami man arrested in Dan Markel’s killing to be made public for fear other suspects in the murder-for-hire scheme might flee the U.S., court documents show.

“Suspected co-defendants have the financial means to flee the country and to not return, and in fact, have already been discovered talking about leaving,” TPD’s legal counsel Theresa Flury wrote in a May 26 motion that successfully sought to have Sigfredo Garcia’s arresting documents sealed. ...

Chiefly, the document appears to implicate family members of Markel’s ex-wife Wendi Adelson – her brother Charles Adelson and mother Donna Adelson – as being involved in the murder plot. Charles Adelson and his father run a cosmetic dentistry practice in Ft. Lauderdale, where his mother also works.

Continue reading

June 4, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1122

IRS Logo 2Washington Examiner, IRS: White House Never Asked for Secret Information on Taxpayers:

The White House never requested any secret taxpayer information from the IRS, the tax agency said in a sworn statement filed with a federal court on Friday, hoping to put to rest lingering questions about whether political operatives tried to peek at confidential records.

IRS lawyer Sarah Tate said she searched all of the likely places where such requests would have been catalogued and concluded that the White House “has never requested or received return information of any taxpayer.” ...

[C]onservative groups had suspected a release had happened after a top White House economic official seemed to discuss the tax status of Koch Industries in 2010. They demanded the IRS disclose whether the White House had ever requested information about Koch or any other taxpayer.

The IRS’s inspector general conducted an investigation but refused to say what it found, so Cause of Action, a pressure group, filed an open-records request and eventually sued the IG and the IRS itself in 2012, demanding they release records.

A federal judge ruled that the IRS did have to search for any records, and the tax agency finally complied earlier this year, leading to Friday’s court filing.

Continue reading

June 4, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Friday, June 3, 2016

Former Ohio Attorney General/Lieutenant Governor Named Interim Dean At Cleveland-Marshall Law School

FischerPress Release, Lee Fisher Named Interim Dean of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law:

Lee Fisher, former Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General of Ohio, has been appointed Interim Dean of Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law for the 2016-17 academic year.  Fisher will continue to enhance the law school’s academic reputation, while building on the innovative efforts Cleveland-Marshall has recently developed to enhance career readiness for its graduates and promote greater connectivity with the Cleveland community. ...

Continue reading

June 3, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

Continue reading

June 3, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

Today's Law, Society & Taxation Panels

L&SToday's Law, Society, and Taxation panels at the 2016 Law & Society Association Annual Meeting in New Orleans (program here):

  • Panel #6:  Inequality
  • Panel #7:  International Tax Issues
  • Panel #8:  Retirement
  • Panel #9:  Theory and Jurisprudence

Panel #6:  Inequality (Toni Robinson (Quinnipiac), Chair/Discussant))

  • Daniel Hemel (Chicago), Taxation and House Price Risk
  • Michelle Layser (Georgetown), How We Can Win the Tax War on Poverty: Looking Beyond Efficiency to Design a More Effective Low Income Housing Tax Credit
  • Francine Lipman (UNLV) & Matthew Bruenig (Demos.org), De/reconstructing Poverty
  • Goldburn Maynard (Louisville), America’s “Ideal Vision” for the Distribution of Wealth by Race

Panel #7: International Tax Issues (Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane), Chair/Discussant)

Continue reading

June 3, 2016 in Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Merritt:  Job Prospects For Doctors, Lawyers And Software Developers

Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), Doctors, Lawyers & Software Developers:

I wrote earlier this week about employment trends for doctors and lawyers. There is a third occupation that now vies with these professions for the affections of talented college graduates: software developer. Examining this occupation explains where some might-have-been lawyers are headed. ...

By 2006, the number of computer specialists had grown more than eight-fold to 3,200,000. That category included computer and information scientists, programmers, software engineers, systems analysts, and many others. Notably, the category of software engineers alone had grown to 857,000 workers.

In contrast, there were only 761,000 lawyers and 633,000 doctors practicing in 2006. The number of software developers already exceeded the number of workers in each of these traditional occupations–and that was during the supposed boom years of our profession.

