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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Farewell, My Friend

Diet CokeAfter many years of nagging encouragement by my wife, I have reduced my Diet Coke consumption by 75%, and am well on the way toward my 100% goal.  I did not realize the full impact of my decision:

Wall Street Journal, The Diet Soda Business Is in Freefall:

A nearly decade-long decline in U.S. carbonated soft drink sales accelerated last year as more Americans turned their backs on artificially sweetened diet sodas, according to data published Monday.

The drop-off is a mounting problem for industry giants Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple Group, which have long depended on zero-calorie sodas to make up the difference as Americans became increasingly concerned about the health effects of sugared drinks.

Overall soda volumes fell an estimated 3% in 2013, the ninth straight yearly contraction and more than double the 1.2% decline in 2012, according to Beverage Digest. ...

Sales volumes of full-calorie Coke, the top-selling U.S. soda, slipped 0.5% last year but Diet Coke plunged 6.8%, according to Beverage Digest. ... Coca-Cola Co., whose soda brands also include Sprite and Fanta, increased its market share of U.S. carbonated soft drinks to 42.4% from 42.0% in 2012, according to Beverage Digest. PepsiCo, which also counts Mountain Dew among its brands, slipped to 27.7% from 28.1%. Dr Pepper Snapple's share inched up to 16.9% from 16.8%.

Beverage giant Coke is far more exposed to soda than chief rival PepsiCo, which also has a huge snacks business. About 60% of Coke's U.S. revenue comes from soda, compared with roughly 25% at PepsiCo. The bulk of Dr Pepper's sales are also tied to soda.

Diet Coke 2

April 6, 2014 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (40)

The IRS Scandal, Day 332

Saturday, April 5, 2014

17th Annual Critical Tax Theory Conference Concludes Today at Baltimore

Baltimore Law School LogoThe  17th Annual Critical Tax Theory Conference concludes today at Baltimore:

Critical tax scholars ask why the tax laws are the way they are and what impact tax laws have on historically disempowered groups, such as people of color; women; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals; low-income and poor individuals; the disabled; and nontraditional families. Critical tax scholarship shares the following goals: (1) to uncover bias in the tax laws; (2) to explore and expose how the tax laws both reflect and construct social meaning; and (3) to educate nontax scholars and lawyers about the interconnectedness of taxation, social justice, and progressive political movements. However, as articulated at the original conference in 1995 to the present, the content of the Critical Tax Theory Conference has not been narrow – the topics discussed have been wide-ranging and have included more conventional tax topics as well.

Session #5:

  • Steven Dean (Brooklyn), Space Madness: Subsidies and Economic Substance 
  • Henry Ordower (St. Louis), Income Imputation: Toward Equal Treatment of Renters and Owners

Session #6:

  • Nan Kaufman (St. Louis), Tax Ladies
  • Keeva Terry (Howard), Divorce Without Marriage? There's Nothing Sexy about Taxing Property Transfers between Unmarried Couples
  • Mildred Robinson (Virginia), Philanthropy in IRC Section 170?

Session #7:

  • Neil H. Buchanan (George Washington), Forced Labor and the Income Tax: The Full Implications of Taking Nozick’s (Now-Repudiated) Claim Seriously
  • Nancy Shurtz (Oregon), Long-Term Care and the Tax Code: A Feminist Perspective
  • Linda Sugin (Fordham), Payroll Taxes, Mythology and Fairness

Session #8:

  • Andrew Blair-Stanek (Maryland), Crisis-Proofing the Tax Code
  • Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore), Façade Easements: Façades of Equity (incubator) Anthony

Prior Critical Tax Theory Conferences:

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

NY Times: Brooklyn's Bold Move to Reduce Merit Scholarships to Survive the Law School Crisis

MeritFollowing up on Thursday's post, Brooklyn Law School Cuts Tuition by 15%:  New York Times, A Bold Bid to Combat a Crisis in Legal Education, by James B. Stewart:

Brooklyn Law School is hardly alone in facing a crisis in legal education. Five law schools have closed in the last two years, more than at any other time in American history.

But this week, it announced that it was taking some unusually bold steps to confront the crisis: The school is cutting tuition and abandoning what has become a widespread obsession with climbing the ladder of national law school rankings. ...

A few other schools are experimenting, but few, if any, have taken the comprehensive steps that Brooklyn Law School is adopting. Brooklyn will hold tuition at its current level — $1,800 a credit, or $53,850 a year — for the class entering this fall. Next year, it will introduce an across-the-board 15 percent cut in tuition. It is also reducing some kinds of merit aid, increasing need-based aid and offering a curriculum that allows some students to graduate in two years rather than the standard three. “It’s still expensive, and I wish we could do more,” Mr. Allard said.

The move will be closely watched by other law schools. “I really admire what they’re doing,” Brian Tamanaha, author of the groundbreaking book “Failing Law Schools” and a law professor at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, said of Brooklyn Law School. “If we all did this, it would be so much better than the current situation. Everyone is fighting for their own economic survival.” ...

The riskiest of Brooklyn’s moves isn’t likely to be the headline tuition cut, but the accompanying reduction in merit aid. Merit aid is really a tuition discount for the most qualified students. Law schools (not to mention colleges and universities generally) speak in terms of “net” tuition revenue, since so few students pay the list price. And as the competition for the best students — or even average students — from a rapidly dwindling pool of applicants has intensified, law schools’ net tuition revenue has been in steep decline.

As Professor Tamanaha points out, the result of so much merit aid is that students with lower test scores and weak academic records receive little or no merit aid and take on the biggest debt. Those are the very students who are least likely to perform well at law school, pass the bar and get jobs after graduation, but they end up subsidizing the best students — those least likely to need the assistance. “It’s bizarre,” Professor Tamanaha said. “Law schools nationwide could immediately drop tuition by one-third if we cut out merit scholarships.”

Brooklyn isn’t quite going cold turkey. “We’ll be much more selective about merit scholarships,” Mr. Allard said, but the school will still award scholarships “for people with impressive G.P.A.s who have demonstrated they are well prepared for success in law. LSAT scores don’t figure in this.”

The risk for Brooklyn Law School, or for any school trying to break ranks by reducing merit aid, is that their rivals will pick off the best applicants with better offers and they’ll drop in the U.S. News rankings, which rely heavily on average test scores and grade point averages.

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

The Ethics of Law School Merit Scholarships

MeritForbes:  The Ethics of Law School Merit Scholarships, by Michael Krauss (George Mason):

What can be wrong with giving scholarships to the meritorious?  A meritorious society is a just society, right?  Giving money according to “worth” seems way better, ethically, than giving to the well-connected, or to those of a favored race or religion, right?

Well, maybe.  But then again, sometimes maybe not.

The problem of law school merit scholarships is a complicated and nuanced one, especially for those who have not considered it at length.  In brief, here are five background points underlying the ethical conundrum I will subsequently sketch out:

  1. Law Schools, like car dealerships, have list prices for their wares.  ... 
  2. But in reality not everyone pays list price. ... Law Schools always want to attract the “best” students, and one way to attract them is to price discriminate, i.e., to offer discounts from list.
  3. U.S. News and World Report rankings are so influential that they have become the cart driving the law school admissions horse. USNWR has homogenized our understanding of student value. ... The higher the median LSAT and GPA scores of the admitted student body, the higher a law school’s ranking will be. ... Rising ranking thus stimulates a “virtuous circle” while falling ranking leads to a “vicious circle” that, if left unattended, can result what some fear to be a “death spiral.”  Buying better students is one attempt to move from a vicious circle to a virtuous one.
  4. Today, law jobs are quite hard to come by for many law school grads, and law school tuition as risen so high during the boom years that many grads are saddled with student loans they have great difficulty repaying.  ...
  5. In our increasingly meritorious nation, the cream has often already risen to the top.  The wealthy tend to be smarter and better educated than the poorer – and they tend to have children who are smarter and better educated than are the children of poorer parents.

These five factors play out in predictable ways.  At super-elite law schools (Yale/Harvard/Stanford, etc.), virtually all students have stellar LSAT and GPA scores.  Those with such scores are willing to pay list price for the experience, the contacts and the credential these Brahmin schools provide – and these schools can therefore eliminate merit scholarships and admit selectively based on criteria other than LSAT and GPA.  [Did you rise from humble beginnings?  Did you overcome your physical handicap and climb Everest, writing a Pulitzer-winning account of your exploit?]  But at most schools, merit scholarships will be offered to the high LSAT and GPA scorers among applicants to that school.  Most schools must pay to lure those scorers away from other, equally or possibly higher-ranked schools that are bidding for their attendance.  And those merit scholars will tend to be more intelligent and from tonier zip codes than lower-ranked admittees to the same law school. ...

