TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Non-Economic Functions Of Rebel Taxation: New Data From The Islamic State In Syria

ISIS FlagMara Revkin (Yale), The Non-Economic Functions of Rebel Taxation: New Data from the Islamic State in Syria:

Previous studies predict that rebel groups with access to exploitable resources will engage in looting rather than invest in building the complex bureaucracies that are necessary for taxation. This claim relies on an untested assumption that the sole purpose of rebel taxation is to collect revenue. I challenge this assumption with granular district-month data on seven types of tax policies from the 18 Syrian districts that have been governed by the Islamic State (IS) since 2013.

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August 26, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law Prof Who Sued Dean For Assault Loses Round 2

Ohio Northern LogoFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Law.com, Law Prof Who Sued Dean for Assault Loses Round 2:

A law professor at Northern Ohio Petit School of Law who claims he was assaulted in 2012 by the school’s former interim dean has lost his second round in court.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit last week upheld a lower court decision dismissing plaintiff Scott Gerber’s lawsuit against colleague Stephen Veltri.

Gerber claimed that Veltri, who was then interim dean of the Ada, Ohio, law school, grabbed and squeezed his shoulder during a campus encounter five years ago, causing lasting physical damage. He sued Veltri in 2014 alleging assault and battery.

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August 26, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bitcoin And Taxes

Bitcoin IRSWall Street Journal, No One Knows How Much to Pay in Bitcoin Cash Taxes:

Before rejoicing over a Bitcoin Cash windfall, here’s a warning: You may owe taxes on it.

After years of discord over bitcoin’s future, the digital currency recently split into two competing versions: one called bitcoin and an alternate called Bitcoin Cash. As a result, each bitcoin owner received an equal amount of Bitcoin Cash, or the right to it.

But tax experts say there has been no guidance on how to treat the sudden receipt of Bitcoin Cash.

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August 26, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Lawyers Make Better CEOs Than MBAs

Harvard Business Review LogoHarvard Business Review:  Do Lawyers Make Better CEOs Than MBAs? (full article here), by M. Todd Henderson (Chicago):

We were interested in how lawyer CEOs might influence firm decision making more broadly — and whether they differ from CEOs without a law degree. I collaborated with Irena Hutton, Danling Jiang, and Matt Pierson to compare the behavior of CEOs with law degrees with those who earned a bachelor’s degree, MBA, or other degree. We looked at about 3,500 CEOs, about 9% of whom have law degrees. They were associated with nearly 2,400 publicly traded firms in the S&P 1500 from 1992 to 2012.

The most obvious impact a lawyer CEO might be expected to have is on the amount of litigation their company is involved in. We looked at over 70,000 lawsuits filed against our sample of firms in federal courts during those 10 years. We focused on nine common types of corporate litigation: antitrust, employment civil rights, contract, environmental, intellectual property, labor, personal injury, product liability, and securities.

The result was clear: Firms run by CEOs with legal expertise were associated with much less corporate litigation. Compared with the average company, lawyer-run firms experienced 16% to 74% less litigation, depending on the litigation type. Employment civil rights, antitrust, and securities lawsuits were reduced the most, while contract saw the smallest (but still significant) reduction with a lawyer CEO. The results were economically meaningful, since the reduction was several fewer suits per year in some cases. ...

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August 25, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, David Gamage (Indiana) reviews a new draft article by Zachary Liscow (Yale), Is Efficiency Biased?.

Gamage (2017)Anyone interested in how the methodology of law and economics accounts for distributive justice should stop whatever else they might be doing so that they can immediately read Zach Liscow’s new draft article. Indeed, I wish that this article had been available when I started my legal academic career, as Liscow’s article clarifies several puzzles that had been confounding me for over a decade.

The essence of Liscow’s critique is that efficiency-oriented analysis in law and economics relies on allocating legal entitlements based on willingness to pay. However, wealthier individuals will often have a greater willingness to pay for many legal entitlements as compared to poorer individuals—as a direct result of the fact that the wealthier individuals have more money.  

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August 25, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Reaction To Law Profs' Op-Ed On The Breakdown Of The 'Bourgeois Culture'

Following up on last week's post on the op-ed by Amy Wax (Pennsylvania) & Larry Alexander (San Diego), Paying The Price For Breakdown Of The Country's Bourgeois Culture:

Philly Voice, 18 Law Professors Argue Colleagues' 'Bourgeois' Ideal Is Racist and Classist:

There are rare occasions ... in which the opinions expressed by another law professor display both a moral toxicity and an intellectual bankruptcy that require us to put collegiality aside, and to call out such opinions for what they are. Such is the case with the opinions expressed recently on Philly.com by University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax and University of San Diego law professor Larry Alexander. ...

There are assertions ... which are divorced from intellectual rigor and serve no purpose beyond coddling the existing prejudices of their speakers and listeners who wish to justify similar prejudices. The opinions expressed by Professors Wax and Alexander fall squarely within the latter category and do not deserve our respect. They are dehumanizing, inherently racist, and ultimately irrational. It bears emphasizing that the professors’ opinions are offered without evidentiary support, which is — to say the least — a glaring omission from two trained lawyers and frankly shocking coming from two professors charged with educating students about law and logic.