Continue reading

June 3, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Roberts: A Structural Examination Of Energy Tax Subsidies

Tracey M. Roberts (UC-Hastings), Picking Winners and Losers: A Structural Examination of Tax Subsidies to the Energy Industry, 41 Colum. J. Envtl. L. 63 (2016):

The shibboleth that “government should not be picking winners and losers” has dominated the public discourse over renewable energy subsidies. This way of framing the debate ignores the nation’s long history of support for fossil fuels and obscures the economic theory behind the subsidies. This article contributes to the discussion in four ways.

Continue reading

June 3, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Harrison:  Are Law Schools (And Law Professors) Like Trump University?

Trump UniversityJeffrey Harrison (Florida), Trump University, Law Schools, and Law Professors: Snark in the Water:

I was going to write a really snarky blog about how much law school recruiting looks like it was designed by Donald Trump. I am not going to do that. After all, he lured people into paying. Law schools, nowadays, pay people to come. ...

I noticed that the web page for my own school it says "renowed faculty" as do the pages for other schools. ... [W]hile not true it does not rise to Trumpian levels.

How about employment data. You announce that 90% of your students get jobs but not that you hire a couple dozen and when the rating agencies refused to count them as employed you dropped them. This is very clearly Trumpian. It's a version of cooking the books. ...

Continue reading

June 3, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1121

IRS Logo 2U.S. News & World Report:  The IRS Impeachment Farce: Republicans Are Just Scoring Political Points, Not Actually Trying to Improve the Tax Collecting Agency, by Pat Garofalo (Assistant Managing Editor, U.S. News & World Report):

For years now, House Republicans have been waging a seemingly endless crusade to bring the IRS to heel for, well, something or other.

Once upon a time, the foundation of the case against America's tax collecting agency was that it had allegedly singled out for undue scrutiny conservative groups that were applying for tax-exempt status. Any actual principles at stake, though, have long since been lost among a haze of accusations, subpoenas, faux hearings, contempt votes and, currently, an attempt to impeach IRS chief John Koskinen, who was not even an IRS employee at the time of the misdeeds Republicans are apparently so irate about.

There were assuredly some bad decisions made by the IRS back before the "targeting" issue broke, though the context at the time – a flood of applications from tea party-type organizations supposedly incensed at Obama-era policy, alongside more and more money pouring into the political system following the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling – lends credence to the theory that the "targeting" was more about clunky attempts at efficiency than partisan politicking. If that episode had ended in something productive, though, then fair enough. The whole brouhaha might have done a bit of good.

But the GOP's current actions leave little doubt that, if there was ever an actual issue worth highlighting here, it has long since been eclipsed by electoral point-scoring at the expense of an arm of the government that's very easy to turn into a political punching bag.

Continue reading

June 3, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (13)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Police: Dan Markel Was Killed In Murder-For-Hire Plot Orchestrated By Ex-Wife's Brother

MarkelNational Law Journal, Florida Law Professor Killed in Murder-for-Hire, Police Say:

Florida investigators believe law professor Dan Markel was murdered in 2014 by two convicted felons hired by his ex-wife’s brother.

In a newly unsealed probable-cause affidavit, police said that “a desperate desire” by the family of Markel’s ex-wife to move the couple’s two children from Tallahassee to Miami was the motive of murder suspect Sigfredo Garcia, arrested last week for Markel’s murder. ...

Continue reading

June 2, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Lederman Presents Does Enforcement Crowd Out Voluntary Tax Compliance? At Oxford And Vienna

Ledderman (2016)Leandra Lederman (Indiana-Bloomnington) presented Does Enforcement Crowd Out Voluntary Tax Compliance? at Oxford University's Saïd Business School and Vienna University of Economics and Business:

Governments commonly use deterrence methods, such as audits and the imposition of penalties, to foster compliance with tax laws. Although this approach is consistent with economic modeling of tax compliance, some scholars caution that deterrence may backfire, “crowding out” intrinsic motivations to pay taxes and thus reducing compliance. This article analyzes the evidence to date to determine the extent of such an effect. Field studies suggest that deterrence tools, such as audits, generally are highly effective at increasing tax collections but that crowding out may occur in some contexts, with respect to certain subgroups of taxpayers.

