TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, April 7, 2017

The IRS Scandal, Day 1429:  Commissioner Koskinen Says He Will Finish Term Despite GOP Calls To Step Down Immediately

IRS Logo 2The Hill, IRS Chief Says He's Committed to Finishing His Term:

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on Thursday said he is committed to finishing his term, one day after Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee called for his removal.

“I signed up for a term that ends in November,” Koskinen said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing. “Where I come from, if you sign up for a commitment, you complete that commitment.”

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April 7, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Oh Presents Are Progressive Tax Rates Progressive Policy? Today At Indiana

OhJason Oh (UCLA) presents Are Progressive Tax Rates Progressive Policy?, 92 NYU L. Rev. ___ (2017), at Indiana-Bloomington today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Leandra Lederman:

Why do income tax systems across the world consistently feature progressive marginal rates? The existing literature tells a political story focusing on the top of the rate schedule and the preferences of the poor and middle class. According to this standard view, higher rates at the top result from the poor and middle class using the political process to “soak the rich.” However, this explanation is inconsistent with research showing that public policy is generally more responsive to the preferences of the rich. Explaining marginal rate progressivity as a universal (and exceptional) triumph of the poor and middle class rings hollow.

This Article resolves this tension in the extant literature by showing how progressive marginal rates are in fact consistent with the preferences of the rich.

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April 6, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

George Washington Law School Applications Jump 9%, Thanks To A 'Trump Bump'?

GWT

The GW Hatchet, Law School Application Numbers Rise With Waived Fees, ‘Trump Bump’:

Applications to the law school jumped up by 9 percent for this year’s admissions cycle as the school received the second largest number of applications nationwide, a law school spokeswoman said last week.

A 9-percent increase means more than 7,500 students applied to the law school this year – up from about 6,900 a year ago and the largest pool since 2011. Faculty and experts said the school’s decision to waive its application fee coupled with President Donald Trump’s administration sparking an increased interest in law, likely contributed to the increase. ...

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April 6, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

LSAT Test-Takers Rose 3.3% In Fall 2017 Admissions Cycle, But Law School Applicants Are Down 1.9%

The number of LSAT test-takers rose 3.3% in 2016-17, on the heels of last year's 4.1% increase, which followed five consecutive years of declines.  The 5.4% increase in February's final test of this year's cycle is the largest February increase since 2009.

LSAT

Matt Leichter, LSAT Tea-Leaf Reading: February 2017 Edition:

Leichter 2

LSAC also has announced that "As of 3/31/17, there are 319,072 applications submitted by 47,916 applicants for the 2017–2018 academic year. Applicants are down 1.9% and applications are up 0.3% from 2016–2017. Last year at this time, we had 87% of the preliminary final applicant count."

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April 6, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

FAIR Seeks Revocation Of The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Tax Exemption Due To Its Anti-Trump Electioneering

SPLCPress Release, FAIR Files Formal Exhaustive Complaint with the IRS: SPLC Violated Its Tax Exempt Status Repeatedly in the Last Election Cycle Alleges FAIR:

According to a formal legal complaint filed today with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) openly and repeatedly violated its non-profit tax status nearly 50 times during the 2016 presidential election cycle, participating in communication activities prohibited by the IRS in a “flagrant, continued and intentional campaign” targeting then-Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and other Republican candidates. The complaint was filed by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) through its legal affiliate the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI). Copies are available here.

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April 6, 2017 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Under Pressure From Feds, ABA Cracks Down On Four Law Schools (Arizona Summit, Ave Maria, Charlotte, Valparaiso)

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)Inside Higher Ed, ABA Cracks Down on Low Performing Law School in Wake of Criticism from Feds:

During the last year, the American Bar Association has cracked down on four law schools [Arizona Summit, Ave Maria, Charlotte, Valparaiso] — two of which are for-profits.

A tightened job market for law school graduates has helped draw the ABA's attention to some of the lowest-performing institutions it accredits. Less academically prepared students, who are gaining easy access to these law schools, face large student debt loads and slim chances of finding employment, according to experts.

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April 6, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

TIGTA:  91% Of Taxpayers Whose Bank Accounts Were Seized By The IRS Had Acquired The Cash Legally

TIGTAThe Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday released Criminal Investigation Enforced Structuring Laws Primarily Against Legal Source Funds and Compromised the Rights of Some  Indiviuals and Businesses:

The Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act of 1970, referred to as the Bank Secrecy Act, requires U.S. financial institutions to file reports of currency transactions exceeding $10,000. ... In October 2014, a new policy was instituted by IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) that it would no longer pursue the seizure and forfeiture of funds related to legal source structuring. In the same month the policy changed, the New York Times reported that CI had been seizing funds in structuring investigations without filing a criminal complaint. Property owners were left to prove their innocence, and many gave up trying. This audit was initiated to evaluate the IRS’s use of seizures against property owners suspected of structuring transactions to avoid Bank Secrecy Act reporting requirements.