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August 25, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Galle: How To Save Unemployment Insurance

Brian D. Galle (Georgetown), How to Save Unemployment Insurance,  48 Ariz. St. L.J. ___ (2017):

Unemployment insurance is almost universally recognized as one of a government’s best tools for fighting recessions, as well as an important source of relief for working-class families suffering temporary hardship. Unfortunately, as commentators and Congress have recognized, the U.S. system of financing its unemployment insurance program is seriously dysfunctional. Reform proposals, however, do not fully diagnose the causes of current failures. In particular, other commentators neglect the role of fiscal myopia in state officials’ failures to save for future UI needs. For instance, reformers mostly propose offering rewards or penalties that will take effect only far in the future. These incentives have only small effects on myopic officials.

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August 25, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rozema: Tax Incidence In A Vertical Supply Chain — Evidence From Cigarette Wholesale Prices

Kyle Rozema (Chicago), Tax Incidence in a Vertical Supply Chain: Evidence from Cigarette Wholesale Prices:

I investigate how the burden of consumption taxes not borne by consumers is shared between upstream firms that produce a taxed good and downstream firms that sell the goods. First, I study a simple theoretical model of tax incidence in a vertical supply chain and show that the tax pass through rates to wholesale prices, consumer prices, and posted retail prices serve as a sufficient statistic for the split of the firm share of the tax burden. Second, I use novel data on monthly brand-level cigarette wholesale prices in six states to estimate the tax pass through rate to wholesale prices, and estimate the tax pass through rates to consumer and posted retail prices from Nielsen Homescan Data.

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August 25, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Gail Agrawal To Step Down After Eight Years As Iowa Law School Dean

AgrawalMembers of the Law School Community,

I have decided to step down as dean at the conclusion of the 2017-18 academic year.  Serving on this faculty as dean has been a privilege and a joy.  I am grateful to my immediate predecessors as dean, Bill Hines and Carolyn Jones, for their leadership and tireless work on behalf of the College and to then-President Sally Mason and Provost Wallace Loh for giving me this incredible opportunity.

I am proud of all the law school community has accomplished since I joined you in 2010.  We welcomed outstanding scholars and teachers to our faculty ranks; those who became members of our faculty in the early years of my deanship have all achieved tenure and promotion and have already taken on important leadership roles in the law school and the University.  We expanded learning opportunities for our students, including new clinical and field placement offerings.  We created new pathways to the JD, an early matriculation program and an advanced standing program for international lawyers, as well as a new SJD and Master’s degree.  We strengthened our relationships with our early-matriculation partner institutions and the Bar and Bench in the state of Iowa.  We brought in a $50 million capital campaign, over goal and on time.  We added a simulcast classroom and as of this month, a new state-of-the art courtroom, and we fulfilled the dream of building a student Commons in the Boyd Law Building.  We celebrated our 150th anniversary and recognized some of the people who have made this law school the amazing place it is today.

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August 24, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Missouri Seeks To Hire A Tax Visitor

Missouri Logo (2017)The University of Missouri School of Law in Columbia, Missouri seeks to hire a visiting professor to teach Corporate Tax and Tax Planning in Spring 2018.

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August 24, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

How To Fight The ABA’s Anticompetitive And Discriminatory Accreditation Power

ABA Logo (2016)Allen Mendenhall, How to Fight the ABA’s Anticompetitive and Discriminatory Practices:

Recently I urged top law schools to stand up to the excesses and abuses occasioned by the ministrations of the American Bar Association (ABA). These schools could band together and follow the lead of the journalism schools at Northwestern and Berkeley, which dropped their accreditor, the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, earlier this year because accreditation standards were outmoded and not worth the cost of compliance.

But states can also fight the ABA and are arguably in a better position to do so. ... Why, exactly, would states want to push back against the ABA? There are two reasons, the first involving economics and the second involving racial diversity in the legal profession. In other words, both the Right and the Left have a standing interest in diminishing the ABA’s power. ...

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August 24, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

U.A.E. Excise Tax Starts October In Drive To Boost Revenue

Bloomberg, U.A.E. Excise Tax Starts October in Drive to Boost Revenue 

The United Arab Emirates will start imposing a tax on selected goods starting Oct. 1 as Gulf Arab nations seek to deepen government revenue to counter the drop in oil prices.

A levy on designated goods — tobacco, energy drinks and soft drinks — will include those sold at airports and free zones, Younis Al Khoori, undersecretary at Ministry of Finance, told the state-run WAM news agency. Products purchased at airports by travelers taking the goods abroad will be exempt, he said.

The move is one of the measures taken by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council to bolster non-oil revenue and is a milestone for a region that has attracted companies and workers largely through the promise of tax-free living. The bloc is also moving to implement value-added taxation though governments say they have no plans to introduce income tax.