Continue reading

June 2, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dynamic Scoring May Inject Joint Tax Committee Into Partisan Tax Wars

StaticPolitico:  The Man Who Could Dash the GOP's Tax Dreams: An Economist for a Little-Known Congressional Office Is Getting Pulled Into the Partisan Fight Over Dynamic Scoring. Things Could Get Ugly., by Brian Faler:

The chairmen of the House and Senate tax-writing committees are preparing what they say will be major tax-reform proposals, and both are looking to an obscure congressional agency to make the numbers work.

This normally would be a fairly straightforward task. This year, however, will be different: Republicans now require Congress’ nonpartisan budget analysts to use dynamic scoring — that is, factoring in possible economic benefits of tax cuts considering their effect on the budget.

And that means that very soon, a bunch of people will get mad at Tom Barthold, the Harvard-trained economist heading the little-known Joint Committee on Taxation, which will decide how much the lawmakers’ proposals will cost. He is not looking forward to it. ...

Continue reading

June 2, 2016 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Importance Of Qualitative Assessment In Complementing Quantitative Measures Of Mid-Career Scholarly Performance

Mid-CareerFrank Pasquale (Maryland), Scholarship and Mid-Career Self-Assessments: A Brief Reflection on Simkovic’s What Can We Learn from Credit Markets?:

Chris J. Walker has written a very helpful series of posts for young professors on “how to become a voice in one’s field.” ... I also think that we can learn a great deal from the content of successful scholars’ inquiry. Usually, researchers only undertake this type of self-reflection when applying for jobs and preparing research agendas (a mostly private process), or at the end of a career (when a long list of accomplishments may seem too daunting to be relatable to younger peers). But winners of the ALI Young Scholars Medal appear to get invited to give a public talk on their work at an earlier stage of inquiry. Mike Simkovic (whose work I’ve previously praised here) gave such an address in May. ...

Continue reading

June 2, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Warned Obama It Was Illegal To Pay ObamaCare Subsidies To Insurance Companies

Following up on yesterday's post, NY Times: In Secret Meeting At White House, IRS Officials Pressed On ObamaCare Subsidies:  The Week, The IRS Warned Obama It Was Illegal to Pay ObamaCare Subsidies to Insurance Companies:

[I]n a sworn deposition newly made public, the IRS's Chief Risk Officer David Fisher told the House Ways and Means Committee that he had raised concerns to the Obama administration in 2014 when it was about to authorize subsidies to insurance companies as part of ObamaCare, a move which a judge ruled was illegal in early May.

Continue reading

June 2, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Indiana Tech Law School's First 20 Graduates Face Pressure To Be Exemplary Attorneys

Indiana Tech (2016)Indiana Lawyer, Indiana Tech Law School Graduates Under Pressure to be Exemplary Attorneys:

The 20 graduates who walked across the commencement stage May 14 and received their J.D. degrees were part of a historic day for Indiana Tech Law School as they were the first to graduate from the state’s fifth law school.

But faculty and graduates acknowledged that the graduation, while a significant milestone, is not the end of their work.

Continue reading

June 2, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

99-Year-Old Former IRS Commissioner Mortimer Caplin On Life And Taxes

CaplinWall Street Journal, Q&A: 99-Year-Old Former IRS Commissioner Mortimer Caplin on Life and Taxes:

Mortimer Caplin has been watching the drama around the Internal Revenue Service since 2013 with the perspective of someone who has seen it all before, because he has. Mr. Caplin, who will turn 100 years old in July, ran the U.S. tax agency from 1961 to 1964 before becoming a founding member of the Caplin & Drysdale law firm in Washington.

