TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Syracuse Law School Seeks Approval For Nation's Second Hybrid Online J.D. Program

Syracuse Logo (2016)Syracuse University Press Release, College of Law Partners With 2U for Juris Doctor Degree Program:

The College of Law and 2U today announced a partnership to develop a hybrid juris doctor (J.D.) degree program, pending New York State and American Bar Association approval.

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

NYU Hosts Book Discussion Today With Anne Alstott On A New Deal For Old Age

AlstottNYU Law Tax Blog, A New Deal for Old Age: Book Discussion with Anne Alstott (today at 12:30 p.m.):

Please join us for a presentation by Anne Alstott, the Jacquin D. Bierman Professor in Taxation at Yale Law School, of her recently published book, A New Deal for Old Age: Toward a Progressive Retirement (Harvard University Press, 2016). ...

As America’s haves and have-nots drift further apart, rising inequality has undermined one of the nation’s proudest social achievements: the Social Security retirement system. Unprecedented changes in longevity, marriage, and the workplace have made the experience of old age increasingly unequal. For educated Americans, the traditional retirement age of 65 now represents late middle age. These lucky ones typically do not face serious impediments to employment or health until their mid-70s or even later. By contrast, many poorly educated earners confront obstacles of early disability, limited job opportunities, and unemployment before they reach age 65.

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April 20, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

University Of Texas Law School Reallocates Tenured And Adjunct Faculty, Suspends Supreme Court Clinic

Texas Logo (2016)The Daily Texan, Students, Alumni Concerned Over Supreme Court Clinic Suspension:

The University’s Supreme Court Clinic has offered law students experience with drafting briefs and researching arguments used in front of the highest court of the country since fall 2006, but for the first time the clinic has been put on hiatus. ...

Current law students and Supreme Court Clinic alumni have said they’re concerned about the sudden semester-long closing, which they noticed a few weeks ago. Law school Dean Ward Farnsworth said a staffing problem had caused the clinic’s sudden suspension. ...

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April 20, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Joint Tax Committee Releases IRS Disclosures Of Tax Return Information, 2015

Joint Tax CommitteeThe Joint Committee on Taxation has released Disclosure Report for Public Inspection Pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 6103(p)(3)(C) for Calendar Year 2015 (JCX-32-16):

Section 6103(p)(3)(C) of the Internal Revenue Code provides that the Secretary of the Treasury shall, within 90 days after the close of each calendar year, furnish to the Joint Committee on Taxation for disclosure to the public a report which provides, with respect to each Federal agency and certain other entities, the number of: (1) requests for disclosure of returns and return information (as such terms are defined in section 6103(b)); (2) instances in which returns and return information were disclosed pursuant to such requests or otherwise; and (3) taxpayers whose returns, or return information with respect to whom, were disclosed pursuant to such requests. In addition, the report must describe the general purposes for which such requests were made

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April 20, 2016 in Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Clarke Reviews The Hidden Wealth of Nations

HiddenConor Clarke (Ph.D. Candidate, Yale Law School), What Are Tax Havens and Why Are They Bad, 94 Tex. L. Rev. ___ (2016) (reviewing Gabriel Zucman, The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens (University of Chicago Press, 2015)):

This essay reviews Gabriel Zucman's The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens. Zucman's important new book brings clarity to a confusing subject -- but occasionally does so at the expense of nuance. My review has three goals. First, I summarize and appraise Zucman's central findings, and re-estimate his revenue-loss totals for the United States using tax-rate assumptions that I believe are more realistic. Second, I position Zucman's findings against the backdrop of the wider literatures on tax havens and inequality, and attempt to answer the two questions in this essay's title. Third, I comment on Zucman's call for a global registry covering the ownership of financial securities. I argue that such a proposal must contend with the fact that there is no international legal consensus on what constitutes ownership.

Prior reviews of The Hidden Wealth of Nations:

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April 20, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1077

IRS Logo 2Townhall op-ed:  Dealing with the IRS Doesn’t Have to Be Hell, by Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Jason Smith, Rick Allen, Kristi Noem, David Rouzer & Glenn Grothman:

[H]ow do we plan to make the IRS more accountable? We have six bills we plan to pass next week.

The first will require the IRS to crack down on their employees who are delinquent on their own taxes. ...

Next, we will consider legislation that creates something that should already exist—a statutory rule blocking the IRS from rehiring employees who were already fired from the IRS for misconduct. ...

Following that, the House plans to pass a proposal that addresses the IRS’s shoddy customer service record in responding to requests for help in preparing tax forms. During some tax-filing seasons, the IRS only answers one in ten calls from taxpayers. This bill will ban IRS employees from getting bonus payments until the agency implements a plan to bring customer service performance levels up to what we expect of customer service in the private sector.

We also have a bill to prevent the IRS from keeping user fees they charge in a slush fund that is neither transparent nor accountable. ...

Lastly, we will be passing two bills that we expect to have wide bipartisan support: the first to stop any IRS funding from being used to target citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights, and the next to provide printed copies whenever requested of the official IRS instructions book on how to file taxes, ensuring those with limited or no Internet access still have everything they need to deal with April 15th.

