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Friday, April 10, 2015

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

NY Times: Past Drug Charges Derail a Law Student’s Education

New York Times, Past Drug Charges Derail a Law Student’s Education:

David Powers came out of a drug rehabilitation program about 15 years ago hungry to swing his life in a significantly different direction. And that he did.

He went back to college and graduated with a 3.9 grade point average. He was hired at a major accounting firm, worked in senior positions at three hedge funds, and was accepted to the law school at St. John’s University.

Mr. Powers still calls the day of his arrest, when he was pulled off a destructive path, the “best day of my life.”

Halfway through his coursework, while trying to get ahead on his application to the bar, he acknowledged to St. John’s how far he had come. Not only had he been convicted of drug possession, a fact he disclosed on his application, but he had also originally been charged with selling drugs, a fact he had not. St. John’s then rescinded his acceptance — kicked him out — saying that if it had known his complete history, it would never have admitted him in the first place.

Mr. Powers sued the school, taking the case all the way to the state’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals. Last week, the court handed down the final word in a 5-to-1 decision: Mr. Powers would not return to St. John’s.

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April 10, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tax Presentations at Today's Indiana Symposium on Living Without in America

Indiana (2015)The Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equality hosts a symposium today on Living Without in America.  Tax Prof Ajay Mehrotra is moderating a panel on Economics and Poverty, with two tax presentations:

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April 10, 2015 in Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Grewal: The Un-Precedented Tax Court

Tax Court Logo 2Andy Grewal (Iowa), The Un-Precedented Tax Court:

Around the turn of this century, a "highly-charged" debate erupted over unpublished federal appellate court opinions. Some argued that the common prohibition against citation to those opinions posed no constitutional problems, while others argued that no-citation rules improperly eliminated a significant check on the judicial power.

This debate might have been expected to reach, but has not yet reached, issues related to the purportedly nonprecedential nature of most Tax Court opinions. Under court practices, Memorandum Opinions nominally lack precedential value. And by Congressional fiat, Summary Opinions cannot be cited as precedent.

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April 10, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brunson: Tax and Utopia

UtopiaSamuel Brunson (Loyola-Chicago), Accommodating (Economic) Diversity: Applying the Income Tax to Utopian Communities:

Communalism has a long history in the United States. Throughout the nineteenth century, the country was seemingly dotted with utopian groups. Most were Christian groups, trying to follow the New Testament model of a body of believers that held all property in common. While these groups generally fell apart quickly, in response to inside or outside pressures, several large groups survived the turn of the century.

In the early twentieth century, though, these religious communal groups had to contend with something new: an income tax. Communalism did not fit into the individualistic economic system envisioned by the drafters of the income tax. So Congress designed a special tax regime, now codified in section 501(d) of the Internal Revenue Code, which exempts religious communal holding companies from tax, while imputing the holding companies’ income to the members of the group. Section 501(d) provides communitarian groups with flexibility to reflect their unusual economics.

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April 10, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 701

IRS Logo 2Judicial Watch Press Release, IRS Documents Reveal Lerner Knew Targeting Criteria of Nonprofit Groups ‘Might Raise Questions’:

Judicial Watch today released a new batch of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) documents, including an email from former IRS official Lois Lerner in February 2012 asking that a program be set up to “put together some training points to help them [IRS staffers] understand the potential pitfalls” of revealing too much information to Congress.  The documents also contain a Lerner email from 2013 in which she says she is willing to take the blame on some aspects of the scandal.  She also indicates that she “understands why the IRS criteria” leading to the targeting of Tea Party and other opponents of the President Obama “might raise questions.”

The documents were released under court order in one of the Judicial Watch’s ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits about the Obama IRS’ abuses (Judicial Watch v. IRS (No. 1:13-cv-1559).

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April 10, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Kahng Presents The Taxation of Women in Same-Sex Marriages Today at Fordham

Kahng (2015)Lily Kahng (Seattle) presents The Not-So-Merry Wives of Windsor: The Taxation of Women in Same-Sex Marriages, 101 Cornell L. Rev. __ (2015), at Fordham today as part of its Faculty Workshop Series:

In United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act definition of marriage as “between one man and one woman” and is now poised to recognize a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Windsor cleared the way for same-sex couples to be treated as married under federal tax laws, and the Obama administration promptly announced that it would recognize same-sex marriages for tax purposes. Academics, policymakers, and activists lauded these developments as finally achieving tax equality between gay and straight married couples. This Article argues that the claimed tax equality of Windsor is illusory and that the only way to achieve actual equality is to eliminate taxation on the basis of marital status.

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April 9, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Muller: Number Of Law School Applicants Has Bottomed Out, But Quality Of Applicants Continues To Plummet

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), The Wrong Sort of Law School Applicants, Visualized:

There's good news and bad news for law schools. The good news is that total law school applicants appear to be reaching the bottom. After projections last year that the worst may be yet to come, it appears that the Class of 2018 will have only slightly fewer applicants than the Class of 2017. Current projections are about a 2.8-point drop in applicants, and that gap may narrow if recent trends of late applicants continue. ...

Muller

But the bad news is [] the quality of the applicants. In short, the wrong sort of applicants are applying. ... 

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April 9, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Judges Are Far Less Biased Than Law Students

Dan Kahan (Yale), David Hoffman (Temple), Danieli Evans (Yale), Neal Devins (William & Mary), Eugene Lucci (Judge. Ohio Court of Common Pleas) & Katherine Cheng (Yale), 'Ideology' or 'Situation Sense'? An Experimental Investigation of Motivated Reasoning and Professional Judgment, 163 U. Pa. L. Rev. ___ (2015):

This paper reports the results of a study on whether political predispositions influence judicial decisionmaking. The study was designed to overcome the two principal limitations on existing empirical studies that purport to find such an influence: the use of nonexperimental methods to assess the decisions of actual judges; and the failure to use actual judges in ideologically-biased-reasoning experiments. The study involved a sample of sitting judges (n = 253), who, like members of a general public sample (n = 800), were culturally polarized on climate change, marijuana legalization and other contested issues. When the study subjects were assigned to analyze statutory interpretation problems, however, only the responses of the general-public subjects and not those of the judges varied in patterns that reflected the subjects’ cultural values. The responses of a sample of lawyers (n = 217) were also uninfluenced by their cultural values; the responses of a sample of law students (n = 284), in contrast, displayed a level of cultural bias only modestly less pronounced than that observed in the general-public sample. Among the competing hypotheses tested in the study, the results most supported the position that professional judgment imparted by legal training and experience confers resistance to identity-protective cognition — a dynamic associated with politically biased information processing generally — but only for decisions that involve legal reasoning. The scholarly and practical implications of the findings are discussed.

