TaxProf Blog

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

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Political Discrimination In The Law Review Selection Process

Adam S. Chilton (Chicago ), Jonathan S. Masur (Chicago) & Kyle Rozema (Chicago), Political Discrimination in the Law Review Selection Process:

The career trajectories of law professors and the dissemination of knowledge depend on the publication decisions of law review editors. However, these publication decisions are shrouded in mystery, and little is known about the factors that affect them. In this article, we investigate one potentially important factor: political ideology. To do so, we match data on the political ideology of student editors from 15 top law reviews over a twenty-year period to data on the political ideology of the authors of accepted articles. We find that editors accept articles in part because of shared political ideology with authors. That is, conservative editors are more likely to accept articles written by conservative authors, and liberal editors are more likely to accept articles written by liberal authors.

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February 15, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reagan’s ‘Party Of Ideas’ Is Down To Just One: Tax Cuts

New York Times op-ed:  Reagan’s ‘Party of Ideas’ Is Down to Just One: Tax Cuts, by Mike Lofgren (author, The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government (2017)):

It is a sign of our slide toward banana republic status when the president of the United States, leader of the world’s foremost democracy, publicly brands Democrats who failed to applaud his State of the Union address as un-American and treasonous. The largely partisan audience was fine with it.

What has become of the Republican Party, which I once served on Capitol Hill and which I now consider a dangerous extremist movement on a par with the ruling Fidesz party in neo-fascist Hungary? Where did its principles go? What became of Ronald Reagan’s “party of ideas”?

One by one, those ideas were tossed aside for expediency and power — except the tax cut. A time traveler from the Reagan era would no longer recognize the Republican Party, but most Republican politicians feel no embarrassment supporting policies they once condemned. ...

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February 15, 2018 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (3)

Bill Henderson Launches The Institute For The Future Of Law Practice

Bill Henderson (Indiana), The Institute for the Future of Law Practice:

I am pleased to introduce readers to the Institute for the Future of Law Practice (IFLP), a new nonprofit collaboration between law schools, law firms, corporate legal departments. ...

IFLP (“i-flip”) will be hosting training bootcamps in May 2018 in Chicago (at Northwestern Law) and Boulder (at Colorado Law). The bootcamps are designed to prep law students for sophisticated legal and business work settings. Each student admitted to the program is paired with a legal employer for either a 10-week summer internship or a 7-month field placement. All internships and field placements are paid. The IFLP program currently includes four law schools — NorthwesternColoradoIndiana, and Osgoode Hall (Toronto) — though the plan is to build an infrastructure that will support and serve a significantly larger number of law students, law schools, and legal employers. ...

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February 15, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Americans Who Owe > $50k In Back Taxes Will Lose Their Passports

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wells: Reform Of Corporate Distributions In Subchapter C

Bret Wells (Houston), Reform of Corporate Distributions in Subchapter C, 37 Va. Tax Rev. 365 (2018):

Subchapter C’s corporation distribution provisions contain significant complexity aimed at obsolete bail-out concerns that needlessly create schizophrenic outcomes in today’s context. Subchapter C’s corporation distribution provisions were designed in an era when dividends were taxed at a different rate than were long-term capital gains, but now in this era it is important to note that Section 1(h)(11) provides that dividends received by individuals generally are taxed at the same rate as long-term capital gains, and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 made this tax rate parity permanent. Thus, unlike most of the US income tax history, individuals now are entitled to receive the same preferential tax rate for qualified dividends as long-term capital gains. When one examines subchapter C’s provisions that deal with corporate distributions in light of this relatively new reality, the statutory picture reveals significant complexity aimed at obsolete bail-out concerns that now only serve to create schizophrenic outcomes in today’s context.

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February 14, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Law Firm Revenues, Lawyer Salaries Are Booming

California LawyerThe Recorder, California Firms Lead in Revenue, Demand Growth in 2017, Citi Says:

Law firm revenue was up in both Northern and Southern California in 2017, outpacing most other regions surveyed in a recent report from Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group.

The gross revenue for Northern California firms increased by 7.2 percent in 2017, which was the highest among the 11 geographic regions analyzed, said John Wilmouth, senior client adviser in Citi’s law firm group. Southern California firms saw gross revenue growth of 5.9 percent, good enough for fourth-best in the country when compared to other regions.

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February 14, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: The New Tax Law

ABA Approves Online JDs At Syracuse, Southwestern

Syracuse SouthwesternFollowing up on yesterday's post, ABA Proposes To Double (To 30) The Number Of Credits Law Students Can Earn Online, Including 10 For 1Ls

National Law Journal, ABA Set to Loosen Restrictions on Online Law Classes:

The [ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar] granted a variance this month to Syracuse University College of Law, which announced plans in 2016 to launch an online J.D. program. The ABA denied the school’s initial request for a variance, but the new approval means Syracuse can move forward with a planned launch in January 2019.

The program will combine live online lectures with self-paced online classes, several weeklong campus sessions and a legal externship, said Nina Kohn, associate dean for research at Syracuse. Students can complete their law degree over the course of 10 semesters.

Southwestern Law School Blog, ABA Grants Southwestern a Rare and Coveted Blended Education Variance:

Southwestern Law School announced today that the American Bar Association (ABA) granted the school a variance to add an ABA-accredited hybrid-online J.D. program to its curriculum.

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February 14, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Florida Offers 7-8 Graduate Tax Program 85% Tuition Scholarships To Serve As Student Editors Of The Florida Tax Review

UFFTRFollowing up on last week's post, Northwestern Offers 6-8 Graduate Tax Program Tuition Scholarships To Serve As Student Editors Of The Tax Lawyer:  Press Release, UF Law Tax Students Can Receive Up To 85% Tuition Discount as Editors of Florida Tax Review:

Students in the University of Florida Graduate Tax Program have the opportunity to receive up to an 85% tuition discount through a combination of tuition waivers and scholarship funds by becoming an editor of the Florida Tax Review.

