TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Call For Corporate Tax Papers:  ClassCrits IX

Class Crits 2ClassCrits IX Call for Papers and Participation: The New Corporatocracy and Election 2016:

We invite panel proposals, roundtable discussion proposals, and paper presentations that speak to this year’s theme, as well as to general ClassCrits themes.  Proposal due: May 16, 2016.

As the U.S. presidential election approaches, our 2016 conference will explore the role of corporate power in a political and economic system challenged by inequality and distrust as well as by new energy for transformative reform.

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May 5, 2016 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tulsa Votes To Strip Founder's Name Off Law School Building Due To KKK Ties

TulsaFollowing up on yesterday's post, Tulsa To Vote Today On Whether To Strip Founder's Name Off Law School Building Due To KKK Ties:  Tulsa World, TU Trustees Vote to Remove Name with KKK Ties From College of Law Building:

Completing a process one insider described as "challenging for all of us," University of Tulsa trustees on Wednesday voted to remove the name of one of its most steadfast supporters from the College of Law building.

John Rogers, a prominent attorney who died in 1977, was a TU trustee for 40 years and the law school's founding dean, but belonged to the Ku Klux Klan and another vigilante organization in the 1920s.

TU President Steadman Upham said those associations, although apparently brief, led to the decision to remove Rogers' name from the campus building erected in his honor in the 1970s.

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May 5, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1092

IRS Logo 2Kristin E. Hickman (Minnesota), Pursuing a Single Mission (or Something Closer to it) for the IRS, 7 Colum. J. Tax L. ___ (2016):

It is often said that taxes are the lifeblood of government. As the nation’s tax collector, the IRS serves a critical function without which the federal government would cease to function. Yet the IRS is an agency in crisis—mired in scandal, chronically underfunded, overreliant on automation, and failing to provide taxpayers with the support they need to comply with the tax laws and pay their taxes. This Essay argues that a major contributor to the IRS’s woes is Congress’s penchant in recent decades for utilizing the IRS to administer social welfare and regulatory programs that are only tangentially related to the IRS’s traditional revenue raising mission.

This Essay examines the consequences of that choice and calls for reforming the IRS’s organizational structure to segregate the revenue collection function from the biggest and most politically fraught social welfare and regulatory programs that currently fall within the IRS’s jurisdiction. To that end, this Essay suggests giving serious consideration either to spinning off several non-revenue raising programs from IRS oversight or to splitting up the IRS altogether and distributing its many functions among other new or existing agencies.

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May 5, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hemel:  The President's Power To Tax

Daniel Hemel (Chicago), The President's Power to Tax, 102 Cornell L. Rev. ___ (2016):

President Obama and his predecessors have used their regulatory authority to implement significant elements of their domestic policy agendas across a wide range of issue areas—including the environment, immigration, labor, and health care. But recent administrations have been much less willing to exercise regulatory authority in the realm of tax. More precisely, recent administrations have been reluctant to take regulatory actions that raise revenue (although quite willing, in certain cases, to take regulatory actions that move the law in a taxpayer-friendly direction). This is not because the Executive Branch lacks the legal authority to adopt significant revenue-raising tax reforms via regulation: as this article demonstrates, the Executive Branch’s “power to tax” under existing statutes is broad. Nor is it because the President is satisfied with the tax status quo: recent Presidents have repeatedly asked Congress to amend the tax code via legislation. Yet in many cases, the change that the President asks Congress to make is a change that the Executive Branch already has authority to make on its own. What explains the reluctance of recent administrations to raise revenue through regulatory action?

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May 4, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Is Bernie Sanders's Tax Nirvana: Top 1% Pay 48% Of Taxes

Los Angeles Times, When It Comes to Paying Taxes, California Is Bernie Sanders' Kind of State:

Bernie Sanders wags his finger and shouts that the richest 1% should pay their fair share. No one can argue they aren’t already in California, at least in state taxes. In fact, they’re forking over more than their fair share to Gov. Jerry Brown’s regime.

The latest figures have just been released, and the top 1% paid nearly half — 48% — of the state’s personal income taxes in 2014.

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May 4, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

NY Times:  AG Dings Developer Aby Rosen For $7 Million In Unpaid Taxes On Art

HurstFollowing up on my previous posts:

New York Times, Developer Aby Rosen to Pay $7 Million in Suit Over Unpaid Taxes on Art:

Aby J. Rosen, the Manhattan real estate developer and art collector, is well known for exhibiting works from his collection at the landmark Seagram Building and at Lever House, both on Park Avenue, as well as at 530 Park Avenue, a 19-story residential condominium. He also has five pieces by Picasso in his Manhattan home, and a controversial, 33-foot-tall bronze sculpture of a pregnant woman with an exposed fetus on the grounds of his estate in Old Westbury, on Long Island.

That $2.5 million, 13-ton sculpture by Damien Hirst [right] is one of 200 artworks that have put Mr. Rosen at the center of another controversy — this one involving unpaid taxes.

The New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, announced a $7 million settlement with Mr. Rosen on Tuesday for failing to pay taxes on $80 million in artwork that he had bought or commissioned since 2002.

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May 4, 2016 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Puckett:  Structural Tax Exceptionalism

James M. Puckett (Penn State), Structural Tax Exceptionalism, 50 Ga. L. Rev. 1067 (2015):

This Article argues that it is misleading to declare the death of tax exceptionalism and that structural tax exceptionalism may have important benefits. Part II provides a brief historical overview of the rise of federal agency administration of statutes and especially tax laws. The history trends to detract from anti-tax and anti-agency rhetoric that counsel disempowering the Treasury Department and other administrative agencies from comprehensively enforcing laws and making policy in their relevant domains.

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May 4, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law School Rankings:  Federal Judicial Clerkships

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), Visualizing Law School Federal Judicial Clerkship Placement, 2013-2015:

The release of the latest ABA employment data offers an opportunity to update the three-year federal judicial clerkship placement rates. Here is the clerkship placement rate for the Classes of 2013, 2014, and 2015.