Wall Street Journal Law Bog, Study: Judges Are Far Less Biased Than Law School Students:

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April 9, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Court Rules San Diego's Law Prof's Blog Post Was Not Defamatory

MartinNational Law Journal, Law Prof’s Blog Post Was Not Defamatory, Court Rules:

A San Diego law professor did not defame the plaintiff in a disability-benefits lawsuit when he blogged about her case in 2012, a California appellate court has ruled.

A three-judge panel of the state Fourth District Court of Appeal on April 2 affirmed dismissal of Melanie Welch’s suit against Shaun Martin [right], a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law, dean Stephen Ferruolo and the university itself.

Martin maintains a blog about decisions by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and California appellate courts.

The court found that the information in Martin’s Jan. 31, 2012, post about the court’s decision in Welch’s lawsuit against the California State Teachers’ Retirement System was pulled directly from the ruling or clearly identifiable as his opinion.

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April 9, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lat, Diamond Debate The Law School Crisis

Washington Post op-ed:  Law School Is Way Too Expensive. And Only The Federal Government Can Fix That., by David Lat:

There’s no shortage of lawyers in this country. Only 57 percent of 2013 law school graduates obtained full-time legal jobs nine months after graduation. Yet the federal government subsidizes the production of even more lawyers by lending the cost of attendance to basically anyone who decides to enroll in law school, without regard for the quality of the school or the job prospects of its graduates. A student going to Harvard Law School, where 86.9 percent of 2013 grads had full-time legal jobs, has the same access to federal funds as a student going to Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where just 22.9 percent of 2013 grads work as lawyers.

This policy is hurting students. Federally subsidized loans have enabled law school tuition to spiral out of control. As noted by Professor Paul Campos, “[i]n real, inflation-adjusted terms, tuition at private American law schools has doubled over the past 20 years, tripled over the past 30, and quadrupled over the past 40,” and resident tuition at public law schools has climbed even faster. So long as the federal loans keep coming, tuition is unlikely to stop rising. In the words of Professor Brian Tamanaha author of  Failing Law Schools, “Federal loans are an irresistible (and life-sustaining) drug for revenue addicted law schools … law schools have been ramping up tuition and enrollment without restraint thanks to an obliging federal loan program.”

If the government were to stop lending for law school or even just impose per-student or per-school caps on loan amounts (perhaps combined with making it easier to discharge student loans in bankruptcy), law schools would have to dramatically lower tuition, in order to attract students. There would be no other way for most students to finance their education. (And many law schools are already struggling to fill their seats.) Private lenders might step into the breach – but carefully, because banks have a stronger interest than the government in actually getting repaid. Private lenders would focus on borrowers going to law schools with strong job placement records. And if banks are unwilling to lend to all law students, that’s further proof that the market produces too many lawyers.

Stephen F. Diamond (Santa Clara), Washington Post Feeds the Anti-Law School Myth Making Again:

Above the Law’s David Lat was let into the pages of the Washington Post today in an attempt to feed the beast of myth making about law school. This is becoming a bit of a habit at the Post which recently allowed one of its own columnists to mislead the public about law schools as I explained here. Perhaps it’s the influence of their new owner, Jeff Bezos, known to lean libertarian.

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April 9, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

NBER Public Economics Program Meeting

NBERThe National Bureau of Economic Research's two-day Public Economics Program Meeting kicks off today in Boston with several tax papers:

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April 9, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thomas: The Psychic Cost of Tax Evasion

Kathleen DeLaney Thomas (North Carolina), The Psychic Cost of Tax Evasion, 56 B.C. L. Rev. 617 (2015):

Each year, the government loses hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenue due to underreporting by individual taxpayers. According to standard deterrence theory, policymakers should be able to reduce tax evasion by increasing tax penalties, raising the audit rate, or some combination of the two. This Article refers to these strategies as increasing the “monetary cost” of tax evasion. To date, budgetary limitations and political hurdles have made these strategies difficult for the government to employ.

There is, however, another potential means by which the government can improve tax compliance, apart from raising the monetary cost of evasion. Empirical evidence shows that people experience some form of psychological discomfort when they are dishonest, which may deter them from cheating. This Article proposes employing subtle behavioral interventions that encourage more honest tax reporting by raising the level of psychological discomfort experienced from underreporting. I refer to this approach as increasing the “psychic cost” of tax evasion.

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April 9, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: IRS Shortcut to Tax-Exempt Status Is Under Fire

1023 2New York Times, IRS Shortcut to Tax-Exempt Status Is Under Fire:

Battered by a scandal over delays in approving groups for tax-exempt status and plagued by a backlog tens of thousands of cases long, the Internal Revenue Service unveiled a strikingly stripped-down online application last year to speed the process.

But to critics, the I.R.S.’s version of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is fraught with problems. An unlikely coalition of tax lawyers, state enforcement agents and even many nonprofits that favor simpler rules say that the agency — by not asking any questions about governance, conflicts of interest or function, and saying applicants don’t have to reveal any such issues — is making it too easy to commit fraud.

The form, 1023-EZ, was introduced over the summer and is available to small charities with an annual income of $50,000 or less and assets under $250,000. Instead of wrestling with a painstaking 26-page application that demands extensive documentation, these groups can now fill out a two-and-a-half page checklist that requires no additional paperwork or even a statement of purpose. ...