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August 24, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. Firms On Foreign (Tax) Holidays

Travis Chow (Singapore Management University), Jeffrey L. Hoopes (North Carolina) & Edward L. Maydew (North Carolina), U.S. Firms on Foreign (Tax) Holidays:

We undertake the first large-sample examination of foreign tax holiday participation among U.S. corporations. Tax holidays are temporary reductions of tax granted by governments, usually in conjunction with new business investment. We find that foreign tax holidays are economically important phenomena and participation in them has increased over time. The percentage of publicly-traded U.S. firms reporting participation in at least one foreign tax holiday increased more than five-fold since the beginning of our sample in 1995. We estimate that the average foreign tax holiday reduces the firm’s effective tax rate by 4.5 percentage points during the holiday period, which is over four times as large as the average effect of having a tax haven subsidiary. We find an unintended consequence of foreign governments granting tax holidays is that, over the long run, they increase the amount of U.S. tax on foreign income. Indeed, our estimates imply that participating in a foreign tax holiday roughly doubles the eventual U.S. tax on foreign income. Until now, research on foreign tax holiday participation has been hampered by a lack of data. We hope that our initial evidence encourages others to investigate these economically important phenomena.

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August 24, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

A 'Netflix Tax'? Yes, And It's Already A Thing In Some States

NetflixUSA Today, A 'Netflix Tax'? Yes, and It's Already a Thing in Some States:

Netflix — and tax?

Your monthly bill for Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other streaming entertainment services could go up soon as states such as Illinois try to find ways to offset declining sales taxes and other revenue shortfalls. Chicago, Pennsylvania and Florida have already passed a so-called Netflix tax, and cities such as Pasadena, Calif. have broached the issue.

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August 24, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The LSAT's 'Noteworthy' Correlation To Bar Passage

National Jurist: Rebuttal: LSAT’s Predictive Value Despite Diversity Issues, by Robert Steinbuch (Arkansas-Little Rock):

Aaron Taylor's recent piece here on diversity in law school admissions discusses racial disparities in outcomes in legal education.  While Taylor recognizes that this could be caused by "differences in applicant quality" and that there are "[v]ast racial and ethnic LSAT score disparities," Taylor contends that the "value [of the LSAT] is often inflated by law schools."  I present some additional data to consider. 

After offering a few studies in support of his thesis, Taylor states that "[s]tudies of empirical relationships . . . are uncommon in legal education. In the absence of this data, inflated assumptions about the LSAT’s power pervade, to the inequitable detriment of many applicants, most profoundly black applicants."

Taylor may be unaware of my coauthored 2016 study of admissions data from my school — the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law — which analyzed the correlation of LSAT and undergraduate GPA with bar passage.  It was published in the Texas Review of Law and Policy.  Specifically, that study evaluated Bowen data from 2005 to 2011; Taylor served as Bowen's admissions dean from 2006 to 2011.  

The underlying data from my article show the following distribution of bar passage at my school segmented by LSAT score bands for the time period analyzed:

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August 24, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Park: Arbitrability And Tax

William W. Park (Boston University), Arbitrability and Tax:

Although arguments exist that fiscal disputes should remain beyond private adjudication, implicating as they do the sovereign prerogative of revenue raising, the practice proves very much to the contrary. Arbitration of tax-related disputes proves very much a reality despite doctrinal objections. The amenability of such disputes to arbitration remains highly fact-intensive, with no hard-and-fast rule prohibiting all tax arbitration per se, while some controversies stay out-of-bounds for arbitrators.

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August 24, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1568: (Still) Seeking IRS Accountability

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial, (Still) Seeking IRS Accountability:

The Obama Justice Department dismissed the IRS political targeting scandal as no big deal, and the Trump Administration hasn’t been any better. At least the judiciary is still trying to hold someone to account for this government abuse.

In a little noticed decision last week, federal Judge Reggie Walton ordered the IRS to answer a series of questions by Oct. 16. Notably, the tax agency must finally explain the specific reasons for the specific delays in approving each of dozens of conservative nonprofit applications—delays that stifled free speech during a midterm and presidential election. Judge Walton is also requiring the IRS to name the specific individuals that it holds responsible for the targeting.

These are basic questions of political accountability, even if the IRS has stonewalled since 2013. President Obama continued to spin that the targeting was the result of some “boneheaded” IRS line officers in Cincinnati who didn’t understand tax law. Yet Congressional investigations have uncovered clear evidence that the targeting was ordered and directed out of Washington. ...

The Trump Administration also has a duty to provide some answers. The Justice Department and IRS have continued to resist the lawsuits as doggedly as they did in the Obama era. Attorney General Jeff Sessions can change that by ordering government attorneys to quickly and fully comply with Judge Walton’s orders. Seven years is too long to wait for answers over abuses of the government’s taxing power.

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August 24, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

DuVivier, Sterling (Associate Dean For Faculty Scholarship) Join Lawsuit Alleging Gender Discrimination In Faculty Salaries At Denver Law School

DenverFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Number of Women Law Profs Suing Univ. of Denver Rises to Six:

A pay discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of women law professors against the University of Denver by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission continues to grow.

Two more tenured female law professors are seeking to intervene in the 2016 suit, which alleges that the law school systematically underpaid women on the faculty for years. So far, six women professors claim disparate pay against the law school

Professors Joyce Sterling and K.K. DuVivier last week asked a federal judge to join the suit. If allowed, there will be six plaintiffs named in the suit, which the EEOC filed on behalf of longtime professor Lucy Marsh and other female law professors they determined were underpaid after conducting a study of faculty compensation. The university is not opposing their motion to intervene.