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February 14, 2018 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Simkovic: Taxing Limited Liability

Michael Simkovic (USC), Limited Liability and the Known Unknown:

Limited liability is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, limited liability may help overcome investors’ risk aversion and facilitate capital formation and economic growth. On the other hand, limited liability is widely believed to contribute to excessive risk taking and externalization of losses to the public. The externalization problem can be mitigated imperfectly through existing mechanisms such as regulation, mandatory insurance, and minimum capital requirements. These mechanisms could be more effective if information asymmetries between industry and policymakers could be reduced. Private businesses will typically have better information about industry-specific risks than policymakers.

A charge for limited liability entities—resembling a corporate income tax but calibrated to risk levels—could have two salutary effects. First, a well-calibrated limited liability tax could help compensate the public fisc for risks and reduce externalization. Second, a limited liability tax could force private industry actors to reveal information to policymakers and regulators, thereby dynamically improving the public response to externalization risk.

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February 14, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

8th Circuit Rejects Unsuccessful Iowa Legal Writing Faculty Candidate's Claim Of Discrimination Due To Her Conservative Views

WagnerFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Teresa MANNING, formerly known as Teresa R. Wagner, Plaintiff-Appellant v. Carolyn JONES, Dean, Iowa College of Law (in her official and individual capacities), Defendant-Appellee. Gail B. Agrawal, Dean, Iowa College of Law (in her official and individual capacities), Defendant, 875 F.3d 408 (8th Cir. 2017):

Teresa Manning repeatedly applied without success to teach legal analysis and writing at the University of Iowa College of Law. She contends that, during the process attending her first application, an associate dean advised her not to tell the faculty, only one of whom was a registered Republican, that a conservative law school had once offered her a full-time teaching position. Manning's résumé, meanwhile, made plain her affiliation with conservative groups. Claiming that the dean of the College of Law had rejected her applications due to political discrimination in violation of the First Amendment, Manning sued the dean under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

This is our third pass at this case. See Wagner v. Jones, 664 F.3d 259 (8th Cir. 2011) (Wagner I); Wagner v. Jones, 758 F.3d 1030 (8th Cir. 2014) (Wagner II). After the second remand, Manning proceeded to trial before a jury, where the dean defended herself by asserting, among other things, that Manning's applications had been rejected on their merits. The jury found that Manning did not establish that the dean had discriminated against her on the basis of her politics, and the district court denied her motion for a new trial. On appeal, Manning contests only the denial of her new-trial motion, and we affirm.

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February 14, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: New Tax Law Haunts Companies That Did Inversion Deals

Wall Street Journal, New Tax Law Haunts Companies That Did ‘Inversion’ Deals:

The new U.S. tax law has something in store for some “inverted” companies, which signed mergers overseas that lowered their U.S. taxes: higher taxes.

Companies that engineered so-called inversion deals in recent years have been able to reduce their tax rates and take certain deductions by shifting their tax homes to other nations. Now, provisions in the new tax code restrict some of those deductions, like the interest payments American subsidiaries pay on loans from overseas parents, according to tax experts and companies. ...

Overall, the new restrictions are estimated to raise tens of billions of dollars in tax revenue, though not all of it will come from inverted companies. Tax experts and companies say the law will reduce the advantages of the corporate relocations, but probably not enough to bring companies back to the U.S.

Top 10

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February 14, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Williamson Presents Why Americans Are Proud To Pay Taxes Today at NYU

Read My LipsVanessa S. Williamson (Brookings Institution) presents Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes (Princeton University Press 2017) at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Lily Batchelder and Daniel Shaviro:

Conventional wisdom holds that Americans hate taxes. But the conventional wisdom is wrong. Bringing together national survey data with in-depth interviews, Read My Lips presents a surprising picture of tax attitudes in the United States. Vanessa Williamson demonstrates that Americans view taxpaying as a civic responsibility and a moral obligation. But they worry that others are shirking their duties, in part because the experience of taxpaying misleads Americans about who pays taxes and how much. Perceived "loopholes" convince many income tax filers that a flat tax might actually raise taxes on the rich, and the relative invisibility of the sales and payroll taxes encourages many to underestimate the sizable tax contributions made by poor and working people.

Americans see being a taxpayer as a role worthy of pride and respect, a sign that one is a contributing member of the community and the nation. For this reason, the belief that many Americans are not paying their share is deeply corrosive to the social fabric. The widespread misperception that immigrants, the poor, and working-class families pay little or no taxes substantially reduces public support for progressive spending programs and undercuts the political standing of low-income people. At the same time, the belief that the wealthy pay less than their share diminishes confidence that the political process represents most people.

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February 13, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Trump Tax Cut: The Art Of The Scam

New York Times op-ed:  The Art of the Scam, by Mark Schmitt (New America):

Most American workers this month will see their take-home pay go up, some a little and a few quite a bit, as the new tax act takes effect and less money is withheld for federal income taxes.

But for many, the gift will be short-lived. Because the law was rushed and written in a partisan frenzy, withholding may not be accurate and you might owe money to the I.R.S. next year. You might even be advised to file new forms so that more money is withheld — and then the forms and withholding amounts are likely to change again later in the year and then again every year thereafter as the cuts for individuals head toward expiration.

This messy uncertainty, not abstractions like an increase in the federal deficit, will be the lived experience of Trump economic policy for most American households. It might seem like just a bureaucratic complication, but this episode could point progressives toward a persuasive economic message, one that reflects the economic realities of the middle class and the striving of people in struggling small communities as well as those in tech-driven metropolises.

