TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, May 8, 2017

Why Don't White Supremacists Pay Taxes?

NPIEric Franklin Amarante (UNLV), Why Don't White Supremacists Pay Taxes?:

Many white supremacist groups enjoy tax-exempt status. As such, these hate groups do not have to pay federal taxes and people who give money to support these groups may take deductions on their personal taxes. This recognition not only results in potential lost revenue for government programs, but it also serves as a public subsidy of racist propaganda and operates as the federal government’s imprimatur of white supremacist activities. This is all due to an unnecessarily broad definition of “educational” that somehow encompasses the activities of universities, symphonies, and white supremacists. This Essay suggests a change in the Treasury regulations to restrict the definition of educational organizations to refer only to traditional, degree-granting institutions, distance learning organizations, or certain other enumerated entities.

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May 8, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, May 7, 2017

ABA Rejects 2U-Syracuse Initial Proposal For A Hybrid Online J.D., While Other 2U-Syracuse Graduate Programs Are Flourishing With Over 1,700 Students

2U SyracuseFollowing up on my previous post, Syracuse Law School Seeks Approval For Nation's Second Hybrid Online J.D. Program:  Daily Orange, Online Learning Platform 2U Enters the Mainstream and Expands to More Colleges at Syracuse University:

Although higher education has been generally slow to adapt to new technology, SU has formed partnerships with 2U, an online education company, in numerous schools and colleges in recent years. While early phases have been challenging and sometimes controversial, professors and administrators said they see online learning — and 2U — as a key tool in the survival of their graduate programs.

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May 7, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (3)

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:

  1. [413 Downloads]  Background and Current Status of FATCA, by William Byrnes (Texas A&M) & Robert J. Munro (Texas A&M)
  2. [367 Downloads]  House Plan's Bad Math: Over-Estimates of Revenue from a Border Adjustment, by David Kamin (NYU) & Brad Setser (Council on Foreign Relations)
  3. [292 Downloads]  The Offshore Tax Enforcement Dragnet, by Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane)
  4. [205 Downloads]  The First McGee Annual Report on the Best and Worst States for Business, by Robert W. McGee (Fayetteville State University)
  5. [201 Downloads]  BEPS and the New International Tax Order, by Allison Christians (McGill)

May 7, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Accreditation Battle Over Canada's First Christian Law School: Does Religious Freedom To Ban Student Sex Outside Of Heterosexual Marriage Trump LGBTQ Rights?

Trinity WesternFollowing up on my coverage of the accreditation battle over what would be Canada's first Christian law school (links below):

John Boersma (Ph.D. Candidate, LSU), The Accreditation of Religious Law Schools in Canada and the United States, 2016 BYU L. Rev. 1081:

Ongoing litigation in Canada suggests that the legal status of religiously affiliated law schools could be in jeopardy. In Canada, regulatory authorities have sought to deny accreditation status to a religiously affiliated law school (Trinity Western University) due to its commitment to a traditional Christian understanding of marriage. According to Canadian provincial authorities, this commitment has a discriminatory effect on LGBT students. Similar events could potentially occur in the United States. It is possible that American regulatory bodies could seek either to rescind or withhold accreditation from a religiously affiliated law school because of the discriminatory effects of its policies.

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May 7, 2017 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tax Prof Baby: Eva Rana-Gamage

Eva Rana-Gamage, daughter of David Gamage (Indiana) and Shruti Rana (Indiana), was born on April 28 and weighed in at 6 pounds, 11 ounces:

Gamage

 

May 7, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Financial Times:  Artificial Intelligence Closes In On The Work Of Junior Lawyers

ROSSFinancial Times, Artificial Intelligence Closes in on the Work of Junior Lawyers:

After more than five years at a leading City law firm, Daniel van Binsbergen quit his job as a solicitor to found Lexoo, a digital start-up for legal services in the fledgling “lawtech” sector.

Mr Van Binsbergen says he is one of many. “The number of lawyers who have been leaving to go to start-ups has skyrocketed compared to 15 years ago,” he estimates. Many are abandoning traditional firms to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities or join in-house teams, as the once-unthinkable idea of routine corporate legal work as an automated task becomes reality.