The upshot of all this is that, at most law schools, price discrimination results in poorer, less well-educated students “subsidizing” (paying higher tuition than) richer, better-educated students.  For their subsidy, poorer students are penalized a second time at graduation – because the subsidized richer students will tend to finish at the top of the class and get better paying jobs, while the poorer students will find it harder and harder to find employment to pay for their higher student loans.  Thus are  “list price” payers made to seem to be chumps over and over again, while the recipients of merit scholarships laugh, as it were, all the way to the bank.

This looks in many ways like a classic regressive tax. ...

Law professors are, for the most part, lawyers, and we are bound ethically to make access to our profession accessible to qualified and interested people.  Have we done this by setting up a system that transfers resources from the more to the less needy? If so, perhaps we need to rethink what we are doing.

April 5, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 331

IRS Logo 2PJ Media:  The Fascist Thugs Win One: Firefox CEO Steps Down (Update: IRS Role Exposed):

Brendan Eich committed a thoughtcrime. He supports the traditional definition of marriage. For that, he has now joined the ranks of the unemployed. ...

Update: Check this out. The IRS abuse scandal started the process that got Eich ousted.

Why, then, the ruckus? Amazingly enough, it is entirely due to the fact that Eich made a $1,000 donation to the campaign urging a ‘yes’ vote on California’s Proposition 8. When this fact first came to light in 2012, after the Internal Revenue Service leaked a copy of the National Organization for Marriage’s 2008 tax return to a gay-advocacy group, Eich, who was then CTO of Mozilla, published a post on his personal blog stating that his donation was not motivated by any sort of animosity towards gays or lesbians, and challenging those who did not believe this to cite any “incident where I displayed hatred, or ever treated someone less than respectfully because of group affinity or individual identity.”

To whom did the IRS leak NOM’s files? The Human Rights Campaign.

The HRC evidently engineered Eich’s ouster, in the name of equality and tolerance.

The IRS actions create a serious chilling effect. Your donations to any group can be leaked by a hostile operative within the government, to your enemies, for use against you — up to and now including costing you your job.

Reason:  No, the IRS Didn’t Leak Mozilla Ex-CEO’s Donation in Opposition to Gay Marriage:

Dear conservatives: Please don't make me have to write in defense of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). I certainly don’t enjoy it.

As Nick Gillespie has noted, Brendan Eich stepped down yesterday as chief executive officer of Mozilla in the wake of the scandal that he donated $1,000 in support of California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that forbid state recognition of same-sex marriage.

The outrage has now completely flipped to the opposite direction, with conservatives accusing those who railed against Mozilla of intolerance. Twitter has remained submerged beneath a sea of outrage and generalizations for the duration.

Two days ago, an anonymous tech industry worker wrote a piece about the outrage against Eich at First Things, a journal produced by nonprofit Institute on Religion and Public Life. The anonymous worker stated that Eich's donation came to light in 2012, "after the Internal Revenue Service leaked a copy of the National Organization for Marriage's 2008 tax return to a gay-advocacy group." This information is now being attached and included in coverage on other conservative blogs as well.

But it's not accurate. The names of donors in the Proposition 8 battle, for and against, have always been public information, even before the election. The Los Angeles Times has a searchable database here. Eich's name is on it (as is mine—I gave $100 in opposition and ultimately regretted it after seeing the horrible, useless ads they put together to fight Prop. 8). The information came from the California secretary of state's office, not some IRS leak. This database is not dated, but they were available and were online at some media outlets prior to the 2008 vote.

The possible IRS leak is a real thing, though. First Things didn't invent it, just misunderstood it. The IRS is accused of leaking the National Organization for Marriage's (NOM) tax records from 2008 to the Human Rights Campaign. The IRS has claimed the release of the records was "inadvertent." The records included names of donors to NOM, but while NOM was responsible for organizing and pushing forward Proposition 8, it's not the same list. Eich donated to Prop. 8, not to NOM. Eich's name and donation to Proposition 8 was always a public record and searchable even before the election. People were facing public criticism for their donations at their workplaces even at the time of the vote. Eich is not the first guy to deal with this sort of backlash, and it prompted debate over whether names of donors should be public.

We can blame a multitude of sins on the IRS and President Barack Obama, but the outrage over Eich is not one of them.

Continue reading

April 5, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, April 4, 2014

17th Annual Critical Tax Theory Conference Kicks Off Today at Baltimore

Baltimore Law School LogoThe  17th Annual Critical Tax Theory Conference kicks off today at Baltimore:

Critical tax scholars ask why the tax laws are the way they are and what impact tax laws have on historically disempowered groups, such as people of color; women; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals; low-income and poor individuals; the disabled; and nontraditional families. Critical tax scholarship shares the following goals: (1) to uncover bias in the tax laws; (2) to explore and expose how the tax laws both reflect and construct social meaning; and (3) to educate nontax scholars and lawyers about the interconnectedness of taxation, social justice, and progressive political movements. However, as articulated at the original conference in 1995 to the present, the content of the Critical Tax Theory Conference has not been narrow – the topics discussed have been wide-ranging and have included more conventional tax topics as well.

Session #1:

Session #2:

Session #3:

Session #4:

Prior Critical Tax Theory Conferences:

April 4, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Diversity and Disgrace: How the U.S. News Law School Rankings Hurt Everyone

DiversityAnthony E. Varona (American), Diversity and Disgrace – How the U.S. News Law School Rankings Hurt Everyone, N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change Blog (Apr. 3, 2014):

U.S. News and World Report recently released its law school rankings and, as happens every year, readers have focused almost exclusively on the many extreme fluctuations in ranks. ... Instead, or in addition, we should be asking more probing questions, like: Does the U.S. News measuring stick itself measure up? Is it measuring the right things? And what effects have the U.S. News rankings had on legal education and society itself? ...

[I]n light of how valuable diversity among students is to legal education, you might be wondering how much weight U.S. News devotes to student diversity in rating America’s law schools. Ten percent? Fifteen?

The answer is …  zero. The U.S. News ranking methodology ignores student diversity altogether in calculating the rankings. It treats a law school with little diversity as virtually indistinguishable from a very diverse school where pedagogically rich exchanges like those above abound.

For a variety of reasons, the average underrepresented minority student tends to have lower GPA and LSAT scores -- the myopic academic credentials that U.S. News “counts” -- than his or her White, nonminority counterpart. So, it is easy to see how schools that trade student diversity for higher numbers tend to move up in the U.S. News ranks. By contrast, schools that refuse to sacrifice diversity pay a big U.S. News price for pursuing what most educators agree is best for all our students. U.S. News actually rewards less diverse schools for admitting less diverse classes, and altogether ignores the clear learning advantages at the more diverse schools.

It is no secret that law schools have gone as far as admitting much smaller and significantly more homogenous first-year classes, and then letting many more students in through the 2L transfer “back door” (where U.S. News’s methodology does not look), thereby hiding the true credentials of their students from the magazine and artificially inflating their U.S. News ranksU.S. News does nothing to stop schools from engaging in this obvious manipulation. ...

Since U.S. News goes so far as to provide diversity data separately from the main rankings, why does it not reward schools that are more diverse than others by incorporating a diversity score in the rankings themselves? Mr. Morse insists that doing so would be difficult. ...

The sad truth is that the U.S. News law school rankings have hurt, and not helped, American law students, the legal profession and, thus, society as a whole. The U.S. News rankings have resulted in the denial of a quality legal education to minority law school applicants with great promise and drive but modest, rankings-unfriendly credentials. It has kept deserving students with great potential in the legal profession outside the doors of quality law schools and the profession itself by encouraging restrictive admissions policies geared more towards gaming the rankings than doing what is right societally, and what is best pedagogically. ...