The Top 10 are:

  1. Yale (31.3%)
  2. Stanford (28.6%)
  3. Harvard (16.8%)
  4. Virginia (14.6%)
  5. UC-Irvine (13.6%)
  6. Chicago (13.5%)
  7. UC-Berkeley (11.0%)
  8. Duke (10.2%)
  9. Vanderbilt (10.1%)
  10. Michigan (9.4%)

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May 4, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS To Hire 700 New Enforcement Agents

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal, IRS to Hire Up to 700 Enforcement Workers:

The Internal Revenue Service is hiring up to 700 employees for tax enforcement in what Commissioner John Koskinen calls the agency’s “first significant enforcement hiring in more than five years.”

In a memo to employees Tuesday, Mr. Koskinen said the IRS found money for the hiring—despite budget constraints—because of retirements, other departures and unspecified “efficiencies.” The first wave of hiring will begin in a few weeks and will be concentrated in the IRS department that monitors small businesses and the self-employed.

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May 4, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

The Value Of Corporate Externships For Law Students

Kwak:  Reducing Inequality With A Retrospective Tax On Capital

James Kwak (Connecticut), Reducing Inequality with a Retrospective Tax on Capital, 25 Cornell J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 191 (2015):

Inequality in the developed world is high and growing: in the United States, 1% of the population now owns more than 40% of all wealth. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the economist Thomas Piketty argues that inequality is only likely to increase: invested capital tends to grow faster than the economy as a whole, causing wealth to concentrate in a small number of hands and eventually producing a society dominated by inherited fortunes. The solution he proposes, an annual wealth tax, has been reflexively dismissed even by supporters of his overall thesis, and presents a number of practical difficulties. However, a retrospective capital tax — which imposes a tax on the sale of an asset based on its (imputed) historical values — can reduce the rate of return on investments and thereby slow down the growth of wealth inequality. A retrospective capital tax mitigates or avoids the administrative and constitutional problems with a simple annual wealth tax and can reduce the rate of return on capital more effectively than a traditional income tax.

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May 4, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tulsa To Vote Today On Whether To Strip Founder's Name Off Law School Building Due To KKK Ties

TulsaTulsa World, KKK Ties: TU Could Change Name on College of Law Building:

The University of Tulsa may soon remove the name of a key figure in the school’s development from a campus building because of a brief involvement with the Ku Klux Klan, the Tulsa World has confirmed.

TU trustees are expected to decide Wednesday whether to take down the name of John Rogers from the university’s College of Law, which Rogers helped found in 1943.

Rogers was also the attorney for J.A. and Leta Chapman, whose estate saved the university from almost certain bankruptcy in the 1960s and became the foundation for what is now a $1 billion endowment. ...

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May 4, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1091

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Members Of Congress Push To Shut Down IRS Forever, by Kelly Phillips Erb:

Shut down the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

That’s the recommendation from the Republican Study Committee (RSC) to House Republicans. The proposal to shutter the IRS, together with other policy initiatives, were submitted by RSC Chairman Bill Flores (R-TX) to House Republican task forces for consideration.

As part of its proposal on tax reform, the RSC slammed the IRS, writing:

In its current form, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is at best an inefficient behemoth weighing down our economy. At its worst, the IRS has shown a capacity for outright corruption and political targeting.

The proposal went on to claim:

Under the Obama Administration, the IRS has illegally targeted conservatives. It has channeled millions of taxpayer dollars away from taxpayer assistance for employee bonuses. It has allowed taxpayer information to be compromised in a data breach. The IRS has even intentionally leaked confidential taxpayer information. Despite these facts, the president’s budget actually calls for increasing spending on the IRS by $1 billion.

The solution? “[T]he complete elimination of the IRS.” ...

That’s not to say that the news is all good. The IRS has been plagued by scandal. The tax exempt organization scandal, in particular, has left a bad taste in the mouths of many taxpayers. Concerns over security weaknesses and technology failures have made taxpayers understandably wary.

In response, Congress has hammered the federal agency by slashing the budget. In 2015, seven former IRS commissioners signed onto a joint letter to Congress speaking out against further reductions, noting “[o]ver the last fifty years, none of us has ever witnessed anything like what has happened to the IRS appropriations over the last five years and the impact these appropriations reductions are having on our tax system.” That same year, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson noted that “the budget environment of the last five years has brought about a devastating erosion of taxpayer service, harming taxpayers individually and collectively.” ...

And interestingly, for all that Congress wants to complain that IRS is spending too much money and has too much power, Congress keeps handing over responsibilities to the agency. Obamacare? Up to IRS to administer. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (called FATCA)? The IRS administers that, too. That new passport law? IRS. Even as Congress decries the agency, they’re the very ones guaranteeing the need for its existence.

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May 4, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Prasad Presents Neoliberalism And The 1981 Reagan Tax Cuts Today At NYU

PrasadMonica Prasad (Northwestern) presents The Popular Origins of Neoliberalism in the Reagan Tax Cut of 1981, 24 J. Pol'y Hist. 351 (2012), at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Chris Sanchirico:

The debt when Reagan entered office was just over $900 billion, not historically high in constant dollars or as a percent of GDP, but by the time Reagan left office it had almost tripled in nominal terms, and in percent of GDP it had gone from 33.4 percent to 51.9 percent. At the end of his term, the debt stood at $2.6 trillion, with a substantial portion of it contributed by Reagan's own policies: a mountain over 160 miles high in loose or tight bricks.

The irony is that the policy that accelerated the growth of that debt was the very policy Reagan was promoting in that first address, the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 (ERTA). This tax cut remains the largest tax cut in American history. Of course, spending increases were also necessary to the creation of the new mountain of debt, but spending has increased many times over the course of the century. What was historically new was the policy of not raising taxes to match those spending increases.

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May 3, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law Student Turns 2-Year Suspension For Stealing Laptop Into 20-Year Prison Sentence By Tampering With Larceny Conviction Record

Sufolk Law SchoolNational Law Journal, Law Student Convicted of Laptop Larceny Loses Appeal Amid Tampering Charges:

A former Suffolk University law student charged with tampering a courthouse file related to his conviction for stealing a laptop from a campus locker has lost an appeal in Massachusetts.