Most of the seizures for structuring violations involved legal source funds from businesses. While current law does not require that the funds have an illegal source (e.g., money laundering or criminal activity other than alleged.

Washington Post, The IRS Took Millions From Innocent People Because of How They Managed Their Bank Accounts, Inspector General Finds:

The IRS pursued hundreds of cases from 2012 to 2015 on suspicion of structuring, but with no indications of connections to any criminal activity. Simply depositing cash in sums of less than $10,000 was all that it took to arouse agents' suspicions, leading to the eventual seizure and forfeiture of millions of dollars in cash from people not otherwise suspected of criminal activity.

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April 6, 2017 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (11)

Fleming, Peroni & Shay:  The Transition Tax Issue

J. Clifton Fleming Jr. (BYU), Robert J. Peroni (Texas) & Stephen E. Shay (Harvard), Getting from Here to There: The Transition Tax Issue, 154 Tax Notes 69 (Mar. 27, 2017):

If there is fundamental U.S. international income tax reform, regardless of the reform option chosen, the United States must decide how to handle the $2.4 trillion to $2.6 trillion of previously untaxed foreign income accumulated by U.S. multinational corporations. In this report, Fleming, Peroni, and Shay argue that the proper approach is to treat the income as a subpart F inclusion in the year before the effective date of fundamental reform and to tax it at regular rates with an option to make the payments in installments that bear market-rate interest.

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April 6, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1428:  Fifteen Ways & Means Committee Republicans Urge Trump To Fire Commissioner Koskinen

IRS Logo 2Letter From 15 House Ways & Means Committee Republicans to President Trump (Apr. 5, 2017) (press release):

As members of the House Ways and Means Committee, we believe it is imperative that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) work for the best interest of all taxpayers, and that the taxpayers in tum have confidence in the IRS's ability to fairly administer the tax code. This trust is at the core of our system of voluntary tax compliance . Trust in the IRS is hitting rock-bottom under IRS Commissioner John Koskinen . Not only was key evidence relevant to this Committee's investigation destroyed under his watch, but he also misled Congress in the process, intentionally degraded customer service at the agency, and has since lost the trust of the American people. We believe that trust cannot be fully restored under Commissioner Koskinen's leadership. For this reason, we are writing to request the removal of John Koskinen as Commissioner of the IRS and to request that a new leader be put in place as soon as possible.

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April 6, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Ex-Cincinnati Law Dean Challenges Her Removal: 'Faculty Unwilling To Put Student Needs Ahead Of Their Own' Is Not Adequate Ground. But Is There More To The Story?

UC BardAmerican Lawyer, Fired (And Lawyered) Up:

Two weeks ago, we told you about the former dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Law, who was removed from her position, she says, for doing exactly what she was brought on to do: cut spending. At the time, Jennifer Bard made that claim in the press herself, but now she's hired a lawyer, Marjorie Berman of New York firm Krantz & Berman, to do the talking. Berman said the university violated its own internal rules when it pushed Bard out of the dean job on March 22 and placed her on leave while it investigates her leadership of the law school. "The interim provost placed Dean Bard on administrative leave without the slightest factual basis for doing so,” said Marjorie Berman, an attorney with New York firm Krantz & Berman. “Administrative leave implies conduct requiring an immediate separation, that the university well knows does not exist here. Faculty unwilling to put the needs of the students and the law school ahead of their own does not constitute such conduct.” University spokesman Greg Vehr did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

National Law Journal, Ex-Cincinnati Law Dean Claims Her Removal Was Improper:

The former dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Law says she was improperly removed from that position two weeks ago and placed on administrative leave after clashing with some faculty over proposed budget cuts.

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April 5, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Harrison:  Academic Freedom And The Scheduling Of Law School Classes

Florida Logo (GIF)Jeffrey Harrison (Florida), Those Bastards!!:

Yes, it's that time of year again — teaching schedules for the  next two semesters. And, as usual, when I filled in the form asking for my preferences, I gave the Deans all kinds of options. I am willing to teach Monday-Wednesday at 1-2 or Monday-Wednesday 1:05-2:05.  Mornings are out! I spend the morning reading the Times until my massage at 11. Lunch is at noon.  But what do they give me? Monday-Wednesday 2-3. These people do not know who I am. Do they have me mixed up with someone who went to a state school?

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

Helfand:  Making Faith-Based Institutions Inclusive — The Pepperdine Example

HelfandInside Higher Education op-ed:  Making Faith-Based Institutions Inclusive, by Michael A. Helfand (Pepperdine):

When people meet me for the first time, it doesn’t take long for them to realize that I am an Orthodox Jew. The most obvious giveaway is the yarmulke on my head. Of course, this isn’t by itself surprising — and being an Orthodox Jew doesn’t make me particularly unique. What does surprise people is when they learn I teach at Pepperdine University School of Law, part of a university that is affiliated with the Church of Christ.