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April 9, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Statute of Limitations to Expire on April 13 on Crossroads GPS' First Two Form 990s

Crossroads GPSOpenSecrets.org, Crossroads GPS Might Soon Be Off the Hook for 2010, 2011 Spending:

On April 13, one of the largest and most controversial political groups of the post-Citizens United era will celebrate an important anniversary: The three-year statute of limitations will expire for statements made by Crossroads GPS on tax returns covering its first 18 months, making it nearly impossible for the group to be penalized for activity it reported in the filings.

Crossroads GPS filed its first two Form 990 tax returns on April 13, 2012, covering the period from its founding in June 2010 — when it also filed an application for exempt status as a “social welfare” group — through December 2011. Though nearly five years have elapsed, the IRS still hasn’t ruled on the group’s application, a highly unusual circumstance; the vast majority of such requests are answered within months or, at most, a couple of years, though there are exceptions.

But at this point, even if Crossroads doesn’t receive the IRS’ imprimatur and is deemed a taxable corporation, there’s little chance any penalties will be levied covering the group’s formative months, thanks to the statute of limitations. Taxes would be owed, but only for more recent years.

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April 9, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Days 601-700

April 9, 2015 in IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 700

IRS Logo 2Philip T. Hackney (LSU), Should the IRS Never 'Target' Taxpayers? An Examination of the IRS Tea Party Affair, 49 Val. U. L. Rev. ___ (2015):

In 2013, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration faulted the Internal Revenue Service for the appearance of impartiality because it used names and policy positions such as “Tea Party” and conservative ideology to pick applications for tax-exempt status for greater scrutiny. The Inspector General's review came after members of Congress accused the Service of "targeting" conservative organizations. This Article finds the Inspector General's claim lacks a firm foundation. The use of names to select organizations for closer review fits well within the discretionary space that both Congress and courts provide to the Service to collect revenue. However, a narrower legal and ethical claim is supportable: where an enforcement choice impinges on a fundamental constitutional right the Service should exercise a higher degree of care to ensure that its screening choices do not appear biased in an unconstitutional manner. Thus, this review finds the Inspector General's primary claim regarding it being inappropriate to use names to screen applications to be incorrect. However, it finds that the Service violated an ethical norm because it failed to bring a high level of care to a matter that at least impinged on a fundamental Constitutional right. The Article recommends that the Service continue using names to screen applications for tax-exempt status. However, the Article suggests the Service implement procedures to document an unbiased process when evaluating applications that raise questions of a fundamental Constitutional nature.

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April 9, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Kane Presents A Defense of Source Rules in International Taxation Today at Penn

Kane (2015)Mitchell Kane (NYU) presents A Defense of Source Rules in International Taxation,  32 Yale J. on Reg. ___ (2015), at Pennsylvania today as part of its Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series hosted by Chris William Sanchirico and Reed Shuldiner:

The concept of “source” is central to the functioning of the current international tax system. To the extent the “source” of income is meant to reflect the spatial location of income, however, many academic commentators have come to regard the concept as completely incoherent. Further, that incoherence is viewed as a partial explanation of the perceived artificiality and frailties of current instantiations of source rules. In this essay I make three basic claims.

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April 8, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fleischer: Carried Interest Should Be Disclosed on Private Equity Funds' Tax Returns

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times Deal Book:  Carried Interest Should Be Disclosed on Tax Forms, and to Private Equity Investors, by Victor Fleischer (San Diego):

Writing in The Hill, the economist Eileen Appelbaum argues that private equity funds should be required to disclose on the tax return the partnership files for informational purposes the amount of carried interest paid to the general partner. Carried interest is the percentage of an investment fund’s profits — typically 20 percent — paid to the fund’s managers as incentive compensation.

It’s a terrific idea. Under current law, there is no separate tax category for carried interest. Instead, all partners report their distributive shares of partnership income, the character of which is determined at the partnership level.

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April 8, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS Workers Are Miserable and Overwhelmed

Bloomberg, An Emotional Audit: IRS Workers Are Miserable and Overwhelmed:

Paying taxes to the IRS is no fun. Neither is working there.

The IRS has never been an easy place to work. Its 84,000 employees, 65 percent of them women, generally don’t tell people outside the service where they draw a paycheck. It’s no way to make friends. They toil in purposely anonymous buildings—a big sign outside might attract crazies. In 2010 an antigovernment zealot flew a single-engine plane into a building in Austin, Texas, where 190 agency employees worked, killing one of them. “Well, Mr. Big Brother I.R.S. man, let’s try something different, take my pound of flesh and sleep well,” the pilot, Joseph Stack III, wrote in a six-page suicide note.

More recently, the IRS has become a casualty of the budget battles between the Obama White House and House Republicans. Since the GOP won control of the chamber in 2010, the agency’s annual budget has fallen by $1.2 billion, to $10.9 billion in 2015. Meanwhile, the agency has lost 11 percent of its employees. Last year it started 19 percent fewer criminal investigations than 2013. This year alone, it expects to close at least 46,000 fewer audits. Nobody likes being scrutinized by the IRS, but audits are a key component of the tax system that keeps the U.S. afloat. “It’s core to the country,” says Jeffery Trinca, a former Senate aide turned lobbyist who specializes in tax policy.

The agency’s customer service operation has been hobbled, too. In late March, the IRS said fewer than 40 percent of the people who call during this tax season will get through to someone. A decade ago, the figure was 83 percent. The agency is so short on funds that some employees purchase their own office supplies, even though the IRS says they shouldn’t. “I buy my own pens,” says Catherine Ficco, a revenue officer in West Nyack, N.Y. “I buy my own clips and hole punchers and things of that nature. It’s not uncommon. There’s no money to order supplies or paper for my printer.”