A three-judge panel of the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed David Scher’s 2014 conviction of larceny in a April 27 decision, issued less than a month after Scher pleaded not guilty to separate charges of perjury and tampering.

Prosecutors allege Scher, 33, removed the document showing his conviction from the physical case file at the clerk’s office and replaced it with a fake version that said he was found not guilty. Scher then used the forged verdict slip to attempt to have his conviction erased with Massachusetts’ Department of Criminal Justice Information Services, which oversees arrest and conviction records, in a bid to obtain his law diploma from Suffolk, prosecutors contend.

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May 3, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Estate Tax Is Destroying The Environment

Estate TaxBrian Seasholes (Reason Foundation), The Ecologically Destructive Tax: How the Federal Estate Tax Is Ecologically Harmful and How to Fix It:

The ongoing debate over the federal estate tax tends to focus on the tax’s economic impacts, such as on small businesses, employment and capital formation, as well as the very small percentage it constitutes of federal tax receipts. Less well known, however, is the significant harm the estate tax does to the ecology of the United States.

Private lands, especially large, intact pieces of land, are critically important to ecological conservation. Conversely, land broken into smaller pieces is generally of less ecological value. Unfortunately, the estate tax results in private land being broken up, subdivided and sold. Over the past several decades it has become increasingly apparent that:

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May 3, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (12)

Green Bay Fan Meets Wife At Wisconsin Law School 10-Year Reunion, Plans To Take Her Last Name: Packer

Packers 2Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Green and Gold Nuptials: Fan to Marry Into Packer Name:

As a fervent and lifelong fan of the green and gold, Ryan Holtan-Murphy finally found a way to become a Packer himself.

He's marrying into the name.

Ryan met this woman at his University of Wisconsin Law School 10-year reunion in 2014. Her name, she said, is Marie Packer.

"I thought she was messing with me," he said.

"This beautiful girl. We completely hit it off. She's fun, she's interesting, she's smart, she's hilarious. All of this. And her last name — it was like a thunderbolt for me," he said. "Her last name was just the flashing neon sign saying, 'This is the one!'"

Long story short, they're getting married next year, and Ryan is taking Marie's last name.

"He was like gimme, gimme, gimme, I want it," Marie said. "I didn't know the extent of the Packer fandom. I just knew he was really excited about my last name." ...

Ryan, 40, is a 1994 graduate of Wauwatosa East High School who went on to college and law school in Madison. He left Wisconsin to practice financial law in New York for five years, then London for five, then back to New York where he lives now. He still has family in Wauwatosa. ...

Marie, 37, grew up in Ann Arbor and went to medical school at Michigan State. Her residency took her to Chicago, where she now lives and commutes to St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago, Ind. She is an emergency room doctor. ...

Marie was Lombardi's wife's name, adding to his Marie's perfection in Ryan's eyes. "For me, the Packers have always been more than a team. They're almost an embodiment of Wisconsin, a symbol of home. I proudly take my Packer flag everywhere I travel, from Antarctica to Moscow," he said. ...

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May 3, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thimmesch:  Taxing Honesty

Adam B. Thimmesch (Nebraska), Taxing Honesty, 118 W. Va. L. Rev. 147 (2015):

It is commonly accepted that state use taxes, most notably those that are due on Internet purchases, are largely unenforceable against individual consumers. Consistent with that view, states have focused their enforcement efforts on forcing retailers to collect those taxes at the point of sale, and taxpayers have maintained nearly complete indifference toward remitting the tax of their own accord. This combination of factors has transformed the state use tax into a de facto tax on honesty — a tax with which only our most principled, risk-averse, or perhaps foolish even attempt to comply. The current structure of these taxes is further troubling because compliance is a practical impossibility. Unfortunately, however, academic attention to the state use tax has focused almost exclusively on whether and under what conditions states should be allowed to compel vendors to collect that tax.

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May 3, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

After U.S. News Stopped Giving Full Weight To Law School-Funded Jobs, 52% Of Those Jobs Disappeared

2017 U.S. News LogoDerek Muller (Pepperdine), Law School-Funded Positions Dry Up With U.S. News Methodology Change:

[Previously, U.S. News & World Report made] no distinction between positions funded by law schools and those that weren't. Last year, for the first time, U.S. News & World Report announced a change to the methodology. The rankings now "discounted the value of these types of jobs." This year, the first full year of reporting after the change went into effect, law schools dramatically cut back on such positions. There were 520 law school-funded bar passage-required positions for the Class of 2012, up to 777 for the Class of 2013 and 833 for the Class of 2014. This year, however, the number plunged to 397. ...

Jerry Organ has more thoughts here. He attributes some of the decline to changes in reporting requirements and definitions from the ABA.

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May 3, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (15)

WSJ:  Latest ABA Data Show Declining Job Prospects For Law School Graduates

ABA Logo 2Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Law School Graduate Employment Data Shows Decline in Legal Jobs:

In recent months, we’ve seen signs of an emerging recovery in the legal education market. Newly released employment statistics for the Class 2015, however, won’t help build the case for optimism, according to a professor’s analysis.

At first blush, the latest numbers released by the American Bar Association on Monday suggest a positive trend: A larger percentage of new graduates of ABA-accredited schools are landing legal jobs as compared to last year’s figures. But that outcome is overshadowed by a more dispiriting national trend, according to legal education numbers guru Jerry Organ of the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

Over at Legal Whiteboard blog, Mr. Organ crunches the numbers and finds a sharp decline in the number of full-time legal jobs occupied by the Class of 2015. He writes:

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May 3, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

Crawford:  The Best Estate & Gift Tax Articles Of 2014 & 2015

Bridget J. Crawford (Pace), Two Years' Worth of Estate and Gift Tax Law Review Articles, 151 Tax Notes 215 (Apr. 11, 2016):

Legal scholarship produced by law professors can be of great use to tax practitioners and policymakers. In the Tax Notes tradition of publishing "Law Review Summaries," Professor Crawford reviews five estate and gift tax articles from each of 2015 and 2014 that were published in student-run law reviews and which are likely to be of interest to tax professionals.