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May 6, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

Roberts Presents Environmental Opportunities In Tax Reform At Columbia

RobertsTracey M. Roberts (Cumberland) presented Environmental Opportunities in Comprehensive Tax Reform at Columbia yesterday as part of its Fourth Annual Sabin Colloquium on Innovative Environmental Scholarship:

In addition to the many anticipated benefits associated with recent proposals for tax reform such as improved administration, increased saving, and higher growth, there may be one more: environmental protection. This article examines a recent proposal for corporate tax reform, identifies potential environmental benefits associated with that reform and discusses ways that the tax regime may be modified to further environmental goals. The article makes two contributions.

First, the article identifies the environmental benefits of tax reform in and of itself — the elimination of existing subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and other tax expenditures that support electricity generation, transportation, and housing development patterns that have significant adverse environmental impacts.

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

IRS Seeks Grant Applications For Funding Low Income Taxpayer Clinics

LITC (2017)The IRS has announced (IR-2017-94) that it is accepting grant applications through June 20 for Low Income Taxpayer Clinics  for the 2018 grant cycle (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2018):

The LITC program is a federal grant program administered by the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate at the IRS, led by the National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina E. Olson. The LITC program awards matching grants of up to $100,000 per year to qualifying organizations to develop, expand or maintain an LITC. An LITC must provide services for free or for no more than a nominal fee.

 

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May 6, 2017 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Weekly Tax Highlight And Roundup

This week, Joe Kristan (CPA & Shareholder, Roth & Company (Des Moines, Iowa); Editor, Tax Update Blog) discusses a recent Tax Court case disallowing the deductions from a bed and breakfast operated out of Larry Bird's former home under the vacation home rules. 

KristanOwner of Larry Bird’s house fouls out in Tax Court

Larry Bird’s basketball career has been remarkable. As a player in high school, college and the NBA, he was an all-star. He is now winding down a successful career as a team executive.

An attempt to cash in on Mr. Bird’s fame was less successful. An Alaska attorney and his domestic partner formed French Lick LLC in 2007 and bought a house where Mr. Bird had once lived. They began operating a bed-and-breakfast there. The owners continued to live in Alaska, using on-site managers to run the business.

The plan went awry. Judge Kerrigan takes up the story:

About June 1, 2008, French Lick began operating the Indiana property as a bed and breakfast. Between May 2008 and January 2010 French Lick employed a series of managers for the bed and breakfast at the Indiana property. French Lick’s contracts with the managers provided them with an apartment on the Indiana property to use as their personal residence. The last manager of the bed and breakfast resigned in January 2010, and a replacement manager was not hired.

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May 5, 2017 in Tax, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Ari Glogower (Ohio State) reviews a new article by Daniel Hemel (Chicago), The Federalist Safeguards of Progressive Taxation, 93 N.Y.U. L. Rev. ___ (2017):

Glogower (2016)In his new work, Daniel Hemel considers the distributional consequences of federalism doctrines protecting states from congressional overreaches.  Hemel argues that the anti-commandeering doctrine (which prevents Congress from compelling states to administer federal programs), the anti-coercion doctrine (which prevents Congress from effectively compelling states to administer federal programs through coercive offers) and the sovereign immunity doctrine (which prevents Congress from abrogating state sovereign immunity) all provide the states with valuable entitlements, that can be bargained away in exchange for federal funding.  In other words, states can choose to cooperate with federal government programs, instead of refusing on the basis of these doctrines, but the federal government will have to pay.  

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May 5, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Why Faculty Workshops Should Not Be 'Safe Spaces': Law Profs Need To Be Adversarial (But Not Jerks) Because Of Law Reviews' Lack Of Rigor

The JerkFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  You’re Wrong’: The Case for Confrontation, by Joseph Heath (University of Toronto):

I’m starting to think that some of the strange behavior that has been gripping college students in the United States has begun seeping north into Canada, where I teach. For the first time the other day, I came across the suggestion — made by a graduate student — that a philosophical research talk should be a "safe space." The concern was not that department members were abusive, merely that we were sometimes insufficiently "supportive" of the speaker. Apparently we’re supposed to find nicer ways of telling people how wrong they are. ...

As people who are familiar with how philosophy works will know, it is one of several disciplines that has an adversarial culture. This manifests itself most clearly in the Q&A after a research talk. Basically, after people present their views, the audience tries to tear them apart. Every question is a variation on "Here’s why I think you’re wrong. …" The environment is not supportive; in fact, it is the opposite of supportive. Furthermore, because this is the disciplinary culture, philosophers tend not to preface their comments with ingratiating verbiage like, "First let me thank you for the rich and thought-provoking discussion." Philosophers go straight to the "Here’s why I think you’re wrong" part.