Bloomberg

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April 8, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (28)

WSJ: Working Poor Bank on State EITCs

Wall Street Journal, Working Poor Bank On Tax Break:

California lawmakers, responding to the state’s nation-leading poverty level, are considering the creation of a state EITC program. Already, half of the states and the District of Columbia offer such refunds and credits. Montana legislators are also considering a state EITC this year, and a several states are evaluating expansions of their state credits. Some of the state credits currently add as much as 50% to the federal benefit.

WSJ

EITC programs aren’t popular in all quarters. Critics, including many fiscal conservatives, say the federal program is expensive, amounts to a handout to the poor and is subject to errors. They cite a report published last year by the Internal Revenue Service that found 24% of federal EITC payments made in fiscal 2013 were incorrect, including both overpayments and underpayments. ...

Because the EITC aims to help low-income families, particularly those with children, “it’s well-designed,” said Bruce Meyer, an economist at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. By contrast, he said, the benefits of raising the minimum wage, another increasingly popular antipoverty measure, often go to teenage workers or secondary earners in middle-class and even wealthy families, or to older Americans who receive Social Security and Medicare.

Still, Mr. Meyer said he has mixed feelings about expanding state EITC credits. “The federal credit already is really quite big,” he said. “I’m not sure that it makes sense to increase it much more.”

April 8, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Johnston: Top-earning Americans Had Shockingly Good 2012

Al Jazeera:  Top-earning Americans Had Shockingly Good 2012, by David Cay Johnston:

Americans at the top of the income ladder enjoyed an astonishing year in 2012, new data show. Compared with 2011, their incomes increased by half — their second highest ever — while their tax burdens fell to almost the lowest ever.

The tax returns of the top 400 earners reported average income of $335.7 million, a real increase of more than $111 million over 2011, a new IRS report reveals [The 400 Individual Income Tax Returns Reporting the Largest Adjusted Gross Incomes Each Year, 1992–2012].

Even better for the top 400, their taxes came to just 16.7 percent of their adjusted gross income.

Compare that with singletons. More than 1 in 5 who made $75,000 to $100,000 paid a tax rate of 17 percent or more. And more than half who made $100,000 to $200,000 paid 20 percent or more.

The top-400 tax rate  was not much more than the 13.4 percent average for all other taxpayers, my analysis of IRS statistical tables shows. Among the top 400, the IRS report shows that 32 paid nothing to 10 percent in income tax; 123 others paid under 15 percent. ...

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April 8, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through April 1, 2015) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

 

 

All-Time

 

Recent

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

44,724

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

6244

2

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

28,356

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

5725

3

Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)

26,707

Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)

4175

4

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

23,914

Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)

3113

5

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

22,287

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

2906

6

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

20,700

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

2868

7

James Hines (Michigan)

20,529

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2231

8

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

19.791

Omri Marian (Florida)

1916

9

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

19,515

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

1753

10

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

18,005

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

1703

11

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

17,220

David Gamage (UC-Berkeley)

1656

12

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

15,748

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1611

13

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

15.645

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

1586

14

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

15,295

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

1490

15

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

15,291

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

1473

16

David Weisbach (Chicago)

15,015

Dick Harvey (Villanova)

1406

17

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

14,970

William Byrnes (T. Jefferson)

1353

18

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

14,883

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

1282

19

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

14,779

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1233

20

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

14,509

James Hines (Michigan)

1214

21

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

14,388

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

1199

22

David Walker (BU)

14,215

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

1172

23

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

13,015

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

1150

24

Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)

12,719

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

1115

25

Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)

11,994

Christopher Hoyt (UMKC)

1091

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

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April 8, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brown: The IRS Should Report on Tax Returns Filed by All 535 Members of Congress

535National Journal, Congressional Tax Returns Could Tell Us a Lot:

Dorothy Brown, a professor at Emory University who specializes in tax law, has proposed an idea to finally spur tax reform: examining the tax returns of all 535 members of Congress. I recently spoke with her about the proposal, which she calls "The 535 Report." Our conversation has been edited and condensed. ...

How long have you been talking about the 535 Report?

I spoke about this at a Pepperdine University Law School symposium in January 2013 [Tax Advice for the Second Obama Administration] and wrote a law-review article for the symposium that was published that April. [The 535 Report: A Pathway to Fundamental Tax Reform, 40 Pepp. L. Rev. 1155 (2013)] I study presidential tax returns, which are voluntarily disclosed, and I started thinking: Imagine what I'd find if I had congressional tax returns.

What needs to be done to take this idea further?

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April 8, 2015 in Conferences, Congressional News, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dr. Joe Bankman: Stanford Tax Prof Uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Reduce Law Student Stress

BankmanStanford Report, Stanford Law Professor Creates New Way to Help Students Deal With the Stress Of It All:

Six years ago, Joe Bankman, a professor at Stanford Law School, wanted to broaden his legal scholarship.  So in his spare time, he went back to school to train as a clinical psychologist.

"I never intended to quit my day job," he said.  "But my scholarship and policy work were venturing into behavioral psychology and the law, and I wanted to understand more about human behavior."

Bankman decided to enroll in the Palo Alto University/Stanford School of Medicine joint PsyD (doctor of psychology) program, for which he is currently completing an internship in his fifth and final year.   

But while Bankman went into the program with scholarship and policy projects in mind, he came out of it with another goal as well.

"I have all these brilliant students whom I can help by giving them some useful knowledge and improving their analytical skills.  But, as I came to realize over the years, if they crash and burn it will not be because they lack these necessary skills.  It will be because they lack emotional resilience to cope with the stresses and challenges of a demanding professional career.  Like millions of others, they need help with anxiety and, for some, depression," he said.

So Bankman launched a pilot project on emotional health among law students.

