TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Conservative Backlash Against Vic Fleischer's Appointment As Co-Chief Tax Counsel For Senate Finance Committee Democrats

Fleischer (2016)Following up on my recent posts:

Politico, Morning Tax: Backlash Begins:

It took a little while, but prominent conservatives in the tax field are starting to question Sen. Ron Wyden’s decision to bring on Victor Fleischer as co-chief tax counsel for Finance Committee Democrats. Fleischer, a University of San Diego law professor, helped jump-start the movement to end the preferential tax treatment of carried interest, which has become something of a cause celebre among Democrats.

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July 26, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Johnson:  How And Why We Built A Majority-Minority Faculty At UC-Davis Law School

UC Davis Logo (2017)Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed: How and Why We Built a Majority-Minority Faculty, by Kevin R. Johnson (Dean, UC-Davis):

In the summer of 1989, the law school at the University of California at Davis added three new faculty members: two Latino men and an African-American woman. I was one of the Latinos, and I didn’t know until I read it in the local paper that the new arrivals were the only people of color on a previously all-white faculty.

I wasn’t surprised. At that time, the faculty at every top-tier American law school was overwhelmingly white and predominantly male. There was nothing unusual about the situation on my new campus, nor about the law school’s apparent intention to diversify.

What has proved unusual is that we succeeded. Today I am dean of the law school, and our faculty diversity is broad: gay and straight, white, Latino, African-American, and Asian. On a faculty of 36 tenured and tenure-track scholars, we have Filipino-, Iranian-, Indian-, and Algerian-Americans, as well as Korean-, Japanese-, and Chinese-Americans. With our most recent hires, we now have a faculty that is 47 percent female and 56 percent minority.

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July 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Alstott:  Tax And … Housing Policy

EvictedAnne Alstott (Yale), Tax and … Housing Policy:

In his new book, Evicted, Harvard sociologist Matt Desmond recounts the human cost of the frequent evictions that disrupt life in poor communities. Desmond doesn’t focus on the role of the tax code in housing policy, but his work suggests directions for further thought. ...

We know that renters are second-class citizens in federal housing policy: taking into account tax expenditures and direct spending, the feds spend about $190 billion per year to subsidize housing, but as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities demonstrates, the subsidies are poorly matched to housing need.

The upside-down distribution of federal housing subsidies isn’t news to tax folks, of course. Still, I think it’s worth looking beyond the home mortgage interest deduction and its glaring flaws. Instead, or addition, we might consider whether the federal government can — and should — redirect subsidy funds toward rental housing need and toward the goal of housing stability in particular.

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July 26, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Li:  'Strangers In A Strange Land'—Chinese Companies In The American Tax System

Ji Li (Rutgers), 'Strangers in a Strange Land'—Chinese Companies in the American Tax System, 68 Hastings L.J. ___ (2016):

Two distinct features describe foreign direct investment (“FDI”) from emerging economies: (1) most of the investors thrive in poor regulatory environments, and (2) the visible hand of the state exerts a powerful influence. Due to these two features, emerging market FDI poses novel questions to tax law scholars and U.S. policymakers. For instance, will the investors import noncompliance practices? Or will they adapt to the complex and stringent regulatory regime of the host country?

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July 26, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

2016 Google Law Review Rankings

Google Scholar (2015)PrawfsBlawg: Google Scholar Law Review Rankings — 2016, by Bryce C. Newell (Tilburg University):

Includes only flagship/general law reviews at ABA accredited schools (I think I've captured (almost) all of these, but let me know if I've missed any). Rankings are calculated based on the average of Google's two scores (h5-index and h5-median), as proposed here by Robert Anderson. The final column shows how much a journal's rank has changed in 2016 versus last year's ranking (0 indicates no change, a positive number indicates the ranking has gone up in 2016, while a negative number indicates a drop in ranking in 2016).

Bryce lists 194 flagship law reviews. Here are the Top 25:

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July 26, 2016 in Law Review Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Chevron In The Circuit Courts:  IRS Is Afforded 4th Least Judicial Deference Among 22 Federal Agencies

Kent H. Barnett (Georgia) & Christopher J. Walker (Ohio State), Chevron in the Circuit Courts:

This Article presents findings from the most comprehensive empirical study to date on how the federal courts of appeals have applied Chevron deference — the doctrine under which courts defer to a federal agency’s reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous statute that it administers. Based on 1561 agency interpretations the circuit courts reviewed from 2003 to 2013, we found that the circuit courts overall upheld 71% of interpretations and applied Chevron deference 75% of the time. But there was nearly a twenty-five percentage-point difference in agency-win rates when the circuit courts applied Chevron deference than when they did not. Among many other things, our study reveals important differences across circuits, agencies, agency formats, and subject matters as to judicial review of agency statutory interpretations — as our rankings based on these variables illustrate.

Table 2

As Table 2 indicates, the subject matters for which courts defer most often to agency interpretations included telecommunications (8.60), Indian affairs (8.33), federal government (8.18), pensions (8.17), education (8.15), health and safety (8.14), and entitlement programs (8.03). Conversely, the subject matters for which courts defer the least were civil rights (5.99), followed by housing (6.04), prisons (6.64), tax (6.74), and employment (6.96). ...