In the week following Tax Day, House Republicans will send a clear message to the IRS: clean up your act, because this is only the beginning. Accountability isn’t an option in government; it’s a necessity. Only with a thoroughly reformed IRS and eventually a simplified and fair tax code can taxpayers again trust that the government is not only working efficiently, but is working for them.

Then, while we can’t promise that paying taxes will be a good experience, at the very least it won’t feel like being stuck in hell.

Office of Management and Budget, Statement of Administration Policy (Apr. 18, 2016):

The Administration opposes H.R. 1206, the No Hires for the Delinquent IRS Act; H.R. 4890, the IRS Bonuses Tied to Measurable Metrics Act; and H.R. 3724, the Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act of 2015. These bills would impose unnecessary constraints on the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) operations without improving the agency's ability to administer the tax code and serve taxpayers.

H.R. 1206 would prohibit the IRS from hiring any new employees until the Secretary of the Treasury certifies that no IRS employee has a seriously delinquent debt, or provides a report to the Congress that includes an explanation of why certification is not possible and what would be required to provide such a certification. The bill could result in the IRS being prohibited from hiring any new employees for any purpose -- a drastic and counterproductive step that would compromise tax administration and taxpayer services. The bill is also unworkable in operation, as "seriously delinquent" debts could be as low as $1 and tax liens are recorded on a case-by-case basis. This legislation is unnecessary, as strong laws and procedures already exist to ensure that IRS employees comply with their tax obligations. Publicly-available data show that IRS employees are among the most tax compliant groups in the Nation with a delinquency rate of less than 1 percent.

H.R. 4890 would ban performance awards to IRS employees until the Secretary of the Treasury develops and implements a comprehensive customer service strategy. This bill is unnecessary, as the IRS has already developed and has begun to execute a strategy to improve taxpayer services. The real constraint on the IRS's ability to serve taxpayers effectively is severe underfunding, including for taxpayer services. IRS funding is more than $900 million below its 2010 level, before adjusting for inflation. These budget cuts have impeded the IRS's ability to serve taxpayers, including inadequate responses to taxpayer calls and correspondence. Filing season statistics show that taxpayer service has improved this year as a result of a small funding increase provided last year, but more resources are needed to serve all taxpayers effectively and efficiently. Legislation constraining the IRS's ability to retain and recruit highly qualified employees is not needed and could be counterproductive to the Service's mission.

H.R. 3724 would prohibit the IRS from rehiring any employee who was involuntarily separated due to misconduct. The bill as written could force the immediate termination of employees who had been terminated and rehired many years ago, even if their performance since rehiring has been blemish-free. The bill's prohibition is also unnecessary because current IRS processes already ensure the agency does not rehire former employees who had significant conduct or performance problems during prior employment with the agency.

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April 20, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Student Activists Demand Free Tuition At Harvard Law School

Harvard Law School (2016)Harvard Crimson, Law School Activists Demand End to Tuition:

In the most recent wave of activism at the Law School, some students are calling on the school to eliminate tuition completely as part of their new campaign for financial justice.

Members of the group Reclaim Harvard Law published an open letter Sunday addressed to Law School Dean Martha L. Minow and members of the Harvard Corporation—the University’s highest governing body—demanding an end to tuition.

The demand is the cornerstone of “Fees Must Fall,” a campaign activists launched several weeks ago during the Law School’s admitted students weekend. The initiative marks a new focus on economic issues in their movement for better treatment of minorities at the Law School, after activists successfully advocated for the school to remove its controversial seal. ...

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April 19, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (20)

Goldin Presents Rethinking The Taxation Of Single Parents Today At Georgetown

GoldinJacob Goldin (Stanford) presents Beyond Head of Household: Rethinking the Taxation of Single Parents (with Zachary Liscow (Yale)) at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John Brooks and Itai Grinberg:

Under current law, unmarried taxpayers with children can take advantage of the head of household filing status (HHFS) to reduce their federal income taxes. We argue that the design of the filing status is largely obsolete, geared toward alleviating a “marriage penalty” in the tax code that is much less important than when the filing status was first established. At the same time, the growth in the fraction of Americans raising children outside of traditional two-parent households has dramatically raised the cost of the filing status to the fisc.

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April 19, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Alm Presents Whither The Tax Gap? Today At NYU

AlmJames Alm (Tulane) presents Whither the Tax Gap? (with Jay Soled (Rutgers)) at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Chris Sanchirico:

For decades, policy makers and politicians have railed against the “tax gap,” or the difference between what taxpayers are legally obligated to pay in taxes and what they actually pay in taxes. To close the gap, Congress has instituted numerous reforms, with varying degrees of success. Notwithstanding these efforts, the tax gap has largely remained intact, and, if anything, its size has gradually grown over the last several decades.

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April 19, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Coachella 2016:  Dropping Acid, Listening To Guns N’ Roses, Filing Tax Returns

Coachella2The Daily Beast, Coachella’s Hot New Act: Filing Taxes at the Last Minute:

Almost a dozen concertgoers rushed to Indio, California’s post office to snail-mail returns to the IRS between dropping acid and listening to Guns N’ Roses.

The Coachella music festival’s makeshift post office saw unexpected traffic this weekend, as festival-goers scrambled to file their tax returns last minute from the campground.

