TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sixth Circuit Reverses IRS, Tax Court:  'Citizens Can't Comply With Tax Laws They Can’t See'

CaligulaSumma Holdings v. Commissioner, No. 16-1712 (Feb. 16, 2017):

Caligula posted the tax laws in such fine print and so high that his subjects could not read them. Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, bk. 4, para. 41 (Robert Graves, trans., 1957). That’s not a good idea, we can all agree. How can citizens comply with what they can’t see? And how can anyone assess the tax collector’s exercise of power in that setting? The Internal Revenue Code improves matters in one sense, as it is accessible to everyone with the time and patience to pore over its provisions.

In today’s case, however, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service denied relief to a set of taxpayers who complied in full with the printed and accessible words of the tax laws. The Benenson family, to its good fortune, had the time and patience (and money) to understand how a complex set of tax provisions could lower its taxes.

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February 20, 2017 in IRS News, New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (11)

Hawaii Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Hawaii LogoThe University of Hawaii Law School invites applications from entry level and lateral candidates for a tenure-track or tenured tax position beginning in the 2017-18 academic year:

We are seeking applicants with the ability and interest to teach in the area of federal taxation and preferably also trusts and estates. ...

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February 20, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

Florida Names Fred Murray Professor Of Tax Practice

Muray (2018)Dean Laura Rosenbury has announced that Fred Murray will join the faculty of the University of Florida Levin College of Law as a full-time Professor of Tax Practice:

Since 2007, Professor Murray has been at Grant Thornton LLP, where he serves as a Managing Director, International Tax Services. In addition, he has taught International Tax as an adjunct Professor of Law in the LL.M. program at the Georgetown University Law Center since 2005. Professor Murray started his career as a tax lawyer at Chamberlain, Hrdlicka in Houston, Texas, where he was a partner, before he left to serve as Special Counsel (Legislation) to the Chief Counsel for the Internal Revenue Service from 1992 to 1996. Professor Murray also has served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, as General Counsel and Director of Tax Affairs of the Tax Executives Institute, and as Vice President for Tax Policy at the National Foreign Trade Council.

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February 20, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, February 19, 2017

University Of Washington Delays Launch Of New Law School In Tacoma Until At Least 2021 In Face Of Projected Annual $5.5 Million Deficits

UWT2Following up on my previous posts (links below): News Tribune, UW Tacoma Law School Vision Remains Years Away:

If you share the years-old vision of adding a law school to the growing University of Washington Tacoma campus, prepare to wait a few more years.

A newly released study has found trends in law school applications and available jobs that persuaded officials to wait a few years longer than they hoped to try to restore postgraduate legal education to the South Sound.

Because a UW Tacoma law school — like most public universities’ graduate-school programs, including the UW law school in Seattle — wouldn’t pay for itself, backers of the plan said they want to be sure the school will be sustainable enough to justify investing an estimated $62 million over a decade to get the school started, stabilized and accredited.

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February 19, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Bill Gates:  Robots That Displace Workers Should Be Taxed

Quartz, The Robot That Takes Your Job Should Pay Taxes, Says Bill Gates:

Robots are taking human jobs. But Bill Gates believes that governments should tax companies’ use of them, as a way to at least temporarily slow the spread of automation and to fund other types of employment.

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February 19, 2017 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Did Florida State President Violate Lobby Ban In Special $1 Million Annual Appropriation For Law School?

Florida State logoTallahassee Democrat, Did FSU President John Thrasher Violate Lobby Ban?:

Florida State University President John Thrasher’s push for a special law school appropriation includes a 2015 form with Thrasher named as the requester and dated before the former senator’s ban on lobbying expired, records show.

Thrasher denies he unlawfully lobbied the Legislature for the $1 million a year, and said he’s been careful to follow the rules as FSU president. ...

The $1 million, tucked away in this year’s $82.3 billion state budget, is among the special lawmaker requests that have surfaced in a battle between House and Senate leaders over how to write the spending plan. ... 