He spoke to Real Time Economics about the IRS and how tax law has changed over time. Here are excerpts from the conversation:

Continue reading

June 2, 2016 in IRS News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Today's Law, Society & Taxation Panels

L&SToday's Law, Society, and Taxation panels at the 2016 Law & Society Association Annual Meeting in New Orleans (program here):

  • Panel #1:  Business Taxes
  • Panel #2:  Controversies in Theory and Practice
  • Panel #3:  Comparative Tax Issues
  • Panel #4:  Evasion and Compliance
  • Panel #5:  Deterrence and Enforcement

Panel #1:  Business Taxes (Diane Ring (Boston College), Chair/Discussant))

  • Karie Davis-Nozemack (Georgia Tech), The Conceptual Incompatibility of Corporate Tax Avoidance with CSR and Stakeholder Theory
  • Calvin Johnson (Texas), A Conceptual Framework for Capital Gains
  • Melina Rocha Lukic & José Roberto Afonso (Fundacao Getulio Vargas), An Empirical Analysis of the Allowance for Corporate Equity (ACE) System in Brazil
  • Doron Narotzki (Akron), Corporate Social Responsibility and Taxation: The Next Step of the Evolution, 16 Hous. Bus. & Tax J. 167 (2016)

Panel #2:  Controversies in Theory and Practice (Philip Hackney (LSU), Chair/Discussant)

Continue reading

June 2, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Villanova Hosts Symposium Today On Tax Policy And The 2016 Election

Villanova Grad Tax Program LogoThe Villanova Graduate Tax Program hosts its inaugural tax policy symposium today on Fundamental Tax Reform and Tax Policy Issues in Election Year 2016:

Welcome:  Edward A. Liva (Professor of Practice and Director, Villanova Graduate Tax Program)

Continue reading

June 2, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

16th Annual Oregon Tax Institute

OregonThe 16th Annual Oregon Tax Institute kicks off today in Portland.  Tax Prof speakers include:

  • Howard Abrams (San Diego), Partnership Leveraged Distributions: Traps Getting In and Tips on Getting Out

Continue reading

June 2, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS Releases Spring 2016 SOI Bulletin

The IRS Scandal, Day 1120

IRS Logo 2Politico, How the GOP Effort to Oust IRS Chief Could Backfire, by Rachel Bade & Katy O'Donnell:

For over a year, House conservatives have been clamoring to remove IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. But now that the impeachment process is moving forward, they face a delicate decision: Are they willing to toss 200-plus years of precedent to bring him down?

If House conservatives press ahead with an impeachment of the embattled tax chief, they’d be voting to remove a relatively low-level executive-branch leader for one of the most minor offenses in American history, several impeachment experts told Politico. That decision could, effectively, lower the threshold for congressional punishment of an executive-branch authority from here on out — and ensure a wave of new proceedings against government officials who have tangled with Congress in the past.

Impeachment has typically been used to punish treason, bribery and other “high crimes” in the top echelons of government. But Koskinen’s impeachment — based on an argument that he failed to comply with a congressional subpoena — would effectively expand that definition to include gross incompetence.

It’s never been done before.

“Nobody has ever been impeached for what we’ll call ‘gross negligence.’ … It has never, in our entire history, despite all the partisan difference, been the basis for impeachment in the past,” said North Carolina School of Law professor Michael Gerhardt, an impeachment expert who has testified before Congress on the matter.

And that, experts say, could touch off a rash of impeachment proceedings, as Hill investigators line up to take on other agency heads who have crossed them. ...

[A]n impeachment of Koskinen, even just in the House, would be rare. Almost all the officials the House has acted against were judges. And two — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton — were presidents. Only once, 140 years ago, in 1876, did the House move to impeach an agency chief, Secretary of War William Belknap, on charges of corruption.

Even then, Belknap was an official Cabinet member, unlike Koskinen, and Congress’ historical-research arm suggests that there’s still an open question about whether Congress can impeach someone below the Cabinet level.

“A question which precedent has not thus far addressed is whether Congress may impeach and remove subordinate, non-Cabinet level executive branch officials,” reads a Congressional Research Service study on impeachment from last October. “Historical precedent provides no examples of the impeachment power being used against lower-level executive officials.”

Experts think the House can easily get around that argument to make the case that Koskinen may be impeached, even though impeaching an executive below the presidential level is unusual.

But outside experts say the actual case against Koskinen is relatively weak — and troubling as a precedent. The House Judiciary Committee is slated to debate the case in the coming days.

Republicans have two key arguments against Koskinen: that he failed to comply with a subpoena and misled Congress. On Koskinen’s watch, lower-level IRS employees deleted backup tapes that were central to a congressional investigation about the way conservative groups were treated at the IRS — well after Congress asked for them.