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February 13, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

FBI, IRS Raid Dallas Offices Of Tax Lawyer Joe Garza

Garza 2Dallas Morning News, FBI and IRS Raid Dallas Offices of Tax Planning Attorney, Say Neighboring Tenants:

A team of FBI and IRS agents on Tuesday searched a North Dallas office building, authorities said. ... Brint Ryan, who has an office in the building, said about 40 agents were at the offices of Garza & Harris.

Joe B. Garza is a Dallas tax planning attorney known for his “aggressive” tax shelters.  ... Garza’s website says he has negotiated and closed “more than $300 million of debt transactions” and “over $1 billion of tax exempt bond transactions as bond counsel for the state of Texas.” ...

But Garza’s promotion of certain shelters has resulted in costly adverse tax rulings against his clients, according to court records. Garza promoted and sold to clients a variety of the notorious “Son of Boss” tax shelter, which the IRS ruled was abusive if used to create artificial tax losses that could offset other income, according to federal court records. 

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February 13, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Proposes To Double (To 30) The Number Of Credits Law Students Can Earn Online, Including 10 For 1Ls

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)ABA Accreditor For Law Schools Recommends Expanding Distance Learning Opportunities:

The Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the American Bar Association’s accreditor of law schools, is proposing a new rule for distance education that would nearly double the number of credits law students can earn in distance learning courses before graduating. [Summary of Actions of the Section’s Council at its Meeting February 9 10, 2018]

Under the proposal, Standard 306, which concerns distance learning allowed in J.D. programs, would change from an absolute number to a percentage of whatever credits a law school requires for graduation. If adopted, law schools could allow one-third of its required credits be taught online. The current rule limits the number of such credits to 15.

ABA standards now require at least 83 credit hours for graduation although most schools require more, with the usual range being between 86 and 90 credits. As proposed, the revised standard would effectively raise the number of credits for distance learning to at least 28 credit hours and, in many cases, 30 credit hours. Those courses would continue to be subject to other requirements of the standards.

In addition, the proposal would change the current standard’s prohibition on distance learning courses in the first year and allow a school to include up to 10 credits of online courses in the required 1L curriculum.

The proposal would retain the current provision that a course does not become a distance learning course for counting purposes unless more than one-third of the work in the course is done online. Law schools could still be granted variances for more extensive online learning. Currently, three law schools have been granted variances for experimental distance learning programs – Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Southwestern Law School and, during the closed session of this council meeting, Syracuse University College of Law. To date, only Mitchell Hamline has enrolled students in its program.

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February 13, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Bill Belichick's Five Leadership Lessons

BelichekCNBC, 5 Lessons Bill Belichick's New England Patriots Can Teach You About Leadership:

After following this team for 15 years, there are five lessons from this organization that I continue to embrace in my daily life.

Lesson #1:  Do your job. But stay flexible enough to take on new jobs quickly 
"Do your job" is something Belichick says constantly to refocus his team's efforts on the field. It means complete your assignments, execute to the best of your ability and trust that your teammates will do the same. In a company, that is the only way a team can be successful.

But the Patriots take it a step further. With the Patriots your job may change from week to week. ...

In life, the only thing that is certain in the future is that things will change.

The Patriots are built to embrace change. Your team should be too. 

Lesson #2:  Play the long game ...
When evaluating players, Belichick cares only about their future potential production. He often cuts popular veterans and replaces them with more cost-effective options that will benefit the team for a longer period of time. ...

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February 13, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Former Yale President: CEOs Should Invest Tax Cut Windfall In Workers' Human Capital, Not Bonuses And Buybacks

New York Times op-ed:  How C.E.O.s Should Spend Their Tax Cuts, by Richard Levin (Former President, Yale: Former CEO, Coursera):

Companies are wrestling with how to allocate the windfall from the recent tax act. It’s a nice problem to have.

Home Depot, JetBlue and Pfizer have announced plans to pass tax savings on to shareholders through stock buybacks. Apple, AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Walt Disney are distributing one-time bonuses to their employees. BNY Mellon, FedEx and JPMorgan Chase are raising wages. Walmart and US Bancorp are giving bonuses and raising wages. Boeing, Southwest Airlines and Wells Fargo have increased their charitable donations. And a few companies, perhaps fewer than the White House expected, have joined with Amazon to announce ambitious programs of capital investment that will create jobs and increase productivity.

Neglected in the public discussion is yet another strategy, with large potential benefits for every company and for the nation as a whole: investing in human capital. Lost in the noise was Boeing’s announcement that it will spend $100 million on work force development, training and education, and Disney’s investment of $50 million to cover tuition payments for its hourly employees. ...

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February 13, 2018 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (4)

Western Michigan-Cooley Seeks Confidential ABA Law School Accreditation Records Dating Back To 2010

Thomas Cooley Logo (2017)Following up on my previous posts (links below):, Cooley Law School Seeks Confidential ABA Accreditation Records:

A Michigan law school suing the American Bar Association over its uncertain accreditation status wants access to years of internal records pertaining to how the ABA evaluates law schools.

But the ABA is pushing back, arguing in court papers that releasing such an extensive array of confidential records is unwarranted and will undermine its accreditation efforts and complicate its law school oversight.

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February 13, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

$10,000 Prize For Best Employee Benefits Simplification Proposal

First Annual Employee Benefits Simplification Prize:

The American College of Employee Benefits Counsel hereby invites academics, practitioners, and any others interested in the employee benefits system to submit proposals to simplify employee benefits law. The $10,000 prize for the winning submission will be awarded at the College’s annual black-tie dinner to be held in Fall 2018. For a submission to be eligible for the prize, it must be submitted, in accordance with the procedures outlined below, on or before April 1, 2018.