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February 19, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bob Jones University Regains Tax-Exempt Status 34 Years After It Was Stripped By IRS, Supreme Court Due To Interracial Dating Ban

Bob JonesGreenville News, Bob Jones University Regains Nonprofit Status 17 Years After It Dropped Discriminatory Policy:

In a move that’s been more than two years in the making, Bob Jones University announced Wednesday it would regain its federal tax-exempt status on March 1, more than three decades after the IRS stripped its nonprofit status following a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

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February 19, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

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 #2:

  1. [2,131 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. [1,019 Downloads]  The Known Unknowns of the Business Tax Reforms Proposed in the House Republican Blueprint, by Michael J. Graetz (Columbia)
  3. [677 Downloads]  A Guide to the GOP Tax Plan — The Way to a Better Way, by David A. Weisbach (Chicago)
  4. [326 Downloads]  Accounting for Behavioral Considerations in Business Tax Reform: The Case of Expensing, by Lily L. Batchelder (NYU)
  5. [274 Downloads]  How Donald Trump can Keep His Campaign Promises, Grow the Economy, Cut Tax Rates, Repatriate Offshore Earnings, Reduce Income Inequality, Keep Jobs in the United States, and Reduce the Deficit, by David S. Miller (Proskauer, New York)

February 19, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Michael Jackson Estate's $700 Million Tax Court Thriller Turns On Value Of Star's Name At Time Of Death

ThrillerWall Street Journal, Michael Jackson’s Estate Faces Demand for Big Tax Payment: Dispute With IRS Centers on Valuation of the Singer’s Name and Likeness Rights at Time of His Death:

When pop star Michael Jackson died in 2009, weeks before a planned comeback tour, how much was the man in the mirror worth? The answer is far from black and white.

After coming to agreements on the value of some of the King of Pop’s more concrete assets in a legal fight that began four years ago, the estate’s executors are facing off with the Internal Revenue Service in U.S. Tax Court on Monday, primarily over the valuation of the singer’s name and likeness rights at the time of his death.

Depending on the outcome of the case, the estate could be on the hook for more than $500 million in taxes and $200 million in penalties, according to the IRS’s notice to the estate of its deficiency.

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February 18, 2017 in Celebrity Tax Lore, New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

IRS Suspends Guidance Due To Trump Executive Order

Sam Brunson (Loyola-Chicago), The (Near) Future of Treasury Regulations:

Today’s Tax Notes reports [No Substantive IRS Guidance Coming for a While, Official Says] that the IRS has announced that it will not release pretty much any new formal guidance (including revenue rulings and revenue procedures) for the foreseeable future. [Fn: It will continue to release routine guidance, like updated interest rates and updated mileage allowances.]

Why not? A confluence of an Executive Order and a January 20 memorandum. The EO, Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Cost, requires that, for every new regulation issued, two existing regulations be eliminated.

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February 18, 2017 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Charlotte Law School Is Delinquent On Its $148k Property Tax Bill, Says Check Is In The Mail


Charlotte Business Journal, Charlotte Law Delinquent on $148K in Taxes; School Says Check Issued:

Charlotte School of Law is delinquent on its property taxes for its uptown campus.

A tax bill shows that the for-profit law school owes $148,227.63 as of Friday. Charlotte Law is located at 201 S. College St.

“A check for the outstanding Meck County property taxes has been cut. The county should receive full payment in the next few business days,” spokeswoman Victoria Taylor told the Charlotte Business Journal Friday.

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February 18, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times Special Tax Section

Friday, February 17, 2017

Weekly Tax Highlight And Roundup

This week, Joe Kristan (CPA & Shareholder, Roth & Company (Des Moines, Iowa); Editor, Tax Update Blog) discusses how a dentist kept adequate records to beat the IRS's claim that he did not materially participate in his real estate business:

KristanPart-time dentist, full-time record-keeper beats IRS.

Beyond Flossing. A California man seemed to have a pretty good deal going. He had a dental practice with his dentist wife and had a pretty good six-figure joint income. Yet somehow it didn’t satisfy. He wanted a real estate career.

He still kept up a part-time dental practice, but he threw himself into real estate. He spent a lot of time on it. The couple owned for rental properties that he managed, and he also worked as a broker. The rental properties generated a taxable loss, and the IRS said that he couldn’t deduct them under the “passive loss rules.”

Rental real estate losses are automatically passive for most taxpayers, deductible only to the extent of other “passive” income or when the property is sold. A special rule applies to “real estate professionals.” They get to determine whether rental losses are “passive” using the same “material participation” standards that apply to other businesses — primarily based on hours worked in the activity.

