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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Oei & Ring: Human Equity? Regulating the New Income Share Agreements

Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane) & Diane M. Ring (Boston College), Human Equity? Regulating the New Income Share Agreements:

A controversial new financing phenomenon has recently emerged. New “income share agreements” (“ISAs”) enable an individual to raise funds by pledging a percentage of her future earnings to investors for a certain number of years. These contracts, which are offered by entities such as Fantex, Upstart, Pave, and Lumni, raise important questions for the legal system: Are they a form of modern-day indentured servitude or an innovative breakthrough in human financing? How should they be treated under the law?

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August 7, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Desai: Tax Withholding, Statutes and Constitutional Law

Anuj C. Desai (Wisconsin), What a History of Tax Withholding Tells Us About the Relationship between Statutes and Constitutional Law, 108 Nw. U. L. Rev. 859 (2014):

In this Article, I explain what a seemingly obscure statute, the Current Tax Payment Act of 1943, can tell us about the relationship between statutes and constitutional law. I use William Eskridge and John Ferejohn’s notion of a “superstatute” as a lens through which to view this relationship. A “superstatute,” in Eskridge and Ferejohn’s conception, is a statute that has small “c” constitutional emanations, emanations that both affect interpretations of the large “C” Constitution and are entrenched against subsequent legislative change. To better understand the precise contours of the notion of a superstatute, I look at the Current Tax Payment Act of 1943, which instituted the system of federal tax withholding for wage income. I describe the history of federal income tax withholding leading up to the passage of that Act, explaining in turn how that history sheds light on the underlying notion of a superstatute.

August 7, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tenured Florida A&M Prof Sues Law School, Claiming Gender Discrimination in Pay

Tampa Tribune, FAMU’s Law School Hit with Discrimination, Unequal Pay Lawsuit by Female Professor:

Florida AM LogoJennifer Smith, an associate professor hired in 2004, ... accuses [Florida A&M Law School] of eight violations of federal and state law on equal pay and gender discrimination, her suit says. She seeks unspecified damages, a promotion to full professor, attorney fees and other relief.

Her complaint says the law school “consistently hired men at considerably higher rates than women,” with male associate professors “paid considerably more” than females. Smith says she was granted tenure in 2010, but has been repeatedly turned down for promotion to full professor ever since, starting that same year.

Smith’s complaint says that an administrator “sabotaged” her promotion by replacing the good recommendations in her file with bad ones and then called other university officials to further torpedo any promotion. She says her treatment was in part retaliation for submitting public record requests to the school for professor-pay information.

Her complaint also reveals she lodged a workplace-violence complaint against the same administrator, saying that person “made some threatening comments about her.” Smith’s complaint quotes from a September 2012 ABA report on the law school that cited faculty concerns about an “inhospitable environment for women, lesbians and gay faculty members.”

August 7, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Nebraska 'Sovereign Citizen' Convicted of Filing False Liens Against Federal Officials and Federal Tax Crimes

U.S. Department of Justice press release, Nebraska “Sovereign Citizen” Convicted of Filing False Liens Against Federal Officials and Federal Tax Crimes:

DOJ Logo (2013)A federal jury in Omaha, Nebraska, found Donna Marie Kozak guilty on Friday of conspiracy to file and filing false liens against two U.S. District Court judges, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Nebraska, two Assistant U.S. Attorneys and an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) special agent, the Justice Department announced.

The federal jury also convicted Kozak of filing a false claim against the United States for $660,000 and for corruptly endeavoring to obstruct the due administration of the internal revenue laws.  Kozak was remanded into custody pending sentencing.  The maximum prison term for each false lien charge is 10 years,  five years for the false claim charge and three years for the obstructing the IRS charge.  Many of the offenses have an additional 10 years of potential imprisonment because they were committed while Kozak was on pretrial release.

Based on the evidence introduced at trial and court filings, Kozak, a former member of the so-called sovereign citizen group “Republic for the united States of America,” engaged in a conspiracy to retaliate against federal officials involved in the criminal investigation and prosecution of David and Bernita Kleensang, associates of Kozak who were convicted of federal tax crimes in 2012.  Kozak initially retaliated against the federal judge who presided over the Kleensang trial by filing a false lien against her for $19 million with the Boyd County, Nebraska, clerk’s office.  After a federal grand jury indicted Kozak for filing the false lien and for federal tax crimes, she filed five $18 million false liens against federal officials at the Washington County, Nebraska, register of deeds office while on pretrial release.

The evidence introduced at trial and court filings also showed that since the late 1990s, Kozak has engaged in a long series of fraudulent schemes to obstruct the internal revenue laws.  These included placing her property in sham trusts, establishing a sham charitable foundation, sending harassing correspondence to IRS employees and filing bogus tax returns, trust returns, private-foundation returns and other false documents with the IRS.  In 2008, she filed a tax return based on fictitious income and tax withholdings on Form 1099-OID statements that claimed a refund of $660,000.

Above the Law, Tax Fraud, Tax Protestors, and the Most Awesome Willfulness Doctrine in Federal Criminal Law Today

August 7, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Taylor: Closing the Gap Between Private Letter Rulings and Regulations

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Willard Taylor (Sullivan & Cromwell & NYU), Closing the Gap Between Private Letter Rulings and Regulations, 144 Tax Notes 597 (Aug. 4, 2014):

In this article, Taylor summarizes and comments on proposed regulations that would redefine real property for real estate investment trusts, and he argues that there should be more (and earlier) guidance on these and similar issues to close the gap between private letter rulings and published guidance affecting REITs and publicly traded partnerships in the natural resources sector.

August 7, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Seto Reviews Tahk's Public Choice Theory & Earmarked Taxes

JotwellTheodore P. Seto (Loyola-L.A.), An Empirical Test of Public Choice Theory (Jotwell) (reviewing Susannah Camic Tahk (Wisconsin), Public Choice Theory & Earmarked Taxes, 68 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2015)):

In 1980, James Q. Wilson, in The Politics of Regulation, predicted that laws with diffuse costs and concentrated benefits would be relatively easy to enact, but that laws with concentrated costs and diffuse benefits would be relatively hard to enact and, once enacted, hard to maintain. This hypothesis, one of the pillars of public choice theory, has long been asserted without empirical verification. ...  In Public Choice Theory & Earmarked Taxes, Susannah Camic Tahk provides the first rigorous empirical support for Wilson’s hypothesis.