This surprise frequently comes in the form of the following conversation, often at an academic conference. Someone will see my institutional affiliation on my name tag and ask me, “How are things at Pepperdine?” When I respond enthusiastically, my interlocutor will follow up by asking, “But how do they treat you" — or “But are you OK,” almost expecting me to unburden my soul with all the horrors of being a committed Orthodox Jew at a Christian university.

These repeated interactions frequently lead me to reflect on the extraordinary distance between these prevailing perceptions and my own lived reality. Put succinctly, I cannot imagine working in a more supportive and rewarding academic environment than what I have experienced at Pepperdine. To be sure, my comfort with faith-based higher education presumably also has a lot do with my own education; I spent many years at Yeshiva University, the largest Orthodox Jewish university in the United States. And my area of research is law and religion, which means my substantive work dovetails nicely with the intersection of faith and knowledge that lies at the heart of many faith-based universities. But these experiences and interests have also given me a window into how faith-based universities successfully promote religious diversity.

From my vantage point, the reason why Pepperdine has proven fertile ground for cultivating religious diversity among its faculty alongside its continued commitment to its core Christian mission is because it conveys to its entire faculty that we are valued because of and not despite the university’s faith-based mission. ...

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

Corporate Tax Avoidance and Honoring The Fiduciary Duties Owed To Corporation And Its Stockholders

Eric C. Chaffee (Toledo) & Karie Davis-Nozemack (Georgia Tech), Corporate Tax Avoidance and Honoring the Fiduciary Duties Owed to Corporation and Its Stockholders, 58 B.C. L. Rev. ___ (2017):

Corporate tax avoidance is a pressing issue of both national and international concern. In recent years, the tax strategies of Apple, Facebook, Pfizer, Starbucks, and numerous other corporations have reminded the public that firms regularly undertake highly aggressive tax strategies to minimize their corporate taxes. Corporations often claim that they are legally required to engage in these aggressive strategies. But this article proves that claim is utterly and completely incorrect when based upon the fiduciary duties owed to the corporation and its stockholders.

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April 5, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

FATCA: A Corporate-Welfare Bonanza For Tax-Compliance Firms

FATCAWall Street Journal op-ed: A Corporate-Welfare Bonanza for Tax-Compliance Firms, by Nigel Green (Founder & CEO, deVere Group):

Recently I launched the Campaign to Repeal Fatca—the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. The 2010 law, which purports to track down tax cheats hiding money abroad, forces foreign banks and other financial institutions to disclose Americans’ accounts to the Internal Revenue Service.

Threatened with U.S. sanctions if they don’t comply, banks around the world have rushed to submit to Fatca. Foreign governments have hastened to abrogate their domestic privacy laws. Fatca, it seems, has been a big success. But who really benefits?

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

Wayne State Moves To Fire Five Tenured Faculty Who Have Not Published In Five Years

Wayne State University LogoFollowing up on last week's post, Wayne State Moves To Fire Five Underperforming Tenured Professors; President Seeks 'Accountability For Individuals And Excellence For The University': Chronicle of Higher Education, Wayne State’s Move to Strip 5 Professors of Tenure Sparks Unease About a Broader Threat:

As Wayne State University takes the highly unusual step of trying to strip tenure from five medical-school professors who its president says are "abusing the tenure system," some faculty members on the campus say they’re concerned that more tenure threats may not be far behind.

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April 5, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tax And The Timing Of Lawmaking

TimingThe Timing of Lawmaking (Frank Fagan (EDHEC) & Saul Levmore (Chicago) eds. Edward Elgar 2017):

Legal reasoning, pronouncements of judgment, the design and implementation of statutes, and even constitution-making and discourse all depend on timing. This compelling study examines the diverse interactions between law and time, and provides important perspectives on how law's architecture can be understood through time. The book revisits older work on legal transitions and breaks new ground on timing rules, especially with respect to how judges, legislators and regulators use time as a tool when devising new rules. At its core, The Timing of Lawmaking goes directly to the heart of the most basic of legal debates: when should we respect the past, and when should we make a clean break for the future?

  • Saul Levmore (Chicago), Interest Groups and the Durability of Law

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April 5, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1427:  54 Applications For Tax-Exempt Status Were Rejected In 2016; One Conservative Group Has Been Waiting For An Answer Since 2009

IRS Logo 2Washington Free Beacon, IRS Denied Tax-Exempt Status to 37 Religious, Charitable Groups in 2016: One Group Has Been Waiting For Tax-Exempt Status For More Than Seven Years:

The Internal Revenue Service denied tax-exempt status to 37 religious, charitable, and educational organizations in 2016, according to recent data from the agency.

The IRS rejected a total of 54 applications for tax-exempt status in 2016. Groups applying for 501(c)3 status, which applies to non-profits whose mission is religious or charitable in nature, comprised 69 percent of denials.

Nearly 85,000 groups applied for 501(c)3 status in 2016. Of those applications, 79,545 were approved, 37 were denied, and 5,006 were not adjudicated. According to the IRS, the 5,006 applications that were not adjudicated in 2016 were either withdrawn by the organization, did not include required information, were incomplete, or were IRS correction disposals. ...