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February 13, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 12, 2018

Thomas Presents Taxing The Gig Economy Today At BYU

Thomas (2017)Kathleen Delaney Thomas (North Carolina) presents Taxing the Gig Economy,  166 U. Pa. L. Rev. ___ (2017), at BYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Cliff Fleming and Gladriel Shobe:

Due to advances in technology like mobile applications and online platforms, millions of American workers now earn income through “gig” work, which allows them the flexibility to set their own hours and choose which jobs to take. To the surprise of many gig workers, the tax law considers them to be “business owners,” which subjects them to onerous recordkeeping and filing requirements, along with the obligation to pay quarterly estimated taxes. This Article proposes two reforms that would drastically reduce compliance burdens for this new generation of business owners, while simultaneously enhancing the government’s ability to collect tax revenue.

First, Congress should create a “non-employee withholding” regime that would allow online platform companies such as Uber to withhold taxes for their workers without being classified as employers. Second, the Article proposes a “standard business deduction” for gig workers, which would eliminate the need to track and report business expenses.

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February 12, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bank Presents When Did Tax Avoidance Become Respectable? Today At UC-Irvine

Bank (2016)Steven Bank (UCLA) presents When Did Tax Avoidance Become Respectable?, 70 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2018), at UC-Irvine today as part of its Tax Law and Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Omri Marian:

No matter how many tax scandals are revealed in the media — and there have been many in the past year, involving a diverse set of taxpayers ranging from Donald Trump to Apple — what is most remarkable is that, by and large, the public has considered them relatively non-scandalous. This was not always the case. During the 1930s, even the most innocuous tax avoidance maneuvers, such as buying tax-exempt bonds, were attacked as morally suspect. When did that change and why? This Article offers a novel attempt to gauge the respectability of tax avoidance — using a unique, hand-collected dataset of newspaper advertisements for tax planning services in prominent national papers between 1930 and 1970 — and concludes that a shift occurred after World War II. The Article then explains the reason for this shift, suggesting that a combination of extremely high rates, a broadened base of taxpayers subject to that rate, and a deterioration of the wartime consensus for the rate structure laid the foundation for the respectability of tax avoidance in the 1950s and 1960s.

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February 12, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Jones Day Is Again The #1 U.S. Law Firm Brand

Jones DayAcritas' US Law Firm Brand Index 2018:

Acritas’ Seventh AannualUS Law Firm Brand Index Sees Jones Day Extend Its Lead Against the Market, Increasing the Gap Against the Rest of the Leading Brands to an Extent Not Seen Since 2014.

Acritas’ US Law Firm Brand Index 2018 is compiled from analysis of an extract of data from the Sharplegal US survey dataset. All data is derived from 601 interviews with respondents, in $1 billion+ revenue organizations across the US, who have senior responsibility for buying legal services. It also includes the views of a further 176 non-US-based senior counsel who were asked which firms they used for their US-based legal needs.

Jones Day is the strongest law firm brand in the US for the second consecutive year after surpassing five-year leader Skadden last year. While Skadden has strengthened its brand this year, Jones Day has seen a larger gain and increased its lead on the market.

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

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February 12, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Prosecutors Admit They Are No Closer To Arresting Other Suspects In Dan Markel's Murder

SuspectsWTXL, State Attorney Pushing to Try Dan Markel Murder Suspects Together:

Two suspects in the murder of FSU professor Dan Markel had their first appearances Friday morning, facing new charges. ...

"I would like to try them together. I do intend to move forward on that. I don't know if I'll be successful with that," said Georgia Cappleman, the assistant state attorney. "In fact, the judge has indicated a little bit that I may be not be, so I don't know the answer to that question, but we'll leave that up to the court."

The judge set bond for both defendants at $200,000 each, despite the objection of Garcia's attorney.

Prosecutors say the new charges don't indicate they're any closer to arresting anyone else.

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February 12, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lesson From The Tax Court: Arguments Are Not Evidence

Tax Court (2017)One common error my students make is to confuse asserting an argument with supporting the argument. For example, a student on my Civil Procedure exam might write “We will argue that the Plaintiff’s domicile is in Texas and not Oklahoma.” That sentence tells me only that an argument exists. It does not support the argument with an explanation about why Plaintiff’s domicile might be thought to be in Texas. I try to teach my students they must connect assertions with the evidence necessary to show why the assertions are true. So I feel like a failure when I read exam answers like that. I think most profs have similar feelings when grading.

Lawyers sometimes make a similar error when representing clients in court: they make assertions and even spin a plausible story, but neglect to support those assertions or the story with credible evidence. To be fair, sometimes an attorney has no choice: the client may simply not have provided the needed information, and the attorney must nonetheless argue something! But arguments are not evidence.

Last week’s decision in Brandon Brown and Christi Cloaninger Brown v. Commissioner, T.C. Sum. Op. 2018-6 (Feb. 5, 2018), teaches this lesson. Sure, it’s “just” an S case, but even if those cases are not formal precedent, they can still teach valuable lessons. Here, the case is also a nice illustration of when it makes sense to use the §7463 Small Case procedures and how the burden shift in §7491(a) can sometimes actually be important.

I’ll consider each lesson below the fold.

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February 12, 2018 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink | Comments (0)

2018 Applicant Pool Projection Update: Good News For Highly-Ranked Law Schools

Applicant Pool Projection Remains at 61,000 to 63,000

Two months ago, I posted a blog with projections for the 2018 application cycle based on the initial Current Volume Report from the LSAC. I am writing now to update the applicant pool projection and provide some further analysis regarding the composition of the applicant pool.

The applicant pool remains up nearly 10% over last year as of late January. As of January 19, there were 29,287 applicants at a point in time when 48% of the final applicant count had been received last year. That extrapolates to approximately 61,000 applicants. As of February 3, there were 35,974 applicants at a point in time when 58% of the final applicant count had been received last year. That extrapolates to approximately 62,000 applicants. So, at the moment, we probably still can anticipate a total applicant pool for the year in a range from 61,000 to perhaps 63,000, depending upon exactly how things unfold over the coming months.

