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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Call for Nominations: CALI Board of Directors

CALI Logo (2014)The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) is seeking nominations to fill vacant positions on its Board of Directors:

If you know of someone who would like to contribute to the research and development, strategic planning and governance of CALI, then consider nominating them for the CALI Board of Directors. Self-nominations also are welcome. ...

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October 16, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Virginia Tax Review Publishes New Issue

Virginia Tax Review (2014)The Virginia Tax Review has published Vol. 33, No. 4 (Spring 2014):

October 16, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cauble: Relying on the IRS

Emily Cauble (DePaul), Relying on the IRS:

The IRS issues different types of guidance to taxpayers, and the extent to which taxpayers can rely on IRS guidance depends on the form in which it was offered. For instance, taxpayers generally cannot rely on oral advice provided over the phone but can rely on more formal types of advice. The current state of the law harms unsophisticated taxpayers who disproportionately obtain informal advice -- the least reliable type of IRS guidance.

Existing literature lacks a thorough discussion of why, as a policy matter, we allow taxpayers to rely on some forms of IRS guidance more than others. This Article fills that gap by suggesting and critically evaluating potential justifications for this practice.

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October 16, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Case for Simpler Gain Bifurcation for Real Estate Developers

Florida Tax ReviewBradley T. Borden (Brooklyn), Nathan Brown (Proskauer Rose, Boca Raton) & John Wagner II (Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen, Sarasota), A Case for Simpler Gain Bifurcation for Real Estate Developers, 15 Fla Tax Rev. 279 (2014):

This Article examines the judicially-sanctioned bifurcation of real estate developers’ gain. The Article recognizes that even though some commentators oppose granting favorable tax treatment to capital gains, the law most likely will not change. With that in mind, the Article examines the all-or-nothing approach of characterizing gain from the sale of real estate as either capital gain or ordinary income. The Article rejects the all-or-nothing approach of characterizing income under the current statutory system. Instead, it embraces gain bifurcation in the second-best setting that taxes capital gains and ordinary income differently. Illustrating the policy justification for gain bifurcation and judicially-sanctioned bifurcation structures, the Article recommends that lawmakers should more fully embrace gain bifurcation for real estate developers by creating a simple statutory election for bifurcating gain that would enhance equity, accuracy, and transparency of gain bifurcation. Although the Article limits its analysis to real estate developers, the idea of gain bifurcation, once improved in this area, could be a catalyst for exploring bifurcation in other areas.

October 16, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dharmapala: Base Erosion and Profit Shifting -- A Simple Conceptual Framework

Dhammika Dharmapala (Chicago), Base Erosion and Profit Shifting: A Simple Conceptual Framework:

BEPSThe issue of tax-motivated income shifting within multinational firms – or “base erosion and profit shifting” (BEPS) – has attracted increasing global attention and has become the subject of an ongoing OECD initiative. This paper provides a simple conceptual framework that helps to clarify aspects of governments’ responses to the BEPS phenomenon and the potential role of the OECD initiative. An important implication of this framework is that multilateral cooperation of the type envisaged in the BEPS initiative has the potential to reduce the deadweight costs of MNCs’ tax planning and compliance activities, thereby enhancing global welfare. 

October 16, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top 55 Law School Buildings

Prelaw Magazine, Best Law School Facilities:

MemphisPreLaw magazine did an exhaustive review of the nation's 200-plus law schools to identify the very best facilities. We started by looking at numerous sources, including our own staff visits and The Princeton Review's 2014 edition of The Best 169 Law Schools to narrow the pool down to the top 60 based primarily on student satisfaction. ...

[A]esthetics and student feedback accounted for 35% of our score, library hours and seating for 27.5%, amenities [dining, fitness center, lockers, study carrels] for 20%, and square footage per student for 17.5%. ... In the end, even though we had initially set out to identify the 50 best buildings, we felt compelled to honor 55.

  1. Memphis
  2. Marquette
  3. Duke
  4. Baylor
  5. Colorado
  6. Richmond
  7. Villanova
  8. Yale
  9. Notre Dame
  10. Penn State-Dickinson
  11. Washington University
  12. Stetson
  13. Southwestern
  14. Nebraska
  15. Connecticut
  16. Penn State
  17. Fordham
  18. Stanford
  19. Quinnipiac
  20. Catholic
  21. William Mitchell
  22. UNLV
  23. Arizona
  24. Chapman
  25. Cornell

October 16, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Penalizing Tax Petitions: Why the Erroneous Refund Penalty in § 6676 Violates Taxpayers’ First Amendment Rights

Derek T. Ho & Christopher Klimmek (both of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, Washington, D.C.), Penalizing Tax Petitions: Why the Erroneous Refund Penalty in Code § 6676 Violates Taxpayers’ First Amendment Rights, 68 Tax Law. ___ (2015):

In 2007, Congress enacted the so-called “erroneous refund penalty,” which imposes a 20% penalty on any taxpayer who submits a claim for tax refund that the IRS deems “inaccurate,” even if the taxpayer’s position is legally non-frivolous and asserted in good faith. In part because the IRS has rarely imposed the penalty since its enactment, the statute has thus far not been analyzed extensively by legal scholars or policymakers. However, the penalty continues to impose a significant chilling effect on tax refund claims, and the Treasury Department has now signaled the possibility of more aggressive application in the future. This article argues that the erroneous refund penalty is unconstitutional under the Petition Clause of the First Amendment. Penalizing taxpayers financially for asking their government to return money they believe is legally theirs strikes at the heart of the Petition Clause’s protections. Indeed, protecting citizens’ right to complain about abusive taxation by the national Government was one of the Framers’ core motivations for enacting the First Amendment. The article draws on the history of the First Amendment, the Supreme Court’s Petition Clause jurisprudence, and recent lower court decisions in exposing the constitutional infirmity of the penalty. The article also explains that the erroneous refund penalty is unjustified as a matter of tax policy, because it fails to promote voluntary compliance, is irrationally harsh and unfair to taxpayers, and is not necessary to solve the narrow, targeted problems that Congress intended to address in enacting the statute. Finally, the article suggests ways in which the penalty could be amended, if it is not repealed altogether, to avoid infringing on taxpayers’ First Amendment rights and ensure that refund claims are treated fairly.