As early as 2010, the IRS began targeting applicants for tax-exempt status based on their political ideology, delaying the applications of some Tea Party and conservative groups before the 2012 presidential election. To this day, some groups are still waiting for their tax-exempt status to be approved.

Attorney Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, represents 37 conservative and pro-life nonprofit organizations encountered opposition from the IRS in getting their tax-exempt status approved. One of these groups is still waiting for determination after filing for tax-exempt status in December 2009, which means it has been waiting for more than seven years. ...

Sekulow said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who has led the agency since 2013, needs to be replaced by someone who Congress and the American people can trust. "We've had a very firm position at the ACLJ, we believe that there needs to be total reform at the IRS, and the institution is incapable of self-correcting," Sekulow said. "That means people like Koskinen and a lot of the bureaucrats like Lois Lerner that run the [exempt organizations division] and the different departments within the IRS need to be changed."

Sekulow said Koskinen missed an opportunity to clean up the IRS and was too protective of the agency and its officials. Koskinen's term ends at the end of November 2017, though he said late last year he would resign at the request of President Donald Trump. Sekulow said added pressure from Congress to impeach the commissioner could encourage Trump to take him up on his offer. ...

"You shouldn't have to be afraid that the IRS will target you because of your political beliefs or your religious beliefs," he said. "So that's why we believe continued pressure from Congress, I think, President Trump would appreciate that because it would give him the momentum to make that decision and it would work in tandem. You would have Congress calling for it and the president taking action on it."

The IRS did not respond to requests for comment.

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April 5, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Devereux & Vella Present Destination-Based Cash Flow Taxation Today At Georgetown

DVMichael Devereux & John Vella (Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation) present Destination-Based Cash Flow Taxation (with Alan Auerbach (UC-Berkeley) & Michael Keen (International Monetary Fund)) at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John Brooks and Itai Grinberg:

This paper sets out a possible approach to the international taxation of corporate profit: a destination-based cash flow tax (DBCFT). This option is one of a number that have been considered over the last three years by a group of economists and lawyers, chaired by Michael Devereux. The other current members of the group are Alan Auerbach, Michael Keen, Paul Oosterhuis, Wolfgang Schön and John Vella. ...

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April 4, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Facebook Demands That Its Outside Law Firms Meet 33% Diversity Target That Facebook Does Not Meet

FacebookNew York Times, Facebook Pushes Outside Law Firms to Become More Diverse:

Like other Silicon Valley giants, Facebook has faced criticism over whether its work force and board are too white and too male. Last year, the social media behemoth started a new push on diversity in hiring and retention.

Now, it is extending its efforts into another corner: the outside lawyers who represent the company in legal matters.

Facebook is requiring that women and ethnic minorities account for at least 33 percent of law firm teams working on its matters.

Numbers alone, however, are not enough, under a policy that went in effect on Saturday. Law firms must also show that they “actively identify and create clear and measurable leadership opportunities for women and minorities” when they represent the company in litigation and other legal matters. ...

For Facebook, the move on outside lawyers is happening even as the company’s efforts at improving diversity in its own work force have so far shown little progress.

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April 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Oei:  The Offshore Tax Enforcement Dragnet

Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane; moving to Boston College), The Offshore Tax Enforcement Dragnet:

Taxpayers who hide assets abroad to evade taxes present a serious enforcement challenge for the United States. In response, the U.S. has developed a family of initiatives that punish and rehabilitate non-compliant taxpayers, raise revenues, and require widespread reporting of offshore financial information. Yet, while these initiatives help catch willful tax cheats, they have also adversely affected immigrants, Americans living abroad, and “accidental Americans.”

This Article critiques the United States’ offshore tax enforcement initiatives, arguing that the U.S. has prioritized two problematic policy commitments in designing enforcement at the expense of competing considerations: First, the U.S. has attempted to equalize enforcement against taxpayers with solely domestic holdings and those with harder-to-detect offshore holdings by imposing harsher reporting requirements and penalties on the latter. But in doing so, it has failed to appropriately distinguish among differently situated taxpayers with offshore holdings. Second, the U.S. has focused on revenue and enforcement, ignoring the significant compliance costs and social harms that its initiatives create.

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April 4, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Colleges With The Most Faculty, Staff & Student Credentials Available For Sale On The Dark Web: MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell

Brookings Hosts Panel Discussion Today On Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes

Read My LipsThe Brookings Institution is hosting a panel discussion today to mark release of the new book by Vanessa S. Williamson, Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes (Princeton University Press 2017).  The panel will discuss the book and take audience questions and respond to questions on Twitter at #Taxes or @BrookingsGov.