The articles from 2015 are:

  1. Steven J. Arsenault (Charlotte), Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts: After $100 Billion, It's Time to Solve the Great GRAT Caper, 63 Drake L. Rev. 373 (2015)
  2. Stephanie R. Hoffer (Ohio State), Making the Law More ABLE: Reforming Medicaid for Disability, 76 Ohio St. L.J. 1255 (2015)
  3. Sergio Pareja (New Mexico), How the Über-Wealthy Benefit From Investing Outside Retirement Plans (and How You Can Too), 64 Cath. U. L. Rev. 563 (2015)
  4. Margaret Ryznar (Indiana-Indianapolis), The Odd Couple: The Estate Tax and Family Law, 76 La. L. Rev. 523 (2015)
  5. Reid Kress Weisbord (Rutgers), Trust Term Extension, 67 Fla. L. Rev. 73 (2015)

The articles from 2014 are:

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May 3, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Grit And Legal Education:  Female Students Are Grittier Than Male Students

True GritEmily Zimmerman (Drexel) & Leah Brogan (Drexel), Grit and Legal Education, 36 Pace L. Rev. 114 (2015):

Although research indicates that grit predicts successful performance in a variety of contexts, grit is underexplored in the context of legal education. We investigated the relationship between grit and law school grade point average (GPA) among recent law school graduates. Contrary to expectations, a statistically significant correlation did not emerge between grit and law school GPA. However, average grit scores of women and men did significantly differ, with women reporting higher overall grit scores than men. Female and male participants’ law school GPAs did not significantly differ. This article discusses our research project and the questions regarding legal education that our findings raise. We also identify areas for further research regarding grit, legal education, and law practice.

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May 3, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (4)

WSJ:  Tax Breaks For Twitter Bring Benefits And Criticism

Twitter (2014)Wall Street Journal, Tax Breaks for Twitter Bring Benefits and Criticism:

Lucho Cabrera, a 53-year-old formerly homeless man, turned to an unlikely place during his recent hunt for affordable housing: a $3 million community center built by Twitter across from the social media giant’s sleek art deco headquarters.

The NeighborNest center exists because the city five years ago struck deals with tech companies to move to the gritty Tenderloin area in exchange for tax breaks particularly attractive to start-ups. Twitter, Zendesk, Spotify and others snapped up new headquarters buildings, turning a dilapidated commercial strip known as Mid-Market into a new tech hub replete with hip espresso cafes and artisanal lunch joints.

For low-income residents such as Mr. Cabrera, who now get free technology training and child care at the community center, the corporate neighbors are welcome. “You hear stuff on Twitter taking over,” Mr. Cabrera said. “Hey, these people are helping us.”

Across the U.S., tensions over gentrification have given rise to community benefits agreements, which seek concessions from developers in exchange for community support for their projects. Activists hail such agreements when they benefit those likely to be displaced by neighborhood change.

But critics of the San Francisco tax breaks say they have cost the city revenue without bringing enough concrete benefits to the community. Advocates for the poor also say the Tenderloin’s redevelopment threatens to strip away one of the last redoubts for low-income residents in an ever-wealthier city.

May 3, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Alaska’s Folly:  Politicians Contemplate A State Income Tax

WealthWall Street Journal op-ed:  Alaska’s Folly: Politicians Contemplate a State Income Tax, by Stephen Moore (Heritage Foundation):

The first and only state to ever abolish an existing income tax was Alaska. It happened in 1980 when the oil boom in Prudhoe Bay and the construction of the Alaska pipeline brought gushers of windfall-drilling royalties and fees into the state coffers in Juneau.

The combination of high-paying energy jobs and the lure of no income tax made Alaska an economic dynamo and a net importer of people for most of three and a half decades. It is safe to say that few were moving to Alaska for the weather.

But the crash in oil prices to as low as $30 a barrel in January (it’s now about $40) has shrunk state revenues by two-thirds and left Alaska in a financial crisis. To fill the funding gap, Gov. Bill Walker, a left-leaning independent, wants major new taxes on the already-ailing energy industry and even worse: to revive the income tax.

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May 3, 2016 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1090

IRS Logo 2Reuters, Conservatives in Congress Urge Shutdown of IRS:

It's a U.S. taxpayer's dream: make the Internal Revenue Service go away, and the largest conservative group in Congress is endorsing just that.

The Republican Study Committee, which counts over two-thirds of House of Representatives Republicans as its members, called recently for "the complete elimination of the IRS."

The committee's support for this idea, once confined to the fringes of conservative ideology, suggests it is more widely accepted on Capitol Hill than ever. But many in Washington, including some Republicans, have trouble taking it seriously. ...

It was unclear how House Speaker Paul Ryan would treat the study committee's proposal in drafting a party policy agenda ahead of the Republican convention in Cleveland in July. "The speaker welcomes input from the RSC and all members of our conference," said Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong. Ryan has sidestepped calls for abolishing the IRS in the past, while frequently criticizing the agency.

Washington Post editorial, Congress Should Let the IRS Do Its Job, Not Tie Its Hands:

“The beatings will continue until morale improves,” a famously ironic phrase of unknown origin, aptly describes the Republican House approach to the Internal Revenue Service.

The House has passed a series of sniping, counterproductive measures picking on the IRS. One would limit how it spends the user fees it collects. Another would freeze hiring at the understaffed agency until it obtains certification that no one there has major tax debt. The dumbest would mandate that no one at the IRS could get a bonus until customer service improves.

But who is responsible for the decline of customer service at the IRS? House Republicans. The IRS budget is $500 million below its level in 2010 , the year that Republicans won control of the House. It has been forced to shed 17,000 workers. Meanwhile, its responsibilities have increased. More people are filing taxes. The agency has to administer key parts of the Affordable Care Act. Cyberthreats have skyrocketed, including instances of identity theft.