While some conservatives suspect a coverup, the best case they can argue against him is that Koskinen did not do the responsible thing in ensuring all his people understood top-level instructions that they were supposed to preserve those files.

He also failed to notify Congress about the issue for more than four months, something Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has argued amounts to lying. ...

[E]xperts still aren’t sure that gross mismanagement constitutes a “high crime.” Gerhardt said it could, but only if the House can prove some sort of ill will or bad intent on Koskinen’s part.

“If someone were acting in good faith and made a mistake … we don’t use impeachment for that. But if someone was deliberately trying to obstruct justice like, say [President] Richard Nixon, then we say, OK, that’s bad intent and bad misconduct, providing the right level for impeachment,” he said.

The problem, he continued, is that Congress has to prove ill will, and he’s not sure it can do that in Koskinen’s case.

Continue reading

June 2, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Congratulations To The Newest Pepperdine Members Of The California Bar

Bar

June 1, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump Reaps Huge Tax Break By Moving Trademarks To Delaware

TrumpBloomberg:  Trump Gets Chance for Tax Cut Moving Trademarks to Delaware, by Lynnley Browning:

As Donald Trump prepared for the Republican primaries, he transferred dozens of his most prized assets, the “Trump” trademarks that adorn everything from hotels to ties to his U.S. golf courses, into a new Delaware-based company — a move that offers him a chance to cut his income-tax bills.

Continue reading

June 1, 2016 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

U.S. News Law School Rankings:  Yield

2017 U.S. News LogoU.S. News & World Report, 10 Law Schools Where the Most Accepted Students Enroll:

Yale University, which ranks No. 1 in the 2017 Best Law Schools, topped the list of ranked ​institutions with the highest yield​—the percentage of accepted students who enrolled—at 74.3 percent in fall 2015. ... Harvard University, which ranked in a tie for No. 2 among top law schools, was third on the list with a yield of 60.4 percent. ...

​​Not all schools on the list were as highly ranked. Brigham Young University, where 68.8 percent of admitted students enrolled and which ranks No. 38, came second after Yale. The school, which is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,​ offers discounted tuition to members of the church.

School Accepted Enrolled Yield U.S. News Rank
1.  Yale 269 200 74.3% 1
2.  BYU 186 128 68.8% 38 (tie)
3.  Harvard 931 562 60.4% 2 (tie)
4.  Southern 408 210 51.5% RNP*
5.  UNLV 224 104 46.4% 78 (tie)
6.  Indiana—Indianapolis 562 254 45.2% 100 (tie)
7.  Liberty​  113 51 45.1% RNP
8.  UMKC 314 140 44.6% 123 (tie)
9.  Arkansas—Little Rock 266 115 43.2% 136 (tie)
10.  N. Carolina Central 473 199 42.1% RNP

Continue reading

June 1, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Ranking The States By Fiscal Condition, From Top (AK, NE, WY) To Bottom (CT, MA, NJ)

George Mason University Mercatus Center, Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition, 2016 Edition:

A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University ranks each US state’s financial health based on short- and long-term debt and other key fiscal obligations, such as unfunded pen­sions and healthcare benefits. This 2016 edition updates the version the Mercatus Center pub­lished in 2015. Using the approach pioneered in 2015, the 2016 edition presents information from each state’s audited financial report in an easily accessible format, this time including Puerto Rico to provide a benchmark of poor fiscal performance.

Mercatus

Continue reading

June 1, 2016 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (8)

Yale:  Anti-Basis

Ethan Yale (Virginia), Anti-Basis, 94 N.C. L. Rev. 485 (2015):

Anti-basis is the untaxed benefit enjoyed by a taxpayer when a liability or obligation is incurred. In the business context, the untaxed benefit is an increase in asset basis or a tax deduction. In the personal context, the untaxed benefit might take one of those forms, or it might be (nondeductible) personal consumption. A well-functioning income tax system must keep track of any such untaxed benefit. If the liability from which the benefit derived is avoided by the taxpayer, the prior untaxed benefit must be taken into income (or must reduce basis). If there was no prior untaxed benefit relating to a liability, exceptions are necessary to various rules requiring income recognition (or basis reduction) on discharge or shifting of liabilities.