Conventional wisdom holds that Americans hate taxes. But the conventional wisdom is wrong. Bringing together national survey data with in-depth interviews, Read My Lips presents a surprising picture of tax attitudes in the United States. Vanessa Williamson demonstrates that Americans view taxpaying as a civic responsibility and a moral obligation. But they worry that others are shirking their duties, in part because the experience of taxpaying misleads Americans about who pays taxes and how much. Perceived "loopholes" convince many income tax filers that a flat tax might actually raise taxes on the rich, and the relative invisibility of the sales and payroll taxes encourages many to underestimate the sizable tax contributions made by poor and working people.

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April 4, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

#ThanksForTyping: 'The Invisible Labor Of Women In The Textual Transmission Of Men’s Scholarship'

Bruce Holsinger (Virginia) posted images on Twitter showing male professors thanking their wives for typing their manuscripts:

Typing

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April 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Global Conference On Environmental Taxation Issues Call For Papers

Tucson

The 18th Global Conference on Environmental Taxation has issued a Call for Papers for its September 27-29 conference on Innovation Addressing Climate Change Challenges: Local and Global Perspectives at the University of Arizona Law School:

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April 4, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1426: Obama’s IRS Chief Who Dodged Impeachment Continues Under Trump

IRS Logo 2Daily Signal, Obama’s IRS Chief Who Dodged Impeachment Continues Under Trump:

In the heart of tax season, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen will address the National Press Club next Wednesday even as many members of Congress question why someone who dodged impeachment during the Obama administration continues to be the face of the tax collecting agency under President Donald Trump.

“It could be partly that for the checklist of the Trump administration, they don’t yet have a full Cabinet and this isn’t a priority. External pressure, from what I picked up, should continue,” Jordan Sekulow, executive director for the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative legal group, told The Daily Signal. “If we saw more pressure from Congress, I think Koskinen would be gone.”

Koskinen’s five-year term ends in November, unless he is removed. Though Koskinen wasn’t in office when the IRS targeted tea party and conservative groups, House Republicans said he was repeatedly uncooperative and misled congressional investigators. Koskinen has said he acted in good faith to cooperate with the investigation. ...

In January, shortly after Trump took office, 53 House Republicans—led by Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker of North Carolina—asked Trump to remove Koskinen.

Walker spokesman Jack Minor told The Daily Signal Thursday the congressman stands by the letter, which House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah; Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C.; also signed. ... Chaffetz’s opinion hasn’t changed that Koskinen should not only be removed from office, but should forfeit his government pension, M.J. Henshaw, spokeswoman for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told The Daily Signal Thursday.

Last week, Cause of Action Institute, a conservative government watchdog group, issued a report asserting the IRS can engage in politicized targeting again under a section of the internal revenue manual. The report called for the Trump administration to roll back the rule.

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April 4, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Thomas Presents Taxing The Gig Economy Today At NYU

Thomas (2017)Kathleen Delaney Thomas (North Carolina) presents Taxing the Gig Economy at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Rosanne Altshuler:

Due to advances in technology like mobile applications and online platforms, millions of American workers now earn income through “gig” work, which allows them the flexibility to set their own hours and choose which jobs to take. To the surprise of many gig workers, the tax law considers them to be “business owners,” which subjects them to onerous recordkeeping and filing requirements, along with the obligation to pay quarterly estimated taxes. This Article proposes two reforms that would drastically reduce tax compliance burdens for this new generation of small business owners, while simultaneously enhancing the government’s ability to collect tax revenue.

First, Congress should create a “non-employee withholding” regime that would allow online platform companies such as Uber to withhold taxes for their workers without being classified as employers. Second, the Article proposes a “standard business deduction” for gig workers equal to 80 percent of their gross receipts, which would eliminate the need to track and report business expenses.

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April 3, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kane Presents The Global Battle To Capture MNE Profits At British Columbia

Kane (2015)Mitchell Kane (NYU) presented The Global Battle to Capture MNE Profits (with Joseph Bankman (Stanford) & Alan O. Sykes (Stanford)) at University of British Columbia Allard School of Law last Friday as part of its Tax Law and Policy Workshop Speaker Series:

This paper explores the various tools available to jurisdictions in their quest to capture MNE rents, including various forms of income and consumption taxation, government purchasing programs, price regulation, antitrust, and common trade instruments such as tariffs or quotas. Although the jurisdictional goal of rent capture might well be constant across the use of this vast array of instruments, the legal regulation of such actions is anything but that. Instead, there would appear to be important fissures in the tapestry of legal regulation.

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April 3, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Muller:  Don’t Use The Ballot To Get Trump’s Tax Returns

Trump Tax ReturnsNew York Times op-ed: Don’t Use the Ballot to Get Trump’s Tax Returns, by Derek Muller (Pepperdine):

Opponents of Donald Trump were outraged when, flouting recent tradition, he refused to disclose his tax returns during the 2016 presidential campaign. They remain outraged that he continues to decline to do so as president.

Now that political outrage is being channeled into legislation. Lawmakers in at least two dozen states have introduced bills that would compel presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns or be left off the ballot in 2020. The New Jersey Legislature recently passed such a bill, which sits on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk.

