TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, January 20, 2017

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, David Gamage (Indiana) reviews a new article by Linda Sugin (Fordham), Invisible Taxpayers, 69 Tax L. Rev. 617 (2016).

Gamage (2017)Linda Sugin’s new article engages with important problems related to the taxpayer standing doctrine.  Sugin persuasively and powerfully critiques what she calls “the broad no-taxpayer-standing rule” that prevents most taxpayers from accessing the court system to challenge tax benefits awarded to other taxpayers.  As Sugin explains, “the broad no-taxpayer-standing rule” operates even when important constitutional values are at stake and even when tax benefits are awarded through administrative discretion rather than by an act of Congress. 

Sugin partially rests her analysis on arguing that tax fairness consists of more than just economic fairness.  As she elaborates:

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January 20, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Should President Trump Release His Tax Returns?

TrumpNew York Times op-ed:   Why Americans Care About Trump’s Tax Returns, by Ron Wyden (D-OR):

In his news conference on Wednesday, President-elect Donald J. Trump claimed that the American public did not care that he had not released his tax returns, as has been routine for every presidential nominee since Watergate. He could not be more wrong. ...

The reason is simple. Without these returns, Americans cannot know whether he is using the presidency to enrich himself and his family. Americans won’t know whether a policy he proposes primarily benefits steelworkers in Pennsylvania or lines his own pocket. ...

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January 20, 2017 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)

Tax Partner's Appearance With Trump Was PR Windfall Out Of When Harry Met Sally: Tax Clients Will Flock To Morgan Lewis Saying 'I'll Have What He Had' Referring To Trump's 'Orgasmic Success'

American Lawyer, Morgan Lewis Partner Basks in Trump's Spotlight—Is That a Good Thing?:

Harry SallySheri Dillon of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. The tax partner name-dropped not only her firm but her colleague Fred Fielding during a press conference for President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday. She talked about how Trump engaged her firm, which worked on his matters, their legal opinions and even referred to legal files set out on the stage.

Nick Gaffney, managing partner of Zumado Public Relations in San Francisco, which works for law firms, called the moment of a corporate lawyer talking tax next to Trump on live television "incredibly unusual," "beautiful" and "the best thing ever" from a law firm public relations perspective.

He said he could only remember one other time when a law firm name appeared as prominently before such a large audience. It was 60 years ago, when President Richard Nixon delivered his "Checkers speech" and read a legal opinion from Gibson Dunn. "I would milk this for four years," said Gaffney, whose firm has not represented Morgan Lewis. "No matter what your take is on this administration, you’re going to have to do business with [the government]."

Allan Ripp of Ripp Media, a New York-based public relations consultant who works for law firms regularly, fleshed out the upside for the firm. "The Morgan Lewis shout-out recalls the classic scene from 'When Harry Met Sally,'" he said. "Now, you can imagine big corporate clients going to Morgan Lewis and telling their tax lawyers, 'I'll have what he had!' referring to Trump's orgasmic success."

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January 20, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Lawyer Presidential Campaign Contributions: 97% To Clinton, 3% To Trump

TrumpAmerican Lawyer, For Many Big Law Trump Donors, 'Stigma' Kept Support Below the Radar:

It was no secret during the presidential race that Donald Trump trailed Hillary Clinton in financial donations from the legal industry. Lawyers and firms gave Clinton and affiliated groups more than $39.3 million, while they gave Trump and his groups $1.4 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But many partners at the nation's largest law firms did back the president-elect—even if they opted to keep their support unusually private.

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January 20, 2017 in Legal Education, Political News | Permalink | Comments (4)

Grewal:  The Foreign Emoluments Clause And The Chief Executive

Following up on Tuesday's post, Can Trump Deduct Donations Of Emoluments To The U.S. Treasury?:  Andy Grewal (Iowa), The Foreign Emoluments Clause and the Chief Executive:

The 2016 Presidential election brought widespread attention to a part of the Constitution, the Foreign Emoluments Clause, that had previously enjoyed a peaceful spot in the dustbin of history. That clause generally prohibits U.S. Officers from accepting "emoluments" from foreign governments, absent Congressional consent. Several commentators believe that President Trump will inevitably run into this prohibition, given the global business dealings of the Trump Organization. They read “emolument” as referring to any payment received from a foreign government, such that a diplomat’s payment of a room reservation fee at the Trump Hotel establishes a potentially impeachable offense.

This Article argues that the commentators have interpreted emoluments far too broadly. Numerous legal authorities show that that term, as used in the Foreign Emoluments Clause, refers to payments from a foreign government made in connection with the performance of services (office-related payments), rather than any and all payments from a foreign government.

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January 20, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1352: The End Of My Daily Coverage

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In response to inquiries from Peter J. Reilly (Forbes) and Brian Leiter (University of Chicago Law School), I previously discussed when I would stop my daily coverage of the IRS Scandal:

My answer is the same as it has been throughout the scandal: I will stop when the daily commentary in the press and blogosphere on the scandal (from both the right and the left) ends. At several points in the scandal, as I was running out of content, a new chapter would unfold and my daily coverage would continue. Currently, the scandal has gone mostly quiet and I have only a few posts left in the queue. So it may be that my daily coverage will end soon, and will be resumed if and when the scandal heats up again.