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April 19, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Continues Inquiry Into BYU Law School’s Expulsion Of Ex-Mormon Students

BYUFollowing up on my previous post, Group Files Complaint With ABA Alleging Discrimination By BYU Law School Against LGTB, Ex-Mormon Students

Wall Street Journal, ABA Reviewing BYU Law’s Policy of Expelling Ex-Mormon Students:

Brigham Young University Law School is coming under fire for a potentially discriminatory practice of expelling ex-Mormons. An alumni group first brought concerns to the American Bar Association in January, and, according to the National Law Journal, the inquiry is still in the works.

National Law Journal, Inquiry Into BYU Law School’s Expulsion of Non-Mormons Proceeds:

Brad Levin, a law graduate and director of FreeBYU—the alumni group that filed a complaint with the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar in January—was informed by letter on April 6 that the complaint survived an initial review by ABA administrators and has been referred to the organization’s accreditation committee for consideration.

FreeBYU’s complaint alleges that the university’s policy of expelling students who leave the Mormon faith runs afoul of ABA rules meant to protect against religious discrimination. Additionally, the group says the university honor code, which bans homosexual behavior, violates the accreditor’s protections of gay, lesbian and transgender students. ...

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April 19, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law School Dean Completes Boston Marathon 8 Months Pregnant

WaynePress Release, Wayne Law Dean Completes Boston Marathon 8 Months Pregnant:

Jocelyn Benson, dean of Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, today became one of only a handful of women in history to complete the Boston Marathon in her eighth month of pregnancy.

Benson, 38, of Detroit completed the nation's most-prestigious marathon in 6 hours, 12 minutes, 32 seconds.

She planned to run Boston again, and she qualified at the San Diego Marathon in May with a time of 3 hours, 37 minutes.

"I found out in September that I was accepted to run in Boston, and I found out a month later that I was pregnant," Benson said. "Initially, I thought that eight months would be too far along for me to compete. But then I read a story about Amy Kiel, who had my same due date, was in her mid-thirties and had finished Boston in 2015. Her story inspired me to realize what seemed impossible was possible. So, I started training and, with the blessing of my doctor, flew to Boston to run."

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April 19, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Law School Rankings By Employment Outcomes:  California

Following up on Sunday's post, Law School Rankings By Employment Outcomes: New York And D.C./Maryland/Virginia:  Derek Muller (Pepperdine) blogs legal employment outcomes among California's 21 ABA-accredited law schools.  Stanford (92.3%, 8 law school funded jobs (LSF)), UCLA (91.3%, 34 LSF), and UC-Berkeley (91.0%, 11 LSF) are head and shoulders above the other California law schools in "total placement" (per U.S. News).

April 19, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Inversions And Viagra

Two very different takes on the Obama Administration's new anti-inversion rules:

Letter From 18 Former Treasury Officials To Treasury Secretary Lew (Apr. 18, 2016)

April 19, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Death Of Les Snyder

SnyderTax Prof Lester B. Snyder (San Diego) died on April 11 at the age of 87 (obituary; condolences; memorial gifts).  From San Diego Dean Stephen Ferruolo:

Professor Snyder began his long legal career in 1956 in legal practice in Boston, during which he served as a consultant to attorneys and accountants on tax issues.  He moved to academia in 1957 with an appointment to the law faculty of the University of Connecticut.  He remained at Connecticut until 1983 and held emeritus status.  During a leave of absence from 1968 to 1969, Professor Snyder was Professor-In-Residence in the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he represented the Internal Revenue Service in tax litigation before federal courts. 

Professor Snyder joined the faculty of University of San Diego School of Law in 1983. From 1983 to 1989, he was the director of the graduate tax program. He retired from faculty in 2009. During his 26 years at USD, Professor Snyder taught mostly in the field of tax law, including federal income tax, taxation of corporations and partnerships, tax accounting, federal tax policy, business planning, estate and gift tax planning, and state and local taxation.  Through his teaching, scholarly reputation and leadership, he established the foundation of our graduate tax program.

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April 19, 2016 in Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Welcome To The Tax Prof Blogosphere:  The Surly Subgroup

Welcome to the Tax Prof blogosphere, The Surly Subgroup: Tax Blogging on a Consolidated Basis, with Jennifer Bird-Pollan (Kentucky), Sam Brunson (Loyola-Chicago), Philip Hackney (LSU), David Herzig (Valparaiso), Stephanie Hoffer (Ohio State), Leandra Lederman (Indiana), Benjamin Leff (American), Diane Ring (Boston College), and Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane).  From their inaugural post:

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April 19, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1076

IRS Logo 2The Blaze, White House Responds to House GOP Calls to Impeach IRS Commissioner:

President Barack Obama has full confidence in Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, even as House Republicans are calling for his impeachment over failing to comply with congressional subpoenas.

“Of course he does” have confidence in Koskinen, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told TheBlaze Monday.

Last week, a group of House Republicans went to the House floor to call for Koskinen’s impeachment. Last year, Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee called for charges against the commissioner.

Republicans say Koskinen also failed to testify truthfully and failed to make congressional investigators aware evidence was missing as part of the probe into the IRS targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups — which first came to light in 2013.

Still, Earnest scoffed at the notion of impeachment: “It is ridiculous for Republicans in Congress who seek to gut funding for the IRS, in some cases they call for the outright abolition of the agency, to be a fair arbiter of the effectiveness of the IRS commissioner.”

“The fact is, Mr. Koskinen has an extraordinarily difficult job, and it’s made only more difficult because Republicans seek to cut the funding of the agency,” Earnest continued. “He is someone who undertakes that work with a lot of professionalism and seriousness of purpose, and he deserves our gratitude.”

Breitbart, White House: Republican Calls For IRS Commissioner To Resign ‘Ridiculous’

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April 19, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Blair-Stanek Presents Two Tax Papers Today At Oxford

Blair-Stanek (2016)Andrew Blair-Stanek (Maryland) presents Intellectual Property Law Solutions to Tax Avoidance, 62 UCLA L. Rev. 2 (2015), and Just Compensation for Intellectual Property, 58 Ariz. L. Rev. ___ (2016), at Oxford University today as part of a multidisciplinary workshop on the Technical and Practical Feasibility for a Data Levy:

Multinational corporations avoid taxes on a massive scale by transferring their intangible property -- including data and copyrighted data-derivatives -- to tax havens for artificially low prices. Tax agencies have failed to stop this avoidance, which takes advantage of international tax law norms enshrined in thousands of bilateral tax treaties. These two articles propose an alternative approach: fight this tax avoidance by focusing instead on the law governing the intangible property itself.

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April 18, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call For Papers:  Taxation And Migration Conference At Saint Louis

St. Louis (2016)Call for Papers:  Sanford E. Sarasohn Conference on Critical Issues in Comparative and International Taxation II: Taxation and Migration at Saint Louis University School of Law:

As ever growing numbers of individuals seek economic and political refuge in Europe and North America, and increasing numbers of individuals and businesses seek refuge from the tax burdens of their home jurisdictions in lower tax jurisdictions, these in- and out- migrations strain the national economies of affected countries causing them to modify their taxation rules and structures. This conference will explore the effects of taxation on migration and the effects of migration on taxation. Papers on any topic related to taxation and migration of individuals or entities are welcome but those offering a critical perspective or addressing the impact of taxation on, and taxation changes relating to acceptance of, migrants from conflict areas are preferred. Please submit paper proposal abstracts by e-mail to Professor Henry Ordower at no later than May 25, 2016. Notification of proposal acceptance is targeted for July 1, 2016.

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April 18, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. Wealth And Income Inequality

Markus Poschke (McGill) & Barış Kaymak (Université de Montréal),  US Wealth Inequality: Quantifying the Driving Factors:

Following the publication of Thomas Piketty’s 696-page tome, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, economic inequality is still at the forefront of public debate. In 2015, it has shifted its focus from the distribution of income to that of wealth, as new measures show that the wealthiest have claimed an increasingly larger share of total wealth in recent decades. In their study of US tax records, Saez and Zucman (2015) estimate the share of wealth owned by the wealthiest 1% of tax units (a concept close but not identical to a household) to be 42% in 2012, up from 28% in 1960 (see the blue line in Figure 1).

Figure 1

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April 18, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

ABA Tax Section Announces 2016-18 Public Service Fellows

ABA Tax Section Logo (2012)The 2016-2018 Christine A. Brunswick Public Service Fellowship Class:

  • Laura LaPrade, a recent graduate of the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, will be working with Community Tax Aid, Inc., in Washington, DC.
  • Catherine Strouse, who earned her J.D. from Gonzaga University School of Law and an LL.M. in Taxation from the University of San Diego School of Law, will be working with the Legal Aid Society of San Diego.

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April 18, 2016 in ABA Tax Section, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

States With The Highest And Lowest Tax Rates

Taxpayer-blue-vs-red-imageWallet Hub, 2016’s States with the Highest & Lowest Tax Rates:

As this year’s tax-filing deadline — April 18 in most states — looms closer, it’s fair to wonder which states have the most and least burdensome tax rates. WalletHub’s analysts searched for answers, comparing state and local tax rates in the 50 states and the District of Columbia against the national median. To illustrate, we calculated relative income-tax obligations by applying the effective income-tax rates in each state and locality to the average American’s income. This approach contrasts with our methodology for the Best States to Be Rich & Poor from a Tax Perspective, which considers tax obligations relative to the average income in each state.

Scroll down for the complete ranking, commentary on state- and local-tax insights from a panel of leading minds in the field, as well as a full description of our methodology.

Source: WalletHub

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April 18, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Princeton Review's Best 173 Law Schools (2016 Edition)

Princeton 2The Princeton Review has published the 2016 edition of The Best 173 Law Schools (press release) (FAQs) (methodology):

The Princeton Review surveyed over 19,700 students attending the 173 law schools.  The 80-question survey asked students to rate their schools on several topics and report on their experiences at them. Some ranking list tallies also factored in school-reported data.

Best Professors:  Based on student answers to survey questions concerning how good their professors are as teachers and how accessible they are outside the classroom.

  1. Duke
  2. Boston University
  3. Virginia
  4. Washington & Lee
  5. Chicago
  6. Pepperdine
  7. St. Thomas (Minnesota)
  8. Stanford
  9. Samford
  10. Charleston

Best Quality of Life:  Based on student answers to survey questions on: whether there is a strong sense of community at the school whether differing opinions are tolerated in the classroom, the location of the school, the quality of social life at the school, the school's research resources (library, computer and database resources).

  1. Virginia
  2. Vanderbilt
  3. St. Thomas (Minnesota)
  4. NYU
  5. Florida State

Best Classroom Experience:  Based on student answers to survey questions concerning their professors' teaching abilities and overall accessibility outside of the classroom, the balance of theory and practical skills in the curricula and the range of courses available, the level of tolerance for differing opinions in class discussion, and their assessments of research resources available.

  1. Stanford
  2. Virginia
  3. Chicago
  4. Northwestern
  5. Duke

Best Career Prospects:  Based on school reported data and student surveys. School data include: the median starting salaries of graduating students, the percent of students employed in a job that requires bar passage (and not employed by the school) and the percent of these students who pass the bar exam the first time they take it. Student answers to survey questions on: how much the law program encourages practical experience; the opportunities for externships, internships and clerkships, and how prepared the students feel they will be to practice the law after graduating.

  1. Pennsylvania
  2. NYU
  3. Chicago
  4. Stanford
  5. Columbia

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April 18, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

FiveThirtyEight:  Everyone Files Their Taxes At The Last Minute

538 (2015)FiveThirtyEight, Everyone Files Their Taxes At The Last Minute:

Americans are a nation of procrastinators. Our tax returns prove it.

Last year, 21.5 million Americans waited until the last minute – or at least the last week – to submit their tax returns. That’s roughly one in seven filers, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service.


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April 18, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

IRS Continues To Put Taxpayer Confidential Data At Risk By Not Following 94 GAO Recommendations To Improve Security

GAO (2016)Government Accountability Office, IRS Needs to Further Enhance Controls over Taxpayer and Financial Data (GAO-16-590T):

In March 2016 GAO reported that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had instituted numerous controls over key financial and tax processing systems; however, it had not always effectively implemented safeguards intended to properly restrict access to systems and information. In particular, while IRS had improved some of its access controls, weaknesses remained with identifying and authenticating users, authorizing users' level of rights and privileges, encrypting sensitive data, auditing and monitoring network activity, and physically securing its computing resources. These weaknesses were due in part to IRS's inconsistent implementation of its agency-wide security program, including not fully implementing GAO recommendations. The table below shows the status of prior and new GAO recommendations as of the end of its fiscal year (FY) 2015 audit of IRS's information security. GAO concluded that these weaknesses collectively constituted a significant deficiency for the purposes of financial reporting for fiscal year 2015. Until they are effectively mitigated, taxpayer and financial data will continue to be exposed to unnecessary risk.


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April 18, 2016 in Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1075

IRS Logo 2Utah Policy, Ryan, Chaffetz Part Ways over Impeachment of IRS Chief:

Reps. Paul Ryan and Jason Chaffetz both believe IRS Commissioner John Koskinen should be fired, but they disagree about the timing. Chaffetz wants to remove Koskinen now, while Ryan says the GOP must win the White House first.

Reports Roll Call:

Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, with support from a majority of Republicans on his panel, introduced a resolution in October to impeach Koskinen. “The framers [of the Constitution] gave us a safety valve to get rid of somebody who is not serving the best interest of the nation and clearly John Koskinen is not,” Chaffetz said in a brief interview Thursday. “His record is clear and he should be removed from office.”

The resolution argues that Koskinen failed to comply with a subpoena requesting certain IRS documents and that he provided false and misleading information to Congress about missing emails sent to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner, a lead figure in the targeting scandal. The Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over impeachments, has not acted on the resolution.

Lerner, the former head of the IRS tax-exempt organizations division, retired from the agency in September 2013. She had been on administrative leave since May 2013 after she revealed during a tax conference that the agency had inappropriately used political terms like “Tea Party” to filter tax-exemption applications for extra scrutiny.

The IRS has said it disputes the resolution's allegations and that it has cooperated with congressional investigations.

Chaffetz said he is working to build broad support for his resolution, which currently has 62 Republican co-sponsors. “It hasn’t been done in 140 years to impeach a civil officer,” Chaffetz said when asked about resistance from colleagues to support the effort. “But we think we’re on firm ground. It is in the Constitution.”

As to Ryan’s idea of waiting for Republicans to win the White House, Chaffetz said, “That’s one path, but I want the bureaucracy to know that if they do something as reprehensible as destroying documents there is an action that Congress can take.”

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April 18, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Law School Rankings By Employment Outcomes:  New York And D.C./Maryland/Virginia

Derek Muller (Pepperdine) has two great posts on visualizing legal employment outcomes among New York's 15 law schools and D.C/Maryland/Virginia's 16 law schools

In New York, Columbia (98.8%, goosed by 31 law school funded jobs (LSF)), NYU (96.7%, 39 LSF), and Cornell (95.5%, 11 LSF) again are head and shoulders above the other New York law schools in "total placement" (per U.S. News).  Cardozo (76.8%, 1 LSF) and Fordham (76.1%, 0 LSF) surprisingly trail St. John's (81.9%, 0 LSF) and Albany (80.3%, 0 LSF).