Mr. Christie should veto the bill, and other states should abandon their efforts. Making the disclosure of tax returns mandatory is bad policy and, in this form, probably unconstitutional.

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April 3, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

If It’s A New Law Dean, It’s Likely A Woman

National Law Journal, If It’s a New Law Dean, It’s Likely a Woman:

March has been a good month for women law deans. Six of the eight new law deans appointed this month are women, with a seventh taking on an interim dean role for the coming academic year. As of now, well over half of the new deans taking the reins starting this summer are women—an unusual development given the long-standing dominance of men in the top job on law campuses. ...

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

David Kautter To Be Named Assistant Secretary For Tax Policy

KautterPolitico reports that David Kautter is slated to be named President Trump's Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, succeeding Mark Mazur (who left the position in February to become Director of the Tax Policy Center) and Acting Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Thomas West.  From his webpage at American University's Kogod Tax Center:

David Kautter is Managing Director of the Kogod Tax Center and Executive in Residence in the Department of Accounting and Taxation. He joins Kogod following a distinguished career as a partner at Ernst & Young LLP, where he held a number of key technical and leadership roles spanning over three decades.

Most recently, Kautter served as Ernst & Young's Director of National Tax, the chief operating executive for the firm's national tax practices.

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April 3, 2017 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Political Economy Of Administrative Bloat In American Higher Education

Fall 2Todd J. Zywicki (George Mason) & Christopher Koopman (George Mason), The Changing of the Guard: The Political Economy of Administrative Bloat in American Higher Education:

The cost of higher education in the United States has risen dramatically in recent years. Numerous explanations have been provided to explain this increase. This paper focuses on one contributing factor: The dramatic growth in the size and expense of non-academic administrators and other university bureaucrats, which has outpaced the growth of expenditures on academic programs. Given that university faculty are typically viewed as the constituency that primarily controls universities, this growth of non-academic employees and expenses appears to be anomalous. Some theories are provided to explain this transition.

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April 3, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

NY Times:  Student Loan Forgiveness Program Approval Letters May Be Invalid

Department of Education LogoNew York Times, Student Loan Forgiveness Program Approval Letters May Be Invalid, Education Dept. Says:

More than 550,000 people have signed up for a federal program that promises to repay their remaining student loans after they work 10 years in a public service job.

But now, some of those workers are left to wonder if the government will hold up its end of the bargain — or leave them stuck with thousands of dollars in debt that they thought would be eliminated.

In a legal filing submitted last week, the Education Department suggested that borrowers could not rely on the program’s administrator to say accurately whether they qualify for debt forgiveness. The thousands of approval letters that have been sent by the administrator, FedLoan Servicing, are not binding and can be rescinded at any time, the agency said.

The filing adds to questions and concerns about the program just as the first potential beneficiaries reach the end of their 10-year commitment — and the clocks start ticking on the remainder of their debts. ...

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April 3, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, April 2, 2017

NY Times:  Conservative Split Over Border Tax Imperils Tax Reform

New York Times, Conservative Split Over Import Tax Imperils Trump’s Overhaul:

[T]he political network overseen by Charles D. and David H. Koch, the billionaire conservative businessmen, ... [is] mounting a furious campaign against a new tax on imports proposed by House Republicans, imperiling what is supposed to be a centerpiece of the Republican tax overhaul effort.

Their opposition threatens yet another rupture with President Trump, some of whose advisers see the provision as a critical way to bring about tax reform while protecting American manufacturers.

The battle could not only jeopardize Mr. Trump’s second major legislative initiative, but also redefine the boundaries of conservative economic policy. Much like the failed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the import tax is dividing conservatives, the business sector and some of the deepest-pocketed groups funding conservative politics. Along the way, it is exposing the broader ideological divide between nationalist policies embraced by Mr. Trump and the traditional small-government movement that his election ejected from the driver’s seat of Republican policy-making.

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April 2, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Another Banner Year For Lawyers (Especially In California)

BLS (2015)Stephen Diamond (Santa Clara), Another Banner Year For Lawyers, BLS Reports:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is out with its annual employment report and the news is, once again, very positive for lawyers. Lawyers’ incomes and employment numbers have increased steadily over the last two decades (except for a decline in incomes in 2008 at the onset of the financial crisis).

The BLS reports that the total number of lawyers employed as of May 2016 was 619,530 compared with 609,930 the year before. Lawyers’ mean income was $118,160 compared to last year’s wage of $115,820.