A total applicant pool of 61,000-63,000 would be the largest applicant volume since the 2011-2012 admissions cycle, which saw a total applicant pool of roughly 67,900. For the last four years, the applicant pool has hovered around 55,000-56,000. (Note that due to changes in LSAC reporting on total applicant pool starting in 2016, the comparisons with prior years are not exactly apples to apples.)

Fall 2018 First-Year Class May Be 40,000-41,000

If the percentage of applicants who become matriculants remains around 66% for the current admissions cycle (roughly the average over the last several years as show in Table 1), the entering class in fall 2018 would be between 40,000 and 41,000 first-year students (up roughly 10%).

Improvement in Strength of Applicant Pool (and Matriculants)

While the increasing size of the applicant pool is certainly good news for law schools, for highly-ranked law schools there is some even better news buried in the details of the Current Volume Report. From 2010 to 2017, while the overall applicant volume declined from roughly 87,900 to roughly 56,000, the “composition” of the entering class profile also shifted. During this period, the percentage of applicants and matriculants with a high LSAT of 165 or higher declined, with the percentage of applicants dropping from over 14% to less than 12%, and the percentage of matriculants dropping from just over 18% to just over 15%.

TABLE 1 -- Percentage of Applicants and Matriculants with a High LSAT Score of 165 or Higher from 2010-2017 Based on National Decision Profile Data

Admis. Cycle

Total Apps.

Apps. at 165 and Higher

% of Apps. at 165 or Higher

Total Matrics

Matrics as % of Apps.

Matrics at 165 and Higher

Matrics at 165 or Higher as % of Apps. at 165 or Higher

% of Matrics at 165 or Higher









































































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February 12, 2018 in Jerry Organ, Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1740: Former AG Eric Holder Says DOJ Should Not Have Apologized For IRS Targeting Of Tea Party Groups

IRS Logo 2Following up on my previous posts:

Washington Times, Eric Holder: DOJ Wrong to Apologize to Tea Party Groups For IRS Scandal:

Former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the Trump administration was wrong to have apologized to tea party groups snared in the IRS’s targeting scandal, saying it was another example of the new team undercutting career people at the Justice Department who’d initially cleared the IRS of wrongdoing. “That apology was unnecessary, unfounded and inconsistent, it seems to me, with the responsibilities that somebody who would seek to lead the Justice Department should have done,” Mr. Holder said.

He’d ordered a criminal probe into the IRS’s handling of tea party applications after the 2013 revelation by an inspector general that the tax agency had subjected conservative groups to intrusive and inappropriate scrutiny when they applied for nonprofit status.

That probe eventually cleared the IRS, saying that while there was bungling, there was no ill intent. the probe specifically cleared former IRS senior executive Lois G. Lerner, saying rather than a problem, she was actually a hero, reporting bad practices when she spotted them.

The Justice Department reversed that finding, though, in settlements reached with tea party groups over the last year that singled Ms. Lerner out as having approved of the intrusive behavior and yet hidden the practices from her supervisors in Washington.

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February 12, 2018 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Anderson: A New Method Of Law Faculty Compensation — Scholarly Residuals From Citations

Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), Scholarly Residuals for Faculty Compensation:

In many law schools and other university departments, faculty are recruited, evaluated, and granted tenure largely based on their research productivity and influence. That system works reasonably well to motivate faculty members prior to tenure, but degrades after that. The best faculty members often are recruited by other institutions and have little incentive to stay other than a "match" by the home institution. Some other faculty members embark on a decades-long "transition" to retirement. One problem is that the compensation of faculty is often not adjusted directly, regularly, and contemporaneously according to scholarly performance to create optimal incentives to maximize output and tie faculty members to the original institution.

In this post, I outline a proposal for compensating faculty based on scholarly productivity and influence based on a "scholarly residuals" model. The model is loosely based on the residuals concept in the entertainment industry, compensating faculty each time their work is cited as creators and performers in films and TV shows are compensated when the film or show subsequently appears. The proposed system will (1) create strong monetary incentives for performance, (2) tie compensation more transparently to performance, and (3) enhance a school's ability to retain productive faculty members. Although there is merit in also tying compensation to teaching performance and service responsibilities, I leave those matters aside in this post. ...

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February 11, 2018 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (9)

The Religious Roots Of America's Progressive Income Tax

Joshua Cutler (Houston), The Religious Roots of the Progressive Income Tax in America:

I examine the enactment of the first peacetime income tax in the United States in 1894 to investigate the original sources of the income tax’s popularity and moral legitimacy. I find that congressional proponents repeatedly and explicitly argued that a progressive income tax was a biblical tax that best conformed to Judeo-Christian teachings on economics and fundraising.

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February 11, 2018 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gonzaga Law Student On A Mission To ‘Heal Spokane’ Through Acts Of Kindness, Service

HealThe Spokesman-Review, Gonzaga Law Student on a Mission to ‘Heal Spokane’ Through Acts of Kindness, Service:

October was not kind to Sather Gowdy.

Among other hurdles, Gowdy went through a messy breakup, two people close to him died and an inattentive driver caused a crash that wrecked his car and tweaked his spine—all while he tried to focus on his studies at Gonzaga’s law school.

Gowdy, 30, grew up in north Spokane, the only son of a Whitworth University professor and a Rogers High School counselor. He’s a history buff who names Winston Churchill among his heroes, and he flaunts a giant, ’70s-style Afro.

And although Gowdy is typically upbeat, the whirlwind of tragic and frustrating events in October plunged him into a deep depression.