October 16, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Symposium: Expanding the Boundaries of Legal Education

On TaskSymposium, On Task? Expanding the Boundaries of Legal Education, 65 S.C. L. Rev. 519-638 (2014) (Video):

October 16, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Afield: A Market for Tax Compliance

W. Edward Afield III (Ave Maria), A Market for Tax Compliance, 62 Clev. St. L. Rev. 315 (2014):

It is becoming increasingly clear that, due to political realities and budgetary constraints, the IRS is going to have to attempt to enforce the tax laws by doing more with less. Current enforcement efforts have yielded a tax gap (i.e., the difference between the amount of taxes that should be paid and the amount that are collected) of roughly $450 billion annually. Faced with this task, one of the steps that the IRS has recently taken is to try to improve the quality in services performed by paid tax preparers, a group that historically has been subject to little IRS regulation or monitoring but that continues to play an increasingly important role in the tax system.

Although the IRS’s recent efforts to better regulate paid preparers is a good step in improving the quality of tax services, its current structure as a mandatory regulatory regime causes it to miss a number of compliance oriented advantages that could be achieved through a voluntary system of tax preparer regulation in which tax preparers could choose to seek certifications indicating whether they had a positive track record of compliance.

This paper explores in detail for the first time in the literature how preparer regulation could achieve significantly more compliance gains if it were structured as a voluntary system designed to create a market that rewards tax compliance.

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October 16, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 525

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Do Too Many Faculty Stars Hurt Law School Performance?

SAScientific American, The Surprising Problem of Too Much Talent:

Whether you're the owner of the Dallas Cowboys or captain of the playground dodge ball team, the goal in picking players is the same: Get the top talent. Hearts have been broken, allegiances tested, and budgets busted as teams contend for the best athletes. The motivation for recruiting peak performers is obvious — exceptional players are the key to team success — and this belief is shared not only by coaches and sports fans, but also by corporations, investors, and even whole industries. Everyone wants a team of stars.

While there is no denying that exceptional players like Emmitt Smith can put points on the board and enhance team success,new research by Roderick Swaab and colleagues suggests there is a limit to the benefit top talents bring to a team. Swaab and colleagues compared the amount of individual talent on teams with the teams’ success, and they find striking examples of more talent hurting the team [The Too-Much-Talent Effect: Team Interdependence Determines When More Talent Is Too Much or Not Enough].

The researchers looked at three sports: basketball, soccer, and baseball. In each sport, they calculated both the percentage of top talent on each team and the teams’ success over several years. ... For both basketball and soccer, they found that top talent did in fact predict team success, but only up to a point. Furthermore, there was not simply a point of diminishing returns with respect to top talent, there was in fact a cost. Basketball and soccer teams with the greatest proportion of elite athletes performed worse than those with more moderate proportions of top level players.

Basketball
Table 4 (NBA)

Soccer
Table 3

Why is too much talent a bad thing? Think teamwork. In many endeavors, success requires collaborative, cooperative work towards a goal that is beyond the capability of any one individual. Even Emmitt Smith needed effective blocking from the Cowboy offensive line to gain yardage. When a team roster is flooded with individual talent, pursuit of personal star status may prevent the attainment of team goals. The basketball player chasing a point record, for example, may cost the team by taking risky shots instead of passing to a teammate who is open and ready to score.

Two related findings by Swaab and colleagues indicate that there is in fact tradeoff between top talent and teamwork. First, Swaab and colleagues found that the percentage of top talent on a team affects intrateam coordination. ... The second revealing finding is that extreme levels of top talent did not have the same negative effect in baseball, which experts have argued involves much less interdependent play. In the baseball study, increasing numbers of stars on a team never hindered overall performance.

Baseball
Table 5 (MLB)

Together these findings suggest that high levels of top talent will be harmful in arenas that require coordinated, strategic efforts, as the quest for the spotlight may trump the teamwork needed to get the job done. ...

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October 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Borden Presents REIT Stuff at Florida

BordenBradley T. Borden (Brooklyn) presented REIT Stuff at Florida as part of its Graduate Tax Program Colloquium Series:

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) have made headlines recently because they provide favorable tax treatment to corporations that primarily own real estate, which contrasts with the typical double-tax that generally applies to corporations. The media appears to be particularly concerned that existing corporations are spinning off their real estate holdings into REITs, eroding the corporate tax base. It is also concerned that the IRS has extended REIT classification to entities that hold property, such as telecommunications equipment, billboards, mortgages, oil and gas pipeline systems, timber, casinos, and data centers, which do not fit within the traditional definition of real estate. Such extension broadens the scope of favorable REIT tax treatment to property that was not held in real estate trusts when Congress enacted the REIT regime. Despite all of this attention, the effect of REIT spinoffs and the formation of REITs with non-traditional real estate assets may not have a very significant effect on federal tax revenues. This Article will closely examine the revenue effect of REIT spinoffs and the extension of REIT treatment to non-traditional real estate assets. Early work in this are suggests that the revenue effect appears to be nominal, and it is a result of dual, overlapping tax policies—favorable tax treatment of real estate and tax-exempt status for retirement plans. The analysis will set the stage for discussing potential action in this area by recounting the history of REITs and the important events that have directed the course of REIT legislation to its current status. The early analysis appears to suggest that lawmakers should either reconsider the preference for real estate and pensions or consider relaxing the law to provide more efficient ways for corporations to bifurcate real-estate income from operating income and more easily obtain the benefits available under current law.