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

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThis week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads is the same as last week's list. The #1 paper is now #99 in all-time downloads among 12,628 tax papers:

  1. [1,720 Downloads]  The Known Unknowns of the Business Tax Reforms Proposed in the House Republican Blueprint, by Michael J. Graetz (Columbia)
  2. [593 Downloads]  How Donald Trump can Keep His Campaign Promises, Grow the Economy, Cut Tax Rates, Repatriate Offshore Earnings, Reduce Income Inequality, Keep Jobs in the United States, and Reduce the Deficit, by David S. Miller (Proskauer, New York)
  3. [459 Downloads]  Accounting for Behavioral Considerations in Business Tax Reform: The Case of Expensing, by Lily L. Batchelder (NYU)
  4. [387 Downloads]  Predicting Stock Market Prices with Physical Laws, by Jack Manhire (Texas A&M)
  5. [289 Downloads]  House Plan's Bad Math: Over-Estimates of Revenue from a Border Adjustment, by David Kamin (NYU) & Brad Setser (Council on Foreign Relations)

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

Restoring the Soul of the University: Unifying Christian Higher Education In A Fragmented Age

SoulPerry L. Glanzer (Baylor), Nathan F. Alleman (Baylor) & Todd C. Ream (Taylor), Restoring the Soul of the University: Unifying Christian Higher Education in a Fragmented Age (InterVarsity Press March 2017):

Has the American university gained the whole world but lost its soul?
In terms of money, prestige, power, and freedom, American universities appear to have gained the academic world. But at what cost? We live in the age of the fragmented multiversity that has no unifying soul or mission. The multiversity in a post-Christian culture is characterized instead by curricular division, the professionalization of the disciplines, the expansion of administration, the loss of community, and the idolization of athletics.

The situation is not hopeless. According to Perry L. Glanzer, Nathan F. Alleman, and Todd C. Ream, Christian universities can recover their soul — but to do so will require reimagining excellence in a time of exile, placing the liberating arts before the liberal arts, and focusing on the worship, love, and knowledge of God as central to the university.

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 1424:  Conservatives Demand IRS Commissioner’s Head In White House Meeting

IRS Logo 2Daily Caller, Conservatives Demand IRS Commissioner’s Head In White House Meeting:

An off-the-record White House meeting with roughly two dozen conservative leaders Wednesday included explicit calls for President Trump to fire IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, according to a source in the room.

White House conservative liaison Paul Teller organized the meeting Wednesday between Trump staffers and leaders of conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation and Judicial Watch.

Talk of Koskinen’s firing was part of a larger discussion on clearing out Obama-era personnel from the executive branch where possible, the source said. The broad consensus among attendees was that Trump needs to clean out Obama-era bureaucrats if he is going to be successful in pushing through his agenda.

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April 2, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

20th Annual Critical Tax Theory Conference At St. Louis

St. Louis (2016)St. Louis hosts the 20th Annual Critical Tax Theory Conference today:

Critical tax scholarship aims at looking beyond the language of the Code and regulations to examine what the tax law actually does. It has roots in critical legal studies generally, and therefore Critical tax scholars frequently ask why the tax laws are the way they are and what impact tax laws have on historically disempowered groups, such as people of color; women; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals; low-income and poor individuals; the disabled; and nontraditional families. But Critical tax scholarship is not limited either to those topics or to any particular methodology.

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

WSJ:  IRS Crackdown On Bitcoin Exchange Fuels Privacy Worries

Bitcoin IRSWall Street Journal, IRS Crackdown on Bitcoin Exchange Fuels Privacy Worries:

The federal government is ramping up pressure on a leading digital-currency company to turn over a vast amount of its customer records as part of a tax-evasion probe, an effort that is raising privacy alarms.

The IRS is focusing on Coinbase, a popular exchange and “wallet” service for bitcoin, which has surged in value over the past year as a kind of digital alternative to gold.

Some consumers use bitcoin as a potentially faster, cheaper and more secure way to shop and transfer funds online. Its growing adoption, and perceived anonymity, has made the IRS more concerned about people using digital currency to evade paying taxes.

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April 1, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ:  100 Colleges Offer Loan Repayment Assistance To Graduates, As Do 100 Law Schools

Student LoansWall Street Journal, Some Colleges Step Up to Ease Students’ Debt Burden: About 100 Mostly Liberal Arts Colleges Offer Help With Loan Repayments to Graduates:

When Natalie Dunn was a senior in high school, she was torn between two colleges — but only one offered anything close to a money-back guarantee. So she picked Adrian College over the less-expensive Central Michigan University. The private liberal-arts school promised it would cover some or all of her student-loan payments, depending on how much she earned after graduation, up to $37,000 a year in salary. ... 

About 100 schools — mostly liberal-arts colleges — are now offering a variant of this guarantee through an Indiana company called LRAP [Loan Repayment Assistance Program] Association, The company sells programs similar to insurance policies to schools for an average of about $1,300 per student, said LRAP President Peter Samuelson.

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

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Friday, March 31, 2017

Weekly Tax Highlight And Roundup

This week, Joe Kristan (CPA & Shareholder, Roth & Company (Des Moines, Iowa); Editor, Tax Update Blog) discusses the Tax Court's recent reminder about the limits of management fees in shifting income for tax planning purposes.

KristanManagement fees mismanaged.