“I’d wake up and just feel bitter, you know? And I’ve always been taught that you don’t want to be that person,” he said. “You don’t want to be the person who’s always complaining about such, or treating the world like it’s against you.”

One day, an elderly neighbor asked Gowdy to help her with some yardwork. To his surprise, the work was therapeutic, a way to center himself while helping someone else. It was, he said, the first time he had felt truly happy in weeks.

So he didn’t stop.

Although he’s often busy poring over 3-inch-thick law textbooks, Gowdy began volunteering as often as he could: shoveling snow, fixing a neighbor’s fence, pulling old mattresses and garbage from the alley behind his house.

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February 11, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

SSRN LogoThis week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads is the same as last week's list.  The #1 paper is #1 and the #2 paper is #2 among 13,346 tax papers in all-time downloads (see Brian Leiter (Chicago), 11 Tax Profs Blow Up The SSRN Download Rankings).

  1. [47,249 Downloads]  The Games They Will Play: Tax Games, Roadblocks, and Glitches Under the New Legislation, by Ari Glogower (Ohio State), David Kamin (NYU), Rebecca Kysar (Brooklyn) & Darien Shanske (UC-Davis) et al.
  2. [31,702 Downloads]  The Games They Will Play: An Update on the Conference Committee Tax Bill, by Ari Glogower (Ohio State), David Kamin (NYU), Rebecca Kysar (Brooklyn) & Darien Shanske (UC-Davis) et al.
  3. [1738 Downloads]  Understanding the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, by Sam Donaldson (Georgia State)
  4. [927 Downloads]  Federal Income Tax Treatment of Charitable Contributions Entitling Donor to a State Tax Credit, by Joseph Bankman (Stanford), David Gamage (Indiana), Jacob Goldin (Stanford) & Daniel Hemel (Chicago) et al.
  5. [618 Downloads]  Is New Code Section 199A Really Going to Turn Us All into Independent Contractors?, by Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College) & Diane M. Ring (Boston College)

February 11, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 10, 2018

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

ABA Tax Section Midyear Meeting

ABAThe ABA Tax Section Midyear Meeting is taking place this weekend in San Diego.  Two of the highlights are:

Luncheon Plenary Address:  Edward Kleinbard (USC), Perversion of the Tax Policymaking Process:
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act can be criticized on many substantive grounds, and for its effect on deficits. But the legislative process also revealed important shortcomings beyond its haste. Traditional tax policy metrics — conventional revenue estimates, dynamic estimates and distributional analyses — yield misleading results in a tax framework that loses over one trillion dollars. The result is that the legislation has even more deleterious welfare implications than these standard metrics suggest.

Teaching Taxation ProgramEvolving Constraints on Tax Administration:
The IRS and Treasury Department have faced increasing budget and legal constraints over the past few years. Treasury is also experiencing limits on its rulemaking, both from the current Presidential Administration and from courts applying administrative law, such as with respect to the anti-inversion regulations. IRS budget constraints and workforce decreases started around 2011, and the IRS’s image has suffered following a 2013 report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) on the IRS’s review of applications for determination of tax-exempt status. A 2017 TIGTA report revisited that issue in a balanced way, but where does it leave the IRS? This panel will look at how we got here, what it means, and what the ideal environment for tax administration looks like. The panelists will discuss the recent cases of Altera and Chamber of Commerce and assess how the IRS, taxpayers, and counsel should proceed given the ever-evolving constraints on tax administration.
Philip Hackney (LSU), Kristin Hickman (Minnesota), Leandra Lederman (Indiana), Kerry Ryan (St. Louis)

The full program is here. Other Tax Profs with speaking roles include:

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February 10, 2018 in ABA Tax Section, Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

AT&T, Other Companies Play Tax Arbitrage In Paying Worker Bonuses In Response To Trump Tax Cuts

AT&T LogoBloomberg:  AT&T, Walmart Bolster Their Tax Savings in Paying Worker Bonuses, by Lynnley Browning:

The surprise bonuses that corporations like Walmart and AT&T are bestowing upon rank-and-file American workers are currying favor with the public and President Donald Trump.

But there’s another perk — the companies can use the payouts to minimize their tax bills.

It’s no secret that companies are allowed to deduct most compensation expenses from their taxable income as a cost of doing business. There’s a wrinkle this year, though — since the corporate tax rate was slashed to 21 percent from 35 percent, big firms that account for the expense in 2017 stand to save tens of millions of dollars more in taxes than if they book the expense in 2018.

“That’s a big tax arbitrage play,” said Len Burman, a co-founder of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and a former senior Treasury tax official. ...

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February 10, 2018 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (1)

Most Popular Undergraduate (Engineering) And Graduate (MBA; Law Is #5) Degrees For Millionaires

One MillionHere’s What To Study If You Want to be a Millionaire:

Want to have the best chance of becoming a millionaire after graduation? Then engineering is the subject for you.

More existing millionaires have degrees in engineering than anything else according to new data from GlobalData WealthInsight published in association with Verdict, though among graduate degrees MBAs take the top spot.

For undergrads, economics comes in second place, though engineering gets the second spot for post-graduate millionaires.

Completing the top three is bachelor of business administration (BBA) for undergrads and economics for post-grad students.


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February 10, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, February 9, 2018

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Speck Reviews Herzig's The Income Equality Case For Eliminating The Estate Tax

This week, Sloan Speck (Colorado) reviews a new work by David Herzig (Valparaiso), The Income Equality Case for Eliminating the Estate Tax, 90 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1143 (2017).