Each of the named plaintiffs and proposed intervenors were identified by the EEOC as receiving lower compensation than similarly situated male colleagues, and all six still work at the law school. ...

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August 23, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Oregon Lowers Bar Exam Cut Score From 284 To 276 (Deans Had Requested 266)

Daily Emerald, Oregon Supreme Court Lowers Bar Passage Standard:

The Oregon Supreme Court recently lowered the required score to pass the state’s bar exam  — the test required for all law graduates to pass in order to become practicing attorneys.

Documents show that in March the deans of Oregon’s three law schools sent a letter to the Board of Bar Examiners (BBX) encouraging them to lower the minimum passing score, citing Oregon’s high standards compared to other states. At the time the letter was sent, Oregon had the third highest minimum score (284) in the country behind Delaware and California.

The deans of Oregon’s three law schools proposed that the score be lowered to 266, but the BBX decided to settle on 276. Vice President of the Faculty Senate Bill Harbaugh says that lowering the requirement will have a significant impact on student’s futures.

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August 23, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: Companies Promote Corporate-Tax Overhaul

WSJ, Companies Promote Corporate-Tax Overhaul:

Large companies, looking for every angle to prod Congress into making the corporate-tax changes they have been seeking for years, are turning to some in-house muscle: employees and customers.

Beyond efforts by corporations’ lobbyists and a television-ad campaign run by the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs, companies are now seeking to rally broader public support for business-tax cuts. They are inviting senior lawmakers to their facilities this summer and encouraging workers to contact their representatives in Congress.

“We believe this issue’s so important that you’ve got to get engaged. We can’t ensure success. We can ensure that our point of view and our customers’ point of view is heard,” David Abney, the chief executive officer of United Parcel Service Inc., said in a brief interview Tuesday.

Business executives, though wary of direct connections with the White House after President Donald Trump’s comments about white-nationalist protesters last week, remain deeply involved in promoting one of his major policy objectives.

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August 23, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monroe: IRS Publications And A New Path To Tax Reform

Florida Tax Review  (2015)Andrea Monroe (Temple), Hidden in Plain Sight: IRS Publications and a New Path to Tax Reform, 21 Fla. Tax Rev. ___ (2017):

IRS publications are everywhere in tax practice and almost nowhere in tax scholarship. These publications seek to explain substantive tax law to the general public in a simple, comprehensible, and accurate manner. IRS publications are not only the primary source of information about tax law for taxpayers who file their own returns, but such publications are also essential for online tax preparation platforms, like TurboTax, and for third-party tax return preparers, who rely on this information when selling their services to millions of taxpayers each year. From the perspective of these stakeholders, IRS publications are not simply explanations of substantive tax law; they are substantive tax law. Yet IRS publications are scarcely mentioned in legal scholarship or tax policy debates. Considering their influence and ubiquity in tax practice, the broad inattention of scholars and policymakers to IRS publications is enormously surprising.

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August 23, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (1)

UC-Berkeley Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

UC Berkeley (2016)The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, invites applications from entry-level and lateral candidates for full-time, tenured and tenure-track faculty positions with an expected start date of July 1, 2018. We welcome applications from candidates across all areas of law, although subject areas of particular interest include business law; civil procedure; comparative and international law; contracts; criminal law and criminal procedure; evidence; property; tax; and torts.

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August 23, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Eyal-Cohen: Through The Lens of Innovation

Mirit Eyal-Cohen (Alabama), Through the Lens of Innovation, 43 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 951 (2016):

The legal system constantly follows the footsteps of innovation and attempts to discourage its migration overseas. Yet, present legal rules that inform and explain entrepreneurial circumstances lack a core understanding of the concept of entrepreneurship. By its nature, law imposes order. It provides rules, remedies, and classifications that direct behavior in a consistent manner. Entrepreneurship turns on the contrary. It entails making creative judgments about the unknown. It involves adapting to disarray. It thrives on deviation as opposed to traditional causation. This Article argues that these differences matter. It demonstrates that current laws lock entrepreneurs into inefficient legal routes.

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August 23, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Tenure Track Is Too Rigid to Help Faculty Diversity

Bloomberg:  The Tenure Track Is Too Rigid to Help Diversity, by Tyler Cowen (George Mason):

The brouhaha over the Google diversity memo has turned attention toward gender imbalance in other professions, including academia and economics. Over the last two weeks I’ve seen plenty of condemnations of discrimination, which is all to the good, but not enough consideration of the underlying incentive problems. So I’d like to make a radical suggestion for higher education, including at the elite levels: move away from the emphasis on tenure by elevating the pay and status of non-tenure-track academic jobs.

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August 23, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Could Puerto Rico Be The Next Hot Tax Haven?

Those TaxProf Blog readers who also read Surly Subgroup know that some of us over there have been quite interested in tax and related topics concerning Puerto Rico over the past year or so. You can look at some of those posts here. For far more extensive coverage of the Puerto Rico "bankruptcy" and PROMESA, you can visit our friends at over at Credit Slips blog.

