TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, December 4, 2017

Chemerinsky To Buy Stake In L.A. Weekly

LACABA Journal, Chemerinsky Plans to Invest in Los Angeles Alternative Weekly Newspaper:

Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law and a columnist for the ABA Journal, has an additional title: media investor.

According to a blog post from LA Weekly, Chemerinsky plans to join a group of investors that bought the alternative newspaper serving Los Angeles, but who hadn’t been revealed before Friday.

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December 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Senate GOP Tax Bill Excludes House Provision Extending 529 College Savings Plans To Include 'Unborn Children'

Following up on my article, When Does Life Begin for Tax Purposes?, 68 Tax Notes 320 (1995):

Quartz, 'Unborn Child':  With Two Words, the Tax Bill Quietly Threatens Abortion Rights:

Hidden among the tax cuts [in the House GOP tax bill] ... is a short passage that could threaten women’s reproductive rights.

The bill lists “unborn children” among the allowed beneficiaries of 529 plans for college savings, breaking down the legal definition of an “unborn child” as follows:

Nothing shall prevent an unborn child from being treated as a designated beneficiary or an individual under this section. The term ‘unborn child’ means a child in utero. The term ‘child in utero’ means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.


New York Times, Tax Overhaul Bears Gifts for Conservatives, Including Rights for 'Unborn':

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December 3, 2017 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (2)

Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument In Accreditation Battle Over Canada's First Christian Law School

Call for Papers: Michigan Young Scholars’ Conference

Young 2Michigan Law School has issued a  call for papers for its Third Annual Young Scholars' Conference:

The University of Michigan Law School invites junior scholars to attend the 4th Annual Junior Scholars’ Conference which will be held on April 13th–14th, 2018, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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December 3, 2017 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

SSRN LogoThere is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with new papers debuting on the list at #2 and #4:

  1. [435 Downloads]  Background and Current Status of FATCA and CRS, by William Byrnes (Texas A&M)
  2. [301 Downloads]  The Senate Introduced a Pragmatic and Geopolitically Savvy Inbound Base Erosion Rule, by Itai Grinberg (Georgetown)
  3. [229 Downloads]  Slicing and Dicing: The Structural Problems of the Tax Reform Framework, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)
  4. [171 Downloads]  Once More, with Feeling: The 'Tax Cuts and Jobs' Act and the Original Intent of Subpart F, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan) & Nir Fishbien (S.J.D. 2018, Michigan)
  5. [164 Downloads]  Brigham Young vs. The Bureau of Internal Revenue, by Samuel Brunson (Loyola-Chicago)

December 3, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Senate Passes 479-Page Tax Bill 51-49; House And Senate Bills Now Go To Conference

NY Times:  A Hasty, Hand-Scribbled Tax Bill Sets Off An Outcry

BillNew York Times, A Hasty, Hand-Scribbled Tax Bill Sets Off an Outcry:

By midafternoon on Friday, Republicans had the votes to pass their tax bill in the Senate. What they did not have was a bill.

The legislation, covering nearly 500 pages, finally surfaced well after the sun had set. It appeared first in the lobbying shops of K Street, which sent back copies to some Democrats in the Senate, who took to social media to protest being asked to vote in a matter of hours on a bill that had yet to be shared with them directly.

The drafts that leaked to journalists included changes scrawled in looping handwriting in the margins. Democrats posted screenshots and accompanying complaints. Senator Jon Tester, Democrat of Montana, called it “Washington D.C. at its worst” in a video in which he held up a page of the bill with the changes. “This is unbelievable, we’re doing massive tax reform on an absolute incredible timeline,” he said. “This is going to affect everybody in this country.”

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December 2, 2017 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (4)

Harvard And Yale Should Stop Playing Football

Harvard YaleChicago Tribune, Harvard and Yale Should Stop Playing Football:

Harvard and Yale are among the premier educational institutions in the world. They have spent centuries at the task of strengthening and elevating young minds. But on Saturday, Nov. 18, they ... [joined] together in a ritual guaranteed to damage young brains: the Harvard-Yale football game.

The two universities have been meeting on the gridiron since 1875, in one of the oldest rivalries in college sports. The tradition even inspired an acclaimed documentary film about the 1968 game, Harvard Beats Yale 29-29.