Speck (2017)David Herzig’s forthcoming article, The Income Equality Case for Eliminating the Estate Tax, has a bombshell for a title, juxtaposing two ideas—income equality and estate tax elimination—that at first blush may seem in tension. Herzig, however, spends much of his excellent article carefully explicating and emphasizing the interaction between the estate tax and the income tax, both in historical terms and as a current area of policy concern. Essentially, Herzig argues that estate tax planning enables income tax avoidance among high-income and high-wealth households. Giving these households a choice between tax instruments guarantees lower revenues from a group that should pay more under a progressive tax system. From this deep and nuanced framework, Herzig draws a series of policy prescriptions. Only after teasing out the political impediments to an ideal solution does Herzig turn to estate tax repeal as a possible second-best outcome—and a potential improvement on today’s patchwork agglomeration of estate, gift, and income tax rules.

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February 9, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Number Of Americans Renouncing Their U.S. Citizenship Fell In 2017, The First Decline In Five Years

International Tax Blog, 2017 Fourth Quarter Published Expatriates – First Annual Decrease in Five Years:

Today the Treasury Department published the names of individuals who renounced their U.S. citizenship or terminated their long-term U.S. residency (“expatriated”) during the fourth quarter of 2017.


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February 9, 2018 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (5)

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:

Mid-Careerhe 2018 AMT organizing committee—Jordan Barry (San Diego), Mirit Eyal-Cohen (Alabama), Brian Galle (Georgetown), Charlene Luke (Florida), and Leigh Osofsky (Miami, moving to North Carolina)—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 fourth annual meeting will be held on Monday and Tuesday, May 21 and 22, 2018, on and near the campus of Georgetown University Law Center. We’ll begin early on Monday and adjourn by noon on Tuesday. We remind travelers that GULC, the nation’s only “law center,” is deep in the swamp (i.e., on Capitol Hill), not in the Georgetown neighborhood.

2015 Conference at Ohio State (Day 1Day 2)
2016 Conference at UC-Davis (Day 1Day 2)
2017 Conference at Arkansas (Day 1, Day 2)

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February 9, 2018 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Charges Filed Against Two Suspects In Dan Markel's Murder

SuspectsTallahassee Democrat, Markel Murder Suspects Facing Additional Charges:

New charges filed Wednesday against the two accused murderers of Florida State law professor Dan Markel reflect what investigators say was their integral role in the plot to have him killed.

In addition to first-degree murder charges, Sigfredo Garcia and Katherine Magbanua now face counts of conspiracy and solicitation to commit murder. ...

Prosecutor Georgia Cappleman said the additional charges don’t come from new evidence in the case but were filed to make sure the entirety of what investigators say went into the scheme is reflected. “The first-degree murder doesn’t cover all the conduct that was involved,” she said, adding that both Garcia and Magbanua were involved in planning the murder, she said, and then turned to recruit others. ...

Magbanua's attorneys say the additional charges point to a lack of readiness by prosecutors to go forward with trial. "I thought they were ready for trial? That’s what they keep telling the judge," said defense attorney Christopher DeCoste in a text. "Yet years into the case and they’re still trying to figure out charges? This means they don’t understand the case and is the very reason why they’ve wrongfully included Katie."

The same court documents charging Garcia and Magbanua point to a murder-for-hire plot investigators say was orchestrated by Markel’s former in-laws following his contentious divorce from fellow law professor Wendi Adelson. She now works as the executive director of The Immigration Partnership & Coalition Fund in Coral Gables.

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February 9, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

How The Trump Tax Cuts Handed GM A $5 Billion Loss

GM Logo (2018)Bloomberg:  How a Tax Cut Handed GM a $5 Billion Loss, by Megan McArdle:

General Motors Co. had a pretty good quarter in the last months of 2017. Sales of its SUVs surged, surpassing those of competitors like the Ford Escape and fueling fat gross margins. Looking ahead to 2018, the company forecasts strong earnings. And of course it’s staring at a healthy tax cut, courtesy of the administration of President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress.

Naturally, when the time came to do its earnings call, the company reported a $5.15 billion loss for the quarter.

Actually, if you know a bit about accounting, this is entirely natural. In lowering the company’s corporate taxes, the government suddenly made the ability to avoid those taxes less valuable.

Between 2005 and 2008 (when the government stepped in to bail it out), GM lost roughly $80 billion. These are gruesome numbers. But that grim cloud had a silver lining: Those staggering losses created something called an “NOL carryforward.” ...

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February 9, 2018 in Tax, Tax Policy in the Trump Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Schools Tackle The New Blockchain Frontier

BlockchainNational Law Journal, Blockchain 101: Law Schools Tackle the New Frontier:

The end of 2017 signals a full explosion of blockchain into the public eye, most notably its use within cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, the open-source distributed ledger payment system through which the technology first made headlines in 2009, saw a massive value spike this fall as bitcoin futures prepped for a December 2017 launch. And while cryptocurrencies have long been exciting for the niche communities that develop and trade in them, public appreciation for the digital assets seems to have surged, too. “Bitcoin” was the second most searched global news topic on Google in 2017; “how to buy Bitcoin” was the third most searched question.

This interest in blockchain and cryptocurrency is quickly working its way into the legal sector. Increasingly, legal practitioners are considering uses of blockchain beyond finance, piloting distributed ledger technology in sectors such as health care, cybersecurity and entertainment. Legal technology blogger Bob Ambrogi even declared it his “2017 Word of the Year,” beating out major buzz topics such as artificial intelligence and chatbots.

Law schools seem to be working hard to keep up with the pace of technological innovation in training the next generation of attorneys. A recent project from Michigan State University College of Law professor Daniel Linna, the “Law School Innovation Index,” found that at least 40 different law programs now provide students with opportunities to learn and engage with technology as part of their formal curriculum, but only a few schools have formal blockchain-based coursework or clinic opportunities.

However, this lack of blockchain focus seems to be changing quickly as schools scramble to help law students establish a background in what seems to be an increasingly important technology.