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May 5, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Ventry:  Lawyers As Whistleblowers

Dennis J. Ventry, Jr. (UC-Davis), Stiches for Snitches: Lawyers as Whistleblowers, 50 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 1455 (2017):

This Article challenges the prevailing wisdom that ethics rules forbid lawyers from blowing the whistle on a client’s illegal conduct. While a lawyer is not free to disclose confidential information in every jurisdiction for every legal violation, the ethics rules in all jurisdictions permit disclosure of confidential information pertaining to a client’s illegal activities under certain conditions. Proving the lie of the prevailing wisdom, this Article examines a high profile case in the state of New York that ruled a lawyer whistleblower violated the state’s ethics rules by revealing confidential information to stop his employer-client from engaging in a tax fraud of epic proportions. The Article argues that the court undertook a deficient analysis of New York ethics rules pertaining to permissive disclosure of confidential client information. Even if the whistleblower had violated his ethical obligations, the New York False Claims Act (the statute under which he brought his action) expressly protects disclosure of confidential employer information made in furtherance of the statute. In addition to New York’s statutory shield, federal courts across the country have developed a public policy exception safeguarding whistleblowers for disclosing confidential information that detects and exposes an employer’s illegal conduct.

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May 5, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Trump Signs Executive Order Purporting To Repeal Johnson Amendment's Prohibition On Politicking By Churches

IRS ChurchExecutive Order, Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty (May 4, 2017):

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to guide the executive branch in formulating and implementing policies with implications for the religious liberty of persons and organizations in America, and to further compliance with the Constitution and with applicable statutes and Presidential Directives, it is hereby ordered as follows:

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May 4, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Florida A&M University Fires Four Deans, Including Law School Dean After Only Sixteen Months On Job

EppsOrlando Sentinel, FAMU Law School Dean Dismissed After 16 Months on Job:

Florida A&M University’s law school dean is out after 16 months on the job.

FAMU announced Angela Felecia Epps’ dismissal as leader of the downtown Orlando school this week.

She is the fourth dean to be removed in two days at the Tallahassee-based university that’s undergone major leadership changes. The deans of the education, pharmacy and journalism schools also were dismissed, according to a school statement this week. ...

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May 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lirette & Viard:  State Taxes, State Subsidies, And Trade Neutrality

Ryan Lirette & Alan D. Viard (American Enterprise Institute), Putting the Commerce Back in the Dormant Commerce Clause: State Taxes, State Subsidies, and Commerce Neutrality, 24 J.L. & Pol’y 467 (2016):

The unpredictability of the Supreme Court’s dormant Commerce Clause (“DCC”) jurisprudence continues to draw trenchant criticism from commentators and the Justices themselves, as the Court remains unable to explain which state taxes and subsidies impede interstate commerce. We show that these problems can be resolved by a Commerce Neutrality framework requiring that state taxes and subsidies provide a combined treatment of inbound and outbound transactions at least as favorable as their treatment of intrastate transactions. This simple test has an economic foundation because taxes and subsidies that violate it create incentives to engage in intrastate rather than interstate transactions. The Supreme Court recently took an important step toward implementing this framework in Maryland Comptroller v. Wynne, 135 S. Ct. 1787 (2015), when it invalidated Maryland’s income tax scheme based on economic analysis similar to that presented in this article.

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

Whittier: The Canary In The Law School Coal Mine

CanaryFollowing up on my previous posts:

EdSurge:  The Canary in the Law School Coal Mine, by Michael B. Horn:

Whittier College’s announcement ... that it will no longer admit students to its law program makes it the first fully accredited law school in the United States to shut down. There is a good chance it won’t be the last.

As Michele Pistone, a law professor at Villanova University, and I wrote in Disrupting Law School: How Disruptive Innovation Will Revolutionize the Legal World, although law schools have long enjoyed budget surpluses, the financial situation has reversed over the last few years.

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May 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Harvard's Junior Deferral Program Pushes Students To Gain At Least Two Years Of Work Experience Prior To Law School

After roiling legal education in March by beginning to admit 1Ls based on the GRE rather than the LSAT, Harvard Law School announced yesterday that it will allow college juniors to defer enrollment for at least two years to gain work experience before starting law school.