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April 8, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

MIT Law School: Legal Education in the 21st Century

Daniel Martin Katz (Michigan State), The MIT School of Law? A Perspective on Legal Education in the 21st Century, 2014 Ill. L. Rev. 1431  (slides here):

MITDespite some of the blustery rhetoric attendant to the ongoing market transition, lawyers and the market for legal services are not going away. Lawyers serve integral roles in a wide variety of social and political systems. Their work supports the proper functioning of markets and helps individuals and organizations vindicate their respective rights. At the same time, the processes associated with completing their work — as well as the contours of their respective expertise and judgment — are already changing. These changes are being driven by a number of economic and technological trends, many of which Larry Ribstein identified in a series of important articles published in the years before his untimely death.

This Essay is offered as part of a symposium honoring the work of the late Larry Ribstein. This Essay is a thought exercise about a hypothetical MIT School of Law — an institution with the type of curriculum that might help prepare students to have the appropriate level of substantive legal expertise and other useful skills that will allow them to deliver value to their clients as well as develop and administer the rules governing markets, politics, and society as we move further into the 21st Century. It is a blueprint based upon the best available information, and like any other plan of action would need to be modified to take stock of shifting realities over time. It is not a solution for all of legal education. Instead, it is a targeted description of an institution and its substantive content that could compete very favorably in the existing and future market. It is a depiction of an institution whose students would arguably be in high demand. It is a high-level sketch of an institution that would be substantively relevant, appropriately practical, theoretically rigorous and world class.

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April 8, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 699

GroverNews Max, Grover Norquist: IRS 'Kneecapped' Tea Party for Obama in 2012:

The IRS stole the 2012 presidential election with its ruthless targeting of the tea party, an order that came from President Barack Obama himself, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, tells Newsmax TV.

Norquist — author of the new book End the IRS Before It Ends Us: How to Restore a Low Tax, High Growth, Wealthy America — said the agency dramatically slowed the tea party movement's growth when it questioned the validity of their tax-exempt status.

"That the attack on the tea party in 2011 and 2012 actually made sure that Obama got re-elected," Norquist said Tuesday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV. "They kneecapped the growing tea party movement, slowed it down, scattered it. ...

"The president said out loud, would somebody please get these people for me? And we saw Lois Lerner say, I'm being told and yelled at to do this even though I'm not legally allowed to," Norquist said.

"The president was saying it out loud, the Democrats in the Senate were saying it out loud on television, on radio. They sent her to go after the tea party and they damaged the tea party. They kneecapped a growing movement."

Washington Examiner, Norquist Book: IRS Assault on Tea Party Saved Obama's Presidency:

The administration-ordered persecution of Tea Party groups shut down the movement in time to save President Obama's reelection and starve Republican Mitt Romney of the 4,262,296 votes needed to take the White House, according to an explosive new book from tax foe Grover Norquist.

In End The IRS Before It Ends Us, a clarion call for a new, fairer tax system, Norquist pieces together the IRS scandal and scholarly electoral studies to show that plot worked to stifle the expanding Tea Party movement in the nick of time to help Obama.

"Had the Tea Party repeated and built on their activism of 2009 and 2010 in 2011 and 2012, Obama would have lost the election. What happened to the Tea Party boost? It didn't grow from 2010. It appeared to weaken," writes Norquist, president of the influential Americans for Tax Reform.

But, he adds, "The Tea Party didn't fall down the stairs. It was pushed."

His theory is built on two key facts.

First, he cited a study on the Tea Party movement that found it pushed up to 5.8 million extra Republican voters to the polls in 2010 when the GOP took control of the House, essentially shutting down Obama's agenda.

Then he cites comments in official reports from former IRS executive Lois Lerner, the key figure in the scandal, who said that she received orders in advance of Obama's reelection to "do something" to shut off conservative funding in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. ...

"In our modern kneecapping, President Obama was Tonya Harding," scoffed Norquist. "The American people who had voted strongly in 2010 and threatened the president's chances of winning in 2010 were Nancy Kerrigan," he added. ...

"In the two years running up to the 2012 Obama re-election campaign, the IRS, driven by a political activist with no experience that would recommend her for that job, decided to smash the Tea Party movement by stopping them from organizing," Norquist concludes.

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April 8, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Morse Presents Tax Savings for U.S. Headquartered, Non-U.S.-Incorporated Multinational Firms Today at Georgetown

Morse (2015)Susan C. Morse (Texas) presents Tax Savings for U.S. Headquartered, Non-U.S.-Incorporated Multinational Firms (with Eric J. Allen (USC)) at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John BrooksItai Grinberg, and David Schizer:

To summarize, we find that non-U.S.-incorporated profitable firms have better tax results compared to U.S.-incorporated profitable firms. Loss firms incorporated in tax havens tend to have worse tax results compared to U.S.-incorporated loss firms. This suggests that some non-U.S.-incorporated multinationals with efficient tax planning structures face the problem that their losses, as well as their profits, must be allocated to low-tax jurisdictions. Their transfer pricing and other tax planning strategies, in other words, may be sticky.

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April 7, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mills Presents Managerial Characteristics and Corporate Taxes Today at NYU

Mills 2Lillian Mills (Texas) presents Managerial Characteristics and Corporate Taxes at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Viard:

Motivated by literature and anecdotal evidence, we identify a salient managerial characteristic that is associated with higher tax compliance. We find that managers with military experience pursue less aggressive tax planning than other managers, and pay an estimated $1-$2 million more in corporate taxes per firm-year. These managers also undertake less aggressive tax strategies with smaller reserves for uncertain tax benefits and fewer tax havens. However, they perform better in several gray areas in corporate reporting. We conclude that boards hiring these managers gain the benefit of less aggressive financial reporting that would require more governance to constrain.

April 7, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Teachers of the Year

AALS

The AALS has released the names of Teachers of the Year (2013-14) at their respective law schools. The Tax Prof Teachers of the Year are Joshua Blank (NYU), Jeffrey Maine (Maine), and Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane).

April 7, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1)

Simkovic: The Choice Of Whether Or Not To Go To Law School -- Compared To What?

