TaxProf Blog

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

Thursday, July 6, 2017

NY Times:  After Killing Currency, Modi Takes A Leap With India’s Biggest-Ever Tax Overhaul

New York Times: After Killing Currency, Modi Takes a Leap With India’s Biggest-Ever Tax Overhaul:

For the second time in less than a year, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is putting India through a revolution in the way the country does business.

In the fall, the government imposed one of the most radical monetary experiments ever, abruptly banning most of the country’s currency notes in an effort to stem corruption.

Now, it is instituting the country’s biggest tax overhaul since independence. On Saturday, a nationwide sales tax replaces the current hodgepodge of business taxes that vary from state to state and are seen as an impediment to growth. It is expected to unify in a single market 1.3 billion people spread over 29 states and seven union territories in India’s $2 trillion economy.

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July 6, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

WSJ:  Caterpillar Faces New Questions In Tax Probe

CaterpillarFollowing up on my previous posts:

Wall Street Journal, Caterpillar Faces New Questions in Probe:

Federal investigators believe Caterpillar failed to submit numerous required export filings with the government in recent years, adding to questions facing the manufacturing giant, people familiar with the matter said.

The findings are preliminary, these people said, but offer an avenue for investigators to examine whether missing export submissions were part of a possible effort by the Peoria, Ill.-based maker of yellow bulldozers, mining trucks and other heavy equipment to avoid paying taxes.

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July 5, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Finkelstein On How And Who To Teach Transactional Skills

What is the optimum mix (if there is to be a mix at all) in legal education as among theory, doctrine, and "skills"? And as to the "skills," who is going to teach them? And as to transactional skills, historically the least amenable to either simulation or clinic pedagogy, add "how" to the question of "who."  Oh, and by the way, what do law professors have against getting practitioners actively involved in both the "who" and the "how"?

Those are the subjects of a provocative article, Barriers to Entry: Putting it Together School by School (to be published in the Journal of Experiential Education) by Jay Finkelstein, a corporate and securities partner at DLA Piper in the D.C. area.

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July 5, 2017 in Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (6)

NY Times:  Congress Tries To Stop The IRS From Enforcing Obamacare Mandate

New York Times, Congress Tries to Stop IRS From Enforcing Obamacare Mandate:

Congress is moving to prevent the Internal Revenue Service from enforcing one of the more unpopular provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which requires most Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

The plan is separate from Republican efforts to repeal the health care law, and appears more likely to be adopted because it would be written into the annual spending bill for the Treasury and the IRS.

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July 5, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Andy Morriss Steps Down As Texas A&M Law School Dean To Lead New School Of Innovation

MorrissAndy Morriss is stepping down as Dean at Texas A&M to become Vice President for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development and lead a new School of Innovation — I-School — at Texas A&M. Andy was named the inaugural dean after Texas A&M acquired Texas Wesleyan Law School for $20 million in 2012 and received ABA approval in 2013. Andy was a transformative dean in his three short years, hiring a number of outstanding faculty (including two impressive tax hires), dramatically shrinking enrollment and reducing tuition, challenging other law schools to be more accountable in their admissions and bar passage practices, embracing a rigorous metrics-based approach for measuring and incentivizing faculty scholarship, and engineering an incredible ascent in the U.S. News Rankings, up 57 places in the overall ranking to 92 (from 149) and 50 places in the academic peer reputation ranking to 101 (to 2.2 from 1.7 (152)). From the press release:

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July 5, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Hemel On The NY Times' Front Page Assault On The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

Daniel Hemel (Chicago), Is the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit “Keeping Cities Segregated”?:

The front page of the New York Times this morning features a full-frontal assault on the low-income housing tax credit, the largest federal subsidy for the development of affordable housing. The charge against the credit is that the housing units it subsidizes are “disproportionately built in majority nonwhite communities,” which “means . . . that the federal government is essentially helping to maintain entrenched racial divides.” The first part of that claim is indisputably true: developments receiving low-income housing tax credits are, indeed, disproportionately located in communities with large nonwhite populations. But it does not therefore follow that the federal government, through the credit, is perpetuating residential segregation. ...

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July 5, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Price Of Graduate And Professional School: How Much Students Pay

Sandy Baum (Urban Institute) & Patricia Steele (Higher Ed Insight), The Price of Graduate and Professional School: How Much Students Pay (AccessLex 2017):

Like tuition and fees for undergraduate students, prices for graduate and professional study have risen rapidly over time. But average published prices tell us little about how much students actually pay. Despite high sticker prices, many students enrolled in research doctoral degree programs pay no tuition and fees because institutional grant aid, fellowships and tuition waivers cover these charges.

Master’s degree students and those in professional practice degree programs are much less likely to receive this assistance. In 2011–12, one-third of full-time graduate and professional degree students received grant aid from their institutions. This included 71 percent of research doctoral students, compared with 38 percent of master’s and 42 percent of professional degree students.

After an overview of how graduate school prices have changed over time, this brief provides detailed information on published and net prices for students continuing their education beyond a bachelor’s degree.

Figure 6

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July 5, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

At The Movies With A Law School Dean: 'There Is A Little Bit Of Wonder Woman In Every Good Lawyer'

Wonder Woman 3Following up on my recent post, Wonder Woman And Female Law Professors:  Nick Allard (Dean, Brooklyn) reviews Wonder Woman:

At this time of year I am frequently asked by our eager and bright eyed, newly admitted students, what to do over the summer to prepare for beginning the rigors of law school. This summer I am telling them to go see the hit movie Wonder Woman. After all, we already know they have what it takes to be fine lawyers and they are already well prepared.   So they might as well have a little fun and watch a terrific flick about the triumph of good over evil.

It is actually the same advice I am giving our recent law school graduates as they prepare for the bar exam, the antiquated drawbridge controlling their entry to profession.  Each year I advise them to treat their ritual bar review preparation like a job. That means "show up" every day between now and the test in late July, work hard for a good eight hours or maybe a little more, then every day take a break, take care of yourself, and make time to remind yourself you have a life. I recommend that they eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, exercise, take in the many wonders of Brooklyn and the rest of the Big Apple, enjoy their families and friends, maybe fall in love, and perhaps reflect on why they are working so hard to make a difference as lawyers.  

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July 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

One Of The Best Investments The Government Can Make: Give More Money To The IRS

Fiscal Times, One of the Best Investments the Government Can Make: Give More Money to the IRS:

The Internal Revenue Service is the agency of the federal government that most people love to hate. As a result, it has been used as a political punching bag on and off for almost as long as it has been in existence. The most recent trend in politicians demonstrating their contempt for the national tax collector — other than trying to get its commissioner impeached — is to starve the agency of funding.

However, despite major budget reductions — or perhaps partly because of them — the agency had been doing more with less over the past several years. One of the metrics the IRS uses to measure its performance is by comparing the amount of money the agency receives from Congress to the amount it collects in taxes due, expressing the result in the cost to collect $100.

In 2015 and 2016, that figure stood at $0.35 per $100, down from $0.53 as recently as 2010. It’s also the lowest cost per $100 collected that the agency has recorded since at least 1981, according to the IRS 2016 Data Book.

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July 4, 2017 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

A Bittersweet 4th Of July

This is a bittersweet 4th of July holiday, as my father died ten years ago, and I find myself thinking of him more and more with each passing year. I often wonder what he would think of the man I have become over the past ten years. My eulogy at his funeral did not fully capture the towering presence he was in my life, and he remains so in death.  My pastor Al Sturgeon passed along this wonderful song from Chet Atkins that beautifully captures my feelings:


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July 4, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, July 3, 2017

My Advice to Bezos (And Gates, Buffett, Etc.): Pay Some Tax

Oxford University Press Blog:  My Advice to Mr. Bezos: Pay Some Tax, by Edward Zelinsky (Cardozo):

Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon, has asked on Twitter for advice about the use of his fortune for philanthropy. 


My advice is that Mr. Bezos should pay some tax.

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July 3, 2017 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Harvard Establishes Justice Antonin Scalia Professorship

Harvard Law School (2016)Harvard Law School Establishes Professorship in Honor of Justice Antonin Scalia ’60:

Harvard Law School announced that it has established the Antonin Scalia Professorship of Law in recognition of the historic tenure of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ’60. The professorship is endowed by the Considine Family Foundation.

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July 3, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Chodorow:  Thank Your Taxes — They’re The Real Reason We Have A Democracy

Slate (2017)Slate:  Thank Your Taxes: They’re the Real Reason We Have a Democracy, by Adam Chodorow (Arizona State): 

Forget what you may have learned about the Enlightenment: Modern Western democracy is nothing more than a byproduct of a series of tax disputes.