Her study explores the histories of 1497 state-level earmarked taxes between 1997 and 2005. Earmarked taxes, in general, produce more concentrated benefits than taxes the proceeds of which flow into a state’s general fund. Thus, we would expect earmarked taxes to perform strongly as revenue generators. And, indeed, Tahk finds that the earmarked taxes in her sample raised 58.39% more revenue in 2005 than in 1997—a larger percentage increase than any major federal tax over the same period. ...

It is hard to overstate the importance of this accomplishment.

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August 7, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Death of Cynthia Beerbower

Dayton Daily News Obituary:

Cynthia Gibson Beerbower passed away on July 26, 2014, in her South Kensington home in London. She was 65. ...

Cynthia received her BA, magna cum laude, from Mount Holyoke College in 1971, her JD from Boston University Law School in 1974 and her LLB from the University of Cambridge in 1976. At Cambridge, she was a member of Newnham College. She married John E. Beerbower in 1971. John, a 1966 graduate of Oakwood High School and also a panelist of the Dayton Daily News Youth Forum the year ahead of Cynthia, became a partner at the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York City in 1980.

After admission to the New York Bar, Cynthia was an associate at the New York City law firm of Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett, where she was elected a partner in 1981. She specialized in tax. At the time, she was one of only a handful of women partners at Wall Street law firms. In 1993, she joined the first Clinton administration, serving first as International Tax Counsel under Secretary Lloyd Benson and then as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy under Secretary Robert Rubin. She left government service in late 1996.

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August 7, 2014 in IRS News, Obituaries, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cooper & Ivimey: 2013 Developments in Connecticut Trusts & Estates Law

Jeffrey A. Cooper (Quinnipiac) & John R. Ivimey (Reid and Riege, Hartford), 2013 Developments in Connecticut Estate and Probate Law, 88 Conn. Bar J. ___ (2014):

This Article provides a summary of recent developments impacting Connecticut estate planning and probate practice. Part I discusses 2013 legislative developments. Part II surveys selected 2013 case law relevant to the field.

August 7, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 455

IRS Logo 2National Review:  No, the IRS Did Not Target Progressives Like It Targeted Conservatives:

NPR’s politics blog has published a chart — compiled from a House Ways and Means staff analysis — of the different levels of IRS targeting between conservative and progressive groups. Bottom line? Far more conservative groups faced IRS scrutiny, they faced more questions, and were approved at a much lower rate than progressives. The chart is based on the IRS’s now-discredited “BOLO” (be on the lookout) lists.

Chart 1

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August 7, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Record Numbers of Americans Are Renouncing Their U.S. Citizenship

International Tax Blog:  2014 Second Quarter Published Expatriates, by Andrew Mitchel:

Today the Treasury Department published the names of individuals who renounced their U.S. citizenship or terminated their long-term U.S. residency (“expatriated”) during the second quarter of 2014.  The number of published expatriates for the quarter was 576.  The number of published expatriates for the first half of 2014 has been 1,577 (1,001 + 576).  Last year there was a record setting 2,999 published expatriates.

Renounce

(Hat Tip: Laura Saunders.)

August 6, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Pittsburgh Tax Review Publishes New Issue

Pittsburgh Tax Review The Pittsburgh Tax Review has published Vol. 11, No. 2 (Spring 2014):

August 6, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Infanti: The House of Windsor: Accentuating the Heteronormativity in the Tax Incentives for Procreation

Anthony C. Infanti (Pittsburgh), The House of Windsor: Accentuating the Heteronormativity in the Tax Incentives for Procreation, 89 Wash. L. Rev. ___ (2014):

Following the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, many seem to believe that the fight for marriage equality at the federal level is over and that any remaining work in this area is at the state level. Belying this conventional wisdom, this essay continues my work plumbing the gap between the promise of Windsor and the reality that heteronormativity has been one of the core building blocks of our federal tax system. Eradicating embedded heteronormativity will take far more than a single court decision (or even revenue ruling); it will take years of work uncovering the subtle ways in which heteronormativity pervades our federal tax laws and of identifying means of eliminating that heteronormativity. To further this work and in keeping with the theme of this symposium issue, “Compensated Surrogacy After Windsor,” this essay explores the unremitting heteronormativity of the federal tax incentives for procreation as they apply to compensated surrogacy, which is the only practical option for gay couples wishing to procreate.

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August 6, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Taxpertise: Murder, Mayhem, Romance, Comedy and Tax Tips, For Artists Of All Kinds

Bonnie Lee (IRS Enrolled Agent), Taxpertise: A Novella For The Creative Mind -- Murder, Mayhem, Romance, Comedy and Tax Tips, For Artists Of All Kinds (2014):

TaxpertiseYou've heard of starving artists. Many of them are starving because they fork out too much money in taxes. And why does that happen? Because most artists hate numbers and consequently don't deal with them too well. I was asked to write a tax book specifically for artists but my first thought was, "Would anyone actually read it?" I pictured artists with insomnia purchasing this book as a sleep aid. Yet there is so much valuable information that can help whose who hate numbers and keep more dollars in their pockets that I was forced to rethink the approach so I can reach out and help them. And so I chose a format that would be entertaining: a Novella.

Kim Stillwell is a single, gorgeous, 34-year-old tax professional. When Luke Hunter, a rock musician, becomes a client, her heart goes into a spin! It's love at first sight, but she doesn't trust her feelings. While preparing his tax returns and organizing his home office, she remains professional, yet the romantic stirrings continue and seem to be reciprocated. Then the murder of Dominic Rodriguez, Luke's previous bookkeeper, throws their budding romance into mistrust and turmoil.

Follow their adventures and gain valuable knowledge through the tax tips offered at the end of each chapter. Even those have a humorous edge!

August 6, 2014 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Field Study of a Fat Tax and its Unintended Consequences

Brian Wansink, Andrew S. Hanks, John Cawley & David Just (all of Cornell), From Coke to Coors: A Field Study of a Fat Tax and its Unintended Consequences:

Fat TaxCould taxation of calorie-dense foods such as soft drinks be used to reduce obesity? To address this question, a six-month field experiment was conducted in an American city of 62,000 where half of the 113 households recruited into the study faced a 10% tax on calorie-dense foods and beverages and half did not. The tax resulted in a short-term (1-month) decrease in soft drink purchases, but no decrease over a 3-month or 6-month period. Moreover, in beer-purchasing households, this tax led to increased purchases of beer. To behavior scholars, this underscores the importance of investigating unexpected substitutions. To public health officials and policy makers, this presents an important empirical result and more generally points toward wide ranging contributions that marketing scholarship can make in their decisions.

