TaxProf Blog

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

Friday, August 18, 2017

Measuring Law School Clinics

ClinicColleen Shanahan (Temple), Jeffrey Selbin (UC-Berkeley), Alyx Mark (George Washington) & Anna Carpenter (Tulsa), Measuring Law School Clinics, 92 Tul. L. Rev. ___ (2018):

Legal education reformers have long argued that law school clinics address two related needs: first, clinics teach students to be lawyers; and second, clinics serve low-income clients. In clinics, so the argument goes, law students working under the close supervision of faculty members learn the requisite skills to be good practitioners and professionals. In turn, clinical law students serve clients with civil and criminal justice needs that would otherwise go unmet.

Though we have these laudable teaching and service goals — and a vast literature describing the role of clinics in both the teaching and service dimensions — we have scant empirical evidence about whether and how clinics achieve these goals. We know from studies that law students value clinics, but do clinics prepare them to be lawyers? We also know from surveys that clinics provide hundreds of thousands of hours of free legal aid in low-income communities, but how well do clinic students serve clients?


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August 18, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fennell & McAdams: Inverted Theories

Lee Anne Fennell (Chicago) & Richard H. McAdams (Chicago), Inverted Theories:

This essay makes the case for “inverting” popular versions of certain theories widely used in legal analysis. Inversion begins with the observation that the assumptions underlying a given theory are substantively false. But rather than reject the theory outright, the theory inverter sees something valuable in the structure of the theory’s logic, and looks to extract the implications of the theory given a recognition that the assumptions are false.

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

Schlunk: The Charitable Deduction For Gifts To Universities' Endowments Should Be Repealed

Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt), Why the Charitable Deduction for Gifts to Educational Endowments Should Be Repealed, 71 U. Miami L. Rev. 702 (2017):

The country’s collective patience for coddling private institutions of higher education is waning. At the local level, there is an effort afoot to challenge the tax-exempt status of Princeton University. At the state level, legislators in Massachusetts and Connecticut have suggested imposing taxes that would target Harvard University and Yale University. At the federal level, a number of proposals have been floated that would impact the tax treatment of universities and their endowments, including imposing an excise tax on endowment income.

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

NY Times: Some Democrats See Tax Reform As A Path To Taxing Carbon

New York Times, Some Democrats See Tax Reform as a Path to Taxing Carbon:

With a sweeping overhaul of the tax code on the horizon, two Senate Democrats believe this is the moment to broach the third rail of climate change policy: a carbon tax.

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August 18, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hickman Appointed To Administrative Conference Of The United States

Hickman (2017)Prof. Kristin E. Hickman Appointed to Administrative Conference of the United States:

Kristin E. Hickman, a Distinguished McKnight University Professor and holder of the Harlan Albert Rogers Professorship at the Law School, has been appointed to serve as one of the 40 public members of the Administrative Conference of the United States. The part-time appointment is for a term of two years.

ACUS is an agency of the federal government, charged with convening expert representatives from the public and private sectors to investigate, deliberate, and recommend improvements to administrative process and procedure. ACUS initiatives promote efficiency, participation, and fairness in the promulgation of federal regulations and the administration of federal programs. Its work impacts all three branches of government and is focused on improving government effectiveness through reducing costs and/or increasing revenues, expediting regulatory activities, reducing litigation, improving the use of science, and other strategies.

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August 18, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

ABA Forms New Commission To Rethink Legal Education

ABA Logo (2016)As New Presidential Initiative, ABA Commission to Develop Roadmap to Rethink Legal Education:

New American Bar President Hilarie Bass will focus on redesigning legal education as one of her key priorities, and has created a commission of top legal educators and innovators to provide forward-thinking recommendations.

The 10-member Commission on the Future of Legal Education will explore several of the most critical issues in legal education, such as falling bar passage rates, a challenging employment environment for new lawyers and sliding LSAT scores for prospective law students. The commission will seek the perspectives of various constituencies, including judges, deans, professors and practitioners.

“The ABA is a unique position to work with the various stakeholders, such as bar examiners, legal academics and bar leaders, interested in training future lawyers” said Bass, who became ABA president on Tuesday after the conclusion of the ABA Annual Meeting. “Through the Commission on the Future of Legal Education, we will enhance our leadership role in anticipating, articulating and influencing dramatic changes in the legal profession and their effect on legal education.”

The commission will be chaired by Patricia D. White, dean and professor of law at the University of Miami School of Law. Other commission members include:

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August 17, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Supreme Court To Consider Prosecutors' Use Of An 'Uber Tax Crime Statute' As An 'All-Purpose Tax Felony'

National Law Journal, Jenner Lawyers Attack 'Uber Tax Crime Law' in New High Court Term:

In a series of recent decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court has reined in prosecutors' use of broadly worded statutes and clauses to charge criminal conduct. The federal tax code could be the justices' next target.

Jenner & Block's Matthew Hellman will face the government this term in Marinello v. United States in whick he argues, prosecutors are using an "omnibus" clause in the tax code as an "uber tax-crime statute" that puts at risk unwary businesses and individuals.

"This isn't even a statute — it's a clause in a statute that has been turned into the all-purpose tax felony," said Hellman's tax partner Geoff Davis.

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August 17, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Do We Really Want To Make It Easier To Go To Law School?

American Lawyer LogoThe American Lawyer, Do We Really Want to Make It Easier to Go to Law School?:

Can we cut through the bull about why law schools are now accepting GREs for admission? The fact is that applications are falling, and law schools are desperate for hot bodies to fill their empty seats. (Law schools that now accept the GRE include Harvard, Northwestern and Georgetown, reports The National Law Journal; the first school to do so was the University of Arizona.)

Not for one minute do I buy the argument that law schools are now realizing that LSATs aren't the end-all/be-all predictor of future success. As for the argument that allowing the GRE for law school admission will attract more hot commodities such as math and science types to apply: Puh-leeze.

If you're a bright young thing with quantitative or tech abilities, there are less painful ways to make a decent living. As any fourth grader in New York knows, the legal profession kinda sucks. They see how hard lawyer-parents work (compared to those hedge fund parents who have more fun and make a lot more moolah). And they know it's damn impossible to become equity partner in Big Law these days.

"The Golden Age for law schools is definitely over," says Paul Caron, dean of Pepperdine Law School. "Harvard and the other schools that have jumped on the GRE bandwagon are undoubtedly seeking to expand their pool of potential students." ...

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

ABA Tax Section Publishes New Issue Of Tax Times

ABA Tax Times (2016)The ABA Tax Section has published 36 Tax Times No. 4 (Aug. 2017):

It Was a Very Good Year
By William H. Caudill, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, Houston, TX
It has been my honor to serve as Chair of the Tax Section for 2016-2017. The year seems to have passed too quickly. There were many good times and some disappointments, but I am proud to have had the opportunity to lead and carry out the best job in the Section.

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August 17, 2017 in ABA Tax Section, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

A Law Professor Asks: Should I Retire?

Dan Subotnik (Touro), Considering Retirement:

At a talk I attended several years ago on such law school economic travails as declining enrollments, accreditation, new programs, and the bar exam, I asked whether senior faculty were a worrisome part of the problem, given the increasing age professorial retirement. The speaker hastened to assure the senior-heavy audience that no, older faculty served importantly as the institutional memory of the school.

Not wanting to embarrass a leader in legal education and a dean at a prestigious law school, I did not follow up my own question, though I knew that several months earlier he had proposed a generous retirement plan to his senior faculty. If these seniors were so valuable, I wondered, why the proffered buyouts at his and so many other schools? And why the refusal to candidly talk about senior faculty retirement?

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August 17, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Jensen: Recent Law Review Articles On Taxation And The Constitution

Erik M. Jensen (Case Western), Taxation and the Constitution: Recent Articles, 155 Tax Notes 1607 (June 12, 2017):

This article reviews several significant articles dealing with the national taxing power and related subjects. The articles were published or generally made available within the preceding year or so.

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

Grimmelmann on Blowing Up the Property Law Course

PropertyJames Grimmelmann (Cornell) has posted a lively and provocative essay, Real + Imaginary = Complex: Toward a Better Property Course (66 J. Leg. Educ. 930 (2017)), on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

"Property” in most law schools means real property: the dense, illogical, and special-purpose body of land law. But this is wrong: property also comes in personal, intangible, and intellectual flavors—all of them more important to modern lawyers than land. Real property is deeply unrepresentative of property law, and focusing our teaching on it sells the subject short. A better property course would fully embrace these other forms of property as real property’s equals. Escaping the traditional but labyrinthine classifications of real property frees teachers to bring out the underlying conceptual coherence and unity of property law. The resulting course is easier to teach, more enjoyable for students, and more relevant to legal practice. There is no excuse not to switch.

Having just posted my own "burn down the mission" screed in which I suggest dismantling most law school courses not mandated by the Uniform Bar Examination (and several that are), I enjoyed reading James's critique of property.  We both quoted Holmes's famous dictum about doing things because that's the way they've always been done.

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 1561: Why Hasn't Trump Drained The IRS/DOJ Swamp?

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal:  Trump’s IRS Swamp: Obama-era Lawyers Are Still Obstructing Lawsuits to Hold the Agency Accountable, by Kimberley A. Strassel:

Donald Trump promised to drain the swamp, and here’s a seven-month progress report: The Washington bog is still as wide and fetid as ever. Consider that Mr. Trump’s Justice Department has inexplicably continued to defend the IRS’s misdeeds under President Obama.

Voters put a Republican in the White House in part to impose some belated accountability on the scandal-laden Obama administration. And the supreme scandal was the IRS’s assault on tea-party groups—a campaign inspired by congressional Democrats, perpetrated by partisan bureaucrats like Lois Lerner, and covered up by Mr. Obama’s political appointees. This abuse stripped the right to political speech from thousands of Americans over two election cycles. To this day, no one has answered for it.

The groups targeted are still doggedly trying to obtain justice through lawsuits that have dragged on for years. They believed Mr. Trump’s election would bring an end to the government obstruction. It hasn’t. “The posture of the DOJ and the IRS under the Trump administration is identical to the posture under the Obama administration,” Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self-Governance, tells me. “Nothing has changed.” ...

The problem is that the same old Obama-era lawyers have been left to run these cases in the same old hostile ways. Who are these people? Laura Beckerman, one of the lead lawyers defending the IRS in the Ohio class action, left government only this month. Her LinkedIn profile says she is now pro bono coordinating counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. CREW is among the most liberal outfits in the capital, fanatically devoted to taking down conservatives. That’s the type still calling the shots in Mr. Trump’s bureaucracy.

The Justice Department’s job is to defend the government, but it is also supposed to pursue justice. And there is no question the IRS did wrong. It has been documented by the Treasury Department’s inspector general and admitted by the IRS itself. It’d be one thing if the plaintiffs were demanding a billion-dollar payout, but they aren’t. Their main request is that the IRS come clean on what happened, and the government is resisting with all its power. The real question is why the Justice Department is even fighting this suit, when it ought to be leading a renewed investigation into what happened and how it got covered up.

It’s time for some judgment. Senior leaders in the Justice Department may be wary of replacing or redirecting attorneys on the IRS cases, fearing it might provoke another round of media caterwauling. The White House may be wary of canning Mr. Koskinen, thinking it would be cast as another high-profile firing. But Mr. Trump was hired to impose exactly that sort of accountability. If he’s going to get rapped for dramatic moves, it might as well be for doing something that serves justice.

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August 17, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Death Of Harry Grubert

GrubertHarry Grubert, longtime Senior Research Economist in the Office of Tax Analysis at the U.S. Treasury Department, has died at age 81 after a long illness.  From Dan Shaviro:

Harry had more knowledge about U.S. international taxation than any other living individual. I'm not referring to legal knowledge, of course, as he was an economist — albeit, an exceptionally well-informed one about the law. But his long years of research and study regarding U.S. multinational firms, based on tax data that he understood better than anyone else, made him an extraordinary resource, almost like a public utility in light of his kind generosity and willingness to share what he knew.

He was also a leading scholar who developed a number of interesting and important international tax reform ideas (often in coauthored work with Rosanne Altshuler), and one whose research yielded innumerable consequential empirical findings — for example, regarding the costs associated with U.S. multinationals keeping their funds tied up abroad.

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August 16, 2017 in IRS News, Obituaries, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hayashi: The Quiet Costs Of Taxation — Cash Taxes And Noncash Bases

Andrew T. Hayashi (Virginia), The Quiet Costs of Taxation: Cash Taxes and Noncash Bases:

Tax law gives relief to “illiquid” taxpayers, those with income or wealth but no cash. This relief results in revenue losses, creates opportunities for tax avoidance, and distorts economic decisions. And yet, we don’t know how much hardship is actually created by illiquidity. This Article provides a framework for determining the magnitude of that hardship.

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August 16, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Law Schools Are Looking For Answers In All The Wrong Places

David Barnhizer (Cleveland State), US Law Schools: Looking for Answers in All the Wrong Places:

On a very regular basis we see reports on the state of how many people are taking the LSAT, applying to law school, actually enrolling in law schools, comparing applicants’ LSAT and GPA credentials with students from previous years, as well as how law schools’ graduates fared in the job market.  This latter category has become a bit more complex and slightly more honest, including paying attention to whether the jobs were subsidized by the law schools in an effort to improve the placement statistics, required a law degree and bar passage, or if an advantage was created for people who had received a law degree.

This entire process of “casting bones” to interpret whether law schools have weathered the storm of declining demand for their educational services is mainly a bunch of unproductive “navel gazing”.  This is because it fails to look closely at what is happening in the world external to the parochial focus of law schools in terms of specific tiers of the legal profession, the dramatic and increasing shrinkage in jobs of many kinds — including law — alternative ways to obtain “law knowledge” and legal services, flat or declining wages over an extended period, the rise of the “gig” economy, and the aging of the American population and the significant financial and employment pressures under which Millennials are now functioning. 

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August 16, 2017 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

Viswanathan: Tax Compliance In A Decentralizing Economy

Manoj Viswanathan (UC-Hastings), Tax Compliance in a Decentralizing Economy:

Tax compliance in the United States has long relied on information from centralized intermediaries — the financial institutions, employers, and brokers that help ensure income is reported and taxes are paid. Yet while the IRS remains tied to these centralized entities, consumers and businesses are not. New technologies, such as the “sharing” economy (companies such as Airbnb, Uber, and Instacart) and the blockchain (the platform on which Bitcoin is based) are providing new, decentralized options for exchanging goods and services. Without legislative and agency intervention, these technologies pose a critical threat to the reporting system underlying domestic and international tax compliance.

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

Stetson Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Stetson LogoStetson University College of Law invites applications for a full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty position for a dedicated teacher/scholar specializing in tax law. While we are particularly interested in receiving applications from experienced lateral candidates, we will consider hiring at all levels, with or without tenure.

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August 16, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kingi & Rozema: The Effect Of Tax Expenditures On Automatic Stabilizers

Hautahi Kingi (Cornell) &  Kyle Rozema (Chicago), The Effect of Tax Expenditures on Automatic Stabilizers: Methods and Evidence,  14 J. Empirical Legal Stud. 548 (2017):

We study the effect of tax expenditures on the stabilizing power of the tax system. We propose a micro‐simulation strategy that exploits links that we identify between automatic stabilizers, tax expenditures, and effective marginal tax rates. Using U.S. tax return micro data from 2000 to 2010, we estimate that, on average, the mortgage interest deduction and the charitable contributions deduction decreased the ability of the tax system to absorb fluctuations in aggregate consumption by an average of 7.4 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.

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

Columbia Offers 1-Year Masters In Data Journalism For $106,000

ColumbiaInside Higher Ed, $147,000 for a One-Year Master's? In Journalism?:

For those with an extra $147,514 lying around, there is a new a master of science in data journalism from Columbia University’s School of Journalism.

For everyone else, dropping just over $106,000 for tuition and fees — plus $41,232 in living expenses, per Columbia’s estimate — for a master’s degree in an unstable, layoff-ravaged industry where the median annual salary is less than $40,000 might seem ludicrous, or at least deserving of mockery.

“The higher ed Institution is crumbling,” journalist Josh Sternberg wrote on Twitter. “A $100,000 master's of science in data journalism degree?”

Press Release, New Data Journalism Degree at Columbia Journalism School Prepares Next Generation of Newsroom Leaders:

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August 16, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tax Law And Social Norms In Mandatory Palestine And Israel

Tax LawAssaf Likhovski (Tel-Aviv University), Tax Law and Social Norms in Mandatory Palestine and Israel (Cambridge Univ. Press 2017):

This book describes how a social-norms model of taxation rose and fell in British-ruled Palestine and the State of Israel in the mid-twentieth century. Such a model, in which non-legal means were used to foster compliance, appeared in the tax system created by the Jewish community in 1940s Palestine and was later adopted by the new Israeli state in the 1950s. It gradually disappeared in subsequent decades as law and its agents, lawyers and accountants, came to play a larger role in the process of taxation. By describing the historical interplay between formal and informal tools for creating compliance, Tax Law and Social Norms in Mandatory Palestine and Israel sheds new light on our understanding of the relationship between law and other methods of social control, and reveals the complex links between taxation and citizenship.

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August 16, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Charlotte Law School Closes 'Effective Immediately'

CharlotteWSOCTV, Charlotte School of Law Closing Immediately, Alumni Association Says:

The Charlotte School of Law is closing effective immediately, according to an email the alumni association sent out to former students.

An email obtained by Channel 9 from Lee Robertson, the president of the Charlotte School of Law Alumni Association, said he received a call Monday from Interim Dean Meggett about the school’s future.

During the call, Meggett said that the American Bar Association denied the law school’s Teach-Out Plan and that the North Carolina Board of Governors declined to grant an extension of the law school’s license to operate, according to Robertson.

Robertson said the students would be informed Tuesday of the development.

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August 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Abel Reviews Engines of Anxiety: The U.S. News Law School Rankings As A 'Roach Motel' (You Can Check In But You Can Never Check Out)

EnginesRichard Abel (UCLA), Book Review, 66 J. Legal Educ. 961 (2017) (reviewing Wendy Nelson Espeland (Northwestern) & Michael Sauder (Iowa), Engines of Anxiety: Academic Rankings, Reputation, and Accountability (Russell Sage Foundation 2016):

Wendy Espeland and Michael Sauder’s superb book Engines of Anxiety: Academic Rankings, Reputation, and Accountability offers an incisive, comprehensive, and devastating account of the ways in which U.S. News and World Report (USN) rankings influence law schools and the institutions with which they are enmeshed. The authors conducted interviews with 131 law school administrators and faculty members (carefully distributed across the status hierarchy), observed law school forums where admissions officers make pitches to prospective students, analyzed admissions and yield statistics, and collected extensive data from electronic bulletin boards, mass media, other informants, and law school websites and publications. They make sophisticated use of sociological theories of accountability to analyze their data. Given their persuasive demonstration that USN rankings powerfully shape both legal education and the profession, this is a book that should be read by every law school teacher, administrator, and prospective, current, or past student—which means every lawyer.

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August 15, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Washington State Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Seattle’s Gun Tax

Seattle Times, Washington State Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Seattle’s Gun Tax:

The Washington state Supreme Court has upheld Seattle’s tax on gun and ammunition sales, according to an opinion issued Thursday morning.

The justices ruled 8-1 to affirm a previous decision by King County Superior Court, which sided with the city against opponents, including the National Rifle Association.

The city has been imposing the tax of $25 per firearm and 2 or 5 cents per round of ammunition for more than a year and a half, following City Council passage in 2015. During that time, the lawsuit brought by the tax’s opponents has been moving through the courts.

The plaintiffs have said the tax violates a Washington law that bans cities from regulating firearms, reserving that authority for the state. Seattle claims the tax is legal because taxation is different from regulation.

The majority opinion concluded in part that the city’s ordinance does impose a tax, rather than a regulation, on firearms “because its primary purpose is to raise revenue for the public benefit.”...

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August 15, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

McMahon Wins University Of Cincinnati 2017 Teaching Award

McMahon2017 Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching:

For over 30 years, students at the University of Cincinnati College of Law have had the opportunity to recognize excellence in teaching by recognizing professors who distinguish themselves in the classroom, and whose accomplishments in research and public service contribute to superior performance in the classroom.

Congratulations to this year’s Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching awardees: ...

Stephanie McMahon, Professor of Law
Professor Stephanie McMahon goes above and beyond the standard for teaching. Wrote a student in her nomination letter, “She is one of those professors you remember forever who has the ability to change your view on a subject that most expect to dislike.”

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August 15, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through August 1, 2017) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):







Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)



Michael Simkovic (USC)


Lily Batchelder (NYU)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


Michael Simkovic (USC)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Michael Graetz (Columbia)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



James Hines (Michigan)


David Gamage (Indiana)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Andy Grewal (Iowa)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


David Weisbach (Chicago)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Daniel Shaviro (NYU)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


William Byrnes (Texas A&M)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


Jordan Barry (San Diego)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


Bridget Crawford (Pace)



Dan Shaviro (NYU)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Brian Galle (Georgetown)



David Walker (BU)


Gregg Polsky (Georgia)



Steven Bank (UCLA)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Gregg Polsky (Georgia)


Steven Bank (UCLA)


Note that this ranking includes full-time tax professors with at least one tax paper on SSRN, and all papers (including non-tax papers) by these tax professors are included in the SSRN data.

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August 15, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bloomberg: Trump's Ownership Structure Likely Saved 'Tens Of Millions' In Obamacare Taxes

Bloomberg BusinessweekBloomberg Businessweek:  Trump’s Web of Companies May Have a Way to Avoid the Obamacare Tax, by Lynnley Browning & John McCormick:

Behind the stainless steel and glass of Chicago’s Trump International Hotel & Tower lies a skeleton of 180,000 cubic yards of high-performance concrete. Below that, 57 rock caissons, some as thick as 10 feet and as long as 80 feet, anchor the skyscraper to the ground and bedrock. The building’s ownership structure is complex, too.

A limited liability company owns the building, and then another company owns that owner — followed by three more that own the owner’s owner, according to the latest federal financial disclosure from President Trump. Other companies appear to handle specific tasks, managing the building’s commercial, residential, and hotel businesses. And then there are companies that own those companies. The trail ends at the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, which collects income from the president’s worldwide businesses for his benefit. A flowchart of the structure “would go from the ceiling of a ballroom to the floor,” says Ronald Wiener, a tax lawyer specializing in partnerships.


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August 15, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Budget Cuts Hit UC-Berkeley After Scandal, Drop in Ranking; Law School Reduces Number Of Associate Deans From Seven To Three To Save $1.5 Million

UC Berkeley (2016)The Daily Californian, Budget Cuts Hit Berkeley Law After Scandal, Drop in Ranking:

Chancellor Carol Christ’s substantial budget cuts left few departments unscathed last week, and the UC Berkeley School of Law was no exception. The school will cut its number of associate deans from seven to three to increase its budget surplus by almost $1.5 million. According to a draft Boalt Law divisional budget dashboard, in addition to implementing $2 million in cuts, it will have to hit higher fundraising benchmarks and expand its professional and summer programs. ...

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August 15, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1559: Checking In On IRS-Tea Party Lawsuits

IRS Logo 2Bloomberg BNA, Checking in on IRS-Tea Party Lawsuits:

Republicans continue to call for restricting IRS funding and restructuring the agency to ensure there isn’t a repeat of a scandal caused when IRS employees stalled some applications of conservative groups seeking tax exemptions. The IRS has said it worked to resolve the issue.

Still, several lawsuits are pending between the agency and conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. The IRS declined to comment on them. As part of occasional updates on the status of the disputes, here is where some high-profile cases stand now:

NorCal Tea Party Patriots  The IRS Aug. 2 defended its actions in the class action, saying it was within its rights to review exemption applications carefully, but it also acknowledged that it delayed some applications inappropriately (NorCal Tea Party Patriots v. IRS, S.D. Ohio, No.1:13-cv-00341, 8/2/17). ... A trial is set for Feb. 5, 2018.

True the Vote   ... True the Vote in April withdrew two discovery requests: evidence of the IRS using viewpoint-based criteria in tax administration and evidence of the political positions of IRS employees (True the Vote, Inc. v. IRS, D.D.C., No. 1:13-cv-00734, 4/5/17).

Linchpins of Liberty  An Aug. 15 hearing is scheduled on a motion requiring the government to release documents the Linchpins groups requested (Linchpins of Liberty v. United States, D.D.C., No. 1:13-cv-00777, 7/26/17). ...

Freedom Path  The Freedom Path case is set for a June 18, 2018, trial (Freedom Path, Inc. v. IRS, N.D. Tex., No. 3:14-cv-01537, 8/9/17). ... The IRS initially said Freedom Path didn’t qualify as a social welfare group, exempt under Section 501(c)(4) because it didn’t operate just to promote social welfare. The group applied for its exemption in 2011 and sued the IRS in 2014.

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August 15, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Weisbach: New View Integration

David A. Weisbach (Chicago), New View Integration, 71 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2017):

This paper examines the design of corporate integration systems, comparing integration limited to equity issued after enactment (New Equity Integration or NEI) to integration that applies to all equity (complete integration). It shows that NEI achieves all of the efficiency benefits of complete integration at a fraction of the cost. NEI, unlike complete integration, is, moreover, supported by both the traditional view and the new view of the effects of dividend taxation. From an efficiency perspective, NEI is strictly better than complete integration.

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

Write No Matter What: Advice For Academics

Write No Matter WhatJoli Jensen (Tulsa), Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics (University of Chicago Press 2017):

With growing academic responsibilities, family commitments, and inboxes, scholars are struggling to fulfill their writing goals. A finished book — or even steady journal articles — may seem like an impossible dream. But, as Joli Jensen proves, it really is possible to write happily and productively in academe.

Jensen begins by busting the myth that universities are supportive writing environments.  She points out that academia, an arena dedicated to scholarship, offers pressures that actually prevent scholarly writing. She shows how to acknowledge these less-than-ideal conditions, and how to keep these circumstances from draining writing time and energy. Jensen introduces tools and techniques that encourage frequent, low-stress writing. She points out common ways writers stall and offers workarounds that maintain productivity. Her focus is not on content, but on how to overcome whatever stands in the way of academic writing.

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August 14, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Bird-Pollan Wins University Of Kentucky 2017 Teaching Award

Bird-Pollan (2017)UK Law's Jennifer Bird Pollan is 2017 Duncan Teaching Award Recipient:

Jennifer Bird Pollan, James and Mary Lassiter Associate Professor of Law, is the recipient of the 2017 Duncan Teaching Award at the University of Kentucky College of Law. 

Every year, a UK Law faculty member is recognized for excellence in the classroom, courtesy of the Robert M. and Joanne K. Duncan Faculty Improvement Fund – established in 1982 to promote outstanding teaching performance at the college.

Professor Bird-Pollan joined the UK Law faculty in 2010. She teaches a variety of Tax Law courses, including Basic Income Tax, Corporate Tax, Partnership Tax and International Tax. She is fully engaged in the academic welfare of her students and they enjoy her both inside and outside the classroom.

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August 14, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Analyzing The Effect Of Financial Aid On Law School Matriculation

Christopher J. Ryan Jr. (Vanderbilt), Analyzing the Effect of Financial Aid on Law School Matriculation:

In the wake of recent dramatic reductions in the demand for legal education, law schools are reacting to the changed marketplace in ways that reveal Coasian “firm behavior” by responding to perverse incentives inherent in the competitive legal education marketplace. For example, to fill empty seats, law schools are enrolling students with lower GPA and LSAT scores than before 2010. Also, new evidence suggests that financial aid award allocation might be influenced by increased pressure to meet minimum enrollment requirements since the Recession. These trends evince market responses on the part of providers of legal education — law schools — as well as consumers of legal education — law students. This study aims to isolate the impact of one such firm behavior: financial aid award allocation. In the competition for shrinking pools of potential law students, law schools can discount the expected cost of attendance through institutionally-provided financial aid awards. This study assesses this trend — the effect of increasing median financial aid award amounts on matriculant enrollment totals and yield rates, controlling for law school and law student covariates — through two competing, but not mutually exclusive, theoretical frameworks. The rational choice theory, which holds that demand for legal education is determined by the exchange of information about costs and benefits. Scarce resource theory suggests that, like most institutional scholarships, the majority of law school financial aid awards are cross-subsidized.

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

Testy: LSAT Test-Takers Surged 12% In Sept., On Heels Of 20% Increase In June; Biggest Combined Rate Of Increase In 8 Years

TestyThe Justice Pipeline
A Monthly Column by Kellye Y. Testy (President, Law School Admissions Council)

Thanks again to Dean Caron for the opportunity to post monthly on law school admissions. I chose the title The Justice Pipeline for my column to remind us all that our work at the gateway to the legal profession carries a collective responsibility for our nation’s civil and criminal justice systems. Moreover, the global dimensions of law link our system of justice with others around the world.

As we focus on our gateway role, we have seen some welcome news in the past few months. There was a nearly 20% increase over last year in candidates taking the LSAT in June, and now, an increase of 12% for September registrations. We all hope those upticks will translate to an even more robust pipeline of candidates for law school. Our world needs more law-trained leaders who have both the capacity and the commitment to solve our most complex problems. Legal education is up to this task. During a time of significant challenge for legal education, law schools have worked hard to deliver more value. Many of the innovations are impressive, but even more impressive is the spirit of innovation that has taken root in legal education. That spirit will serve our students and our justice system well.

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August 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Welcome, Pepperdine Law School Class Of 2020

Launch Week 4

Welcome to the members of the Pepperdine Law School Class of 2020 who begin their legal education today in a week-long introduction to law school and professional formation, as well the over one hundred students pursuing joint, LL.M., and masters degrees and certificates, including our new LL.M. and certificate programs in Entertainment, Media, and Sports and our new online Masters of Legal Studies.

This is my first year as Dean, and I am thrilled that you have decided to join our very special law school community. You will learn and study on our spectacularly beautiful campus in Malibu with easy access to Los Angeles, one of the world's most vibrant cities for young professionals. You will experience the faculty and staff's faith-fueled commitment to you and to your success that manifests itself in various ways, large and small, in daily life here. My fervent wish is that you will love your time at Pepperdine as I have since joining the faculty in 2013, and that you will leave here with a deep sense of your professional and personal calling in law and in life.

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

'America's Worst One L': How Jeremy Burnside Went From Being The Worst Student In America's Worst Law School To A Successful Lawyer

Look to Your LeftJeremy M. Burnside, Look To Your Left:  A True Story of Law School Survival in the Face of Impossibility, Murder, and an Appalachian Apocalypse (2015):

Forward (by Judge Mark Painter):

Most Lawyers look back on their law school days with a sense of horror and relief.  As Jeremy Burnside reveals in this soul-searching book, law school is a testing ground that forces us to grow and ultimately, we hope, to become capable, caring lawyers. ...

Jeremy Burnside ... struggled with grades and had squabbles with roommates and romantic interests.  But he was far from home, friends, and family.

In what could only be called an Appalachian Apocalypse, the college town was afflicted with an explosion, which destroyed his apartment on the eve of final exams, and a flood.  And three people, including the Dean, were murdered on campus.  These horrendous incidents came on top of his failure to make grades in his first semester. 

Jeremy was enrolled in America’s newest and presumptively worst law school, the Appalachian State Law School, in rural Virginia, which was working toward accreditation.  It had to have a worst student.  Jeremy’s grades were so low the first semester that he was placed on academic probation.  But since he didn’t totally flunk out (by a hair), he was still technically a law student.  But his grade report said it all.  He was America’s worst One L

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August 14, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Amidst Controversy Over Proposed Changes In Reporting Of Law School-Funded Jobs, ABA Defers Decision Until Late Fall

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below): Bloomberg, Law Deans Argue Over How to Count Jobs They Fund:

When times got rough a few years ago and student numbers started to slip, deep-pocketed law schools took solace in being able to give some refuge to unemployed graduates. They used their own funds to pay the salaries of students — often times creating temporary positions in law libraries or even dean’s offices — and were able to count them as employed.

Eventually critics of legal education outcomes caught wind of it and the American Bar Association altered its reporting standards to make school-funded jobs more obvious. But several years later, the group, which accredits law firms, is still tussling over those rules.

In June, the requirements were thrown into question again with an unexpected adoption of changes in the way such information is disclosed.

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August 13, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

WSJ: Number Of Americans Caught Underpaying Estimated Taxes Surges 40%

Wall Street Journal Tax Report, Number of Americans Caught Underpaying Some Taxes Surges 40%:

Attention gig workers, retirees, business owners and investors: Double-check your estimated-tax payments to Uncle Sam.

For reasons that aren’t clear, a growing number of people who pay taxes quarterly are getting their payments wrong and incurring penalties as a result. These taxpayers often owe estimated taxes because they have income that’s not subject to the same withholding as wages earned by employees.

According to Internal Revenue Service data, the number of filers penalized for underpaying estimated taxes rose nearly 40% between 2010 and 2015 — to 10 million from 7.2 million. 


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August 13, 2017 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wax & Alexander: Paying The Price For Breakdown Of The Country's Bourgeois Culture

Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed:  Paying the Price for Breakdown of the Country's Bourgeois Culture, by Amy Wax (Pennsylvania) & Larry Alexander (San Diego):

Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more raised are by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.

The causes of these phenomena are multiple and complex, but implicated in these and other maladies is the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture.

That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime. ...

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August 13, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

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:

  1. [639 Downloads]  Family Limited Partnerships and Section 2036: Not Such a Good Fit, by Mitchell Gans (Hofstra) & Jonathan Blattmachr (Milbank, New York)
  2. [434 Downloads]  The Front Door Opens Wide for the Backdoor Roth IRA, by Philip Manns (Liberty) & Timothy Todd (Liberty)
  3. [320 Downloads]  The Rise and Fall of the Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax: What Was That All About?, by Daniel Shaviro (NYU)
  4. [241 Downloads]  The Case Against BEPS: Lessons for Coordination, by Mindy Herzfeld (Florida)
  5. [193 Downloads]  Formalizing the Code, by Sarah Lawsky (Northwestern)

August 13, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Charlotte Law School's License To Operate Expired Aug. 10, May Shut Down

Two More Suits Filed to Block Seattle’s New Income Tax

Tax The RichSeattle Times, Two More Suits Filed to Block Seattle’s New Income Tax:

More than a dozen Seattle residents represented by the conservative Freedom Foundation sued the city Wednesday over its new income tax on wealthy households.

In addition, five residents whose legal team includes former Republican state Attorney General Rob McKenna and two former state Supreme Court justices sued to block the tax.

There are now three lawsuits against Seattle’s tax, the first brought last month by investment manager Michael Kunath. Although each challenge is beginning in King County Superior Court, City Attorney Pete Holmes said the overall issue could be taken up and resolved by the state Supreme Court as early as 2018....

Passed by unanimous vote this past month by the City Council and subsequently signed into law by Mayor Ed Murray, the Seattle measure is a 2.25 percent tax on total income above $250,000 for individuals and above $500,000 for married couples filing together.

Proponents and opponents alike expected the tax to be quickly challenged in court.

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August 12, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

At The Movies With A Law School Dean: The Big Sick

Big SickNick Allard (Dean, Brooklyn) reviews The Big Sick:

This morning I enjoyed the fascinating experience of meeting our two dozen plus newest LLM students from all over the world; meaning five continents because, this year Australia is unrepresented and, though warming, Antarctica is still too cold to harvest lawyers for graduate legal studies in America.  After I welcomed this amazing cohort and sincerely described how much they enrich the Law School experience for all of us in our increasingly global field of law, I took questions.  The very first question was from a Colombian woman who asked — I am not making this up — “Can you recommend any good movies for us to watch before classes start?”

Without any hesitation, I suggested that they make time to see the new film, The Big Sick: a very deft, captivating, Romeo and Juliet of a romcom, exquisitely and appealingly acted by comedian-writer Kumail Nanjiani, playing a version of himself, and Zoe Kazan (granddaughter of Director Elia Kazan) in the role of Emily, who brilliantly rewrites and updates the great Diane Keaton playbook for adorable quirkiness.

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August 12, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Erin Scharff (Arizona State) reviews a recent article by Steven A. Bank (UCLA), When Did Tax Avoidance Become Respectable:

Scharff (2017)The title of Steven Bank’s recent article asks a provocative question: “When Did Tax Avoidance Become Respectable?” Interested readers may be relieved to know that Bank also addresses other questions, including whether tax avoidance is respectable. Bank marshals a fascinating dataset (tracking newspaper ads about tax advice over time) to show that tax avoidance became more acceptable over the 1950s and 1960s. He then explains this change by suggesting, among other factors, that unsustainably high tax rates in the post-war period eroded public confidence in the tax system.  

As Bank notes, 2016 brought with it news of several major tax scandals:  the Panama Papers, tax fraud investigations of the world’s biggest soccer players—players important enough that I’d even heard of them, and, of course, Donald Trump’s, shall we say, very aggressive tax planning.  As a tax academic, it felt at the time like there might be a real public fury over aggressive efforts to lower tax payments.  My Facebook feed certainly suggested outrage.  These were big stories, or at least so it seemed to me.  

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August 11, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

The Future Of A Once-Doomed Law School Is Brighter Thanks To Trump Administration

Charlotte Logo (2016)The Atlantic, The Future of a Once-Doomed Law School: The For-profit Charlotte School of Law Could Be Saved by Trump-era Regulatory Rollbacks:

Earlier this year, it appeared as though the Charlotte School of Law would have to close its doors. The for-profit school, which had long suffered from poor bar-passage rates and long-term employment figures, was placed on probation last November by its accreditor. A month later, the U.S. Education Department announced that it would be refusing the school’s access to federal loan money, likely spelling the end for an institution heavily reliant on this source of revenue. Its dean quickly resigned, as did the interim dean who replaced him shortly after that. Enrollment dwindled to some 100 students.

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August 11, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Applicants Plunged 52%, And Acceptance Rates Increased 20%, At Non-T14 Law Schools From 2008 To 2016

U.S. News & World Report, Less Competitive Law School Admissions a Boon for Applicants:

U.S. News data reveal that the average number of applicants at the top 14 schools in the Best Law Schools rankings was 20.6 percent lower for the entering class of 2016 than it was for the entering class of 2008. Meanwhile, the average number of applicants at lower-ranked law schools plunged 52.3 percent between 2008 and 2016.


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August 11, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)