While the Greeks and Romans had democratic institutions, most trace the beginnings of modern Western democracy to the 1215 signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede. King John, the third of England’s Angevin monarchs, claimed lands in France to which the French also laid claim. John attempted to win them back to no avail. Wars are expensive, and John sought to pay for them by taxing England’s nobles, who did not take kindly to his attentions. They revolted and eventually forced him to sign the Magna Carta—which, among other things, required the king to obtain consent before imposing certain taxes. In other words, the nobles extracted a say in government in return for the king’s right to tax them, conditioning that right upon the consent of the governed. Over time the English built upon these agreements, eventually leading to the democratic parliamentary system that exists today.

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July 3, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

After 71% Enrollment Decline, Florida Coastal Plans To Further Shrink 1L Class To Raise Minimum LSAT Score By 7 Points And Avoid Fate Of Arizona Summit, Charlotte Law Schools

Florida Coastal (2017)Florida Times-Union, Florida Coastal Cuts Enrollment, Classes to Boost Bar Exam Results:

Florida Coastal School of Law plans to cut enrollment and reduce course offerings as its leadership looks to avoid a fate similar to its sister schools in North Carolina and Arizona.

Within the past year, the American Bar Association placed both Charlotte Law School and Arizona Summit Law School on probation for admission policies and academic standards.

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

Schwidetzky:  Castigliola, Hardy, And Tax Planning For Self-Employment Taxes

SchwidetzkyTaxProf Blog op-ed:  Castigliola, Hardy, and Tax Planning for Self-Employment Taxes, by Walter Schwidetzky (Baltimore):

Recently, the Tax Court stuck to its Renkemeyer guns in the unpronounceable, but fairly important, case of Castigliola.[1]  (Admittedly, I am ill-positioned to complain about names that are difficult to pronounce).  Contemporaneously, the Tax Court arguably held in Hardy,[2] to my knowledge for the first time, that the interest of an owner in an entity other than a state-law limited partnership should be treated as a limited partnership interest. Some context:

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July 3, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, July 2, 2017

New Law School Deans

I am very honored to be part of this new cohort of law school deans.  #NewbieDeans

Law Deans

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July 2, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times:  Does God Want You To Spend $300,000 To Go To Notre Dame?

Notre DameNew York Times, Does God Want You to Spend $300,000 for College?:

In the remarks he prepared for his parting address to the University of Notre Dame class of 2017, Rev. John I. Jenkins urged the graduating seniors to turn and applaud their families.

Father Jenkins, the Notre Dame president, did not end up delivering those words, though. Earlier on, the featured commencement speaker, Vice President Mike Pence, stole his thunder by issuing a similar order. And Mr. Pence did Father Jenkins one better by explicitly noting how many checks most of their loved ones had written to the university.

Anyone contemplating the full cost of attendance at what is arguably the nation’s most prominent Catholic undergraduate institution probably wonders just how big those checks are for four years here. Families with teenagers starting this fall can expect to pay close to $300,000 over four years, assuming costs increase 3 percent or so each year. Even families with incomes over $100,000 who qualify for financial aid will still probably pay a whole lot more than they would at their flagship state university — easily $50,000, $100,000 or $150,000 more.

All of which invites an obvious question: In what holy book is it written that we owe anything like this kind of expenditure to each of our children? ...

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July 2, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

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

  1. [279 Downloads]  Family Limited Partnerships and Section 2036: Not Such a Good Fit, by Mitchell Gans (Hofstra) & Jonathan G. Blattmachr (Milbank, New York)
  2. [237 Downloads]  The Rise and Fall of the Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax: What Was That All About?, by Daniel Shaviro (NYU)
  3. [223 Downloads]  Can New York Publish President Trump's State Tax Returns?, by Daniel Hemel (Chicago)
  4. [184 Downloads]  A Taxonomy for Tax Loopholes, by Heather Field (UC-Hastings)
  5. [147 Downloads]  Why Don't White Supremacists Pay Taxes?, by Eric Franklin Amarante (UNLV)

July 2, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 1, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

New Bill Would Bring Back Subsidized Law Student Loans, It’s a Stretch, But Law Students Could Get Subsidized Loans Again:

Subsidized government loans for graduate students became a casualty of the 2011 debt ceiling crisis, but law school proponents are pushing to resurrect them with the help of sympathetic lawmakers.

Bringing back subsidized Stafford loans would knock about $4,000 off the initial federal loan bills that typical law student graduates with and save them even more over the life of those loans, according to Chris Chapman, president of AccessLex Institute.

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

Pepperdine In Washington, D.C.:  2011 Pennsylvania Avenue

I am in Washington, D.C. for my first ABA Annual Deans Workshop.  I squeezed in a visit to Pepperdine's Washington, D.C. campus located at 2011 Pennsylvania Avenue, three blocks from the White House:


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July 1, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lipshaw:  Beyond Legal Reasoning — A Critique Of Pure Lawyering

LipshawUpdate:  Free access to the book is available for the next 60 days here.

Jeffrey Lipshaw (Suffolk), Beyond Legal Reasoning: A Critique of Pure Lawyering (Routledge 2017):

The concept of learning to ‘think like a lawyer’ is one of the cornerstones of legal education in the United States and beyond. In this book, Jeffrey Lipshaw provides a critique of the traditional views of "thinking like a lawyer: or "pure lawyering" aimed at lawyers, law professors, and students who want to understand lawyering beyond the traditional warrior metaphor. Drawing on his extensive experience at the intersection of real world law and business issues, Professor Lipshaw presents a sophisticated philosophical argument that the "pure lawyering" of traditional legal education is agnostic to either truth or moral value of outcomes. He demonstrates pure lawyering’s potential both for illusions of certainty and cynical instrumentalism, and the consequences of both when lawyers are called on as dealmakers, policymakers, and counsellors.

This book offers an avenue for getting beyond (or unlearning) merely how to think like a lawyer. It combines legal theory, philosophy of knowledge, and doctrine with an appreciation of real-life judgment calls that multi-disciplinary lawyers are called upon to make. The book will be of great interest to scholars of legal education, legal language and reasoning as well as professors who teach both doctrine and thinking and writing skills in the first year law school curriculum; and for anyone who is interested in seeking a perspective on ‘thinking like a lawyer’ beyond the litigation arena.

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July 1, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, June 30, 2017

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Daniel Hemel (Chicago) reviews a new paper by Edward Fox (NYU Center for Law, Economics, and Organization), Do Taxes Affect Marriage? Lessons from History.

HemelOne of my favorite teaching exercises in my Introductory Income Taxation class is to go through the New York Times wedding announcements from late December and early January, and to have students identify couples that got married on the “wrong” side of the New Year divide. Some single-earner couples that presumably receive a marriage bonus—e.g., an engineer marrying a grad student—nonetheless wed in early January, though they likely would have been better off accelerating their nuptials to December. Other couples that probably face a marriage penalty—e.g., two associates at the same law firm—wed in late December, though they likely would have been better off waiting a few more weeks. I ask my students, “What were these couples thinking?” The answer that I get is: “They were probably thinking about love and not about tax.”

For those of us who love thinking about tax, this is all somewhat of a puzzle. Do people really make such momentous life decisions without considering the tax implications? Ed Fox seeks to answer that question in a creative new paper. His main finding is that, at least historically, tax incentives have had a quantitatively and statistically significant effect on marriage patterns. While anecdotes from the Times might lead us to believe that couples make marriage choices without considering the tax consequences, Fox’s study suggests that tax incentives do indeed affect the decisions of some couples to say “I do.”

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June 30, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

GE Should Lead On Tax Reform

GE 2017Boston Globe, We Know This Sounds Crazy, But GE Could Help Fix Our Unfair Tax Code:

Bernie Sanders and others have scolded the company for (legally) paying no taxes. Here’s how the Boston newcomer could emerge a hero.

Don’t worry. This isn’t yet another screed calling you out as the king of all corporate tax dodgers. By now, most people probably have a general understanding that you’ve been both aggressive and effective in reducing what you owe Uncle Sam over the years, though I suspect few appreciate just how effective. If there is more art than science at play at the highest echelons of the tax world, then you, General Electric, are our nation’s corporate Picasso. Just last month, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, or ITEP, reported that, averaged out over the last eight years, you paid no US corporate income taxes, in large part because you received a total federal tax subsidy of $15.4 billion, despite raking in $40 billion in profits during that period. Imagination at work, baby.

I know you dispute those figures, and we’ll get into that later. For now, though, let’s just agree that the members of your best-in-the-business tax team more than earned whatever you’ve paid them in bonuses. ...

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June 30, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Battle Of The Network Stars At Pepperdine: Episode 1

Battle 3Following up on last month's post, Battle Of The Network Stars Returns To Pepperdine: the first of ten episodes aired on ABC last night, hosted by Mike Greenberg and Joe Tessitore (more here):

In an ode to ABC's Wide World of Sports, 100 TV stars from 14 different network and cable companies will take their athleticism to a new level as they compete — to feel "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" — in the revival of Battle of the Network Stars, based on the '70s and '80s television pop-culture classic, remiering on THURSDAY, JUNE 29 (9:00-10:00 p.m. EDT) on ABC. The new Battle of the Network Stars will be a nostalgic throwback to the original series, where TV celebrities blended athleticism with hilarious antics while featuring an array of fan favorites from numerous TV series like Modern FamilyPretty Little LiarsScandalMelrose PlaceBeverly Hills, 90210The GoldbergsHow to Get Away with MurderBuffy the Vampire SlayerThe Incredible HulkThe West WingDallasCHiPsLaw & Order and many more.

The original series from ABC Sports began in 1976 and continued for 13 years. The 10-episode summer event will pit teams of current and classic TV stars from multiple eras and different genres against one another in a variety of athletic games. Viewers can look forward to seeing a fresh take at some of the classic show's sporting events like Tug of War, Archery, Kayak Relay, Obstacle Course and Dunk Tank — all from the site of the original series, the beautiful campus of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.

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June 30, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

National Taxpayer Advocate Releases 2018 Objectives Report To Congress

NTA 2National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson has released her FY 2018 Objectives Report To Congress:

Ms. Olson states that the IRS ran a generally successful filing season. But she says taxpayers who require assistance from the IRS are continuing to face significant challenges obtaining it. While taxpayer services and enforcement activities are both essential for effective tax administration, Ms. Olson says taxpayer services require more emphasis than they are currently receiving. She recommends the IRS expand its outreach and education activities and improve its telephone service and that Congress both provide the IRS with sufficient funding to provide high quality taxpayer service and conduct more oversight to ensure the IRS is spending the funding as intended.

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June 30, 2017 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Erwin Chemerinsky's Farewell: Lessons From Hamilton

ErwinHamiltonOrange County Register op-ed:  A New Adventure and a Heavy Heart, by Erwin Chemerinsky:

Early on Saturday morning, my wife and I will load up our cars and drive from Irvine to begin our new positions, which officially start on that day, at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. My nine years in Orange County and at University of California, Irvine have been wonderful, everything I possibly could have hoped for and more. It sounds cliché, but I will drive away with a heavy heart for all I am leaving behind and very mixed emotions.

Many have asked me why I would leave UCI Law School, having devoted a decade of my life to helping to create it since my appointment as the founding dean in September 2007. From the outset, my expectation was that I would spend 10 years as dean. I already had decided and repeatedly said that next year was to be my last in the role. It is time for the Law School to go through a careful re-examination and I am not the one to lead that process; I am too invested in and identified with what we have done.

I am struck by the parallels to the song One Last Time in Hamilton:

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June 29, 2017 in Advice for Erwin Chemerinsky, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

NY Times:  The False Premise Behind GOP Tax Cuts

New York Times editorial, The False Premise Behind G.O.P. Tax Cuts:

With the Senate effort to upend Obamacare suspended for the Fourth of July holiday, there’s a chance to step back and examine the assumptions behind Republicans’ longstanding objections to the social safety net — as well as the flaws in those assumptions.

From Ronald Reagan’s invocation of a “welfare queen,” to Mitt Romney’s derision of “takers,” to the House and Senate bills to cut taxes for the rich by taking health insurance away from tens of millions of people, the premise of incessant Republican tax cutting is that the system robs the rich to lavish benefits on the poor.

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June 29, 2017 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Boston Bruins (And Other Pro Sports Teams) Can Deduct 100% Of Meal Expenses At Away Games

BruinsFollowing up on my previous post, Tax Court Petition: Can Boston Bruins (And Other Pro Sports Teams) Deduct 100% Of Meal Expenses At Away Games; Is Hotel A Team's 'Business Premises'?:  Journal of Accountancy, Boston Bruins Can Deduct Full Cost of Meals for Team’s Away Games:

Pregame meals provided to Boston Bruins players and personnel before away games qualify as a de minimis fringe benefit under Sec. 274(n)(2)(B) and are not subject to the 50% limitation under Sec. 274(n)(1), the Tax Court held (Jacobs, 148 T.C. No. 24 (6/26/17)). The petitioners, Jeremy and Margaret Jacobs, co-own the Boston Bruins National Hockey League (NHL) team through two S corporations. The IRS had disallowed 50% of the Bruins’ deduction for expenses for meals provided to the Bruins’ employees when traveling to away games, which resulted in deficiencies of $45,205 and $39,823 in the Jacobses’ 2009 and 2010 federal income taxes.

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June 29, 2017 in New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Gans & Blattmachr:  Family Limited Partnerships And Section 2036

Mitchell Gans (Hofstra) & Jonathan G. Blattmachr (Milbank, New York), Family Limited Partnerships and Section 2036: Not Such a Good Fit, 42 ACTEC J. ___ (2017):

The IRS has struggled to close down abusive family limited partnerships. At first unreceptive to IRS arguments, the courts eventually embraced section 2036 as an estate-tax tool for attacking such partnerships. Because the section was not designed to apply to partnerships, difficulties have arisen as the courts have struggled with the fit. In its most recent encounter, the Tax Court in Powell grappled with a fit-related issue that implicates the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Byrum.

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

Public College President Salaries, 2015-16

Knoll & Mason:  Economic Foundation Of The Dormant Commerce Clause

Michael S. Knoll (Pennsylvania) & Ruth Mason (Virginia), Economic Foundation of the Dormant Commerce Clause, 103 Va. L. Rev. 309 (2016):

Last Term, a sharply divided Supreme Court decided a landmark dormant Commerce Clause case, Comptroller of the Treasury of Maryland v. Wynne. Wynne represents the Court’s first clear acknowledgement of the economic underpinnings of one of its main doctrinal tools for resolving tax discrimination cases, the internal consistency test. In deciding Wynne, the Court relied on economic analysis we provided. This Essay explains that analysis, why the majority accepted it, why the dissenters’ objections to the majority’s reasoning miss their mark, and what Wynne means for state taxation.

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Zelenak:  The Income Tax And Human Body Materials

Lawrence Zelenak (Duke), The Body in Question: The Income Tax and Human Body Materials, 80 Law & Contemp. Probs. 37 (2017):

Part II of this article provides an overview — accompanied by more than a little authorial commentary— of the development (such as it has been) of the income taxation of transactions in human body materials, from the 1950s to the present. Part III situates the property-versus-services issue with respect to the taxation of body materials in the broader context of the differing income tax treatments of income from property and income from services. After explaining why the tax characterization of body materials resists easy resolution, it concludes that the well-established treatment of taxpayer-created assets as property strongly suggests that body materials should also be treated as property. Part IV explores the questions of capital asset status, holding period, and basis that govern the amount and the character of the gain recognized by a taxpayer on the sale of body materials, on the assumption that the materials are classified as property. Part V considers a miscellany of other issues relating to the income taxation of body materials. Finally, Part VI discusses the possible application of other federal taxes — the gift, estate, and self-employment taxes — to transactions in body materials. Part VII briefly concludes.

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

Tenured Prof Refuses To Teach Summer Course Because Under-Enrollment Would Have Cut His Pay 43%

Inside Higher Ed, Professor Cancels Course Over Proposed Pay Cut:

A professor of biology at Youngstown State University canceled a summer course after finding out that the university planned to prorate his salary based on low enrollment, WKBN reported. The professor, Chet Cooper, reportedly said that “it was wrong for me to accept that kind of position given my expertise and my professional position at the university.” Cooper, whose now-canceled microbiology course was to have eight students instead of the required 15, wrote in an email to those enrolled, “The issue is that I adamantly refuse to teach this course for less than full pay. Due to contractual restrictions based upon enrollment, I would have to agree to teach the course for a 43 percent decrease in salary. As any faculty member knows, it is as much effort to teach eight students as it is 15.” ...

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June 28, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Mayer:  Creating A Tax Space For Social Enterprise

Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer (Notre Dame), Creating a Tax Space for Social Enterprise, in The Cambridge Handbook of Social Enterprise Law (Cambridge University Press 2017) (J. Yockey & B. Means eds.):

While still relatively few in number compared to traditional nonprofit and for-profit organizations, the rise of social enterprises represents a possible disruption of not only existing models of doing business but also areas of law that in many respects have seen little fundamental change for decades. One such area is domestic tax law, where social enterprises currently find themselves subject to the rules of for-profit activities and entities. Here, both scholars and policymakers are beginning to ask whether it is either necessary or desirable to modify existing tax provisions to better accommodate social enterprise: that is, whether to create a distinct tax space for social enterprise.

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

Oxford 11th Annual Academic Tax Symposium

OxfordThe 11th Annual Academic Tax Symposium concludes today at the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation.  Daniel Shaviro (NYU) is the chair of today's session, which includes a number of interesting papers, including:

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

Trump And Devos Deliver One-Two Punch On Law School Loans

American Lawyer LogoAmerican Lawyer:  Trump and Devos Deliver One-Two Punch on Law School Loans, by Steven J. Harper (Northwestern):

Since 2007, the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) program for federal student loans has been an escape hatch for law graduates and others saddled with overwhelming educational debt. The idea was that a graduate would take a public service job at low pay and reduced monthly loan requirements. After a decade of service, any remaining loan debt was forgiven.

The well-known backstory is that student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. They can follow a person to the grave.

There were and still are problems with PSLF, such as the resulting tax on the imputed income from the forgiven loan. And 10 years is a long time to toil in low wage positions. But the country and many recent graduates have been the better for it. ...

For young lawyers hoping that public service loan forgiveness could be an answer to a lifetime of student debt burdens, President Trump has some bad news. Rather than remedy the problems with a program that can provide enormous help to many recent grads and the organizations for which they work, he wants to eliminate it altogether. It’s analogous to his approach to the Affordable Care Act. Fixing something is more difficult than eliminating it altogether. So Trump proposes to eliminate it.

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June 28, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (18)

ABA Tax Section Publishes New Issue Of Tax Times

ABA Tax Times (2016)The ABA Tax Section has published 36 Tax Times No. 3 (June 2017):

Tax Reform Discussions and Other Developments
By William H. Caudill, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, Houston, TX
We are now heading into the last part of this 2016-2017 Tax Section year, having most recently completed the Section’s May Meeting in Washington—the third and largest meeting in our annual cycle of Section meetings. We have made good progress on many tasks, not least of which is the vital role of educating and informing our members and the public at large about tax reform.

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June 28, 2017 in ABA Tax Section, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Hoffman:  Law Schools Should Spend Less Time Perseverating On Our Decline And More Time Trumpeting What We Do Well

In response to my post yesterday on Declining Law School Applications And Entering Credentials: Responding With Pivot Pedagogy, Dave Hoffman (Pennsylvania) tweeted:


Here is part of Dave's great 2014 post:  

[L]aw schools (and congregations) seek to evolve without losing some core component of their identity. For synagogues, the question boils down to how – and how much – to welcome non-jews to the pews. Law Schools, similarly, now ask “who do we want to teach.”

Some – like Penn State – increasingly make foreign LLMs a key constituency, rather than a tolerated budgetary crutch. Other schools compete in the increasing crowded online education/certification market for domestic lawyers, or paralegals.  ... [I]t’s fair to ask if law schools are or could be generally good at teaching non-JD students.

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June 27, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Oxford 11th Annual Academic Tax Symposium

OxfordThe 11th Annual Academic Tax Symposium continues today at the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation with these presentations by U.S. Tax Profs:

Rosanne Altshuler (Rutgers), Shifting the Burden of Taxation from the Corporate to the Personal Level and Getting the Corporate Tax Rate Down to 15 Percent, 69 Nat'l Tax J. 643 (2016) (with Harry Grubert, U.S. Treasury Department)
Discussant:  Edward Kleinbard (USC)

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

Desai:  The Wisdom of Finance — Discovering Humanity In The World of Risk And Return

HarvardMihir A. Desai  (Harvard), The Wisdom of Finance: Discovering Humanity in the World of Risk and Return (2017):

This book is not about the latest study that will help you make money in the stock market or that will nudge you into saving more.

And it’s not about the optimal allocation of your retirement assets.

This book is about humanizing finance by bridging the divide between finance and literature, history, philosophy, music, movies, and religion.

This book is about how the philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce and the poet Wallace Stevens are insightful guides to the ideas of risk and insurance, and how Lizzie Bennet of Pride and Prejudice and Violet Effingham of Phineas Finn are masterful risk managers. This book looks to the parable of the talents and John Milton for insight on value creation and valuation; to the financing of dowries in Renaissance Florence and the movie Working Girl for insight on mergers; to the epic downfall of the richest man in the American colonies and to the Greek tragedies for insight on bankruptcy and financial distress; and to Jeff Koons’s career and Mr. Stevens of Remains of the Day for insight on the power and peril of leverage.

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June 27, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

2018 Vault Law Firm Tax Rankings:  Skadden Is #1 For 8th Year In A Row

VaultVault has released its annual ranking of the Top 100 Law Firms, based on prestige as voted on by associates (methodology here). The Top Tax Practices are:



Home City

% Vote



New York



Davis Polk

New York




New York




New York



Baker McKenzie




McDermott Will & Emery




Cleary Gottlieb

New York



Sullivan & Cromwell

New York



Kirkland & Ellis




Caplin & Drysdale




Weil Gotshal

New York



Simpson Thacher

New York



Latham & Watkins

Los Angeles



Mayer Brown




Eversheds Sutherland




Miller & Chevalier




Morrison & Foerster

San Fran.



Sidley Austin




Debevoise & Plimpton

New York



Paul, Weiss

New York


For the eighth year in a row, Skadden is #1. The city rankings are:

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June 27, 2017 in Law Firm Tax Rankings, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

GPA Of Students Whose Parents Receive Text Messages About Their Performance Rises 0.05

ApplePeter Bergman (Columbia) & Todd Rogers (Harvard), Is this Technology Useless? How Seemingly Irrelevant Factors Affect Adoption and Efficacy:

We conduct a field experiment to understand how the strategies organizations use to implement new technologies affect their adoption and efficacy. Specifically, we show that the standard strategy schools use to introduce a text message alert system for parents — online signup — induces negligible adoption. Simplifying the enrollment process by allowing parents to enroll via text messages modestly increases adoption — especially among parents of higher-performing students. Automatically enrolling parents dramatically increases adoption since very few parents opt out. The standard and simplified implementations generate no detectable increases in student performance. However, automatically enrolling parents meaningfully increases GPA and reduces student course failures.

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

Raskolnikov:  Probabilistic Compliance

Alex Raskolnikov (Columbia), Probabilistic Compliance, 34 Yale J. Reg. 491 (2017):

Uncertain legal standards are pervasive but understudied. The key theoretical result showing an ambiguous relationship between legal uncertainty and optimal deterrence remains largely undeveloped, and no alternative conceptual approaches to the economic analysis of legal uncertainty have emerged. This Article offers such an alternative by shifting from the well-established and familiar optimal deterrence theory to the new and unfamiliar probabilistic compliance framework. This shift brings the analysis closer to the world of legal practice and yields new theoretical insights. Most importantly, lower uncertainty tends to lead to more compliant positions and greater private gains. In contrast, the market for legal advice tends to reduce compliance over time — a trend that a regulator may counter either by clarifying the law or by reiterating the law’s continuing ambiguity. If detection is uncertain, the probabilistic compliance framework reveals why, contrary to the prevailing view, the standard damages multiplier should be used to counter detection uncertainty but not legal uncertainty.

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June 27, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Oxford 11th Annual Academic Tax Symposium

OxfordThe 11th Annual Academic Tax Symposium kicks off today at the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation with these presentations by U.S. Tax Profs:

John Brooks (Georgetown), The Definitions of Income, 71 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2017)
Discussant:  Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

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June 26, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Declining Law School Applications And Entering Credentials: Responding With Pivot Pedagogy

Laura Padilla (California Western), Whoosh — Declining Law School Applications and Entering Credentials: Responding with Pivot Pedagogy, 3 Int'l J. Arts &and Human. 43 (2017):

Whoosh — that is the sound when the number of law school applications and entering law students and the credentials of those students, decline all at once. This trend has continued for many years, however, given the cyclical nature of law school applications, it will likely reverse eventually and credentials will improve, but not overnight. The first part of the article briefly discusses the decline in law school applicants and applications, including the confluence of perfect storm factors that resulted in more of the crash landing we experienced than a gradual drop. It also details the corresponding drop in entering credentials which accompanied that decline. The article focuses on what we can do as law professors in response to these declines to better equip students for success in law school, the bar examination and practice.

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June 26, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Rosenzweig Reviews Rozema's Supply Side Incidence Of Consumption Taxes

Jotwell (Tax) (2016)Adam Rosenzweig (Washington University), How Pigouvian Taxes Work on Sellers, and Why We Should Care (JOTWELL) (reviewing Kyle Rozema (Northwestern), Supply Side Incidence of Consumption Taxes (2017)):

Empirical testing of the tax laws, and in particular testing the incidence of the tax laws, may sound boring. But virtually any modern public policy goal that could be implemented through tax policy ultimately turns precisely on this question. For example: Should the United States adopt a tax on sugary drinks? Is a high cigarette tax effective in preventing smoking deaths? Would a carbon tax help to reduce global warming? Ultimately, the answers to these questions turns on who, in fact, ends up bearing the burden of these taxes.

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June 26, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)