August 6, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Christians: Regulating Return Preparers -- A Global Problem for the IRS

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Allison Christians (McGill), Regulating Return Preparers: A Global Problem for the IRS, 75 Tax Notes Int'l 391 (Aug. 4, 2014):

The IRS is in charge of a juggernaut of a tax system, the likes of which there truly is no equal in the world. And as all too often appears to be the case, in the enthusiasm to improve the functioning of this regime, its authors and enforcers appear to have forgotten that this unique system is perfectly global in reach, thanks to its unique inclusion of citizens and others with legal residence status no matter where in the world they live.

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August 6, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tahk: Public Choice Theory and Earmarked Taxes

Susannah Camic Tahk (Wisconsin), Public Choice Theory & Earmarked Taxes, 68 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2015):

The Article draws on public choice theory to argue that the manner in which the federal income tax distributes its costs and its benefits undergirds the massive fiscal crises that the federal government is now experiencing. Then, this Article offers recent historical evidence on 1500 state-level taxes to develop a way out of the current tax lawmaking paralysis at the federal level. At present, the federal income tax spreads its benefits widely among large yet diffuse groups, which makes the income tax easy to undermine and difficult to improve. The Article proposes, however, that restructuring the manner in which the federal income tax allocates its costs and benefits can circumvent its self-destructive shortcomings. For this purpose, state-level tax laws offer useful templates. In particular, states "earmark" tax revenues for specific purposes. That arrangement gives rise to fundamentally different tax lawmaking dynamics than those operating at the federal level. To understand how and why these dynamics succeed, the Article presents evidence on the cost-benefit structure of all state-level earmarked taxes from the 1997-2005 historical period. Analysis of this evidence demonstrates that how state-level earmarked taxes laws assign their costs and benefits relates to how revenue-productive and durable these tax laws are. This conclusion furnishes federal tax policymakers with a promising way of revising the federal income tax code to overcome its current defects. The analysis also opens new lines of research at the neglected intersection of public choice theory and scholarship on legal reform.

August 6, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

More Tax Inversion News

Bloomberg News, Obama Let Delphi Avoid Taxes in Tactic President Assails, by Zachary R. Mider:

President Barack Obama says U.S. corporations that adopt foreign addresses to avoid taxes are unpatriotic. His own administration helped one $20 billion American company do just that.

As part of the bailout of the auto industry in 2009, Obama’s Treasury Department authorized spending $1.7 billion of government funds to get a bankrupt Michigan parts-maker back on its feet -- as a British company.

August 6, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

How UC-Berkeley and UCLA Law Schools Responded to Ban on Affirmative Action

Inside Higher Ed, How Berkeley and UCLA Law Schools Responded to Ban on Affirmative Action:

UCA new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research [Danny Yagan (UC-Berkeley), Affirmative Action Bans and Black Admission Outcomes: Selection-Corrected Estimates from UC Law Schools] explores the impact of California's ban on consideration of race in admissions on admissions rates for black students to the law schools at the University of California at Berkeley and UCLA. The study finds a significant drop in the black admit rate -- from 61 to 31 percent, controlling for various factors. The 31 percent figure, the study finds, is still significantly higher than it would have been had the law schools focused largely on traditional admissions criteria such as test scores and grades, and the advantage for black applicants is greatest among the share of the applicant pool that is on the line between admission and rejection. The study suggests that the UC law schools have minimized the loss of black students by placing greater emphasis in admissions on race-neutral factors (such as economic disadvantage) that apply to many black applicants. Officials of the two law schools said that they were studying the report and could not comment on it Monday.

Table 1

Cheating: An Insider's Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA

August 6, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 454

IRS Logo 2National Review:  The IRS's God Complex:

Is the Internal Revenue Service a threat to religious liberty?

As the IRS continues to come under well-aimed fire for harassing conservative groups, on Friday it secured a final court order formalizing what amounts to a secret agreement to monitor the pulpits of ill-favored churches. The serious danger, as former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams told Fox News, is that the IRS will start treating “theology as politics,” and regulate it accordingly.

Lovers of liberty should be very concerned.

According to a June 27 IRS letter to the Justice Department, 99 churches merit “high priority examination” for allegedly illegal electioneering activities. The letter was sent in reference to a now-dismissed lawsuit filed by the atheist group known as the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF). The suit originally was a rather broad one, demanding not only that the IRS enforce prohibitions against churches’ endorsing candidates specifically, but also that churches should be “required to file” what it described as “detailed annual information” that would force them (if they are like other nonprofits) to “expend substantial time and resources.”

With the end of the suit, those filings presumably will not be required (though a second suit, on just that subject, remains open). But IRS’s monitoring of alleged electioneering activities could still be quite onerous.

Traditionally, churches have been free to do just about anything short of outright candidate endorsements. Conservatives have suggested that not even that prohibition is enforced against traditionally liberal churches in black communities and that FFRF isn’t much concerned with such groups. But at least for conservative-leaning churches, FFRF has a much more restrictive agenda in mind. ...

FFRF has been crowing loudly about its “victory.” It asked for its suit to be dismissed “without prejudice” because the IRS was able to assure FFRF, in private discussions, that the agency would indeed take an active role in monitoring churches. That’s what the IRS’s June 27 letter to the DOJ, which specified that 99 churches warrant “high priority examination,” explained.

In fact, the IRS on July 22 filed a motion with the court specifically to deny the request of another church, which had become a party to the suit, for documents pertaining to the “agreement” between IRS and FFRF. In other words, shockingly, the IRS was now taking the side of the atheist group that had nominally sued it. One week later, FFRF filed a motion making clear, as its co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor put it, that the dismissal of its suit applies only if “our agreement has teeth.”

So even though the IRS will now put “teeth” into its monitoring of churches, the general public will not be allowed to find out exactly what those teeth can bite into (according to the IRS’s July 22 motion against release of documents, which the judge granted August 1).

Considering the IRS’s well-publicized penchant for burying or erasing evidence (even from Congress) of its bias against conservative political groups, this secrecy about enforcement teeth in the church-electioneering case should raise concerns from every traditionalist church and faith group.

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August 6, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

S&P: Income Inequality Is Hampering Economic Growth

New York Times:  A New Report Argues Inequality Is Causing Slower Growth. Here’s Why It Matters., by Neil Irwin:

S&P 2Is income inequality holding back the United States economy? A new report argues that it is, that an unequal distribution in incomes is making it harder for the nation to recover from the recession and achieve the kind of growth that was commonplace in decades past.