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July 26, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

G20 Calls For Tax Policy Overhaul

G20Following up on Friday's post, G-20 To Scrap 30 Years Of Tax Policy And Recommend Taxing Capital Income At Higher Rates Than Wages:  Sydney Morning Herald, G20 Calls For Tax Policy Overhaul:

Group of 20 finance ministers say taxation policies should be improved worldwide to reflect globalisation and promote socially balanced, sustainable economic growth.

US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said that not only specific tax rules but entire "taxation administrations [based on national boundaries] have to be updated."

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July 26, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vermont Law School Seeks $15 Million Federal Loan To Restructure Its Debts Via Sale-Leaseback With Related LLC

Vermont Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below) on the financial difficulties at Vermont Law School: VT Digger, Vermont Law School Seeking Federal Loan to Ease Debt Costs:

Vermont Law School is hoping to borrow $15 million from the federal government to help restructure its debts and take advantage of lower interest rates.

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July 26, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1174

IRS Logo 2The Hill, Hatch: Senate Won't Remove IRS Head:

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee says a House effort to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has no chance of moving through the Senate.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the most senior Senate Republican, on Thursday said his colleagues and Koskinen don’t always agree but that those conflicts shouldn’t cost the commissioner his job.

“We can have our disagreements with him, but that doesn't mean there's an impeachable offense,” Hatch told reporters at the Capitol. “And for the most part he's been very cooperative with us."

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July 26, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, July 25, 2016

U.S. News:  Law Schools With The Lowest Debt, Highest Rank—BYU, Georgia State, Nebraska, Tennessee

2017 U.S. News LogoU.S. News & World Report, 10 Law Schools Where Alumni Have the Least Debt:

With tuition and fees often running at $30,000 per year or more, many students take out loans. Among the 183 ranked law schools that submitted debt data to U.S. News, the average debt for 2015 graduates who borrowed was $112,748. ... Of the 10 schools where graduates borrowed the least, the average debt was $62,735. ...

Below are the 10 schools where 2015 graduates who borrowed for law school had the least debt. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.

School Average Debt U.S. News Rank
Hawaii $54,988 92 (tie)
South Dakota $57,170 143
North Carolina Central $57,924 RNP*
Nebraska $58,744 57 (tie)
BYU $62,423 38 (tie)
Arkansas (Fayetteville) $64,901 86 (tie)
Georgia State $66,637 57 (tie)
Tennessee $66,939 65 (tie)
Liberty $68,667 RNP
Arkansas (Little Rock) $68,960 136 (tie)

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July 25, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

NY Times:  FASB's New Stock Option Treatment Raises Profits, Highlights Low Effective Tax Rates Paid By Most Companies

The New York Times: A Profit Bump for Companies, and Tax Transparency for Investors, by Gretchen Morgenson:

Think the world of accounting is dull? Then you don’t know about the new auditing rule that is about to raise many companies’ reported profits and bring greater clarity to the actual taxes big corporations pay.

The rule change involves a new approach to stock option accounting, and it will have the greatest impact at companies that dispense oodles of these awards as employee compensation. It arrived in March to little fanfare and was imposed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which sets auditing standards for United States corporations.

The new rule relates to the tax benefit that a company receives when it gives options to executives and workers. The change doesn’t affect what a company must pay in taxes related to its stock option grants. It simply shifts the place where a company reports the options-related tax benefit. The shift makes the benefit more evident to investors.

The standards board changed the rule as part of its accounting simplification program, intended to reduce the costs and complexities of auditing standards and maintain “the usefulness of the information provided to users of financial statements,” as the regulator put it.

But the change will have other effects. Along with appearing to juice many companies’ net earnings, it is likely to bring the spotlight back to the issue of low corporate taxes in America, possibly reigniting that debate.

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July 25, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ:  Tax Complications From A Summer Job

Wall Street Journal Tax Report: Congratulations on the Summer Job! Here’s What You Owe the Government; Some Children’s Returns Are as Complicated as Their Parents’, by Laura Saunders:

Summertime living is supposed to be easy, but for those who take seasonal jobs the taxes can be tricky.

Now is a good time for a checkup if you are a student with a summer job or have a young worker in the family.

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July 25, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Department Of Education's New Fraud Defense To Loan Repayment Will Spur Spurious Lawsuits

Department of Education LogoFollowing up on my previous posts:

Law360 op-ed: No Good Reason For New Student Loan Forgiveness Rules, by Anthony T. Caso (Chapman):

You may have read news reports over the past few years that new lawyers are having more and more trouble finding a job. The recession that hit in 2008 seems to linger on, especially in the legal market. The U.S. Department of Education has a solution. It has proposed new regulations that will spawn a new industry of spurious lawsuits against colleges and universities. Everybody will have to hire lawyers — and lawyers will be the only clear winners in the battles to come.

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July 25, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Brooks Posts Three Tax Papers On SSRN

John R. Brooks (Georgetown):

  • Don't Forget the Standard Deduction, 150 Tax Notes 1589 (Mar. 28, 2016):  "The presidential candidates this campaign season are a diverse group with a wide range of tax policy proposals, but they agree unanimously about one thing: the need to limit itemized deductions. Sadly, however, none of their proposals tackles how limits on itemized deductions would affect the other side of the equation — the standard deduction — which is also very much in need of reform."
  • Student Loans As Taxes, 151 Tax Notes 513 (Apr. 25, 2016):  "The growth of college tuition and the corresponding rise in student loan debt have become major issues of public importance. Total outstanding student debt is at least $1.3 trillion, and tuitions keep growing, even while we arguably need to invest more in higher education to add skills and grow our economy. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has made higher education reform a major part of his Democratic presidential campaign platform, proposing a new financial transactions tax to pay for large grants to states that offer free tuition to public universities. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, has proposed grants to states to offer ‘‘no-debt-tuition,’’ paid for in part by repealing several tax expenditures. These and other plans would essentially increase federal spending on higher education through expanded progressive taxation."