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February 17, 2017 in Tax, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, David Gamage (Indiana) reviews a new piece by Michael Graetz (Columbia), The Known Unknowns of the Business Tax Reforms Proposed in the House Republican Blueprint, Columbia Law and Economics Working Paper No. 557.

Gamage (2017)How should we evaluate the House Republicans’ proposals for adopting a destination-based cash-flow tax (“DBCFT”)?  This is among the most important tax policy question currently facing the United States.  Yet this question is difficult to analyze, in part, because of uncertainty about what the proposed DBCFT might turn out to be if implemented.

To survey this quagmire, Graetz offers what is essentially just a list of questions, presented on PowerPoint slides printed to PDF.  Nevertheless, I found Graetz’s work to be by far the most helpful document for understanding the House Republicans’ DBCFT proposal that has been made available to date.

To highlight just a couple points raised by Graetz’s list of questions: 

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February 17, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Hickman Presents Restoring The Lost Anti-Injunction Act At BYU

Hickman (2017)Kristin Hickman (Minnesota) presented Restoring the Lost Anti-Injunction Act (with Gerald Kerska (J.D. 2017, Minnesota)) yesterday at BYU as part of its Faculty Workshop Series:

Should Treasury regulations be eligible for pre-enforcement review? The D.C. Circuit’s recent decision in Florida Bankers Association puts its interpretation of the Anti-Injunction Act at odds with both general administrative law norms in favor of pre-enforcement review of final agency action and also the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the nearly identical Tax Injunction Act in Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl. In fact, cases interpreting the Anti-Injunction Act more generally are fragmented and inconsistent.

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February 17, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Anderson:  Law School Scholarship Policies — Markets Or Social Engineering?

Robert A. Anderson (Pepperdine), Law School Scholarship Policies: Markets or Social Engineering?:

Quite a few law school commentators have been talking about the 2016 annual report of the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE). The report provocatively calls law school merit scholarship policies "engines of inequity." In his Foreword, Frank Wu says that law school scholarships cause a "'reverse Robin Hood' revenue model in which the poorest students are being forced to subsidize their wealthier peers." Aaron Taylor parrots virtually the same line word-for-word in his "Director's Message." It's unclear who copied whom. The basic gist of the report is that law school scholarship policies favor students with higher LSATs who tend to have higher socioeconomic backgrounds, etc. The authors see this as a scandalous outcome.

It is true that many students come out of law school hopelessly indebted with poor prospects for financial independence. However, very few students are being "forced" to subsidize anyone, because of some basic facts that the report doesn't mention. The report makes it sound as if a student with a high LSAT will receive scholarships everywhere and a student with a low LSATs will not receive scholarships anywhere. In reality, however, most applicants with a given LSAT will receive a generous scholarship from some schools and will receive no scholarship (or not even be admitted) to other schools. It is the student's choice of whether to attend the higher-ranked school with no scholarship or the lower-ranked school with a scholarship that will determine whether he or she graduates with high debt. Of course, the more prestigious school is enticing, but there's a price to pay for attending it. ...

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February 17, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Syracuse Law School Offers $20,000 Scholarships To New York Residents

Syracuse Logo (2016)Syracuse Post-Standard, New Law School Grant Will Make Syracuse University NY's Cheapest Private Option:

Syracuse University's College of Law will offer new tuition grants to New York state residents starting with the upcoming school year.

The Empire State Scholars Grant will offer $20,000 of tuition assistance to all admitted state residents. Qualified students in good standing will receive the grant for all three years of their program. The College of Law's tuition cost is $46,460 this year, and the grant will make tuition comparable to law schools in the SUNY system for residents. Currently, tuition at the law school at SUNY Buffalo is $26,997 for in-state residents.

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

Is Donald Trump Making Law School Great Again?

TrumpFollowing up on my previous post, Will Donald Trump Solve The Law School Crisis?:  Quartz, Trump’s Disregard for the Judicial System Has Accidentally Made Law School Cool Again:

When US president Donald Trump signed his immigration ban on Jan. 27, law enforcement, customs officials, and airports were thrown into disarray. The executive order, which temporarily barred people from seven predominantly Muslim nations, as well as Syrian refugees, from entering the country, left people stranded in airports in the US and abroad. Families waited frantically for news of loved ones detained or were otherwise unaccounted for.