October 15, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

'Prospective Law Students Are Staying Away From Louisville — And Other Law Schools — In Droves'

Louisville Courier-Journal, Law School Applications Plummet -- At U of L Too:

LouisvilleProspective law students are staying away from the University of Louisville law school — and other law schools — in droves.

Mirroring a national trend, applications to Brandeis plummeted 59 percent over the past three years, to 618 from 1,495, while enrollment of first-year students dipped nearly 30 percent, to 94 from 132. Nationally, enrollment in law schools has declined 24 percent since 2010 as college graduates realize that law is no longer an automatic ticket to the good life. ... 

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October 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Need for a Patent Box Tax Regime to Encourage Domestic Manufacturing

Bernard Knight (Partner, McDermott, Will & Emery, Washington, D.C.) & Goud Maragani (Senior Counsel, USPTO), It Is Time for the United States to Implement a Patent Box Tax Regime to Encourage Domestic Manufacturing, 19 Stan. J.L. Bus. & Fin. 39 (2013):

In order to curb the outsourcing of industries and jobs, the United States must provide better incentives to encourage manufacturers to operate domestically. The United States is at a strategic disadvantage vis-à-vis many other industrialized nations that attract industry and jobs by taxing income from intellectual property sourced in those countries at a lower tax rate. This Article suggests that the United States should consider a patent box regime and outlines the benefits that such a regime should produce in terms of additional domestic manufacturing and job creation. The Article begins by discussing scholarly work that explores the link between domestic manufacturing and research and development, and explains why domestic manufacturing is critical to innovation. In turn, innovation leads to more productivity, higher paying jobs and lower unemployment. The next Section summarizes the significant features of the existing patent box tax regimes in certain European Union nations and China. Taking into account the positive attributes and deficiencies of the existing patent box regimes, the Article concludes by suggesting features that should be considered for inclusion in a U.S. patent box regime.

October 15, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deadline Today: Call for Tax Papers and Panels for 2015 Law & Society Annual Meeting

SeattleToday is the deadline for Neil Buchanan's call for tax papers and panels for next year's annual meeting of the Law & Society Association in Seattle (May 28-31, 2015):

For the eleventh consecutive year, I will organize sessions for the the Law, Society, and Taxation group (Collaborative Research Network 31).

Although there is an official call for papers, please remember that you are not bound by the official theme of the conference.  I will give full consideration to proposals in any area of tax law, tax policy, distributive justice, interdisciplinary approaches to tax issues, and so on.

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October 15, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 944 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 October 1, 2014) 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.)

40,434

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

6677

2

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

26,751

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

5005

3

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

23,022

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2688

4

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

20,615

D. Dharmapala (Chicago) 

2630

5

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

20,156

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

2624

6

James Hines (Michigan)

19,969

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

2051

7

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

19,266

Omri Marian (Florida)

1986

8

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

19.122

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

1901

9

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

16,472

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

1824

10

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

16,334

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

1626

11

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

15,417

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

1583

12

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

15,230

Brad Borden (Brooklyn.)

1578

13

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

14,568

David Gamage (UCBerkeley)

1509

14

David Weisbach (Chicago)

14,483

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1502

15

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

14,317

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

1457

16

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

14,260

James Hines (Michigan)

1421

17

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

14,168

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1390

18

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

14,009

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

1376

19

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

13.974

Dick Harvey (Villanova)

1343

20

David Walker (Boston Univ.)

13,965

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

1308

21

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

13,955

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

1292

22

Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)

12,527

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

1252

23

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

12,171

David Weisbach (Chicago)

1176

24

Ed McCaffery (USC)

11,771

Gregg Polsky (North Carolina)

1156

25

Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)

11,759

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

1151

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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October 15, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Muller: Bar Exam Scores Dip to Their Lowest Level in 10 Years

Ireland Pulls Curtain on 'Double Irish' Tax Break

Rich States, Poor States

RSPS_7th_EditionArthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore & Jonathan Williams, Rich States, Poor States (7th ed. 2014):

In this seventh edition of Rich States, Poor States, Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore, and Jonathan Williams highlight specific policy choices throughout the 50 states that have led some states to economic prosperity and others to lackluster growth. The authors provide the 2014 ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, based on the economic policies of the states. Through the empirical evidence and analysis contained in this edition of Rich States, Poor States, the policies for economic growth are clear.

In chapter one, the authors provide updates on important policy developments that occurred throughout 2013 and the first half of 2014 in an in-depth, state-of-the-states analysis. ... Chapter two chronicles the movement of both people and income throughout the states. ... In chapter three, the authors provide a detailed explanation of not just which policies are conducive to economic growth and which ones are not, but also why this is the case. ... Finally, chapter four is this year’s comprehensive ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index.

Table 2

  Table 1

October 15, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 524

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  President Obama, Audit Threats, And Rogue IRS Employees, by Robert W. Wood:

The fallout from the IRS targeting flap isn’t over. The key lost emails could be the result of bona fide, unanticipated, and irreversible computer crashes. Yet some still see finger-prints of a cover-up. It provides fodder for the online equivalent of jawing around the water-cooler. Either way, conservative groups are outraged.

More broadly, there is a general malaise about the IRS and our tax system. It is not enough for the IRS to do a good job of enforcing the tax laws in a fair and non-discriminatory way. As important, the IRS needs to be perceived as fair. If profiling is a dirty word, it should be equally dirty when the IRS does it. Truly, audit targeting is scary. ...

Don’t forget President Obama’s audit quip in 2009 in a commencement speech. The President joked about Arizona State University’s decision not to award him an honorary degree:

“I really thought this was much ado about nothing, but I do think we all learned an important lesson. I learned never again to pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA brackets. . . . President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS.”

It was an innocent remark, but some pundits didn’t see any humor. Comedians joke about such things, not Presidents, especially not with the history this charged issue has had. It would only be a few years before the ‘rogue employees’ excuse could be used about IRS targeting. In the meantime, a clever remark can go a long way.