Continue reading

June 1, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Schmalbeck & Soled:  Unifying Depreciation Recapture

Richard L. Schmalbeck (Duke) & Jay A. Soled (Rutgers), Unifying Depreciation Recapture, 48 Conn. L. Rev. 531 (2015):

To achieve fairness and accuracy, an income tax system must accomplish two objectives: allow depreciation deductions for the erosion in the value of assets used to produce income, and correct errors that may result from excessive depreciation allowances. The Internal Revenue Code currently fares well in accomplishing the first objective but conspicuously fails to achieve the second.

Continue reading

June 1, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

SLU Law School 'Right-Sizes' By 47% Enrollment Reduction, 5 Faculty Buyouts; Faculty May View Consultant's Report Only In Presence Of Dean's Assistant After Signing NDA

St. Louis (2016)St. Louis Post-Dispatch, SLU Law School Redefines Itself:

Three years after moving downtown, people in the know say SLU’s law school is a different institution than the one formerly housed on the Midtown campus.

It has quietly reduced staff and bought out faculty members as the number of students has declined to 502 in 2015 from 954 in 2010.

Continue reading

June 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (4)

The 69 Most-Cited Law Faculties (And The Most-Cited Tax Faculty At Those Schools)

Gregory C. Sisk (University of St. Thomas) et al.,  Scholarly Impact of Law School Faculties in 2015: Updating the Leiter Score Ranking for the Top Third, 12 U. St. Thomas L.J. 100 (2015):

This study explores the scholarly impact of law faculties, ranking the top third of ABA-accredited law schools. Refined by Professor Brian Leiter, the “Scholarly Impact Score” for a law faculty is calculated from the mean and the median of total law journal citations over the past five years to the work of tenured members of that law faculty. In addition to a school-by-school ranking, we report the mean, median, and weighted score, along with a listing of the tenured law faculty members at each ranked law school with the ten highest individual citation counts.

1.   Yale
2.   Harvard
3.   Chicago
4.   NYU
5.   Stanford
6.   UC-Irvine
7.   Columbia
8.   Duke
9.   Vanderbilt, UC-Berkeley
11.  Pennsylvania
12.  Northwestern
13.  Cornell, UCLA
15.  Michigan, Georgetown
17.  Virginia, George Washington
19.  Minnesota
20.  Texas
21.  George Mason, Washington University, Boston University
24.  UC-Davis
25.  Case Western, Notre Dame
27.  Illinois, Emory
29.  Cardozo, Arizona, Colorado, Ohio State
33.  North Carolina, Brooklyn
35.  Indiana, Utah, Fordham, San Diego
39.  Florida State, Arizona State, USC, St. Thomas, Iowa
44.  UC-Hastings, William & Mary, Maryland
47.  BYU, Hofstra, Washington & Lee
50.  UNLV, Pittsburgh
52.  Temple, Wake Forest, Florida, Chicago-Kent, Alabama
57.  Georgia, Houston, Loyola-L.A., American, Boston College
62.  Missouri, Toledo
64.  DePaul, Rutgers-Camden, Kansas, Tulane, Hawaii, San Francisco

Here are the 17 Tax Profs among the 10-most cited faculty at the Top 69 law schools:

Continue reading

June 1, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Subscribing To TaxProf Blog

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

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

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

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

June 1, 2016 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Villanova Law School Graduate:  One Degree, 2+ Sugar Daddies, Zero Debt

Sugar BabyPhilly Voice, Villanova Law Graduate: One Degree, 2+ Sugar Daddies, Zero Debt:

Candice Kashani graduated from law school debt-free this spring, thanks to a modern twist on an age-old arrangement.

During her first year, she faced tuition and expenses that ran nearly $50,000, even after a scholarship. So she decided to check out a dating website that connected women looking for financial help with men willing to provide it, in exchange for companionship and sex — a "sugar daddy" relationship as they are known.

Continue reading

June 1, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Morrissey:  Saving Legal Education

Daniel J. Morrissey (Former Dean, Gonzaga), Saving Legal Education, 56 J. Legal Educ. 25 (2006):

This piece describes the difficult situation that legal education finds itself in. While law schools offer programs that are more enriching than ever, they do so at much higher costs than in previous decades. The resulting tuition increases have causes graduating students to become burdened with large debts. At the same time, their employment, particular for those at non-elite law schools, have become more problematic. The article provides ample statistics and examples to support these disturbing trends.

June 1, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1119

IRS Logo 2Des Moines Register editorial, Facts Fail to Support IRS Impeachment Effort:

The aphorism known as Hanlon’s razor dictates that one should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Where some people see evil intent and conspiracies behind every misdeed, the more likely explanation is good old-fashioned incompetence. That's particularly true in Washington, D.C., where, despite the political machinations that seem to drive every decision, bureaucratic bungling is responsible for most of the federal government's sins.

Even so, some Republican leaders in the House believe IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has engaged in a long-running effort to deceive Congress and the public. As they see it, Koskinen should be impeached for his response to claims that the agency targeted conservative organizations that sought tax-exempt status. ...

The Justice Department investigated the matter for two years and ultimately concluded that there was no evidence that IRS officials had acted out of political bias in focusing on any organizations, conservative or otherwise.

Given all of that, the effort to impeach Koskinen appears to be a face-saving move by Chaffetz to justify his fruitless, six-year campaign to demonize the IRS for political bias.

Even Fred Goldberg, who served as IRS commissioner under the first President George Bush, says Chaffetz’s allegations are “preposterous” and calls the impeachment effort “way over the line.”

When it comes to abuse of power, Chaffetz has more to answer for than Koskinen.

Continue reading

June 1, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

NY Times:  In Secret Meeting At White House, IRS Officials Pressed On ObamaCare Subsidies

New York Times, In a Secret Meeting, Revelations on the Battle Over Health Care:

On Jan. 13, 2014, a team of Internal Revenue Service financial managers piled into government vans and headed to the Old Executive Office Building for what would turn out to be a very unusual meeting.

Upon arrival, the I.R.S. officials, some of whom had expressed doubts that the Obama administration had the proper authority to spend billions of dollars on a crucial element of its health care law, were ushered into a conference room.

There, they were presented with an Office of Management and Budget memo laying out the administration’s justification for spending $3.9 billion on consumer health insurance subsidies. They were told they could read it but could not take notes or make copies. The O.M.B. officials left the room to allow their visitors a moment to absorb the document, and then returned to answer a few questions and note that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. had been briefed and signed off on the legal rationale.

“It was not a common practice in my 10 years in government at the three agencies where I worked,” said David Fisher, a former I.R.S. financial risk officer, recounting the odd meeting during a deposition on May 11 conducted by investigators for the House Ways and Means Committee.

Continue reading

May 31, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

White:  Cost Sharing Agreements And The Arm's Length Standard

Florida Tax Review  (2015)Sienna Carly White (Jones Day, Cleveland), Cost Sharing Agreements & The Arm's Length Standard: A Matter of Statutory Interpretation?, 19 Fla. Tax Rev. ___ (2016):

The arm’s length standard has been the touchstone of international transfer pricing and Internal Revenue Code Section 482 for the better part of a century, but its relevance is under scrutiny. A growing consensus among the international community suggests the arm’s length standard is no longer adequate to accurately and fairly tax the multinational enterprises that make up the modern global economy. In this paper, I examine the implications of the Xilinx saga and conclude that both the Ninth Circuit and the IRS were incorrect: the arm’s length standard should function as a legal principle, with explicit exceptions, rather than as a legal rule.

Continue reading

May 31, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Students Protest Elimination Of 'Covered' Freshman Year Grades At Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins 2Baltimore Sun, Grading Policy Change Draws Protests at Johns Hopkins:

Plans to end a decades-old policy of concealing the first-semester grades of freshman at the Johns Hopkins University from graduate school admissions officers and future employers are drawing outrage from students.

Hopkins has been one of the few schools nationwide that "cover" the grades of their newest students, shielding them on transcripts and keeping them out of grade-point averages as the freshmen make the transition to college.

Continue reading

May 31, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gerzog:  Toward A Reality-Based Estate Tax

Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore), Toward a Reality-Based Estate Tax, 57 B.C. L. Rev. ___ (2016):

Currently, the estate tax does not accurately value the property and transactions that it is meant to cover. Additionally, the marital and charitable deductions do not reflect actual associated transfers, instead skewing their benefits away from their purported beneficiaries. This Article proposes reforming the estate tax by eliminating these sources of unreality and distortion, and to make the current estate tax a reality-based tax.

Continue reading

May 31, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

WSJ:  Estate Planning Expert Natalie Choate Reaches Age 70½, Offers IRA Withdrawal Advice

Wall Street Journal Tax Report:  When the IRA Expert Reaches Her Own Withdrawal Age: Natalie Choate Offers Tips for Taking Mandatory Withdrawals From IRAs, by Laura Saunders:

ChoateThe first U.S. baby boomers are turning 70 this year. For many, another landmark will soon follow: at 70½ they begin taking mandatory withdrawals from their individual retirement accounts.

Among those turning 70½ this year is Natalie Choate, a Harvard University-trained lawyer who literally wrote the book on IRAs and estate planning [Life and Death Planning for Retirement Benefits (7th ed. 2011]. She has spoken on the subject across the country, specializing in retirement-plan law since Congress established IRAs as part of a massive overhaul in 1974.

Ms. Choate, born in 1945, will soon publish her latest book, titled “70½”, as she is now facing her own required IRA payouts. In theory, Ms. Choate should have no problem.

But Ms. Choate is finding her withdrawals more complex than she expected. “Now I have sympathy for average people facing these decisions,” she says. ...

Continue reading

May 31, 2016 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Update On Murder-For-Hire Investigation Into Dan Markel's Death

NY Times:  IRS Ruling Is Obstacle To Health Care Networks Promoted By Obama

New York Times, I.R.S. Ruling Is Obstacle to Health Care Networks Promoted by Obama:

A ruling by the Internal Revenue Service creates a significant obstacle to a new type of health care network that the Obama administration has promoted as a way to provide better care at lower cost, industry lawyers and providers say.

Continue reading

May 31, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Perils Of Writing A Provocative Email At Yale

Yale University LogoThe Atlantic, The Perils of Writing a Provocative Email at Yale:

Last fall, student protesters at Yale University demanded that Professor Nicholas Christakis, an academic star who has successfully mentored Ivy League undergraduates for years, step down from his position as faculty-in-residence at Silliman College, along with his wife, Erika Christakis, who shared in the job’s duties.

The protesters had taken offense at an email sent by Erika Christakis.

Dogged by the controversy for months, the couple finally resigned their posts Wednesday. Because the student protests against them were prompted by intellectual speech bearing directly on Erika Christakis’s area of academic expertise, the outcome will prompt other educators at Yale to reflect on their own positions and what they might do or say to trigger or avoid calls for their own resignations. If they feel less inclined toward intellectual engagement at Yale, I wouldn’t blame them.

Continue reading

May 31, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1118

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Clinton Embodies Washington’s Decadence, by Peggy Noonan:

She breaks the rules and gets away with it every time. No wonder voters are fed up. ...

The lack of backlash against Mr. Trump’s attacks on Mrs. Clinton, though, I suspect is due to something else. It’s that the subject matter really comes down to one word: decadence. People right now will respect a political leader who will name and define what they themselves see as the utter decadence of Washington. ...

[T]he real decadence Americans see when they look at Washington is an utterly decadent system. Just one famous example from the past few years: 

A high official in the IRS named Lois Lerner targets those she finds politically hateful. IRS officials are in the White House a lot, which oddly enough finds the same people hateful. News of the IRS targeting is about to break because an inspector general is on the case, so Ms. Lerner plants a question at a conference, answers with a rehearsed lie, tries to pin the scandal on workers in a cubicle farm in Cincinnati, lies some more, gets called into Congress, takes the Fifth—and then retires with full pension and benefits, bonuses intact. Taxpayers will be footing the bill for years for the woman who in some cases targeted them, and blew up the reputation of the IRS.

Why wouldn’t Americans think the system is rigged?

This is Washington in our era: a place not so much of personal as of civic decadence, where the Lois Lerner always gets away with it.

Continue reading

May 31, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)