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July 25, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fall 2016 Law Review Article Submission Guide

SubmissionsNancy Levit (UMKC) & Allen Rostron (UMKC) have updated their incredibly useful document, which contains two charts for the Fall 2016 submission season covering 204 law reviews.

The first chart (pp. 1-51) contains information gathered from the journals’ websites on:

  • Methods for submitting an article (such as by e-mail, ExpressO, regular mail, Scholastica, or Twitter)
  • Any special formatting requirements
  • How to request an expedited review
  • How to withdraw an article after it has been accepted for publication elsewhere

The second chart (pp. 52-58) contains the ranking of the law reviews and their schools under six measures:

  • U.S. News: Overall Rank
  • U.S. News: Peer Reputation Rating
  • U.S. News: Judge/Lawyer Reputation Rating
  • Washington & Lee Citation Ranking
  • Washington & Lee Impact Factor
  • Washington & Lee Combined Rating

They also have posted a list of links to the submissions information on each law journal’s website. Nancy notes two highlights in this updated document:

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July 25, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vic Fleischer—'The Closest Thing The Tax World Has To A Rock Star'—Goes To Washington

Fleischer (2016)Following up on Friday's post, Vic Fleischer Named Co-Chief Tax Counsel For Democrats On Senate Finance Committee:  Bloomberg, Mr. Higher-Tax-on-Carried-Interest Goes to Washington, by Lynnley Browning:

He made his name in academia by criticizing a lucrative tax break for private-equity managers. Now Victor Fleischer is taking his anti-loophole thinking to Washington.

Fleischer will serve as a formal adviser to Democrats on the powerful Senate Finance Committee, a perch from which he says he’ll seek ways to close the so-called “carried interest” loophole -- and to curb other tax benefits.

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July 25, 2016 in Congressional News, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (4)

Social Media For Academics

Social Media for AcademicsMark Carrigan (University of Warwick), Social Media for Academics (Sage 2016):

Social media is an increasingly important part of academic life that can be a fantastic medium for promoting your work, networking with colleagues and for demonstrating impact. However, alongside the opportunities it also poses challenging questions about how to engage online, and how to represent yourself professionally.

This practical book provides clear guidance on effectively and intelligently using social media for academic purposes across disciplines, from publicising your work and building networks to engaging the public with your research.  It is supported by real life examples and underpinned by principles of good practice to ensure you have the skills to make the most of this exciting medium.

You’ll find advice on:

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July 25, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1173

IRS Logo 2Politico, Hillary Clinton Warns: Trump Could Use Military, IRS To Punish Critics and Opponents:

At a campaign event in Springfield, Illinois Wednesday afternoon presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton warned Donald Trump would use the military and IRS "to go after his critics and opponents." ...

"Imagine if he had not just Twitter and cable news to go after his critics and opponents, but also the IRS, or for that matter our entire military," Clinton said. "Given what we have seen and heard, do any of us think he'd be restrained?"

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July 25, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, July 24, 2016

If Black Lives Matter At Whittier, Shouldn't Law School Address Graduates' Abysmal Bar Passage And Employment Rates?

LBLMFollowing up on my previous posts (here and here):  The College Fix, Law Professor Who Wore Black Lives Matter Shirt to Class Has a Long Trail of Student Grievances, by Samantha Figueroa:

When a law professor wore a Black Lives Matter shirt to class earlier this year, she saw it as a teaching tool and exercise in academic freedom.

Some of her “concerned students” saw the gesture as an attempt to push her “personal beliefs” on them, but also a threat to their ability to become practicing lawyers – and told her so in a much-derided memo.

The incident was revived this month after Inside Higher Ed confirmed the institution was southern California’s Whittier Law School, whose student body is majority-minority, and the professor was Patricia Leary.

Though Leary’s public critique of the anonymous memo has drawn most of the attention, the students’ deeper anxieties have been overshadowed: Whittier’s bar passage rate is plummeting.

And if new accreditation standards under review at the American Bar Association are implemented, the value of students’ degrees from the $46,000-a-year institution may be imperiled. ...

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July 24, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Perry Fleischer Presents Autonomy, Uncertainty and the Poor: Reflections On 'Charity Law And The Liberal State' Today At Melbourne

Fleischer (Miranda)Miranda Perry Fleischer (San Diego) presents Autonomy, Uncertainty and the Poor: Reflections on Matthew Harding's "Charity Law and the Liberal State", 41 Australian J. for Legal Phil. ___ (2016), today at the Australian Society Of Legal Philosophy Annual Conference at Melbourne Law School:

In Charity Law and the Liberal State [Cambridge University Press 2014], Matthew Harding argues that one can best justify the existence, scope, and substance of charity law as reflecting the state’s desire to further the political ideal of autonomy as grounded in Razian principles.  Complicating Harding’s job, however, is the problem of factual uncertainty:  it is frequently hard to identify the impact of a given state policy on a specific currency such as autonomy, equality, opportunity, or well-being. This commentary argues that Harding both under- and over-values the importance of this uncertainty.