‘Gee, I thought you wanted me to ice that guy,’ a mafia button man might say. With plausible deniability, the don might get off scot free. Presumably, though, we can’t see what Ms. Lerner told her exempt organization subordinates in Cincinnati. If there were truly rogue employees, might they have misunderstood their mission and gotten overzealous?

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October 15, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Harvard Law School Seeks to Hire Bankruptcy Roundtable Research Director and Program Fellow

Harvard Law School LogoThe Harvard Law School Bankruptcy Roundtable seeks to hire a Research Director and Program Fellow:

The Harvard Law School Bankruptcy and Corporate Restructuring Project is seeking applicants for the position with the title “Research Director and Bankruptcy Program Fellow.”  Specific responsibilities include academic and policy-based research for the project, supervising the HLS Bankruptcy Roundtable and its student fellows, and assisting in teaching bankruptcy-based courses.

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October 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fleischer Presents Curb Your Enthusiasm for Pigouvian Taxes Today at Columbia

Fleischer Vic (2013)Victor Fleischer (San Diego) presents Curb Your Enthusiasm for Pigouvian Taxes at Columbia today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex RaskolnikovDavid Schizer, and Wojciech Kopczuk:

Pigouvian (or "corrective") taxes have been proposed or enacted on dozens of products and activities that may be harmful in excess: carbon, gasoline, fat, sugar, guns, cigarettes, alcohol, traffic, zoning, executive pay, and financial transactions, among others. Academics of all political stripes are mystified by the public’s inability to see the merits of using Pigouvian taxes more frequently to address serious social harms.

This enthusiasm for Pigouvian taxes should be tempered. A Pigouvian tax is easy to design — as a uniform excise tax — if one assumes that each individual causes the same amount of harm with each incremental increase in activity on the margin. This assumption of uniform marginal social cost pairs well with the limited information and enforcement capacity of tax institutions. But when marginal social cost varies significantly, a Pigouvian tax will not lead to an optimal allocation of economic resources. Focusing on carbon emissions, where the assumption of uniform marginal social cost happens to be reasonable, obscures this common design flaw.

Broadly speaking, Pigouvian taxes should be employed only when (1) the harm is (or is properly analogized to) global pollution, and where the harm does not vary based on the source, or (2) the variation in marginal social cost is easily observed and categorized, as with traffic congestion charges.

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October 14, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fleischer: Charitable Giving and Utilitarianism

Miranda Perry Fleischer (San Diego), Charitable Giving and Utilitarianism: Problems and Priorities, 89 Ind. L.J. 1484 (2014):

Charitable giving is redistributive at heart. It is thus surprising that scholarship on the charitable tax subsidies focuses on the efficient and pluralistic production of public goods while largely ignoring distributive justice concerns. Existing scholarship and current law leave crucial questions unanswered: How should we prioritize among charities? Should subsidized groups be required to help the poor? Are criticisms that charities do too little to help the poor valid? This Article is part of a series that examines how each common theory of distributive justice would answer these questions.

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October 14, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Faculty Rankings Should Focus More on Non-Academic Influence

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

For American legal scholarship to fulfill its purpose, it must have an impact on the development of the actual law as it is enacted and interpreted in the United States. However, legal scholarship broadly — and law review articles in particular — has become less influential on judges and members of the practicing bar over time. This short essay argues that the decline is partly attributable to the open reliance on metrics that primarily represent influence within the legal academy when measuring the value of a scholar’s work. In particular, I argue that a focus on metrics with only a tenuous connection to non-academic usage of a new scholar’s work, such as download counts, law journal citation count-based rankings methodologies, and article placement, incentivizes new legal writers to write for other academics rather than for judges, attorneys in practice, or policy-makers.

October 14, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Epstein: We Need a Real Flat Tax, Not Kleinbard's Version

Hoover Institution:  We Need a Real Flat Tax, by Richard A. Epstein (NYU):

I was heartened recently to see Edward Kleinbard’s op-ed in the New York Times, with its alluring title, “Don’t Soak the Rich.” But as I read the piece by Kleinbard, a law school professor at the University of Southern California, it became clear that his proposed solution was a classic bait-and-switch operation. Kleinbard’s so-called flat tax soaks the rich by a different route. He proposes a tax hike on everyone evenly and then suggests that the government spend most of the extra revenues on the poor, either by direct grants or public expenditures from which they derive the lion’s share of the benefit.

The flat tax deserves a better send-off. Historically, the tax was championed by such notables as Aristotle, Locke, and Hayek as a device to reduce the government’s role in the lives of its citizens. Even a limited government must do many things—provide national defense, preserve internal order, and supply the infrastructure on which a well-organized private sector markets run. Accomplishing these daunting tasks requires public revenues. The challenge for the defender of limited government is to find that set of taxes that minimizes the distortions of a market economy while generating revenue to accomplish government’s necessary and proper goals. ...

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October 14, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Call for Papers: University of North Carolina Tax Symposium

North Carolina Tax SymposiumThe University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler School of Business has issued a call for papers for its Eighteenth Annual Tax Symposium to be held April 10-11, 2015. The symposium "is designed to bring together leading tax scholars from economics, accounting, finance, law, political science, and related fields." The deadline for the call for papers is January 1, 2015:

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October 14, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thimmesch: The Tax Hangover -- Trailing Nexus

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Adam B. Thimmesch (Nebraska), Evaluating the Tax Hangover: Trailing Nexus, 74 State Tax Notes 83 (Oct. 13, 2014):

In this article, which is adapted from a longer law review article [The Tax Hangover: Trailing Nexus, 33 Va. Tax Rev. 497 (2014)], Thimmesch examines the concept of trailing nexus. He argues that the concept is consistent with the physical presence standard and proposes an economic latency approach, which he asserts is consistent with both constitutional principles and economic reality.