Well, here is a Bloomberg story squarely at the intersection of Puerto Rico and tax and other topics I find interesting. I am just going to leave this here:

Bloomberg, Could Puerto Rico Be the Next Hot Tax Haven?:

Some 65,000 Puerto Ricans left their bankrupt U.S. island commonwealth last year. A group of private bankers are moving the other way. They’re increasingly opening offshore banks known as International Financial Entities, which were created by a Puerto Rican law in 2012. There are 44 IFEs now, with 18 opening in the past year, according to data compiled by the U.S. territory’s financial regulator. “Just in the last six months, we’ve probably closed seven deals for international banks,” says Ryan Christiansen, president of Christiansen Commercial Real Estate, a brokerage based in Puerto Rico that leases office space.

Tax experts attribute at least part of the influx to a little-known loophole made possible by the IFE structure. It lets non-U.S. account holders put money in Puerto Rico anonymously and potentially avoid taxes at home even as they benefit from the stability and safety of the U.S. That’s become increasingly attractive because of a new global financial-disclosure system taking effect in September. Under the Common Reporting Standard, more than 100 countries have agreed to automatically provide to one another annual reports about accounts belonging to people subject to taxes in each member nation. Previously, they mainly shared information on request, making it harder to identify suspect accounts. Much like the U.S.’s Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which requires foreign banks to report on Americans with accounts, the CRS initiative is meant to combat the use of offshore bank accounts to evade taxes.

The loophole arises from quirks in various international disclosure agreements. First, the IFEs aren’t subject to the CRS reporting process because the U.S. hasn’t signed on to it, opting to stick with its 113 separate bilateral agreements. But the IFEs don’t have to comply with these because Puerto Rico, like all U.S. territories, is excluded from those deals. Puerto Rico provides substantial confidentiality protection for foreign individual investors, according to Tim Richards, whose law firm, Richards & Sanchez, specializes in international tax law.

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August 23, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Women Economists Face A 'Toxic' Work Environment

Alice H. Wu, Gender Stereotyping in Academia: Evidence from Economics Job Market Rumors Forum:

This paper examines whether people in academia portray and judge women and men differently in everyday “conversations” that take place online. I combine methods from text mining, machine learning and econometrics to study the existence and extent of gender stereotyping on Economics Job Market Rumors forum. Through a topic analysis, I find that the discourse tends to become significantly less academic or professional oriented, and more about personal information and physical appearance when women are mentioned. The words with the strongest predictive power on gender, selected by the Lasso-logistic model, provide a direct look into the gender stereotyping language on this forum. Moreover, a panel data analysis reveals the state dependence between the content of posts within a thread. In particular, if women are mentioned previously in a thread, the topic is likely to shift from academic to personal. Finally, I restrict the analysis to discussions on specific economists, and find that high-profile female economists tend to receive more attention on EJMR than their male counterparts.  

Table 1E

New York Times, Evidence of a Toxic Environment for Women in Economics:

A pathbreaking new study of online conversations among economists describes and quantifies a workplace culture that appears to amount to outright hostility toward women in parts of the economics profession. 

Alice H. Wu, who will start her doctoral studies at Harvard next year, completed the research in an award-winning senior thesis at the University of California, Berkeley. Her paper has been making the rounds among leading economists this summer, and prompting urgent conversations.

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August 22, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Buckles: The Sexual Integrity Of Religious Schools And Tax Exemption

Johnny Rex Buckles (Houston), The Sexual Integrity of Religious Schools and Tax Exemption, 40 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 255 (2017):

Many private universities and other schools adhere to religiously grounded codes of conduct that embrace heterosexual monogamy as the sole moral context for sexual relationships. The federal income tax exemption of these schools has been questioned following the recent Supreme Court opinion of Obergefell v. Hodges. In Obergefell, the Supreme Court held that the right to marry is a fundamental constitutional right that same-sex couples may exercise. The relevance of this decision to the federal tax status of private religious schools arises from another Supreme Court decision, Bob Jones University v. United States. The Court in Bob Jones held that two schools with racially discriminatory policies as to students were not entitled to exemption from federal income tax because the policies violate established public policy. The issue now is whether the sexual conduct policies of private religious schools violate the established public policy of the United States following Obergefell.

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August 22, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Westfahl & Wilkins: The Leadership Imperative — A Collaborative Approach To Professional Development

Scott A. Westfahl (Harvard) & David B. Wilkins (Harvard), The Leadership Imperative: A Collaborative Approach to Professional Development in the Global Age of More for Less, 69 Stan. L. Rev. 1667 (2017):

Notwithstanding the increasing importance of technology, the practice of corporate law is — and is likely to remain for the foreseeable future — a human capital business. As a result, law firms must continue to attract, develop, and retain talented lawyers. Unfortunately, the traditional approach, which divides responsibility for professional development among law schools, which are supposed to teach students to think like a lawyer; law firms, which are expected to train associates to “be” lawyers; and corporate clients, whose job it is to foot the bill, is no longer well aligned to the current realities of the marketplace. In this Article, we document the causes for this misalignment and propose a new model of professional development in which law schools, law firms, and corporate clients collaborate to train lawyers to be lifelong learners in the full range of technical, professional, and network-building skills they will need to flourish throughout their careers. We offer specific proposals for how to achieve this realignment and confront the resistance that will inevitably greet any attempt to do so.

