TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Charlotte Dean Fires Associate Dean For Academics And Faculty Development Who 'Acted As Shield Between InfiLaw And Faculty And Students'

DavidsonFollowing up on yesterday's post, Charlotte Law School To Reopen Jan. 17, Despite Feds' Decision To Cut Off Student Loans:  Charlotte Observer, Top Academic Dean Forced to Resign as Turmoil at Charlotte School of Law Continues:

The turmoil at Charlotte School of Law appeared to continue Monday with the dean in charge of curriculum telling students she had been forced out of her job.

In an email, Camille Davidson said she was asked to resign as the school’s head of academics by Jay Conison, the head dean of the school. Davidson, a Georgetown University law graduate, said she would remain on the CSL faculty. The change comes less than a week before the beleaguered school is scheduled to reopen for classes.

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January 10, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Brooks:  Quasi-Public Spending

John R. Brooks (Georgetown), Quasi-Public Spending, 104 Geo. L.J. 1057 (2016):

The United States has increasingly designed certain public spending programs not as traditional tax-financed programs, but rather as mixtures of private expenditures, subsidies, and limited taxes. Thus part of what could have gone to the government as a tax is instead used to purchase the good or service directly, with only incremental taxes and subsidies to manage distributional goals. This Article terms this “quasi-public spending,” and argues that it is descriptive of our evolving approaches to both health care and higher education.

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January 10, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Merritt:  What Happened To The Law School Class Of 2010?

Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), What Happened to the Class of 2010? Empirical Evidence of Structural Change in the Legal Profession, 2015 Mich. St. L. Rev. 1043:

Poor employment outcomes have plagued law school graduates for several years. Legal scholars have debated whether these outcomes stem from macroeconomic cycles or from fundamental changes in the market for legal services. This Article examines that question empirically, using a database of employment outcomes for more than 1,200 lawyers who received their JDs in 2010. The analysis offers strong evidence of structural shifts in the legal market. Job outcomes have improved only marginally for the Class of 2010, those outcomes contrast sharply with results for earlier classes, and law firm jobs have dropped markedly. In addition to discussing these results, the Article examines correlations between job outcomes and gender, law school prestige, and geography. In a concluding section, it offers four predictions about the future of the legal market and the economics of legal education.

Table 4A

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January 10, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1342:  New Chair of House Oversight Committee Pledges To Increase IRS Accountability

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The Hill, Oversight Panel Will Focus on IRS, Medicare, New Chairman Says:

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's oversight panel, said the subcommittee's priorities in the 115th Congress will include combating fraud in Medicare and Social Security, increasing IRS accountability, and protecting people from identity theft.

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January 10, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Charlotte Law School To Reopen Jan. 17, Despite Feds' Decision To Cut Off Student Loans

Charlotte Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below):  National Law Journal, Troubled Charlotte Law School Will Open for Spring Semester:

The embattled Charlotte School of Law will remain open — for now. Administrators informed students in an email Friday evening that the school will hold classes this spring semester despite the U.S. Department of Education's decision in December to withhold access to federal student loans.

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January 9, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kaplan Test Prep Predicts Fall 2017 Law School Applicants Will Increase, Despite Early Declines, Due To Later LSAT Test-Taking

KaplanFollowing up on last month's post, Fall 2017 Law School Applicants Down 5.1%:  Jay Thomas, Executive Director of  Pre-Law Programs for Kaplan Test Prep, predicts that this early decline in law school applicants will reversed due to a shift toward later LSAT test-taking:

In 2015, the fall LSAT administration — the most popular administration each year — was October 3rd. This year's fall administration date was September 24th. Many students, particularly undergraduates, will ramp up their LSAT preparation after Labor Day when the semester is earnestly in swing. This year given the early administration date, we are finding many students shifting their desired test date to December, rather than the traditional fall.

While LSAC has not released test-taker numbers for the December exam date yet, we are anticipating a fairly sizable year-over-year increase (at least by recent standards). In fact, the 1% increase we saw for this fall's administration was probably 5-10 points "better" than we would've predicted, suggesting the December increase year-over-year could be 10 or even 15 points. As you know, an applicant's law school application is not complete until they have a reportable LSAT score. December LSAT scores will be returned in early January, at which point, I'd anticipate a sizable bounce/rebound in your trends — and ultimately, a likely increase in both applicants and applications.

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January 9, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law Prof Objects To Vilification Of Nancy Shurtz, But Concedes 'Her Social Skills May Need Work': Tax Faculty 'Tend To Be A Bit 'Different''

Shurtz

David Barnhizer (Cleveland State), The Vilification of Nancy [Shurtz]:

I don’t know Oregon law professor Nancy Shurtz. But I do know that no American law professor at this point in time would knowingly or intentionally use racist language or dress up in “blackface” as a demonstration of personal racial bias against Americans of African ancestry. I believe her when she says what she was doing was intended as the opposite of racial disparagement and that it represented her intention to bring out to colleagues at a social gathering the continuing discrimination and denial of opportunity that blacks in America still disproportionately suffer. Professor Shurtz’s attempted message about the continuing effects of racial discrimination obviously fell flat.