He over-values this uncertainty in his discussion of the charitable tax subsidies, when he implies that the complex nature of distributive questions surrounding the subsidies renders them an ultimately unfulfilling line of inquiry.  Despite the fact that the charitable tax subsidies are but one component by which a state might further the autonomy of the poor, however, understanding the extent to which the subsidies do or do not do so is necessary for determining whether the poor in a given state can adequately exercise their autonomy.

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July 24, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump's Call To Repeal The Johnson Amendment And Allow Churches To Endorse Political Candidates

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

The IRS Scandal, 1172

IRS Logo 2Politico, IRS Manager Punished for Attending Obama Rally on Work Trip:

A supervisor at the Internal Revenue Service has received a 14-day suspension for ditching work in 2012 to attend a re-election rally for President Barack Obama.

The IRS official's actions violated the Hatch Act, a federal law limiting politicking by government employees, according to a statement Wednesday from the Office of Special Counsel. ...

The statement did not name the IRS staffer, but said she is an "operations manager" for the tax agency. The 14-day unpaid suspension was agreed to by the worker as part of a settlement that also resolved charges she violated the tax agency's internal code of conduct, the statement said.

"Federal employees are encouraged to participate in the political process, but they must do so on their own time, outside the workplace, and in their personal capacity,” Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said.

Several enforcement actions have been taken against IRS personnel for political activity in the 2012 election cycle.

In 2014, Lerner's office announced that an IRS help line worker received a 100-day unpaid suspension for urging callers to support Obama and for reciting a pro-Obama chant "based on the spelling of the employee's last name."

The personnel actions come amid continuing Republican complaints of anti-conservative bias at the tax agency. Some House GOP lawmakers are pressing a drive to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over his alleged lack of cooperation with Congressional investigations into the bias claims.

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July 24, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Perry Fleischer Presents How Is The Opera Like The Soup Kitchen? Today At Melbourne

Fleischer (Miranda)Miranda Perry Fleischer (San Diego) presents How is the Opera Like the Soup Kitchen? in The Philosophical Foundations of Tax Law (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2016) today at the Australian Society Of Legal Philosophy Annual Conference at Melbourne Law School:

The charitable tax subsidies are, at heart, redistributive. Some individuals (the recipients of charitable goods and services, such as students, museum-goers, and soup kitchen patrons) receive benefits. Other individuals pay for these benefits, both voluntarily (through donations) and involuntarily (in the form of higher taxes or reduced benefits). At first glance, it appears that the redistribution effectuated by the subsidies violates commonly-held notions of distributive justice. After all, the subsidies treat charities that serve the wealthy (like the opera) the same as charities that aid the poor (such as the soup kitchen). How can spending public funds on the wealthy in this manner be considered just? As this Chapter shows, so doing is just under expansive interpretations of resource egalitarianism and left-libertarianism that account for expensive tastes and talent-pooling.

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July 23, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Senate Bill Would Exempt Student Loans Discharged For Any Reason From Being Taxed As Income

Student Loans CautionSenators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have introduced the Student Loan Tax Relief Act:

The bill amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exempt student loans discharged for any reason from being taxed as income, including through participation in the federal income-based repayment (IBR) and income-contingent repayment (ICR) loan forgiveness programs; through death or disability of the recipient; or due to fraud by an institution of higher education, known as "borrower defense to repayment."

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July 23, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Amazon Enters Student Loan Business

Amazon logoWall Street Journal, Amazon Tiptoes Into Banking Business Through Student Loans:

Amazon is stepping into the student-loan marketplace.

The online retailer has entered into a partnership with San Francisco lender Wells Fargo in which the bank’s student-lending arm will offer interest-rate discounts to select Amazon shoppers. ...

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July 23, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1171

WSThe Politicization of Everything, The Weekly Standard (Aug. 1, 2016):

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent outburst against Donald Trump has been roundly criticized by people of all political stripes. Insofar as her comments suggested a clear bias about cases that could come before the Supreme Court, they were clearly a mistake and a departure from the norms of Court behavior. After predictable media attempts to defend her by saying "everyone does it," Justice Ginsburg apologized and walked back her remarks.

This is not, however, a one-off incident. It is part and parcel of a clear and consistent pattern of the left's increasing politicization of everything. And the chief instigator of this behavior has been President Obama. In the modern era, presidents and ex-presidents once showed a degree of political restraint. President Obama has blasted through these restraints and spoken freely as a partisan rather than as a president. 

An early example is the president's criticism of the Citizens United case in his 2010 State of the Union address. It is one thing for a president to advance a view about the role of money in politics; it is quite another to launch a broadside about a specific Court decision in front of Supreme Court justices captive in the front row of a nationally televised speech, complete with cheering partisans standing all around. This, of course, resulted in a classic media deflection, namely, criticism of Justice Samuel Alito's silent (and accurate by the way) response. This was certainly no sign of presidential respect for the Court's independence.

President Obama's behavior here was of a piece with his comments about the unfolding IRS scandal in 2014. Here was a genuine abuse of government power, replete with lying, stonewalling, and the wanton destruction of public documents. It would be one thing if the president were to opine about a congressional investigation into the IRS scandal. It is quite another to do so when the president's Justice Department had launched its own investigation of the IRS.

It is perhaps fair to say that the administration's investigation, headed by Justice Department attorney (and Obama contributor) Barbara Bosserman, was a sham from the beginning. But is it acceptable for the president to pronounce there was not "even a smidgen" of IRS wrongdoing while the Justice Department's so-called investigation was underway? ...