With Donald Trump's inauguration, I am ending my daily coverage as the scandal again has gone mostly quiet.  I will continue to sporadically blog the scandal when there is news about it (indeed, I have a post in the queue for tomorrow).  But I will no longer provide coverage each day.  I hope readers have found my coverage useful, and will continue to come here for updates on the scandal.

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January 20, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (20)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bankman Presents The Global Battle To Capture MNE Profits Today At Duke

Bankman (2016)Joseph Bankman (Stanford) presents Collecting the Rent: The Global Battle to Capture MNE Profits (with Mitchell Kane (NYU) & Alan O. Sykes (Stanford)) at Duke today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

This paper explores the various tools available to jurisdictions in their quest to capture MNE rents. As we shall see the arsenal is an expansive one, including various forms of income and consumption taxation, government purchasing programs, price regulation, antitrust, and common trade instruments such as tariffs or quotas. ...

The paper is organized as follows. In part I we define terms and outline some legally relevant sources of MNE economic rent. Part II covers the basic descriptive analysis of how jurisdictions may seek to capture economic rent through the tax system. To aid analysis here we will work with three stylized, illustrative MNEs, which we will refer to simply as Computer, Pharma, and Coffee. These are meant to capture in a simple way the fact that MNE rents are likely to have different origins across different sectors and that different sectors are thus likely to present different challenges to jurisdictions seeking to capture such rents.

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January 19, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hemel Presents Federalism As A Safeguard Of Progressivity Today At Indiana

HemelDaniel Hemel (Chicago) presents Federalism as a Safeguard of Progressivity at Indiana-Bloomington today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Leandra Lederman:

This article considers the distributional consequences of the Supreme Court’s federalism jurisprudence over the past quarter century, focusing specifically on the anti-commandeering and state sovereign immunity doctrines. The first of these doctrines prevents Congress from compelling the states to administer federal programs; the second prohibits Congress from abrogating state sovereign immunity outside a limited class of cases. Each of these doctrines vests the states with a valuable entitlement protected by a property rule and allows the states to sell the entitlement back to Congress for a price. In this respect, the doctrines have an intergovernmental distributional effect, shifting wealth from the federal government to the states.

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January 19, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Charlotte Law School Fires Two-Thirds Of Faculty And Staff, Abandons Teach-Out Plan As Negotiations With Department Of Education Collapse; Classes Begin Jan. 23

Blair-Stanek:  Just Compensation As Transfer Prices

Andrew Blair-Stanek (Maryland), Just Compensation as Transfer Prices, 58 Ariz. L. Rev. 1077 (2016):

This Article proposes using eminent domain to fight both transfer-pricing abuse and the deadweight losses created by intellectual property. IP creates deadweight losses, because the exclusive rights granted to IP owners allow them to charge higher prices that keep some customers out of the market entirely. IP also allows multinational corporations to avoid taxes on a massive scale, by transferring their IP to tax havens for artificially low prices.

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January 19, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shu-Yi Oei Leaves Tulane For Boston College

OeiShu-Yi Oei, Hoffman F. Fuller Professor of Tax Law at Tulane, has accepted a lateral offer from Boston College, beginning Fall 2017. Here are Shu-Yi's recent publications:

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January 19, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (1)

Number Of LSAT Test-Takers Rises 7.6% In Latest Administration, 2.8% For The 2016-17 Cycle Thus Far

LSAT (2015)After registering the first increase in LSAT test-takers in six years in the 2015-16 cycle, LSAC reports that the number of test-takers was up 7.6% in the third test administration (December) of the 2016-17 cycle.  This is the largest year-over-year test administration growth since December 2009.  Total test-takers in 2016-17 are up 2.8% over the comparable period in 2015-16.

LSAC

ABA Journal, Number of LSAT Tests Administered Jumps Nearly 8 percent; Is Optimism Or Scheduling the Reason?:

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January 19, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

94 Law School Deans Ask ABA To Postpone Proposed 75% Bar Passage Requirement

AALS (2018)AALS Deans Steering Committee 2017:

We write as a group of deans of ABA-accredited law schools to urge the Council of the ABA Section on Legal Education & Admissions to the Bar to withdraw for the time being the proposed change to ABA Standard 316, the standard proposing a stronger and simpler requirement for bar passage to maintain accreditation. Failing that, we urge the ABA House of Delegates at its February meeting in Miami to recommit this proposal to the Council for further scrutiny. More specifically, we urge postponement for one year for additional consideration and study. This issue is simply too important to be rushed unnecessarily.

We believe this Council action requires further consideration and scrutiny in light of significant issues raised by member deans and by legal education organizations, and, more recently, by the results of the July 2016 administration of the California bar examination.  [19 of the 21 ABA-approved California law school deans signed the letter.  The two who did not sign the letter are deans of schools that fell below the 75% threshold on the July 2016 California bar exam (UC-Davis 72%; Chapman 57%).]

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January 19, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1351:  Two Federal Judges Order Five Officials To Preserve Emails Sought In FOIA Lawsuits; Judicial Watch Fears Another Lois Lerner Situation As Obama Administration Leaves Power

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Politico, Judge Orders 4 Homeland Security Officials to Preserve Private-Account Emails:

A federal judge has ordered four current or former top officials at the Department of Homeland Security, including Secretary Jeh Johnson, to preserve emails in their private accounts that may be responsive to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss issued the order Wednesday morning to Johnson, former Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, former chief of staff Christian Marrone, and former General Counsel Stevan Bunnell, telling them to copy relevant messages to thumb drives.