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), Compared to What?:

The choice of whether or not to go to law school is always a choice between law school and the next best alternative.  College graduates do not vanish from the face of the earth if they choose not to go to law school.  They still must find work, continue their education, or find some other source of financial support. 

The question everyone who decides not to go to law school, and every critic of law schools, must answer is—what else out there is better?* 

To enable prospective students to compare law school to the next best alternative, we need standardized measurements that apply to both law school and alternatives to law school. ...

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April 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

NLRB v. Northwestern: Cultivating a New Era for Taxing Qualified Scholarships

Northwestern 2Kathryn Kisska-Schulze (North Carolina A&T) & Adam Epstein (Central Michigan), The National Labor Relations Board v. Northwestern University: Cultivating a New Era for Taxing Qualified Scholarships, 49 Akron L. Rev. ___ (2016):

On March 26, 2014 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that Northwestern University’s scholarship football players are employees of the institution and can unionize and bargain collectively. From a federal income tax perspective, the significance of the NLRB decision could redefine the principal that select student-athletes are no longer unpaid amateurs receiving qualified scholarships, but instead are employees of their institutions earning scholarship funds in exchange for services rendered as college athletes.

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April 7, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The NY Times and Deceptive Law School Statistics

NY Times Dealbook (2013)Following up on last week's post, NY Times: Law Schools and Legal Industry Show Signs of Life, Despite Forecasts of Doom:  Kyle McEntee (Executive Director, Law School Transparency), Deceptive Statistics 101, Courtesy Of A Law Professor And The New York Times:

The New York Times published an irresponsible column yesterday by Steven Solomon, a law professor at Berkeley. Solomon starts off on the right foot: he acknowledges that the recent drop in law school applications “is partly a problem of the schools’ own making” because schools previously “fudged the numbers on graduates’ employment.”

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April 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shepard: The Crisis In American Legal Education

Randall T. Shepard (Chief Justice, Indiana Supreme Court; Chair, ABA Task Force on The Future of Legal Education), 'Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?': The Crisis In American Legal Education--A Challenge For The Whole Profession, 40 Ohio N.U. L. Rev. 679 (2014):

The broad outlines of the current distress in legal education are visible, even in the public press: rising tuition, growing student debt, poor job prospects, and falling enrollment. It is a perfect storm, if you will, in a profession that is not accustomed to such storms.

To begin to understand it, one really must consider the multiple elements of the profession facing genuine crises. I will describe how this present set of challenges reflects on various parts of the profession, before I say why I think they are happening and where it is we might want to look for answers. I will start, because they deserve it, by describing what confronts new graduates from law schools.

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April 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

South Dakota Seeks to Hire Tax Clinic Director

South Dakota 2The University of South Dakota School of Law seeks to hire a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) Director:

The position is non-tenure track and paid out of a federal grant beginning July 2015. Continued employment is contingent on availability of grant funding.

The Director will lead the only LITC in South Dakota. Responsibilities will include representing low-income taxpayers before the IRS and the U.S. Tax Court, teaching and supervising clinical law students in the representation of clients, engaging in outreach to South Dakota communities, developing and coordinating a panel of pro bono attorneys, managing the LITC's docket, and ensuring compliance with the requirements of an IRS-funded LITC.

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April 7, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saving Appalachian Law School, But Hurting The Town

Appalachian LogoInside Higher Ed, Saving the Law School, Hurting the Town:

Appalachian School of Law, in the coalfields town of Grundy, Va., is struggling as much as any law school amid a plunge in applicants.

Last year, the stand-alone law school had an entering class of 48 students, down from 146 students in 2011. There has also been an exodus of professors and, as of now, there are at most eight professors on staff -- some say fewer -- to teach next fall.

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April 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 698

IRS Logo 2Forbes, Despite Lois Lerner Pass, Judge Orders IRS To Release Key Target List Administration Blocked, by Robert W. Wood:

A federal judge, Judge Susan J. Dlott—ironically in Cincinnati, where the Obama administration’s first bumbling explanation for targeting was “rogue IRS agents”—has ordered the IRS to produce a list of all 298 conservative nonprofits the IRS targeted. ‘Huh, what targeting?’ one can imagine Justice Department officials mumbling. Mr. Obama’s Justice Department fought to keep the list private despite promises his would be the most transparent administration ever.

The lawsuit by conservative groups could end up certified as a class action for violating their constitutional right to equal treatment. The judge determined that the litigants were entitled to know so the judge ordered the IRS to release the list of targeted Tea Party groups. If the judge also certifies the case as a class action, the disclosures could be broader still.

The timing is propitious, coming just as Targeter in Chief Lois Lerner was exonerated by the Obama administration. It has confirmed in a tortured seven-page letter that there will be no criminal charges for Lois Lerner. Meanwhile, controversial IRS Commissioner John Koskinen recently claimed that the changes at the IRS are so significant that “you could hang a sign out at the front of the headquarters saying ‘Under New Management.’” That’s right, any alleged targeting was in the past. ...

On February 26, 2015, the Treasury Inspector General said he is investigating possible criminal activity at the IRS. Remember all the millions and millions in taxpayer money spent looking? One report said over 250 IRS employees spend 100,000 hours, costing taxpayers at least $14 million. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified that recovery efforts had been thorough, and the tapes and emails couldn’t be found.

Yet the Inspector General now reports that the IRS had not even asked for the backup tapes when the ‘hard drive crash’ excuse was first used. The tapes were easy to find and the emails were easy to recover. It is astounding, and yet Democrats still pooh-pooh the targeting and imply it is the fault of the conservative groups in the first place. ...

[N]ow Judge Susan J. Dlott has said that Tea Party groups can pursue their claims that the IRS violated their First and Fifth Amendment rights, along with a section of federal law that prohibits the government from releasing private information contained in tax returns. The lawsuit wants a list of ‘all dissenting groups targeted for additional scrutiny by the IRS from January 20, 2009, through July 15, 2013.’ The court said this information was “directly related to the issue of class certification in this federal court proceeding.”