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August 22, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lang & Soled: Disclosing Audit Risk To Taxpayers

Michael B. Lang (Chapman) & Jay A. Soled (Rutgers), Disclosing Audit Risk to Taxpayers, 36 Va. Tax Rev. ___ (2017):

When taxpayers file their tax returns, they are often worried about the prospect of an Internal Revenue Service (Service) audit. To date, the position of the Service and of professional organizations has been that tax return preparers cannot take into account audit risk in evaluating the merits of a return position. Some practitioners have broadly — and incorrectly — interpreted this regulation as a mandate against talking about audit risk with their clients. Taxpayers therefore often make their own assessment of their audit risk, relying on information sources such as the Internet and tax return preparation software. Given the uncertain reliability of such sources, it is appropriate to encourage more communication between tax return preparers and taxpayers on the subject of audit risk.

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August 22, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Most Lawyers Are Satisfied With Their Careers

Milan Markovic (Texas A&M) & Gabriele Plickert (Cal Poly Pomona), Attorneys' Career Dissatisfaction in the New Normal:

The 2008 economic recession had a seismic impact on the legal profession. This Article is the first to empirically assess whether the recession has made law an unsatisfying career.

Relying on survey data from over 11,000 active members of the State Bar of Texas, we find that only 13.5% of all attorneys and 11.5% of full-time attorneys are dissatisfied with their careers. Newer attorneys report greater career dissatisfaction than more experienced attorneys, yet they too are largely satisfied.

Table 3

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August 22, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Sanchirico: KISS The Tax Blueprint Goodbye — Meet The 25-25-25 Plan

Chris William Sanchirico (Pennsylvania), KISS the Tax Blueprint Goodbye: Meet the 25-25-25 Plan:

Seeking definitive legislative success after the stall-out on healthcare, Congressional Republicans may want to keep it simple on tax reform. This paper examines the merits and demerits of a particular minimalist tax plan: lower the corporate tax rate to 25%; tax legacy foreign earnings at 25%; move to a “territorial” tax system for foreign earnings with a minimum tax patch at 25%. The paper uses analysis of this specific plan as a vehicle for clarifying some general considerations surrounding business tax reform.

August 22, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friedman: Fixing Law Reviews

Harvard Law ReviewBarry Friedman (NYU), Fixing Law Reviews:

Very few people are happy at present with the law review publishing process, from article submission and selection to editing. Complaints are longstanding, and similar ones emerge from faculty and students alike. Yet, heretofore, change has not occurred. Instead, we are locked in our ugly world of submit and expedite, stepping on the toes of numerous student editors in the process. And the editing process falls far short of ideal.

This Article recommends wholesale change to the submission and editing process.

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August 22, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oei, Hemel On 'Robot Taxes'

Daniel Hemel and I just published a couple of blog posts — at Surly Subgroup and Whatever Source — about the taxation of robots (or, "Robotaxation," as I like to call it). You can read them here:

Shuyi Oei (Boston College), So About That Robot Tax ...

I came across a couple of news stories recently about how South Korea is introducing the world’s first robot tax. But based on the press reports, it sounds like the so-called robot tax is actually just a reduction of the tax deductions available to businesses that invest in productivity-boosting automation. The news sources themselves concede that this “robot tax” not exactly a tax on robots but rather a tax benefit reduction for automation investment. ...

A lot of what seems to be driving the tax conversation is the fear that robots are taking over jobs, though there’s some uncertainty about the extent to which robots are to blame.

Personally, I’ve been having a hard time squaring the newly ascendant tax conversation about the robot tax with the broader legal scholarship on robots. In some of the news and other commentary discussing Robotaxation, my reaction has been something to the effect of “I’m not sure that word means what you think it means.” Turns out, there is something of an existing conversation about what constitutes a robot in the first place — see, for example, Richards and Smart (2013) for a nice discussion of some of the definitional issues. See also this “What is a Robot?” piece in The Atlantic. In defining “robot,” it might matter how a robot moves in the physical world, what kind of quasi-independent agency it seems to exercise (autonomous vs. semi-autonomous), how humans interact with it, and even what sorts of emotions it triggers in us mere humans. We might understand some automated machines to be robots but others to just be automated equipment. And these distinctions make sense, from the viewpoint of areas like tort law, privacy law, the law of principals and agents, and the more general regulation of robots (and of artificial intelligence as a subcategory of robots).

But in some of the tax discussions about robots that I’ve seen on the interwebs, it’s quite clear that the authors don’t necessarily mean Robot when they say Robot. ...

Daniel Hemel (Chicago), Should Robots be Subsidized?:

Proposals for a tax on robots have attracted increasing attention since Bill Gates floated the idea in a February 2017 interview with Quartz’s Kevin Delaney. (Shu-Yi Oei has an excellent overview of the debate over at the Surly Subgroup blog.) The concern that motivates most of these robot tax proposals, as I understand it, is that robots will replace human labor as an input into the production process, leading to higher unemployment and economic inequality. Missing from the debate is the argument that robot taxes should be negative  —  in other words, that robots should be subsidized. Yet in my view, the argument for a robot subsidy is much more persuasive than the argument for a robot tax.