Hollowing out the IRS has been one of the most foolish policies the GOP majority has pursued, as our columnist Catherine Rampell has illustrated. Tax cheats are encouraged and rewarded. Performing fewer audits cost the government $8 billion in 2015. ...

April is synonymous with taxes, so it is little surprise that Republicans chose last month to harry the IRS, among the least-loved parts of government. But the solution to the IRS’s problems is not more punishment, particularly of the sort that is likely to inhibit its ability to hire competent employees. The answer is for lawmakers to give the agency the money it needs to do its job. The country relies on a mostly voluntary system of tax compliance. If respect for and cooperation with that system decline, the government will lose the very revenue Congress expects the IRS to collect — and on which lawmakers’ budgets depend.

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May 3, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Princeton Prof Releases 'CV Of Failures'

PrincetonJohannes Haushofer, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, has an impressive CV.  But his  CV of Failures has attracted even more attention, listing all the rejections he has endured in his short academic career.  He lists as his meta-failure: "This darn CV of Failures has received way more attention than my entire body of academic work."

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May 2, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times:  One Top Taxpayer Moved, And New Jersey Shuddered

New York Times:  One Top Taxpayer Moved, and New Jersey Shuddered, by Robert Frank:

Our top-heavy economy has come to this: One man can move out of New Jersey and put the entire state budget at risk. Other states are facing similar situations as a greater share of income — and tax revenue — becomes concentrated in the hands of a few.

Last month, during a routine review of New Jersey’s finances, one could sense the alarm. The state’s wealthiest resident had reportedly “shifted his personal and business domicile to another state,” Frank W. Haines III, New Jersey’s legislative budget and finance officer, told a State Senate committee. If the news were true, New Jersey would lose so much in tax revenue that “we may be facing an unusual degree of income tax forecast risk,” Mr. Haines said.

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May 2, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Evolution of Wealth Inequality: The Role of Skills, Taxes And Institutions

Barıs Kaymak (Université de Montréal) & Markus Poschke (McGill University), The Evolution of Wealth Inequality Over Half a Century: The Role of Skills, Taxes and Institutions:

Over the last 50 years, the US economy saw significant changes in its fiscal structure. Notable among these are the introduction and expansion of social security programs and Medicare, and the transformation of the tax system. These institutional changes took place against a backdrop of developments in the technology of production that increasingly favored skilled workers. In this paper, we analyze how the interplay between these institutional and technological factors might have shaped the distributions of income, wealth, consumption and welfare. We find that while changes in income inequality are mostly attributable to technological factors, the increase in wealth inequality has further been compounded by the expansion of social security and Medicare, which have reduced saving incentives for retirement, in particular for low and middle income groups. As a result, they have substantially increased wealth concentration in US. Results suggest that approximately 25% of the rise in the share of wealth held by the wealthiest 1% is explained by larger transfers to senior population.

Estate Tax 1

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May 2, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

More Evidence Of The White Bias In Legal Education

Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), More Evidence of the White Bias in Legal Education:

Alexia Brunet Marks and Scott Moss have just published an article that analyzes empirical data to determine which admissions characteristics best predict law student grades. Their study, based on four recent classes matriculating at their law school (the University of Colorado) or Case Western’s School of Law, is careful and thoughtful. Educators will find many useful insights. 

A new study, authored by Daniel Schwarcz and Dion Farganis, documents the same effect among students at the University of Minnesota Law School. Schwarcz and Farganis’s primary research interest focuses on the educational impact of individualized feedback given to first-year law students. Paul Caron, Michael Simkovic, and Lawrence Solum have already discussed those parts of the paper; I hope to add some of my thoughts soon.

While analyzing the impact of feedback, however, Schwarcz and Farganis produced even more striking results related to race.

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May 2, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Borden:  Reforming REIT Taxation (Or Not)

REITBradley T. Borden (Brooklyn), Reforming REIT Taxation (Or Not), 53 Hous. L. Rev. 1 (2015):

Tax law treats the income of real estate investment trusts (REITs) differently from the income of regular corporations. Income distributed by regular corporations is subject to an entity-level tax and a shareholder-level tax, while taxable income distributed by REITs is subject to tax only at the shareholder level. To qualify for that single-level of tax, REITs must hold primarily real estate assets, and their income must be primarily from such assets. After being a relatively insignificant part of the economy for the first three decades of their existence, REITs have become relevant over the last twenty years, with the market capitalization of publicly traded REITs eclipsing 5% of U.S. GDP at the end of 2014. Reports about REITs appear frequently in major media outlets, with an emphasis on corporate-tax-base erosion that results from REIT taxation. Calls for REIT reform have been answered with proposed legislation that would change various aspects of REIT taxation. Recent work in this area shows that even though REITs do erode the corporate tax base, the requirement that they distribute income and the higher tax rates of REIT shareholders offset corporate-tax-base erosion and minimize the tax-revenue effects of REIT taxation.

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May 2, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

USC Cancels America's Premier Game Design Program Because Lineup Of Industry Leaders Was All-Male

USC 2Heat Street, USC Cancels ‘Legends of the Games Industry’ Event for Not Including Women:

America’s premier game-design program canceled an all-star industry panel last week for the sole reason that the lineup was all-male.

The University of Southern California was able to attract some of the biggest talent in the industry to their April 20 event: head game designer at Blizzard, Jeffrey Kaplan; CEO of Riot Games, Brandon Beck; and head of Infinity Ward, David Stohl — among others.

As reported by the Daily Trojan, not only would students have been able to hear from these titans of the game industry, they could have showcased their games to the panelists as well. ...

What a cool, possibly life-changing event for the students at USC. It would be a shame if people’s feelings got in the way….

Well, just four hours prior to the event, the whole thing was cancelled. And the reason given was it had to be shut down because of the all-male panel — as explained on the Facebook page of the University of Southern California Interactive Media & Games Division. ...

The student went on to say that it was Professor Anthony Borquez who organized the event, but was told that he must get a female panelist to use event space at the games department. Borquez obliged, but due to a scheduling conflict, the female panelist backed out.