The report is interesting not because it offers some novel analytical approach or crunches previously unknown data. Rather, it has to do with who produced it, which says a lot about how the discussion over inequality is evolving.

Economists at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services are the authors of the straightforwardly titled "How Increasing Inequality is Dampening U.S. Economic Growth, and Possible Ways to Change the Tide.” The fact that S&P, an apolitical organization that aims to produce reliable research for bond investors and others, is raising alarms about the risks that emerge from income inequality is a small but important sign of how a debate that has been largely confined to the academic world and left-of-center political circles is becoming more mainstream.

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August 5, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Board Waives $100 Penalty for Taxpayer Who Refused to Pay Taxes Electronically Due to Fear of Computer Hacking

Haar v. Commissioner of Revenue, No C3115058 (Mass. App. Tax Bd. July 23, 2014):

HackingThis appeal involves the Commissioner’s assessment of a $100 penalty ... because of the appellant’s failure to electronically submit the payment that accompanied his Form-4868, Application for Automatic Six-Month Extension of Time to File Massachusetts Income Tax Return for the tax year at issue.  ...

Mr. Haar maintained that the Commissioner’s electronic payment mandate is a “serious invasion of both [his] privacy and [his] personal business practices,” as it exposes his finances to risk of cyber attack. On his abatement application, Mr. Haar explained, “I intentionally do no electronic banking nor direct bill paying, I have none of my credit cards linked to my bank accounts directly and I think anyone who does any of the above is exposing themselves to multiple risks of cybercrime and identity theft.” At the hearing, Mr. Haar testified that he does not link his “bank account information in any electronic way to any other electronic medium” because he believes it is a “very foolish thing to do.” Mr. Haar further expressed doubts as to the security of the computer systems used by the Department of Revenue (“DOR”), noting that “if the Pentagon can be hacked,” he had little confidence that DOR could protect his – or any other taxpayer’s – personal data from theft. ...

The Board found credible the appellant’s testimony that he was concerned that transmitting his personal financial information electronically would expose him to a serious risk of security breaches. Given his reference to the hacking of the Pentagon’s computer systems, and in light of the many well publicized instances of large-scale thefts of financial information following computer security breaches at businesses and other institutions, and the appellant’s consistent practice of avoiding electronic payment of all of his bills, including his tax obligations, the Board found that the appellant’s failure to utilize the Commissioner’s mandated electronic tax payment to be reasonable.

For more, see Forbes:  State Fails To Force Electronic Payments On Taxpayer With Hacking Concerns, by Peter J. Reilly.

August 5, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sad News From Vermont Law School

HannaCheryl Hanna, Vice President for External Relations and Professor of Law at Vermont Law School, took her own life last week at the age of 48, leaving behind a husband and two children. Professor Hanna's family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made in her memory to Women Helping Battered Women, P.O. Box 1535, Burlington, VT 05402.

ShieldsFormer Vermont Dean Geoffrey “Jeff” Benson Shields died on August 2 at the age of 68.   His family asks that any gifts in his memory be sent to the Hallowell Singers, 191 Canal St., Brattleboro, Vt. 05301, or to The Jeff and Genie Shields Prize at Vermont Law School, 164 Chelsea St., South Royalton Vt. 05068. A week before his death, Dean Shields and his wife gave their family home to the law school:

“Jeff and Genie have given to this school in so many remarkable ways over the years—their extraordinary and dedicated service to students, faculty, staff and alumni during Jeff’s tenure as president and dean, their contributions to and relentless fundraising for the Center for Legal Services, and, of course, the establishment of the Shields Prize,” Mihaly and Board of Trustees Chairman Edward Mattes ’83 wrote in a letter to VLS faculty and staff. “The Shields have always led by example. This most generous gift is clear manifestation of [their] philanthropic spirit.” The historic 3,400-square-foot home, built in 1810, is currently for sale and rented by VLS students. The law school plans to continue the search for a buyer and have the students remain in residence for the duration of their lease.

August 5, 2014 in Legal Education, Obituaries | Permalink | Comments (3)

ABA Tax Section Seeks Pro Bono Tax Counsel

The ABA Tax Section seeks a Pro Bono Tax Counsel:

ABA Tax Section Logo (2012)The Pro Bono Counsel works closely with Tax Section members and staff to develop and grow pro bono programs for the Tax Section. Responsibilities include program development and management, advertising, writing and editing, and recruitment.

The Pro Bono Counsel also administers the Christine A. Brunswick Public Service Fellowship through the Public Service Fellowship Committee as well as the Janet Spragens Pro Bono Award through the Pro Bono Award Committee. The Pro Bono Counsel will cultivate relationships with the Tax Court, Armed Forces, IRS, the low income taxpayer community, Tax Section members, and other ABA entities.

Does substantive legal work and may manage a grant funded project or provide substantive support to an ABA entity. May manage that entity. May be supervised by another attorney and frequently supervises more junior attorneys and/or other staff. Includes legal research, writing, speaking, provision of technical assistance, and may include grant development and/or fundraising.

August 5, 2014 in ABA Tax Section, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hawley: The Jurisdictional Question in Hobby Lobby

Erin Morrow Hawley (Missouri), The Jurisdictional Question in Hobby Lobby, 123 Yale L.J. Forum ___ (2014):

Hobby LobbyBurwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores may well be the biggest case of the term. And by its own rules, the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction. An obscure statute, the Anti-Injunction Act of 1867 (“the AIA”), imposes a pay-first requirement for federal tax challenges. The deeply held conventional wisdom is that the AIA is a jurisdictional statute, and there is a good argument that the AIA applies to the contraception mandate. As we learned from National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 132 S.Ct. 2566 (2012), the best evidence of whether Congress intended the AIA to apply is the text. The mandate at issue in Hobby Lobby, 26 U.S.C. § 4980D, expressly refers to the employer assessment as a tax—24 times. In light of NFIB, the Supreme Court’s failure to address the AIA was a serious mistake.

(Hat Tip: Josh Blackman.)

August 5, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NPR Debate: Corporate Tax Inversions

NPR 2NPR -- The Diane Rehm Show, Debate Over Corporate Tax 'Inversions':


A growing number of American companies are re-incorporating overseas for lower tax rates. But critics say it’s a loophole that ends up costing taxpayers. Join us for debate over IRS rules for U.S. companies.

  • Edward Kleinbard (Professor of Law, USC)
  • Chris Edwards (Economist, Cato Institute)
  • John McKinnon (Reporter, Wall Street Journal)
  • Sander Levin (Ranking Member, House Ways & Means Committee)

August 5, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Joint Tax Committee Releases Tax Expenditure Estimates for 2014-2018

The Joint Committee on Taxation yesterday released Estimate of Federal Tax Expenditures for Fiscal Years 2014-2018 (JCS-97-14):

Joint Tax CommitteeTax expenditure analysis can help both policymakers and the public to understand the actual size of government, the uses to which government resources are put, and the tax and economic policy consequences that follow from the implicit or explicit choices made in fashioning legislation. This report1 on tax expenditures for fiscal years 2014-2018 is prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation. ...  As in the case of earlier reports, the estimates of tax expenditures in this report were prepared in consultation with the staff of the Office of Tax Analysis in the Department of the Treasury (“the Treasury”).

The Joint Committee staff has made its estimates (as shown in Table 1) based on the provisions in Federal tax law enacted through June 30, 2014. Expired or repealed provisions are not listed unless they have continuing revenue effects that are associated with ongoing taxpayer activity. Proposed extensions or modifications of expiring provisions are not included until they have been enacted into law. The tax expenditure calculations in this report are based on the January 2014 Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) revenue baseline and Joint Committee staff projections of the gross income, deductions, and expenditures of individuals and corporations for calendar years 2013-2018.

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August 5, 2014 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Most Educated Places in America

NerdWallet, The Most Educated Places in America:

Certain cities in the U.S. have populations with higher levels of educational attainment than others. This often depends on what prominent industries are located in these places—cities that offer more technical occupational opportunities tend to draw more skilled and educated members of the labor force.

NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the most educated places in America. We looked at increasing levels of educational attainment among the populations of 1,990 places across the U.S., from residents with at least a high school diploma to those with a doctorate or professional degree. ... We calculated the overall score for each place by weighting the following factors:

  1. Percentage of population with at least a high school diploma or associate’s degree: 40% of the overall score.
  2. Percentage of population with at least a bachelor’s degree: 30% of the overall score.
  3. Percentage of population with a master’s degree: 10% of the overall score.
  4. Percentage of population with a doctorate degree: 10% of the overall score.
  5. Percentage of population with a professional degree: 10% of the overall score.

Nerd

(Hat Tip: Bill Turnier.)

August 5, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

Senate Finance Committee Unanimously Approves Tax Court Nominee Pugh

PughThe Senate Finance Committee on Friday unanimously approved the nomination of Cary Douglas Pugh to the U.S. Tax Court: (June 6, 2014):

Cary Douglas Pugh is currently Counsel in the tax department at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, L.L.P., a position she has held since 2005. From 2002 to 2005, Ms. Pugh was the Special Counsel to the Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service. From 1999 to 2002, Ms. Pugh served as Tax Counsel for the Senate Committee on Finance, where she was responsible for advising committee members on individual and corporate tax issues. Ms. Pugh was an associate at Vinson & Elkins, L.L.P. from 1995 to 1999 and Judicial Clerk to the Honorable Jackson L. Kiser on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia from 1994 to 1995. Ms. Pugh received a B.A. from Duke University, an M.A. from Stanford University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Pugh will join the Tax Court once she is confirmed by the full Senate, along with pending nominees Tamara Ashford and L. Paige Marvel.

August 5, 2014 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reynolds: Public Servants Acting as Public Masters

USA Today op-ed:  Public Servants Acting as Public Masters, by Glenn Reynolds (Tennessee):

"Nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn't do that." That was CIA Director John Brennan's answer in March when Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., charged the CIA with breaking into computers used by Senate investigators looking into CIA misconduct.

It turns out that the CIA would do that — and, in fact, had done so. Brennan's reassurances were false, and CIA spooks had been hacking into the committee investigators' computers looking for documents they thought the investigators shouldn't have, violating a promise not to. So, first Brennan broke a promise. Then, he either lied, or showed that he doesn't control his own agency, which in many ways would be worse.

Brennan has apologized, but his apology won't be the end of things. We're already seeing bipartisan calls for his removal, from Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. The White House is hanging tough so far, but we're now hearing comparisons made to the speed with which Brennan's predecessor, Gen. David Petraeus, was cut loose over an extramarital affair. Does this mean that the White House views spying on, and lying to, members of Congress as less serious than an affair?

The answer to that, alas, is probably "yes." Contempt for Congress, and for separation of powers and historical understandings about the roles of the executive and legislative branches, has been a hallmark of the Obama administration. It's not surprising that in such an atmosphere, CIA operatives would feel comfortable snooping on the Senate, and that a CIA director would feel confident issuing blanket denials when questioned. ...

Alas, as with the IRS' stonewalling of investigations into its targeting of Obama's political opponents, consequences for offenders seem hard to come by in the face of an administration that has no shame. Probably the best that Congress can do is to punish the entire CIA by using its budgetary power to make employees' lives worse: Cutting back on bonuses, raises, conferences, and other perks. Where the IRS is involved, there's some talk of abolishing most of it in favor of a national sales tax that would require much less bureaucracy and provide fewer opportunities for abuse, but that's unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon.

The sad truth is that when you elect irresponsible people into positions of power, you get irresponsible government. President Obama oozes contempt for Congress, and for longstanding unwritten political accommodations among the branches, at every opportunity. It's unsurprising that his underlings feel — and act — consistently with that view.

If the American electorate votes more responsibly next time, things will get better. Until then, alas, elections have consequences, and this is one of them.

August 5, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 453

IRS Logo 2Washington Post:  Lois Lerner’s Conservative Bashing: Smoking Gun or Just Cause for Investigation?:

The Federal Eye received lots of feedback in recent days about an article analyzing the e-mails in which former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner described conservative talk-show hosts as “__holes.”

In that piece, we noted that career federal employees are allowed to have political views, as long as those views don’t influence their work or affect elections. We also noted that Lerner’s comments represent only circumstantial evidence rather than rock-solid proof that she used her authority to silence conservatives.

Some readers objected to our rationale. ...

To be clear, the point of last week’s article was not to suggest that authorities shouldn’t investigate Lerner for potential wrongdoing. It was to say that Republicans haven’t proven definitively whether the former IRS official used her position to slow down the proliferation of conservative advocacy groups. ...

Did Lerner’s unit use inappropriate techniques to scrutinize such groups? The answer is yes, according to the agency’s inspector general, who said in a report last year that the IRS selected groups for review based on their names and policy positions.

The next question, then, is whether those actions were part of an effort to target conservative groups while going easy on left-leaning organizations. In other words, did Lerner’s political views — such as those expressed in her e-mails — cause her to become less than impartial in her work? ...

[M]any of the facts in this case look bad for Lerner. Her IRS division used inappropriate screening techniques that largely affected conservatives. She was a registered Democrat who used offensive terms to describe firebrand right-wingers. She expressed a desire to work for an advocacy group founded by President Obama’s allies. And she invoked her Fifth Amendment rights instead of testifying before Congress about her involvement in the targeting behavior.

Regardless, that’s all circumstantial evidence. It makes Lerner a prime candidate for investigation, and it’s great campaign fodder for the midterm elections, but it does not prove that she violated the rules of professionalism by trying to hinder conservative groups. Republicans need direct evidence to confirm that theory, which is part of the reason they want an independent prosecutor to look into the case. It’s also why they are so frustrated with Lerner’s missing e-mails.

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August 5, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Memorial Tributes to Dan Markel (1972-2014)

Markel[Continually Updated]  Memorial tributes to Dan Markel, D’Alemberte Professor of Law at Florida State and founder of PrawfsBlawg, who was shot and killed in his home in Tallahassee on July 18.

August 5, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, August 4, 2014

2015 Princeton Review's Best 379 Colleges

PrincetonThe Princeton Review today released The Best 379 Colleges -- 2015 Edition.  According to the press release, the book contains 62 rankings based on surveys completed by 130,000 students at the 379 schools (343 per school) (methodology here), including these categories:

  • Best (Bard) classroom experience
  • Best (Reed), worst (New Jersey Institute of Technology) professors
  • Most (U.S. Military Academy), least (McGill) accessible professors
  • Best (Bowdoin) quality of life
  • Most (Vanderbilt), least (Marywood) happy students
  • Students love (Claremont McKenna) their school
  • Most (Colgate), least (University of Dallas) beautiful campus
  • Best (Elon), worst (U.S. Merchant Marine Academy) run school
  • Most liberal (Sarah Lawrence), most conservative (Texas A&M) students
  • Most (BYU),  least (Vassar) religious
  • Students study the most (Harvey Mudd), least (North Dakota)
  • Most (Pomona), least (Spelman) financial aid
  • Most (Stanford), least (College of the Ozarks) LGBT-Friendly
  • Most (George Mason), least (Furman) race/class interaction
  • Best (Chicago), worst (Clarkson) library
  • Best (Virginia Tech), worst (U.S. Merchant Marine Academy) food
  • Best (Washington University), worst (U.S. Merchant Marine Academy) dorms
  • Biggest (Syracuse), least (BYU) party school
  • Most (Skidmore), least (U.S. Coast Guard Academy) marijuana on campus
  • Most (Iowa), least (BYU) hard liquor on campus
  • Most (Penn State), least (BYU) beer on campus

I am considering demanding a recount: Pepperdine is ranked as only the second most beautiful campus. Really?

Pepperdine Campus Photo

August 4, 2014 in Book Club, Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Georgia State Seeks to Hire a Tax Clinician

Georgia State LogoGeorgia State seeks to fill a full-time assistant professor, clinical teaching position in its Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic:

The clinical faculty appointment would be non-tenure track, with faculty status, a renewable contract, and job security commensurate with tenured faculty.  Clinical faculty have voting rights and serve on faculty committees at the College of Law.  The appointment could begin at the commencement of the 2015-2016 academic year or as early as January 2015.

The Clinical Professor will primarily assist in the operation and administration of the Tax Clinic and will have limited teaching responsibilities. The Clinical Professor will supervise students in all aspects of Tax Clinic client representation.  The preferred applicant should have a law degree, a strong academic background, practical tax experience, and a proven record of, or demonstrated potential for, student supervision, successful teaching, professional engagement, and service to the community. Experience working in a law school tax clinic, while not a prerequisite for the position, is highly desirable.

The deadline for applications is November 30, 2014.  Applications should be submitted to Professor Ronald Blasi.

August 4, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law: The Only Job With an Industry Devoted to Helping People Quit

The Atlantic:  The Only Job With an Industry Devoted to Helping People Quit, by Leigh McMullan Abramson:

Life After LawI went to law school because I didn’t know what to do after college and I'm bad at math. Law school seemed like a safe, respectable path and gave me an easy answer to what I was going to do with my life. And, as part of the millennial generation obsessed with test scores and academic achievement, I relished the spoils of a high LSAT score, admission to an Ivy League law school, and a job offer from a fancy corporate law firm.

I spent my first year as lawyer holed up in a conference room sorting piles of documents wearing rubber covers on my fingertips that looked like tiny condoms. Eventually, I was trusted with more substantive tasks, writing briefs and taking depositions. But I had no appetite for conflict and found it hard to care about the interests I was serving. I realized I had never seriously considered whether I was cut out to be a lawyer, much less a corporate litigator. After a few years, I just wanted out, but I had no idea where to begin.

I knew that I was not alone. Law-firm associate consistently ranks at the top of unhappy-professions lists and despite starting salaries of $160,000, law firms experience significant yearly associate attrition. What I didn’t realize was that the plight of burnt-out attorneys, particularly those at law firms, has recently spawned an industry of experts devoted to helping lawyers leave law. Attorneys now have their choice of specialized career counselors, blogs, books, and websites offering comfort and guidance to wannabe ex-Esqs.

“Law is the only career I know that has a sub-profession dedicated to helping people get out of it,” says Liz Brown, author of the help manual, Life After Law: Finding Work You Love with the J.D. You Have, published last year.

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August 4, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

NPR: Tax Extenders Bill Killed by Politics on Capitol Hill

NPR -- It's All Politics,  A Tax Bill Killed By The Push And Pull Of Politics On The Hill:

NPRA few months back, Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, brought a bill to the floor that basically offered tax incentives to businesses and individuals. Those incentives are called tax extenders.

They include big stuff and small stuff — tax breaks for wind farms, tax breaks for schoolteachers who buy their own supplies. Tax breaks for rum producers in Puerto Rico, people who make movies, race track owners, even some breaks for people who bike to work. In other words, something for every lawmaker to take home.

This should have been a slam dunk. And at first, it was. Ninety-six senators gathered in the chamber shortly after Wyden's speech, and all voted in favor of moving the bill forward. But two days later, this bill, with 96 out of 100 supporters, was stopped cold. To anyone watching, it might have looked like some special kind of insanity.

But Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow with the tax policy center at the Urban Institute, says look closer.

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August 4, 2014 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The 50 Most Impressive Law School Buildings in the World

The 50 Most Impressive Law School Buildings in the World:

Durham-Law-SchoolFrom stunning examples of Gothic revival to Brutalism’s giant box-like constructions, the world’s most impressive law school buildings span decades and even centuries. With modern marvels like Frank Gehry’s Loyola Law campus and the new University of Sydney Faculty of Law building, and traditional structures like Yale Law’s Sterling Law Building, these architectural giants were chosen for their ingenuity, aesthetic beauty, and commitment to creating an environment that honors the history and study of law. Many of these buildings house some of the world’s most prestigious and selective law programs, and a number of them set a precedent for green building standards and solutions. [Photo: #1 Durham Law School, Durham, UK. The top-ranked U.S. law school building is Thomas Jefferson.]

(Hat Tip: Francine Lipman.)

August 4, 2014 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (3)

L.A. Times on Tax Inversions

Los Angeles Times: Close Loopholes That Let U.S. Firms Avoid Taxes by Using Inversions, by Michael Hiltzik:

It's both endearing and infuriating to watch American corporate executives wring their hands about how the injustices of the U.S. tax code are forcing them — forcing them! — to reincorporate overseas through the procedure known as inversion.

Endearing, because one wants to sympathize with the pain felt by a homegrown CEO having to move a homegrown American company's headquarters to Ireland, Switzerland or some other foreign clime, just to remain competitive.

Infuriating, because they're so full of it. ...

Defenders of inversions say they don't really affect the American company's U.S. taxes — that's the claim made recently in the Wall Street Journal by Miles White, chairman of Abbott Laboratories, which is conniving with Mylan on its inversion deal.

But like much that's said about inversions, that's misleading, says Edward D. Kleinbard, a USC law professor whose role as a former chief of staff to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation certifies him as one of our leading experts on the corporate tax.

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August 4, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

ABA Releases Memo on Compliance With Standard 509

Memorandum From Barry Currier (Managing Director, ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar) to Deans of ABA-approved Law Schools, Compliance With Standard 509 (July 14, 2014):

This memorandum revises, updates, and replaces the memorandum we issued in August 2013 regarding compliance with Standard 509. As you will recall, current Standard 509, titled “Required Disclosures,” took effect in August, 2013. There were no further changes to this Standard as the Council concluded the comprehensive review of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure.

This memorandum addresses the form, manner and time frame for publishing certain information as required by Standard 509, and provides other guidance regarding compliance with the Standard. Attached is a chart that summarizes the requirements of the Standard.

Standard 509 divides the information that a law school must publish on its website into two categories: (1) that for which the Council prescribes a particular form, manner and time frame of publication [Standard 509(b)]; and (2) that which schools must disclose in a readable and comprehensive manner [Standard 509(c)]. Each of these categories is addressed below. Additionally and importantly, all information reported, publicized or distributed by a law school is subject to the overriding mandate of Standard 509(a) that it be “complete, accurate and not misleading to a reasonable law school student or applicant.”

ABA 1

ABA 2

August 4, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 452

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, August 3, 2014

ABA Poised to Adopt Sweeping Changes to Law School Accreditation Standards This Week

National Law Journal, Legal Education Due For a Makeover: ABA's House of Delegates Prepares to Vote on a Sweeping Revision of its Accreditation Standards:

To protect their accreditation, law schools will be under pressure to more closely assess student achievement and provide students with more practical skills training under a slate of legal education reforms headed for final consideration by the ABA House of Delegates.

Faculty tenure would remain sacrosanct, and students still would be barred from earning both money and course credit for externships under draft standards headed for a vote by the delegates on Aug. 11.

"If there was a theme to what the comprehensive review accomplished, it moved legal education into a 21st century model in two ways," said Loyola University Chicago School of Law Dean David Yellen, who spent four years on the committee reviewing the standards. "One is by requiring schools to assess their achievement in student learning. The second is requiring more practical skills training." ...

One of the most substantive proposed changes involves "student leaning outcomes." Each law school would define its mission — what it is attempting to teach — and would measure how well it succeeds. Administrators would have plenty of ­leeway in defining their learning goals, but would now be judged less on the nuts-and-bolts of running a law school and more on results of those efforts. ...

Second, every law graduate would have to complete a minimum of six credits of "experiential learning" — clinics, externships or simulation courses. [The Clinical Legal Education Association] unsuccessfully lobbied for 15 credits but has accepted the compromise. Right now, the requirement is a single hour's credit. ...

[T]he review might be best remembered for what didn't change.

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August 3, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads on SSRN, with a new paper debuting on the list at #5:

  1. [329 Downloads]  What Would Yale Do If It Were Taxable?, by Patrick Geddes (Aperio Group), Lisa Goldberg (UC-Berkeley) & Stephen Bianchi (UC-Berkeley)
  2. [289 Downloads]  Guide to FATCA Compliance (Chapter 1, Background and Current Status of FATCA) (LexisNexis 2d ed. 2014), by William Byrnes (Thomas Jefferson), Denis Kleinfeld, & Alberto Gil Soriano
  3. [249 Downloads]  Sales Suppression as a Service (SSaaS) & the Apple Store Solution, by Richard Ainsworth (Boston University)
  4. [214 Downloads]  Desperate Retirees: The Perplexing Challenge of Covering Retirement Health Care Costs in a YOYO World, by Richard L. Kaplan (Illinois)
  5. [155 Downloads]  Unconstitutional Perpetual Trusts, by Steven Horowitz (Sidley Austin, Chicago) & Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

August 3, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: How the Government Exaggerates the Cost of College

New York Times:  How the Government Exaggerates the Cost of College, by David Leonhardt:

The government’s official statistic for college-tuition inflation has become somewhat infamous. It appears frequently in the news media, and policy makers lament what it shows.

No wonder: College tuition and fees have risen an astounding 107 percent since 1992, even after adjusting for economywide inflation, according to the measure. No other major household budget item has increased in price nearly as much.

But it turns out the government’s measure is deeply misleading.

For years, that measure was based on the list prices that colleges published in their brochures, rather than the actual amount students and their families paid. The government ignored financial-aid grants. Effectively, the measure tracked the price of college for rich families, many of whom were not eligible for scholarships, but exaggerated the price – and price increases – for everyone from the upper middle class to the poor.

Here’s an animation that explains the difference succintly. It shows the government’s estimate of how college costs have changed since 1992 — and, for comparison, toggles between the changes in the colleges' published prices and actual prices, according to the College Board, the group that conducts the SAT.

NY Times 1

NY Times 2

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August 3, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 451

Saturday, August 2, 2014

NY Times: Socrates Takes a Back Seat to Business and Tech in Some Law Schools

New York Times:  This Is Law School? Socrates Takes a Back Seat to Business and Tech, by John Schwartz:

Like a number of law schools looking to the future of a challenging profession, [Michigan State] is pushing its students to understand business and technology so that they can advise entrepreneurs in coming fields. The school wants them to think of themselves as potential founders of start-ups as well, and to operate fluidly in a legal environment that is being transformed by technology.

Michigan State professors don’t just teach torts, contracts and the intricacies of constitutional law. They also delve into software and services that sift through thousands of cases to help predict whether a client’s case might be successful or what arguments could be most effective. They introduce their students to programs that search through mountains of depositions and filings, automating tasks like the dreary “document review” that was once the baptism of fire and boredom for young associates. ...

With the marketplace shifting, schools have increasingly come under fire for being out of touch.

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August 2, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: Inversions Cut Corporation's Taxes, Raise Shareholders' Taxes

Wall Street Journal Tax Report:  An 'Inversion' Deal Could Raise Your Taxes: Shareholders Are Likely to Owe Capital-Gains Tax, by Laura Saunders:

U.S. companies are busy buying overseas firms in deals that reduce their tax payments. Ironically, though, these mergers could saddle shareholders with higher tax bills.

In an "inversion," a U.S. firm merges with a foreign one, and shifts much of its income abroad. For corporations, the goal is simple: to exchange the U.S.'s steep corporate tax rate, which runs as high as 35%, for a much lower one elsewhere. Take AbbVie, a U.S. pharmaceutical firm that plans to merge with Irish drug firm Shire this year. Once the deal is consummated, the combined company will be taxed as a U.K. corporation with an estimated rate of about 13% by 2016. Other U.S. companies that have considered or are pursuing inversions are Pfizer, Medtronic, Walgreen, Chiquita Brands International, Applied Materials, Salix Pharmaceuticals, Mylan and Auxilium Pharmaceuticals.

Shareholders in companies pursuing inversions are likely to owe capital-gains tax if the deals occur, but, unlike with other taxable mergers, they won't receive any cash payment to help cover it.  The deals are taxable because the U.S. company, although it will ultimately control the foreign firm, is technically the one that's being acquired, says Robert Willens, an independent tax adviser in New York. The U.S. firm's shareholders will receive new shares to replace their old ones. That exchange is considered taxable by the IRS. ...

 WSJ

Here are three tax-minimizing strategies for investors coping with inversions.

Prospective Law Students Care More About Rankings Than Financial Aid

Kaplan LogoNational Law Journal, Pedigree Still Matters to Prospective Law Students:  "A survey of prelaw students found that nearly 40 percent would choose a top-tier law school at full cost rather than a less prestigious institution offering a scholarship."

Wall Street Journal, Survey: For Many, Law School Rankings Matter More Than Aid:  "Students contemplating a legal career still place a high premium on law school rankings—with some reporting they would rather attend a top school even if they got no financial aid at all."

Kaplan Test Prep Survey, For Pre-Law Students, a Law School’s Ranking May Matter More Than its Financial Aid Package in Choosing Where to Attend:

A new Kaplan survey of over 600 pre-law students finds that a law school’s ranking continues to factor significantly into their decision where to enroll – in many cases, even more than financial aid and ability to pay. When asked which law school admissions scenario they’d prefer to be in, Kaplan found the following:

  • Mid-Tier School, Some Aid:  A plurality (46%) of those surveyed said they’d rather be accepted by a mid-tier law school, where they’d receive a half-scholarship.
  • Top-Tier Law School, Zero Aid:  39% said they’d prefer to be accepted by a top tier law school, where’d they’d receive no financial aid at all.
  • Lower-Tier Law School, Full Aid: Just 16% said they’d prefer to be accepted by a lower ranked law school and receive a full ride scholarship.

August 2, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 450

IRS Logo 2Fox News:  Lois Lerner Ripping ‘Crazies’ on Right: Why Some Media Folks Don’t Care, by Howard Kurtz:

The new batch of Lois Lerner emails may or may not be a smoking gun. But they’re something of a Rorschach test for the media.

For the former IRS official to be branding conservative commentators as “crazies” and “a--holes” is a telling moment in this scandal—but some in the media could care less.

To be sure, this investigation has dragged on a long time without proving a link between the White House and the Cincinnati office’s targeting of advocacy groups, especially on the right, for special scrutiny of their tax-exempt status. Critics say that conservative outlets such as Fox have tried to keep the story alive.

But the administration has done a decent job of bringing the story back to the headlines. The IRS acknowledged that it could not find two years’ worth of lost emails written or received by Lerner, who pleaded the Fifth when summoned by Congress. And the commissioner, William Koskinen, sounded downright arrogant when he showed up on the Hill.

Now the Republicans have found three emails in which Lerner disparaged conservatives.

What did the New York Times give the story? One measly paragraph, written by the AP, in a roundup column.

How much airtime did the story get that night on ABC’s “World News”? None.

The messages don’t prove that Lerner deliberately targeted Tea Party groups for special scrutiny, or that higher-ups knew about it. But they reveal a whole heckuva lot about her state of mind.

To give it short shrift suggests a certain eye-rolling attitude toward the IRS story, or perhaps a tacit view that some conservatives are kinda nuts.

Imagine a swirling controversy about a Bush administration official who was alleged to be out to get liberal groups. Emails surface in which the person rips, say, pundits on MSNBC or other liberal activists. Wouldn’t the press go crazy that such a biased individual was in charge of investigations? Wouldn’t there be analyses and op-ed columns and followup stories?

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

Friday, August 1, 2014

NY Times Debate: Should More Students Forego Law School and Apprentice to Become Lawyers?

NY Times Room for DebateNew York Times Room for Debate: Do-It-Yourself Lawyers:

Law school isn’t the only route to becoming a lawyer. In states that allow it, a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands of people who take state bar exams were trained as apprentices, with no other legal education. It’s a difficult approach, the bar exam failure rate is high, but the costs are low.

Should such a do-it-yourself approach, with the help of lawyers as mentors, be more widely used to avoid excessive debt and create different perspectives on the law?

Commentary:

August 1, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Weekly Tax Roundup

August 1, 2014 in Tax, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)