With regard to IRS targeting of political opponents, for example—the temerity of which would make Richard Nixon blush—was there really a sufficient reason to excuse lying, stonewalling, and the destruction of computers and literally thousands of emails? Is there no single Democrat who can rise above his or her own partisanship and acknowledge that while there may be partisan gain for Republicans, an investigation might also be good for the defense of liberty and government restraint? Would they want the IRS to target them?

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July 23, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bank, Cheffins & Wells:  Executive Pay—What Worked?

Steven A. Bank (UCLA), Brian R. Cheffins (Cambridge) & Harwell Wells (Temple), Executive Pay: What Worked?,  42 J. Corp. L. ___ (2016):

CEO pay is a controversial issue in America but there was a time, often overlooked today, when chief executives were not paid nearly as much as they are now. From 1940 to the mid-1970s executive pay was modest by today’s standards even though U.S. business was generally thriving. What worked to keep executive pay in check? Economist Thomas Piketty and others credit high marginal income tax rates, leading to calls for a return to a similar tax regime. This paper casts doubt on the impact tax had and also shows that neither the configuration of boards nor shareholder activism played a significant role in constraining executive pay. It emphasizes instead the roles played by strong unions, a different and more circumscribed market for managerial talent, and social norms, explanations that do not easily lend themselves to generating modern policy prescriptions.


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July 22, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Could Your Social Media Posts Prevent You From Becoming A Lawyer?

Social MediaKeith Lee, Could Your Social Media Posts Prevent You From Becoming A Lawyer?:

The July bar exam is coming up next week and is on the minds of many law school graduates. ... But after law school, and before the bar exam, there is one other hurdle law school graduates must clear on their path to becoming a licensed attorney – they must pass a Character and Fitness Evaluation (CFE). ...

[Otion] Gjini was denied admission to Bar of Maryland. [He is not] a sympathetic applicant. Gjini was mostly denied because he had frequent DUIs and did not disclose that he was facing a charge of violating his probation until the charge was found by the Maryland Character Committee (MCC) and brought up during his hearing.

But also at issue when Gjini appeared before the MCC, were his online postings. During law school, Gjini, like almost every law school student, frequently commented on various social media services. During his examination, the MCC came across Gjini’s public accounts and found the following comments:

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July 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Mike Graetz Looks At International Tax From 30,000 Feet

Graetz (2015)TaxVox:  Mike Graetz Looks at International Tax From 30,000 Feet, by Howard Gleckman:

It is so easy to get lost in the weeds of tax policy. Nowhere is that more true than in the hyper-technical world of international tax that only a handful of economists and lawyers really understand. That’s why a recent short talk by Columbia University law professor Michael Graetz was so useful.

Mike spoke last Friday at a Tax Policy Center conference that examined two interesting corporate tax reforms designed by Alan Auerbach of the University of California Berkeley and Michael Devereux of Oxford University and colleagues. One was a destination-based corporate income tax and the other was a destination-based cash flow tax that would function much like a Value-Added Tax. ...

Graetz did the rest of us a great service by providing an easily understandable 30,000-foot overview of the challenges of international tax.

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July 22, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Question Of The Week: Did You Like Law School?

ABA Logo (2016)ABA Journal Question of the Week:  Did You Like Law School?:

In the last week, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence—who graduated from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1986—was named Donald Trump’s running mate on the Republican presidential ticket. In a 1994 news story unearthed in response to Pence’s nomination, Pence said he didn’t like law school.

“No one I know likes law school,” he told the Indianapolis Business Journal at the time. “It was a bad experience. I wouldn’t wish it on a dog I didn’t like.”

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July 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Trump Family Would Get $7 Billion Windfall From Estate Tax Plan

Trump (2016)The Hill, Trump Family Would Get $7B Windfall From Estate-Tax Plan: Analyst:

Donald Trump's family would get a $7.1 billion tax cut under the Republican presidential nominee's proposal to eliminate the federal estate tax, a centrist think tank estimated.

"The staggeringly high value of the tax cut for the Trump dynasty alone carries the same price tag as multiple high-value national priorities," Third Way said in an analysis Wednesday.

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July 22, 2016 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

WSJ:  G-20 To Scrap 30 Years Of Tax Policy And Recommend Taxing Capital Income At Higher Rates Than Wages

G202Wall Street Journal, A Shrinking World Spurs Calls to Rewrite the Tax Guidebook:

The argument against taxing capital income relatively more than wages is losing its force.

The Group of 20 has spouted the importance of “inclusive growth” for years without spelling out what it really means or how to generate it. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, at least, will be telling G-20 finance ministers in Chengdu, China, this weekend what it thinks it should mean for taxation: less of it on low-income workers and more on high-income shareholders.

The Paris-based think tank has just junked the conventional economic wisdom on tax it had been promoting for years. That old view said income from capital that individuals receive—such as interest, rents, and dividends—should be taxed much more lightly than wages and salaries.

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July 22, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Amidst Financial Free Fall, Nine Thomas Jefferson Faculty Retire

Thomas Jefferson Logo (2015)Amidst a very challenging budgetary environment caused by an ill-fated building project and a 38% enrollment decline since 2011 (links below), nine Thomas Jefferson Law School faculty have retired:

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July 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

New York Terminates The Tampon Tax

TamponFollowing up on my previous posts:

Newsweek, New York Terminates the Tampon Tax:

There are plenty of things you can buy in the U.S. tax-free: bagged salads in Colorado, seasoned croutons in Texas, manicures and massages in West Virginia. But in 40 states, menstrual products—used to care for a normal bodily function that occurs every month, for 30 to 40 years—are taxed anywhere from 4 to 10 percent. Meanwhile, we can all participate in rodeos tax-free (thanks, South Dakota!)