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August 22, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Tax Profs Enjoy Today's Solar Eclipse

Liscow: Is Efficiency Biased?

Zachary D. Liscow (Yale), Is Efficiency Biased?:

The most common underpinning of economic analysis of the law has long been the goal of efficiency (i.e., choosing policies that maximize people’s willingness to pay), as reflected in economic analysis of administrative rulemaking, judicial rules, and proposed legislation. Current thinking is divided on the question whether efficient policies are biased against the poor, which is remarkable given the question’s fundamental nature. Some say yes; others, no.

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August 21, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Huang: Adventures In Higher Education, Happiness, And Mindfulness

Peter H. Huang (Colorado), Adventures in Higher Education, Happiness, and Mindfulness:

This Article recounts my unique adventures in higher education, including being a Princeton University freshman mathematics major at age 14, Harvard University applied mathematics graduate student at age 17, economics and finance faculty at multiple schools, first-year law student at the University of Chicago, second- and third-year law student at Stanford University, and law faculty at multiple schools. This Article analyzes why law schools should teach law students about happiness and mindfulness. This Article discusses how to teach law students about happiness and mindfulness. Finally, this Article provides brief concluding thoughts about how law students can sustain happiness and mindfulness once they graduate from law school.

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August 21, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Impacts Of Autonomous Vehicles And E-Commerce On Local Government Budgeting And Finance

Benjamin Clark, Nico Larco & Roberta Mann (Oregon), The Impacts of Autonomous Vehicles and E-Commerce on Local Government Budgeting and Finance:

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are already being used and their proliferation is inevitable. AVs have the potential to fundamentally alter transportation systems by averting deadly crashes, providing critical mobility to the elderly and disabled, increasing road capacity, saving fuel, and lowering emissions (Fagnant and Kockelman 2015). Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation regarding AVs1, and the governors of four other states have signed executive orders about AVs2 (National Conference of State Legislatures 2017). In 2017 there were 33 states that had introduced AV legislation, up from 20 in 2016 (National Conference of State Legislatures 2017). As of June 2, 2017, there were 31 companies that had received permits from the California DMV to test autonomous vehicles, and the list is getting longer each month (California Department of Motor Vehicles 2017). In Berlin, Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s largest train and bus operator, is testing a driverless twelve-passenger shuttle bus (Scott 2017). Over 20 pilot or existing AV public transport programs have taken place in Europe. And the most recent AV testing permit recipient in California is a private shuttle bus operator — Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation (California Department of Motor Vehicles 2017).

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August 21, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kleinbard: Business Taxes Reinvented — The Dual Business Enterprise Income Tax

Edward Kleinbard (USC), Business Taxes Reinvented — A Term Sheet, 156 Tax Notes 999 (Aug. 21, 2017):

This short overview and accompanying term sheet summarize the key features of a proposed comprehensive business tax environment termed the Dual Business Enterprise Income Tax (the Dual BEIT). The term sheet format is a useful mode of presentation for capturing in one accessible document the major policy recommendations of the Dual BEIT (or any other comprehensive tax reform proposal).

This paper makes the case that the Dual BEIT satisfies the objectives of policymakers from both parties for comprehensive business tax reform that can serve as the platform for economic growth while collecting appropriate levels of tax revenue. The arguments are developed further in two more detailed papers: Capital Taxation in an Age of Inequality, 90 So. Cal. L. Rev. 593 (2017), and The Right Tax at the Right Time, 20 Fla. Tax Rev. ___ (2017).

Patrick Driessen (Former Revenue Estimator, U.S. Treasury Department and Joint Committee on Taxation), Dual BEIT’s Effects on Revenue and Distribution, 156 Tax Notes 1015 (Aug. 21, 2017):

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August 21, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

More Law School Deans Call For Lowering California Bar Exam Cut Score

California Bar ExamABA Journal, More Law School Deans Call For Lowering California Bar Exam Cut Score:

Law school deans at public hearings this week in San Francisco and Los Angeles called on the state of California to lower its bar exam cut score. ...

The state bar commissioned a standard setting study, which offered two suggestions: Set a new interim bar exam cut score at 141 from the current 144, or make no change to the current score.

Among those who spoke Tuesday in San Francisco were Anthony Niedwiecki of Golden Gate University School of Law, Courthouse News Service reports. He said a shift in teaching strategy is needed. “With California scores so out of sync with other states, California schools are required to spend more time teaching students how to take the bar exam instead of providing them the essential skills and opportunity to engage with clients in real practice,” Niedwiecki said.

Only 26 percent of 148 Golden Gate graduates sitting for the July 2016 California bar passed it, according to a supplemental statistics report posted on TaxProf Blog.

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August 21, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Trump’s Bruising Tweet Highlights Amazon's Lingering Tax Fight

Amazon logoBloomberg, Trump’s Bruising Tweet Highlights Amazon's Lingering Tax Fight:

President Donald Trump waded into a longstanding scrap between online retailers and their brick-and-mortar rivals with a Twitter posting Wednesday about Amazon.com Inc. and taxes.