In the misty dawn of time — well, in my early days in public accounting — I knew an old-school practitioner who used “management fees” between related companies as a tax planning cure-all. Too much taxable income? Pay a management fee to the commonly-controlled company that’s running a loss, or to the relative who needs some cash and who doesn’t have much income. Problems solved!

Like many bad tax ideas, that works fine if the IRS never finds out. A Tax Court case yesterday shows what happens when they do.

A home health care company operated as a C corporation. It was acquired by another corporation named Sacer Cor, but apparently never filed a consolidated return with its 100% owner. Whether that is because Sacer Cor might be an S corporation is never spelled out in the case. Either way, Sacer Cor and Home Team, the subsidiary, filed separate returns.

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March 31, 2017 in Tax, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Erin Scharff (Arizona State) reviews a new working paper by Ben Meiselman (Michigan), Ghostbusting in Detroit:  Evidence on NonFilers from a Controlled Field Experiment.

Scharff (2017)As Ben Meiselman notes in the introduction to his new study of taxpayer compliance, there’s no marginal cost to making a tax authority’s written communication to a taxpayer more persuasive. In an era of likely increasing austerity in tax enforcement budgets at all levels of government, finding low-costs methods to increase compliance will become all the more important.  Field experiments have produced some information about effective messages, and Meiselman’s study adds to this research, but as I discuss after reviewing the paper’s findings, Meiselman’s account also raises questions about Detroit’s capacity to operate an income tax.

In the spring and early summer of 2016, Detroit sent both a postcard and a certified letter to 7,142 suspected “ghosts,” 2014 federal taxpayers with Detroit addresses who had failed to file a Detroit income tax return for that tax year.  A control postcard informed taxpayers that they would receive a letter in a few days about filing a tax return, and the subsequent letter informed the taxpayer that Detroit’s records indicated that she was a resident of Detroit and did not file a city tax return in 2014.

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March 31, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times:  Cincinnati Law Dean Put On Leave After Trying To Close Multi-Million Dollar Deficit By Increasing Teaching Loads, Cutting Summer Research Stipends And Salary Supplements Of Chaired Professors

UC BardNew York Times DealBook: Cincinnati Law Dean Is Put on Leave After Proposing Ways to Cut Budget, by Elizabeth Olson:

When Jennifer S. Bard took the reins of the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 2015, her chief mission was to overhaul the school’s troubled finances.

She proposed measures to cut costs, including expanding teaching loads, limiting travel expenses and curbing summer salary stipends for research. But faculty members pushed back.

After so much squabbling between the dean and the professors, the public university’s provost stepped in to mediate. Last week, Dr. Bard, who came from Texas Tech University’s law school, was stripped of her duties as dean and placed on leave — with no public explanation.

Internal faculty emails provide a window into why Cincinnati Law — and schools like it — have made few changes even as they face serious revenue shortfalls. Normally, such financial information never sees daylight, but a local newspaper, The Cincinnati Business Courier, published a string of emails after obtaining them through public records requests.

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March 31, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (15)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

St. Louis Hosts Conference Today On Taxation And Migration

St. LouisSt. Louis hosts a conference today on Critical Issues in Comparative and International Taxation: Taxation and Migration:

As ever growing numbers of individuals seek economic and political refuge in Europe and North America, and as increasing numbers of individuals and businesses seek refuge from the tax burdens of their home jurisdictions in lower tax jurisdictions, the resulting immigration and emigration strain the national economies of affected countries causing them to modify their taxation rules and structures. This conference explores the effects of taxation on migration and the effects of migration on taxation.

Panel #1:  Migrant Tax Plight, Human Rights, and Hidden Wealth

Panel #2:  Combatting Expatriation

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March 31, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Using Google Scholar Citation Counts To Measure The Impact Of Law Faculty Scholarship

Google Scholar (2015)Gary Lucas, Jr. (Texas A&M), Measuring Scholarly Impact: A Guide for Law School Administrators and Legal Scholars:

Texas A&M University assesses its colleges and departments based partly on scholarly impact and using quantitative metrics. The law school’s dean has assigned me the task of identifying scholarly impact metrics for use in assessing the performance of our law faculty collectively and individually. This essay discusses the major issues that arise in measuring the impact of legal scholarship. It also explains important scholarly impact metrics, including the Leiter score and Google Scholar h-index, and the major sources of information regarding scholarly impact, including Google Scholar, Westlaw, Hein Online, SSRN, and bepress.

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March 31, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call For Papers: NTA 110th Annual Conference On Taxation

National Tax Association (2016)The National Tax Association has issued a Call for Papers for its 110th Annual Conference on Taxation to be held Nov. 9-11, 2017 in Philadelphia:

The 110th Annual Conference on Taxation will cover a broad range of topics including, but not limited to, taxation and tax policies; expenditure policies; government budgeting; intergovernmental fiscal relations; and subnational, national, and international public finance. The conference will focus, as always, on policy-relevant research bearing on taxation and government spending.

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March 31, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)