Moss said the Justice Department indicated that all four men agreed to preserve any responsive messages that might be in their private accounts, but he still granted the preservation order sought by the conservative group Judicial Watch, which said it feared the government might lose easy access to the records as Obama appointees ship out.

“Given the Department’s representation, the Court has no reason to doubt that the four individuals have agreed to comply fully with their obligations to preserve any potentially responsive emails and that they have every intention of doing so,” wrote Moss, an appointee of President Barack Obama.

“Nonetheless, out of the abundance of caution, the Court will order an additional preservation step to minimize the risk of any inadvertent loss of potentially responsive emails. Specifically, the Court will order the individuals to copy any emails from the relevant time period in any private email accounts that might contain responsive materials onto portable thumb drives, to be kept in the individuals’ personal possessions,” the judge added. “Copying the emails to a physical drive will minimize the risk that any responsive email might be inadvertently deleted.” ...

In a separate Judicial Watch case before another judge, the Justice Department indicated Wednesday that one of its top officials has no record of an email he apparently sent to a top Clinton campaign official in May 2015 previewing an upcoming congressional hearing and an expected DOJ filing in a court case related to Clinton’s emails.

Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Peter Kadzik sent the message with the subject line “Heads Up” to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Clinton campaign aides said the communication was routine, but Donald Trump’s campaign has alleged it showed improper collusion between Justice and the Clinton camp. The contact is one focus of a Justice inspector general investigation announced last week.

The message from Kadzik to Podesta was one of tens of thousands of messages that were hacked from Podesta’s account and posted online by WikiLeaks during the campaign in an effort U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was part of a Russian government-led drive to influence the U.S. presidential election and bolster Trump’s chances. ...

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan issued a preservation order Wednesday at Judicial Watch’s request and instructed the government to report by this morning on its efforts to comply.

Before It's News, Federal Judge Orders DHS Officials to Not Destroy Email:

Even though the judge says the doesn’t doubt their intent, of course he does. He’d have to have been utterly brain dead to not see what is going on from Lois Lerner to Hillary Clinton and beyond. Even as this was happening, another federal judge was discovering that the word of an Obama official that they’d complied with the law wasn’t worth a whole lot.

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January 19, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Charlotte Law School To File Teach-Out Plan With ABA To Protect Students As School Shuts Down

Charlotte Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below):  ABA Journal, Teach-Out Plan for Charlotte School of Law in the Works:

Charlotte School of Law will file a teach-out plan, which the council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will review, managing director Barry A. Currier told the ABA Journal on Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Education website for federal loans describes teach-out plans as “a written course of action a school that is closing will take to ensure its students are treated fairly with regard to finishing their programs of study.”

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January 18, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Rostain Presents Lessons From The Tax Shelter Wars At University Of British Columbia

RostainTanina Rostain (Georgetown) delivered the J. Donald Mawhinney Lectureship in Professional Ethics at the University of British Columbia Allard School of Law on Lessons from the Tax Shelter Wars: Tax Advice, Organizational Wrongdoing, and Enforcement Challenges:

The turn of the 21st Century saw the development of an enormous tax shelter industry in the United States. Aided by prestigious law firms, tax professionals at major accounting firms — including KPMG, Ernst & Young, and PricewaterhouseCoopers — created a widespread market in abusive shelters, which allowed corporate and individual taxpayers to eliminate billions of dollars in taxes owed. As tax shelter activity proliferated, government authorities were faced with increasingly complex regulatory challenges and were ultimately forced to resort to criminal prosecutions to stem the tide of tax shelter activity.

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January 18, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call For Proposals: Association For Mid-Career Tax Law Professors

The Association for Mid-Career Tax Law Professors (“AMT”) has issued a Call for Proposals:

MCThe AMT organizing committee — Jennifer Bird-Pollan (Kentucky), Miranda Fleischer (San Diego), Will Foster (Arkansas), Brian Galle (Georgetown), and Susie Morse (Texas) — welcomes proposals for our annual conference.

AMT is a recurring conference intended to bring together relatively recently-tenured professors of tax law for frank and free-wheeling scholarly discussion. Our third annual meeting will be held on Monday and Tuesday, May 22 and 23, 2017, on the campus of the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We’ll begin early on Monday and adjourn by noon on Tuesday.

2015 Conference at Ohio State (Day 1, Day 2)
2016 Conference at UC-Davis (Day 1, Day 2)

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January 18, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Just 8 Men Own The Same Wealth As Half The World

Oxfam

OxFam, An Economy for the 99%: It’s Time to Build a Human Economy That Benefits Everyone, Not Just the Privileged Few:

New estimates show that just eight men [Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison, Amancio Ortega Gaona, Bill Gates, Carlos Slim Helú, Mark Zuckerberg] own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world. As growth benefits the richest, the rest of society – especially the poorest – suffers. The very design of our economies and the principles of our economics have taken us to this extreme, unsustainable and unjust point.

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January 18, 2017 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (3)

Law Schools Have Shed 1,460 Full-Time Faculty (16.1%) Since 2010

Matt Leichter has published the 2016 edition of his Which Law Schools Are Shedding Full-Time Faculty?  Law schools have shed 1,460 full-time faculty (16.1%) since 2010, and 261 full-time faculty (3.3%) since last year.