Continue reading

April 4, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Valparaiso Hosts Symposium Today on Money, Politics, and the IRS

Valpo LogoThe Valparaiso University Law Review hosts a symposium today Money in Politics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which includes a tax panel:

Snapshot of the Problem: A Taxing Analysis of the IRS Controversy:

  • Philip Hackney (LSU), Should the IRS Never “Target” Taxpayers? An Examination of the IRS Tea Party Affair
  • Lloyd H. Mayer (Notre Dame), Taxing Politics
  • Donald Tobin (Ohio State), The IRS, Politics, and the Crisis of Confidence  

April 4, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

Smith: Brand X, 3M, and Legal Restrictions on the Payment of Income

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Patrick J. Smith (Ivins, Phillips & Barker, Washington, D.C.), Brand X, 3M, and Legal Restrictions on the Payment of Income, 142 Tax Notes 1349 (Mar. 24, 2014):

3M Co. has filed a Tax Court petition challenging the validity of provisions in the section 482 regulations that impose conditions on the circumstances in which the IRS will give effect to foreign legal restrictions on the payment of income between related parties. The principal legal issue in the case will be whether those provisions are invalid under Brand X, which addressed an agency’s authority to issue regulations at odds with a court’s earlier interpretation of the same statutory provision. The regulations challenged by 3M are arguably inconsistent with First Security Bank. Under the Brand X test, the regulations should be held invalid, because First Security Bank represented the Supreme Court’s view on the only permissible interpretation.

April 4, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: The Banality of Tax Avoidance

New York Times:  Switching Names to Save on Taxes, by Floyd Norris:

Call it the banality of tax avoidance.

What was most impressive about this week’s Senate hearing into the way Caterpillar ducked billions of dollars in United States income taxes was the simple strategy involved. There was no subsidiary that somehow qualified to be taxed nowhere, as at Apple. There was no “Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich,” a strategy made famous by Google in its quest to avoid taxes.

Instead, back in 1999, Caterpillar, helped by its audit firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, decided that to sharply reduce the American tax on profits from the sale of parts sent from the United States to customers around the world, it had to do little more than take the name of the American parent off the invoices and put in the name of a Swiss subsidiary.

So even though the parts might have never come within a thousand miles of Switzerland, the profits accrued to the Swiss subsidiary. And Caterpillar negotiated a deal to tax those profits well below Switzerland’s norm. Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, put the rate at 4 to 6 percent.

That cut the Caterpillar tax bill by $300 million a year.

Was that legal? Opinions differ. Professors called by the subcommittee said it was not. A professor retained by Caterpillar said it was, and company officials told the subcommittee they had complied with the law. Documents released by the subcommittee showed, however, that some at Caterpillar had been worried about the strategy and that the company took steps to reduce slightly the amount of profit being diverted, hoping that would make the strategy more likely to pass muster.

Continue reading

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

NYU Hosts 5th Annual Tax Movie Night: Tax and the City

NYU hosted its 5th Annual Tax Movie Night yesterday:   Tax and the City:

NYUAt this annual event, we will screen four classic television episodes, where characters encounter tax issues while living in New York City during the Mad Men era. The episodes featured are from The Dick Van Dyke Show (1965), Occasional Wife (1966), That Girl (1969) and The Odd Couple (1973). Professor Lawrence Zelenak from Duke Law School will join us as a special guest speaker and will lead a discussion following the screening. Refreshments, including popcorn, will be served.

April 4, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

LegalED: Igniting Law Teaching -- A TEDx-Styled Conference

LegaledLegalED hosts its first conference today on Igniting Law Teaching! (webcast):

The conference theme – Igniting Law Teaching – responds to the calls for reform of legal education. This theme was selected so that we could create a forum for professors experimenting with cutting edge technologies and techniques in law teaching with the goal of spreading their ideas to the broader community. We see the conference as a way to showcase professors who are leaders in teaching innovation and to inspire innovation by others as well.

This conference will be unlike other gatherings of law professors. Here, talks will be styled as TEDx Talks, with each speaker on stage alone, giving a well scripted and performed talk about an aspect of law school pedagogy. The goal is to create a collection of short, 10-minute videos on law school-related pedagogy that will inspire innovation and experimentation by law professors around the country to bring more active learning and practical skills training into the law school curriculum. The videos will be available for viewing by the larger academic community on LegalED, a website developed by a community of law professors interested in using online technologies to facilitate more active, problem-based learning in the classroom, in addition to more assessment and feedback.

Michele Pistone, (Villanova), Why Law Schools Need to Change

Panel #1:  Flipping the Law School Classroom

  • William Slomanson (Thomas Jefferson), hy Why Flip? and Macro Design
  • Jennifer Rosa (Michigan State), Legal Writing on Steroids: The Art of Flipping Your Classroom
  • Debora L. Threedy (Utah), Flipping Contracts: The Making of the Videos
  • Wes Reber Porter (Golden Gate), A Better Class to Class Process to Accompany Flipping
  • David Thomson (Denver), Move 1L Online

Panel #2:  Using the Classroom for Active Learning

  • Jamie R. Abrams (Louisville), The Socratic Method, Revisited
  • Erika L. Wood (New York Law School), Borrowing from the Skills Classroom to Teach Doctrine
  • Jeremiah Ho (UMass), Not Your Father’s Case Method: Bringing Skills into Doctrinal Courses
  • Victoria Duke (Indiana Tech), Bringing Exercises in Large Classes
  • Enrique Guerra-Pujol (Barry), Using Film to Teach Torts
  • Victoria Szymczak (Hawaii), Using Video to Convert Student into Teachers

Panel #3:  Applying Learning Theory to LegalEDucation

  • Leah Wortham (Catholic), Graduating Them Whole Not Broken
  • John P. Joergensen (Rutgers-Newark), Scaffolding
  • Paul D. Callister (UMKC), The Metacognition Imperative: Beyond Research Training
  • Warren Binford (Willamette), How to Be the World’s Worst Law Professor
  • Jeffrey B. Ritter (Georgetown), Mapping the Law: Building and Using Visual Mindmaps in Legal Education

Panel #4:  The Craft of Law Teaching

  • Sharon Keller (District of Columbia), Old Professor Tricks
  • Kim Hawkins (New York Law School),  What Law Professors Need to Know About Visual Arts
  • Jill A. Smith (Georgetown), Going Hollywood on your Desktop: Creating Great Screencasts
  • Doni Gewirtzman (New York Law School), Teaching and Theater: The Craft of Law Teaching
  • Leah A. Plunkett (New Hampshire), An Improviser’s Guide to Law Teaching

Luncheon Address:  Leo Martinez (UC-Hastings; President, AALS)

Panel #5:  Simulations, Feedback, & Assessment

  • Shawn Marie Boyne (Indiana-Indianapolis), Disaster in the Classroom: Using Simulations to Teach National Security Law
  • Renee Nicole Allen (Florida A&M), Metacognition and the Value of Reflection in Learning
  • Michele Gilman (Baltimore), Why Use Clickers? To Provide Students Real Time Feedback
  • Sydney Beckman (Lincoln Memorial), Using Technology For Engagement and Assessment
  • Margaret Hahn-Dupont (Northeastern), Learning Through Reflection and Self-Assessment

Panel #6:  Beyond Traditional Law Subjects

  • John M. Bickers (Northern Kentucky), Using a Wok:  How Non-Bar Tested Electives Can Teach Lawyering
  • Susan L. Brooks (Drexel), The ABCs of Communication for Teaching Relational Lawyering and Resilience
  • Ryan Dooley & Allison Robbins (CUNY ), The Law School as a Classroom
  • Vicenç Feliú (Villanova), Clinics and Librarians Collaborating
  • Elizabeth Keyes (Baltimore), Teaching Narrative
  • James G. Milles (SUNY-Buffalo), Returning the Client to Legal Education
  • Emmeline Paulette Reeves (Richmond), Teaching with the End (Bar Passage) in Mind

Panel #7:  Teaching for the 21st Century

  • Dan Jackson (Northeastern), Designing Lawyers: Leading an Experiential Law School Design Lab
  • Jay Gary Finkelstein (DLA Piper), Get Real!: Using Experiential Learning and Collaborative Teaching to Train ‘Practice Aware’ Lawyers
  • Christine P. Bartholomew (SUNY-Buffalo), Finding Tim
  • Jeanne Eicks (Vermont), Game On! Educational Games for Law Students
  • Brett Johnson (Harvard), H2O: Remixing the Casebook

April 4, 2014 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 330

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Galle Presents How Do Nonprofit Firms Respond to Tax Policy? Today at San Diego

GalleBrian D. Galle (Boston College) presents How Do Nonprofit Firms Respond to Tax Policy? at San Diego today as part of its Tax Law Speaker Series:

We examine for the first time the elasticity of fundraising effort by nonprofit firms to changes in the tax-price of giving faced by their donors. Prior efforts to examine the effects of tax policy on charitable giving have focused on donor behavior, overlooking the possibility that fundraising efforts by firms may partially confound the observed effects. We employ data from a large panel of Form 990 tax returns filed by charitable organizations to study jointly the effect of tax changes on fundraising, donations, and other outcomes. Overall, we find an average elasticity of fundraising to the tax-price of giving of about -1.8, and an elasticity of charitable output to tax price of about -.73. We also find some evidence that charities facing lower subsidy rates substitute towards other sources of revenue. We argue that these results may imply that the charitable contribution deduction is effective for different reasons than prior research has suggested. For example, the negative elasticity of fundraising implies that a significant portion of each dollar in increased donations is used to pay for fundraising, not charity. The modest elasticity of real charitable output to tax price implies that tax subsidies may simply crowd out other revenue sources, such that the efficacy of the subsidy depends on the relative efficiency of these alternative sources.