In this crucial time, lawyers from across the country stepped up to help. Many were immigration lawyers who work regularly on political asylum cases, but many others were not. Lawyers arrived at airports in drove over the weekend, carrying signs offering free legal assistance. They stayed there until the ACLU, representing plaintiffs affected by the order, won an emergency stay blocking parts of the executive order.

Suddenly, in the face of US president Trump’s bold—albeit hastily planned—agenda, lawyers seem heroic. And for the first time in what feels like the better part of a decade, the legal profession is being talked about as something other than a soul-and-money sucking dead-end.

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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Hayashi Presents A Theory Of Facts And Circumstances Today At Duke

HayashiAndrew Hayashi (Virginia) presents A Theory of Facts and Circumstances at Duke today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

The legal consequences of an action often depend on information that only the actor knows, such as her intentions. This information is often inferred from the observable “facts and circumstances” attending the actor’s conduct, which creates a seemingly unresolvable tension in legal design. On the one hand, the unstructured nature of these analyses gives free rein to the factfinder’s judgment about which facts justify an inference to the hidden information. On the other hand, if the law were to specify in advance the facts that would be used to draw that inference it would provide a roadmap for actors to strategically adjust their conduct to manipulate the factfinder’s conclusions. I argue that this tension can be resolved by applying insights from the economics literature on asymmetric information.

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February 16, 2017 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0)

Book Presents Taxpayer Rights, Behavioral Economics And The EITC Today At Indiana

BookLeslie Book (Villanova) presents Thinking About Taxpayer Rights and Behavioral Economics to Improve Administration of the EITC (with David Williams (Chief Tax Officer, Intuit)) at Indiana-Bloomington today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Leandra Lederman:

The IRS is a reluctant but key player in delivering social benefits to the nation’s working poor. Yet it administers one of the nation’s largest anti-poverty programs: the earned income tax credit (EITC). The EITC is generally praised for its role in reducing poverty and incentivizing low-wage work. While the credit has generally received bipartisan support, the IRS continues to face strong criticism over EITC compliance issues.

The IRS has generally focused on tax return characteristics in identifying and preventing erroneous EITC claims. We believe that shifting the focus from tax return characteristics to taxpayer characteristics may offer additional opportunities to improve EITC compliance (and perhaps other areas where there is systemic noncompliance).

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February 16, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Grewal:  Can Congress Get President Trump’s Tax Returns?

Trump Tax ReturnsFollowing up on my previous post, George K. Yin (Virginia), Congress Already Has The Power To Obtain And Release Trump’s Tax Returns: Andy Grewal (Iowa), Can Congress Get President Trump’s Tax Returns?, Yale J. on Reg.: Notice & Comment (Feb. 13, 2017):

The statutory authority for any congressional requests would probably come from Sections 6103(f)(1) & (2) of the tax code. Under (f)(1), some committees of Congress can request disclosure of Trump’s returns and can examine those returns privately. Under (f)(2), a non-partisan career official, the Chief of Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), may also request and privately examine those returns. Professor Yin argues that information obtained through Section 6103(f) can be subsequently disclosed to the public, when public disclosure serves a legitimate legislative purpose. ...

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February 16, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

IRS Stealth Attack On Obamacare Should Worry Both Conservatives And Liberals

Los Angeles Times:  Trump's IRS Stages a Stealth Attack on Obamacare, by Michael Hiltzik:

The Internal Revenue Service has become the first agency to follow President Trump’s directive to start undermining the Affordable Care Act.

In a quiet rule change, but an important one, the IRS has told tax preparers and software firms that it won’t automatically reject tax returns that fail to state whether the tax filer had health insurance during the year. That effectively loosens enforcement of the ACA’s individual mandate. It appears to be a direct response to Trump’s Jan. 20 executive order requiring federal agencies “minimize...the economic and regulatory burdens of the Act.”

National Review, Refusing to Enforce the Law Is the Wrong Way to Defeat Obamacare, by Charlie Cooke:

The IRS’s willingness to ignore violations of the individual mandate should worry conservatives and liberals alike.