October 14, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Symposium on the Work of Larry Ribstein: Unlocking the Law

Ribstein 2Symposium, Unlocking the Law: Building on the Work of Professor Larry E. Ribstein, 38 Int'l Rev. L. & Econ. 1-173 (2014):

October 14, 2014 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Boston College Seeks to Hire a Tax Clinician

BC LogoBoston College Law School seeks to hire a full-time tax clinician:

Boston College Law School seeks a full-time faculty member interested in establishing and teaching in a transactional clinic that emphasizes entrepreneurship, technology, and the innovation economy.

JOB DESCRIPTION: The successful applicant will be expected to expand the offerings of one of our existing clinics or develop a new program, which may include hybrid arrangements with outside institutions such as incubators, corporations or law firms, and may include simulation as a method of instruction. The focus of teaching should be business formation, business transactions, taxation, or intellectual property. The successful applicant will play a major role in determining the clinic's specific emphasis and operation.

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October 14, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Henderson: Is the Legal Profession Showing Its Age?

The Legal Whiteboard:  Is the Legal Profession Showing Its Age?, by William D. Henderson (Indiana):

The figure below suggests that a growing number of students are attending law school but not going on to become lawyers.  This conclusion requires some explanation, which I will supply below.  Alternative explanations are also welcome, as I’d like to find a plausible narrative that foreshadows a brighter future for the licensed bar. [PDF version of this essay]

Slide14

I have shown this chart to various law firms, legal departments, law faculty and bar association audiences.  Through this process, I have developed two working theories that are not mutually exclusive:

  1. Increased exits from law practice based on gender integration
  2. Slowing absorption of law graduates into the licensed bar

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October 14, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 523

IRS Logo 2Town Hall:  The White House Dogs, by Erick Erickson:

There are two dogs living in the White House other than the Obamas' pet dog. The first of the two dogs is the one that eats all the homework. It has been let loose across government agencies.

The Internal Revenue Service had an encounter with the dog. Lois Lerner, in charge of the division accused of harassing conservative groups, suddenly had her hard drive crash. All her emails were gone. Then six other employees mysteriously had their emails vanish. All seven were relevant to the congressional probe of the IRS.

The emails appear not to be on any servers. They do not seem to have been backed up, or the back ups were destroyed too. The emails have simply vanished. It is just awfully convenient that they were emails involved in a congressional probe.

Once the dog finished eating emails at the IRS, it moved over to the Environmental Protection Agency. The Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a request for certain emails and text messages from or to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. According to the Washington Times last Wednesday, the EPA now says thousands of text messages related to Ms. McCarthy have simply disappeared. Her emails too are gone. The Competitive Enterprise Institute and the EPA are involved in a lawsuit, making the disappearance of the emails even more serious.

Now it is not just congressional Republicans looking at disappearing data. A federal judge is involved, too. Congressional Republicans can be dismissed far more easily than a federal judge in a black robe with a gavel.

It seems the IRS and EPA are not the only government agencies visited by this hungry dog. The Securities and Exchange Commission has lost hundreds of computers with information on them that could be used for insider trading purposes. ...

That leads us to the other dog living in the Obama White House. In "Silver Blaze," a short story about Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a prized racehorse went missing the night before a major race. Holmes, investigating the disappearance and the related death of the horse's trainer, refers "to the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime." The curious incident was that the dog did not bark. The dog at the stables made no sound as the thief stole the horse because the dog knew the thief.

The Obama administration has not barked in these cases. Internal Revenue Service emails from employees under investigation by Congress have been deleted. The Obama administration's best guess is that there was just an unfortunate coincidence of timing with an obligatory reference to "partisan witch hunts." The same holds for the EPA and now the SEC.

The Obama administration has expressed little concern, mostly taking the opportunity to blame Republicans. Government data has been deleted, and no one in the White House seems concerned. The dog is not barking. ...

The matters on which the White House dogs are willing to bark and be quiet should direct the attention of an objective press. The silence on the IRS and EPA is very telling.

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October 14, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sanchirico Presents International Tax and Ownership Nationality Today at Florida

SanchiricoChris Sanchirico (Pennsylvania) presents As American as Apple, Inc.: International Tax and Ownership Nationality, 68 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2014), at Florida today as part of its Graduate Tax Program Colloquium Series:

The ownership nationality of large US multinational companies plays an implicit but important role in the current debate over how such companies should be taxed. This paper identifies that role and investigates what is actually known about where these companies’ shareholders reside.

October 13, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mayer Presents Taxing Politics Today at Loyola-L.A.

MayerLloyd Hitoshi Mayer (Notre Dame) presents Taxing Politics at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

This draft Article addresses two key questions relating to the interaction between federal tax law and political activity. First, is it advisable as a policy matter for Congress to use the tax law to regulate the flows of money in politics in furtherance of non-tax goals such as combatting corruption, promoting equality, and encouraging democratic participation? I answer this first question generally no, in significant part because the tax law and the IRS are poorly suited for this role and suffer significant collateral damage when their poor fit becomes evident, as the ongoing controversy over the IRS’ handling of exemption applications filed by Tea Party and other conservative groups reveals. Second, does tax law in its current form treat political activity properly based on longstanding tax policies relating to what constitutes income, what expenses should be deductible, what constitutes a taxable gift, and what characteristics organizations should have in order to qualify for tax exemption? I answer this second question generally yes, but identify several areas where the tax law needs to be changed to achieve greater consistency with such policies, including with respect to reducing the amount of political activity that is deemed permissible for most types of tax-exempt organizations.

Ellen Aprill (Loyola-L.A.) and Justin Levitt (Loyola-L.A.) are the commentators.

October 13, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Should Law Schools Consolidate Multiple Sections of a Course to Save Money, Free Up Faculty Time?

Inside Higher Ed, A New Metric:

It’s hard to raise much excitement over a chart, but a recent one that breaks down how colleges can reduce the number of sections they teach and reduce faculty time while educating the same number of students might be getting there. But not all the excitement is positive. 

The chart is part of a summary of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded studies by the Education Advisory Board, a business that produces research for colleges. The board looked at seven colleges, mostly regional public universities whose names have not been revealed, and tried to figure out what it costs to teach students. Analysts combed through 250 million rows of data to draw up reports that spelled out the costs of each student credit hour in each section in each department of each college. ...

On a simple chart, the results are stunning: here’s how many classes are empty compared to the current maximum class size -- so, if you combined enough relatively empty classes, you could teach the same number of students without increasing caps on class size. The data also allow administrators to easily see how much it costs to teach the average credit hour in each department, a comparison that has been done elsewhere but that faculty say can be dangerous.

Chart

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October 13, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Does the USA Really Soak the Rich?

Next New Deal (Blog of the Roosevelt Institute), Does the USA Really Soak the Rich?:

There's a new argument about taxes: the United States is already far too progressive with taxation, it says, and if we want to build a better, eglitarian future we can't do it through a "soak the rich" agenda. It's the argument of this recent New York Times editorial by Edward D. Kleinbard, and a longer piece by political scientists Cathie Jo Martin and Alexander Hertel-Fernandez at Vox. I'm going to focus on the Vox piece because it is clearer on what they are arguing.

There, the researchers note that the countries “that have made the biggest strides in reducing economic inequality do not fund their governments through soak-the-rich, steeply progressive taxes.” They put up this graphic, based on OECD data, to make this point:

You can quickly see that the concept of "progressivity" is doing all the work here, and I believe the way they are going to use that word will be problematic. What does it mean for Sweden to be one of the least progressive tax state, and the United States the most? ... 

When average people usually talk about soaking the rich, they are talking about the marginal tax rates the highest income earners pay. But as we can see, in Sweden the rich pay a much higher marginal tax rate [56% v. 39%]. ... 

[Jo Martin and Hertel-Fernandez] are measuring how much of tax revenue comes from the top decile ...  and calling that the progressivity of taxation. ...  The fact that the United States gets so much more of its tax revenue from the rich when compared to Sweden means we have a much more progressive tax policy, one of the most progressive in the world. Congratulations?

The problem is, of course, that we get so much of our tax revenue from the rich because we have one of the highest rates of inequality across peer nations. How unequal a country is will be just as much of a driver of the progressivity of taxation as the actual tax polices. In order to understand how absurd this is, even flat taxes on a very unequal income distribution will mean that taxes are “progressive” as more income will come from the top of the income distribution, just because that’s where all the money is. Yet how would that be progressive taxation?

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October 13, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why Do Lawyers Blog?

Legal Productivity, Why Do You Blog? 23 Lawyers Weigh In:

Blogging means different things to different people but I’m less interested in narrowly defining blogging, than examining why lawyers blog. So I went to the source and asked: “Why do you blog?” Twenty-three lawyers responded, some of whom have been at it for a very long time.

Several have their own practice or are part of a larger firm. Many still maintain their blog, while some write for other blogs. Topics range from their area of legal expertise to other interests like technology and practice management. But these blogging lawyers all have one thing in common: they write with passion and purpose. Business development doesn’t drive their writing. These lawyers blog because they love to write and share their knowledge, experience, and passions.

October 13, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Christians: It's Time to Fix FBAR

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Allison Christians (McGill), Paperwork and Punishment: It's Time to Fix FBAR, 76 Tax Notes Int'l 147 (Oct. 13, 2014):

Allison Christians argues that the U.S. Foreign Bank Account Report regime is excessive and offers suggestions to narrow its scope and ease compliance burdens.

October 13, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Congress, GAO Target ‘Supersize’ IRAs

Super Size MeFollowing up on my previous posts:

Wall Street Journal Tax Report:  Washington Scrutiny of ‘Supersize’ IRAs, by Laura Saunders:

Washington is taking a hard look at tax-sheltered retirement accounts, especially “supersize” ones worth millions of dollars. Savers should consider what it could mean for them.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, an arm of Congress, recently released a report on individual retirement accounts, requested by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D., Ore.). Its publication coincided with Senate hearings on retirement savings held last month.

The GAO study addressed questions many people asked after disclosures that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney had a traditional IRA worth as much as $101 million and technology entrepreneur Max Levchin put more than 13.3 million shares of Yelp YELP -5.11% stock in a Roth IRA before the firm went public in 2012.

How many supersize IRAs are there? The GAO estimates more than 300 individuals or families have IRAs with balances greater than $25 million, while more than 9,000 have IRAs worth more than $5 million. The GAO wasn’t able to distinguish between regular and Roth IRAs, given the data. ...

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October 13, 2014 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Henderson: Does Coop Placement Accelerate Law Student Professional Development?

The Legal Whiteboard:  Does Cooperative Placement Accelerate Law Student Professional Development?, by William D. Henderson (Indiana):

NortheasternThe title of an earlier essay posed a threshold question for legal ed reform: "If We Make Legal Education More Experiential, Would it Really Matter?" (Legal Whiteboard, Feb 2014) (PDF). I answered "yes" but admitted it was only my best guess.  Thus, to be more rigorous, I outlined the conditions necessary to prove the concept.

The essay below is a companion to the first essay.  It is a case study on how one type and brand of experiential education -- cooperative placements at Northeastern Law -- appears to accelerate the professional development of its law students. The outcome criteria are comprised of the three apprenticeships of Educating Lawyers (2007) (aka The Carnegie Report) -- cognitive skills, practice skills, and professional identity.

The better outcomes flow from Northeastern's immersive, iterative, and integrative approach. First, students are immersed in full-time coops that last a standard 11 weeks. Second, students move through four iterations of coops interspersed with four quarters of upper-level classes. Third, this experiential approach is integrated into the Law School's value system -- i.e., the experiential component is perceived as central rather than marginal to the School's educational mission.

Northeastern's coop model asks more of faculty and students, thus it may be hard to replicate. Yet, there is evidence that such an approach does in fact accelerate professional development in ways that ought to please law school critics and reformers. The benefits may be well worth the costs. ...