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May 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1456:  The Impact Of The Sixth Circuit's Decision In NorCal Tea Party Patriots

IRS Logo 2Haley A. Stence (J.D. 2017, Cumberland), Comment, United States v. NorCal Tea Party Patriots: Has the IRS's Ability to Engage in Political Activities, Negatively Target Nonprofit Organizations, and Hide Behind 26 U.S.C. § 6103 Ended?, 40 Am. J. Trial Advoc. 201 (2016):

In the wake of the 2016 United States presidential election, it is difficult to think that debates, billboards, and television commercials are not the only sources of political uproar. Although it is common knowledge that the media can often times portray and even promote a political agenda, it is disturbing to uncover litigation accusing government entities of promoting their own positions on public policy and hiding behind statutory law to protect those decisions. In 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and its employees were accused of improperly targeting conservative political organizations that apply for tax-exempt status as nonprofit organizations. To protect its internal actions regarding the alleged improper targeting, the IRS invoked 26 U.S.C. § 6103 in order to keep controversial documents confidential and out of the hands of disgruntled plaintiffs. Section 6103 asserts that tax returns and the information contained within them are confidential and that no representative of the government can disclose this information unless one of the specific and limited exceptions within the statute has been met. Using 26 U.S.C. § 6103 as a shielding device, the IRS claimed the information disgruntled plaintiffs sought-mostly applications and internal documents- was taxpayer "return information" and thus "protected from disclosure by § 6103."' Giving deference to tax courts, circuit courts have historically upheld this determination in similar situations.

Nonetheless, on March 22, 2016, in the case of United States v. NorCal Tea Party Patriots, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit disagreed with this interpretation and determined that tax exempt application information is not "return information," and thus not protected from § 6103 disclosure. The Sixth Circuit's ruling directly contravenes a previous District of Columbia Circuit ruling on the issue and is likely to expose attempts by the IRS to intervene in United States politics via the tax-exemption application process and 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3). This Comment discusses the basics of §§ 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4), the attempts by the IRS to engage in politics using § 501(c), the conflicting holdings and United States circuit courts' various interpretations of § 6013 protection for the IRS, and the future implications of the circuit split created by the Sixth Circuit's holding in NorCal. ...

Conclusion:  The Possible Impact of the Sixth Circuit's Interpretation of "Return Information
"The fervent hope of many is that the Sixth Circuit's decision in United States v. NorCal Tea Party Patriots will force into the light any possible wrongdoing on the part of the IRS. Although the Sixth Circuit's holding is considered a narrow interpretation, some believe practitioners should not get the impression that much has changed outside the Sixth Circuit. An important item of note is that the holding would apply only to documents already in the possession of the IRS that include upon submission "names, addresses, and taxpayer-identification numbers of applicants for recognition of exemption, not to other information included in their applications." IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has expressed concern that such personal and identifying information on other types of IRS filings might not be covered by § 6103 after the Sixth Circuit's holding. "Additional filings with the IRS that may not be returns under section 6103 include requests for taxpayer advocate service assistance (Form 911) and applications for filing extensions...."

Admittedly, it is possible that additional information that had previously been determined confidential under § 6103, may not remain confidential, even if the taxpayer would prefer that it did. Primarily, the interpretation of the Sixth Circuit was in regards to information provided on applications for tax-exempt status. "[F]ormer IRS Exempt Organizations Division Director Marcus Owens has suggested ... the decision should not reach identifying information for applicants under section 501(c)(3) because such applicants are required to file to claim tax-exempt status .... Thus, it is possible the information provided within a 501(c)(3) application would have been information previously filed in a tax return, and thus considered return information protected from disclosure by § 6103. Additionally, the Sixth Circuit's interpretation "only applies to identifying information for the applicant, not the rest of the information contained in the application." Lastly, NorCal arguably only applies within the Sixth Circuit, and the many cases from other jurisdictions may instead follow the D.C. Circuit's precedent or may undertake the issue as a matter of first impression.

All things considered, for plaintiffs hoping to bring IRS political activity into the public light, the Sixth Circuit appears ready to take on in-depth analysis in order to help shine light into the dark recesses of historical targeting by an agency that should not be engaging in politics.

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May 4, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Drumbl:  Easing The Sting For Married Taxpayers Filing Separately

Florida Tax Review  (2015)Michelle Lyon Drumbl (Washington & Lee), Joint Winners, Separate Losers: Proposals To Ease the Sting for Married Taxpayers Filing Separately, 18 Fla. Tax Rev. 399 (2016):

A taxpayer who is “considered as married” according to the Internal Revenue Code’s definition must file either a joint income tax return or an individual return using the “married filing separately” filing status. Those married taxpayers who file a separate, rather than a joint, income tax return are denied valuable benefits and subjected to a host of other unfavorable limitations. Low-income taxpayers in particular are hurt by these limitations. Certain married taxpayers, including victims of domestic violence and abandoned spouses, may have no choice but to file using the married filing separately status. Low-income taxpayers in such situations could benefit tremendously from such benefits as the earned income credit as they begin to rebuild their lives, but they are denied it.