Perhaps, unlike most law professors, Shurtz’s social skills need work. After all, she teaches tax and we know that many tax faculty members tend to be a bit “different”. One thing I have no difficulty concluding, however, is that while her execution wasn’t the smartest thing to do, her intentions were good (and perhaps even noble). I also have no doubt that given the attacks on her professional and personal character by some extremely vocal and hyper-sensitive law students, by the “usual suspects” who feed on accusations of racial bias, and by “trusted colleagues” at the law school and in the University of Oregon’s administration bleating about “sensitivity”, “inclusiveness”, “offensiveness” and the like that Nancy Shurtz has been dehumanized and objectified to such a degree that she must feel she is traveling the “road to Hell” regardless of her intentions.

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January 9, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Intersection Of EU State Aid And U.S. Tax Deferral

Florida Tax Review  (2015)Romero Tavares, Bret Bogenschneider & Marta Pankiv (Vienna University), The Intersection of EU State Aid and U.S. Tax Deferral: A Spectacle of Fireworks, Smoke, and Mirrors, 19 Fla. Tax Rev. 121 (2016):

The Advance Pricing Agreements or transfer pricing rulings granted to U.S. multinationals by Ireland, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg were principally designed to achieve U.S. tax deferral and not EU tax avoidance. Adverse BEPS effects within the European Union would be immaterial in comparison to the deferral of U.S. tax on residual IP related profits, and would have occurred primarily in countries other than those charged with the granting of unlawful State aid. The Irish, Dutch, and Luxembourgish treasuries have not foregone tax revenues in favor of the U.S. multinationals they allegedly aided, which is a requirement for a finding of prohibited State aid.

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January 9, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Most Downloaded Tax Professors Of 2016

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1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)

10,604

2

Lily Batchelder (NYU)

6851

3

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)

5016

4

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

4069

5

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

2585

6

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2539

7

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

2464

8

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

2372

9

William Byrnes (Texas A&M)

2234

10

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

2205

11

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

2155

12

Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)

1854

13

David Weisbach (Chicago)

1823

14

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1808

15

Steven Bank (UCLA)

1775

16

Yariv Brauner (Florida)

1636

17

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

1626

18

Brian Galle (Georgetown)

1517

19

Christopher Hoyt (UMKC)

1507

20

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

1490

21

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

1484

22

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

1471

23

Michael Graetz (Columbia)

1469

24

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1450

25

Jordan Barry (San Diego)

1442

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January 9, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Three Four Law Profs Criticize 'Smug Self-Delusion' Of 1,400 Law Prof Signatories To 'Scandalous' Letter By 'Partisan Hacks' Opposed To Jeff Sessions

DOJ Logo (2016)Following up on last week's post, Tax Profs Join Over 1,300 1,400 Law Profs In Opposing Jeff Sessions For Attorney General:

Stephen B. Presser (Northwestern), Sen. Sessions and the Smug Self-Satisfaction of the Law Professoriate (Chicago Tribune):

The first striking thing about the recent letter signed by 1,100 law professors urging the U.S. Senate not to confirm attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is its extraordinary arrogance and presumption. ...

The exaggerated self-importance of the teacher of law is buttressed by immersion in an ideology very different from what most senators and most Americans believe about the law in particular and the world in general. It is strongest in the elite bastions of the Ivy League and on the coasts, where most American law professors trained. Now, one can find it dispersed in most of our centers of legal education. ...

It is time for law professors to emerge from the smugness and self-delusion in which they have been mired for some time, and to recommit themselves to the noble task of teaching the law as a repository of timeless truths, as something above politics, and certainly above character assassination.

Michael I. Krauss (George Mason), The Law Professors' Scandalous Statement Against Jeff Sessions (Forbes):

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January 9, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (24)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1341:  Another View Of The Republicans' Reactivation Of The Holman Rule And Lois Lerner

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The Moderate Voice: Preventing the Upcoming Barbarian Apocalypse, by Hart Williams:

House Republicans this week reinstated an arcane procedural rule that enables lawmakers to reach deep into the budget and slash the pay of an individual federal worker — down to a $1 — a move that threatens to upend the 130-year-old civil service. The Holman Rule, named after an Indiana congressman who devised it in 1876, empowers any member of Congress to offer an amendment to an appropriations bill that targets a specific government employee or program. ...

[W]hat does this mean? Well it means that any congressman or senator (almost exclusively GOP) can, in essence, terminate/eliminate almost any civil service employee who incites their wrath. ...

This is a de facto prescription to overturn ALL regulatory enforcement that the “Free Market” pirates of the House GOP deem “bad for business.” And, for a year, the Republicans in Congress can PURGE the Civil Service of all those “obstructionist” employees who insist on doing their jobs as prescribed by law. Think of what they did to Lois Lerner of the IRS, for example, who only attempted to enforce the charitable regulations of the IRS code. In a little-noted move thereafter, the GOP congress essentially gutted all 501(c)4 provisions, making it perfectly legal to launder dark money with zero accountability for political purposes — a complete overturning of the original intent of Congress in CREATING the section 501 provisions prohibiting charitable activities from being partisan POLITICAL activities, or, in essence, allowing the rich to engage in politics on your dime, Mr. and Mrs. US Taxpayer.

The implications of this “rule” are staggering when you apply the “if this goes on” test to it. And recall that you don’t really need to go after ALL civil service employees to create a chilling effect. Just make a few examples of “uppity” civil servants.

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January 9, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (13)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hari Osofsky (Minnesota) Named Dean At Penn State After Failed Search Last Year

HariFollowing up on my previous post, Penn State Law Faculty 'Discontent' Amidst Failed Dean Search, Two Year 'Downward Descent (From #51) Into Rankings Oblivion (#86)':  Press Release, New Dean Named for Penn State Law and School of International Affairs:

A leading scholar of and contributor to public policy work on energy transition and climate change has been named the new dean of Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs (SIA) at University Park beginning July 1, pending approval of the Board of Trustees.

Hari M. Osofsky, the Robins Kaplan Professor of Law, faculty director of the Energy Transition Lab and director of the Joint Degree Program in Law, Science and Technology, all at the University of Minnesota Law School, was the successful candidate following a national search. ...

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January 8, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Students In College Bible Class Get Trigger Warning, Permission To Skip Studying Crucifixion Of Jesus Christ

TWCNational Review, If You Are Too Triggered by Lessons About the Crucifixion, You Cannot Be a Religious Scholar:

Students in a Bible course at the University of Glasgow are being given trigger warnings before being shown images of the crucifixion — and permission to skip those lessons altogether if they are worried they’ll feel too uncomfortable.

Predictably, much of the conversation surrounding this has been focused on the cultural implications of the policy, and how it contributes to creating a generation of weak little snowflakes. ... But the problems with this policy go far beyond the abstract cultural implications. It’s also objectively, indisputably wrong on a logical level — because receiving credits for a class signifies that you have learned enough about the subject matter to earn those credits, and no student in an introductory Bible course could meet that qualification without having learned about the crucifixion.

The crucifixion may be a traumatic Biblical event, but it is also arguably the most monumental one. The crucifixion and corresponding resurrection of Jesus Christ are the entire foundation of the Christian religion, and yet somehow we have an institution willing to give students credit for a class about that religion’s holy book without them having to learn anything about the book’s most consequential event?

I would have no problem with professors offering warnings before displaying graphic images — giving the squeamish ones time to cover their eyes — but giving students the opportunity to opt out of crucifixion-related lessons entirely? Sorry, but . . . nope. Giving a student who did not learn class material about the crucifixion credit for a Bible class is like giving a student who did not learn to do a cartwheel a spot on the gymnastics team, and Glasgow University should be ashamed of itself.

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January 8, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (12)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

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

  1. [489 Downloads]  Problems with Destination-Based Corporate Taxes and the Ryan Blueprint, by Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan; moving to UC-Irvine) & Kimberly A. Clausing (Reed College)
  2. [322 Downloads]  IRS Issues Final and Temporary Debt-Equity Regulations Under Section 385, by David S. Miller (Proskauer, New York) & Janicelynn Asamoto Park (Proskauer, New York)
  3. [195 Downloads]  Is Something Rotten in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg?, by Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)
  4. [136 Downloads]  Protecting Trump's $916 Million of NOLs, by Steve Rosenthal (Tax Policy Center)
  5. [135 Downloads]  The Right Tax at the Right Time, by Edward Kleinbard (USC)

January 8, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1340:  Tax Professors Discuss The Future Of Tax Administration And Enforcement After 'What The Media Often Refer To As The 'IRS Targeting Scandal''

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Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting Discussion Group, The Future of Tax Administration and Enforcement (Jan. 7, 2016):

AALS Discussion Groups provide an in-depth discussion of a topic by a small group of invited discussants selected in advance by the Annual Meeting Program Committee. In addition to the invited discussants, additional discussants were selected through a Call for Participation. There will be limited seating for audience members to observe the discussion groups on a first-come, firstserved basis.

Enforcement and effective administration of tax laws pose challenges for every country, developed and developing. Moreover, how the tax law is administered determines the substantive effects of the laws on the books.

In the United States, the agency responsible for helping taxpayers voluntarily comply with federal tax laws and for coercing the recalcitrant into complying—the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)—is not only underfunded, its image was badly damaged by what the media often refer to as the “IRS targeting scandal.” The IRS is thus in crisis. Over the last couple of years, it has reduced service to taxpayers, reduced enforcement efforts, experienced hacks of its confidential taxpayer information, and sent out billions of dollars in fraudulent refunds claimed by identity thieves. Other tax collection agencies, both in U.S. and abroad, also struggle with resource and cybersecurity issues.

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January 8, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Today's AALS Annual Meeting Highlight

AALS (2018)Today's highlight at the 2017 AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco:

AALS Discussion Group, The Future of Tax Administration and Enforcement:

Enforcement and effective administration of tax laws pose challenges for every country, developed and developing. Moreover, how the tax law is administered determines the substantive effects of the laws on the books.

In the United States, the agency responsible for helping taxpayers voluntarily comply with federal tax laws and for coercing the recalcitrant into complying—the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)—is not only underfunded, its image was badly damaged by what the media often refer to as the “IRS targeting scandal.” The IRS is thus in crisis. Over the last couple of years, it has reduced service to taxpayers, reduced enforcement efforts, experienced hacks of its confidential taxpayer information, and sent out billions of dollars in fraudulent refunds claimed by identity thieves. Other tax collection agencies, both in U.S. and abroad, also struggle with resource and cybersecurity issues.

Discussion Group Participants:

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January 7, 2017 in Conferences, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Op-Ed:  Critics Of University Of Oregon's Punishment Of Tax Prof Nancy Shurtz For Wearing Blackface To A Halloween Party In Her Home Need To "Move On' And 'Get Over It'

Shurtz

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Register-Guard op-ed: UO Is Right to Insist Upon Cultural Competency, by Martha Moultry:

Get over it!”

“It’s no big deal!”

“You’re too sens­itive!”

“There are people with real problems in the world!”

“Let it go and move on with your life!”

As an African-American woman who grew up in the segregated South and has spent the past 30-plus years in liberal Eugene, I’ve heard these messages all of my life — and they are now being played in stereo in letters to the editor regarding the recent blackface incident at the University of Oregon.

Well, let me add my two cents’ worth.

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January 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

Penis-Proud Former Energy CEO With Ties To Platinum Partners Pleads Guilty To Tax Fraud

PlatinumDealbreaker, Penis-Proud Former Energy CEO With Ties To Platinum Partners Pleads Guilty To Tax Fraud:

Remember Gary Mole?

Well, the the wacky Aussie with a proclivity for pulling his pecker out at the dinner table and a very intriguing link to Platinum Partners seems to have found himself in another pickle.

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January 7, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law Students Performed 2.2 Million Pro Bono Hours Worth $52 Million In 2016

Pro BonoNational Law Journal, Law Students Performed 2.2 Million Pro Bono Hours Last Year:

In between reading cases and studying for exams, law students found time in 2016 to take on volunteer legal work — a lot of it.

The law class of 2016 performed more than 2.2 million hours of pro bono work while on campus, which is valued at more than $52 million.

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January 7, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1339:  House GOP Reactivates 'Holman Rule,' Would Have Permitted Reducing Lois Lerner's Pay To $1

IRS Logo 2Washington Post, House Republicans Revive Obscure Rule That Allows Them to Slash the Pay of Individual Federal Workers to $1:

House Republicans this week reinstated an arcane procedural rule that enables lawmakers to reach deep into the budget and slash the pay of an individual federal worker — down to $1 — a move that threatens to upend the 130-year-old civil service.

The Holman Rule, named after an Indiana congressman who devised it in 1876, empowers any member of Congress to propose amending an appropriations bill to single out a government employee or cut a specific program.

The use of the rule would not be simple; a majority of the House and the Senate would still have to approve any such amendment. At the same time, opponents and supporters agree that the work of 2.1 million civil servants, designed to be insulated from politics, is now vulnerable to the whims of elected officials. ...

Democrats and federal employee unions say the provision, which one called the “Armageddon Rule,” could prove alarming to the federal workforce because it comes in combination with President-elect Donald Trump’s criticism of the Washington bureaucracy, his call for a freeze on government hiring and his nomination of Cabinet secretaries who in some cases seem to be at odds with the mission of the agencies they would lead.

Weekly Standard, House GOP Revives Rule Allowing Them To Slash Salaries of Corrupt Federal Workers:

[T]here can be no question that federal workers have far too many civil service protections. After the IRS held a press conference admitting that they had improperly targeted conservative groups, Lois Lerner, the IRS official deemed most responsible, didn't face any meaningful consequences. Instead it was revealed that she recently received $129,000 in bonuses and retired with an annual pension that could possibly exceed $100,000.

Even after Lerner left, John Koskinen, the new interim head of the IRS, ignored congressional subpoenas as the IRS destroyed evidence relating to the investigation of Lerner and engaged in egregious stonewalling. It's pretty clear that the IRS was in no way fearful of suffering any consequences for persecuting thousands of ordinary Americans and flouting Congress.

Western Journalism, GOP House Revives 140-Year-Old Rule That Has Swamp-Dwelling Bureaucrats Sweating Bullets:

The rule would let lawmakers target civil servants who abuse their posts but still have union protections. The rule could, for instance, have been used on former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner, locus of the IRS’ intimidation scandal.

While Lerner faced minimal consequences for her wide-ranging role in the scandal — she refused to reveal much of anything to congressional investigators — The Weekly Standard pointed out that she received $129,000 in bonuses and a yearly pension that could top $100,000.

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January 7, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (12)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Weekly Tax Highlight And Roundup

This week, Joe Kristan (CPA & Shareholder, Roth & Company (Des Moines, Iowa); Editor, Tax Update Blog) uses a recent IRS ruling to discuss how the accumulated earnings tax on C corporations may take on increased importance in a reformed tax code emerging from the Trump Administration and the 115th Congress. 

KristanLiving fossil tax bites cashless C corporation

The accumulated earnings tax on C corporations is one of the more obscure items in the tax law. Designed to force corporations to distribute earnings as taxable dividends, it rarely comes up even in tax nerd get-togethers. A few years ago some populist politicians talked of strengthening it to force corporations to pay more dividends as a perverse form of economic stimulus, but interest soon faded.

The new administration may make C corporations much more attractive and more popular. If so, this living fossil may again rise from obscurity to bite taxpayers and their advisors. That makes a legal memorandum recently released by the IRS timely.

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January 6, 2017 in IRS News, Tax, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Erin Scharff (ASU) reviews a new paper by Jeffrey L. Hoopes (UNC), Leslie A. Robinson (Dartmouth), and Joel B. Slemrod (Michigan), Public Tax-Return Disclosure.

Scharff (2017)Calls for corporations to pay their fair share of taxes assume that corporations aren’t ponying up the way they should. But when it comes to individual companies, it can be hard to know what they are paying at all.

As a step toward reforming the system, reformers have called for increasing the public disclosure of corporate tax-return information. Jeffrey Hoopes, Leslie Robinson, and Joel Slemrod suggest reformers hope disclosure will achieve two goals. First, making this information public might limit tax evasion. Second, such disclosures might also provide information useful to investors.

As a result of reforms enacted in 2013, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) began releasing tax-return data (total income, taxable income, and tax payable) for about two thousand of Australia’s largest firms, as defined by income in 2015. The initial disclosures were all released on two specific dates. For large multinational corporations and Austrialian-owned public corporations, the ATO released tax information on December 17, 2015.

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January 6, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Rethinking Faculty Hiring At Fourth-Tier Law Schools

Meat MarketPhilip L. Merkel (Western State), Scholar or Practitioner? Rethinking Qualifications for Entry-Level Tenure-Track Professors at Fourth-Tier Law Schools, 44 Cap. U. L. Rev. 507 (2016):

[M]any fourth-tier law schools have lost their way. Rather than embracing their responsibility to educate practitioners, they are trying to look, act, and spend like elite schools. They operate as if they are research centers whose purpose is to produce academic scholarship, not places where future lawyers learn their trade. The research center model creates costs for fourth-tier law schools that ultimately fall on the students. Because most fourth-tier schools rely on tuition for operating expenses and capital budgets, students are paying more tuition and taking on more debt to support their professors’ scholarship. Students subsidize these activities but receive little benefit. They are further short-changed when they graduate and discover their professors taught them little about the actual practice of law.

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January 6, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (12)

Today's AALS Annual Meeting Highlight

AALS (2018)Today's highlight at the 2017 AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco:

Section on Taxation, Fiscal Federalism: Balancing Tax Policies at the Federal, State, and Local Levels:

A new administration signals the prospect of a host of tax reform proposals. Accomplishing tax reform at the federal level is challenging enough and rarely are the effects of those reforms on state and local governments taken into account. That remains true even though federal tax policies have ripple effects at the state and local levels that often are not felt uniformly among the states.

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January 6, 2017 in Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kysar:  Republicans’ Dangerous Tax Reform Plan

Slate op-ed:   Republicans’ Dangerous Tax Reform Plan, by Rebecca Kysar (Brooklyn):

Fundamental tax reform has always been a bipartisan undertaking. Until now.

All eyes are on Congress this week, as its Republican majorities seek to make good on long-standing promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They may finally get the job done, using a contentious legislative tool, known as reconciliation—the same tool the Obama administration used to pass elements of the law. Less discussed is the Republican plan to use reconciliation to overhaul the tax code as well, which would allow the party to pass its sweeping tax reforms without a single Democratic vote. Unlike in the health care reform context, however, the move would be unprecedented. It would also produce extreme and unstable tax policy.

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January 6, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1338:  Commissioner Koskinen Says Trump Transition Team Has No 'Axes To Grind' Against IRS

IRS Logo 2The Hill, IRS Chief: Agency's Discussions With Trump Team 'Very Positive':

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Thursday that his agency has had “very positive discussions” with the Trump transition team.

“They’ve been very straight-forward, very factual ... productive discussions,” Koskinen told reporters.

Republicans have frequently criticized the IRS, particularly in the wake of 2013 revelations that the agency had subjected conservative groups’ applications for tax-exempt status to extra scrutiny.

But Koskinen said there’s been no indication that transition officials have “any axes to grind” or any focus other than learning about how the IRS operates.

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January 6, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Chicago-Kent Symposium:  Nonprofit Oversight Under Siege

Chicago-KentSymposium, Nonprofit Oversight Under Siege, 91 Chi.-Kent. L. Rev. 843-1114 (2016) (table of contents and abstracts):

Dana Brakman Reiser (Brooklyn), Introduction, 91 Chi.-Kent. L. Rev. 843 (2016)

The View from the U.S.:

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January 5, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

2016 NALP Report On Diversity In U.S. Law Firms

NALPNALP, 2016 Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms:

Women and Black/African-Americans made small gains in representation at major U.S. law firms in 2016 compared with 2015, according to the latest law firm demographic findings from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). However, representation of both these groups remains below 2009 levels. NALP’s recent analyses of the 2016-2017 NALP Directory of Legal Employers (NDLE) — the annual compendium of legal employer data published by NALP — shows that although women and minorities continue to make small gains in their representation among law firm partners in 2016, the overall percentage of women associates has decreased more often than not since 2009, and the percentage of Black/African-American associates has declined every year since 2009, except for the small increase in 2016.

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January 5, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Charlotte Law School Works On Transfer Plan With Florida Coastal As Rumors And Lawsuits Swirl After Feds Cut Off Student Loans

Charlotte Logo (2016)Following up on my previous posts (links below) on the ramifications of the Department Of Education's decision to cut off federal student loans for Charlotte Law School:  

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

January 5, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tax Profs Join Over 1,300 Law Profs In Opposing Jeff Sessions For Attorney General

DOJ Logo (2016)Statement From Law School Faculty Opposing Nomination of Jeff Sessions for the Position of Attorney General:

We are 1330 faculty members from 177 different law schools in 49 states across the country. We urge you to reject the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for the position of Attorney General of the United States.

In 1986, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, in a bipartisan vote, rejected President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of then-U.S. Attorney Sessions for a federal judgeship, due to statements Sessions had made that reflected prejudice against African Americans. Nothing in Senator Sessions’ public life since 1986 has convinced us that he is a different man than the 39-year-old attorney who was deemed too racially insensitive to be a federal district court judge.

Some of us have concerns about his misguided prosecution of three civil rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in 1985, and his consistent promotion of the myth of voter-impersonation fraud. Some of us have concerns about his support for building a wall along our country’s southern border. Some of us have concerns about his robust support for regressive drug policies that have fueled mass incarceration. Some of us have concerns about his questioning of the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change. Some of us have concerns about his repeated opposition to legislative efforts to promote the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community. Some of us share all of these concerns.

All of us believe it is unacceptable for someone with Senator Sessions’ record to lead the Department of Justice.

The Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer in the United States, with broad jurisdiction and prosecutorial discretion, which means that, if confirmed, Jeff Sessions would be responsible for the enforcement of the nation’s civil rights, voting, immigration, environmental, employment, national security, surveillance, antitrust, and housing laws.

As law faculty who work every day to better understand the law and teach it to our students, we are convinced that Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation’s laws and promote justice and equality in the United States. We urge you to reject his nomination.

Tax Prof signatories include:

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January 5, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (10)

Jones:  The University of Oregon, Nancy Shurtz, And The Racial Rules That Keep Us Apart

JonesFollowing up on my previous posts (links below): TaxProf Blog op-ed: The Racial Rules That Keep Us Apart, by Darryll K. Jones (Florida A&M):

What are Nancy Shurtz’ colleagues of color, particularly her African American colleagues, to think about (1) her having dressed up as a “Black Man in a White Coat,” and (2) the reaction to what she did?  She has a friendly smile with genuine eyes, and she teaches Tax.  But I only know that from picture and her bio.  If we ever met I don’t remember.  But I accept, as has her University and even her colleagues who want her out, that she intended no offense and indeed is a strong supporter of diversity and other issues generally thought to involve restorative justice for America’s racism. 

Somehow, I am made to feel defensive by calls for her punishment.  It just makes me very uncomfortable and I don’t want her stoned in the public square for my vindication.  If I were on the faculty at Oregon I would feel compelled to protest the crowd’s outrage ostensibly expressed in recognition of my heritage and feelings.  But I might just sit, quietly grinding my teeth and hoping that the whole thing would just die down.  It is the punishment, the demand for this poor woman’s head on a platter that makes me uncomfortable.  There are clear dangers in an African American saying so.  I imagine that some colleagues might shake their heads in disgust at my own lack of outrage.  There is always the danger of being labeled an “uncle tom” or an apologist for racists if one doesn’t adopt the hot tone of indignation.  Or just plain ignorant. 

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January 5, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Tax Profs Lily Batchelder, Ed Kleinbard Are 2016 Tax Person Of The Year Honorees

BKDonald Trump is Tax Analysts' 2016 Tax Person of the Year. Tax Prof Lily Batchelder (NYU) is one of nine other honorees:

Seeing that then-candidate Donald Trump's tax plan seemed to raise taxes on many families, New York University School of Law professor and former Senate Finance Committee and White House tax counsel Lily Batchelder conducted research to predict the size of the impact [Trump Plan Raises Taxes For Millions Of Low- And Middle-Income Families].

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January 5, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Today's AALS Annual Meeting Highlight

AALS (2018)Today's highlight at the 2017 AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco:

Section on Trusts & Estates, Sex, Death, and Taxes: The Unruly Nature of the Laws of Trusts and Estates:

Trusts and Estates is a broad-based discipline that impacts private citizens’ decisions about sex, death, and taxes. In individuals’ lives, this field is like an operating system that quietly runs in the background, but in reality organizes and informs the end user’s experience, often without the end user’s full awareness. In practice, the field sits at the crossroads of other legal disciplines such as family law, property law, elder law, and tax law. In the academy, it is caught between the practical and theoretical—a microcosm of the questions at the heart of debates about the value and normative objectives of a legal education. Yet, T&E seems to be under–theorized and marginalized in the academy. Therefore, this panel will interrogate T&E’s unruly nature, entertaining inquiries about the intersectionality of gender, race, sexual orientation, and class; the pervasiveness of succession law in aligned fields; its history of adaptation to changing social norms; and the development and evolution of law reform in this area. The panel will explore new visions for the field and frameworks that disrupt and reimagine the field.

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January 5, 2017 in Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1337:  The IRS Is The Third Biggest 'Tax Offender Of 2016'

IRS Logo 2Taxable Talk: The 2016 Tax Offender of the Year, by Russ Fox:

Every year I hope that I won’t find any deserving individuals of the Tax Offender of the Year Award. To win this award, you need to do more than cheat on your taxes; it has to be a Bozo-like action or actions. As usual, we had plenty of nominees.

Coming in third this year is the Internal Revenue Service. What did the IRS do to deserve this award? Well, we have the IRS Scandal; it’s still unresolved. If we were to believe the IRS nothing untoward happened! I’m sure that’s why Commissioner Koskinen faced an impeachment resolution. And remember the data breaches? It wasn’t 104,000 people who were victimized back in 2015 (the “Get Transcript Hack) nor was it 334,000 taxpayers. There were over 700,000 people impacted (and over 500,000 unsuccessful attempts)! As Joe Kristan says, “The IRS: Protecting your identity since 1913.” Or not.

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January 5, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Kuehn:  Law Schools Do Not Adequately Prepare Students For Legal Practice

KuehnTax Prof Blog op-ed:  Do Law Schools Adequately Prepare Students For Practice? Surveys Say . . . No!, by Robert Kuehn (Associate Dean for Clinical Education, Washington University):

Under ABA Accreditation Standard 301, law schools have two educational objectives: prepare their students “for admission to the bar and for effective, ethical, and responsible participation as members of the legal profession.” There has been much concern lately over declining bar passage rates, focusing attention on whether some schools are admitting students who may not be capable of passing the bar exam and whether a school’s program of legal education adequately prepares its graduates for the exam.

In focusing on the bar exam, it’s important not to lose sight of legal education’s primary duty of ensuring that law school prepares students for entry into the legal profession and a successful career. If studies of practicing lawyers and recent law graduates matter, it is clear that law schools are failing, even worse than in preparation for bar admission, to adequately prepare their students for legal practice.

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January 4, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

9th Circuit Affirms Tax Court's Denial Of California Law Firm's Claimed $3.4 Million Travel Expense Deduction For 24-Hour Standby Use Of Private Jets

Gulfstream IVNational Law Journal, Plaintiffs Firm Stuck With $1M Tax Bill After Trying to Deduct Private Jet Travel:

California plaintiffs firm Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack owes more than $1 million in federal corporate taxes and penalties relating to business expenses from two personal aircraft, according to a federal appeals court’s ruling this week.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Wednesday upheld a finding by a U.S. Tax Court judge that Los Angeles-based Engstrom owed $1.12 million after claiming unsubstantiated travel expense deductions relating to 119 flights taken from 2008 to 2010 [Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack v. Commissioner, No. 15-70591 (9th Cir. Dec. 28, 2016), aff'g T.C. Memo. 2014-221].

Engstrom founding partner Walter Lack and Thomas Girardi, of Los Angeles plaintiffs firm Girardi Keese, made payments to a corporation they set up called G&L Aviation in order to split the cost of a Gulfstream IV and a Beechcraft King Air 350 turboprop. Lack and Girardi have partnered on several cases including the litigation portrayed in the 2000 film “Erin Brockovich.”

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January 4, 2017 in New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Yoon:  Law Profs Continue To Publish After Tenure, But In Less Competitive Outlets

Albert Yoon (Toronto), Academic Tenure, 13 J. Empirical Legal Stud. 428 (2016):

In academia, a subset of faculty has tenure, which allows its beneficiaries to retain their professorships without mandatory retirement and with only limited grounds for revocation. Proponents of tenure argue it protects intellectual freedom and encourages investment in human capital. Detractors contend it discourages effort and distorts the academic labor market. This Article develops a framework for examining academic tenure in the context of U.S. law schools. We construct a unique dataset of tenured U.S. law professors who began their careers between 1993 through 2002, and follow their employment and scholarship for the first ten years of their career. Across all journal publications, tenured faculty publish more frequently, are cited with roughly the same frequency, and place in comparable caliber of journal. These productivity gains, however, largely disappear when excluding solicited publications. These results suggest that legal academics continue to produce after tenure, but channel more of their efforts towards less competitive outlets.

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January 4, 2017 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times:  Tax Cuts Designed For People Like Trump

New York Times op-ed: 2016 in Charts. (And Can Trump Deliver in 2017?), by Steven Rattner:

NYT 1
NYT 2

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January 4, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Dent:  Conservatives Are Not Welcome At AALS

AALS (2018)National Association of Scholars: Association of American Law Schools: Conservatives Not Welcome, by George Dent (Case Western):

As appropriate to its quasi-governmental status, the AALS nods toward non-partisanship. Its by-laws state that it “expects its member schools to value . . . diversity of viewpoints.” Unfortunately, this commitment has been pure window-dressing. In its law school inspections the AALS often criticizes schools for lack of racial or gender diversity, and it makes a big issue of sexual-orientation diversity, but it never criticizes schools for lack of political diversity.

This is not because law faculties reflect the political diversity of the nation. Empirical evidence confirms the obvious; law faculties tilt overwhelmingly to the left [John O. McGinnis et al., The Patterns and Implications of Political Contributions by Elite Law School Faculty, 93 Geo. L.J. 1167 (2005)]. And in its own programs the AALS displays the same bias. An announcement about the 2016 annual meeting included a list of thirteen scheduled “Speakers of Note.” One or two of them might be considered moderate or non-political, but all others were liberals or radicals; not one was a conservative or libertarian.

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January 4, 2017 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (13)

Today's AALS Annual Meeting Highlight

AALS (2018)Today's highlight at the 2017 AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco:

Section on Balance in Legal Education:
Understanding and Connecting the Student Experience
Moderating and Speaking: Joseph Bankman (Stanford), Rhonda Magee (San Francisco)

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January 4, 2017 in Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reinventing The Liberal Arts: College In One Year For $5

ReinventingTuck Newport, Reinventing the Liberal Arts: College in One Year for $5:

Hardly a week passes without some luminary decrying the exorbitant cost of higher education and the sorry state of the liberal arts. But none of them explain, in detail, how to obtain a liberal arts education better than that offered by colleges and universities–in less than a year and at a fraction of the cost. "Reinventing the Liberal Arts: College in One Year for $5" provides a comprehensive science and humanities curriculum, with key elements field tested at a well-known liberal arts college over the past two decades. It includes an interdisciplinary survey of crucial concepts in physics, geology, molecular biochemistry, neuroscience, history, literature, ethics, politics, language, information technology, and management.

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January 4, 2017 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (10)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1336:  Fragmented Oversight Of Nonprofits In The United States

IRS Logo 2Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer (Notre Dame), Fragmented Oversight of Nonprofits in the United States: Does It Work? Can It Work?, 91 Chi.-Kent. L. Rev. 937 (2016):

The United States is well known for its distinctive, although not unique, division of political authority between the federal government and the various states. This division is particularly evident when it comes to oversight of nonprofit organizations. The historical focus of federal government oversight has been limited primarily to qualification for tax exemption and other tax benefits, with more plenary power resting with state authorities. Over time, however, the federal government’s role has come to overlap significantly with that of the states, and many nonprofits have become subject to regulation by multiple states as their operations and donor bases expand across state lines.

This Article draws on the growing literature addressing fragmentation of oversight in other contexts to identify possible advantages and disadvantages of such fragmentation with respect to nonprofits. It concludes that the current allocation of responsibilities between the states and the federal government, including the limited areas of overlap, results in relatively effective oversight given the resource and other constraints under which these governments operate. It further concludes, however, that there are certain areas where improvement is possible. More specifically, it recommends federal consolidation of information gathering and financing of oversight, increased coordination between the federal government and the states with respect to enforcement actions, and increased coordination among states with respect to regulation of charitable solicitations. It also recommends that the federal government should both halt and consider rolling back its encroachment into the legal requirements for governance of nonprofits as they relate to the primarily state law fiduciary duty of

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January 4, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Martha Minow To Step Down As Harvard Law School Dean

MinowHarvard Gazette, Minow to Step Down as Law School Dean:

Harvard Law School (HLS) Dean Martha Minow announced today that she will step down from that post at the end of this academic year. A legal scholar and human rights expert, Minow has led the diversification of the School’s faculty, staff, and student body, and has overseen significant growth in clinics and research programs, along with record fundraising. She will remain on the faculty and return to active participation in public dialogue and legal policy.

Minow, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law, took over in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis. She steered the School through the resulting economic challenges to a period of program and faculty growth, strengthened commitment to public service, and campus renewal, with construction of the Wasserstein Hall, Caspersen Student Center and Clinical Wing Building (WCC), and creation of the campus courtyard. She has continued to teach, write, and advise students throughout her tenure as dean.

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January 3, 2017 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weisbach:  A Guide To The GOP Tax Plan — The Way To A Better Way

House Better WayDavid Weisbach (Chicago), A Guide to the GOP Tax Plan – the Way to a Better Way:

The tax reform plan — A Better Way — put forward by the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady and the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan would be the most substantial tax reform in the United States since the enactment of the income tax in 1913. At the corporate level, the reform would allow immediate expensing of investments, deny deductions for net interest expense, and eliminate the taxation of income from sales in foreign countries while taxing the full value of imports (together shifting the tax base to a destination basis). At the individual level, the system would tax capital income including interest, dividends, and capital gains at half the rate that wages and salaries are taxed. It would also repeal the estate and generation skipping taxes. These changes would go a long way toward shifting the tax system to taxing consumption rather than income.

This paper considers the implementation of the House GOP tax plan and addresses issues that will need to be resolved if the plan is to work as intended. The plan is based on, and builds off of, a long history of thinking about consumption taxes. To understand the basic choices made in the plan, it is helpful to understand this history and how consumption taxes work in general.

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January 3, 2017 in Congressional News, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kysar:  Trump’s Tariff Plan Is Unconstitutional — Tariffs (Like Taxes) Must Originate In The House

New York Times op-ed: Is Trump’s Tariff Plan Constitutional?, by Rebecca Kysar (Brooklyn):

Among the first steps being floated by the incoming Trump administration is a 5 to 10 percent tariff on imports, implemented through an executive order. It’s the sort of shoot-first, ask-questions-later action that President-elect Donald J. Trump promised during the campaign. It’s also unconstitutional.

That’s because the path to imposing tariffs — along with taxes and other revenue-generating measures — clearly begins with Congress, and in particular the House, through the Origination Clause. When presidents have raised (or lowered) tariffs in the past, they have tended to do so using explicit, if sometimes wide-ranging, authority from Congress.

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January 3, 2017 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Volokh:  University Of Oregon's Punishment Of Tax Prof Nancy Shurtz May Signal The End Of Free Speech For All Professors At All Universities

Shurtz

Following up on last week's post, Volokh: Punishment Of Tax Prof Nancy Shurtz Means The End Of Free Speech At The University of Oregon: Washington Post (The Volokh Conspiracy): Silencing Professor Speech to Prevent Students From Being Offended — Or From Fearing Discrimination by the Professors, by Eugene Volokh (UCLA):

People often support disciplining and even firing professors who say things that are perceived as racist on the grounds that 1) those professors can’t be trusted to evaluate minority students fairly, 2) students will be afraid that they won’t be judged fairly, or 3) students will more broadly lose confidence in the professors (or just couldn’t stand to be in the room with them) or even in the institution, and won’t learn as effectively. I’ve seen these arguments made often, most recently as to the University of Oregon controversy. ...

I appreciate the force of these arguments, and indeed, if all you care about is maximum teaching effectiveness and reliability, you might take such a view. But, if accepted, these arguments really will be the end of freedom of expression — both casual and more formally academic — on university professors’ part, because they reach far beyond black makeup in Halloween costumes.

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January 3, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)