149 law schools have shed full-time faculty since 2010, with 20 law schools shedding 20 or more full-time faculty:

FULL-TIME FACULTY (FALL)
RANK SCHOOL ’10 ’15 ’16 ANNUAL CHANGE NET CHANGE
1. WMU Cooley 101 44 41 -3 -60
2. American 104 91 52 -39 -52
3. John Marshall (Chicago) 75 45 27 -18 -48
4. Florida Coastal 69 37 24 -13 -45
5. George Washington 106 70 69 -1 -37
6. St. Louis 65 45 34 -11 -31
7. Catholic 56 32 27 -5 -29
8. Seton Hall 59 37 32 -5 -27
8. Vermont 55 27 28 +1 -27
8. Seattle 66 47 39 -8 -27
11. Widener (Delaware) 50 31 24 -7 -26
11. New York Law School 71 48 45 -3 -26
13. McGeorge 63 34 39 +5 -24
14. Pace 47 30 25 -5 -22
14. Cleveland State 39 19 17 -2 -22
16. Santa Clara 65 45 44 -1 -21
16. DePaul 56 32 35 +3 -21
16. Hofstra 60 34 39 +5 -21
19. Nova 60 48 40 -8 -20
19. New England 40 26 20 -6 -20

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January 18, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Tax Policy Center:  Are Entrepreneurs Overtaxed?

Tax Polcy Center Logo (2017)Tax Policy Center, Are Entrepreneurs Overtaxed?:

Entrepreneurs play a critical role in developing new products, inventing new production techniques, creating jobs, and strengthening our economy. As lawmakers focus on tax reform, it is timely to ask whether America’s tax system treats entrepreneurs appropriately and whether reforms could improve economic performance.

Policy discussions often emphasize how taxes affect incentives to work, save, invest, innovate, and launch new ventures. Because successful entrepreneurs sometimes amass substantial wealth, discussions also consider how the tax burden is shared across people of different means. These considerations are important, but incomplete. Policymakers should also consider the special characteristics of income from entrepreneurial activity.

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January 18, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law Profs Who Signed Letter Opposing Jeff Sessions For Attorney General Receive Open Records Act Requests For Their Emails

DOJ Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts:

Andrea A. Curcio (Georgia State), Public Opposition to Jeff Sessions Results in an Open Records Request:

Along with 1,400 other law professors, I signed a letter opposing the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General of the United States. As a law professor, I signed this letter because of my concerns about maintaining the integrity of the legal system.

Shortly after the law professors’ letter was published, my university counsel’s office got an Open Records Act request seeking my emails.

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January 18, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (22)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1350:  Even Trump Adviser Buys Myth Of 'Scandal-Free Administration,' Despite IRS, Five Other Scandals

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Wall Street Journal: Obama’s ‘Scandal-Free Administration’ Is a Myth, by John Fund (National Review) & Hans Von Spakovsky (Heritage Foundation):

You often hear that the Obama administration, whatever its other failings, has been “scandal-free.” Valerie Jarrett, the president’s closest adviser, has said he “prides himself on the fact that his administration hasn’t had a scandal and he hasn’t done something to embarrass himself.”

Even Trump adviser Peter Thiel seems to agree. When the New York Times’s Maureen Dowd observed during an interview that Mr. Obama’s administration was “without any ethical shadiness,” Mr. Thiel accepted the premise, saying: “But there’s a point where no corruption can be a bad thing. It can mean that things are too boring.”

In reality, Mr. Obama has presided over some of the worst scandals of any president in recent decades. Here’s a partial list: ...

IRS abuses. Mr. Obama’s Internal Revenue Service did something Richard Nixon only dreamed of doing: It successfully targeted political opponents. The Justice Department then refused to enforce Congress’s contempt citation against the IRS’s Lois Lerner, who refused to answer questions about her agency’s misconduct. ...

All of these scandals were accompanied by a lack of transparency so severe that 47 of Mr. Obama’s 73 inspectors general signed an open letter in 2014 decrying the administration’s stonewalling of their investigations. ...

The president’s journalistic allies are happily echoing the “scandal-free” myth. Time’s Joe Klein claims Mr. Obama has had “absolutely no hint of scandal” in his presidency. The media’s failure to cover the Obama administration critically has been a scandal in itself—but at least the president can’t be blamed for that one.

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January 18, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Former UC-Hastings Dean:  Legal Education Is 'Delusional About Our Prospects'—With Plummeting Return On Investment, Is Law School A 'Long Con'?

National Law Journal op-ed:  For Legal Education, Adaption is the Only Option for a Better Future, by Frank H. Wu (Former Dean, UC-Hastings):

In legal education, we have become delusional about our prospects. We are paralyzed by a combination of denial and confidence — denial about the nature of the problems and confidence in our own ability to compete.

The public is smarter than professors would prefer to give them credit for. People are avoiding law school. The fact is that the pool of applicants has decreased at an unprecedented rate. Prospective students who would have been rejected outright prior to the recession are being offered scholarships now. Law schools have cut their enrollment, but not enough: at many institutions, the average credentials of those who matriculate are not equivalent to their predecessors.

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January 17, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Grewal:  Can Trump Deduct Donations Of Emoluments To The U.S. Treasury?

Trump (President Elect)Andy Grewal (Iowa), Trump’s Donations of Emoluments to the U.S. Treasury—Tax Deductible?, Yale J. on Reg.: Notice & Comment (Jan. 13, 2017):

On Wednesday, President-Elect Donald Trump, through his legal advisors, presented his plan to address potential conflicts of interests created by his continued ownership in the Trump Organization. As part of his plan, the President (referred to this way for ease of exposition) has promised to transfer profits derived some foreign government transactions to the United States Treasury, even though he probably correctly denies that the foreign Emoluments Clause applies to those profits. The first question that comes to mind about the President’s plan relates, of course, to its U.S. federal income tax consequences.

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January 17, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

#BlackLawyersMatter

BLMABA Journal, #BlackLawyersMatter Inspires Movement to Increase Representation in Law:

When third-year law student Micah Green came across the hashtag #BlackLawyersMatter in an online article, he quickly realized it was more than just a catchy phrase.

Green decided to create a website and put the hashtag on T-shirts and other apparel, which he sells to raise money for scholarships at his school, the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University College of Law in Orlando.

But Green’s website isn’t just a retail store: Beyond the T-shirts, he’s hawking enlightenment about the cause. “It’s more so information,” Green says. “We are spreading information.”

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January 17, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Senate Sends Two Tax Court Judge Nominations Back To President Obama

SCDespite a plea by 52 tax professors, the nominations of Vik Edwin Stoll (nominated by President Obama on Nov. 9, 2015) and Elizabeth Ann Copeland) (nominated on May 4, 2015) have been returned to the President under the provisions of Senate Rule XXXI, paragraph 6.

January 17, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (2)

The 25 Most Influential People In Legal Education (2016)

Top 25 (2016)Most Influential People in Legal Education (2016), The National Jurist (Jan. 2017):

This year's list of the Most Influential People in Legal Education recognizes leaders who are shaping the future of law schools. ... As in years past, we sought nominations from U.S. law schools, narrowed the list to 46 names and then asked the law dean and one randomly selected faculty member from each school to rate the influence of the nominees.

Here are the Top 10. The complete Top 25 list is here.

  1. Erwin Chemerinsky (Dean, UC-Irvine)
  2. Kellye Testy (Dean, University of Washington; 2016 AALS President)
  3. Paul Caron (Professor, Pepperdine)
  4. Bill Henderson (Professor, Indiana)
  5. Brian Leiter (Professor, Chicago)
  6. Blake Morant (Dean. George Washington; 2015 AALS President)
  7. Eugene Volokh (Professor, UCLA)
  8. Marc Miller (Dean, Arizona)
  9. Michael Hunter Schwartz (Incoming Dean, McGeorge)
  10. JoAnne Epps (Provost and Former Dean, Temple)

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January 17, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Spring 2017 Law Review Article Submission Guide

SubmissionsNancy Levit (UMKC) & Allen Rostron (UMKC) have updated their incredibly useful document, which contains two charts for the Spring 2017 submission season covering 204 law reviews.

The first chart (pp. 1-51) contains information gathered from the journals’ websites on:

  • Methods for submitting an article (such as by e-mail, ExpressO, regular mail, Scholastica, or Twitter)
  • Any special formatting requirements
  • How to request an expedited review
  • How to withdraw an article after it has been accepted for publication elsewhere

The second chart (pp. 52-58) contains the ranking of the law reviews and their schools under six measures:

  • U.S. News: Overall Rank
  • U.S. News: Peer Reputation Rating
  • U.S. News: Judge/Lawyer Reputation Rating
  • Washington & Lee Citation Ranking
  • Washington & Lee Impact Factor
  • Washington & Lee Combined Rating

They also have posted a list of links to the submissions information on each law journal’s website. Nancy notes two highlights in this updated document:

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January 17, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1349:  Peggy Noonan On The Obama Presidency And The IRS Scandal

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Wall Street Journal op-ed: The Trump Cabinet’s Good Opening Week, by Peggy Noonan:

Mr. Obama’s has not been a successful presidency. In foreign affairs his two terms, added to George W. Bush’s two terms, produced 16 years of unsuccess—an entire generation. Richard Haass, head of the Council on Foreign Relations, put it gently in conversation this week: Mr. Bush tried to do too much, which was unrealistic; Mr. Obama attempted too little, its own, perhaps more consequential unrealism.

In domestic matters he put all his chips on health care and bullied it through without a single Republican vote, leaving his party fully owning it and the other with no investment in saving it. His relationship with Congress started out at impasse, proceeded to fraught and ended in estrangement. He saw this all as the other side’s fault. In his dealings with the Hill he was often imperious, sometimes a snot. He allowed executive agencies such as the IRS to ruin their public reputations and stonewall scandal after scandal. His most famous words as president came not in formal addresses but extemporaneous misjudgments—“red line,” ISIS as the “jayvee team”—plus an attempt to mislead: “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”

He left his party weaker, in terms of public offices held, than at any point since the 1920s.

He spent an unprecedented amount of time campaigning against, and assailing in the bitterest terms, his successor. Donald Trump was “uniquely unqualified,” “temperamentally unfit.” America chose him anyway. They were choosing Mr. Obama’s exact opposite, just as in choosing Sen. Obama in 2008 they went with the opposite of Mr. Bush. When they want the opposite of what you are, they are not registering approval.

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January 17, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sturgeon:  Martin Luther King Jr. And The Three Dimensions Of A Complete Life

MLKStarting to Look Up:  Be the Best of Whatever You Are, by Al Sturgeon (Dean of Graduate Programs, Pepperdine):

Fifty years ago, and just one year before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached a sermon at the New Covenant Baptist Church in Chicago titled, The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life.  Dr. King’s 3D sermon emphasized the height dimension of life (God) along with the length (self) and breadth dimensions (others).  Some of his thoughts about breadth made the entire sermon known as “the street sweeper speech.”  Today, on the holiday that remembers Dr. King, I ask you to remember this:

When I was in Montgomery, I went to a shoe shop quite often, known as the Gordon Shoe Shop. And there was a fellow in there that used to shine my shoes, and it was just an experience to witness this fellow shining my shoes. He would get that rag, you know, and he could bring music out of it. And I said to myself, “This fellow has a Ph.D. in shoe shining.” What I’m saying to you this morning, my friends, even if it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go on out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures; sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry; sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

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January 16, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Demise Of Charlotte Law School Resurrects Talk Of New Law School At University Of North Carolina-Charlotte

UNC CharlotteCharlotte Observer, Charlotte School of Law Crisis Resurrects Talks of a Law School at UNCC:

Long-running problems that may close the Charlotte School of Law have resurrected talks of a public law school at UNC Charlotte.

Chancellor Phil Dubois told the Observer Thursday that “given the developments” at the law school, he will reopen discussions of a UNCC law program next month during the school’s board of trustees meeting.

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

IRS Whistleblower Awards Jump 322%

Professional Degrees Yield Much Higher Salaries Compared To Other Graduate Degrees (And Undergraduate Degrees)

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Sandy Baum (Urban Institute) & Patricia Steele (Higher Ed Insight), Who Goes to Graduate School and Who Succeeds? (Jan. 2017):

During the Great Recession, those with college degrees fared much better than those without degrees, but a number of college graduates struggled to find satisfactory employment, leading many to graduate study. The option of seeking an advanced degree has gained momentum in recent decades, and now some observers call the master’s degree the “new bachelor’s degree.”

This brief is the first in a series addressing questions about enrollment and success in graduate school, funding of graduate students, the conceptual differences between undergraduate and graduate students, and the data available to address these questions.

As participation in graduate programs rises, it is critical to ask who is enrolling, which programs they are choosing, whether they complete their degrees, and how their investment in education beyond the bachelor’s degree pays off. This brief reviews changes over time in educational attainment levels and the earnings premiums for advanced degrees, and then explores differences in enrollment and completion patterns across demographic groups.

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January 16, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (5)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1348: How The Trump Administration Can Stop IRS Abuse Of Political Groups

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Weekly Standard, How the Trump Administration Can Stop IRS Abuse of Political Groups:

For more than six years, the Internal Revenue Service has been trying to fend off accusations that its process for granting tax-exempt status discriminated against applicants expressing political views at odds with those of the Obama administration. This discrimination against political viewpoints the Democrats disapprove of is a clear, even astonishing, violation of the First Amendment. For that reason, the IRS has lost many more of these battles than it has won. It’s lost battles not only in court against the victimized non-profits; it’s even lost against the Treasury Department’s own inspector general, which conducted a detailed study and concluded that many of the most serious accusations of discrimination were true.

In its court battles the IRS has been represented by the Justice Department, whose job it is to represent federal agencies when they are sued. No one will be shocked to learn that under the Obama administration, and Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, DOJ lawyers have used every tool at their disposal to defeat the IRS’s accusers even when those accusers are agreeing with Treasury’s inspector general. That means that, according to the Obama administration’s own inspector general report, those victimized non-profits are right in claiming that they were discriminated against because of their political views.

That litigation strategy needs to change.

Upon President Trump’s inauguration, the Justice Department will get a new boss: Jeff Sessions, President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General. The moment he takes office, General Sessions should direct the Justice Department lawyers—all of whom report to him—to change their litigation stance to reflect an important adage about how government lawyers should do business: “the government wins when justice is done.”

It’s time to see that justice is done in these cases.

Up until now, the government’s strategy has been to make the IRS cases take as long as possible and to resist every demand for discovery—the process by which litigants can request that their adversaries produce documents, or provide testimony, revealing what was really going on inside the IRS.

I represent the plaintiff in one of these cases—Z STREET v. Koskinen—which challenges the IRS’s six year delay in processing the application for tax-exempt status by an organization whose views on the Middle East were at odds with President Obama’s. In discovery, we’ve asked for information about how the IRS went about deciding what to do with (and to) our organization. But the IRS has produced virtually nothing that sheds light on its decision-making process. Other organizations in court against the IRS have been given the same treatment by the Justice Department’s litigation teams.

All of the members of those government lawyer teams report to the U.S. Attorney General. That means that when the new sheriff arrives in town he can give new orders on how these cases ought to be handled.

Attorney General Sessions should direct these lawyers to stop resisting discovery, and to stop trying to prevent the litigants—and the public—from finding out what the IRS was really doing to all of these organizations for all these years. This is not a matter of political payback, like the question whether Hillary Clinton ought to be prosecuted for what many think are her misdeeds, at the State Department and with the Clinton Foundation. It’s just a matter of letting the truth be told. Z STREET, like many of the plaintiffs in the other cases against the IRS, is not seeking money damages. We just want to know the truth about what the IRS was doing to us, and why, and at whose direction.

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January 16, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Leef:  Feds Should Eliminate Student Loans For All Law Schools, Not Just Charlotte

FCForbes:  We Have Too Many Law Schools, But This Isn't The Way To Thin The Herd, by George Leef (Pope Center for Higher Education Policy):

It makes no more sense for the government to help a student with a 175 LSAT pay for Harvard than to help a student with a 145 LSAT pay for Charlotte.

On Dec. 19, the U.S. Department of Education announced that as of the end of the 2016, it would no longer allow students to use federal aid money at the Charlotte School of Law (CSL). The reason for this unprecedented move was the decision by the American Bar Association in November to place CSL on probation because of the low passage rate among its students on the most recent administration of the North Carolina bar exam.

Whether CSL will survive is not yet known, although it has announced that it will continue its scheduled spring semester. Whether it should survive is debatable. The question I want to explore is whether the Department’s decision to pull the plug on federal aid is a sensible one.

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January 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (18)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

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

  1. [603 Downloads]  Problems with Destination-Based Corporate Taxes and the Ryan Blueprint, by Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan; moving to UC-Irvine) & Kimberly A. Clausing (Reed College)
  2. [334 Downloads]  IRS Issues Final and Temporary Debt-Equity Regulations Under Section 385, by David S. Miller (Proskauer, New York) & Janicelynn Asamoto Park (Proskauer, New York)
  3. [316 Downloads]  A Guide to the GOP Tax Plan — The Way to a Better Way, by David A. Weisbach (Chicago)
  4. [166 Downloads]  The Right Tax at the Right Time, by Edward Kleinbard (USC)
  5. [149 Downloads]  Protecting Trump's $916 Million of NOLs, by Steve Rosenthal (Tax Policy Center)

January 15, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

University Of Washington Delays Launch Of New Law School In Tacoma (35 Miles From Seattle)

TacomaFollowing up on my previous post, University of Washington (Seattle) To Open Separate Second Law School In Tacoma:  The News Tribune, UWT Delays Launch of New Law School:

Leaders at University of Washington Tacoma have postponed a proposal to create a law school on the growing campus, citing strong competition from existing schools for the region’s available law students.

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January 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (16)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1347:  IRS Chief Counsel William Wilkins Resigns, Effective Jan. 20; GOP Questioned His Role In Tea Party Targeting

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Accounting Today, IRS Names Acting Chief Counsel Following William Wilkins’ Departure:

The Internal Revenue Service has chosen William M. Paul to step into the role of acting chief counsel after William Wilkins stepped down this week. ...

Wilkins has been the IRS’s chief counsel since 2009. Like many Obama administration officials, he is leaving just ahead of the incoming Trump administration. He is one of only two political appointees at the IRS.

Wilkins drew some controversy in the midst of the Tea Party targeting scandal in 2013 when it was revealed that he had met with President Obama only two days before the IRS provided new guidance to its Exempt Organizations unit on how to handle applications for tax-exempt status from political groups. Wilkins testified before Congress that he didn’t recall many of the details of his interactions with Treasury Department officials during the period when the new guidance was being drawn up, provoking outraged reactions from Republican leaders of the House Oversight Committee blasting him for his cautious testimony. ...

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen [said] ... "I also want to thank Bill Wilkins for nearly eight years of dedicated service here as Chief Counsel at the IRS. As many in the wider tax community recognize, Bill has done an exceptional job leading the legal division of the IRS during a challenging period.”

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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January 15, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (11)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

IRS Chief Counsel William Wilkins Resigns, William Paul Named Acting Chief Counsel, Effective Jan. 20

WPNational Law Review, IRS Chief Counsel William J. Wilkins Resigns Effective January 20, 2017:

William J. Wilkins has tendered his resignation as Chief Counsel effective as of noon on January 20, 2017. Mr. Wilkins was nominated by President Obama to replace Donald L. Korb, who resigned from the position in late 2008. Mr. Wilkins was confirmed by the Senate to serve as Chief Counsel in July 2009.

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January 14, 2017 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Mnuchin Used Dynasty Trust Estate Tax Loophole Obama Has Tried To Close

DynastyBloomberg: Mnuchin May Have Used Tax Loophole Obama Attacked, by Zachary Mider:

Steven Mnuchin, Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Treasury Department, may be taking advantage of a loophole that allows the nation’s richest families to shield their wealth from estate taxes for generations into the future.

Mnuchin placed assets worth at least $32.9 million into the Steven Mnuchin Dynasty Trust I, according to a disclosure to federal ethics officials made public Wednesday, as well as securities filings by a company where he used to work. The assets include corporate stock and interests in a Willem de Kooning painting and a three-engine corporate jet.

Dynasty trusts are designed to foil the estate tax, which in its current form takes a 40 percent bite of a person’s fortune at death. Because the first $5.5 million of wealth is exempt from the tax, and there are ample opportunities to avoid it, in 2013 only one in 555 estates paid anything at all. 

Structured properly, dynasty trusts comply with the law and are common among the wealthiest Americans, tax professionals say. ...

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January 14, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Prof Sues Law School For Not Renewing His Chair, Reducing His Pay

SullivanThe Arkansas Project, More Lawlessness at the Bowen Law School:

A recent case before the state Claims Commission provides a window into yet another instance of taxpayer-supported lawlessness at the Bowen Law School.