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

Lepow:  Teenagers, Twenty Somethings, And Tax Inequality

G. Garrison Lepow (Loyola-New Orleans), Teenagers, Twenty Somethings, and Tax Inequality: A Proposal to Simplify the Age Requirements of the Dependency Exemption, 19 N.Y.U. J. Legis. & Pub. Pol'y 797 (2016):

The dependency exemption affects close to forty-eight million individual tax returns nationwide. Like many other tax provisions, the child’s age is the factor most likely to disqualify families. Generally, parents qualify for the dependency exemption if their child is eighteen years or younger. This benefit is extended for children up to age twenty-three if they are full time students. These divergent age requirements of the exemption do not link reliably to the other child-related benefits, creating unnecessary complexity for administrators and increased litigation. More injurious, however, is that the related benefits do not reach the families with the highest expenses, which are those with children in their teens and twenties.

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

The Art Of Tax Havens

Artists Form Shell Company to Visit and Photograph Tax Havens (exhibit):

Artists Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti traveled to 13 tax havens in an attempt to visualize the fundamentally invisible networks corporations and the ultra-rich employ to hide their wealth.

Tax Havens
Installation view of Les Paradis, Rapport annuel at Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas (photo by Joseph Nechvatal for Hyperallergic)

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May 3, 2017 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Merritt:  IT Managers, Pharmacists And Nurse Anesthetists Now Earn More Than Lawyers

BLS (2015)Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), Jobs and Salaries for New Lawyers:

What does the job market look like for new lawyers? The ABA will soon release statistics about the Class of 2016, and NALP will add additional information by the end of the summer. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) gives us an advance peak.

Each year, BLS reports job numbers and salaries for a wide range of occupations. This series of reports includes only salaried positions; for the legal profession, the series omits both solo practitioners and equity partners in law firms. Still, since most new graduates seek salaried positions, these numbers offer a useful measure of the profession’s ability to absorb and pay new members.

BLS estimates that there were 619,530 salaried lawyers in 2016. That’s an increase of 9,600 jobs since 2015, when there were 609,930 lawyer positions. The increase is better than in the previous year, when the number of jobs grew by just 6,620. But it falls short of increases in 2012-2014, when lawyer jobs grew by more than 10,500 each year. There were 10,970 new jobs in 2012; 10,750 in 2013; and 10,640 in 2014.

The trend since 2012, in other words, is downward. The number  of salaried jobs for lawyers is still growing, but it is not clear how fast the pace will be in coming years.

The bigger news about lawyers lies in salary trends. The median salaried lawyer still takes home a healthy paycheck ($118,160 per year) but that amount is lower, in constant dollars, than it was in 2006. After adjusting for inflation, the median salaried lawyer earned 2.9% more ($121,562) in 2006 than today. ...

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May 3, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (16)

Thimmesch:  Tax, Privacy, And The New Economy

Adam Thimmesch (Nebraska), Transacting in Data: Tax, Privacy, and the New Economy, 94 Denv. L. Rev. 145 (2016):

The technological developments of recent decades have allowed data to emerge as the functional equivalent of a currency in the digital economy. One result is that individuals now have the ability to obtain a wide variety of benefits, from cash discounts to access to news, social media, and online software, in exchange for their personal data. Scholars in a variety of fields recognize these personal-data transfers as market exchanges and have questioned the functioning and impact of the personal-data market. That market is currently invisible, however, for tax purposes.

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

Yeshiva University Launches Master’s Of Science In Taxation Program

Yeshiva 2Yeshiva University, Sy Syms Announces Master’s in Taxation:

Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business announced today that it will offer a new master’s degree in taxation. The one-year, 30-credit program, will draw on the school’s unique expertise to place graduates on the cutting-edge of today’s evolving tax world and enable them to succeed in any work or market environment. ...

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

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

BYU International Tax Symposium

BYU (2016)Symposium, Important Issues in International Tax Law and Policy, 2016 BYU L. Rev. 1603-1965:

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May 2, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dean Vik Amar: Legal Education’s Vital Signs — The Good (Jobs), The Bad (Applications), And The Ugly (Bar Passage)

Vital SignsAbove the Law: Evaluating Legal Education’s Vital Signs At The End Of The Academic Year, by Vik Amar (Dean, Illinois):

I’d like to offer a few big-picture thoughts on the state of legal education generally these days, highlighting the (relatively) good, the (pretty) bad, and the (downright) ugly.

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

Papers From The 2016 IRS-TPC Research Conference On Tax Administration

TPCIRSThe IRS has released the papers from the 2016 IRS-TPC Joint Research Conference: on Tax Administration (program, abstracts, research bulletin):

Foreword

1. Interventions: Influencing Taxpayer Compliance

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May 2, 2017 in Conferences, IRS News, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Task Force Chair:  The Problem Of Law School Discounting — And What To Do About It

Tuition DiscountRandall T. Shepard (Chair, ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education), 2016 James P. White Lecture on Legal Education: The Problem of Law School Discounting — How Do We Sustain Equal Opportunity in the Profession?, 50 Ind. L. Rev. 1 (2016):

[M]any schools decided to get ahead of the applicant trend and shrink the size of incoming classes. The number of first-year matriculants shrank by 30% over a period of five years. To maintain even these numbers, many schools admitted students whose applications reflected lower measurable qualifications than those admitted in earlier, happier years. A fair number of schools took actions similar to those private enterprise might take but are pretty rare in education: hiring freezes, staff layoffs, and faculty buy-outs.

There has been yet another shift, driven partly by the drastic decline in demand, and partly by the rising tide of competition, made ever more fierce by the rankings issued each year by U.S. News & World Report (“U.S. News”). This shift has to do with student financial aid. ...

The extent of [tuition] discounts has grown over the last decade, both in law schools and in universities more generally. ... [This] shift away from offering financial aid on the basic of the economic need of the applicant and instead allocating aid on the basis of the applicant’s measurable credentials, particularly the applicant’s score on the Law School Admissions Test (“LSAT”) and grade point average (“GPA”).

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May 2, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shaviro:  The Mapmaker's Dilemma In Evaluating High-End Inequality

Daniel Shaviro (NYU), The Mapmaker's Dilemma in Evaluating High-End Inequality, 71 U. Miami L. Rev. 83 (2016):

The last thirty years have witnessed rising income and wealth concentration among the top 0.1 percent of the population, leading to intense political debate regarding how, if at all, policymakers should respond. Often, this debate emphasizes the tools of public economics, and in particular optimal income taxation. However, while these tools can help us in evaluating the issues raised by high-end inequality, their extreme reductionism – which, in other settings, often offers significant analytic payoffs – here proves to have serious drawbacks.

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May 2, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call For Papers: NTA 110th Annual Conference On Taxation

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

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

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May 2, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 1, 2017

Vann Presents International Tax Post-BEPS — Is The Corporate Tax Really All That Bad? Today At NYU

VannRichard Vann (University of Sydney) presents International Tax Post-BEPS: Is the Corporate Tax Really All That Bad? (with Ray Rees (University of Oslo)) at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Rosanne Altshuler:

The corporate income tax has been getting a particularly bad press from academic economists for over three decades, as one of the most inefficient tax instruments currently used by governments. The criticism of the corporate income tax has been matched by a similar bad press for taxation of capital income generally. More recently these views have come to be accepted both at the national and international levels by government policy makers, who indeed have become strong advocates of such changes.

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May 1, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hemel:  Trump Has Squandered An Historic Opportunity For Major Tax Reform

Illinois 2

Over thirty legal scholars participated in the University of Illinois Law Review Symposium on the first 100 days of the Trump Administration.

Daniel Hemel (Chicago) provides a tax perspective in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Tax Reform, 2017 U. Ill. L. Rev. Online: Trump 100 Days (April 29, 2017):

100 days ago, the political conditions for tax reduction seemed more hospitable than in January 2001 or January 1981. But, in the time since Trump entered the White House, he has done everything he could to make the task of tax reduction more difficult for himself: pursuing a go-it-alone strategy that sidelined House and Senate Republicans; refusing to hand over his own tax returns, thus handing the Democrats a political gift; and coming forward with a plan so ambitious it is hard to take seriously.

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May 1, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (10)

Formative Assessment Raised 1L Con Law Grades At Ohio State

Ohio State LogoDeborah Jones Merritt, Ruth Colker, Ellen E. Deason, Monte Smith & Abigail B. Shoben (Ohio State), Formative Assessments: A Law School Case Study, 95 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. __ (2017):

Several empirical studies have shown that formative assessment improves student learning. We build on those studies by reporting the results of a natural experiment at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Students in one of three first-year sections had the opportunity to complete a formative assessment in their spring-semester Constitutional Law course. The assessment consisted of an essay question that the professor had used on a prior exam. Students who submitted an essay answer received prompt, extensive written feedback; they also had the chance to discuss their answer with the professor.

Over the course of three years, about half of the students enrolled in the section took advantage of the formative assessment. Those students achieved significantly higher grades on the final exam even though the assessment score did not factor into their course grade. Notably, students receiving this formative feedback also secured a significantly higher GPA in their other spring-semester classes. Both of these effects persisted after controlling for LSAT score, UGPA, gender, race, and fall-semester grades. These controls helped reduce any effect of selection bias on our findings.

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May 1, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (9)

Is This The End Of Charlotte Law School?

Charlotte Logo (2016)

Following up on my previous posts on the deepening troubles at Charlotte Law School (links below):  Greensboro News & Observer, Is This the End of Charlotte Law?:

A few months ago in this space, I noted the crumbling of Charlotte School of Law. The ABA had put the school on probation in November, the feds cut off funding in December, and the school reopened after the winter break in late January despite losing a third of its students and laying off up to two-thirds of its faculty and staff.

The law school promised to stay open through May, and it’s shambling forward, zombie-like, toward the end of the semester, albeit without its interim dean, who quit April 13 after just three weeks on the job. ...

Now, according to Politico, N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein is poking his nose into Charlotte Law’s business. ... The next BOG meeting is May 19-20, and Politico notes that President Margaret Spellings might have a recommendation to the board then. Cue ominous music.

Could Charlotte Law survive a Stein-Spellings onslaught. Sure, I guess. But my money’s on Lucille, not the zombie.

For more on Charlotte Law, the TaxProfBlog is keeping a running list of all the things that have happened down there.

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May 1, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Holderness:  Questioning Quill

Hayes R Holderness Jr. (Illinois VAP; moving to Richmond), Questioning Quill:

The physical presence rule of Quill Corp. v. North Dakota is under increasing attack from the Kill Quill movement. This rule prohibits states from requiring remote vendors to collect use taxes on goods sold into the states. As a petition to the Supreme Court for certiorari in a case directly challenging the rule grows closer, the case for certiorari remains cloudy. Technology and the economy have changed in the 25 years since Quill was decided, but are these changes enough to convince the Court to rehear the case?

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

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

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May 1, 2017 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

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May 1, 2017 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Whittier Law School Died Many Years Ago, When It Strayed From Its Founding Mission To Prepare Students To Pass The Bar And Succeed As Lawyers

WhittierFollowing up on my previous posts on the closure of Whittier Law School (links below):  Jill Switzer (J.D. 1976, Whittier; Blogger, Old Lady Lawyer), Requiem For My Law School:

I will leave it to others to report, examine, and dissect the upcoming demise aka closing of Whittier Law School.

This is a very personal memorial to a school that had really died some years ago, although it didn’t know it then.

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April 30, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (21)

The 'Better Way' House Tax Plan: An Economic Analysis

CRS LogoJane G. Gravelle (Congressional Research Service), The “Better Way” House Tax Plan: An Economic Analysis (R44823) (Apr. 25, 2017):

On June 24, 2016, House Speaker Paul Ryan released the Better Way Tax Reform Task Force Blueprint, which provides a revision of federal income taxes. For the individual income tax, the plan would broaden the base, lower the rates (with a top rate of 33%), and alter some of the elements related to family size and structure by eliminating personal exemptions, allowing a larger standard deduction, and adding a dependent credit. For business income, the current income tax would be replaced by a cash-flow tax rebated on exports and imposed on imports, with a top rate of 20% for corporations and 25% for individuals. The cash-flow tax would be border-adjusted (imports taxed and exports excluded), making domestic consumption the tax base. The system would also move to a territorial tax in which foreign source income (except for easily abused income) would not be taxed. In addition, the proposal would repeal estate and gift taxes. Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) taxes are not repealed in the Better Way tax reform proposal, ACA taxes are repealed in the Healthcare Task Force proposals.

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April 30, 2017 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The 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, with a new paper debuting on the list at #5:

  1. [398 Downloads]  Background and Current Status of FATCA, by William Byrnes (Texas A&M) & Robert J. Munro (Texas A&M)
  2. [359 Downloads]  House Plan's Bad Math: Over-Estimates of Revenue from a Border Adjustment, by David Kamin (NYU) & Brad Setser (Council on Foreign Relations)
  3. [232 Downloads]  The Offshore Tax Enforcement Dragnet, by Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane)
  4. [203 Downloads]  The First McGee Annual Report on the Best and Worst States for Business, by Robert W. McGee (Fayetteville State University)
  5. [186 Downloads]  BEPS and the New International Tax Order, by Allison Christians (McGill)

April 30, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lederman Presents Does Enforcement Crowd Out Voluntary Tax Compliance? At Indiana

LedermanLeandra Lederman (Indiana-Bloomington) presented To What Extent Does Enforcement Crowd Out Voluntary Tax Compliance? yesterday at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs Conference on Applied Research in Public Finance

Tax collectors generally use enforcement methods, such as audits and the imposition of penalties, to deter noncompliance with tax laws. Although this approach is consistent with most economic modeling of tax compliance, some scholars caution that enforcement may backfire, “crowding out” taxpayers’ intrinsic motivations to pay taxes to such an extent that they reduce their tax payments. This article analyzes the existing evidence to determine if and when this occurs. Field studies suggest that enforcement tools, such as audits, are effective deterrents, generally greatly increasing tax collections.

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April 30, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

NY Times ('Laughable Stunt By Plutocrats To Enrich Themselves'), WSJ ('Ambitious Course Correction To Restore Broad-Based Prosperity') Debate Trump's Tax Plan

Trump Tax PlanNew York Times editorial, President Trump’s Laughable Plan to Cut His Own Taxes:

As a rule, Republican presidents like offering tax cuts, and President Trump is no different. But the skimpy one-page tax proposal his administration released on Wednesday is, by any historical standard, a laughable stunt by a gang of plutocrats looking to enrich themselves at the expense of the country’s future.

Two of Mr. Trump’s top lieutenants — Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, both multimillionaires and former Goldman Sachs bankers — trotted out a plan that would slash taxes for businesses and wealthy families, including Mr. Trump’s, in the vague hope of propelling economic growth. So as to not seem completely venal, they served up a few goodies for the average wage-earning family, among them fewer and lower tax brackets and a higher standard deduction. ...

Mr. Trump’s plan aims to cut corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 15 percent. ... Mr. Trump would also apply that 15 percent tax rate to pass-through income that business owners get from limited liability companies, a change that would directly benefit real estate developers like him. This would also create a huge incentive for wealthy Americans to turn their earnings into pass-through income in order to avoid paying higher personal income tax rates. This is no idle threat. Many Kansas residents, including the men’s basketball coach of the University of Kansas, have sheltered income in L.L.C.s since that state exempted income generated through such legal structures from its income tax in 2012. ...

Mr. Trump has already sent a strong message about where his sympathies really lie. They lie not with the working people who elected him, but with the plutocracy that envelops him.

Wall Street Journal editorial, Trump’s Tax Principles:

The White House rolled out its tax principles on Tuesday, investing new energy in the first serious reform debate in 30 years. While the details are sparse and will have to be filled in by Congress, President Trump’s outline resembles the supply-side principles he campaigned on and is an ambitious and necessary economic course correction that would help restore broad-based U.S. prosperity.

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April 29, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)

More Data On The Closure Of Whittier Law School

WhittierFollowing up on my previous posts on the closure of Whittier Law School (links below):  Derek Muller (Pepperdine), Examining Whittier:

[W]hile emotions are still raw and much remains uncertain, I thought I'd dig into a few publicly-accessible details to examine what's happened at Whittier in the last decade or so. I'll try to be mostly descriptive. Whether one believes the best decision is to close the school, or to address the school's challenges in a different way, is far beyond the scope of this blog (and beyond the available information we have).

Here is one of the six charts:

Muller

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April 29, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Kleinbard:  Trump's Candy Land School Of Tax Reform

CandylandLos Angeles Times op-ed: Trump's Candy Land School of Tax Reform, by Edward D. Kleinbard (USC):

The Republican Party is devoted to tax reform, by which it really means tax cuts, but underneath this apparent laser-like focus lie conflicting schools of thought. The one embraced by President Trump is the Candy Land School.

The Candy Land School argues that tax cuts are always good, and that resulting government deficits are inconsequential, ostensibly because those tax cuts will trigger unprecedented economic growth that in turn will yield even higher tax revenues. It promises gifts for all today, and assumes away tomorrow.

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April 29, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)