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October 13, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 522

IRS Logo 2New York Observer:  Sex, Lies, and . . . White House Counsel; Ruemmler Blunders Into Secret Service Mess, by Sidney Powell:

Enter Kathryn Ruemmler, former White House Counsel, repeatedly discussed on the “short list” for Attorney General. ...

As we reported previously, not only was Ms. Ruemmler in the middle of the IRS email scandal, the Benghazi cover-up, and the most vigorous “protector” of a president while increasing government secrecy and violating the rights of others, the Post places her squarely in the middle of the cover-up of the Cartagena sex scandal for which the Secret Service and the military took the sole blame for having several prostitutes spend the night before the President arrived. ...

According to Mr. Obama, those involved in the “Hookergate” scandal were just “a couple of knuckleheads” in the Secret Service. Wait, that sounds familiar. Oh yes, the IRS targeting of conservative political groups was just “a couple of boneheads” in the Cincinnati office of the IRS, and there wasn’t a “smidgeon of corruption” in Mr. Obama’s IRS.

Anyone still buying that must have been comatose for the last several months, during which we learned of the ever increasing number of computer crashes, and that the IRS deliberately destroyed Lois Lerner’s blackberry—a fact the IRS tried to hide from federal judge Emmet G. Sullivan. These developments may have a role to play in Mr. Holder’s departure—the real reasons for which I believe are yet to surface.

Our entire government is imploding in deceit and dishonesty. The United States has become the laughingstock of the world, and the vacuum in leadership of this country is sucking the very air we breathe. Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Mr. Obama golfs while ISIS beheads. Meanwhile, Kathryn Ruemmler’s on his short list for Attorney General.

There are reasons for his “trust” in her that are obvious to him, but she “ain’t no friend of mine.”

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October 13, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, October 12, 2014

More on Canaries in the Law School Coal Mine

Following up on my previous post, Former AALS President: Thomas Jefferson Is 'The Canary in the Coal Mine of Legal Education,' Expects Six Law Schools to Close:  George Leef, The Canary in the Law School Coal Mine?:

CanaryCoal miners used to bring a canary down into the mine to warn them when the air was becoming too dangerous. If the canary went limp, it was time to get out.

For the last several years, conditions for American law schools have been getting progressively more dangerous, as students respond to the realities of the market: the legal profession is over-saturated with people holding Juris Doctor credentials. Law schools have been graduating far more students than there are legal jobs, and the number of jobs is apt to shrink further as technology sinks its teeth into legal work.

In his recent City Journal article Machines v. Lawyers, Northwestern Law School professor John O. McGinnis explained why the demand for lawyers will keep shrinking. “Law is, in effect, an information technology – a code that regulates social life. And as the machinery of information technology grows exponentially in power, the legal profession faces a great disruption not unlike that already experienced by journalism, which has seen employment drop by about a third….”

Throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s, law was a growth industry and a great many people (especially students who had taken “soft” majors in college) figured that earning a JD was an attractive option. Naturally, law schools expanded to accommodate the throngs of degree seekers, who were aided by federal student loan programs. Going to law school both delayed the need to start repaying undergraduate loans and appeared to be the pathway into a bright and lucrative career.

That’s not true anymore. ...

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October 12, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads on SSRN, with a new paper debuting on the list at #5.  The #1 paper is now #19 in all-time downloads among 10,386 tax papers:

  1. [3288 Downloads]  'Competitiveness' Has Nothing to Do with it, by Edward D. Kleinbard (USC)
  2. [336 Downloads]  2013 Developments in Connecticut Estate and Probate Law, by Jeffrey A. Cooper (Quinnipiac) & John R. Ivimey (Reid and Riege, Hartford)
  3. [219 Downloads]  The OECD'S Flawed and Dated Approach to Computer Servers Creating Permanent Establishments, by Monica Gianni (Florida)
  4. [131 Downloads]  Rights Without Remedies, by Matthew L. M. Fletcher (Michigan State)
  5. [126 Downloads]  Home-Country Effects of Corporate Inversions, by Omri Y. Marian (Florida)

October 12, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. News to Issue Global University Rankings

U.S. News Logo (2014)Inside Higher Ed, 'U.S. News' to Issue New Global University Rankings:

U.S. News and World Report has announced that it will release its first global ranking of universities on Oct. 28. U.S. News plans to publish a global ranking of the top 500 universities across 49 countries, as well as four regional, 11 country-level, and 21 subject area-specific rankings. 

The Best Global Universities ranking will be based on reputational data, bibliometric indicators of academic research performance, and data on faculty and Ph.D. graduates. Robert Morse, U.S. News’s chief data strategist, said that there will be no cross-over of data between the publication's longstanding ranking of American colleges and the new global ranking, which will rely on data from Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters also provides data for the global university ranking compiled by Times Higher Education (THE). 

“What we’re doing is completely, 100 percent independent from THE,” Morse said. “It’s our methodology, our choice of variables, our choice of weights, our choice of how the calculations are done, our choice of how the data’s going to be presented.”

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October 12, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 521

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Lois Lerner And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Robert W. Wood:

Lois Lerner–the former IRS official at the heart of Tea Party targeting–is retired from the IRS. Despite being held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify, she hasn’t been prosecuted. Yet after her long silence, her exclusive interview with Politico was anything but reticent and reserved. In it, Ms. Lerner said she did nothing wrong and considers herself  the victim.

Ms. Lerner bristled at any suggestion she had anything to do with destroying emails, switching to texts, letting her own liberal views influence her treatment of Tea Party a_holes, crazies. etc. Yet in a curious turn of events, journalist and Crapitalism author Jason Mattera showed up in her nice Bethesda neighborhood to pepper her with questions. They included such zingers as “Do you feel bad about turning the government into a weapon to crush political dissent?”