And he has a point — though the Seattle-based online giant has taken steps to reduce its tax advantage in recent years — retail industry specialists say.

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August 21, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Queen Of The Multistate Bar Exam Bids Adieu

Erica MoeserNational Law Journal, Queen of the Multistate Bar Exam Bids Adieu:

Erica Moeser has long been the face of the National Conference of Bar Examiners — the organization that designs and administers the all-important Multistate Bar Exam used by jurisdictions nationwide.

On Aug. 21, she’ll put down her No. 2 pencil, hand in her Scantron sheet and retire from Wisconsin-based NCBE after 23 years as president. She will be replaced by current director of test operations Judith Gundersen, who has worked at the conference since 2000.

During her tenure, Moeser oversaw a push to professionalize how the test is put together and launched the Uniform Bar Exam drive. The uniform exam allows takers to transport their scores to participating jurisdictions without having to retake the test, and 28 different jurisdictions have signed on since 2010.

More recently, Moeser has served as the bar exam’s defender-in-chief against critics who blame the test itself for plummeting pass rates across the country over the past three years — a decline she attributes to law schools lowering their admission standards. She also has challenged naysayers who claim the bar exam doesn’t assess the skills and knowledge lawyers need in practice, and she has been a vocal proponent of the American Bar Association’s ongoing effort to raise the bar pass minimum that law schools must meet to stay accredited.

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August 20, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

6th Circuit Rejects Rand Paul's Constitutional Challenge To FATCA On Standing Grounds

FATCAFollowing up on my recent posts (links below):   Crawford v. U.S. Treasury Dep’t, No. 16-03539 (6th Cir. Aug. 18, 2017) (citations omitted):

In 2010, Congress passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), a law aimed at reducing tax evasion by United States taxpayers holding funds in foreign accounts. FATCA imposes account-reporting requirements (and hefty penalties for noncompliance) on both individual taxpayers and foreign financial institutions (FFIs). FFIs are further required to deduct and withhold a "tax" equal to 30% of every payment made by the FFI to a noncompliant (or "recalcitrant") account holder. To implement FATCA worldwide, the United States Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have concluded intergovernmental agreements (IGAs), which facilitate FFIs' disclosure of financial-account information to the United States government, with more than seventy countries. Separately from FATCA and the IGAs, the Bank Secrecy Act imposes a foreign bank account reporting (FBAR) requirement on Americans living abroad who have aggregate foreign-account balances over $10,000; willful failure to file an FBAR invites a penalty of 50% of the value of the reportable accounts or $100,000, whichever is greater.

Plaintiffs — who include Senator Rand Paul and several individuals who claim to be subject to FATCA and the FBAR — sought to enjoin the enforcement of FATCA, the IGAs, and the FBAR, and they now appeal the dismissal of their lawsuit for lack of standing. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the district court. ...

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August 20, 2017 in New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Using Hamilton To Teach Economics

Hamilton 3Matthew C. Rousu (Susquehanna University) & Courtney A. Conrad (Susquehanna University), Economic Lessons from the Musical Hamilton, 2 J. Econ. Teaching 30 (2017):

The musical Hamilton is the most popular musical in recent history and might be the best single album one could use to teach economic concepts. We explore how the songs in Hamilton can be used to teach about opportunity cost, trade-offs, time preferences and time-inconsistent preferences, the Federal Reserve System and central banking, economic freedom, and more. We also provide discussion questions that educators could use to teach concepts presented in Hamilton.

(Hat Tip: Greg Mankiw.)  For more on my obsession with interest in Hamilton, see here and:

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August 20, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

SSRN LogoThere is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with new papers debuting on the list at #3, #4, and #5:

  1. [648 Downloads]  Family Limited Partnerships and Section 2036: Not Such a Good Fit, by Mitchell Gans (Hofstra) & Jonathan Blattmachr (Milbank, New York)
  2. [456 Downloads]  The Front Door Opens Wide for the Backdoor Roth IRA, by Philip Manns (Liberty) & Timothy Todd (Liberty)
  3. [376 Downloads]  Federal Tax Procedure (2017 Practitioner Ed.), by John Townsend (Houston)
  4. [196 Downloads]  BEPS and European Union Law, by Sjoerd Douma (Leiden)
  5. [121 Downloads]  Codification of the Tax Law and the Emergence of the Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, by George Yin (Virginia)

August 20, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Valparaiso Enrolls 28 1Ls, Down 73% From Last Year (87% From 2013)

Valparaiso (2017)Indiana Lawyer, Valparaiso Law Incoming Class Significantly Smaller but Posts Higher LSATs and GPAs:

As classes begin again, Valparaiso University Law School is standing apart from other Indiana law school as it welcomes an incoming 1L class of just 28 students, 73 percent smaller than the class that entered last year.

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August 19, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

The Hazards Of Deaning

The bad news:  I broke my finger playing in the annual faculty v. 1L kickball game.
The good news:  I did it turning a nifty 6-3 double play.

Finger

August 19, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)