On Thursday, however, New York became the 11th state without a tax on menstrual products when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation eliminating local and state sales taxes on them.

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July 22, 2016 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

'A Talent For Teaching Simply Does Not Factor Into Tenure Decisions At Dartmouth'

DartmouthDartBlog, Tenure/Teaching: The Pendulum Swings:

A member of the faculty writes in:

Faculty hired 5-7 years ago were told explicitly that a couple of peer-reviewed articles and a book contract with a well-respected academic press was sufficient for tenure. I often used the word “humane” to describe the requirements for tenure, in that they rewarded both scholarship of a high caliber and teaching prowess. ...

Professors hired at that time are now coming up for tenure. ... Recent tenure decisions have many members of my cohort scrambling for the exits—going on the market and taking on visiting appointments elsewhere—now that they understand that they were given a false impression of how different aspects of their trajectories would be evaluated.

I hate to say this, but many younger colleagues express regret at having agonized over their lesson plans and expended so much effort on honing their skills as classroom instructors, when a talent for teaching simply does not factor into tenure decisions. Phil Hanlon’s recent remarks on education only confirm what we already know, that Dartmouth is moving toward a corporate state university model wherein professors are retained for their “productivity”—quantity of publication over quality—and ability to bring in large grants, while underpaid adjuncts teach undergraduates. ...

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July 22, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1170

IRS Logo 2Town Hall, Pushing Back the Bullies:

The most important thing to learn about bullies is that they don’t expect resistance, and when it comes, they often back down – but not if the pushback isn’t serious.

Several instances come to mind. ...

The best example of progressive bullying with no sufficient pushback is the Obama Administration’s use of the Internal Revenue Service as a political goon squad.

In 2010, Democrat U.S. Sen. Max Baucus (MT) openly pressured the Internal Revenue Service to investigate tea party groups, followed by similar letters to the IRS from other prominent Democrats. It worked. 

In the most egregious instance, after True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht applied for tax exempt status in 2010, she and her husband were subjected to six FBI domestic terrorism inquiries, an IRS “visit,” two IRS business audits, two IRS personal audits, and inspections of their business by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). No one has answered for these Soviet-style actions by the Obama Administration to silence her. 

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was brought in supposedly to clean up the mess left by departed nonprofit section official Lois Lerner and other partisan IRS employees.  Instead, he has effectively thwarted the effort.  The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee woke up long enough to vote along party lines on June 17 to censure Koskinen, but so what?  He’s still running the IRS.

Last Thursday, conservative House members finally paved the way for a possible floor vote later in the year to impeach Mr. Koskinen for blocking inquiries, lying under oath, “losing” emails (sound familiar?) and ignoring a congressional subpoena.

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July 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Grewal & Hemel Debate:  Why Doesn’t The IRS Comply With The Congressional Review Act?

Yale Journal on Regulation Notice & Comment Blog: Why Doesn’t the IRS Comply with the Congressional Review Act?, by Andy Grewal (Iowa):

Under the Congressional Review Act, the effective date of so-called “major” regulations must be delayed to give Congress a chance to veto them via a joint resolution. Major regulations are generally those that would have a $100+ million effect on the economy. See 5 USC 804(2)(A). See also 5 USC 804(2)(B) & (C) (providing other categories of major rules). However, as discussed in recent news stories, the White House and the IRS have signed a memo that exempts tax regulations from the CRA’s definition of a major rule. The IRS apparently believes that tax regulations merely implement statutes and thus do not have a significant effect on the economy. Consequently, they do not require congressional review.

At first blush, the IRS’s position might seem unfathomable. Of course tax regulations significantly affect the economy -- otherwise they would not raise so many controversies The IRS’s notices and regulations on inversion transactions, for example, essentially killed multiple cross border deals, including the $160 billion Pfizer-Allergan merger. And when the IRS interpreted Section 36B to extend ACA tax credits for policies purchased on HealthCare.Gov, that had potentially billion-dollar consequences. Senator Orrin Hatch has consequently raised concerns about the IRS’s failure to observe the CRA and is currently awaiting a response from Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

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July 21, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should After-Hours Work-Related Email Be Illegal?

GmailFast Company, What Sending After-Hours Emails Does To Your Productivity:

In a new report called "Exhausted But Unable to Disconnect," professors from Lehigh University, Virginia Tech, and Colorado State University found that an "always on" culture may prevent employees from fully disengaging from work, causing stress.