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April 17, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

NY Times:  The Real Welfare Cheats

OxfamNew York Times op-ed:  The Real Welfare Cheats, by Nicholas Kristof:

We often hear how damaging welfare dependency is, stifling initiative and corroding the human soul. So I worry about the way we coddle executives in their suites.

A study to be released Thursday says that for each dollar America’s 50 biggest companies paid in federal taxes between 2008 and 2014, they received $27 back in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts.

Goodness! What will that do to their character? Won’t that sap their initiative?

The study was compiled by Oxfam and it comes on top of a mountain of evidence from international agencies and economic journals underscoring the degree to which major companies have rigged the tax code. ... The Oxfam report says that each $1 the biggest companies spent on lobbying was associated with $130 in tax breaks and more than $4,000 in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts. ...

One academic study [Kimberly Clausing (Reed College), The Effect of Profit Shifting on the Corporate Tax Base in the United States and Beyond] found that tax dodging by major corporations costs the U.S. Treasury up to $111 billion a year. ... The Panama Papers should be a wake-up call, shining a light on dysfunctional tax codes around the world — but much of the problem has been staring us in the face. Among the 500 corporations in the S.&P. 500-stock index, 27 were both profitable in 2015 and paid no net income tax globally, according to an analysis by USA Today. ...

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April 17, 2016 in Tax | 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, with some reshuffling of the order within the Top 5:

  1. [672 Downloads]  Lexisnexis® Guide to FATCA Compliance: Chapter 1, by Willliam Byrnes (Texas A&M) & Robert J. Munro (Texas A&M)
  2. [320 Downloads]  The Tax Lives of Uber Drivers: Evidence from Internet Discussion Forums, by Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane) & Diane M. Ring (Boston College)
  3. [295 Downloads]  Ownership of the Means of Production, by E. Glen Weyl (Chicago) & Anthony Lee Zhang (Stanford)
  4. [260 Downloads]  The Law of the Platform, by Orly Lobel (San Diego)
  5. [252 Downloads]  Taxing Wealth Seriously, by Edward J. McCaffery (USC)

April 17, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

UC-Berkeley Provost Resigns Amid Controversy Over His Handling Of Sexual Harassment Complaint Against Law School Dean

UC-Berkeley (University)Following up on my previous posts (links below): New York Times, Provost Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Case at Berkeley:

The University of California, Berkeley, announced Friday that Claude Steele, the university’s executive vice chancellor and provost for the past two years, resigned his administrative positions for personal reasons. Mr. Steele’s abrupt departure comes at a time of turmoil for the university, as he and other top administrators have been criticized for their handling of a widening sexual harassment scandal. ...

Mr. Steele has been criticized for his handling of claims of sexual harassment made against the dean of the law school, Sujit Choudhry. ... A report by the university found that Mr. Choudhry had repeatedly hugged and kissed his executive assistant, behavior that an investigator concluded was “unwelcome and objectively sexual in nature.”

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April 17, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1074

IRS Logo 2Investor's Business Daily editorial, Storming The IRS Gates: An Occupy Movement Worth Supporting:

A federal judge says the IRS can’t be trusted. Well, he’s right. So when will people in this country finally rise up and force Washington to get rid of this awful agency?

Because a holiday called Emancipation Day was celebrated Friday in the capital district, Americans have a few extra days to file their taxes this year. But the IRS remains, as does its institutionalized abuse of taxpayers. There is no emancipation from the torment of taxation, nor the agents of its collection, on the horizon.

Americans need relief, however. Taxes eat away at our substance, and the IRS makes this all the more intolerable because it decided long ago to be a wedge of enmity between a growing federal government and an ostensibly free people. This strained relationship has deteriorated to the point that the IRS targeted for persecution groups and individuals that it doesn’t like. Organizations that identified as Tea Party and conservative were harassed to the point that some of the victims decided to sue.

It’s hard to be upbeat on April 15, even when tax filing day is delayed. Yet there is a scintilla of hope to be found when a federal official rightly characterizes the IRS as an institution whose word is of little value.

“It’s hard to find the IRS to be an agency we can trust,” Judge David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, said Thursday during oral arguments in one of the lawsuits filed against the tax collector in the targeting scandal.

The Washington Times reported that during the hearing Sentelle “said there is strong evidence that the IRS violated the constitutional rights of the groups when it delayed their nonprofit status applications and asked inappropriate questions about their political beliefs.”

What’s more, there’s good reason to think that the mistreatment of Tea Party and right-of-center groups has never stopped.

This should deeply concern us all, even those who aren’t Tea Party supporters. The IRS is not a political arm of the government that’s free to be used to suppress to dissenters. It is merely a tax collector.

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April 17, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Obama And Biden Release Their 2015 Tax Returns

2015 Obama

President Obama and Vice-President Biden yesterday released their 2015 tax returns. Here are charts putting the 2015 returns in context with their earlier returns:





Charitable Gifts



















































































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April 16, 2016 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rebranding The IRS: 'Fueling America'

Bloomberg, Would You Like the IRS If It Looked Like This? We Invited Three Top Design Firms to Give the Tax Agency a New Public Face. Here Are Their Rebrands.

It's hard to think of a government agency as disliked as the IRS. In a recent poll, 12 percent of taxpayers said they liked Vladimir Putin better. Beyond the Internal Revenue Service itself, many Americans hate the whole idea of paying taxes. Twenty-seven percent of those polled said they would get an IRS tattoo if it meant a tax-free future. Eleven percent would clean the toilets at Chipotle.