Despite the good faith effort, the student explained, Director of USC Games Tracy Fullerton cancelled the event at the last minute. ...

“There was no perfect choice here,” Director of USC Games Tracy Fullerton said. “There was only the choice to stand for one set of values or another. So, I chose the path I believe in. You all are free to disagree, but I think it is the right side of history.”

The Daily Trojan ran a student point/counterpoint debate on the appropriateness of cancelling the event when the sole female panelist backed out due to a scheduling conflict:

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May 2, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sen. Hatch Demands Release Of Secret Reagan-Era DOJ Tax Memo Supporting Obama's Expansive Use Of Presidential Power

Washington Times, Orrin Hatch Demands Secret Memo That’s Aided Obama Executive Actions:

President Obama’s unilateral pen-and-phone approach to governing has been aided by a decades-old secret memo that allows him to avoid economic scrutiny of some of the most intrusive rules and regulations his administration has issued, a top senator said Thursday.

Now Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and chairman of the Finance Committee, has demanded Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew release the 1983 memorandum of understanding and defend the Reagan-era policy that has let Mr. Obama pursue changes on everything from corporate taxes to Obamacare without first giving a full heads-up to Congress.

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May 2, 2016 in Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

There's No Crying In The Law Library ... Even During Finals

Above the Law reports that this picture (via @danielschwartz) is in the Hofstra Law Library during finals:

Hofstra

As Tom Hanks would say, "there's no crying in the law library":

May 2, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

LeBron James Pays All Of His Social Security Taxes Before Halftime Of His First Game

Walker:  Junior Law Prawfs FAQs Series On How To Become A Voice In One's Field

Chris Walker (Ohio State) has produced an indispensable 13-part Junior Law Prawfs FAQs Series on how to become a voice in one's field (or, as I put it on an AALS panel nearly ten years ago, Building and Marketing Your Scholarly "Brand"):

  1. How Do I Become a Voice in My Field? (See Also: D Merritt, Going Meta on the Jr. Law Prawfs FAQ Series)
  2. How Does My Research Fit Within the Types of Legal Scholarship?
  3. Should I Say Write a Response to a Law Review Article (or Allow the Law Review to Solicit Responses to Mine)?
  4. Is Publishing a Book Review in a Law Review Still a Worthwhile Pretenure Endeavor? (See Also: P Horwitz, Yes (With Caveats), Publishing a Book Review is Still a Worthwhile Endeavor for Untenured Law Professors)
  5. How Do I Make Sense of Online Law Reviews?
  6. How Do I Increase the Chance My Scholarship Will Be Read?
  7. How Should I Respond to Requests to Read Draft Articles in My Field?
  8. How Can I Increase In-Person Scholarly Interaction with Limited Resources?
  9. Is Blogging Worth It? (See Also: M Froomkin, The Plural of Anecdote is "Blog"; O Kerr, Legal Academic Blogging and Influence vs. Credit)
  10. Is There Any Reason Not To Be on Twitter?
  11. What About Podcasts? What About Media Consultations? (See Also: C Turner, Podcasts; C Walker, Rethinking Law Review Podcasts)
  12. Should I Join Law Prof Amicus Briefs, Write White Papers, Or Do Other Advocacy Work?
  13. Am I Asking the Right Questions? (See Also: M Rich, Hard Prawf Choices)

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May 2, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Subscribing To TaxProf Blog

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May 2, 2016 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

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May 2, 2016 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1089

IRS Logo 2Breitbart, Judge Denies Kamala Harris Koch Brothers’ Donor List:

A conservative advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers won a First Amendment victory this week denying California Attorney General Kamala Harris access to the names of conservative nonprofit members and contributors.

Harris, the California Attorney General and a Democratic candidate for outgoing Senator Sen. Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat, Harris has been attempting to overturn post-Watergate reforms to the Internal Revenue Code designed to protect confidential federal tax return information by demanding access to the names of contributors to conservative nonprofits.

The Koch Brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) and two other nonprofits filed lawsuits in the Central District Court in Los Angeles alleging Harris had violated the First Amendment by requiring charities that wanting to solicit contributions from Californians to disclose to the State of California all donors anywhere in the United States listed on the nonprofit’s IRS tax return Schedule B. Ms. Harris was also alleged to have attempted coercion to acquire donors’ names by threatening denial of permits and demanding huge fines for failure to comply. ...

As a result of a long history of racist and political bias, Congress passed a number of laws to ensure all charity donor information on Schedule B is protected as confidential. The federal tax code currently includes a regime of control and monitoring over state attorneys general, when they are granted access to donors’ names for legitimate law enforcement purposes. Violation by state officials is subject to civil and felony penalties.

The conservative nonprofits claimed there was a substantial risk Ms. Harris and/or her staff would leak this confidential data to their ideological opponents and her allies. The nonprofits cited various acts of lawlessness and law-breaking exposed by congressional investigators regarding Lois Lerner’s IRS staff leaking the National Organization for Marriage’s Schedule B donor information of the to their opponents. ...

Despite Harris saying she plans to appeal the court’s ruling, the issue may become moot with the U.S. House of Representative’s Ways and Means Committee passing a bill on April 28 titled Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act on a party-line vote, which would eliminate what Republicans dubbed a “superfluous IRS form, known as the Schedule B, which the IRS has used to improperly target tax-exempt organizations.”

Democrats voted against the bill, claiming that the review by the IRS is critical to ensure foreign funds do not covertly enter U.S. election politics.

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May 2, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Empire Strikes Back:  LSAC Threatens To Expel University Of Arizona Over Use Of GRE In Law School Admissions

LSACFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Wall Street Journal, Arizona Law Faces Fight Over LSAT Policy:

A top-tier law school’s decision to make the Law School Admission Test optional has put it on a collision course with the powerful national nonprofit group that administers the exam and controls much of the law-school application process nationwide.

University of Arizona College of Law has started allowing applicants to take the Graduate Record Examination test in lieu of the LSAT, a move the school hopes will expand and diversify the pool of students considering enrolling.