In 2004, Professor Tom Sullivan was appointed the Howard Professor of Law at the UALR Bowen School of Law. At that time, the university also granted Sullivan a salary raise and the honorific “distinguished professor.” In 2009, then-Dean John DiPippa refused to renew Sullivan as the Howard Professor. In fact, he was the only named professor who wasn’t reappointed. To add insult to injury, the university subsequently lowered Sullivan’s salary and took away his imprimatur “distinguished professor.”

After giving the university some time to correct its mistake, Sullivan decided to sue in the Arkansas Claims Commission. Sullivan’s complaint aptly emphasized that it is illegal to reduce a tenured professor’s salary once granted.

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January 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1346:  The Trump Dossier, The Left, And Tea Party Targeting

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Wall Street Journal: Dumpster Diving for Dossiers, by Kimberley A. Strassel:

Washington and the press corps are feuding over the Trump “dossier,” screaming about what counts as “fake news.” The pity is that this has turned into a story about media ethics. The far better subject is the origin of the dossier itself.

“Fake news” doesn’t come from nowhere. It’s created by people with an agenda. This dossier—which alleges that Donald Trump has deep backing from Russia—is a turbocharged example of the smear strategy that the left has been ramping up for a decade. Team Trump needs to put the scandal in that context so that it can get to governing and better defuse the next such attack.

The more that progressives have failed to win political arguments, the more they have turned to underhanded tactics to shut down their political opponents. (For a complete account of these abuses, see my book, “The Intimidation Game.”) Liberals co-opted the IRS to crack down on Tea Party groups. They used state prosecutors to launch phony investigations. They coordinated liberal shock troops to threaten corporations. And they—important for today’s hysteria—routinely employed outside dirt diggers to engage in character assassination.

This editorial page ran a series in 2012 about one such attack, on Frank VanderSloot. In 2011 the Idaho businessman gave $1 million to a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney. The following spring, the Obama re-election campaign publicly smeared Mr. VanderSloot (and seven other Romney donors) as “wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records.”

This national shaming, by the president no less, painted a giant target on Mr. VanderSloot’s back. The liberal media slandered him daily on TV and in print. The federal bureaucracy went after him: He was ultimately audited by the IRS and the Labor Department.

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January 14, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Weekly Tax Highlight And Roundup

This week, Joe Kristan (CPA & Shareholder, Roth & Company (Des Moines, Iowa); Editor, Tax Update Blog) describes a recent Tax Court case in which the judge rejected a taxpayer's attempt to be treated as a real estate professional for passive loss purposes because of his unsubstantiated assertions that he spent 750 hours per year working on real estate activities.

KristanIn Tax Court, the seventh “allegedly” proves fatal

Allegedly. That’s a bad word to see when a Tax Court judge is describing your arguments. It turned out badly for a Massachusetts couple in Tax Court.

Like other taxpayers we’ve seen, the couple was trying to convince the court that they had spent enough time on their rental properties to qualify as “real estate professionals.” If they did, they could deduct their rental losses despite the passive loss rules. Unfortunately, it’s a tough hurdle to clear.

Real estate professionals avoid the “per-se passive” rule that makes their rental losses automatically passive and deductible only to the extent of “passive” income. Instead they get to determine whether they are passive using the hours-spent standards that apply to other business activities. To be a real estate pro, you have to pass two tests:

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January 13, 2017 in Tax, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Ari Glogower (Ohio State) reviews a new article by Omri Marian (UC-Irvine), The Other Eighty Percent: Private Investment Funds, International Tax Avoidance, and Tax-Exempt Investors, BYU L. Rev (forthcoming 2016).

Glogower (2016)Omri Marian’s new work highlights the role of private investment funds (“PIFs”) in international tax planning and avoidance by PIF-controlled multinational enterprises (“MNEs”).  Marian argues that PIFs active in cross-border investments can take advantage of tax planning opportunities unavailable to purely domestic funds, and provides evidence that PIF-controlled MNEs are more likely to engage in aggressive planning.  Consequently, income earned by PIFs can more readily escape taxation entirely, in both the source jurisdiction where investments are made, and in the residence jurisdiction of investors and managers.   

This groundbreaking work lies at the intersection of two literatures, on cross-border tax planning by MNEs, and on the taxation of PIFs, and fills critical gaps in both.  The MNE literature, Marian notes, generally focuses on tax planning by corporate MNEs, particularly in industries with mobile IP such as technology and pharmaceuticals, but not on the role of investor and PIFs in MNE tax planning.  Marian’s work also calls for (and makes significant strides towards) a broader account of the full scope PIF tax planning activities, beyond traditional areas of concern such as manager compensation and carried interest. 

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January 13, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

PwC Hires GE's 600-Person Global Tax Team

GEPWCWall Street Journal, GE Tax Trade: Sending Hundreds of Accountants to PwC:

PricewaterhouseCoopers and General Electric Co. have agreed to move GE’s in-house global tax team over to PwC as the accounting firm adds global expertise and the industrial conglomerate continues slimming down.

PWC will absorb more than 600 employees under the agreement announced Thursday. GE’s tax employees in 42 countries will move to PwC, where they will provide tax planning, advice, compliance and other tax services to both GE and other PwC tax clients.

PwC will also take over GE’s tax technologies as part of the five-year renewable agreement.

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January 13, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup