TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Sunday, December 21, 2014

How Low Can You Go, InfiLaw?

InfiLaw (2014)David Frakt (Barry), How Low Can You Go, InfiLaw?:

When I visited Florida Coastal last spring for my Dean interview, my prescription to turn the school around was drastic. I told them they should immediately rescind offers of admission and refund deposits and application fees for all students with an LSAT of 144 and below, and refuse to admit any more students at 144 and below.

As readers of this blog well know, the response of the school’s president was to eject me from the campus. [Florida Coastal Law School Asks Dean Candidate to Leave Midway Through Lunch Presentation for Raising Concerns About Plummeting Student Credentials and Job Placement]

With the release of the 2014 Standard 509 Information reports, it is now clear that my hope that InfiLaw might be willing to consider reversing their dramatic and utterly irresponsible downward admissions trajectory was a fantasy, because just when you thought they couldn’t possibly sink any lower, they have. As I have noted in previous posts, FCSL had gone from an acceptable 153/150/147 in 2008 and 2009 all the way to an appallingly low 148/144/141 in 2013. This year, they have dropped across the board and are now down to an abysmal 147/143/140 for the 424 students who matriculated in 2014. In five years, what used to be their 25th percentile (147) is now their 75th percentile. And for those who think a 7 point drop (from 147 to 140) doesn’t sound all that significant, trust me, it is. A 147 is in the 33rd percentile, whereas a 140 is in the 13th percentile, a 20 percent drop. And just in case you might be thinking that FCSL is taking people with low LSAT’s but high grades, they aren’t. The GPAs are also very low, with a median of 2.93. For reference, in 2006, the average college GPA was 3.11 and that number has likely continued to rise.

Continue reading

December 21, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (15)

The IRS Scandal, Day 591

IRS Logo 2Daily Caller:  Obama Admin Releases ONE PERCENT Of Its Documents About IRS-White House Coordination:

The Treasury Department released four new redacted pages of documents about the White House’s role in the Internal Revenue Service targeting scandal, bringing the total number of pages released up to 31 — a whole one percent of the total number of pages.

A federal court judge in the advocacy firm Cause of Action’s lawsuit against the Treasury inspector general set Jan. 30 as a starting date to begin briefings on whether or not the firm can get at the documents.

The Cause of Action federal court case for the documents was successful, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act. But the Justice Department began trying to delay the release of the documents by a matter of two weeks. Treasury Secretary and former Obama White House chief of staff Jacob Lew then seized the documents.

Lew is arguing that because the White House and IRS illegally exchanged confidential taxpayer information, then releasing the documents would be an illegal disclosure of confidential taxpayer information.

As The Daily Caller reported, at least some of the confidential taxpayer information the IRS’ Lois Lerner dished out went to senior White House domestic policy adviser Jeanne Lambrew.

Continue reading

December 21, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

ABA Seeks Comments on Reporting of Law School Funded Jobs

ABA Logo 2The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar on Thursday released Possible Revisions to the 2015 Employment Questionnaire Relating to Law School Funded Positions by Stetson Dean (and Tax Prof) Christopher Petruszkiewicz and Scott Norberg:

At its January 16-17, 2015 meeting, the Data Policy and Collection Committee will consider possible revisions to the 2015 Employment Questionnaire (EQ) relating to the reporting of law school/ university funded positions. The concern is about transparency in the reporting of some of these positions as long-term under the current reporting requirements. ...

The number of graduates reported as holding long-term, full-time Bar Passage Required positions that are law school/university funded positions has increased markedly over the past several years.


Full-Time, Long-Term

Full-Time, Short-Term

Part-Time, Long-Term

Part-Time, Short-Term


Class of 2012






Class of 2013







The Committee will consider a range of possible changes, including the following:

Continue reading

December 20, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Uber's Growing Tax Problems

UberForbes:  Uber's Growing Tax Problems, by Robert W. Wood:

Uber’s latest $1.2 billion in financing and $40 billion valuation make it a valuation darling, but it’s PR problems are, well, huge. It seems often to ruffle rather than smooth feathers. As it fights regulatory and public relations battles, are tax authorities going to crack down too? It isn’t just the ubiquitous IRS that may want to hitch a ride to cash in. Consider state tax agencies and even some foreign ones.

It is a tech company, it claims, and just takes a fee for putting passengers and drivers together. Clearly, these drivers aren’t employees of the car services–er tech company–at least on paper. Besides, neither the company nor the drivers are likely to even think there is an employment or agency relationship viz. third parties. Or is there?

Continue reading

December 20, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Judge Edwards on Rodell's Goodbye to Law Reviews

Harry T. Edwards (Senior Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit), Another Look at Professor Rodell's Goodbye to Law Reviews, 100 Va. L. Rev. 1483 (2014):

I am not advocating a return to the narrow-minded, provincial doctrinal scholarship that Professor Rodell singled out for criticism. My hope is that law schools will lead the way in valuing the work of all good scholars, those who write articles focused on professional practice, procedure, doctrine, legislation, and regulation, as well those who focus on theory, philosophy, and empirical studies. The law schools and law reviews should consider seriously Professor Rodell’s view that “law is supposed to be a device to serve society, a civilized way of helping the wheels go round without too much friction.” If the status quo remains, our profession may find itself criticized for merely “diddling while Rome burned.” Professor Rodell’s memorable phrase is as apt today as it was when he wrote it in 1936. 

Michael Dorf (Cornell), Judge Harry Edwards Is Still Unimpressed With Legal Scholarship:

In 1992, Judge Edwards took to the pages of the Michigan Law Review to decry what he called The Growing Disjunction Between Legal Education and the Legal Profession. Although Judge Edwards was careful to qualify his criticisms by acknowledging the existence of good scholarship, his basic attitude was nostalgia for a then-rapidly-fading era when legal scholarship was written almost exclusively by first-rate lawyers-turned-academics who were interested in the same sorts of questions as courts (and perhaps legislatures), rather than by the new generation of "ivory tower dilettantes, pursuing whatever subjects pique their interest, whether or not the subject merits scholarship, and whether or not they have the scholarly skills to master it." (Emphasis in original.) ...

Continue reading

December 20, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 590

IRS Logo 2The Blaze:  The IRS Must Be Put Down Like a Rabid Dog, by John Linder (former Member, U.S. House of Representatives, 1993-2011):

Since it was first disclosed that the IRS abused the taxpayers and the law, the Democrat refrain has been, “…it is clear that there was no White House involvement…” Well, now it is clear that there was White House involvement, but it is against the law to disclose it.

A watchdog group, Cause of Action, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for email between the IRS and the White House. They have been informed by the Treasury Department that 2,509 such emails exist, but: “These pages consist of return information protected by 26 U.S.C. § 6103 and may not be disclosed absent an express statutory exception. Because no such exception exists here, we are withholding those.”

So, it is a felony to disclose the information that the IRS disclosed to the White House unless Congress passes a statutory exemption that will not become law unless this president, who broke the law, agrees to sign the statute so that we can see how he broke the law. Fat chance!

That, dear reader, is why the much talked about tax reform in the new Congress will fail. Any tax reform that leaves a corrupt system in place will be abused again by future administrations as unscrupulous as the Obama administration. ...

[T]he IRS will be put down like a rabid dog. No agency of government should have the power to abuse our personal information for political gain, which the IRS has proven its willing to do.

Continue reading

December 20, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Iowa Reassigns Legal Writing Prof to Library Pending Retrial of Discrimination Claim Based on Her Conservative Views

Wagner 2Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Des Moines Register, Second Woman Makes Retaliation Claim Against University of Iowa:

The University of Iowa has reassigned another female employee involved in a pending legal matter against the school — an action called retaliatory and illegal in a new court document.

Teresa Wagner, a conservative Republican who is suing the university, was reassigned Nov. 17 to an hourly position that doesn't use her legal degree and requires her to sort boxes of old books, booklets or pamphlets, her motion says. Wagner, previously the associate director of the Writer Center at the Iowa College of Law, has said the school repeatedly denied her promotion because of her political leanings.

Wagner's reassignment occurred after she said she caught her supervisor, Nancy Jones, going through her backpack on Nov. 5. UI's human resources department said Nov. 10 that it could not conclude a university policy had been broken. Three days later, Wagner was notified that she was no longer in the position she'd held for eight years, Wagner alleges in a court motion. ...

Continue reading

December 19, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

NCBE Responds to Law Deans' Complaints About Low Bar Passage Rates

NCBEFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Erica Moeser, President of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, has responded in a letter and column to complaints from dozens of law school deans about this year's sharp fall in bar passage rates.  Vikram Amar, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at UC-Davis Law School,shares his preliminary thoughts with TaxProf Blog readers:

Her letter is noteworthy in a few respects, not the least of which is her steadfast refusal to turn over specifics about the adequacy of NCBE’s “equating” process (used to ensure that difficulty remains constant across test administrations) because such information is proprietary.  The tone of her letter also makes clear she feels attacked by law deans (which may understandable on her part).

[Her column] provides additional context for this controversy.  The column covers a lot of ground, but here are a few reactions:  (1) The suggestion that recent MPRE score declines can be seen as precursors to the 2014 MBE decline is interesting, and may tend to support her conclusion that the MBE was properly equated and scored -- assuming the MPRE has been properly equated and scored. (It also may tend to predict further erosion in MBE and bar pass rates in 2015); (2) The mention of LSAC’s change from using the average LSAT score to the highest LSAT score (of each taker) seems odd to me, since that change seems to have predated (by a number of years) the class entering fall of 2011 (that suffered the 2014 MBE decline); (3) The existence of larger transfer classes at some law schools in recent years (which she mentions) wouldn’t appear to say much about aggregate MBE performance (unless some kind of Sanderesque “mismatch” effect is occurring when people transfer to schools for which they are not suited); (4) All of the changes in law school curriculum and grading she discusses have been gradual, and thus wouldn’t easily explain an abrupt one-year change in bar performance.

All of this brings us to her point about the how the “tail of the [incoming credentials] curve” – the folks in the bottom quartile of entering law school class LSAT (and/or) UGPA profiles – is invisible.  To be sure, this may be a group that often struggles with bar passage, and a steeper-than-before drop-off within this group in the class that entered law school in 2011 could explain some decline in 2014 MBE performance.  I leave it to the true gearheads to tell us whether we have the data we need to make that tail more visible on a national level and, if so, what such a close-up view would tell us.  Maybe some of the commentary a month ago already did that, but Ms. Moeser’s response letter and accompanying column seem, at least, to have framed some of the issues more tightly.

Update:  Derek Muller (Pepperdine), NCBE Has Data to Prove Class of 2014 Was Worst in a Decade, and It's Likely Going to Get Worse

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

December 19, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Schools Have Shed 986 Full-Time Faculty (11%) Since 2010

Matt Leichter has published the 2014 edition of Which Law Schools Are Shedding Full-Time Faculty?  The nation's law schools have shed 986 full-time faculty (11%) since 2010, and 719 full-time faculty (8%) since 2013.

134 law schools have shed full-time faculty since 2010, with 10 law schools shedding 20 or more full-time faculty:

Full-Time Faculty (Fall)
RankSchool’10’13’14'13 v '14'10 v '14
1. WMU Cooley 101 115 49 -66 -52
2. G. Washington 106 93 72 -21 -34
3. Florida Coastal 69 51 36 -15 -33
4. Vermont 55 33 26 -7 -29
5. McGeorge 63 43 36 -7 -27
6. Texas 103 80 80 0 -23
7. Seton Hall 59 47 38 -9 -21
8. Hamline 34 24 14 -10 -20
8. Albany 46 36 26 -10 -20
8. Villanova 49 38 29 -9 -20

45 law schools have added full-time faculty since 2010, with 11 law schools adding 10 or more full-time faculty:

Full-Time Faculty (Fall)
RankSchool’10’13’14'13 v '14'10 v '14
1. Columbia 107 154 167 13 60
2. UC-Irvine 0 27 32 5 32
3. Charlotte 35 66 64 -2 29
4. Stanford 68 81 90 9 22
5. UMass 0 15 17 2 17
6. Belmont 0 17 14 -3 14
7. UCLA 86 99 98 -1 12
8. Denver 62 84 73 -11 11
9. Ohio State 42 53 52 -1 10
9. N. Carolina 42 51 52 1 10
9. Wm & Mary 39 53 49 -4 10

Update:  Chapman has subsequently filed a corrected Form 509 with the ABA, so I have updated this post to remove references to data in Chapman's original Form 509 filed with the ABA.  Matt Leichter has also updated his post with the corrected Chapman data.

December 19, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

Taxation and Income Inequality: How Ferris Bueller’s Pals Grew Up to Run the Government

Fox News op-ed:  Taxation and Income Inequality: How Ferris Bueller’s Pals Grew Up to Run the Government, by Gregg Jarrett:

FerrisA year ago, [President Obama] vowed to dedicate the remainder of his term to fighting "income inequality." 

It has a lovely, populist ring to it. But he conveniently overlooks the evidence that his policies of raising taxes on income, capital gains, dividends and small businesses appear to have exacerbated the divide. Real median household income has decreased under his stewardship, even as the economy has rebounded from the financial panic and ensuing recession, albeit at a lethargic pace.

The reason is plain: income inequality is a symptom, not an illness. Persistent unemployment and anemic economic growth are what plague the U.S. economy and the upward mobility of Americans. 

Confiscating wealth by tax and then spending the revenue recklessly in a vain attempt to redistribute income is a fatuous invention that punishes the successful. At the same time it rewards the unsuccessful by perpetuating a culture of dependence and entitlement. 

Continue reading

December 19, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Johnson: Reflections on Home Concrete -- Writing Tax Regulations and Interpreting Tax Statutes

Steve R. Johnson (Florida State), Reflections on Home Concrete: Writing Tax Regulations and Interpreting Tax Statutes, 13 Fla. St. U. Bus. Rev. 77 (2014):

United States v. Home Concrete & Supply, LLC is the Supreme Court's most recent foray into the thicket of the validity of Treasury tax regulations. The decision disappointed some because the Court avoided many significant issues raised by commentators or briefed by the parties.

Nonetheless, Home Concrete gives us much to digest. Some reactions to the decision appear below. They are grouped under four headings: (1) litigation balance between the government and taxpayers, (2) retroactivity, (3) deference doctrine, and (4) statutory interpretation. These considerations are developed below after a brief description of the Home Concrete decision.

December 19, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 589

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  20 Facts About IRS Targeting, Those Emails And The White House, by Robert W. Wood:

The IRS scandal started 587 days ago in May 2013, but it actually goes back years earlier. President Obama’s testy “not even a smidgen of corruption” remark to Fox News in February 2014 showed fatigue. There was simply no evidence that the IRS was used for political targeting, he made clear. Maybe, but here are 20 things every American taxpayer should know about it: ...

What will item 21 be? Or 22 or 23? You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist searching for a grassy knoll or second shooter to want to know. Whether the explanation is a spontaneous demonstration from a youtube video, conclusive evidence that some folks down at the IRS were confused, or something else, we should know. If those IRS employees were truly  self-starters, free-thinkers who were targeting without direction from their bosses, perhaps they shouldn’t get bonuses, not big ones anyhow.

Besides, computer crashes don’t mean anything, even if it was a full year into the federal investigation when the IRS revealed that all those emails from the key two year period had been long gone for some time. Now, they are back and we may soon be able to see them, as well as the even more important communications between the IRS and DOJ.

Everyone may have had the best of intentions here. No one may have intended any breach of law. And maybe the IRS should not have to administer our insanely complex tax law, but it does. And without regard to political party, every American should want to get to the bottom of this once and for all.

Continue reading

December 19, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

News Worsens for Law Schools: Fall 2015 Applicants Are Down 9.1%; 'J.D. R.I.P.'?

LSAC, Three-Year ABA Volume Comparison:

As of 12/12/14, there are 88,926 fall 2015 applications submitted by 13,816 applicants. Applicants are down 9.1% [8.5% two weeks ago] and applications are down 10.5% [9.5% two weeks ago] from 2014.

Gainesville Scene, Thinking About Law School? Think Again:

Enrollment to law schools around the country has dwindled by more than 37 percent since 2010. The decline steadied this year at 8 percent, the first single-digit figure in four years, but this is not sign of an upward swing, according to Alfred Brophy, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Via: Quartz

“In the median term, I don’t think (the number of applicants) will increase because I think the structural reasons why people aren’t going to law school aren’t going to change,” he said. “Who knows? Maybe Ebola will wipe us out.” ...

George Dawson, interim dean of the University of Florida Levin College of Law, mused that the legal field “may have lost its luster.” Brophy points to various factors when speculating what could be causing the decline: Tuition costs are skyrocketing ahead of inflation, jobs are scarce and, ironically, the legal field just isn’t that lucrative.

In 1985, the average attorney brought home about $90,000 per year, which, adjusted for inflation, equals almost $200,000. But a six-digit paycheck is now an elusive reality for law-school grads. These days, the average U.S. attorney is paid a yearly salary of less than $62,000. ...

“Thirty years ago if you were looking to get on the escalator to upward mobility, you went to business or law school,” said William D. Henderson, a professor of law at Indiana University, in a 2013 New York Times article. “Today, the law school escalator is broken.”

Continue reading

December 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Schizer: Limiting Tax Expenditures

David Schizer (Columbia), Limiting Tax Expenditures, 68 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2014):

The federal government devotes over a trillion dollars each year to tax provisions that pursue “nontax” goals. Scaling back these tax expenditures should be a high priority. Yet one-size-fits-all limits are often proposed, and are not good policy. Each tax expenditure generates its own mix of positive externalities and private benefits (or “programmatic benefits”). To choose the right limit, we should consider what programmatic benefits we would lose. The goal should be to reap programmatic benefits at lower cost. Different strategies are appropriate for each tax expenditure, including: tightening the definition of favored conduct; focusing on claimants who are easiest to motivate; favoring claimants who use the subsidy more effectively; calibrating how much favored activity we subsidize; and changing the government agency that administers the subsidy. We also should account for excess burden and distribution. Does repeal or a limit influence labor or savings decisions? Does it affect planning and administrative costs? Does it bring is closer to the distribution we want?

In addition to proposing this three-part framework for limiting tax expenditures, which focuses on programmatic benefits, excess burden, and distribution, this Article also analyzes seven different limits. They have very different effects. For example, a “cap” eliminates the subsidy for high levels of favored activity. In contrast, a “floor” disallows the subsidy for low levels. “Haircuts,” “maximum fractions,” and “phaseouts” preserve the subsidy for both high and low levels of favored activity, but in weakened form. Each limit offers a different mix of strengths and weaknesses, making it a better fit for some tax expenditures than others.

Continue reading

December 18, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Marquette Suspends Tenured Professor for Blogging, Orders Him Off Campus

McAdamsInside Higher Ed, Suspended for Blogging:

Marquette University has suspended with pay and barred from campus the tenured professor who criticized a graduate student instructor in a personal blog, pending an investigation into his conduct.

John McAdams, an associate professor of political science at Marquette, last month wrote a controversial blog post accusing a teaching assistant in philosophy of shutting down a classroom conversation on gay marriage based on her own political beliefs. He based the post on a recording secretly made by a disgruntled student who wished that the instructor, Cheryl Abbate, had spent more time on the topic of gay marriage, which the student opposed. McAdams said Abbate, in not allowing a prolonged conversation about gay marriage, was “using a tactic typical among liberals,” in which opinions they disagree with “are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed ‘offensive’ and need to be shut up.”

The story was picked up by various other blogs, and the second-year graduate student soon received critical messages via email, regular mail and online comment boards – some of which included lewd or profane remarks or threats. She also received support from academics across the country, many of whom accused McAdams of violating his ethical and pedagogical responsibilities towards all Marquette students, even teaching assistants.

Continue reading

December 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sanchirico Presents Two Tax Papers in Italy

SanchiricoChris Sanchirico (Pennsylvania) presents two papers at the 10th Annual Conference of the Italian Society of Law and Economics at the University of Rome:

As American as Apple Inc.: International Tax and Ownership Nationality, 68 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2014):

The ownership nationality of large US multinational companies plays an implicit but important role in the current debate over how such companies should be taxed. This paper identifies that role and investigates what is actually known about where these companies’ shareholders reside. 

Self-Constructed Assets and Efficient Tax Timing:

Continue reading

December 18, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

What The Next Generation Of Economists Is Working On

538 (2015)FiveThirtyEight, What The Next Generation Of Economists Is Working On:

The new economists are heading east this winter.

Every January, soon-to-be economics doctorates invade a city, in search of employment; this year it’s Boston. The American Economics Association’s Annual Meeting is the discipline’s cattle call.

Hundreds of wide-eyed, besuited, name-tagged graduate students will spend the first weekend of the new year racing from hotel room to hotel room, giving half-hour job interviews about their research papers, what they’re interested in teaching about and future projects. If they’re lucky, they’ll get a callback — typically a “flyout” to an office or campus. Hirers include central banks, investment banks, consultancies, corporations, government agencies, nonprofits, think tanks and universities across the world — from Aarhus to Zhongnan.

Job Openings for Economists — known affectionately, or not, as JOE — lists 1,217 open positions, as I write.

So what do all these young men and women do, exactly — what are their academic interests, and what is their research about? Let’s preview the next generation of economists.

I visited the job candidate websites of top economics Ph.D. programs [Berkeley, Caltech, Chicago, Columbia, Harvard, Michigan, Minnesota, MIT, Northwestern, NYU, Penn, Princeton, Stanford, UCLA, UCSD, Wisconsin, and Yale] to canvas the interests of the graduating class. There are 308 candidates listed by the 17 schools I looked at — an average of about 18 candidates a school. I recorded their primary field — the main subset of economics in which they work. I also recorded the title of their job market paper. In many academic job markets, including economics, a candidate submits to a potential employer a curriculum vitae, letters of reference and a job market paper. The last is important, and is meant to showcase the candidate’s research interests and skills. In many ways it’s the culmination of their doctoral work.

These are the fields in which this year’s economist crop works. I’ve included just those fields that appeared at least twice.


Continue reading

December 18, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: How Google, GE and U.S. Firms Play the Tax ‘Audit Lottery'

Wall Street Journal, How Google, GE and U.S. Firms Play the Tax ‘Audit Lottery’:

Buried deep in American companies’ securities filings is an indicator for how aggressively they are working to shield their income from the IRS and other tax authorities.

The obscure entry—under the heading “uncertain tax positions” or “unrecognized tax benefits”—is where companies account for tax breaks that push the envelope. And they are adding up.

Exxon Mobil reported that it had $7.8 billion of these uncertain tax positions outstanding as of Dec. 31, including $1.5 billion from 2013 alone. Pfizer reported $6.1 billion, including $1.2 billion from 2013. Google reported $3.1 billion at the end of September, up from $2.6 billion at the end of 2013.


All told, companies in the S&P 500 had amassed $188 billion in unrecognized tax benefits by the end of their 2013 fiscal years—$21 billion of which was related to that year’s taxes, according a Wall Street Journal analysis of figures from Calcbench Inc., a financial data provider. The companies have added between $19 billion and $22 billion of new uncertain tax positions each year since 2010.

Accounting rules define these tax benefits as ones that tax authorities have strong grounds to reject, by the companies’ own analysis. Seeking those breaks is perfectly legal, and since companies have already lowered their profit numbers as if the taxes had been paid, there’s little risk in rolling the dice. A win down the road will boost profits, while a loss typically does no additional damage. Either way, companies often get to use the disputed cash in the meantime. ...

Continue reading

December 18, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

SMU Law Prof's Comments Prompt Sexual Harassment Policy Review

National Law Journal, SMU Law Prof's Comments Prompt Harassment Policy Review:

SMU LogoA complaint by a student at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law that her professor in 2010 referred to her as a “bitch” and “hired bimbo” spurred a federal investigation into the university’s handling of complaints involving sexual harassment, sexual violence and other Title IX violations.

In a report released Dec. 11, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights found that SMU lacked adequate procedures to respond to complaints and did not always do so in a timely manner. The university has voluntarily agreed to review its Title IX complaint procedures, to better publicize its policies and do more to report and track complaints, among other things.

The Education Department began its investigation in 2011 after the female law student raised concerns about the university’s handling of her harassment claims. Her complaint, which government investigators said they had substantiated, was one of three detailed in the report. ...

The law student, referred to in the report at “Complainant 1,” alleged that her professor, also unnamed, called her “just one of those girls who thinks she’s so pretty.” She added that the professor said that not paying attention in class was “like looking at a beautiful woman only she’s wearing dirty panties.”

Continue reading

December 18, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Kwall & Wilbur: The Outer Limits of Realization

Florida Tax ReviewJeffrey L. Kwall (Loyola-Chicago) & Katie K. Wilbur (Varnum, Grand Rapids, MI), The Outer Limits of Realization: Weiss v. Stearn and Corporate Dilution, 16 Fla. Tax Rev. ___ (2014):

The Supreme Court’s 1924 Weiss v. Stearn decision involved a classic case of corporate dilution. In that case, a corporation (“Oldco”) transferred its business to a new corporation (“Newco”) in a transaction where the Oldco shareholders surrendered all their stock for 50% of the stock of Newco (and cash). The transaction diluted the proprietary interest of the Oldco shareholders from 100% to 50%. Because the Oldco shareholders surrendered control of the enterprise, the 50% interest they received in Newco was fundamentally different from the 100% interest they had owned in Oldco. Nevertheless, the Court held that the receipt of the Newco shares was not a taxable event (a “realization event”) to the Oldco shareholders. The Court reached this result by ignoring the dilution that occurred in the case.

In 1991, the Supreme Court resurrected the Weiss v. Stearn decision in the Cottage Savings case. There, the Court relied on Weiss v. Stearn to establish that the exchange of property triggers a realization event only if the property received is “materially different” from the property surrendered. Once again, the Court ignored the dilution that occurred in Weiss v. Stearn. As a result, Supreme Court jurisprudence sheds no light on the question of whether corporate dilution can trigger realization.

Continue reading

December 18, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

GAO: IRS Needs to Strengthen its Oversight of Charities

GAOGovernment Accountability Office, Better Compliance Indicators and Data, and More Collaboration with State Regulators Would Strengthen Oversight of Charitable Organizations (GAO-15-164):

IRS oversight of charitable organizations helps to ensure they abide by the purposes that justify their tax exemption and protects the sector from potential abuses and loss of confidence by the donor community. In recent years, reductions in IRS's budget have raised concerns about the adequacy of IRS oversight.

GAO was asked to review IRS oversight of charitable organizations. In this report, GAO (1) describes the charitable organization sector, (2) describes IRS oversight activities, (3) determines how IRS assesses its oversight efforts, and (4) determines how IRS collaborates with state charity regulators and U.S. Attorneys to identify and prosecute organizations suspected of engaging in fraudulent (or other criminal) activity.

Continue reading

December 18, 2014 in Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 588

IRS Logo 2Washington Times editorial:  Obama’s IRS Faces Scrutiny With Republican-led Congress:

The corruption of the Internal Revenue Service is still under investigation, but the public has learned a lot already: The IRS targeted conservative and tea party groups for extra scrutiny and harassment, Lois G. Lerner tried to hide behind the Fifth Amendment to avoid prosecution for violating the rights of taxpayers, and the president of the United States assured one and all that there was not even a “smidgen of corruption” at the agency when he knew better.

What the public did not know until recently was that the White House requested and received from the IRS the tax records of 2,500 taxpayers for White House inspection. President Obama is not the first president to try to use the IRS against his enemies, but he is the first to do it wholesale. President Kennedy shared tax information with The Washington Post about Sen. Barry Goldwater and senior members of his 1964 presidential campaign team. They were subjected to grueling audits. President Nixon tried to get the IRS to go after his enemies when he faced impeachment. ...

To argue that this is part of a cover-up is to argue the obvious. The arrogance of a government that abuses the rights of its citizens, ignoring specific laws to do so, must be held to account like everyone else, and if justice is done a flurry of subpoenas for a number of White House and IRS officials will follow soon after the Christmas holidays. Congress has disregarded oversight duties in this matter, and soon there will be a new Congress and the 114th Congress will have an opportunity to take these duties seriously.

Continue reading

December 18, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ABA 509 Enrollment Data on All Ranked Law Schools, 2011-2014

Keith Lee has mined the ABA 509 Information Reports for all ABA-accredited law schools for 2011-2014 in There Will Be Blood: ABA 509 Matriculant Data On All Ranked Schools.  126 of the 146 ranked schools experienced enrollment declines from 2011 to 2014; only 18 law schools increased enrollment:

  1. Wyoming (129 in U.S. News):   23.2%
  2. George Washington (20):   13.7%
  3. Pepperdine (54):   12.4%
  4. Baylor (51):  11.3%
  5. Washington University (18):  11.1%
  6. Notre Dame (26):  9.3%
  7. UC-Berkeley (9):  7.9%
  8. Chapman (140):  5.6%
  9. Duke (10):  4.7%
  10. Florida (49):  4.1%
  11. Hawaii (100):  3.5%
  12. Penn State (51):  3.2%
  13. Oklahoma (58):  2.6%
  14. Brooklyn (83):  2.3%
  15. Colorado (43):  1.8%
  16. Harvard (2):  0.7%
  17. NYU (6):  0.4%
  18. Georgetown (13):  0.2%

Check out the many great charts. Here are the Top 51 law schools:

Continue reading

December 17, 2014 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Tax as a Percentage of GDP: 1965 to 2013

December 17, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Madison: The Tax Consequences of Services Provided by Single People in a Relationship

Allen D. Madison (South Dakota), The Taxation of Gratuitous Services Gone Out of 'Control', 45 U. Mem. L. Rev. 115 (2014):

How does the IRS’s ruling that both parties to an exchange of services are subject to income tax apply in the dating context? When meeting, dating, living together, or potentially raising a child together, single people provide services for each other. Most are unaware that potential tax liability lurks behind their performance and receipt of services. This article proposes a framework for determining when a service is gratuitous and thus subject to income tax and then applies that framework to the four potential phases of singlehood.

Continue reading

December 17, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morse: Important Developments in Federal Income Taxation (2014)

Edward A. Morse (Creighton), Important Developments in Federal Income Taxation (2014):

This outline, prepared for the 52nd Annual Great Plains Tax Institute in Omaha, Nebraska (December 4-5, 2014) covers significant developments in federal income taxation along with a few other interesting or noteworthy tax topics. It is not intended to provide exhaustive coverage, but it offers a selective treatment of items likely to interest practitioners and advisors within a broad range of professional practices. Coverage in this outline generally includes events from the prior Institute through December 1, 2014.

December 17, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Crane Reviews Halperin & Warren, Understanding Income Tax Deferral

JotwellCharlotte Crane (Northwestern), Keeping Us Honest About the Timing Flaws in the Income Tax (Jotwell) (reviewing Daniel I. Halperin (Harvard) & Alvin C. Warren Jr. (Harvard), Understanding Income Tax Deferral):

The recent attempt of Halperin and Warren to lay out with some precision what is at stake in the various phenomena loosely called “deferral” is a welcome contribution and should become a go-to primer. The essay includes the math critical to the analysis, but in a way that does not require the reader to be able to reproduce it in order to get the full message. It is also a useful review of the literature produced by tax academics in law schools (significantly by Halperin and Warren themselves) that connects the relatively simple financial principles regarding the time value of money with the on-the-ground tax policy debates in which they properly appear.

December 17, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shaviro: The Case for 1986-Style Corporate Tax Reform

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Daniel N. Shaviro (NYU), Evaluating the Case for 1986-Style Corporate Tax Reform, 145 Tax Notes 1267 (Dec. 15, 2014):

Shaviro explores the relationship between taxing corporate income at the entity level and the difficulties in evaluating whether a corporate rate cut would be desirable without significant structural changes.

December 17, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harvard Law Prof: Are Today's Students Too Sensitive to Study Rape Law?

The New Yorker:  The Trouble With Teaching Rape Law, by Jeanne Suk (Harvard):

I New Yorkermagine a medical student who is training to be a surgeon but who fears that he’ll become distressed if he sees or handles blood. What should his instructors do? Criminal-law teachers face a similar question with law students who are afraid to study rape law.

Thirty years ago, their reluctance would not have posed a problem. Until the mid-nineteen-eighties, rape law was not taught in law schools, because it wasn’t considered important or suited to the rational pedagogy of law-school classrooms. The victims of rape, most often women, were seen as emotionally involved witnesses, making it difficult to ascertain what really happened in a private encounter. This skepticism toward the victim was reflected in the traditional law of rape, which required a woman to “resist to the utmost” the physical force used to make her have intercourse. Trials often included inquiries into a woman’s sexual history, because of the notion that a woman who wasn’t virginal must have been complicit in any sex that occurred. Hard-fought feminist reforms attacked the sexism in rape law, and eventually the topic became a major part of most law schools’ mandatory criminal-law course. Today, nobody doubts its importance to law and society.

But my experience at Harvard over the past couple of years tells me that the environment for teaching rape law and other subjects involving gender and violence is changing. Students seem more anxious about classroom discussion, and about approaching the law of sexual violence in particular, than they have ever been in my eight years as a law professor. Student organizations representing women’s interests now routinely advise students that they should not feel pressured to attend or participate in class sessions that focus on the law of sexual violence, and which might therefore be traumatic. These organizations also ask criminal-law teachers to warn their classes that the rape-law unit might “trigger” traumatic memories. Individual students often ask teachers not to include the law of rape on exams for fear that the material would cause them to perform less well. One teacher I know was recently asked by a student not to use the word “violate” in class—as in “Does this conduct violate the law?”—because the word was triggering. Some students have even suggested that rape law should not be taught because of its potential to cause distress. ...

Continue reading

December 17, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Seto: More on the 2016 New Lawyer Job Projections

Seto (2014)TaxProf Blog op-ed:  More on the 2016 New Lawyer Job Projections, by Theodore P. Seto (Loyola-L.A.):

On Dec. 10, Matt Leichter published a response to my TaxProf Blog op-ed of Nov. 19 analyzing new Bureau of Labor Statistics projections of the likely demand for lawyers over the next several years. While I am flattered that anyone would spend an entire article responding to my rather pedestrian analysis, I am bemused to be accused of “optimism” and “exuberance.” If I am guilty of these faults, it is entirely unintentional. My goal is to be as ploddingly fact-based as possible.

In particular, Mr. Leichter quotes me as claiming that “by 2016, the number of law graduates [will] exceed the new projected annual job growth rate, creating ‘a significant excess of demand over supply.’” What I actually wrote was: “Based on 2012 and 2013 matriculation rates and historical drop-out rates, we should expect 40,082 ABA-accredited law school graduates in 2015 and 35,954 in 2016. If the new BLS projections are accurate, we should see demand and supply in relative equilibrium in 2015 and a significant excess of demand over supply beginning in 2016. (These estimates only take into account JD-required jobs. Demand from JD-advantage employers is not included.)”

Continue reading

December 17, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Why Does Uncle Sam Hate American Expats?

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Why Does Uncle Sam Hate American Expats?, by Neil Gandal (Tel Aviv University, Department of Economics):

FATCAIt’s not easy to be an American living abroad these days, and some are even giving up U.S. citizenship. The reason is ill-considered legislation most people never heard of: the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

Here’s the background: The number of Americans living abroad increased from 70,000 in 1966 to between three million and four million in 1996 and more than seven million today, according to several estimates. There are many reasons Americans have moved, including the globalization of the economy and increased cross-border migration generally.

The U.S. is the only developed country in the world that requires citizens who live abroad to file tax returns. This is so complicated that it is virtually impossible to do without an accountant, and that can cost more than $1,000 a year, even for very simple tax returns.

But that’s only the beginning. There are additional reporting requirements for Americans who live abroad. The FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report) requires holders of foreign financial accounts to report detailed information about all such accounts each year. It can take many days to obtain and compile the information and then prepare the form.

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2010 made matters worse. Fatca compliance costs for foreign banks are so high that many banks have closed the accounts of Americans living abroad. Joining the ranks of the “unbanked” is becoming the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The Economist has reported that approximately 3,000 expats gave up their U.S. citizenship or green cards in 2013; prior to Fatca it was only a few hundred a year. A recent survey by the deVere Group suggests that a large majority may have done so because of the law. ...

Continue reading

December 17, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (20)

The IRS Scandal, Day 587

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Did You Hear The One About Lois Lerner Walking Into A Bar?, by Peter J. Reilly:

Judicial Watch has come out with the latest in the perennial never ending IRS scandal.  It has managed to pry loose from the Justice Department e-mails that show that Lois Lerner, who was imported into the IRS from the Federal Election Commission, met with the Justice Department to discuss whether people who had lied on their exemption applications about political activities should be prosecuted.  The Justice Department is not releasing further documents which would explain why it did not prosecute anybody.  As I’ve been following this drama, I’ve often found myself looking at it from a different angle than everybody else, which is what makes me think of this as a story about Lois Lerner walking into a bar.

The IRS is tasked with a pretty big job having to collect over $2 trillion dollars.  Since Congress has decided to use Title 26( Internal Revenue Code) as its go to title to encourage or discourage this that and the other thing, the IRS gets diverted quite a bit from its core mission of collecting revenue.  To work for the IRS as a revenue agent, the education requirement is a bachelors degree with 30 hours in accounting.  So your core enforcement people in the IRS are accountants.  Task twenty odd thousand accountants with collecting $2 trillion dollars and a bunch of miscellaneous stuff, some of the miscellaneous stuff is going to slide by.  So it is understandable that they did not do such a hot job on squelching 501(c)(4) organizations that were engaging in political activity.

Then along comes Lois Lerner who is not a career IRS employee.  She is excited about violations of the campaign financing laws and now can put numerous minions into zealously scrutinizing applications, thinking up more and more devious ways in which 501(c)(4) status can be abused.  None of the thing that my father always told me about how to behave in a bar was to never talk about religion or politics.  Lois Lerner apparently could talk of nothing other than politics and that may be what is behind this mess.  That’s why Lois Lerner walking into the IRS is like her walking into a bar.  It was not good for Lois Lerner and it was not good for the bar.ot being a career IRS employee, she did not have IRS culture embedded in her. ...

Continue reading

December 17, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

1L Enrollment Shrank 4.5% in 2014, to the Lowest Level Since 1974 (When There Were 53 Fewer Law Schools)

ABA Journal, 1L Enrollment Drops Nearly 30 Percent From 2010 High:

First-year enrollment at ABA-approved law schools dropped this year to the lowest point since 1974, when there were 53 fewer accredited law schools.

The 204 ABA-accredited law schools enrolled 37,924 full- and part-time first-year students in the fall of 2014, a drop of 4.4 percent from 2013 and a drop of 27.7 percent from the historic high of 52,488 in 2010, according to an ABA press release.

Sixty-four schools reported a drop in first-year enrollment of 10 percent or more since last year. Thirty-three law schools bucked the trend, however, reporting an increase in 1L enrollment this year of 10 percent or more.

Continue reading

December 16, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Johnston: How Google and Apple Make Their Taxes Disappear

Newsweek:  How Google and Apple Make Their Taxes Disappear, by David Cay Johnston (Syracuse):

Google AppleAround the world, countries are desperately seeking ways to stop multinational companies from earning profits within their borders without paying taxes on them, while stashing trillions in tax havens like the Cayman Islands. The British government, after a search, says it knows how to tax the profits Google earns in the United Kingdom. Its solution is simple and elegant, and it probably won’t change a damn thing.

The proposal has come because Britain and many other countries are tired of getting just the table scraps after companies enjoy what tax lawyers call Dutch Sandwiches washed down with a Double Irish. Those are popular names for tax strategies that let companies earn profits in countries with high taxes, but report profits where little or no tax is paid, such as Ireland. The people charged with enforcing tax laws say that is cheating, and some officials and pundits in Europe have invoked what President Ronald Reagan said in a 1983 radio address about tax cheats: “When they do not pay their taxes, someone else does—you and me.”

Four years ago, Bloomberg News reporter Jesse Drucker revealed how Apple, Google, Microsoft and other big companies duck taxes on European profits, which set off ongoing coverage of the issue in Europe, where most individuals and small businesses are heavily taxed. Google pays as little as 2.4 percent tax on its offshore earnings, compared with the official 35 percent tax rate on American profits and the 28 percent rate in Britain, its second largest market. Google’s worldwide pretax profits grew 72 percent from 2009 to 2013, but profits booked offshore grew more than five times faster, from $7.7 billion to $38.9 billion.

Continue reading

December 16, 2014 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Law Firms Profits Projected to Grow 5% in 2015

Citi Private Bank & Hildebrandt Consulting, 2015 Client Advisory:

Based on our review of financial data, our discussions with law firm leaders, and other economic data available to us, we project that 2015 revenue for the law firm industry will likely rise in the six percent range, and PPEP in the five percent range. ... We believe transactional work will continue to drive growth, and litigation demand is likely to remain flat, placing continued pressure on firms with a strong dependence on litigation. ...

Just as the uptick in transactional activity is likely to drive demand growth in 2015, we expect to see continued pressure on firms who rely more heavily on litigation. While litigation traditionally drove firm revenue in downward economic cycles, over the past few years, with some exceptions, like intellectual property prosecution or investigations, it has either been flat or declining, as seen in Chart 3. 

Chart 3

December 16, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Many Of Your Colleagues Are Hungover Today? 1.6%.

FiveThirtyEight, How Many Of Your Co-Workers Are Hungover?:

I’ve thought about this relatively often, because my career path — from the restaurant business to journalism — has been dominated by occupations where some people roll into work with shades and water bottles. There’s a bit of data on this. ...


Continue reading

December 16, 2014 in About This Blog, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Local Government Rejects InfiLaw, Backs Nonprofit Takeover of Charleston Law School

Charleston Post and Courier, Charleston County Legislative Delegation Supports Nonprofit Organization, not InfiLaw, Taking the Reins at Charleston School of Law:

ICThe Charleston County Legislative Delegation Monday voted to support a plan for a nonprofit organization to take over the Charleston School of Law instead of the for-profit InfiLaw System.

Thirteen of the 22 delegation members attended a meeting at McClellanville Town Hall, where the vote was taken. Ten voted in favor of supporting the nonprofit launched by Ed Westbrook, one of the school's three owners. [Three] abstained. ...

Continue reading

December 16, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Barry & Caron: Tax Regulation, Transportation Innovation, and the Sharing Economy

Jordan M. Barry (San Diego) & Paul L. Caron (Pepperdine), Tax Regulation, Transportation Innovation, and the Sharing Economy, 81 U. Chi. L. Rev. Dialogue ___ (2015):

Many emerging companies’ business models center on helping consumers to share assets in new ways. This “sharing economy” has already experienced tremendous growth and attracted considerable investment capital and talent. Yet, as is often the case with economic innovations, existing regulatory structures have hindered the growth of the sharing economy, reducing its popularity and slowing its development.

This Article explores the tension between innovation and regulation, both in general and in a specific context: the intersection of the transportation sector of the sharing economy and the qualified transportation fringe benefit rules of Internal Revenue Code Section 132. We illustrate how regulators’ legitimate concerns combine with the uncertainty surrounding new ways of doing business to create regulatory environments that place new industries at a disadvantage. We also argue that two of the most common approaches that regulators adopt to foster new industries – expanding regulation to encourage new industries and restricting regulation to spur innovation – are both flawed. In tax and other areas of law, these approaches tend to operate cyclically, with each coming into fashion for a time until its flaws are deemed unbearable and it gets replaced by the other. This cycle will continue until someone comes up with a better innovation.

December 16, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dean, Unemployed Young Lawyer Living With Parents Differ on Value of Law School

Vegas Seven, Now’s the Time to Break into Law:

Daniel Hamilton, the dean of UNLV’s Boyd School of Law:  ... “This is the best time to apply and go to law school in a generation,” he says. “The competition is fierce, and the ability to negotiate tuition is widespread.” Negotiate tuition? Yep. Nowadays, applicants can—and should—leverage multiple offers to get the best deal, Hamilton says. “A student applies to law school at UNLV or anywhere else, and calls you up and says, ‘I’ve got this offer at school A and this offer at school B. Let’s talk.’” ...

Anyone pursuing a law degree today is likely in it for the right reasons, which is to say they’re wholeheartedly devoted to pursuing a legal career. “I think it’s fair to say that in decades prior you could apply to law school as a kind of holding pattern,” Hamilton says. “[These changes] in legal education have done away with law school as a default option.”

Cedar Rapids Gazette op-ed:  Law School Is Broken, by Steve Waechter ("a 2009 [Drake] law graduate who lives at home and works in a factory to pay down student loans"):

American law schools take bright, ambitious young people and leave them broke, humiliated, deeply indebted and disaffected. They do this by squeezing them for student loan money for three years and then hurling them into an economy that can barely employ half of them. ...

Continue reading

December 16, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harvard 3L: Delaying Exams Is Not a Request from 'Coddled Millennials'

Following up on last week's post, Columbia Law School Lets Students Postpone Exams Due to Grand Jury Decisions; Harvard, Georgetown Students Demand Similar Treatment:

HarvardNational Law Journal op-ed:  Delaying Exams Is Not a Request from 'Coddled Millennials', by William Desmond (Harvard 3L):

Over the last week, much has been said about law students’ petitioning for exam extensions in light of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police officers. Students at Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School, Georgetown University Law Center and several other schools requested that their administrations allow extensions on final exams for students who have been confronting the aftermath of the recent failed grand jury indictments of the officers who killed the unarmed black men.

In response, opponents of exam extensions have declared that to grant these requests would be a disservice to the students. Law students, they argue, must learn how to engage critically with the law in the face of intense adversity. Drawing comparisons to events surrounding the Civil Rights Movement and other times of intense turmoil, these opponents portray today’s law students as coddled millennials using traumatic events as an excuse for their inability to focus on a three-hour exam. In essence, law students are being told to grow up and learn how to focus amidst stress and anxiety—like “real” lawyers must do.

Speaking as one of those law students, I can say that this response is misguided: Our request for exam extensions is not being made from a position of weakness, but rather from one of strength and critical awareness.

Continue reading

December 16, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Faculty Fathers: Toward a New Ideal in the Research University

Faculty FathersMargaret W. Sallee (SUNY-Buffalo), Faculty Fathers: Toward a New Ideal in the Research University (SUNY Press, 2014):

For the past two decades, colleges and universities have focused significant attention on helping female faculty balance work and family by implementing a series of family-friendly policies. Although most policies were targeted at men and women alike, women were intended as the primary targets and recipients. This groundbreaking book makes clear that including faculty fathers in institutional efforts is necessary for campuses to attain gender equity. Based on interviews with seventy faculty fathers at four research universities around the United States, this book explores the challenges faculty fathers—from assistant professors to endowed chairs—face in finding a work/life balance. Margaret W. Sallee shows how universities frequently punish men who want to be involved fathers and suggests that cultural change is necessary—not only to help men who wish to take a greater role with their children, but also to help women and spouses who are expected to do the same.

(Hat Tip: Inside Higher Ed.)

December 16, 2014 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 586

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Congress Can Pry Open a Clammed-Up IRS, by Charles Lipson (University of Chicago, Department of Political Science):

The agency pleads that it can’t share the documents that it may have shared illegally because that would be illegal.

The White House and IRS are entangled in a sticky court case with major political ramifications. It concerns allegations that the IRS illegally shared private taxpayer information with the White House related to conservative individuals or organizations. The Treasury Department said this month that although it has found a cache of documents that may be pertinent, it is not allowed by law to release them. The question now is who can find out whether the Obama White House has in effect weaponized the IRS, turning it into an agency that targets Americans out of favor with the administration.

Most likely, for reasons outlined below, Congress will have to be the one to find out. While we are far from knowing if any violations of the law have occurred, this is a serious issue. Misuse of the IRS was an article in Richard Nixon ’s impeachment—and he was only accused of trying to politicize the tax agency. ...

Treasury has clammed up again, trying to keep its contacts with the White House secret and reiterating that it is exempt from disclosure. The administration has offered a bizarre rationale: It would be illegal to turn over documents the IRS shared illegally since it is illegal for the IRS to share the files with anyone, including the court.

There still is a wide gap between our knowing that there is a cache of “responsive documents” and anyone establishing a direct connection between White House political operatives and the IRS. However revealing the documents may be, they would need to be followed up by interviews and depositions, which may lead to more documents. Only a thorough investigation can accomplish that.

A politicized Justice Department cannot be trusted to conduct an impartial investigation or to appoint a reliable outside prosecutor. This means that any serious inquiry is up to Congress.

Republican leaders are understandably cautious about this approach. When they take control of Congress in January, their overriding goal is to establish a track record for governing, not a pattern of investigating the Obama administration’s past transgressions. But this case should be an exception. Any White House interference with the IRS is a fundamental assault on the rule of law and the disinterested application of the tax code. If allowed to stand, it will serve as a pernicious precedent for future administrations. 

Congress should proceed carefully but steadily. ... If the documents show repeated, politicized contacts between the IRS and the White House—and only then—the House and Senate should vote to establish a joint congressional committee to investigate. ... The heavy lifting, particularly taking depositions under oath, should be done behind closed doors, beginning with lower-level people who might have seen unauthorized documents or their political uses. Give them transactional immunity and make clear they face serious legal peril if they fail to testify fully and truthfully. Then follow the chain of testimony up the organizational chain. A well-conducted investigation would either clear the White House’s senior political aides or implicate them in serious wrongdoing. 

The search for the truth here ought to be a bipartisan issue. It may yet become one as Democrats back away from the Obama White House.

Continue reading

December 16, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Brookings Hosts Conference Today on The Long Run Outlook for the Federal Budget

BrookingsThe Brookings Institution hosted a conference today on The Long Run Outlook for the Federal Budget: Do We Know Enough to Worry?:

Other commentators:

Continue reading

December 15, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Elkins Presents The Achilles Heel of Corporate Taxation Today at Hebrew University

Elkins (2015)David Elkins (Netanya) presents The Achilles Heel of Corporate Taxation at Hebrew University of Jerusalem today as part of its Tax Colloquium Series:

A great deal of the complexity and inconsistency of the corporate tax structure can be traced to a 1921 decision in which the Supreme Court refused to bifurcate the amount paid for shares and to consider part of that amount as consideration for the right to participate in the distribution of already accumulated earnings. Although the government won that case, it turned out to be one of its most pyrrhic victories, as the consequent misallocation of basis created perhaps the most basic corporate tax shelter. Congress, instead of attacking the root of the problem by providing for bifurcation, chose to make it inconvenient for taxpayers to exploit what it viewed as an isolated glitch in the system (and in the process created a great deal of collateral damage). The Commissioner, with some degree of success, tends to look askance at corporations that engage in legitimate self-help by withdrawing profits before selling their shares. Bifurcation would contribute to the equity, efficiency, and simplicity of the corporate tax structure by equalizing the tax treatment of the various methods by which corporate shareholders realize their right to capital and earnings.

December 15, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tobin: The IRS and a Crisis of Confidence -- A New Regulatory Approach for a New Era

Florida Tax ReviewDonald B. Tobin (Dean, Maryland), The Internal Revenue Service and a Crisis of Confidence: A New Regulatory Approach for a New Era, 16 Fla. Tax Rev. 429 (2014):

The Internal Revenue Service is not usually thought of as the agency charged with enforcing the nation’s campaign finance laws. It has found itself, however, at the center of a firestorm over both its involvement and its ineptitude in enforcing certain rules that regulate the campaign activities of tax-exempt organizations. For historical, legal, and practical reasons, the Internal Revenue Code regulates the political activity of tax-exempt groups, in some instances providing for disclosure of campaign donors and expenditures, and in other instances limiting the amount of political activity engaged in by tax-exempt organizations. As campaigns become more sophisticated and complicated, pressure is placed on the rules regulating the political activity of tax-exempt organizations. The current structure regulating the political activity of tax-exempt organizations is unworkable, and the recent crisis resulting from the IRS’s use of partisan criteria to determine what applications for exempt status should come under further inquiry highlights the breakdown in the current regulatory regime.

Continue reading

December 15, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Artisanal Attorney

Artisinal 2John Frank Weaver, I Am An Artisanal Attorney:

Are you tired of large corporate law firms making the same cookie cutter litigation? Do you fondly remember a time when quality mattered in law suits, when there was art and craftsmanship in every court motion filed, when company records were drafted using the traditional methods and tools? If you have become dissatisfied with mass-produced legal representation, stop by my scriveners shop; for I am an artisanal attorney.

Not long ago, while attending a small-batch honey wine tasting at a meadery with friends, I realized that we bought only organic produce at the local farmers market, ate only free range meat prepared by our traditional neighborhood butcher, and filled our apartments with only free trade, hand crafted furniture. We—and many others like us—insist on authenticity in everything in our lives. We don’t want to eat. We want the fullness that only comes from a meal created by the human experience. We don’t want to drink. We want the buzz that is produced by the draught of a person’s skill. It occurred to me that people who demand realness in their food and homes should also demand it in their legal representation. That was when I became an artisanal attorney.

Continue reading

December 15, 2014 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)