April 3, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Olson Presents Lessons From the Tax Reform Act of 1986 Today at Temple

OlsonPamela F. Olson (PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP) presents And Then Cnut Told Reagan . . . Lessons from the Tax Reform Act of 1896, 38 Ohio N.U. L. Rev. 1 (2011) (Woodworth Memorial Lecture), at Temple today as part of its Tax Policy & Administration Colloquium Series hosted by Alice Abreu and Andrea Monroe:

The fiscal challenge ahead will require education and a willingness to look beyond the next election. None of this will be popular with voters, to be sure, but our nation's fiscal situation is such that partisan politics must be put aside for the sake of the greater good and of future generations. It's time to go out there with all we've got and win one for the Gipper!

April 3, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bird-Pollan Presents Rawls, Equality of Opportunity, and Wealth Transfer Taxation Today at Indiana

Bird-PollanJennifer Bird-Pollan (Kentucky) presents Unseating Privilege: Rawls, Equality of Opportunity, and Wealth Transfer Taxation, 59 Wayne L. Rev. ___ (2014), at Indiana-Bloomington today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Leandra Lederman:

This Article is the second in a series that examines the estate tax from a particular philosophical position in order to demonstrate the relevance and importance of the wealth transfer taxes to that position. In this Article, I explore Rawlsian equality of opportunity, a philosophical position that is at the heart of much American thought. Equality of opportunity requires not only ensuring that sufficient opportunities are available to the least well-off members of society but also that opportunities are not available to other members merely because of their wealth or other arbitrary advantages. Therefore, an income tax alone, even one with high rates on the wealthy, would be insufficient to achieve these goals. While revenue raised via the income tax should be used to provide additional opportunities to low-income members of society, wealth transfer taxes provide the additional safeguard of preventing the heirs of wealthy individuals from inheriting wealth that would provide them with additional, unwarranted and unjust, opportunities. Given the importance of the wealth transfer taxes, this Article also examines the question of what form of tax is most consistent with Rawls’ position, ultimately determining that an inheritance or accessions tax best fits the role.

Update:  Post-colloquium get together:

Leandra 2

Margaret Ryznar (Indiana-Indianapolis), Leandra Lederman (Indiana-Bloomington), Stephanie McMahon (CIncinnati), and Jennifer Bird-Pollan (Kentucky)

April 3, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Brooklyn Law School Cuts Tuition by 15%

Brooklyn LogoIn the wake of steep enrollment declines, a downgrade of its bonds, and the sale of six of its student dormitories, Brookyln Law School has announced a 15% cut in tuition (from $53,850 to $45,850) beginning in the 2015-16 academic year.  From the Wall Street Journal:

[Dean] Allard said applications to Brooklyn Law "have experienced a decline" since before the recession, but he did not cite numbers. He said the tuition cuts were enabled by a number of cost-saving measures, including a 15% cost-cutting goal among senior managers last year and a reduction of some staff salaries. A spokesman for the school also cited donations and sales of real estate as factors.

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

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Named Dean of Belmont Law School

Gonzales 2Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has been named Dean of Belmont University College of Law, effective June 1:

Judge Gonzales joined Belmont Law in 2012 as the then-newly established Doyle Rogers Distinguished Chair of Law and has taught courses in Constitutional Law, Separation of Powers, National Security Law and First Amendment Law. His appointment to dean was approved by the College of Law faculty prior to the announcement. As dean Gonzales will serve as the chief academic and executive officer for Belmont’s College of Law and will be responsible for the programmatic leadership, financial management, personnel administration and planning and development for the College.

After attending the United States Air Force Academy, Alberto Gonzales graduated from Rice University (B.A.) and Harvard University (J.D.). Gonzales was nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate as the 80th Attorney General of the United States on February 3, 2005 and served in that capacity until September 2007. Previously, he served as a partner at a major Houston law firm (Vinson & Elkins) and held positions as Justice on the Supreme Court of Texas, Secretary of State (Texas) and Counsel to the President of the United States (2001-2005) in addition to his consulting and mediation practice.

During his time in Nashville, Judge Gonzales has also served as counsel at Waller, a position he will resign to focus full-time on the College of Law.

(Hat Tip: Haskell Murray.)

April 3, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through March 1, 2014) of the Top 25 Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

 

 

All-Time Downloads

 

Recent Downloads

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

37,153

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

7204

2

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

25,201

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

3070

3

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

22,166

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2629

4

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

19,320

Ed Kleinbard (USC) 

2562

5

James Hines (Michigan)

19,191

D. Dharmpala (Illinois)

2431

6

D. Dharmapala (Illinois)

19,109

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

2427

7

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

18,534

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

2121

8

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

18,401

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

2113

9

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

15,288

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

2028

10

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

15,091

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

2018

11

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

14,500

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

1933

12

David Weisbach (Chicago)

13,891

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

1831

13

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

13,661

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

1748

14

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

13,640

James Hines (Michigan)

1735

15

David Walker (BU)

13,597

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

1534

16

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

13,290

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

1529

17

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

13,164

Omri Marian (Florida)

1523

18

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

13,136

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1429

19

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

13,010

Dick Harvey (Villanova)

1374

20

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

12,860

Susan Morse (Texas)

1373

21

Herwig Schlunk (Vand.)

12,338

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

1297

22

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

12,093

David Gamage (UCBerkeley)

1290

23

Ed McCaffery (USC)

11,539

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

1277

24

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

11,474

David Weisbach (Chicago)

1242

25

Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)

11,458

Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)

1221

Note that this ranking includes full-time tax professors with at least one tax paper on SSRN, and all papers (including non-tax papers) by these tax professors are included in the SSRN data.

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April 3, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Texas Tech Seeks to Hire a Tax Prof

Texas Tech LogoTexas Tech University School of Law seeks to hire an entry level or lateral tax professor:

Applicants must possess a J.D. degree and have relevant experience such as teaching, legal practice, or a judicial clerkship. Entry-level candidates must show scholarly promise, as evidenced by publications in scholarly journals, scholarly works in progress, or a scholarly agenda. For any lateral applicant with tenure, a distinguished record of teaching and scholarship is required. Once hired, faculty members are evaluated and advancement is determined by contributions in teaching, research, and service.

April 3, 2014 in Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Northwestern Football Players May Find Themselves Hoisted on Their Own Tax Petard

NUFollowing up on last week's post, Northwestern Athletes May Face Big Tax Hit From Unionization Victory:  USA Today, Clarity Sought as Northwestern Football's Labor Effort Evolves:

Ever since the National Labor Relations Board announcement last Wednesday that Northwestern's football players had been deemed employees by the regional director of the board's Chicago office, the phrase "unintended consequences" has been cited by many who question may lie ahead for college athletics.

What about taxes? What about Title IX? Won't this cost the players more money than it's worth?

Taxes: This is the biggest issue for many detractors, who say that because the players are now deemed employees, they must have to pay taxes.

"If you look at it the way the NLRB laid it out, that's the compensation for their work, it should be taxable," said David Murphy, a labor lawyer in California who previously practiced in Chicago.

The issue is with tuition, as players are already taxed for room and board. Additional stipends — such as the one proposed in 2011 by NCAA President Mark Emmert — could be taxed, but Huma said that is still a "net gain" for the players, because they're still receiving more money than at present.

Huma pointed to a provision in the tax code specifically about athletic scholarships that provides a worksheet for figuring out what is taxable. It notes that a scholarship for a "degree candidate" is not taxable. One could make the argument that the athletes are still degree candidates.

However, Paul L. Caron, a professor at the Pepperdine School of Law and editor of the TaxProf Blog, noted that a separate part of that section that says scholarships provided for services are taxable is more applicable to this case.

The tax decision won't be made by the NLRB, but in his decision, Ohr wrote, "The fact that the Employer does not treat these scholarships or stipends as taxable income is not dispositive of whether it is compensation." If a scholarship does not have to be taxable income to be compensation, then that essentially means that the tax status of the compensation is irrelevant in the eyes of the NLRB when it comes to employee status.