This time, Ms. Lerner wasn’t flanked by lawyers and facing softball questions at Politico. And who can blame her for not wanting to answer these questions. So she scurried to a neighbor’s house and started knocking on the door, begging to be admitted. Ms. Lerner’s day got worse when her neighbors seemed to, well, ‘Take the Fifth’ about letting her in. She  stood there on the porch, while Jason Mattera probes with barbs like, ‘it doesn’t feel good to be targeted does it?’

AlexanderOK, this may not be journalism’s finest hour, nor does it necessarily mean much that Ms. Lerner didn’t want to answer these questions. It may not even mean much that the neighbor has probably had enough, and didn’t want to be involved. That’s so no matter how much the neighbor may like Ms. Lerner, or her dogs for that matter.

I’m not saying that anyone wants to be hounded (excuse the pun), either. But being hounded and asked questions of this sort cannot be entirely unexpected and may not even be unfair, especially after Ms. Lerner’s exclusive interview with Politico. It all sounds a little like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, based on the book by Judith Viorst. Just like Lois Lerner’s day, from the moment Alexander wakes up, everything goes wrong. ...

Want even more terrible, horrible, no good items? How about those rogue employees in Cincinnati doing things they shouldn’t. I’ll bet all those missing emails would prove once and for all that those confused rogue Cincinnatians did all the targeting non-biased and careful review with no help from the boss. Too bad the hard drive is gone destroyed buried not available despite best efforts. Maybe Alexander had something. Maybe moving to Australia wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all?

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October 12, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Ryan: Valuation Lessons From Estate of Adell

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Kerry A. Ryan (St. Louis), Valuation Lessons From Estate of Adell, 144 Tax Notes 1455 (Sept. 22, 2014):

In Estate of Adell [T.C. Memo. 2014-155], the Tax Court determined that the correct value of a decedent’s interest in a closely held corporation was the figure reported on the original estate tax return. The court rejected alternative values as either using the incorrect valuation method or failing to account for the significant value of a key employee’s personal goodwill. 

October 11, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Camille Nelson to Step Down as Suffolk Law School Dean

Boston Business Journal, Suffolk Law School Dean to Leave at Year's End:

SuffolkThe dean of Suffolk University Law School, Camille Nelson, will step down at the end of the current academic year, Suffolk University said in a press release.

Nelson joined the law school in September 2010 as the first woman and the first person of color to lead the law school. Suffolk University will conduct a national search to replace her.

In an email sent to the Suffolk University community on Thursday announcing her decision, Nelson offered no explanation, though Suffolk said in its press release that she is leaving to pursue other opportunities. ...

Nelson's announcement comes on the heels of the university's news in August that James McCarthy, the former president, had abruptly stepped down and being replaced by Norman Smith, who now serves as Suffolk University's interim president. The university little explanation for McCarthy's departure, except that he would be pursuing business and consulting opportunities.

Earlier this summer, Suffolk Law School announced that it had closed its Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service and returned the $5 million endowment it had received from the Jerry and Phyllis Rappaport and the Jerome Lyle Rappaport Charitable Foundation to launch the center in 2006. The university's decision, which also included ending an endowed chair at the law school, came as a surprise to the Rappaport family.

Suffolk's 2010-2013 admissions and placement data.  Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

October 11, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Elon Law School Shortens J.D. to 2.5 Years, Cuts Total Tuition by $14k (to $100k)

The IRS Scandal, Day 520

IRS Logo 2Forbes: Is IRS A Smidgen Corrupt? Ask Lois Lerner, NetJets, Buffett & 150 Million Taxpayers, by Robert W. Wood:

[A]ny dealings with the IRS today may be more unsettling than in the past because many have less confidence today that the system is fair and impartial. It is hard to overstate how important this is. Some of it comes back to the last 18 month who’s-on-first routine on display from the IRS.

Lois Lerner wouldn’t talk to Congress, although she is collecting a nice pension. Despite being held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify, she hasn’t been prosecuted. Maybe her refusal is constitutionally protected, maybe not. Yet after her long silence, in an exclusive interview with Politico, Ms. Lerner said she did nothing wrong and she considers herself the victim.

She bristled at any suggestion she had anything to do with destroying emails, switching to texts to avoid being traced, letting her own liberal views influence her treatment of tea party a_holes, etc. It isn’t only Ms. Lerner who comes off as above the law. IRS Commissioner Koskinen did his share of testifying about the email mess. Sadly, he somehow managed to seem arrogant, uninformed, and perhaps even a tad dismissive that his organization had any explaining to do.

The IRS and its thousands of dedicated employees deserve far better. Yet given the IRS’s current image problem, might some taxpayers feel justified in cheating on their taxes? I hope not, but I’ll bet some might think of this. Some of the public may not be able to get past the apparent stonewalling. Some of the public may wonder if they would get a pass from the IRS if their hard drive ate their tax records.

Some taxpayers may go beyond fudging their taxes and take their distrust to the courts. It already happened with True the Vote’s lawsuit against the IRS. But you can’t win without evidence. See Judge sides with IRS in search for Lerner emails. More suits could be impacted too. As noted in The Lois Lerner App, NetJets has asserted that the IRS “wiped clean a number of computer hard drives containing e-mails and other electronic documents that the government was required to produce.” ...

Will some taxpayers cheat after seeing this kind of behavior? I hope not, but some might justify it to themselves. When thousands of emails go missing from the key time period? And, when no one said anything about the emails being missing until one year into a federal investigation? Might some taxpayers cheat after seeing this kind of behavior? ...

Whatever one’s political views, politics are not supposed to matter to the IRS. Taxes and tax administration can’t be even remotely based on politics. We all need to believe that, and more generally, in the fairness of the system. One’s tolerance for coincidence should not have to be work overtime to be convinced.

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October 11, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Brooklyn Hosts 2014 Scholar’s Roundtable Today

Brooklyn Logo 1Brooklyn hosts the 2014 Scholar’s Roundtable today with this tax panel:

October 10, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)