And it's impossible to imagine the IRS ever changing its image.

Or is it?

We asked three leading global design and brand strategy firms—Base Design, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, and Siegel+Gale—to do just that. Here's what they came up with.

My favorite:  The IRS: Fueling America:


Another good one:

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April 16, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

68 Year Old Man Admitted to 10 Law Schools Sues UConn, The Only School That Rejected Him

UConn Law Logo (2015)ABA Journal, Man Rejected by Just One of 11 Law Schools Files Age-Bias Suit:

A 68-year-old man who applied to 11 law schools over the past few years has filed an age-bias suit against the single school that rejected him: the UConn School of Law.

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April 16, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1073

IRS Logo 2The Daily Signal, Conservatives Renew Campaign to Impeach IRS Commissioner:

In time for tax season, members of the Freedom Caucus are calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., to deliver the head of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on a political platter.

As most of Congress heads out of town for the weekend, a handful of members filed onto the House floor Thursday evening and renewed an effort to impeach the nation’s top taxman.

They argued that the IRS infringed on free speech when they unfairly targeted conservative groups and they blamed Koskinen for obstructing a congressional investigation into the agency’s conduct. ..

The move comes just four days before the April 18 deadline to file individual tax returns. That timing was intentional, Jordan said. His group designed the move to spotlight issue during a week when “American are dealing with the IRS in an up close and personal way.”

Already written up, the impeachment articles remain mired in committee. And while conservatives can exert political pressure by rallying public opinion, they can’t technically advance the process.

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April 16, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 15, 2016

UCLA Law Prof's Long Legal Fight Over Access To California Bar Admissions Data Headed To Trial

MismatchFollowing up on my earlier post, The Mismatch Critique of Law School Affirmative Action and Its Opponents:  Wall Street Journal, Long Legal Fight Over Access to California Bar Admissions Data Headed for Trial:

It was a decade ago when a UCLA law professor known for his critique of affirmative action first asked the State Bar of California to give him a trove of data on people who applied to practice law in the state.

Professor Richard H. Sander still hasn’t gotten the state bar to turn over the information he wants. But his long legal effort in pursuit of it may have reached a turning point this week when a judge said his case could go to trial over the objections of the state bar.

Mr. Sander is the academic most associated with the “mismatch” theory about affirmative action, the idea that racial and other kinds of admissions preferences can have unintended consequences by putting students in academic settings for which they’re not prepared.

In 2006, he asked the state bar to disclose bar exam scores, grade point averages and LSAT scores of everyone who applied for bar admission between 1972 and 2007, along with each bar applicant’s race and gender. All of the information is stored on the state bar admissions database.

His request didn’t seek disclosure of anyone’s names, but sought admissions data on much more granular level. Mr. Sander has said his request had to do with his research into “the large and persistent gap in bar passage rates among racial and ethnic groups.”

The state bar refused, citing privacy concerns. In 2008, the professor and the California First Amendment Coalition filed suit, arguing that they have a legal right to the information.

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April 15, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (5)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

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April 15, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

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April 15, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Denver Seeks To Hire A Visiting Tax Prof

Denver Logo (2015)The University of Denver Sturm College of Law seeks to hire a Visiting Professor of the Practice (any rank) to teach a full-time load of five tax courses (18 quarter units or equivalent) in the Graduate Tax Program — and possibly the JD program — during the 2016-2017 academic year:

The Visiting Professor will teach mostly required courses in the Graduate Tax Program, such as Corporate Taxation; Civil & Criminal Procedure; Individual Tax Problems; Partnership Taxation; Property Transactions; Tax Accounting; and Tax Principles, Research & Writing. The Visiting Professor may also teach one or more elective courses in the Graduate Tax Program, or tax courses in the Sturm College of Law. Most courses will be taught in the evenings. The position will begin September 1, 2016, or sooner depending on the availability of the successful candidate. This is a faculty appointment with service expectations for all twelve months. This appointment is not on the tenure track, but may be renewable for another year at the discretion of the Sturm College of Law and Graduate Tax Program.

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April 15, 2016 in Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Blank & Osofsky:  Simplexity

Joshua D. Blank (NYU) & Leigh Osofsky (Miami), Simplexity, 65 Emory L.J. ___ (2016):

In recent years, federal government agencies have increasingly attempted to use plain language in written communications with the public. The Plain Writing Act of 2010, for instance, requires agencies to incorporate “clear and simple” explanations of rules and regulations into their official publications. In the tax context, as part of its “customer service” mission, the Internal Revenue Service bears a “duty to explain” the tax law to hundreds of millions of taxpayers who file tax returns each year. Proponents of the plain language movement have heralded this form of communication as leading to simplicity in tax compliance, more equitable access to federal programs and increased open government.

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April 15, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

GAO:  Two-Thirds Of All Active Corporations Paid Zero Federal Income Tax

GAO (2016)Government Accountability Office, Most Large Profitable U.S. Corporations Paid Tax but Effective Tax Rates Differed Significantly from the Statutory Rate (GAO-16-363):

In each year from 2006 to 2012, at least two-thirds of all active corporations had no federal income tax liability. Larger corporations were more likely to owe tax. Among large corporations (generally those with at least $10 million in assets) less than half—42.3 percent—paid no federal income tax in 2012. Of those large corporations whose financial statements reported a profit, 19.5 percent paid no federal income tax that year. Reasons why even profitable corporations may have paid no federal tax in a given year include the use of tax deductions for losses carried forward from prior years and tax incentives, such as depreciation allowances that are more generous in the federal tax code than those allowed for financial accounting purposes. Corporations that did have a federal corporate income tax liability for tax year 2012 owed $267.5 billion.


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April 15, 2016 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

White House Infographic On Inversions: You Don't Get To Pick Your Tax Rate. Neither Should Corporations.

White House Infographic on Inversions:

Inversions — or tax maneuvers that reward U.S. corporations that declare themselves overseas residents to avoid paying taxes in America — have drawn the ire of many Americans as an example of an unfair corporate tax loophole. The Treasury Department took another step to limit inversions. Get the facts below, and then pass this on.

White House

National Review: White House Puts Out Misleading Infographic on Corporate Inversions, by Veronique de Rugy (George Mason):

This is both a terrible title and a terrible pitch to taxpayers. ... Why can’t I choose my tax rate, Uncle Sam? You think it is okay for me to be trapped in a high tax system? But then there is, of course, the fact is that people actually do make decisions in order to minimize their tax rates such as moving to lower-rate states — ask retirees if there is any tax component to the decision to move to Florida as opposed to staying in New York. ...

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April 15, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1072

IRS Logo 2Washington Times, Federal Judge Calls IRS Untrustworthy in Tea Party Case:

A federal judge said the IRS isn’t to be trusted as he and his colleagues tried Thursday to figure out whether the tax agency is still targeting tea party groups for intrusive and illegal scrutiny.

Judge David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said there is strong evidence that the IRS violated the constitutional rights of the groups when it delayed their nonprofit status applications and asked inappropriate questions about their political beliefs.

The agency’s insistence that it has retrained employees and instructed managers to behave better did not mollify the judges, who said past IRS behavior doesn’t lend itself to the benefit of the doubt.

“It’s hard to find the IRS to be an agency we can trust,” Judge Sentelle said.

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April 15, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Craig Boise Named Dean At Syracuse

Boise (2016)Craig M. Boise, Dean (and Tax Prof) at Cleveland-Marshall, has been named Dean at Syracuse:

Recognized as an innovator in legal education, Craig M. Boise has been named dean of Syracuse University’s College of Law. Boise comes to Syracuse University from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University, which under his deanship made significant gains in academic programs, national rankings and fundraising. The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees approved his appointment earlier today. Boise will assume his new role on July 1, 2016.

“Craig Boise is a dynamic and forward-thinking leader who is equally passionate about quality, access and enhancing the student experience,” says Michele G. Wheatly, vice chancellor and provost-designate. “I am impressed by his record of achievements and know the College of Law will make great strides under his leadership.”

Chancellor Kent Syverud echoed Wheatly’s sentiment, saying Boise will achieve great things as dean of the College of Law. “Craig’s bold vision and commitment to academic excellence have enhanced the student experience, improved student outcomes and positioned graduates for career success,” says Chancellor Syverud. “He is the ideal person to lead the College of Law into a new era, particularly as it seeks to enhance its global reputation and continue its ascent in national rankings.” ...

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April 14, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Duncan Presents Tax Incidence In The Presence Of Tax Evasion Today At Indiana

DuncanDenvil Duncan (Indiana-Bloomington) presents Tax Incidence in the Presence of Tax Evasion (with Philipp Doerrenberg (ZEW Mannheim and Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Germany) at Indiana-Bloomington today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Leandra Lederman:

This paper studies the economic incidence of sales taxes in the presence of tax evasion opportunities. We design a laboratory experiment in which buyers and sellers trade a fictitious good in double auction markets. A per-unit tax is imposed on sellers, and sellers in the treatment group are provided the opportunity to evade the tax whereas sellers in the control group are not. We find that the market equilibrium price in the treatment group is lower than in the control group. This difference is economically and statistically significant, and implies that sellers with access to evasion shift a smaller share of the statutory tax burden onto buyers relative to sellers without tax evasion opportunities.

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April 14, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Doran Presents The Puzzle Of Non-Qualified Retirement Pay Today At Colorado

Doran (2015)Michael Doran (Virginia) presents The Puzzle of Non-Qualified Retirement Pay: Optimal Contracting, Managerial Power, and Taxes at Colorado today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by David Hasen and Sloan Speck:

Pay arrangements for managers of public corporations typically include substantial amounts of compensation deferred through non-qualified retirement plans. As a departure from the familiar baseline of current payment for current services, this presents a longstanding puzzle. The corporate-governance literature offers two explanations for the practice. The “optimal-contracting account” argues that non-qualified retirement pay represents “inside debt” that aligns the interests of managers with the interests of the corporation’s unsecured general creditors. The “managerial-power account” argues that non-qualified retirement pay represents “stealth compensation” that facilitates managers’ extraction of rents from corporate assets. In this paper, I set out a different explanation based on tax considerations.

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April 14, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)