"The IRS itself would have to change its own tax code," Ohr said. "There's no reason to think the IRS is going to make any accommodations to change that."

However, Caron said the opposite would have to happen — the IRS would need to make an exclusion for this kind of service. That kind of exclusion could theoretically be designed from Ohr's interpretation.

"(Ohr is) exactly right that you can have various exclusions from the Internal Revenue code," Caron said. "I think he's certainly right that the IRS could interpret (the tax code) in the way he's suggesting. I don't think it's a slam dunk in any stretch of the imagination, though."

April 3, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

UC-Berkeley Seeks to Hire Fellows for the 2014-15 Academic Year

UC-Berkeley (2014)UC-Berkeley seeks applications for the Darling Fellowship for the 2014-15 academic year:

Fellows must be committed to producing publishable work in public law and policy, which will help form the foundation for their entry into the job market for law teaching positions.

The Darling Fellowship is a one-year, residential, full-time position expected to run from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015. Fellows are required to devote their attention to research and writing, and to contribute to the intellectual life of the law school. Fellows will assist faculty in running the public law and policy workshop and may also be invited to guest lecture or teach in other law school classes. They may also help plan a small number of events related to law and public policy and advise interested students. Berkeley Law will provide office space, an annual salary of $50,000 and benefits, and access to the UC Berkeley library system and resources for research. 

The application deadline is May 1, 2014.

April 3, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 329

IRS Logo 2IR-2014-42, Prepared Remarks of Commissioner of Internal Revenue Service John Koskinen Before the National Press Club:

In moving the IRS forward, one of the most important things we have to do is restore public trust in the agency, which was shaken by the management problems that came to light last year with regard to the determination process used for applicants to become tax exempt social welfare organizations under section 501(c)(4) of the IRS code. Organizations that have 501(c)(4) status can be everything from garden clubs to homeowners associations, but the focus for the last year has been on advocacy groups that spend part of their time and money on political campaigns.

As a result of the inappropriate use of an organization’s name alone as the criterion for setting its application aside for special treatment, doubt has been cast by some on the independence of the IRS. This is an important issue that deserves our attention.  But it is also important to put this issue into the proper perspective.  The IRS has about 800 employees in its Exempt Organizations Division, and only a small subset of those folks work on processing applications for tax-exempt status for social welfare organizations. Meanwhile, there about 89,000 other IRS employees in offices all across the country who are also doing critical work for our tax system and for the nation in other areas.

Nonetheless, taxpayers need to be confident that the IRS will treat them fairly. It doesn’t make any difference who they are, what organizations they belong to, or whom they voted for in the last election. None of that matters to us at the IRS. We will do about one million audits of individual taxpayers this year. Some who get audited may be Democrats, some may be Republicans, and others may be something else altogether. But they will all have one thing in common: They’re being contacted by us because there was something on their tax returns that needed follow up. Perhaps we just need a clarification. Maybe there was a mathematical error. Or there could be something seriously wrong with the return. But the return alone is the reason for our inquiry. And anyone else with the same issue would receive the same treatment from the IRS.

To make sure that this problem does not recur, we’ve done a number of things. We have accepted all nine of the recommendations from the Inspector General for Tax Administration. It was his report last May that found applications for 501(c)(4) status were being screened using inappropriate criteria in the determinations process. 

Since then, for the last several months the IRS has been cooperating with the investigations into this matter that were launched last summer. There are six ongoing investigations, four conducted by Congressional committees, one by the Department of Justice and one by the IG.

We were asked by members of Congress to quantify the work we’ve done and how much it has cost. The answer is that more than 250 IRS employees have spent over 100,000 hours working directly on complying with the investigations. This work has cost more than $14 million, which includes adding capacity for our computer systems to make sure we are protecting taxpayer information while processing and producing these materials.

In letters to Congressional Committees two weeks ago and in my testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week, I was pleased to report that we now have provided all the documents we have identified as being related to the determinations process – which was the focus of the IG’s report last May. We have provided the tax writing committees, our primary oversight committees, with almost 700,000 pages of documents.  We are still redacting taxpayer information from the last of those documents before they can be shared with the Committees that do not have authority to see taxpayer information.

As a result, my hope is that at least some of the six pending investigations will be concluded and reports issued in the near future. I have made it clear that we will respond appropriately to the facts and recommendations of those reports and move the agency forward.

Our production of materials has proceeded according to priorities set with all of the investigating committees and, as we have now completed our production of documents related to the determinations process, we are prepared to work with the committees on any new avenues they may want to pursue.

You may have noticed that, during my three-hour hearing last week before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, some members of the Committee expressed unhappiness with the rate at which we are producing redacted information for them. As I tried to make clear, we never indicated that we would not respond to the very broad subpoena for documents we received in mid-February. Indeed, we have produced documents responsive to each of the subpoena’s categories. In the private sector, a court would require these requests to be reduced to those relevant to the inquiry. Unfortunately, the subpoena contains no such limitations, so the volume of materials requested means we could be at this for a long time.

Another recommendation by the IG was that the Treasury Department and the IRS should provide clearer guidance on how to assess the permissibility of 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations’ activities. So last November, Treasury and the IRS issued proposed regulations that are designed to clarify the extent to which a 501(c)(4) organization can engage in political activity without endangering its tax-exempt status.

While I was not involved in the issuance of this draft proposal, because it happened before I was confirmed as Commissioner, I believe it is extremely important to make this area of regulation as clear as possible. Not only does that help the IRS properly enforce the law, but clearer regulations will also give a better roadmap to applicants, and will help those that already have 501(c)(4) status properly administer their organizations without unnecessary fears of losing their tax-exempt status.

During the comment period, which ended in February, we received more than 150,000 comments. That’s a record for an IRS rulemaking comment period. In fact, if you take all the comments on all Treasury and IRS draft proposals over the last seven years and double that number, you come close to the number of comments we are now beginning to review and analyze. It’s going to take us a while to sort through all those comments, hold a public hearing, possibly repropose a draft regulation and get more public comments. This means that it is unlikely we will be able to complete this process before the end of the year.

Before leaving this topic, I want to note one other thing. Last month, former IRS Commissioner Randolph Thrower passed away at the age of 100. Commissioner Thrower led the IRS from 1969 to 1971, during the early years of the Nixon Administration, which turned out to be a challenging time for the agency. Commissioner Thrower held firm against attempts being made at that time to politicize the agency. The White House eventually fired him for his principled stance.

I’m sure if Commissioner Thrower were here today, he would say he was only doing his job. But he was doing much more. His refusal to let politics compromise the IRS is an important reminder to all IRS Commissioners now and in the future of what our mission is. I intend to follow his example. I want to reassure everyone listening to me today that the IRS is an agency of career civil servants who are dedicated to serving the American taxpayer in a fair and impartial manner. That’s how it’s always been, and that’s how it will stay on my watch.

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April 3, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Grubert Presents Alternative International Tax Reform Proposals Today at Pennsylvania

GrubertHarry Grubert (Office of Tax Analysis, U.S. Treasury Department) presents Fixing the System: An Analysis of Alternative Proposals for the Reform of International Tax, 66 Nat'l Tax J. 671 (2013) (with Rosanne Altshuler (Rutgers)), at Pennsylvania today as part of its Center for Tax Law & Policy Seminar Series hosted by Michael Knoll, Chris Sanchirico, and Reed Shuldiner:

We evaluate proposals for U.S. international tax reform including dividend exemption, full current inclusion, dividend exemption with an effective tax rate test and active business exception, dividend exemption with a per-country or overall minimum tax, and repeal of check-the-box. As alternatives to active business tests, we consider minimum taxes that allow expensing for real investment abroad. We evaluate reforms along many dimensions including the lockout effect, income shifting, the choice of location, and complexity. Wefind a per-country minimum tax with expensing has many advantages with respect to these margins. The simpler overall minimum tax is a serious alternative.

April 2, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thomas Presents The Psychic Cost of Tax Evasion Today at Duke

ThomasKathleen Delaney Thomas (North Carolina) presents The Psychic Cost of Tax Evasion at Duke today as part of its Tax Policy Seminar hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

Tax evasion presents the government with a formidable task. We are losing hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenue each year due to underreporting by individual taxpayers. According to deterrence theory, policymakers should be able to reduce evasion by making it more costly for taxpayers. This could be accomplished by raising the audit rate, increasing tax penalties, or some combination of both. However, budgetary limitations and political hurdles have made these strategies difficult for the government to employ.

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April 2, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Knoll Presents Tax Discrimination in the European Union and Beyond Today at Washington University

KnollMichael S. Knoll (Pennsylvania) presents Tax Discrimination in the European Union and Beyond (with Ruth Mason (Virginia)) at Washington University today as part of its International Tax Speakers Series hosted by Adam H. Rosenzweig:

The centerpiece of the 28-member European Union is the single market—a market free of internal barriers in which goods, capital, labor, and services move as easily between the member states as within them. The European Union’s highest judicial body, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), is charged with ensuring that the laws of the EU member states do not undercut the single market. The CJEU has interpreted various provisions contained in the foundational treaties of the European Union that create the single market to encompass a prohibition on tax discrimination. Over the last thirty years, the CJEU has concluded that numerous long-standing member state tax policies constitute prohibited tax discrimination. At the same time, the CJEU has failed to articulate a clear guiding principle in its tax discrimination cases. The combination of aggressive enforcement and the failure to provide clear guidance on the meaning of tax discrimination has attracted extensive critical commentary. Our goals in this essay and related work are to identify the guiding principle behind the CJEU’s interpretation of tax discrimination, to explain that principle in economic terms, to describe what strict adherence to that principle requires, to recommend to the CJEU how it should apply that principle in light of the legal and institutional constraints it faces, to apply our recommended approach to specific areas of the law, and to assess how closely the CJEU’s jurisprudence corresponds to our recommendations.

April 2, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yin Delivers Lecture on Reforming (and Saving) the IRS by Respecting the Public’s Right to Know at Temple

YinGeorge K. Yin (Virginia) delivered the 2014 Fogel Lecture at Temple on Monday on Reforming (and Saving) the IRS by Respecting the Public’s Right to Know:

The current controversy involving possible political targeting by the IRS in administering the exempt organization (EO) tax laws is simply the latest in a long succession of similar allegations spanning at least five decades. This article proposes to address the problem through increased transparency of the IRS’s administrative actions involving EOs. Greater transparency responds directly to the public’s frustration in not being able to monitor the agency and gain confidence that the laws are being applied in an even-handed manner.

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April 2, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

We Should Slash Taxes on Parents by Jacking Them Up for Nonparents

CHildfreeSlate:  Tax the Childless: We Should Slash Taxes on Parents by Jacking Them Up for Nonparents, by Reihan Salam:

[A]s a childless professional in my mid-30s, I often reflect on the sacrifices working parents make to better the lives of their children. And I have come to the reluctant conclusion that I ought to pay much higher taxes so that working parents can pay much lower taxes. I believe this even though I also believe a not inconsiderable share of my tax dollars are essentially being set on fire by our frighteningly incompetent government. Leviathan is here to stay, whether I like it or not, and someone has to pay for it. That someone should be me, and people like me.

Giving working parents a meaningful tax break is going to cost quite a lot of money—so much money that raising taxes on the ultrarich alone won’t be enough. Recently Utah Sen. Mike Lee, a Tea Party Republican first elected in 2010, released a tax plan, the Family Fairness and Opportunity Tax Reform Act, that preserves the current $1,000 child credit, the personal exemption for children, and the earned income tax credit while adding a new $2,500 child credit. Unlike the current child credit, Lee’s new credit never phases out, so it can be of use to higher-income families. Under Lee’s plan, a middle-income family with two kids earning $70,000 could expect a $5,000 tax cut, which sounds about right.

The problem with Lee’s plan is that it would massively increase the deficit. The Tax Policy Center finds that it would reduce revenues over the next decade by $2.4 trillion relative to the current law baseline. Lee doesn’t propose this, but the most straightforward way to offset the lost tax revenue from parents would be to raise taxes on nonparents.

(Hat Tip:  Glenn Reynolds.)

April 2, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Johnson: Reforming the § 183 Hobby Loss Rules

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Calvin H. Johnson (Texas), Horse Losses and Other Pleasures, 142 Tax Notes 443 (Apr. 1, 2014):

Current law denies the deduction of losses from equestrian and other such activities if not undertaken for profit. The IRS wins almost all the contested cases, but the test is too indeterminate for the Service to enforce on a tax return.

The following proposal would defer the deduction of business losses until the claimed future income from the activity comes in. Loss deferral would apply automatically to activities specified by statute, including those associated with horses, dogs, airplanes, cars, and collectibles, and to activities from which significant participants derive recreation or pleasure. Deferral is limited to activities suppressed as a result of recreational value to encourage the general diversification of investments and to allow room for congressionally intended tax incentives.

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April 2, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (1)

Subscribing to TaxProf Blog

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April 2, 2014 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cauble: Safe Harbors in Tax Law

Emily Cauble (DePaul), Safe Harbors in Tax Law, 47 Conn. L. Rev. ___ (2015):

Safe harbors pervade tax law. Yet, the academic literature offers no comprehensive account of why they exist. This Article begins to fashion that account by developing a theoretical framework for understanding the functional purposes that safe harbors serve. In order to analyze safe harbors’ functional purposes, this Article compares and contrasts them with rules and standards.

Articulating the reasons for adopting safe harbors has important practical implications. For instance, analyzing the functions of safe harbors can shed light on the use of other rule-standard hybrids such as rebuttable or irrebuttable presumptions. In addition, this Article provides direction to lawmakers considering the enactment or redesign of a particular safe harbor. For example, recently commentators have advocated for additional clarity in the area of law governing tax-exempt organizations’ political campaign activities. The analysis in this Article has important implications for the manner in which lawmakers ought to provide any such additional clarity.

April 2, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hiring Star Professors Boosts Faculty Productivity

StarInside Higher Ed, Recruiting Stars Bolsters Departments' Research Productivity:

The hiring of "star" professors -- defined by their research output -- results in improvement in the research productivity of the departments they join, according a study published Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research.  The study [Why Stars Matter, by Ajay Agrawal (University of Toronto), Alexander Oettl (Georgia Institute of Technology) & John McHale (National University of Ireland)] finds that the recruitment of research stars does nothing to lift the productivity of those already in the department (and actually leads to reduced productivity of some of them). But the productivity of researchers who join the department after a star joins increases significantly -- for scholars who work in related and unrelated fields alike. The study finds that the effects are most pronounced at mid-ranked institutions.

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 328

IRS Logo 2 The Heritage Foundation:  IRS Targeting: Is the Obama Administration Conducting a Serious Investigation?, by Hans A. von Spakovsky:

A Jan. 8 letter from the Committee to Attorney General Holder outlined the Justice Department’s refusal to provide any information or updates on the status of the Department’s investigation. The letter notes that the FBI offered to meet with Rep. Jordan to do exactly that but later “rescinded” the offer “after [Justice] Department officials apparently interfered.”

It is certainly true that the FBI cannot disclose sensitive information during an ongoing criminal investigation, but an active investigation does not prevent the FBI and the Justice Department from giving Congress basic information regarding the status of an investigation that does not compromise their work.  ...

Yet lawyers representing dozens of the targeted conservative groups have recently testified before this Committee and have said that their clients have not been contacted or interviewed by any FBI agents. 

I find that simply incredible – that nine months after the Attorney General announced he was opening an investigation, neither the FBI nor the Justice Department has conducted basic interviews with the victims to gather information about their dealings with the IRS officials and employees who may have been involved in wrongdoing.

In addition to the unjustified refusal of the Department to provide this Committee with any information about its investigation, there is the troubling selection of a Civil Rights Division lawyer, Barbara Bosserman, as the lead lawyer in the investigation. This scandal involves the possibility of public corruption – misbehavior by federal employees in the IRS.  It is the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division – not the Civil Rights Division – that has long been responsible for investigating and prosecuting this type of public corruption. 

Bosserman works in the most politicized division within the entire Justice Department. ... The Justice Department’s pick of Barbara Bosserman to lead or be involved in making decisions about this investigation raises the appearance of a conflict of interest because of her extensive political donations to President Barack Obama, who recently said there was “not even a smidge of corruption” in the IRS scandal – even though the  investigation is supposedly not complete.

When this first became public, Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson claimed that Bosserman could not be removed from the investigation because “[i]t is contrary to department policy and a prohibited personnel practice under federal law to consider the political affiliation of career employees or other non-merit factors in making personnel decisions." The problem with this claim is that it is not true.

Taking a lawyer off a particular case because of a possible conflict of interest or the appearance of such a conflict is not a “prohibited personnel practice” like firing, terminating, or changing the pay of someone for political reasons. Indeed, Justice Department regulations clearly state that DOJ lawyers must avoid even “an appearance of a conflict of interest likely to affect the public perception of the integrity” of an investigation or prosecution.

No one questions the right of career employees to make political donations. This is allowed under the Hatch Act and applicable DOJ regulations, as explained by the Justice Department’s Ethics Office. But Bosserman’s considerable campaign contributions certainly raises the appearance of a possible conflict of interest in terms of the public’s perception of her ability to make unbiased, objective decisions in an investigation that could prove very embarrassing to the president she supports – a president who has already signaled through his public statements what he thinks the outcome of the investigation ought to be. ...

Given the allegations in the IRS case, especially the suspicion that conservative organizations were specifically targeted by IRS officials to help dampen public opposition to President Obama’s reelection, the Justice Department should make every effort to conduct a thorough investigation and avoid any questions about the objectivity of the attorneys and investigators involved in the investigation. ...

The involvement of the Civil Rights Division and the appearance of possible bias by one of the supervising, if not lead, lawyers in this investigation is a very serious issue. When combined with the refusal of the Justice Department and the FBI to provide even basic information about the status of the investigation, as well as the seemingly unjustifiable delays in talking to key witnesses in the conservative organizations targeted by the IRS, it raises substantial questions about whether or not a serious, objective, unbiased investigation is being conducted.

This Committee should continue to attempt to get more information about the integrity of the government’s investigation and should pursue its oversight function vigorously.  Otherwise, what happened at the IRS will happen again, and federal employees will believe that they can engage in wrongdoing by targeting the political opposition of the administration without fear of any consequences.

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April 2, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Biggs Presents The Risk to State and Local Budgets Posed by Public Employee Pensions Today at NYU

BiggsAndrew Biggs (American Enterprise Institute) presents The Risk to State and Local Budgets Posed by Public Employee Pensions at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Auerbach:

State and local government employee pension plans fund guaranteed retirement benefit using portfolios of risky assets. Plan sponsors value stable contribution rates and attempt to mitigate volatility of contribution rates using policies including smoothing of investment returns and long amortization periods for unfunded liabilities. These policies, combined with the assumption that investment returns stabilize over the long term, seemingly allow plans to offer generous, guaranteed benefits to participants funded by low, stable contributions from employers. But in many cases, plan stakeholders take this conclusion as an article of faith rather than the result of quantitative analysis. I employ a simple model of financing for a mature pension to analyze how market risk and stabilization policies interact to affect annual required contribution. The model shows that stabilization policies can reduce volatility of employer contributions over the short term. But long-term fluctuations in investment earnings ultimately express themselves in contribution rates that may vary significantly from a deterministic calculation based upon the assumption of constant returns. A plan employing typical smoothing policies has a very low probability of becoming insolvent, so long as it makes required contributions at all times. However, plans could expect that, at least once over a 100-year period, required contributions would exceed ten times the baseline rate. If a plan economically unable or politically unwilling to make any and all contributions as required, then insolvency of the fund becomes a possibility.

April 1, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kahng Presents The Taxation of Intellectual Capital at Florida

KahngLily Kahng (Seattle) presented The Taxation of Intellectual Capital, 66 Fla. L. Rev. ___ (2014), at Florida on Friday as part of its Graduate Tax Colloquium Series:

Intellectual capital — broadly defined to include nonphysical sources of value such as patents and copyrights, computer software, organizational processes and know-how — has a long history of being undervalued and excluded from measures of economic productivity and wealth. In recent years, however, intellectual capital has finally gained wide recognition as a central driver of economic productivity and growth. Scholars in fields such as knowledge management, financial accounting and national accounting have produced a wealth of research that significantly advances our conceptual understanding of intellectual capital and introduces new methodologies for identifying and measuring its economic value.

This Article is the first to analyze and assess the taxation of intellectual capital within this broader interdisciplinary landscape. Informed by the recent research and reform efforts in knowledge management, financial accounting and national accounting, the Article finds that the tax law, which allows most investments in intellectual capital to be deducted, is fundamentally flawed. This results in the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenues, costly misallocations of resources and a grave deviation from the accurate measure of income. The Article argues that, consistent with the prevailing view in other fields, investments in intellectual capital ought to be capitalized under the tax law. Drawing upon the work of reform proponents in other fields as well as their critics, the Article considers whether and to what extent the advances in other disciplines can be adapted to the tax system. Based on this analysis, it proposes the tax law be reformed to require businesses to capitalize and amortize over five years a broad array of intellectual capital investments including research and development, advertising, worker training and strategic planning.

April 1, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Muller: The Improving Job Market for California Law Grads

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), Legal Employment Outcomes in California in 2013:

The USNWR methodology gives "full weight" to "graduates who had a full-time job lasting at least a year where bar passage was required or a J.D. degree was an advantage." ... Imperfect a measure as it may be, I took this metric and calculated the differences in 2012 and 2013 data for 19 California ABA-approved schools and 2 California provisionally-accredited schools. Here's what the data show. 

First, there were more graduates. Total graduates from these 21 schools increased 1.4%, from 5114 graduates in 2012 to 5185 graduates in 2013.

Second, more graduates obtained full-time, long-term, bar passage-required or J.D.-advantage positions. In 2012, there were 2848 who obtained such employment, for a 55.7% employment rate. In 2013, there was a 1.2 percentage point increase, with 2950 who obtained such employment for a 56.9% employment rate. ...

Third, law school funding for these types of positions tripled. There were 24 school-funded full-time, long-term bar passage-required or J.D.-advantage positions in 2012; that number jumped to 100 in 2013. Leading the way were UC-Berkeley (from 0 to 25), UCLA (from 9 to 34), USC (from 0 to 12), and UC-Davis (from 2 to 10), which accounted for 70% of the increase. ...

Below is a chart reflecting the 2012 and 2013 data, with links to the school's underlying data. It includes the 2015 USNWR peer score, the 2013 full-time, long-term, bar passage-required and J.D.-advantage positions, along with the year-over-year increase or decline in points from the 2012 rate. It then lists the raw number of students who obtained such positions, along with a parenthetical notation of how many of those positions were school-funded. The same is listed for 2012. ...

Muller

All 21 schools are here.

Update:   I have updated the post to reflect the data released by UC-Berkeley.

April 1, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

McMahon: What Innocent Spouse Relief Says about Women and the Rest of Us

Stephanie Hunter McMahon (Cincinnati), What Innocent Spouse Relief Says about Women and the Rest of Us, 37 Harvard J.L. & Gender 141 (2014):

Every time spouses sign joint returns, they knowingly or not accept joint and several liability. Therefore, either spouse may be held liable for all of the tax due on the joint return. Joint and several liability’s more efficient tax collection procedure may conflict with a spouse’s equitable claims to have innocently signed the return while being lied to, abused, or manipulated. The question for Congress is how to balance these competing demands. Innocent spouse relief provides some tax relief for spouses Congress does not believe should be jointly and severally liable. Innocent spouse relief also offers an opportunity to explore how the government views married women, as wives have always composed the lion share of seekers and recipients of innocent spouse relief. The relief currently provided is both over- and under-inclusive by not offering relief to all spouses or former spouses who are unable to assess the validity of their returns but offering relief to some who both knew and helped orchestrate the tax evasion. This paper argues that, instead of existing innocent spouse relief, the IRS should respect joint filers’ agency when signing joint returns and grant relief only when a joint filer was unable to exercise that agency. In the event that a spouse is coerced into signing the return, relief needs to be speedier and less burdensome in application than under today’s law to increase the equity of the tax system and reduce the administrative costs on both the taxpayer and the government.

April 1, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mankiw: The Growth of Pass-Through Entities

Greg Mankiw (Harvard), The Growth of Pass-Through Entities:

Over the past few decades, there has been an amazing shift in how businesses are taxed.  See the figure below, which is from CBO.  Businesses are more and more taxed as pass-through entities, where the income shows up on personal tax returns rather than on corporate returns.  (Here is an article discussing how the mutual giant Fidelity recently switched from one form to the other.)

This phenomenon complicates the interpretation of tax return data.  For example, when one looks at the growth of the 1 percent, or the 0.1 percent, in the Piketty-Saez data, that growth is likely exaggerated because some income is merely being shifted from corporate returns. I don't know how much.  If someone has already quantified the magnitude of this effect, please email me the answer. If not, someone should write that paper.

April 1, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Senate Holds Hearing Today on Caterpillar's Tax Reduction Strategies

CaterpillarThe Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee holds a hearing today on Caterpillar's Offshore Tax Strategy (webcast):

Panel #1:

Panel #2:

  • Thomas F. Quinn (PricewaterhouseCoopers, Chicago)
  • Steven R. Williams (PricewaterhouseCoopers, McLean, VA)
  • James G. Bowers (PricewaterhouseCoopers, Dallas)

Panel #3:

  • Julie A. Lagacy (Finance Services Division, Caterpillar)
  • Robin D. Beran (Chief Tax Officer, Caterpillar)
  • Rodney Perkins (Former Senior International Tax Manager, Caterpillar)

Press and blogosphere:

April 1, 2014 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fleischer: Curb Your Enthusiasm for Pigouvian Taxes

Victor Fleischer (San Diego), Curb Your Enthusiasm for Pigouvian Taxes:

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

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

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

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April 1, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tenure Under Fire, Law Professors Fight Back

Forbes:  Tenure Under Fire, Law Professors Fight Back:

It runs like clockwork: When businesses run into trouble, managers move to reduce salaries and expenditures. If only it were that simple for the multimillion-dollar law school industry, which is up against the wall trying to balance plummeting budgets while maintaining employees' academic freedom.

Law school deans' cost-cutting efforts are colliding with decades of strong job protections -- short of incompetence or financial emergency -- that have been granted to full-time professors. The academic ranks let out a collective sigh when the ABA decided to examine whether to jettison or curb the tenure system.

It didn't take long for some 600 tenured law professors to warn that unpopular views would be stifled if tenure were diminished and have urged that any changes to the system be scotched. Many professors fear being pushed aside for cheaper, less experienced replacements.

Law school deans, meanwhile, have been remarkably silent. As leaders of faculties, they are reluctant to side openly with efforts to undercut the job security of the people who work for them.

"There's so little likelihood of this [abolishing tenure] coming to pass that deans don't feel the need to speak out," says Deborah Rhode, director of Stanford's Center on the Legal Profession. She advocates changes in tenure as part of a broader reform package in which law schools offer various levels of education and degrees and have more flexibility on the use of adjunct professors

Any legal education overhaul, however, is likely to run at a glacial pace, and deans are acutely aware that top-notch legal educators are crucial to national law school rankings, which, in turn, attract students to their schools. At the same time, few in the tenured ranks teach the workplace-ready skills that more students are demanding as they see the low percentages of graduates finding work that requires a law degree and the considerable debt accumulated after three years of legal studies.

April 1, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Kleinbard: Stateless Income and Its Remedies

Edward Kleinbard (USC), Stateless Income and Its Remedies:

This outline presentation (I) quickly reviews the current status of business tax reform efforts in the United States, with particular attention to the international treatment of foreign direct investment, (II) summarizes the economic predicates required for territorial tax systems to advance economic efficiency, (III) explains why the phenomenon of stateless income means that those predicates are not met today, and are unlikely to be met in the future, and (IV) analyzes current U.S. legislative international tax proposals. In doing the last of these, the presentation points out how the legislative proposal advanced by Dave Camp, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, might inadvertently operate to treat “good” operating income as subpart F income in a range of plausible cases.

April 1, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 327

IRS Logo 2In a stunning bipartisan agreement, President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chair Darrell Issa and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings committed to aggressively pursue investigations into the IRS's targeting of conservative groups in advance of the 2012 presidential election.

President Obama

I have now had the opportunity to review the Treasury Department watchdog’s report on its investigation of IRS personnel who improperly targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.  And the report’s findings are intolerable and inexcusable.  The federal government must conduct itself in a way that’s worthy of the public’s trust, and that’s especially true for the IRS.  The IRS must apply the law in a fair and impartial way, and its employees must act with utmost integrity.  This report shows that some of its employees failed that test. 

I’ve directed Secretary Lew to hold those responsible for these failures accountable, and to make sure that each of the Inspector General’s recommendations are implemented quickly, so that such conduct never happens again.  But regardless of how this conduct was allowed to take place, the bottom line is, it was wrong.  Public service is a solemn privilege.  I expect everyone who serves in the federal government to hold themselves to the highest ethical and moral standards.  So do the American people.  And as President, I intend to make sure our public servants live up to those standards every day.

Attorney General HolderI understand why the American public might question the impartiality of the DOJ's investigation headed by Barbara Bosserman in light of her political contributions to both of President Obama's campaigns.  I have thus rescinded her appointment and appointed one of the few DOJ attorneys who did not donate to President Obama's campaigns to lead the investigation.

IRS Commissioner KoskinenInspired by the example of my predecessor Randolph Thrower who died on March 8, I commit to complying fully and completely with the investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  As the first step, the IRS will not take "years" to supply Lois Lerner's emails to the committee but instead will turn them over by April 15.

Chairman IssaI deeply regret cutting off the microphone of my dear friend Elijah Cummings at our last hearing and I promise to include him as a full and equal partner in all future committee actions in this matter.

Ranking Member Cummings:   This is one of the most alarming abuses of government power that I have ever seen.  I’m very concerned about it, we gotta get to the bottom of it, and by the way … we gotta do it in a bipartisan way.

For details of the agreement, see here.

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April 1, 2014 in IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Piketty: Capital in the Twenty-First Century

CapitalThomas Piketty (Paris School of Economics), Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Harvard University Press, 2014):

What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.

Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality—the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth—today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piketty says, and may do so again.

A work of extraordinary ambition, originality, and rigor, Capital in the Twenty-First Century reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today.

The New Yorker, Piketty’s Inequality Story in Six Charts:

In this week’s magazine, I’ve got a lengthy piece about “Capital in the Twenty-first Century,” a new book about rising inequality by Thomas Piketty, a French economist, that is sparking a lot of comment and debate. (Brad DeLong has a useful summary of some early reviews.) I’ll go further into that discussion in future posts, but first I thought it might be useful to portray the gist of Piketty’s story in a series of charts.

  Chart 1

Chart 2

New York Times:  Q&A: Thomas Piketty on the Wealth Divide, by Eduardo Porter:

Income inequality moved with astonishing speed from the boring backwaters of economic studies to “the defining challenge of our time.” It found Thomas Piketty waiting for it.

A young professor at the Paris School of Economics, he is one of a handful of economists who have devoted their careers to understanding the dynamics driving the concentration of income and wealth into the hands of the few. He has distilled his findings into a new book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” which is being published this week. In the book, Mr. Piketty provides a sort of unified theory of capitalism that explains its lopsided distribution of rewards.

Financial Times op-ed:  Save Capitalism From the Capitalists by Taxing Wealth, by Thomas Piketty

March 31, 2014 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Joint Tax Committee Releases Overview of the Federal Tax System as in Effect for 2014

Joint Tax CommitteeThe Joint Committee on Taxation has released Overview of the Federal Tax System as in Effect for 2014 (JCX-25-14) (Mar. 28, 2014):

This document ... provides a summary of the present-law Federal tax system as in effect for 2014.

The current Federal tax system has four main elements: (1) an income tax on individuals and corporations (which consists of both a “regular” income tax and an alternative minimum tax); (2) payroll taxes on wages (and corresponding taxes on self-employment income) to finance certain social insurance programs; (3) estate, gift, and generation-skipping taxes, and (4) excise taxes on selected goods and services. This document provides a broad overview of each of these elements.

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March 31, 2014 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

College Return on Investment

President 'Crushed Hopes of Law School' by Rejecting Dean Candidates Approved by Faculty

Florida Logo (GIF)Gainesville Sun op-ed:  Failed dean search delivers a terrible blow to law school, by Michelle Jacobs (Florida):

I am a tenured full professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. I came to this institution in 1993, as both the college and the university were struggling to free themselves from the legacy of southern segregation.

Between then and now, the College of Law has experienced many tumultuous moments, particularly over diversity issues. These chaotic upheavals have rarely produced anything of value for our college. The same can be said of the current fiasco created by UF President Bernie Machen's act of failing our dean search.

An article in The Sun last week did not adequately reflect the depth of the anger and embarrassment our community is experiencing as a result of the rejection of two candidates we believed provided our college with an excellent opportunity to move forward. Machen could not give any concrete explanation for why the candidates forwarded to him, particularly University of Kentucky College of Law Dean David Brennen and former ambassador to New Zealand David Huebner, could not satisfy his criteria.

In an email sent to our faculty, he stated that he made his decision after consulting "stakeholders." These "stakeholders" could not have been anyone from our community who would have worked with the new dean. We suspect that these "stakeholders" were the individuals who tried to force Alex Acosta, dean of the Florida International University College of Law, upon our faculty.

Our faculty rejected him as unsuitable. Machen was quoted as saying he wanted a "visionary" to lead the law school. Where was his concern for visionary leadership when he reappointed our current dean six years ago, despite the fact it was clear he had absolutely no coherent vision for our college?...

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March 31, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)