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July 21, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Georgetown 3L:  Law School Is A Terrible Idea For Most People

Boston Globe: Put Down That Law School Application Before It’s Too Late, by Isvari Mohan (J.D. 2016, Georgetown ("among the 1 percent of students who love law school"):

I’m going to bet that many of you have considered going to law school. Whether you’re a scientist, a doctor, an engineer, a businesswoman, or a stereotypical liberal arts grad, you might have thought that law school would help you with something. Most of the time, it won’t. Here’s why law school is a terrible idea for most people:

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July 21, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (18)

NY AG Continues Crackdown On Sales Tax Abuse In Art World With Gagosian Gallery $4.3 Million Settlement

GagosianFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Press Release, A.G. Schneiderman Announces $4.28 Million Settlement With International Art Dealer Gagosian Gallery For Failure To Collect And Remit New York Sales Tax:

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today a $4.28 million settlement with international art dealer Gagosian Gallery following an investigation into sales tax collection practices. Gagosian Gallery is a leading dealer of contemporary art, with galleries in New York City, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, London, Paris, Geneva, Rome, Athens and Hong Kong. Its owner, Laurence Gagosian, is a prominent figure in the contemporary art scene, and it is estimated to sell over one billion dollars of art annually. ...

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July 21, 2016 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

David Cole Named National Legal Director Of ACLU

Cole 3Press Release, ACLU Taps Constitutional Expert David Cole as National Legal Director:

The American Civil Liberties Union has tapped David Cole, a leading constitutional law expert and litigator, to become its National Legal Director, leading its Supreme Court practice and overseeing the work of the organization’s nearly 300 lawyers, Executive Director Anthony D. Romero announced today. The ACLU has participated in nearly every landmark case involving political expression, freedom of the press, speech on the internet, and separation of church and state in the U.S. Supreme Court during the last 96 years. Cole will replace Steven R. Shapiro, who has served as National Legal Director for a quarter century. ...

In his role as National Legal Director, Cole will direct a program that includes approximately 1,400 state and federal lawsuits on a broad range of civil liberties issues. He will directly manage 100 ACLU staff attorneys in New York headquarters, oversee the organization’s U.S. Supreme Court docket, and provide leadership to more than 200 staff attorneys who work in ACLU affiliate offices in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. Another 1,700 volunteer cooperating attorneys throughout the country are engaged in ACLU litigation. With an annual headquarters budget of $140 million, and 1.3 million supporters, the ACLU is the nation’s largest and oldest civil liberties organization. ...

Cole is currently the Hon. George J. Mitchell Professor in Law and Public Policy at Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches constitutional law, national security, and criminal justice. ...

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July 21, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Brooks Reviews Hines & Logue's Delegating Tax

Jotwell (2016)Kim Brooks (Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University), Don’t Delegate This Reading, JOTWELL (reviewing James R. Hines Jr. (Michigan) & Kyle D. Logue (Michigan), Delegating Tax, 114 Mich. L. Rev. 235 (2015)):

In modern regulatory states, the theoretically firm lines dividing the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government are increasingly blurred. Teasing out how to design and enforce effective regulation has become a major preoccupation of scholars and policymakers in every area of law.

Delegating Tax, an article by the talented James R. Hines Jr. and Kyle D. Logue, is wonderful reading in that light. The article contrasts the reluctance of Congress to delegate the lawmaking authority of the IRS and Treasury in the tax area with Congress’ increasing willingness to delegate that authority to other federal administrative agencies. The authors make the case for great delegation in the tax area, noting the potential for the executive branch to draw on greater expertise and to respond more quickly. ...

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July 21, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Houston College Of Law Seeks To Hire Staff Attorney In Its Low Income Taxpayer Clinic

Houston College 2Houston College of Law seeks to hire a Staff Attorney in its Low Income Taxpayer Clinic:

Job Description

SUMMARY  Houston College of Law, located in downtown Houston, recently received approval from the IRS to receive a grant to operate a LITC. Beginning with the fall 2016 semester, the LITC will provide direct representation in federal tax controversies to low income taxpayers. Clients assisted by the LITC might need a variety of types of assistance in resolving their federal tax issues with the IRS, including entering into installment agreements, submitting offers in compromise, negotiating with IRS Appeals, requesting Collection Due Process Hearings, and filing petitions and litigating in the United States Tax Court. Funding for this position through the IRS grant currently is available only for the fall 2016 semester. Houston College of Law has applied for grant funds for calendar year 2017 and intends to apply for grant funds for future years. Employment as a Staff Attorney in the LITC following the fall 2016 semester is contingent on grant funding and the law school’s requirements.

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July 21, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pepperdine University Seeks To Hire Tenure-Track And Visiting Undergraduate Business Law Professors

PepperdineAssistant Professor of Business Law

The business administration division of Pepperdine University seeks a candidate with a terminal degree in law for a tenure-track position in business law. Candidates are expected to complete all requirements for the JD before the date of appointment, which is August 1, 2017. A documented research interest in law is required and teaching experience is preferred. The expected courses taught would be undergraduate classes in business law and international business. The flexibility to teach occasionally in another field is preferred.

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July 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School App Tracks Students’ Professional Skills

UNNational Law Journal, Law School App Tracks Students’ Professional Skills:

Want to graduate from law school as a well-rounded attorney?

There’s an app for that.

Next month, the University of Nebraska College of Law will roll out an app designed to help students develop 27 distinct professional skills by tracking their activities and coursework. Administrators say that the app, built by students in the university’s computer science school over the past year with input from law faculty and students, is the first of its kind at a law school.

“The goal is to help students focus on the broad range of skills they will need as lawyers,” said Interim Law Dean Richard Moberly. “In some ways, I want students to use this to take ownership over their educational opportunities.”

The Build Your Character app aims to encourage students to look beyond reading, writing and “thinking like a lawyer” to hone abilities including networking, listening, organizing and problem solving—skills that students tend to overlook.