Since 2010, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the number of students applying to law schools has shrunk considerably and is only now starting to stabilize. Allowing the GRE, the thinking goes, could give a boost to applications; at least five times as many people took the GRE in the latest admissions cycle as the LSAT.

At least two other schools—University of Hawaii School of Law and Wake Forest University School of Law—have recently explored similar moves.

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May 1, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

How To Win $17M At Backgammon, Until The IRS Intervenes

IRS BackgammonThe Daily Beast, How To Win $17M At Backgammon, Until The IRS Intervenes:

A legendary Irish gambler took a celebrity-obsessed American private equity honcho to the cleaners, winning over $17 million from him in the course of a 72-hour backgammon session.

Had he been Irish, Alec E. Gores, who nurtures friendship with celebrities such as Sylvester Stallone, Tobey Maguire, and Ben Affleck, and was caught up in the Anthony Pellicano wire-tapping scandal after he apparently set the private dick on his wife who was having an affair with his brother, might have known better than to get into a game of chance and skill with JP McManus. ...

McManus is famous for traveling with a portable backgammon set and, sources acquainted with him tell The Daily Beast, has been known to start games with strangers on airplanes in a (usually successful) attempt to win back his airfare.

But when he sat down with Gores, who is worth $2.1 billion, in November 2012 for what has been described as a “serious backgammon match” he walked away with enough to buy not a plane ticket but a private jet—his winnings were a stunning $17.4 million.

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May 1, 2016 in Celebrity Tax Lore, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThis week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads is the same as last week's list:

  1. [790 Downloads]  Lexisnexis® Guide to FATCA Compliance: Chapter 1, by Willliam Byrnes (Texas A&M) & Robert J. Munro (Texas A&M)
  2. [327 Downloads]  Ownership of the Means of Production, by E. Glen Weyl (Chicago) & Anthony Lee Zhang (Stanford)
  3. [299 Downloads]  The Law of the Platform, by Orly Lobel (San Diego)
  4. [267 Downloads]  Taxing Wealth Seriously, by Edward J. McCaffery (USC)
  5. [243 Downloads]  The Panama Papers and Tax Morality, by Usman W. Chohan (University of New South Wales)

May 1, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. Releases List of 232 Religious Colleges Exempt From Discrimination Laws

DOE 2Wall Street Journal, U.S. Releases List of Religious Colleges Exempt From Discrimination Laws:

The U.S. Department of Education on Friday released the names of scores of religious colleges and universities to which it has recently granted exemptions from gender discrimination laws. The move follows months of pressure from advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights to publish the schools’ information.

In order to receive federal funds, schools must abide by Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination based on sex. Under the law, schools can seek exemptions if they feel that following Title IX would violate their religious beliefs, but until now the federal government hadn’t proactively released the names of schools that asked for, or received, such allowances.

As of April 1, according to a Department tally, 232 institutions had received exemptions, and there are 31 pending requests. The schools ask for waivers from rules barring discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in areas including student admission and housing, as well as employment.

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May 1, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1088

IRS Logo 2CBS News, Koch Brothers Push Forward Efforts To Hide Nonprofit Donors’ Identities:

The billionaire Koch brothers are pushing ahead in their efforts on both the state and federal level to hide the identity of donors to nonprofit groups.

A week after a conservative advocacy group, backed by the Koch brothers, convinced a federal judge in California that it shouldn’t have to reveal the identities of its donors to California officials, a U.S. House panel approved a bill on Thursday that would shield from the Internal Revenue Service from the names of donors to nonprofit organizations.

Critics say review by the IRS is key to ensuring that foreign funds don’t covertly enter U.S. election politics.

On April 21, Americans For Prosperity Foundation, a nonprofit group backed by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, claimed victory when a federal judge in California issued a ruling that California Attorney General Kamala Harris did not have a right to know the identities of that group’s donors.

Harris plans to appeal that ruling. ...

Then, on Thursday, a bill titled Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act, went to the U.S. House of Representative’s Ways and Means Committee where the committee approved the bill 23-15, with all members of the committee voting along party lines. All those in favor of the legislation were Republican.

The legislation aims to eliminate what the Republican-led Ways and Means Committee dubbed a “superfluous IRS form, known as the Schedule B, that the IRS has used to improperly target tax-exempt organizations.” The legislation would ban the IRS from collecting the identity of nonprofit organizations’ donors.

A letter from Koch Companies Public Sector president Phillip Ellender on Thursday argues in favor of the bill, saying:

The targeting of non-profit organizations by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to limit free speech under this Administration is well documented. From the IRS subjecting donors of nonprofit organizations to the gift tax, to the direct targeting of conservative non-profit organizations based solely on their beliefs, this legislation could not be more pertinent. Considering the pair of reports released earlier this year by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), it’s even more pressing. The GAO found serious internal control flaws within the IRS that could allow the agency to continue its targeting of certain Americans for audit ‘based on an organization’s religious, educational, political, or other views.'

Prior to the committee’s Thursday vote, groups critical of the legislation, including the nonprofit organizations Democracy 21, Brennan Center for Justice, Campaign Legal Center, Public Citizen, and the Sunlight Foundation, among others, penned a letter to the members of the House Ways and Means Committee warning that the bill “would open the door wide for secret, unaccountable money from foreign governments, foreign corporations and foreign individuals to be illegally laundered into federal elections through 501(c)(4) groups.”

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May 1, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

University Of Minnesota Study:  Enhanced Individualized Feedback In One Core 1L Class Improves Student Performance In All Of Their Other Classes

Daniel Schwarcz (Minnesota) & Dion Farganis (Minnesota), The Impact of Individualized Feedback on Law Student Performance:

For well over a century, first-year law students have typically not received any individualized feedback in their core "doctrinal" classes other than their final exam grades. Although this pedagogical model has long been assailed by critics, remarkably limited empirical evidence exists regarding the extent to which enhanced feedback improves law students' outcomes. This Article helps fill this gap by focusing on a natural experiment at the University of Minnesota Law School.

The natural experiment arises from the random assignment of first-year law students to sections that take a common slate of classes, only some of which provide individualized feedback. Meanwhile, students in two different sections are occasionally grouped together into a "double section" first-year class. In these double section classes, students in sections that have previously or concurrently had a class providing individualized feedback consistently outperform students in sections that have not received any such feedback. The effect is both statistically significant and hardly trivial in magnitude, approaching about 1/3 of a grade increment even after controlling for students’ LSAT scores, undergraduate GPA, gender, race, and country of birth. The positive impact of feedback also appears to be stronger among lower-performing students.

These findings substantially advance the literature on law school pedagogy, demonstrating that individualized feedback in a single class during the first-year of law school can improve law students' performance in all of their other classes. Against the background of the broader literature on the importance of formative feedback in effective teaching, these findings also have a clear normative implication: law schools should systematically provide first-year law students with individualized feedback in at least one “core” doctrinal first-year class.

Note that the authors (at p.12) "defined individualized feedback to include assigning grades to individual students’ work products, providing individualized written comments to students, or providing individualized or small-group oral feedback to students. By contrast, we did not consider individualized feedback to include instances in which instructors provided students with only a model answer, grading rubric, or generalized oral comments regarding common mistakes."

Larry Solum (Georgetown):

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April 30, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lazear:  America’s Coming Tax Increase

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  America’s Coming Tax Increase (data here), by Edward P. Lazear (Stanford):

The debt held by the public has approximately doubled since President Obama took office and is now equal to 74% of gross domestic product. It is true that with the right policy mix, economic growth—stuck at just over 2% during the Obama “recovery”—will help close federal deficits and pay down the debt. At the end of World War II, for example, the debt-to-GDP ratio was at 104% and shrank to a low of 23% by 1974. But letting growth or future belt-tightening close the gap is the exception, not the rule. More often, higher taxes are the result.

Chart 1

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April 30, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)

Dr. Jayne Caron: My Baby Girl Is Going To Be A Doctor!

Jayne

My beloved, brilliant, and beautiful daughter Jayne has decided to go to NYU Medical School in the fall.  We are so, so proud of Jayne, albeit a bit sad that she will not be going to med school closer to us in California (I blame Lin-Manuel Miranda.)  I am going to cherish these next few days in Madison helping her move out of her apartment after two years working at Epic Systems before she departs on a 2-month backpacking adventure in Europe on Wednesday.  For more on my journey with my amazing daughter, see:

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April 30, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1087

IRS Logo 2Washington Post, Inside Republicans’ Backup Plan to Punish the IRS Chief:

Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been on a campaign since last October to impeach — literally — the tax collector.

But the Utah Republican has found little appetite among House leaders to call for a hearing, much less a vote to remove John Koskinen as head of the beleaguered Internal Revenue Service. Instead, Chaffetz says he is in conversations with his GOP colleagues about a vote on the lesser but still harsh charge of a censure.

“My foremost goal is impeachment and I’m not letting go of it,” Chaffetz said in an interview. “But if censure is the right precursor while we go through the process of educating our members, I have a [censure] bill drafted and ready to go.”

Chaffetz and his fellow Republicans have a slew of grievances against Koskinen’s management of the tax agency he took over in 2013, and last week the House passed six anti-I.R.S. bills by party-line votes to mark Tax Day.

But the effort to remove Koskinen stems from a scandal that preceded him — the IRS’s treatment of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. And since his five-year term ends in November 2017, the GOP effort to oust him could drag on beyond the Obama presidency.

Chaffetz says Koskinen should be impeached for violating the public trust and lying to Congress as it investigated the IRS’s singling out of conservative groups for scrutiny. The congressman has accused the commissioner of erasing back-up computer files containing thousands of e-mails written by Lois Lerner, the central IRS official in the scandal. Koskinen has told lawmakers his staff turned over all e-mails that were relevant to the investigation, and when some were found to be missing, said they were unrecoverable. ...

A censure resolution, rare in Congress’s modern history and far more common against lawmakers than government officials, would be a formal rebuke that states the House’s lack of confidence in Koskinen and calls on President Obama to fire him. It would fall short of outright impeachment, with no real consequence other than the announcement of the vote itself and a good measure of humiliation.

Democrats dismissed both efforts as wasteful partisanship. “Nobody who has examined this issue has identified any evidence of political targeting — not the Justice Department, not the Republican Inspector General of the IRS, and not even the Oversight Committee,” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) the panel’s ranking member, said in a statement. “Republicans have wasted tens of millions of taxpayer dollars chasing false political conspiracy theories.” ...

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), when asked about the impeachment effort earlier this month, said “the IRS is not being led well” and “misled Americans” but stopped well short of backing Koskinen’s ouster. “What I think we need to do is win an election … get better people in these agencies and reform the tax code so we’re not harassing the average taxpayer with a tax code they can’t even understand,” Ryan said.

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April 30, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 29, 2016

WSJ Marks 100th Anniversary Of The Estate Tax, Asks What The Future Holds

100thFollowing up on my previous post, Paul L. Caron (Pepperdine), The One Hundredth Anniversary of the Federal Estate Tax: It's Time to Renew Our Vows, 57 B.C. L. Rev. ___ (2016) (more here):  Wall Street Journal Tax Report, Happy Anniversary! The Estate Tax Turns 100, by Laura Saunders:

In 1916, as World War I raged in Europe, Congress wanted to boost U.S. revenues in case America joined the fighting, so lawmakers voted for a new tax on a person’s assets at death. This levy affected fewer than 1% of Americans who died and raised less than 1% of federal revenue in 1917. ...

So began the modern U.S. estate tax. Today, the tax comes in the form of owing the government up to 40% of your assets at death, above an exemption of $5.45 million per person.

One hundred years later, experts across the political spectrum continue to debate if it should remain. While important details of the estate tax, such as rates and exemptions, have changed over the years, some fundamentals haven’t. ...

The U.S. estate tax has never affected many people, either. According to Paul Caron, an estate-tax specialist who teaches at Pepperdine Law School, it often has applied to fewer than 2% of those dying each year.

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April 29, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)