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February 9, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Shaviro Presents The Disgraceful U.S. Passthrough Rules Today At Duke

Shaviro (2015)Daniel Shaviro (NYU) presents The Disgraceful U.S. Passthrough Rules at Duke today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

Bad as the passthrough rules looks by themselves, in some ways they look even worse when paired with the lower corporate rate and absence of significant safeguards against using corporations as tax shelters. From now on, anyone who is thinking of running a business or being an independent contractor, and for whom the dollar stakes are large enough, is going to have to think seriously about both the C corporation and passthrough alternatives. Tax advisors will need to be consulted, and large bills run up (although the tax savings may more than pay for these). Had the Congressional Republicans in 2017 expressly set out to make the tax system a far more intrusive nuisance and headache (albeit, in the guise of tax planning opportunities) than it already was, they could hardly have done “better” than they did.

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February 8, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Speck Presents Debt And Taxes Over The Life Cycle Today At UCLA

Speck (2017)Sloan Speck (Colorado) presents Debt and Taxes over the Life Cycle at UCLA today as part of its Tax Policy and Public Finance Colloquium Series hosted by Jason Oh and Kirk Stark:

The deductibility of non-business interest under the United States income tax has bedeviled policymakers and commentators since the early twentieth century. Debates have centered around definitional and normative questions about the tax base—whether non-business interest should be deductible under a normative income tax, or whether non-business interest should be taken into account as part of a consumption tax base. Essentially, this literature asks how interest deductibility fits, or should fit, within the broader tax system.

This paper argues for a different approach. In the United States, the tax aspects of non-business debt are situated within a broader matrix of regulations governing various categories of household debt. Certain types of household debt—this paper considers home mortgage loans and loans for higher education—are structured in ways that have implications, explicit and tacit, across borrowers’ life cycles. This context should inform normative determinations about the value of interest deductibility for household debt.

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February 8, 2018 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Higher Education Is Headed For A Supply And Demand Crisis

DDWashington Post, Higher Education Is Headed For a Supply and Demand Crisis:

Already, we’re beginning to see the impact of demographic changes in higher education. A survey released last week by the Chronicle of Higher Education found that 52 percent of private colleges and 44 percent of public colleges didn’t meet their enrollment goals this past fall.

“We’re an expensive product,” Kathryn Coffman, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid at Franklin College in Indiana, told the Chronicle. “Now more than ever, outcomes are critical, and people want to know that the investment they’re making is going to result in something.” ...

The raw numbers are sobering. But then a new book landed on my desk a few weeks ago that put the figures in a new, and disturbing, light. In Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education [(Johns Hopkins University Press 2017)], Nathan D. Grawe, an economics professor at Carleton College, in Minnesota, explores the overall decline in high school graduates in greater detail.

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February 8, 2018 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

We Should Tax The Clintons And Other Former Senior Government Employees At A Higher Rate

Limor Riza (Ono Academic College), Should We Tax the 'Clintons' and Other Former Senior Civil Servants More? Yes, We Should, 18  U.C. Davis Bus. L.J. ___ (2018):

This paper debates whether former civil servants should be taxed differentially. It argues that whenever public officials’ post-retirement income in the private sector is derived from their previous office, an additional tax should be levied on them, since in such situations the ability-to-pay principle is an insufficient horizontal equity criterion. This idea is grounded in equity propositions and may be justified by various liberal theories of equal opportunities and utilitarianism.

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February 8, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Marian Reviews Tax Evasion And Inequality

Jotwell (2016)Omri Marian (UC-Irvine), What We Now Know We Didn't Know About Tax Evasion (And Why It Matters) (JOTWELL) (reviewing Annette Alstadsæter, Niels Johannesen & Gabriel Zucman, Tax Evasion and Inequality (NBER Working Paper No. 23772 (2017)):

Over the past several years, a series of leaks related to offshore tax avoidance and evasion (SwissLeaksLuxLeaksthe Panama PapersBahama Leaks, and Paradise Papers, to name a few) has fueled calls for tax transparency. To date, most discussion of the leaks has been policy-oriented (leaks: good or bad?) and largely anecdotal (based on some truly outrageous revelations). It was not until very recently, however, that a small group of researches started delving into the data exposed by these leaks to make statistically significant empirical findings. AlstadsæterJohannesen & Zucman’s (AJZ) paper is an excellent example of such paper, which combines methodological sophistication, public data, and leaked data, to make important new contributions to the voluminous literature on the offshore tax world. ...

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February 8, 2018 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Northwestern Offers 6-8 Graduate Tax Program Tuition Scholarships ($64k) To Serve As Student Editors Of The Tax Lawyer

Northwestern Tax LawyerFollowing up on last week's post, After 50 Years, ABA Tax Section Shifts Publication Of The Tax Lawyer From Georgetown To Northwestern:  Philip Postlewaite (Director, Northwestern's Graduate Tax Program):

Along with Karen Hawkins, the current Chair of the ABA Tax Section, I am proud to announce that The Tax Lawyer, the flagship journal of the ABA’s Tax Section, will be moving to Northwestern in the fall of 2018. We look forward to the beginning of a close and engaging relationship with the Editorial Board and the Council of the ABA Tax Section. David Cameron will become the Faculty Editor, supervising student and faculty involvement in the publication process.

In order to assist in the publication of The Tax Lawyer, Northwestern will select a six-to-eight member Student Editorial Board from among the admitted students in each of our future LLM classes. In order to encourage highly-qualified applicants to apply to, and matriculate at, Northwestern and to serve as student editors, we have created The Northwestern Pritzker Dean’s Scholarship Fund. Importantly, Dean’s Scholars will receive scholarships equal to the cost of tuition [$63,558] at Northwestern.

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February 8, 2018 in ABA Tax Section, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)