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July 21, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1169: Tax Profs Oppose Impeachment/Censure Of Commissioner Koskinen

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Congress Reaches New Low In Proposed Censure Of IRS Commissioner, by Bryan Camp (Texas Tech):

Those who voted for H. Res. 737 are like my son who, when younger, would throw objects across the house in his fits of frustration.  The difference, however, is that at least my son was careful to hurl objects that would not do much damage or break.  In contrast, H. Res. 737 seeks to throw Commissioner Koskinen across the House and so risks doing great damage to a decent man and risks further breakage to a tax collection agency already weakened by relentless and mindless budget cuts.

Look, I’m a law professor.  I try to teach my students more than just an understanding of the rules relating to taxation.  I want them to respect the law-giving authorities, both the Congress that writes the laws and the agency that must administer the laws as written, the IRS.

H. Res. 737 undermines my teachings. The resolution is permeated with pettiness, putrid with peevish odors. In case you think I just like alliteration, let’s take a look at some of the “charges” in the document and you will see what I mean. ...

Not only are these accusations baseless, they’re trashy.  The entire reason that Congress even knew about the potentially missing email was because Mr. Koskinen was, in fact, transparent about the email search process and dutifully reported to Congress about several problems in June 2013.  He was able to do so, in part, because he consistently attempted to inculcate a sense of duty within the IRS.  Rather than hiding problems as the resolution asserts, Mr. Koskinen went to extreme lengths to disclose and explain them.

What seems to affront the sensitive souls of those who voted H. Res. 737 out of committee is that Ms. Lerner’s hard drive crashed in June 2011.  They have faith, sure and pure, certain and implacable, that this was no accident and that Lerner was hiding something.  I say “faith” because they have no evidence.  Even the faith part is shaky:  the TIGTA report that started it all (May 14, 2013) shows Lerner had no reason to hide or cover up anything in June 2011.  No one was watching or investigating her in June 2011.  The entire matter of inappropriate scrutiny of 501(c)(4) applications was still an internal matter.  It did not hit the Congressional radar screen (according to the first TIGTA report, on page 3), until the 2012 election cycle.  TIGTA began its investigation in June 2012, about a year after Lerner’s hard drive crashed.   It sure takes a lot of faith to believe that a hard drive crash in June 2011 was Lerner’s attempt to thwart an investigation that started in June 2012.  Gosh, you’d THINK she’d would have at least waited until May 2012 so she could get rid of more stuff…

But those searching for conspiracy have faith.  Their faith guides them even a step further into fantasy: since Lerner’s hard drive must have contained incriminating evidence (because it crashed), it follows that the White Paper and Mr. Koskinen’s letter were just covering up the cover-up.  You see, a determined and faithful conspiracy theorist is not deterred by a lack of evidence.  A lack of evidence just proves a successful cover-up. ...

H. Res. 737 is a petty product of petulance. I’ve watched Mr. Koskinen testify at several hearings and what I have seen is grace under pressure. He came out of retirement at age 74 to volunteer for his country.  I would like to see any one of the yahoos who voted H. Res. 737 out of committee step up and volunteer to manage the IRS when they turn 74.  Wait…no…on second thought, given how they have mangled their oversight duties, that is not a sight I hope to see.

I sincerely hope that when Congress re-convenes in September, the House will treat H. Res. 737 like the garbage it is and throw it away.

The Surly Subgroup:  Don’t Impeach IRS Commissioner Koskinen, by Leandra Lederman (Indiana):

... The censure and impeachment efforts relate to government attempts to obtain Lois Lerner’s emails. Production of these emails was a major challenge for the IRS, for many reasons, as detailed in an enclosure accompanying a June 2014 letter from IRS employee Leonard Oursler to the Senate Committee on Finance. Among them was the fact that Ms. Lerner’s computer’s hard drive had crashed in June 2011. In written testimony before the House Oversight Committee in March 2014, Commissioner Koskinen stated that “More than 250 IRS employees have spent nearly 100,000 hours working directly on complying with the investigations, at a cost of nearly $8 million. In order to properly protect taxpayer information while efficiently processing voluminous materials for production, we had to add capacity to our information technology systems and, therefore, spent an additional $6 million to $8 million to optimize existing systems and ensure a stable infrastructure.” In June 2015, TIGTA reported that “[n]o evidence was uncovered that any IRS employees had been directed to destroy or hide information from Congress, the DOJ, or TIGTA”, although it also found “that the IRS did not put forth an effort to uncover additional, responsive emails” (p.18 of TIGTA’s June 30, 2015 report). Bryan Camp discusses that issue in a post at Procedurally Taxing.

Others have observed that the attempt to impeach Commissioner Koskinen seems partisan and unjustified, as well as unprecedented. It is an unnecessary distraction for an agency struggling with inadequate resources. Moreover, attacks like this one will no doubt deter other talented individuals from being willing to serve in the top ranks of the IRS. The ACTC is right in requesting “Congress [to] reject impeachment and censure, and instead apply its time and attentions to improving both the tax law and the administration of our tax system.”

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July 21, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Law School 2.0: How Legal Tech Disrupted Traditional Legal Education

LHLegal Tech News, Law School 2.0: How Legal Tech Disrupted Traditional Legal Education:

Data-driven law school decisions and more hands-on technology courses are upending conventional legal education.

Providing attorneys with the economic mobility and technical acumen to survive in today's competitive marketplace should seem like the goal of any modern legal education. But oftentimes, it is an area where law schools fall short.

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July 20, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)