Some names on the list will be no surprise, as a partial list was unearthed by USA Today in September 2013. An IRS spreadsheet characterized the activities of some groups as “propaganda.” Judge Dlott ordered the IRS to tell the court whether or not that list was authentic, The Washington Times reported. It sad to see the IRS used for political purposes, and sad to see the endless difficulty private parties and Congress have had getting answers. Perhaps that will change.

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April 7, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Fleischer Presents Libertarianism and the Charitable Tax Subsidies Today at Pepperdine

MirandaMiranda Perry Fleischer (San Diego) presents Libertarianism and the Charitable Tax Subsidies at Pepperdine today as part of our Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

Although many Americans claim to subscribe to libertarian theories of justice, tax scholarship is largely silent about the interaction between libertarian principles and the structure of our tax system. This is not surprising, for what springs to mind when a legal academic hears the word “libertarianism” is Robert Nozick’s argument that taxation is slavery. If all taxation is indeed slavery, why bother analyzing libertarian principles for insights into our tax system? This dismissal, however, ignores the diversity of libertarian thought. To that end, this Article mines the nuances of libertarian theory for insights into one feature of our tax system: the charitable tax subsidies.

Exploring the nuances of libertarian theory yields some surprising results. Some strands of libertarian thought suggest that the charitable tax subsidies are in and of themselves illegitimate. These strands of libertarianism forbid not only redistribution but also anything except the most minimal provision of public goods needed to protect life and property, such as defense. Yet several other strands do see a role for the state to engage in a varying amount of redistribution or to provide varying amounts of public goods. On one spectrum are interpretations that admit that the state should play a role in providing public goods (strictly defined) and/or provide a provide a safety net to the very poorest but no more, and on the other is an interpretation of left-libertarianism that might support something akin to our current structure.

Update:  Post-presentation lunch:

Fleischer Lunch

April 6, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vermont Law School Contributes $30.5 Million in Direct Expenditures, 376 Jobs to State Economy

VermontVermont Law School, faced with a 25% enrollment decline since 2011 (from 566 to 424) and  a decline in the credentials of its entering 1L class since 2011 (median LSAT from 154 to 152, 25th percentile LSAT from 151 to 146), has issued a press release, Study: Vermont Law School Contributes $30.5 Million in Direct Expenditures, 376 jobs to Vermont Economy (April 1, 2015):

Vermont Law School contributed $30.5 million in direct expenditures to the Vermont economy and generated 376 jobs in 2014, reports a study detailing the economic impact of the institution released today by VLS [Economic Impact of the Vermont Law School on the Vermont State Economy].

Prepared by Nicolas O. Rockler of Belmont, Mass.-based Kavet, Rockler & Associates, LLC, the in-depth study covers direct expenditures and secondary impact estimates based on a model created by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) of Amherst, Mass. The REMI model incorporates current economic data with a theoretical framework from which to develop secondary impact estimates.

"This economic impact study reinforces what we've long known about Vermont Law School's role in the Vermont economy," said VLS President and Dean Marc Mihaly. "We provided detailed accounting data to best inform the study. We are a small school, but our impact on the Vermont economy is great—far greater than what typically would be expected from an institution of our size, according to the report."

Economic Impact of the Vermont Law School on the Vermont State Economy:

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April 6, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Scamming the IRS With Losing Lottery Tickets

IRSThe Daily Beast, Scamming the IRS With Losing Lotto Tix:

Here’s one way to dodge the taxman—buy thousands of losing lottery tickets.

It’s true. Gamblers have concocted a scheme to repurpose the dud ducats to offset their winnings. A winner can go online and get $5,000 worth of losing lottery tickets to cover their $5,000 in gambling winnings. The lottery tickets serve as a sort of security blanket if the auditor comes calling.

Ads captured on Craigslist and eBay from Florida to California hawk the tickets so the potential lotto buyer can defraud Uncle Sam. ...

“There is a gray market out there for these lottery tickets,” said Reece Morrel Jr., an Oklahoma-based CPA who files taxes for some high rollers and oversees the online Lady Luck Diary website, where gamblers can get schooled on tax laws.

But hoarding stacks of scratchers or Powerball game tickets to prove that you suffered losses could very well land you in trouble with the IRS. ...

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April 6, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Digital Cracks the Final Frontier: Law School

HybridCNBC, Digital Cracks the Final Frontier: Law School:

Law schools will never be the same thanks to a Minnesota law school which went up against the American Bar Association and won.

The William Mitchell College of Law applied to the ABA for permission to design a hybrid online program to students. In an unprecedented move, the ABA approved it.

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April 6, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

HBO’s ‘Going Clear’ Triggers New Scrutiny of Scientology’s Tax-Exempt Status

Scientology 2The Wrap, HBO’s ‘Going Clear’ Triggers New Scrutiny of Scientology’s Tax-Exempt Status:

HBO’s Sunday airing of documentary film “Going Clear” has reignited interest in the tax-exempt status afforded the Church of Scientology by its classification as a nonprofit.

In fact, actress Mia Farrow tweeted damning words about the organization and shared a petition to revoke its tax-exempt status to her more than 640,000 followers on Monday.

“#Scientology is a thuggish, dangerous, cruel cult. Sign petition to revoke their tax exempt status https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/revoke-scientologys-tax-exempt-status … #GoingClear,” she wrote.

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April 6, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Academic Analytics for Law Schools

Academic AnalyticsCarissa Byrne Hessick (Utah), Contemplating Academic Analytics for Law Schools:

There is a recent trend in higher education to standardize assessment of faculty’s academic achievement across disciplines.  For example, a company called Academic Analytics markets itself as providing university administrators “with objective data that administrators can use . . . as a method for benchmarking in comparison to other institutions.”  As its website explains, it measures productivity and excellence by quantifying:

  1. the publication of scholarly work as books and journal articles
  2. citations to published journal articles
  3. research funding by federal agencies
  4. honorific awards bestowed upon faculty members

Because it is seeking to assess academics generally, the metrics that Academic Analytics uses are not necessarily well suited to assessing law faculty. ... Looking at the academic analytic metrics, I’m contemplating how it is that one might attempt to construct an instrument that would assess law faculty productivity and excellence. ... I’ll share some preliminary thoughts about what those metrics might look like in a future post.