Ivy League football is no longer a big deal on the intercollegiate sports scene, which is dominated by large public universities such as Ohio State and Alabama. But Harvard (my alma mater) and Yale continue to send out undergraduate students to represent them in varsity football, oblivious to growing evidence that it does grave and irreversible harm to mental functioning.

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December 2, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Friday, December 1, 2017

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Erin Scharff (Arizona State) reviews a recent working paper by Scott Dyreng (Duke), Martin Jacob (WHU- Otto Beisheim School of Management), Xu Jiang (Duke), and Maximilian A. Müller (WHU- Otto Beisheim School of Management), Tax Avoidance and Tax Incidence:

Scharff (2017)I’m writing this week’s SSRN Update with my browser open, constantly refreshing newspaper websites.  I assume I’m not alone.  I feel grateful to so many members of the tax community who have spoken and written about the current tax reform proposals and attempted to shed light on the myriad of changes (and tax avoidance strategies) likely to be created by the tax bills working their way through Congress at lightning speed. 

So much of our focus in the past weeks has been understanding what’s in the proposed legislation, and I assume there will be much more to be learned and written should some version of the current proposals become law, as is looking increasingly likely (or maybe not, as more news breaks).

In the meantime, as we ponder the potential impact of large corporate tax cuts and new opportunities for tax avoidance, a new paper by Scott Dyreng, Martin Jacob, Xu Jiang, and Maximilian A. Müller offers new insight on corporate decision making.  Their findings suggest that for at least some firms, the ability to shift the tax incidence away from shareholders reduces the incentive to engage in tax avoidance.

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December 1, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Hasen: Accretion-Based Progressive Wealth Taxation

Florida Tax Review  (2015)David Hasen (Florida), Accretion-Based Progressive Wealth Taxation, 20 Fla. Tax Rev. 227 (2017) (reviewed here):

A large literature has compared the efficiency properties of income and consumption tax bases. Its general conclusion is that a consumption base dominates an income base, except to the extent that practical compliance and administrative problems create opportunities for avoidance and evasion under a consumption tax that are absent under an income tax. An apparent corollary is that the same superiority holds in the comparison of an ideal accretion wealth tax and an ideal consumption tax, because an accretion wealth tax seems not to differ in relevant ways from an ideal income tax.

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December 1, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Columbia Journal Of Tax Law Publishes New Issue

Columbia Journal of Tax Law LogoThe Columbia Journal of Tax Law has published Vol. 9, No. 1:

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December 1, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Schools Help Students Deal With Stress Of Finals: 'Puppies With The Dean,' 'Midnight Breakfast'

YesTexas Lawyer, As Law Students Enter Finals, Schools Find Ways to Help With the Stress:

As Texas law schools enter another final exam season in December, they know that students are stressed, and they’re trying to help. On the lighter side, they distract students with fun events—puppies on campus—or relax them with neck massages. On a serious note, schools present students with information about appropriate and inappropriate ways to cope with stress, and they provide free counseling services. ...

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December 1, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Holderness:  The Unexpected Role Of Tax Salience In State Competition For Businesses

Hayes R. Holderness Jr. (Richmond),  The Unexpected Role of Tax Salience in State Competition for Businesses, 84 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1091 (2017):

Competition among the states for mobile firms and the jobs and infrastructure they can bring is a well-known phenomenon. However, in recent years, a handful of states have added a mysterious new tool to their kit of incentives used in this competition. Unlike more traditional incentives, these new incentives — which this Article brands “customer-based incentives” — offer tax relief to a firm’s customers rather than directly to the firm. The puzzle underling customer-based incentives is that tax relief provided to the firm’s customers would seem more difficult for the firm to capture than relief provided directly to the firm — strange, as a state’s primary goal is to subsidize the firm’s investment in the state.

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December 1, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

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December 1, 2017 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

How A Dean Got Over Impostor Syndrome

Chronicle of Higher Education, How a Dean Got Over Impostor Syndrome — And Thinks You Can, Too:

Almost anyone would say that Valerie Sheares Ashby is in the midst of a successful academic career. After more than a decade on the chemistry faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and three years as chair, she became dean of Duke University’s college of arts and sciences in 2015. She’s won many accolades, including awards from the National Science Foundation and the companies 3M and DuPont, as well as several teaching prizes from UNC.

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December 1, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

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December 1, 2017 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Ring Presents Leak-Driven Law Today At The London School Of Economics

Ring (2017)Diane Ring (Boston College) presents Leak-Driven Law, 65 UCLA L. Rev. __ (2018) (with Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College)) today at the London School of Economics:

Over the past decade, a number of well-publicized data leaks have revealed the secret offshore holdings of high-net-worth individuals and multinational taxpayers, leading to a sea change in cross-border tax enforcement. Spurred by leaked data, tax authorities have prosecuted offshore tax cheats, attempted to recoup lost revenues, enacted new laws, and signed international agreements that promote “sunshine” and exchange of financial information between countries.

The conventional wisdom is that data leaks enable tax authorities to detect and punish offshore tax evasion more effectively, and that leaks are therefore socially beneficial from an economic welfare perspective. This Article argues, however, that the conventional wisdom is too simplistic.

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November 30, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Business School Alumni Perspectives On The Need For Legal Studies

Chase Jeremiah Edwards & Reece Theriot et al., Business School Alumni Perspectives on the Need for Legal Studies:

Law professors who teach in schools of business have continually been forced to serve as advocates for their own presence in the business academy. Despite increasing rates of white-collar crime, ethical misconduct, and bankers run amuck, accrediting bodies for elite colleges and schools of business and, more surprisingly, accounting programs have repeatedly considered scaling back or eliminating requirements for basic legal training. This article adds a third decade of linear data as reaffirming testimony to business students’ continued need for more knowledge of the law.

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November 30, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ Op-Ed: How Tax Reform Will Lift The Economy

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  How Tax Reform Will Lift the Economy, by Robert Barro (Harvard), Michael Boskin (Stanford), John Cogan (Stanford), Douglas Holtz-Eakin (American Action Forum), Glenn Hubbard (Dean, Columbia), Lawrence Lindsey ( The Lindsey Group), Harvey Rosen (Princeton), George Shultz (Stanford University), John Taylor (Stanford University):

The present debate over tax reforms proposed by President Trump’s administration and embodied in bills that have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate Finance Committee has raised the basic question of whether the bills are “pro-growth”: Would the proposals raise current and future economic activity and generate federal tax revenue that would reduce the “static cost” of the reforms? This letter explains why we believe that the answer to these questions is “yes.” ...

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November 30, 2017 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (3)

Death Of Chris Bergin (Tax Analysts)


Christopher E. Bergin, 65, former president and publisher of Tax Analysts and a longtime advocate for greater transparency in taxation, died suddenly November 22 following complications from an earlier surgery.

Bergin's time at Tax Analysts began in 1991 as editor of Tax Notes. A decade later, he took the helm of the organization, serving as president and publisher for 16 years. Previously, Bergin was managing editor at Prentice Hall.

A tireless advocate for transparency, in his own words, Bergin wrote that his "passion here is to see that every citizen gets equal and fair treatment in paying taxes." To that end, Bergin was never reluctant to seek legal means to compel government agencies to release information and shed light on how the Internal Revenue Service performed its duties.

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November 30, 2017 in Obituaries, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Can The GRE Cure What Ails Law Schools?, Can the GRE Cure What Ails Law Schools?:

As more law schools accept a new admissions test from aspiring law students, debate about their motives and whether they’ll meet their goals of diversifying the applicant pool has swirled behind the scenes.

Law deans hope to recruit a new type of law student by accepting applications that use Graduate Record Examination scores, rather than the traditional Law School Admission Test. Law schools, eyeing the extremely large group of GRE test takers, have seen a potential to improve not only the gender, racial and ethnic mix of law students, but also broader metrics such as socioeconomic status, educational backgrounds and professional experience. Particularly, law schools, which have seen the number of applicants decline and LSAT scores fall, want students who have studied or had careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, a cohort that statistically has been shown to perform well in legal education.

Meanwhile, critics of the GRE cast doubts about whether the test is capable of increasing diversity along racial and ethnic lines, and question whether schools are trying to fill seats while gaming the law school ranking system.

Because the trend of law schools accepting the GRE is new, the idea that it can diversify the pool of law students is just a promise—there’s no hard data to show it will come true. However, extensive information about the people who take the GRE is available, including their undergraduate majors and their racial, ethnic and gender attributes.

An analysis of the data provides a window into why law school deans are pinning their hopes on the GRE to boost diversity and the sheer number of applicants, at a time when the total number of people applying to American Bar Association-accredited law schools has plunged by about 61 percent in the last decade, according to the Law School Admission Council’s comparable data. ...

The lack of STEM diversity among current law school applicants taking the LSAT is profound, and the available data backs up law schools’ hopes that using the GRE can help them recruit more of those students.

STEM majors would do very well in law school, according to an analysis published this year by Pepperdine University School of Law professor Robert Anderson. He found that STEM students on average score 160 or higher on the LSAT.

That’s promising information considering that, overall, [applicants with] LSAT scores of more than 160 have dropped [45] percent since 2010, according to research by Pepperdine’s dean, Paul Caron. Meanwhile, the average score on the Multistate Bar Exam in February hit the lowest point since the exam was first administered in 1972.

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November 30, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through November 1, 2017) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):







Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)



Michael Simkovic (USC)


Lily Batchelder (NYU)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


Michael Simkovic (USC)



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Michael Graetz (Columbia)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


David Gamage (Indiana)



James Hines (Michigan)


Andy Grewal (Iowa)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Hugh Ault (Boston College)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


David Weisbach (Chicago)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


William Byrnes (Texas A&M)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


Steven Bank (UCLA)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Daniel Shaviro (NYU)



Francine Lipman (UNLV))


Bridget Crawford (Pace)



Daniel Shaviro (NYU)


Chris Sanchirico (Penn)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Jordan Barry (San Diego)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


Stephen Shay (Harvard)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine)



Steven Bank (UCLA)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



David Walker (BU)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)



Gregg Polsky (Georgia)


Cliff Fleming (BYU)


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

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November 30, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

House GOP To Cap Amount Of Student Loans For Law School, Eliminate Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Wall Street Journal, House GOP to Propose Sweeping Changes to Higher Education:

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives this week will propose sweeping legislation that aims to change where Americans go to college, how they pay for it, what they study and how their success — or failure — affects the institutions they attend.

The most dramatic element of the plan is a radical revamp of the $1.34 trillion federal student-loan program. It would put caps on borrowing by parents and students and eliminate some loan-forgiveness programs for students. ...

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November 30, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

Tax Cut Pie

Ed McCaffery's People's Tax Page on the Senate's tax bill:


November 30, 2017 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sanchirico Presents Expensing And Interest In The GOP Tax Blueprint Today At Penn

SanchiricoChris Sanchirico (Pennsylvania) presents Expensing and Interest in the GOP Blueprint: Good Deal? Good Idea?, 155 Tax Notes 339 (Apr. 17, 2017), at Pennsylvania today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series:

November’s election thrust to the fore the tax reform Blueprint released last June by House GOP leaders. One of the plan’s key features, which has received surprisingly little attention, is its treatment of business investment. Outlays for plant, equipment and other business assets would be immediately deductible, rather than depreciated over time, while interest costs would be deductible only to the extent of interest income. This plan to replace net interest deductions with expensing of capital outlays is likely to hurt most businesses — some significantly — and so is likely to face a growing chorus of objections in coming months as this becomes clear to business leaders.

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November 29, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Burman: Congress Should Slow Down On Tax Reform And Ask, What Would Reagan Do?

Leonard Burman (Syracuse), Congress Should Slow Down On Tax Reform And Ask, What Would Reagan Do?:

Congress is rushing to rewrite the tax code before Christmas. True tax reform would be a wonderful present for America, but the current tax bills are deeply flawed, the product of a hasty and partisan process. Congress and the president should slow down and go back to the drawing board.

Compare what we are seeing now with the process that led to the landmark Tax Reform Act of 1986. It started in January 1984 when President Reagan directed his Treasury Department to put together a comprehensive tax reform plan that the Treasury would release later that year after the presidential election. While many dismissed this as an election-year gambit, nobody told the Treasury analysts who produced an epic three-volume proposal that justified the most sweeping reform in history. (I joined the Treasury staff midway through tax reform process.) A revised version reflecting input from the White House released in 1985 provided a comprehensive grounding for serious tax reform.

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November 29, 2017 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Top 25 Law School Moot Court Programs

Following up on my previous post, 2016-17 Moot Court Rankings:  preLaw, Best Schools For Moot Court:

For the top moot court programs, winning is just a happy side effect. Preparing students to practice law and argue in court is what moot court is really all about. ...

[The] University of Houston Law Center’s Blakely Advocacy Institute ... uses a scoring system that assesses the quality of the competitions a school participated in, the size of the competitions and the school’s performance in those competitions to determine the top 16 programs in the nation.

Moot Court

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November 29, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Meghan Markle’s U.S. Citizenship Could Cause Tax Headaches For British Royal Family

Washington Post, Meghan Markle’s U.S. Citizenship Could Cause Tax Headaches For British Royal Family:

It may seem like a modern fairy tale, but the upcoming wedding of Britain's Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle will come with some mundane hurdles. Perhaps most inconveniently for the British royals, this transatlantic partnership could end up involving the United States' Internal Revenue Service.

Buckingham Palace announced Tuesday that Markle will become a British citizen after her wedding next year. Though some foreign politicians are required to give up their dual citizenship, there are no similar rules for British royals — and there has already been widespread speculation that the union of Harry and Markle could eventually result in some British royal children wielding American passports.

But there's a big obstacle in the way: American tax laws. "U.S. citizens are subject to U.S. tax obligations regardless of their country of residence," wrote Peter Spiro, a Temple University law professor and the author of At Home in Two Countries: The Past and Future of Dual Citizenship in an email to The Washington Post. "A member of the royal family would be treated just like anyone else."

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November 29, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (15)

Florida Coastal Law School: 'We Are Not For Sale'

Florida Coastal (2017)Following up on Saturday's post, WSJ: The Rise And Fall Of A Law School Empire Fueled By $1 Billion Of Federal Loans:  Jax Daily Record, Florida Coastal School of Law: We’re Not For Sale:

Florida Coastal School of Law Dean Scott DeVito on Tuesday described the story published Saturday in the Wall Street Journal stating Florida Coastal could be sold or transition from for-profit to nonprofit status as “old news and reactionary.”

He said the law school is not for sale and there are no plans for it to leave Jacksonville.

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November 29, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Grinberg: A Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax And The WTO

Itai Grinberg (Georgetown), A Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax Can Be Structured to Comply With World Trade Organization Rules, 70 Nat'l Tax J. 803 (2017):

This paper briefly outlines alternative approaches to enacting a destination-based cash flow tax that are more clearly compatible with the World Trade Organization rules than the approach that has previously been described in the literature. The first structural alternative involves expanding the universe of businesses subject to the tax by clearly defining both the base of the new U.S. business tax and its tax nexus requirement as domestic consumption, and thereafter treating foreign importers and other sellers equivalently, rather than imposing a deduction disallowance or an import tax.

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November 29, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Laptops Are Great. But Not During A Lecture Or A Meeting.

MacbookNew York Times op-ed:  Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting., by Susan Dynarski (Michigan):

Step into any college lecture hall and you are likely to find a sea of students typing away at open, glowing laptops as the professor speaks. But you won’t see that when I’m teaching.

Though I make a few exceptions, I generally ban electronics, including laptops, in my classes and research seminars.

That may seem extreme. After all, with laptops, students can, in some ways, absorb more from lectures than they can with just paper and pen. They can download course readings, look up unfamiliar concepts on the fly and create an accurate, well-organized record of the lecture material. All of that is good.

But a growing body of evidence shows that over all, college students learn less when they use computers or tablets during lectures. They also tend to earn worse grades. The research is unequivocal: Laptops distract from learning, both for users and for those around them. ...

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November 29, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sanchirico: Senate Bill Would Enshrine International Tax Gimmicks

The Hill op-ed:  Senate Bill Would Enshrine International Tax Gimmicks, by Chris Sanchirico (Pennsylvania):

The version of the GOP tax plan that came charging out of the Senate Finance committee just before Thanksgiving break — the version the full Senate takes up this week, and the version most likely to become law — reads like it was written in a rush. This is especially true of the several diverse provisions ostensibly designed to prevent U.S. multinationals from avoiding tax on their foreign earnings.

Those sections, like so many paintballs shot at a wall, present no clear pattern. But step back, tilt your head, and squint: you’ll see that even all the splotches taken together do not in fact put a stop to the tax games that multinationals presently play. Instead they codify and sanctify them. ...

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November 29, 2017 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Batchelder Presents Improving Retirement Savings Choices Through Smart Defaults Today At Boston College

BatchelderLily Batchelder (NYU) presents Improving Retirement Savings Choices Through Smart Defaults at Boston College today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Jim Repetti, Diane Ring, and Shu Yi Oei:

Many Americans are not financially prepared for retirement. One of the most powerful levers for influencing their retirement savings choices is defaults. Yet despite the overwhelming evidence of defaults’ power and new research on optimal retirement savings strategies, there have been relatively few reforms to leverage their influence over the past decade.

Making defaults “smarter”—including by taking the novel step of adjusting defaults based on socio-economic characteristics of savers—is a simple way that policymakers could dramatically improve retirement preparedness at little cost to taxpayers. This is true both in the employer plan context and as part of any reforms, such as new state-based auto-IRAs, that expand easy access to tax-preferred retirement savings vehicles outside of employer plans.

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November 28, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Gottlieb Presents The Spillover Effects Of Top Income Inequality Today At Columbia

GottleibJoshua Gottlieb (British Columbia) presents The Spillover Effects of Top Income Inequality (with Jeffrey Clemens (UC-San Diego), David Hemousat (Zurich) & Morten Olsen (Copenhagen)) at Columbia today as part of its Davis Polk & Wardwell Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex Raskolnikov and Wojciech Kopczuk:

Top income inequality in the United States has increased considerably within occupations as diverse as bankers, managers, doctors, lawyers and scientists. The breadth of this phenomenon has led to a search for a common explanation. We show instead that increases in income inequality originating within a few occupations can “spill over” into others, driving broader changes in income inequality.

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November 28, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Galle: The Dark Money Subsidy? Tax Policy And Donations To 501(c)(4) Organizations

Brian D. Galle (Georgetown), The Dark Money Subsidy? Tax Policy and Donations to 501(c)(4) Organizations:

This Article presents the first empirical examination of giving to § 501(c)(4) organizations, which have recently become central players in U.S. politics. Although donations to a 501(c)(4) are not legally deductible, the elasticity of c(4) giving to the top-bracket tax-price of charitable giving is - 1.24, very close to the elasticity for charities. 501c(4) donations also correlate with changes in the tax savings from in-kind gifts. These responses could be driven either by donor-side behavior, such as misunderstandings or intentional over-claiming, or by firm-side fundraising.

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November 28, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Taxpayers Should File Timely Returns Even if Owed A Refund

Taxpayer sometimes believe that they can blow off the filing deadline if they are simply filing a return that will show an overpayment.  That's poor thinking as Professor Les Book explains over at Procedurally Taxing blog.  See “I Thought I Was Getting a Refund” is An Inadequate Excuse for Late Filing"  

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November 28, 2017 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 2017 New York Bar Exam Results: Pass Rate Rises To 86% (+4%); CUNY, Pace, Syracuse Outperform Their Predictors

NYSBA (2017)The July 2017 New York bar passage rates by school are out. Here are the results for first time test takers for the 15 New York ABA-approved law schools, along with each school's U.S. News ranking (New York and overall).

Bar Pass

Rank (Rate)



US News Rank

NY (Overall)

1 (97.9%)


2 (6)

2 (97.6%)


1 (5)

3 (95.7%)


3 (13)

4 (93.4%)


4 (36)

5 (91.6%)


8 (92)

6 (89.2%)

St. John's

6 (72)

7 (86.8%)


14 (127)


Statewide Average

8 (85.8%)


5 (65)

9 (78.6%)


7 (88)

10 (77.5%)


13 (120)

11 (75.8%)


9 (106)

12 (71.3%)


10 (109)

13 (70.4%)


12 (118)

14 (64.8%)


15 (Tier 2)

15 (64.7%)

New York Law School

11 (112)

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November 28, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Is Building A Safe To Hold Trump’s Tax Returns

SafeThe Politico, The IRS Is Building a Safe to Hold Trump’s Tax Returns:

This week, the 78-year-old Koskinen began his third retirement. And he says the IRS is still a distressed organization. “When Eisenhower left office, his message was: Beware the military-industrial complex,” Koskinen said. “My message is: Beware the collapse of the IRS.”

But its problems, Koskinen said, have nothing to do with politics; a recent inspector general report found no evidence of political bias in the agency’s decisions. Koskinen believes its real problems stem from underfunding and understaffing, which have imperiled its ability to nail tax evaders and collect the tax revenues that fund the government. ...

Koskinen basically believes the IRS and its professional culture are virtually impregnable to political agendas. He hasn’t spoken to Trump or anyone in the White House in 2017, even though he’s known the president since they negotiated the sale of the Commodore Hotel in New York City in 1975. He’s never looked up Trump’s tax returns—legally, he can’t, and neither can any other IRS employee who isn’t working on them—and says the agency not only keeps them in a locked cabinet in a locked room, but is replacing the cabinet with a safe.

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November 28, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

An Empirical Analysis Of Law School Learning Strategies

Jennifer M. Cooper (Tulane) & Regan A. R. Gurung (Wisconsin), Smarter Law Study Habits: An Empirical Analysis of Law Learning Strategies and Relationship with Law GPA, 62 St. Louis. L.J.  ___ (2018):

Non-empirical law school study advice that emphasizes reading and briefing cases, memorizing rules, and outlining without frequent self-testing and formative self-assessment is contrary to cognitive science and leads to a "law school learning trap." Law students fall into a "law school learning trap" by focusing on memorization of cases and rules for "class prep," putting off practice application of the law as "exam prep." Law students and legal educators misjudge the power of testing as a learning tool, instead relying on non-empirical, anecdotal resources to guide law student study methods.

Empirical research from a Law Student Study Habit Survey shows that practice application of the law through self-testing, self-quizzing, and elaborative strategies positively correlates with academic success in law school, while reading and briefing cases, weak critical reading skills, and rote memorization of rules without practice applying the law negatively correlates with academic success in law school.

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November 28, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Herzfeld: A New Direction For U.S. International Tax Policy

Mindy Herzfeld (Florida), A New Direction for U.S. International Tax Policy:

These slides were prepared for lectures I gave at law schools in Shanghai and in Israel the week of November 13, while the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 (H.R.1) was under active consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was being considered by the Senate Finance Committee.

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November 28, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Josh Blank Leaves NYU For UC-Irvine

Blank (2018)Press Release:

UCI Law is pleased to announce the appointment of renowned tax expert Joshua Blank to its faculty. Blank joins from New York University School of Law, where he currently is a professor of tax law, vice dean for technology-enhanced education, and faculty director of the school’s Graduate Tax Program. He joins UCI Law as a professor of law.

"We are elated to have Josh join our preeminent faculty," said UCI Law Interim Dean L. Song Richardson. "Our innovative curriculum and collegial community continue to attract the brightest minds in legal education. Josh made extraordinary contributions to innumerable areas at NYU Law, and I am excited for the future of UCI Law with him on our team."

"I am thrilled to join the UCI Law community and look forward to working with its dynamic faculty and administration and teaching its outstanding students," said Blank.

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November 27, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (2)

Dimick: The Law And Economics Of Redistribution

Matthew Dimick (SUNY-Buffalo), The Law and Economics of Redistribution:

Should legal rules be used to redistribute income? Or should income taxation be the exclusive means for reducing income inequality? This article reviews the legal scholarship on this question. First, it traces how the most widely-cited argument in favor of using taxes exclusively — Kaplow & Shavell’s (1994) “double-distortion” argument — evolved from previous debates about whether legal rules could even be redistributive and whether law and economics should be concerned exclusively with efficiency or with distribution as well.

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November 27, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Artificial Intelligence Will Affect The Practice of Law

Benjamin Alarie (Toronto), Anthony Niblett (Toronto) & Albert Yoon (Toronto), How Artificial Intelligence Will Affect the Practice of Law:

Artificial intelligence is exerting an influence on all professions and industries. We have autonomous vehicles, instantaneous translation among the world’s leading languages, and search engines that rapidly locate information anywhere on the web in a way that is tailored to a user’s interests and past search history. Law is not immune from disruption by new technology. Software tools are beginning to affect various aspects of lawyers’ work, including those tasks that historically relied upon expert human judgment, such as predicting court outcomes. These new software tools present new challenges and new opportunities.

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November 27, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Future Tax Traps Lurk For Multinationals In Senate Tax Bill

Bloomberg:  ‘Future Tax Traps’ Lurk for Multinationals in Senate's Proposal, by Lynnley Browning:

Senate Republicans tucked some multibillion-dollar tax increases for corporations into the 515-page tax bill they released this week — spring-loaded hikes that would begin after 2024 if the economy doesn’t grow as fast as GOP lawmakers have promised.

Some of the taxes in question aim squarely at companies like Apple and Alphabet, which rely on intellectual property, also known as “intangibles,” that they’ve transferred to overseas subsidiaries, tax experts say. Spokesmen for the two tech giants didn’t respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

“These so-called ‘sunrise’ provisions essentially are future tax traps for unsuspecting multinationals,” said David Sites, a partner in Grant Thornton LLP’s National Tax Office in Washington. In all, changes made by the Senate Finance Committee last week would boost revenue from international provisions aimed at such companies by about $55.6 billion over a decade, to $154.6 billion; most of the increase would come in 2026 and 2027. 

Senate Republicans want permanent changes that will make American companies more competitive globally — while erecting guardrails to shore up the U.S. tax base.

But they’re also under pressure to produce a bill that won’t increase the long-term federal deficit — a standard that would allow them to fast-track their tax legislation over Democrat objections that would otherwise stymie their bill. They’ve argued that their tax cuts would lead to economic growth, making up any lost revenue. Analysts have questioned that claim.

According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, one of Congress’s official fiscal scorekeepers, the Senate’s bill would boost the deficit by $1.4 trillion over 10 years. But — with the help of the latter-year tax increases — it would actually reduce the deficit by $30.6 billion in 2027, the JCT found. On its very last page, the Senate bill sets a revenue trigger designed to keep any revenue losses below the $1.5 trillion level that Congress agreed to in its 2018 budget. ...

[T]he measure also contains three new taxes aimed at preventing companies from sending taxable income overseas to affiliates in jurisdictions with even lower tax rates:

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November 27, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Toledo Aims To Boost Bar Passage, Job Placement, Enrollment: 'Once You Take The Bar For Granted, It Will Bite You In The Butt'

Toledo LogoThe Blade, UT Aims to Boost Law School Performance:

As the University of Toledo continues to sit in the bottom half of Ohio’s nine law schools, administrators have watched two accredited law schools shutter [Charlotte, Whittier] and a third [Valparaiso] announce it will stop admitting new students. ... “It’s been a tough seven years for law schools nationwide,” said Ben Barros, dean of UT’s College of Law.

The numbers show the past decade has been a difficult one for UT’s College of Law.

The rate at which UT graduates pass the July bar exam on their first try fell from a high of 90 percent in 2008 to a dismal 63 percent in 2016, and the overall pass-rate mirrored the trend, slipping from 85 percent to 59 percent during the same period.

Enrollment also plummeted, from 496 in 2008 to just 228 in 2016. ...

Mr. Barros, who took over as dean in 2015, is working to prevent UT from becoming the next law school to face closure. He is pushing for higher enrollment by offering scholarships while simultaneously raising admission requirements. He has also implemented programs to help lower performing students prepare for the bar exam.

And 2017 already shows improvement: The first-time passage rate jumped 11 percentage points — from 63 percent last year to 74 percent in July 2017 — and enrollment saw its first increase in years, from 228 to 247.

But UT is still a long way from the days of 90 percent bar passage rates.

“Once you take the bar for granted, it will come up and bite you in the butt,” Mr. Barros said. “That’s what happened with us. We were doing really well, and we took it for granted, and it takes a couple years to get your program back together again.” ...

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November 27, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lesson From The Tax Court: Forms Over Substance

Tax Court (2017)Last week’s lesson was about “self-assessment.” The idea was that even though it’s the IRS’s job to assess taxes, our system nonetheless depends upon taxpayers truthfully reporting the substance of their financial affairs.

Undergirding that idea is another idea: that for every taxpayer there exists a correct tax liability. The goal of tax administration is to get to the substance of taxpayer’s transactions to determine that correct amount of taxes due. For those interested, I explore this idea in my article Tax Administration as Inquisitorial Process ..., 56 Fla. L. Rev. 1 (2004).

The process of getting to that truth involves many forms, and not just the famous 1040. In 2016 the IRS processed over 244 million tax returns of various sorts. 2016 IRS Data Book Table 2, And that figure does not include all the other Forms that are important to tax administration.

This week’s lesson is about one of those other Forms. The case of Craig K. Potts and Kristen H. Potts v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2017-228 (Nov. 20, 2017), teaches the importance the Form 870-AD, both to taxpayers and to tax administrators. The Form has a purpose and that purpose can, as it did in this case, trump substance.  More below the fold.

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November 27, 2017 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink | Comments (0)