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February 16, 2017 in IRS News | Permalink | Comments (3)

Woman Sues Howard Stern For Airing Her Phone Call With IRS Agent Discussing Her Taxes

HIRSRadio Ink, “Hello Howard, This Is the IRS …”:

In a fact pattern worthy of a law school exam question, an IRS employee calls the Howard Stern Show and is put on hold. The IRS employee on a different line, apparently either using fat fingers on a conference call feature, or on a speakerphone, takes a call from a taxpayer while on hold with Stern. The Howard Stern Show then picks up, hears the IRS employee talking with the taxpayer and puts the nearly hour-long conversation on the air live. The law school question is … in how many ways might the Howard Stern Show be civilly and criminally liable?

The question will likely be answered by the courts. The taxpayer has sued both the IRS for violations of the Federal Tort Claims Act and unlawful disclosure of tax returns and personal information, the Howard Stern Production Company, and Stern individually, for negligence, invasion of privacy, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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February 16, 2017 in IRS News, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (11)

Schizer:  The Charitable Deduction And The Exemption For Endowment Income

David M. Schizer (Columbia), Subsidies and Nonprofit Governance: Comparing the Charitable Deduction with the Exemption for Endowment Income:

Charitable subsidies are supposed to encourage positive externalities from charity. In principle, the government can pursue this goal by evaluating specific charitable initiatives and deciding how much each should receive. But this Article focuses on two income tax rules that leave the government very little discretion about which charities to fund: the deduction for donations to charity (“the deduction”) and the exemption of a charity’s investment income (“the exemption”). Under each rule, as long as charities satisfy very general criteria, federal dollars flow automatically. While both of these sibling subsidies delegate key decisions to private individuals, they create very different incentives and effects. This Article breaks new ground by showing their different effects on the governance of nonprofits.

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February 16, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

ADR And International Law Curriculum Rankings (Pepperdine Earns A+, A- Grades)

ADRADR Curricular Leaders, 20 preLaw 48 (Winter 2017):

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) specialty programs aren't easy to come by, but the 86 schools that do offer the specialty provide a wide range of options. We graded all schools on curricular offerings, and three earned an A+ — Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University; University of Missouri School of Law; and Pepperdine University School of Law.  Their offerings include workplace conflict resolution training for the Los Angeles Police Department, participating in a dispute resolution journal and dispute resolution skills competitions. ...

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February 16, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

John Plecnik Discusses His Tax Scholarship

February 16, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WSJ:  Universities, Facing Budget Cuts, Target Tenure

Wall Street Journal, Universities, Facing Budget Cuts, Target Tenure:

For decades, tenured professors held some of the most prestigious and secure jobs in the U.S. Now, their status is under attack at public and private colleges alike.

In states facing budget pressures such as Missouri, North Dakota and Iowa, Republican lawmakers have introduced bills for the current legislative sessions to eliminate tenure, cut back its protections or create added hoops that tenured faculty at public colleges must jump through to keep their jobs. University administrators, struggling to shave their costs, are trying to limit the ranks of tenured professors or make it easier to fire them. ...

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February 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Tax Lawyer Publishes New Issue

The Tax Lawyer (2013)The Tax Lawyer has published Vol. 70, No. 1 (Fall 2016):

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February 15, 2017 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Law Deans Take Bar Exam Complaints To Lawmakers; State Bar Director Admits There Is 'No Good Answer' For High MBE Pass Score

California (2016)Following up on my previous coverage (links below):  The Recorder, Frustrated Law Deans Take Bar-Exam Complaints to Lawmakers:

The head of California’s state bar told lawmakers on Tuesday “there’s no good answer” for why the state requires the second-highest bar exam passing score in the nation.

“For many years it was seen as a point of pride that it was such a rigorous exam but perhaps it’s time now to look again,” Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker said at an Assembly Judiciary Committee hearing. “Is it doing what we want? Is it a fair exam? Is the pass score effectively set where it is? When you ask why is [the multistate bar exam cut score] set at 144, I’m embarrassed to tell you there’s no good answer.”

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February 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Proposed ABA Accreditation Rule Sets Process To Determine Validity Of GRE, Other LSAT Alternatives In Law School Admissions

GRELSACFollowing up on my previous coverage (links below):  ABA Journal, Any LSAT Alternatives Must be Validated Through New Process, According to Proposed Rule Revision:

There’s still no official green light for ABA-accredited law schools to rely on entrance exams other than the Law School Admissions Test, but a recently proposed standards revision suggests how a validation process for LSAT alternatives should be developed.

Under the proposed revision to Standard 503, the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar would establish a process to determine the reliability and validity of other tests. That’s a change from the current version, which directs law schools using alternate admissions tests to demonstrate that the exams are valid and reliable.

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February 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Jones Day Is #1 U.S. Law Firm Brand, Supplanting Skadden

Jones DayAmerican Lawyer, Big Law Brand Survey Shows Client-Led Shakeup:

In a sign of a legal market where competition for work is stiffer than ever, a survey of legal buyers’ preferred Big Law brands has a new No. 1 for the first time in its six-year history.

Jones Day topped the Acritas U.S. Law Firm Brand Index, released Monday, after finishing in second place for the previous five years to the same firm: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. This year, Skadden ranked second and the top five was rounded out, in order, by the newly re-branded Baker McKenzie, Latham & Watkins and DLA Piper.

The survey, which had 765 in-house respondents at the senior level, tracks six metrics, such as consideration for top-level deals and litigation, aimed at ranking the firms viewed most favorably and hired most often by large company legal services purchasers.

Here are the Top 10 (the full Top 20 are here):

Jones Day 2

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February 15, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Morse & Osofsky:  Regulating By Example

Susan C. Morse (Texas) & Leigh Osofsky (Miami), Regulating by Example,  35 Yale J. on Reg. ___ (2017):

Agency regulations are full of examples. Regulated parties and their advisors parse the examples to develop an understanding of the applicable law and to determine how to conduct their affairs. However, neither the legal nor theoretical literature contains any study of regulatory examples or explains how they might be interpreted. This Article fills this gap.

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February 15, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Two Prison Inmates Provide Link To Adelsons In Dan Markel's Murder

Adelson FamilyForward, Accused Hitman Points Finger At Dan Markel In-Law In Jailhouse Confession:

Two prison inmates may have provided a long-awaited break in the mysterious slaying of Jewish law professor Dan Markel.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the alleged hit man charged with killing Markel confessed to a fellow inmate that Markel’s ex-mother-in-law had ordered the murder.

The inmate told police that Sigfredo Garcia, claimed that his girlfriend, Katherine Magbanua, told him that “a mother-in-law or grandmother” wanted Markel killed to gain custody of their two children.

Garcia, who is awaiting trial in connection with Markel’s killing, reportedly referred to the woman as “Don Adelson.”

Markel’s ex-wife’s mother is named Donna Adleson. She and her son, Charlie Adelson, remain suspects in the murder, the paper said. They deny any involvement and have not been charged.

Magbanua is also awaiting trial. Garcia’s alleged accomplice, who has pled guilty to second-degree murder, implicated Markel’s ex-wife, Wendi Adelson, in the murder plot.

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February 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Dean Michael Schwartz On Legal Education 2.0

Legal Tech News, How to Teach Tech: Dean Michael Schwartz on Law Education 2.0:

Preparing future generations of attorneys for what's to come in the evolution of law is no easy task. As technology continues to stretch the boundaries of legal reasoning and what is doable at law offices across the world, so too must legal education adapt to changing times.

Few have witnessed this adaptation as intimately as Michael Hunter Schwartz, who recently started the next chapter of his long legal career as dean of University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. A California native, Schwartz is returning to his home state after serving as dean of the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas since 2013. ...

Q: What is your No. 1 pet peeve about legal education today?

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February 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Toder Presents Taxing Entrepreneurial Income Today At Georgetown

Toder (2017)Eric Toder (Tax Policy Center) presents Taxing Entrepreneurial Income at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John Brooks and Itai Grinberg:

This paper applies the Schumpeterian view of entrepreneurship to estimate the tax rate on entrepreneurial income under alternative assumptions about the pattern of returns from innovations, the tax rules applied to different types of income (wages, interest, capital gains, dividends, corporate profits), and the effects of taxes on the market value of successful enterprises. We model the tax rate on entrepreneurial income as the tax burden on an individual who establishes a new firm and then sells her interest in the business once it becomes an established enterprise. The paper finds the effective tax rate on entrepreneurial income depends on both the tax rate imposed on the entrepreneur’s income during the firm’s growth phase and on the effects of the tax system on the price at which the entrepreneur can cash in her investment when the firm reaches maturity.

February 14, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Siri For Tax Lawyers, Accountants, And Students

AiliraAustralian Business Review, Tax Agents’ Future Questioned as AI Finds Answers in Seconds:

It’s Siri for lawyers and accountants. Ask “Ailira” a question about Australian tax law and she will scan through millions of uploaded documents and use her artificial intelligence nous to deliver an answer.

Ailira, or “Artificially Intelligent Legal Information Resource Assistant” is so clever at tax that her creator believes she could help prompt the end of human tax agents. And within two months, she will answer questions in other areas of Australian law.

Ailira is the brainchild of Adelaide-based tax lawyer Adrian Cartland. The story goes that with no professional tax background, his girlfriend Sarah, a speech pathology student, scored 73 per cent on a first-year university tax exam with just 30 minutes’ training and Ailira at her side.

“Your tax agents will probably be gone within five years,” said a confident Mr Cartland, who added that their demise was ­already happening with the Australian Taxation Office pushing to automate tax returns, technology issues not withstanding.

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February 14, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Great Shame Of Higher Education

AdjunctChronicle of Higher Education op-ed: 'The Great Shame of Our Profession', by Kevin Birmingham (Instructor, Harvard College Writing Program):

[T]o talk about adjuncts is to talk about the centerpiece of higher education. Tenured faculty represent only 17 percent of college instructors. Part-time adjuncts are now the majority of the professoriate and its fastest-growing segment. From 1975 to 2011, the number of part-time adjuncts quadrupled. And the so-called part-time designation is misleading because most of them are piecing together teaching jobs at multiple institutions simultaneously. A 2014 congressional report suggests that 89 percent of adjuncts work at more than one institution; 13 percent work at four or more. The need for several appointments becomes obvious when we realize how little any one of them pays. In 2013, The Chronicle began collecting data on salary and benefits from adjuncts across the country. An English-department adjunct at Berkeley, for example, received $6,500 to teach a full-semester course. It’s easy to lose sight of all the people struggling beneath the data points. $7,000 at Duke. $6,000 at Columbia. $5,950 at the University of Iowa.

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February 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Call For Business Tax Papers:  Oxford University Symposium

OxfordThe Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation has issued a call for papers for its annual symposium:

The 11th Annual Academic Symposium will take place between 26 and 28 June 2017.  A call for papers will be issued in due course. The symposium will be held at Saïd Business School, Park End Street, Oxford.

The call for papers is now live. If you wish to make a submission the deadline is Monday 27 February 2017. Papers will be selected, and invitations extended, by Monday 27 March 2017.

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February 14, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Law School Lateral Hiring Network

Ryan Whalen (Dalhousie), Law School Lateral Hiring:

Lateral Hiring

The network contains data on 245 schools, with 912 directed, weighted hiring links between them. The top 10 schools by laterals hired are:

Harvard 25
NYU 25
UC-Irvine 23
Northwestern 20
Florida State 18
Drexel 17
Minnesota 17
Virginia 17
Alabama 16
UC-Berkeley 16

Similarly, the top 10 schools who have their faculty hired by other schools are:

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February 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blank, Osofsky & Zelenak On Tax Simplexity

Joshua D. Blank (NYU) & Leigh Osofsky (Miami), Simplexity: Plain Language and the Tax Law, 66 Emory L.J. 189 (2017):

In recent years, federal government agencies have increasingly attempted to use plain language in written communications with the public. The Plain Writing Act of 2010, for instance, requires agencies to incorporate “clear and simple” explanations of rules and regulations into their official publications. In the tax context, as part of its “customer service” mission, the Internal Revenue Service bears a “duty to explain” the tax law to hundreds of millions of taxpayers who file tax returns each year. Proponents of the plain language movement have heralded this form of communication as leading to simplicity in tax compliance, more equitable access to federal programs, and increased open government.

This Article casts plain language efforts in a different light. As we argue, rather than achieving simplicity, which would involve reform of the underlying law, the use of plain language to describe complex legal rules and regulations often yields “simplexity.”

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February 14, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times:  Haunted By Student Debt Past Age 50

New York Times editorial, Haunted by Student Debt Past Age 50:

The experience of being crushed by student debt is no longer limited to the young. New federal data shows millions of Americans who are retired or nearing retirement face this burden, as well as the possibility of having their Social Security benefits garnished to make payments.

Americans age 60 and older are the fastest-growing age group of student loan debtors. Older debtors, many of whom live hand-to-mouth on fixed incomes, are more likely to default. When that occurs with federal loans, as happens with nearly 40 percent of such borrowers who are 65 and over, the government can seize a portion of their Social Security payments — even if it pushes them into poverty. About 20,000 Americans over the age of 50 in 2015 had their Social Security checks cut below the poverty line because of student loans, with poverty-level benefits falling even further for 50,000 others, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office.

A report issued last month by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shows that the number of Americans aged 60 and older with student loan debt has grown fourfold over the last decade, to 2.8 million in 2015 from about 700,000 in 2005 [Snapshot of Older Consumers and Student Loan Debt]. ...

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February 14, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (13)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1377:  Republicans Still Want IRS Chief's Head

IRS Logo 2Washington Examiner, Republicans Still Want IRS Chief's Head:

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, became the latest GOP lawmaker to call for IRS Commissioner John Koskinen's head.

"Frankly, in my view, he's the most corrupt IRS commissioner that I've ever dealt with," Brady said on Monday. He "continues … to mislead Congress, and until he's removed, I don't think the IRS will ever regain its credibility.

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February 14, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Christians Presents Human Rights At The Borders Of Tax Sovereignty Today At NYU

Christians (2017)Allison Christians (McGill) presents Human Rights at the Borders of Tax Sovereignty at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Rosanne Altshuler:

Tax scholarship typically presumes the state' s power to tax and therefore rarely concerns itself with analyzing which relationships between a government and a potential taxpayer normatively justify taxation, and which do not. This paper presents the case for undertaking such an analysis as a matter of the state' s obligation to observe and protect fundamental human rights.

It begins by examining existing frameworks for understanding how a taxpayer population is and ought to be defined. It then analyzes potential harms created by an improperly expansive taxpayer category, and those created by excluding from consideration those beyond the polity even if directly impacted by the tax regime. It concludes that a modified membership principle is a more acceptable framework for normative analysis of the jurisdiction to tax, even while acknowledging the overwhelming weight of existing perceptions about the bounds of the polity and the state-citizen relationship as significant barriers to acceptance.

February 13, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Polsky Presents Elite Tax Professionals Behaving Badly Today At UC-Irvine

Polsky (2015)Gregg Polsky (Georgia) presents Elite Tax Professionals Behaving Badly: The Sad and Sordid Management Fee Waiver Saga at UC-Irvine today as part of its Tax Law and Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Omri Marian:

For at least the past 15 years, many private equity fund managers have used a technique—known as a management fee waiver—to try to claim what is effectively their weekly paycheck as a capital gain. Recently, the Treasury and IRS explained that, at least in the government’s view, the vast majority of fee waivers do not actually provide the claimed tax result. Recent reports of significant audit activity relating to fee waivers suggest that the fee waiver saga may finally be coming to an end, but not before billions of tax revenues that are beyond the statute of limitations have been lost forever.

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February 13, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Marriage Penalty Relief After Obergefell

Mitchell Engler (Cardozo) & Edward Stein (Cardozo), Not Too Separate or Unequal: Marriage Penalty Relief after Obergefell, 91 Wash. L. Rev. ___ (2016):

Joint tax returns have generated controversy for many years. Married couples with the same joint income pay the same tax under our current system regardless of the earnings distribution between the spouses. This approach primarily rests on the idea that married couples share resources and operate as a single economic unit. Critics typically challenge this assumption and lament how marriage might significantly change a couple’s taxes. Depending on their earnings breakdown, a couple’s taxes could be reduced (a marital bonus for uneven earners) or increased (a marital penalty for even earners). These possibilities exist because the joint brackets are typically larger – but not twice as large – as the unmarried brackets.

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February 13, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Call For Tax Papers:  First Mid-Atlantic Junior Faculty Forum

Richmond (2017)Mid-Atlantic Junior Faculty Forum: Call for Papers:

The University of Richmond School of Law invites submissions for the inaugural Mid-Atlantic Junior Faculty Forum. This workshop will be held on Wednesday, May 10 and Thursday, May 11, 2017 in Richmond, Virginia.

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February 13, 2017 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)