For my perspective, see:

See also Patrick Arthur Woods, Stop Counting (Or At Least Count Better):

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April 6, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Morse Reviews Bird, Edwards & Shevlin's Does the U.S. System of Taxation on Multinationals Advantage Foreign Acquirers?

JotwellSusan Morse (Texas), Non-U.S. Acquirers: Clients for U.S. Targets' "Locked Out" Earnings? (Jotwell) (reviewing Andrew Bird (Carengie Mellon), Alexander Edwards (Toronto) & Terry Shevlin (UC-Irvine), Does the U.S. System of Taxation on Multinationals Advantage Foreign Acquirers?:

Did Burger King submit to acquisition by a Canadian donut chain for tax reasons? Or, at least, once Burger King and Tim Hortons decided to merge, did they choose to have a Canadian parent for tax reasons? A recent empirical study by Andrew Bird, Alexander Edwards and Terry Shevlin suggests that one tax factor—the existence of “locked out” offshore earnings—increases the likelihood that a non-U.S. acquirer will acquire a U.S. target. Bird, Edwards and Shevlin analyze thousands of merger transactions, without regard to whether the transactions might be labeled “inversions.” Their paper contributes to the considerable literature that tests the idea that accounting and tax disparities affect firm prices and transaction decisions. ...

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April 6, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Law School Social Network

Twitter (2014)Following up on my previous post, Law Prof Twitter Rankings:  Ryan Whalen (Northwestern), The Law School Network & Legal Network Analysis:

I thought I’d start things off with another interactive network and a discussion of networks more generally. The network below (click-through the image for an interactive version) is an alternate projection of the law prof twitter network. I’ve taken the law prof follower relations and changed the unit of analysis to the school that each prof teaches at. This shows us an electronic social network of law schools. Schools that are strongly linked in this network have a lot of profs following one another on twitter. The larger a school’s node, the more influential it is (as gauged by twitter followers) in the law prof social media world.

Twitter Network

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April 6, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 697

IRS Logo 2Legal Insurrection, Judge Orders IRS to Release Tea Party Target List:

If Bush had done this to liberals, people would be in jail by now.

The Department of Justice may have let Lois Lerner off the hook, but a judge has ordered the IRS to release the names of the Tea Party groups that were singled out for scrutiny. ..

I still enjoy wondering how different this would be if it happened on Bush’s watch. Do you think the media might be more interested?

Hot Air, Judge Orders IRS to Release List of Targeted Conservative Nonprofit Groups:

Lois Lerner didn’t care to speak when she was invited for tea before congressional committees, and it turns out that no charges will be filed against her over her shyness. But that may not be the end of the story for the IRS scandal. A judge in Ohio has consented to a request filed by representatives of several Tea Party groups which calls for the IRS to turn over the full list of conservative groups selected for extra special scrutiny when they filed for nonprofit status. ...

There are several layers to this particular onion. The White House fought back from day one against any such disclosures, saying that releasing the requested information would require exposing private data which the IRS is forbidden to reveal. But that’s only intended to protect individuals, businesses and groups from having all the particulars about their internal business exposed, not the simple fact that they exist and pay taxes. In this suit, rather than asking for all of the numbers, the IRS is simply being asked to provide a spreadsheet containing the identities of the groups under scrutiny. The judge agreed that the case couldn’t be decided without that bare minimum data.

More interesting are the possibilities which follow if the data finally comes to light. If the groups can establish that they all fall under the same umbrella of potential discrimination, they can be bound together in a class action suit. This opens up a range of possibilities, including the hope that the secretive agency will be forced to expose their practices to the public.

Exit question: The Feds are, at this point, refusing to go after Lerner. If this suit succeeds and all of the internal workings of the system are brought to light, including how they selected the groups singled out for “special attention” in the application process, is there another bite at the apple in the offing? Could Lerner wind up back before Congress? And if so, will she just plead the 5th again?

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April 6, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Dan Markel's Father Speaks To The Media For The First Time About His Son's Murder

MarkelDaily Mail, EXCLUSIVE: 'I Have My Own Theory About Who Killed My Son.' Father of Harvard-Educated Professor Shot in the Head in His Own Garage by Mystery Gunman Finally Speaks Out:

The father of a top law professor who was shot dead at his home has spoken for the first time at his family's 'frustration' that his son's killer has yet to be caught.

It is almost eight months since Dan Markel was gunned down in an execution style killing as he sat in his car in the garage of his home in Florida.

The 41-year-old father of two young sons, who worked at Florida State University, was shot in the head.

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April 5, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

Two William Mitchell Law Profs Sue Over Abrogation of Tenure in Merger With Hamline Law School

MitchellFollowing up on my previous post, William Mitchell and Hamline Law Schools to Merge Amidst Enrollment Declines:  Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Merging Law Schools Causes Tenure Fight at William Mitchell:

Two professors at William Mitchell College of Law have accused the school of proposing unacceptable changes to its tenure policy in order to cut faculty in a planned merger with another law school.

MoyRadsanProfessors Carl Moy and John Radsan filed their complaint Friday in Ramsey County District Court. The complaint asks the court to rule that the school’s attempt to amend its tenure code is a breach of contract. ...

“Defendant’s proposed amendment would alter the tenure code so that it would deny otherwise-tenured faculty ‘tenure’…,” the suit said. “Defendant would be able to terminate a tenured faculty member without adequate cause …”

The professors’ complaint alleges that Mitchell couldn’t find enough faculty to voluntarily retire or take part-time positions in order to cut the school’s staffing in time for the merger, so officials proposed amending its tenure code to facilitate the dismissal of more instructors.

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April 5, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads