TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, July 13, 2015

Brophy: The Coming Age Of Micro Law Schools

MicroAl Brophy (North Carolina), The Micro Law School:

Maybe what we’ll see are micro law schools — schools with entering classes of 50 or fewer students. Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia, seems headed in that direction now — with about a dozen full-time faculty and a first year class of 48 in fall 2014.  Micro law schools will permit schools that serve geographically remote communities, like Appalachian School of Law, to continue to provide an education to people who might not be able to travel far from home.  This will work well for the communities and those students, both.

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July 13, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Relative Value of $100: Lowest In D.C. ($85), Highest In Mississippi ($115)

Tax Foundation, The Relative Value of $100: Which States Offer the Biggest Bang For Your Buck?:

Tax Foundation

The Bureau of Economic Analysis has been measuring this phenomenon for two years now; it recently published its data for prices in 2013. Using this data, we have adjusted the value of $100 to show how much it buys you in each state.

July 13, 2015 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (3)

Brooklyn Law School Offers 15% Tuition Refund For Students Who Don't Find Full-Time Jobs 9 Months After Graduation

Brooklyn (2015)New York Times, Brooklyn Law School Offers a Safety Net for New Students:

Beginning with students entering this year — whether in two-, three- or four-year programs — Brooklyn Law School is offering to repay 15 percent of total tuition costs to those who have not found full-time jobs nine months after graduating. That, according to school officials, is how long it typically takes graduates to get such jobs and, if necessary, to obtain the requisite licenses. ...

The introduction of the program, called Bridge to Success, comes as law school graduates across the country face increasing competition in a depressed job market that is only slowly recovering from the economic downturn. ...

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July 13, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

20 Schools Are Responsible for 20% Of All Graduate School Debt

Washington Post, These 20 Schools Are Responsible for a Fifth of all Graduate School Debt:

A new study from the Center for American Progress (CAP) found that 20 universities received one-fifth, or $6.5 billion, of the total amount of loans the government gave graduate students in the 2013-2014 academic year. Those schools, however, only educate 12 percent of all graduate students.


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July 13, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)

The IRS Scandal, Day 795

IRS Logo 2Tribune-Review, Another IRS 'Oops': Hardly Credible:

It was “an unbelievable set of circumstances” that led to the erasure of backup tapes of Lois G. Lerner's emails after a congressional subpoena sought these records in an investigation of the tax agency's targeting of tea party and conservative groups. Or so says the IRS' deputy inspector general.

In literature and in cinema, this would be referred to as suspension of disbelief. For the Obama administration in its dealings with Congress, it's business as usual.

As the script goes, Ms. Lerner formerly led the IRS agency accused in the targeting scandal. Once an investigation commenced, the IRS informed Congress that, by golly, her computer had suffered a debilitating hard drive crash and that her emails were lost.

Backup computer tapes of the sought emails later turned up. But — oops! — about 24,000 emails might have been permanently lost to erasure, The Washington Times reports. Of the 1,000 recovered emails that the IRS didn't turn over to Congress, none pertain to the targeting, according to the IG. Imagine that.

Why, nobody “did anything intentionally to hinder our investigation,” said Democrat Rep. Elijah E. Cummings.

A crashed hard drive. Now erased backup tapes. It is not unreasonable to suspect the destruction of evidence amid a succession of excuses during a two-year investigation. Congress must redouble its efforts to get to the bottom of this.

Newsmax, Judicial Watch's Fitton: More Lois Lerner Emails on the Way:

The IRS is dragging its feet on the court-ordered release of newly-discovered emails to and from Lois Lerner, the ex-agency official who allegedly targeted tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status, Tom Fitton, president of the government watchdog Judicial Watch, tells Newsmax TV.

"The government found 1,400-plus new Lois Lerner emails. Remember those emails that were deleted and weren't recoverable on backup tapes? Well, they weren't deleted, they were recoverable and they were on backup tapes," Fitton said Friday on "The Steve Malzberg Show." ...

Fitton said other Lerner emails that have been released thus far are "astonishing." "They provide an exhaustive account of a meeting that Lois Lerner and other IRS folks had with the Department of Justice.... It wasn't just the IRS stalling tea party applications, it was the Justice Department and the FBI talking about prosecuting these very groups," he said.

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July 13, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Brunson: Churches And Religiously-Affiliated Schools That Oppose Same-Sex Marriage Will Not Lose Their Tax Exemption After Obergefell

White House Same Sex MarriageFollowing up on my previous posts:

Sam Brunson (Loyola-Chicago), Tax Exemption, Post-Obergefell:

There’s been a lot of Sturm und Drang recently over what will happen to the tax exemptions of churches and religiously-affiliated schools that oppose same-sex marriage. The specter of loss of exemption has been bandied about. ...

[C]could the church or BYU lose its tax exemption as a result of their policies on homosexuality? Yes. ... Just because the government could, though, doesn’t mean that it’s likely. And, based on historical and current practice, revoking the church’s exemption is virtually impossible, and revoking BYU’s is tremendously unlikely. 

Sam Brunson (Loyola-Chicago), The Church Will Not Lose Its Tax-Exempt Status:

Do I seriously have to say this? Again? Look, Obergefell does not mark the end of churches’ tax-exempt status. It’s just not going to happen. ...

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July 12, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Wealthiest ZIP Codes In America

Wealthiest ZIP Codes in America:


(Hat Tip: Francine Lipman.)

July 12, 2015 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThis week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads is the same as last week's:

  1. [395 Downloads]  Taxation of E-Commerce, by Orkhan Abdulkarimli (Baku State)
  2. [339 Downloads]  Trust Decanting: A Sale Without Gain Realization, by Jason Kleinman (Herrick, New York)
  3. [193 Downloads]  Reducing Inequality With A Retrospective Tax On Capital, by James Kwak (Connecticut)
  4. [190 Downloads]  Citizenship Taxation, by Ruth Mason (Virginia)
  5. [178 Downloads]  What Does Voluntary Tax Compliance Mean?: A Government Perspective, by J. T. Manhire (Texas A&M)

July 12, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 794

IRS Logo 2Nonprofit Quarterly, IRS Lois Lerner Emails Impossible to Find or Save:

Yesterday, NPQ published a newswire based on an editorial that speculated that it would be difficult to address the dark money issues in 501(c)(4) nonprofits this election season because of the targeting scandal of the IRS. This, of course, is not helped by the fact that the inquiry drags on and on.

Last week’s Treasury Inspector General’s update to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Lois Lerner’s missing emails was unsatisfying to all parties. Early estimates of tens of thousands of possible emails being found that relate to the IRS scandal were subsequently reduced to 6,000 and ultimately to about 1,000. Meanwhile, the TIGTA’s office reported that as many as 24,000 emails may be permanently lost.

The IRS had promised for more than a year to respond fully to a subpoena and produce all Lerner emails. After a long delay, the IRS ultimately reported the emails to have been lost due to computer hardware failures. However, the TIGTA’s office later found more than 700 backup tapes (not produced by the IRS in response to the subpoena) that may have included the Lerner emails under subpoena. Almost all of the tapes had been erased and the data unrecoverable.

The investigators’ interviews with IRS personnel discovered no willful intent to destroy evidence. The tapes were handled in accordance with IRS policy and procedures for the handling of confidential material, and the personnel involved in the destruction claimed no knowledge of the subpoenas and the potential relevance of the materials destroyed.

Democrats on the committee continue to point out that there is no evidence of political bias as a motivation for the IRS’s targeting and that there is no demonstrated link to the White House. They cite the more than 160,000 labor hours and $20 million spent by the IRS to comply with investigators’ demands as a distraction from customer service and other IRS priorities. Democrats and the Treasury investigators both complained about leaks from committee Republicans citing the early numbers of possible emails. Republicans continue to be enraged about the slow IRS response and apparent unwillingness to take the investigations seriously, despite credible evidence of IRS malfeasance that, by definition, targeted “Tea Party” and other conservative-sounding organizations in the wake of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling in early 2010.

At the very least, the IRS’s procedures for responding to subpoenas for electronic evidence have been demonstrated to be seriously deficient. In addition, the IRS’s destruction of electronic records may violate the Federal Records Act, which mandates the archiving of all government communications under the ultimate supervision of the Archivist of the United States.

The IRS’s targeting of conservative-sounding tax-exempt organizations, first reported publicly in May 2013, prompted several simultaneous and ongoing investigations that have awaited production of subpoenaed emails to and from Lerner. Lerner was the Director of the Exempt Organizations (EO) Unit of the IRS from 2006 until being placed on unpaid administrative and ultimately retiring from the IRS in 2013. Lerner is believed to have been a key figure in the IRS scandal, based on the TIGTA’s May 2013 initial audit report and upon evidence subsequently produced.

To add more unfortunate fodder for the conspiracy theorists, there is now a link between the IRS scandal and the Congressional investigation surrounding the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Catherine Duval, the IRS attorney responsible for supervising the production of the Lerner emails, has been transferred to the State Department, where she now oversees the production of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails to the House committee investigating Benghazi.

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July 12, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

9th Circuit: Marijuana Dispensaries Cannot Deduct Business Expenses, Must Pay Taxes On 100% Of Their Gross Income

Vapor RoomThe Ninth Circuit on Thursday affirmed the Tax Court (139 T.C. 19 (2012)) and held that § 280E prevents a San Francisco  medical marijuana dispensary from deducting ordinary or necessary business expenses because its Vapor Room is a "trade or business . . . consist[ing] of trafficking in controlled substances . . . prohibited by Federal law."  Olive v. Commissioner, No. 13-70510 (July 9, 2015).  See Tony Nitti (Forbes), Ninth Circuit: Legal Or Not, Marijuana Facility Cannot Deduct Its Expenses:

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July 11, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

65% Of Faculty Plan To Delay Retirement

TIAA-CREF Institute, Understanding the Faculty Retirement (non)decision: Results from the Faculty Career and Retirement Survey:

Tenured faculty age 50 or older can divided into three groups—35% expect to retire by normal retirement age; 16% would prefer to retire by normal retirement age, but expect to work longer (i.e., they are “reluctantly reluctant” to retire); and 49% would like to and expect to work past normal retirement age (i.e., they are “reluctant by choice”). The key drivers differ between those reluctantly reluctant and those reluctant by choice.


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July 11, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

The IRS Scandal, Day 793

IRS Logo 2Town Hall, I Know What Lois Lerner Did Last Summer:

I know her secret, I know she’s scared, and I know what she did last summer.

If you need something lighthearted to pick yourself up and get back into work after a long holiday weekend, I’ll give you a column that would more humorous if it weren’t so close to the truth. It’s the story about what Lois Lerner and her new bestie, Hillary Clinton, did last summer.

The 4th of July reminded me of the 1997 horror-thriller, “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” where a girl gets attacked on the 4th of July. Which then reminded me of the chilling probability that I may know what girls gone wild like former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner did last summer. ...

Well, after two summers of chilling at the beach, on May 31 of 2015, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that Lois Lerner would not be charged with contempt or face charges. Lois could keep the $129,000 in bonuses that she received while presiding over contended favoritism at the IRS and retire will full pension. ...

Lois Lerner’s case isn’t closed. Late last month the chief government watchdog for the IRS revealed at a Congressional testimony that Lerner’s hard drive containing emails dated between 2010 and 2012 appear to have been destroyed by “an impact of some sort.” Translation: Lois might pack a hammer in her beach bag. ...

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George further testified that 422 backup tapes containing up to 24,000 emails sent to and from Lois Lerner had been destroyed by IRS employees. George qualified his revelation by saying that he did not smell foul play in this destruction of evidence. Which makes you question the strength of George’s watchdog sniffer. But, I digress. ...

[A] few days before the 4th of July holiday, we learned that the same woman charged with managing Congress’ investigation into Lerner’s emails has also been charged with overseeing Clinton’s email scandal: an attorney named Catherine Duval.


“If you're going to bury the truth, make sure it stays buried,” was a movie tagline for I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Depending on how well Lois and Hillary buried the truth contained in the thousands of emails that they do not seem eager for you or me to see may determine how many more summers they spend sunbathing—or doing community service. Either way, we know what Lois Lerner did last summer.

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July 11, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Light At The End Of The Law School Tunnel?

LightThe number of LSAT takers in June 2015 (the first test of the 2015-16 cycle) increased 6.6% from June 2014.  This is the third consecutive increase, following the 0.8% increase in December 2014 and 4.4% increase in February 2015. This follows 14 consecutive declines in LSAT takers from February 2010 through December 2013.

The June 2015 figure is even more impressive because it reflects a whopping 10.9% increase in first time LSAT takers from June 2014.



LSAT also reports that law school applicants are down only 2.0% for the Fall 2015 entering class (which represents 97% of the preliminary final applicant count):

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July 10, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

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July 10, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

Save The Date: Inaugural International Conference On Taxpayer Rights — The Bedrock Of Tax Administration


Save the Date:  Inaugural International Conference on Taxpayer Rights: The Bedrock of Tax Administration in Washington, D.C. on November 18-19, 2015:

The National Taxpayer Advocate of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is convening the Inaugural International Conference on Taxpayer Rights in Washington, D.C. This ground breaking conference will explore how taxpayer rights globally serve as the foundation for effective tax administration.

Government officials, scholars, and practitioners from many countries will discuss issues such as:

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July 10, 2015 in Conferences, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Indiana Law School Freezes Tuition For Three Years For Entering 1L Class

Indiana (2016)Press Release:

Tuition for students entering the Indiana University Maurer School of Law in the fall of 2015 will not increase during their entire three years in Bloomington, the school has announced. "Fixed-rate tuition, along with the generous guaranteed, nonconditional scholarships our school has long offered, will enable our students to plan actively for their future," said Austen L. Parrish, dean and the James H. Rudy Professor of Law.

Tuition for Indiana residents of this year's entering class will be $30,500 per year, while for nonresidents it will be $50,500. Most students pay significantly less after scholarships and financial aid packages are considered.

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July 10, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fleischer: Revenue Estimates And Carried Interest Tax Reform

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times Deal Book:  An Income Tax on Carried Interest Couldn't Be Avoided, by Victor Fleischer (San Diego):

The private equity industry has killed the idea of taxing carried interest as ordinary income. Several times. And yet it returns, relentlessly, like a “Game of Thrones” reanimated wight from beyond the wall.

Representative Sander Levin, Democrat of Michigan, and Senator Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin, introduced legislation on June 25 that, like earlier legislative proposals, would tax carried interest at ordinary income rates. Under current law, the share of an investment fund’s profits earned by private equity and other private fund managers, known as carried interest, is often taxed at lower capital gains rates. 

The new legislation, which is similar to earlier proposals passed in the House of Representatives, has a slim chance of passing on its own in this Congress. But there is still a possibility that the tax change could be included as part of a package to partly offset the cost of changes to the corporate and international tax provisions that the tax-writing committees in Congress have been focused on.

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July 10, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

After Selection Of New Mexico Law School Co-Deans, Passed Over Candidate Resigns From Faculty Amidst 'Revolt' Over Increased Publication Demands Imposed By Prior Dean

BergmanAlbuquerque Journal, New Co-Deans Are Facing Divided UNM Law School:

For a group of people trained to manage and mediate, if not master, other people’s conflict, lawyers turned professors at the University of New Mexico School of Law haven’t had much success mastering their own conflict recently.

So much so that selecting – and keeping – leaders for the school has been a task akin to directing battle, some in the legal community say.

Even UNM Provost Chaouki Abdallah said, only half-joking, that he suggested the two men – professors Alfred Mathewson and [Tax Prof] Sergio Pareja – he appointed last month to share deanship at the school “deserve combat pay.”

The move to create a co-deanship, only the third law school in the nation to ever do so, set off a frenzy in the tight-knit New Mexican legal community. “There is great concern about what is going on at the law school,” said David Martinez, 30-year member of the alumni board and practicing lawyer in Albuquerque.

Emotions are running so high that longtime faculty and student favorite professor Barbara Bergman [right], who had been a contender for the deanship, resigned within a week after Abdallah’s selection. Her supporters are angry. Bergman declined to comment.

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July 10, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 792

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial, Wisconsin’s Friend at the IRS: Emails Show a Common Cause in Restricting Political Speech:

Wisconsin’s campaign to investigate conservative tax-exempt groups has always seemed like an echo of the IRS’s scrutiny of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. It turns out that may be more than a coincidence.

Former IRS tax-exempt director Lois Lerner ran the agency’s policy on conservative groups. Kevin Kennedy runs the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) that helped prosecutors with their secret John Doe investigation of conservative groups after the 2011 and 2012 recall elections of Governor Scott Walker and state senators.

Emails we’ve seen show that between 2011 and 2013 the two were in contact on multiple occasions, sharing articles on topics including greater donor disclosure and Wisconsin’s recall elections. The emails indicate the two were also personal friends who met for dinner and kept in professional touch. “Are you available for the 25th?” Ms. Lerner wrote in January 2012. “If so, perhaps we could work two nights in a row.”

This timing is significant because those were the years when the IRS increased its harassment of conservative groups and Wisconsin prosecutors gathered information that would lead to the John Doe probe that officially opened in September 2012. ...

These interconnections matter because they reveal that the use of tax and campaign laws to limit political speech was part of a larger and systematic Democratic campaign. Speaking at the University of Wisconsin in 2010, President Obama sent his own political message to investigators.

“Thanks to a recent Supreme Court decision, [Republicans] are being helped along this year, as I said, by special interest groups that are allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money on attack ads. They don’t even have to disclose who’s behind the ads,” he said. “You’ve all seen the ads. Every one of these groups is run by Republican operatives. Every single one of them—even though they’re posing as nonprofit groups with names like Americans for Prosperity, or the Committee for Truth in Politics.”

Conservative nonprofits like the Wisconsin Club for Growth and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce were later subpoenaed and bound by secrecy orders as their fundraising all but ceased. Liberals worked together to turn the IRS and the GAB into partisan political weapons.

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July 10, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Brown: Jeb Bush Pays Too Much In Taxes. So Do The Rest Of Us.

JebFollowing up on my previous posts:

Washington Post op-ed:  Jeb Bush Paid Too Much in Taxes. So Did the Rest of Us., by Dorothy Brown (Vice Provost, Emory):

When we think of Jeb Bush—grandson of a U.S. Senator, son and brother of former presidents—it’s pretty easy to classify him right away as a political stand-in for the one percent; a wealthy and connected former two-term governor who few us would compare to an average Joe. And based on what he makes in a year, he is, indeed, a one-percenter. But when it comes to paying taxes, Bush isn’t like a lot of his one-percent compatriots—he’s actually not unlike the rest of us. Most of his income has, over time, come from his labor, and not capital gains. Pretty much the case for most Americans. ...

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July 9, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

IRS Retroactively Cracks Down On 'Basket Options' Tax Strategy Used By Renaissance, Other Hedge Funds

RenaissanceFollowing on my previous posts (links below):  Bloomberg, IRS Fights Hedge-Fund Tax Maneuver Once Used by Renaissance:

The government Wednesday labeled the “basket options” strategy of converting short-term capital gains and ordinary income into lighter-taxed long-term gains as a “listed transaction.

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July 9, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hasen: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Our Homeowner Tax Rules

David Hasen (Colorado), How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Our Homeowner Tax Rules:

This short essay reviews the tax benefits available from home ownership. Sample calculations are provided. Fatalism is noted.

July 9, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The New Regulatory Regime In Legal Education

Sarah Valentine (CUNY), Flourish or Founder: The New Regulatory Regime in Legal Education, 44 J. Law & Educ. ___ (2015):

There is a new regulatory regime in legal education. Outside regulators, whether nationwide or state specific, are seeking to alter the education and training provided by U.S. law schools. These new mandates build on decades of work distilling how best to provide a professional legal education. Law schools have long fought outside reform; we do so now at our peril. This Article explores the current reforms, places them in historic context, and then articulates how legal educators should engage with the reforms to recenter student learning. Contrary to the prevailing wisdom, this Article argues that law schools can flourish if we embrace the regulatory reforms and may founder if we continue to resist them.

July 9, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through July 1, 2015) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):







Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)


Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine)



James Hines (Michigan)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Omri Marian (Florida)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


David Gamage (UC-Berkeley)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


William Byrnes (Texas A&M)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


Dan Shaviro (NYU)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Dick Harvey (Villanova)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


James Hines (Michigan)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


Chris Sanchirico (Penn)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Joe Bankman (Stanford)



David Walker (BU)


Carter Bishop (Suffolk)



Dan Shaviro (NYU)


Vic Fleischer (San Diego)



Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)


Ruth Mason (Virginia)



Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)


David Weisbach (Chicago)


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

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July 9, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

California’s Practical Skills Plan Alarms Out-of-State Deans, May Hurt Students Who Want To Be Tax Lawyers

Welcome to CaliforniaNational Law Journal, California’s Practical-Skills Plan Alarms Out-of-State Deans:

The State Bar of California is pushing forward with a proposal to require candidates for admission to the profession to have completed 15 credit hours of practical training, over objections from deans around the country.

The idea is to ensure that new lawyers are ready to practice law. But the Association of American Law Schools’ Deans Steering Committee warned the proposed rule would stifle curricular experimentation, limit the flexibility students now enjoy in choosing courses, and create a confusing patchwork of differing state requirements.

Moreover, the repercussions would be felt well beyond the Golden State, since so may graduates want to practice there, the group said in a written statement.

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July 9, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ellen Aprill Chairs Loyola-L.A. Dean Search Committee

Loyola-L.A. Logo (2013)Tax Prof Ellen Aprill is chairing Loyola-L.A.'s dean search committee. For more details, see here.

July 9, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Foundation Seeks To Fill Several Positions

The IRS Scandal, Day 791

IRS Logo 2New York Post editorial, The IRS Scandal Just Got Even Worse:

So the Obama IRS wasn’t just persecuting right-leaning nonprofits — it was out to prosecute them, too. And with the help of the Obama Department of Justice and FBI.

Via Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, the watchdog group Judicial Watch just got evidence of the plot. A “DOJ Recap” on an Oct. 8, 2010 meeting tells how officials from the three agencies discussed “several possible theories to bring criminal charges under FEC law” against groups “posing” as tax-exempt nonprofits.

As part of the project, the IRS handed the FBI 21 computer disks with 1.23 million pages of confidential IRS returns from 113,000 nonprofit 501(c)(4) groups — nearly every 501(c)(4). This, though federal law generally bans the IRS from sharing such data.

The evidence shows “that the Obama IRS scandal is also an Obama DOJ and FBI scandal,” noted Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The FBI and Justice Department worked with Lois Lerner and the IRS to concoct some reason to put President Obama’s opponents in jail before his re-election. And this abuse resulted in the FBI’s illegally obtaining confidential taxpayer information.”

The IRS scandal surfaced years ago — and for all the administration talk of a full investigation, this huge news is only surfacing now, and only thanks to Judicial Watch.

The news of FBI and Justice involvement in the IRS scandal makes the need for some special prosecutor to probe this mess even more obvious.

After all, as Judicial Watch’s Fitton asks: “How can the Justice Department and the FBI investigate the very scandal in which they are implicated?”

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July 9, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

2016 Vault Law Firm Tax Rankings

VaultVault has released its annual ranking of the Top 100 Law Firms, based on prestige as voted on by associates (methodology here). The Top Tax Practices are:



Home City

% Vote



New York



Davis Polk

New York



Cleary Gottlieb

New York



Wachtell Lipton

New York



Baker & McKenzie





New York



McDermott Will & Emery




Sullivan & Cromwell

New York



Caplin & Drysdale




Simpson Thacher

New York



Kirkland & Ellis




Latham & Watkins

New York



Weil Gotscal

New York.



Miller & Chevalier




Sidley Austin




Mayer Brown



For the sixth year in a row, Skadden is #1. The city rankings are:

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July 8, 2015 in Law Firm Tax Rankings, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

More On The Resignation Of LSU Law School Dean/Chancellor

LSU Logo (2016)Following up on Monday's post, LSU Law School Dean/Chancellor Steps Down Due To 'Major Policy Differences With Vocal Segment Of Faculty'; Tax Prof Claims Retaliation After She Filed Sexual Misconduct Complaint Against Faculty Colleague:  Kyle Alagood, a 2015 LSU graduate, has posted the letter signed by 25 of the 31 tenured and tenure-track LSU faculty (other than administrators), including Tax Profs Elizabeth Carter and Philip Hackney, requesting a change in leadership at the law school:

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July 8, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: The Tax Inversion Wave Keeps Rolling

Wall Street Journal, The Tax Inversion Wave Keeps Rolling:

When Horizon Pharma completed its takeover of a small, closely held Irish drug company last fall, its timing was fortuitous.

Horizon, formerly of Illinois, closed its deal with Dublin-based Vidara Therapeutics International Ltd. in September three days before U.S. regulators cracked down on these tax-beneficial corporate migrations known as inversions. Had the pair been slower to the altar, they would have been subject to tighter rules that make such overseas mergers more difficult and less lucrative.

Having squeaked through where others failed— AbbVie, for example, abandoned its $54 billion takeover of Shire in the wake of the new rules—Horizon is now pressing its tax advantages through deal making, following a well-worn path laid by other corporate inverters before it.

Their deals show that, despite Washington’s efforts last year to protect the U.S. corporate tax base, revenue keeps trickling out. Since the Treasury rules went into effect last fall, 55 U.S. companies have been sold to or targeted by foreign buyers, many of those acquirers formed by inversions themselves, according to FactSet.


Horizon and other inverted companies are using their new, lower tax rates to turbocharge corporate takeovers. Applying those rates, often in the midteens, to profits of companies in the U.S., with a federal corporate rate of 35%, can yield extra savings on top of those traditionally wrung from mergers. Moreover, unlike the U.S., Ireland and most other countries only tax profits earned in-country, giving companies the freedom and incentive to shift income to still-lower-tax jurisdictions.

July 8, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Senate Finance Committee Releases Reports From Bipartisan Tax Working Groups

Senate Logo The Senate Finance Committee today released reports from the committee's five bipartisan tax working groups:

The reports offer policy options and recommendations for ‎the Committee to consider as part of comprehensive tax reform.

On January 15, 2015, to coincide with the kickoff of a series of tax reform hearings, the Finance Committee Chairman and Ranking Member announced the formation of bipartisan tax reform working groups. 

In March, after five tax reform hearings, the Committee announced it would ask stakeholders and the public to submit ideas to the bipartisan working groups. The Committee released those submissions on April 29, 2015.

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July 8, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

IRS Whistleblower Office Issues Annual Report To Congress: Claims Up 37%, Awards Paid Down 17%

Estate of Former Detroit Pistons Owner Settles $2.8 Billion Gift, Estate & GST Deficiency Claim For 11 Cents On The Dollar

DavidsonFollowing up on my previous post, IRS Hits Estate of Former Detroit Pistons Owner With $2 Billion Tax Bill:  the IRS settled for $320 million of the $2.8 billion in gift, estate, and Generation-skipping taxes it sought from the estate of William Davidson, the former owner of the Detroit Pistons. Estate of Davidson v. Commissioner, No. 13748-13 (July 6, 2015).

Born in Detroit, Davidson built Auburn Hills-based Guardian Industries into one of the world’s leading makers of glass, automotive and building products. He went on to own the Detroit Pistons, the WNBA’s Detroit Shock and NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. He died March 13, 2009, at age 86, with a net worth estimated at more than $3 billion.

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July 8, 2015 in New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Non-Compliance Detection Using Co-Evolution Of Tax Evasion Risk And Audit Likelihood

Erik Hemberg (MIT), Jacob Rosen (MIT), Geoff Warner (MITRE Corp.), Sanith Wijesinghe (MITRE Corp.) & Una-May O’Reilly (MIT), Tax Non-Compliance Detection Using Co-Evolution of Tax Evasion Risk and Audit Likelihood:

We detect tax law abuse by simulating the co-evolution of tax evasion schemes and their discovery through audits. Tax evasion accounts for billions of dollars of lost income each year. When the IRS pursues a tax evasion scheme and changes the tax law or audit procedures, the tax evasion schemes evolve and change into undetectable forms. The arms race between tax evasion schemes and tax authorities presents a serious compliance challenge. Tax evasion schemes are sequences of transactions where each transaction is individually compliant. However, when all transactions are combined they have no other purpose than to evade tax and are thus non-compliant. Our method consists of an ownership network and a sequence of transactions, which outputs the likelihood of conducting an audit, and requires no prior tax return or audit data. We adjust audit procedures for a new generation of evolved tax evasion schemes by simulating the gradual change of tax evasion schemes and audit points, i.e. methods used for detecting non-compliance. Additionally, we identify, for a given audit scoring procedure, which tax evasion schemes will likely escape auditing. The approach is demonstrated in the context of partnership tax law and the Installment Bogus Optional Basis tax evasion scheme. The experiments show the oscillatory behavior of a co-adapting system and that it can model the co-evolution of tax evasion schemes and their detection.

(Hat Tip: Tom Bruce.)

July 8, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 790

IRS Logo 2Judicial Watch Press Release, New Documents Reveal DOJ, IRS, and FBI Plan to Seek Criminal Charges of Obama Opponents:

Judicial Watch today released new Department of Justice (DOJ) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) documents that include an official “DOJ Recap” report detailing an October 2010 meeting between Lois Lerner, DOJ officials and the FBI to plan for the possible criminal prosecution of targeted nonprofit organizations for alleged illegal political activity.

The newly obtained records also reveal that the Obama DOJ wanted IRS employees who were going to testify to Congress to turn over documents to the DOJ before giving them to Congress. Records also detail how the Obama IRS gave the FBI 21 computer disks, containing 1.25 million pages of confidential IRS returns from 113,000 nonprofit social 501(c)(4) welfare groups  – or nearly every 501(c)(4) in the United States – as part of its prosecution effort. According to a letter from then-House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, “This revelation likely means that the IRS – including possibly Lois Lerner – violated federal tax law by transmitting this information to the Justice Department.”

The documents were produced subsequent to court orders in two Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits: Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:14-cv-1956) and Judicial Watch v. Department of Justice (No. 1:14-cv-1239).

The new IRS documents include a October 11, 2010 “DOJ Recap” memo sent by IRS Exempt Organizations Tax Law Specialist Siri Buller to Lerner and other top IRS officials explaining an October 8 meeting with representatives from the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and “one representative from the FBI” to discuss the possible criminal prosecution of nonprofit organizations for alleged political activity. ...

“These new documents show that the Obama IRS scandal is also an Obama DOJ and FBI scandal,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The FBI and Justice Department worked with Lois Lerner and the IRS to concoct some reason to put President Obama’s opponents in jail before his reelection. And this abuse resulted in the FBI’s illegally obtaining confidential taxpayer information. How can the Justice Department and FBI investigate the very scandal in which they are implicated?”

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July 8, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Hayashi Reviews Liscow's Critique Of Kaplow & Shavell: When Legal Rule Design Should Incorporate Equity As Well As Efficiency

JotwellAndrew Hayashi (Virginia),  Equity and Efficiency in Rule Design (Jotwell) (reviewing Zachary D. Liscow (J.D. 2015, Yale), Note, Reducing Inequality on the Cheap: When Legal Rule Design Should Incorporate Equity as Well as Efficiency, 127 Yale L.J. 2478 (2014)):

Great arguments aren’t always right, but they should be bold, persuasive, and force the scholarly community to respond by testing the arguments’ logic and limitations. In recent years, there are few arguments that have been more generative of thoughtful scholarship than Kaplow and Shavell’s claim that income redistribution should be done solely through the system of taxes and transfers and that legal rules should be chosen solely for their efficiency properties [Why The Legal System Is Less Efficient Than The Income Tax In Redistributing Income, 23 J. Legal Stud. 667 (1994)]. This conclusion is instinctively repugnant to many scholars outside of the law and economics tradition, and surprising to many within it. Yet, first rank economists that they are, Kaplow and Shavell’s logic, at least under the assumptions of the model they use to make their argument, is unassailable.

But, what Kaplow and Shavell’s logic proves and what it has often been taken to prove are two very different things. Although many excellent scholars have offered incisive critiques of the Kaplow and Shavell result, Zach Liscow’s recent note in the Yale Law Journal does as fine a job as I’ve seen of both identifying the reason for this difference and arguing from within a welfarist framework that equitable considerations should apply to legal rules too. The note is admirable in its accessibility, clarity, and rigor. I would include it on the reading list for any law and economics or tax policy seminar that addressed the merits of redistribution through the tax and transfer system.

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July 7, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

For The 10% Of Law Students Able To Snag A Summer Associate Position, The Living Is Easy (And Remunerative: $3,000/Week)

SummerWall Street Journal, For Summer Law Interns, the Livin’ Is Easy:

Ah, to be a law-firm summer associate. For several thousand lucky law students, it’s the season to be courted by the nation’s top firms.

Full-time work in the industry can be grueling. But in a sharp divergence from the fate of interns in medical schools and at investment banks, the entry level is pretty cushy.

At Silicon Valley-based Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, 55 summer associates spent a weekend kayaking, hiking and biking on California’s Monterey Peninsula. Back at work they are visiting the offices of Twitter Inc. and the firm’s other technology clients. ...

Other firms are treating their summer associates to chartered helicopter tours, disc-jockey lessons and cooking classes, balanced with mock-deposition sessions, presentations on firm practices and research assignments. At some firms, a saying goes that in the hierarchy, there are partners, then summer associates and then everybody else.

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July 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

50-State Fiscal Condition Ranking

Mercatus Center (George Mason University), Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition:

In new research for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Senior Research Fellow Eileen Norcross ranks each US state’s financial health based on short- and long-term debt and other key fiscal obligations, including unfunded pensions and health care benefits. The study, which builds on previous Mercatus research about state fiscal conditions, provides information from the states’ audited financial reports in an easily accessible format, presenting an accurate snapshot of each state’s fiscal health.


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July 7, 2015 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Property Tax Is The Most Efficient Tax

Property TaxNew York Times:  The Inevitable, Indispensable Property Tax, by Josh Barro:

If you’re a homeowner, you probably don’t like paying property taxes. But economists like property taxes for the same reason taxpayers hate them: They’re hard to avoid.

A 2008 study by researchers at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development looked at a number of countries and found that taxes on real property caused the least drag on gross domestic product per dollar of revenue raised. Next came sales taxes, personal income taxes and corporate income taxes. In other words, property taxes were the best way to collect revenue without hurting the economy too much.

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July 7, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Haneman: The Collision Of Student Loan Debt And Joint Marital Taxation

Student LoansVictoria J. Haneman (Concordia), The Collision of Student Loan Debt and Joint Marital Taxation:

Students presently graduating from college represent perhaps the most indebted generation of young adults in the history of the United States, which may be attributed to the fact that interest-bearing debt plays a primary role in ensuring that our children pursue higher education. The long-term consequences of student loan borrowing, and its impact on this generation of borrowers, both remain to be seen. To assist borrowers with the burden of loan repayment, the federal government has developed two income based repayment programs. This Article focuses upon one important detail of the program that has largely escaped the focus of the media and scholars: the ability of a borrower to file separate tax returns and qualify for income based repayment on the basis of his or her income alone.

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July 7, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Taxation And Tax Policy Roundtable Today At Netanya College School Of Law (Israel)

  • NetanyaYariv Brauner (Florida): Arm's Length Transfer Pricing
  • David Elkins (Netanya), Allocative Efficiency, Transactional Fairness, and Distributive Justice in International Taxation: A (Not So) Radical Proposal For Reform
  • Mirit Eyal-Cohen (Alabama), Through the Lens of Innovation
  • Assaf Lichovsky (Tel Aviv), Tax Law and Social Norms in Mandatory Palestine and Israel
  • Tamir Shanan (College of Management) & Chen Avidov, Tax Appeal Procedure - How Courts Consider Tax Appeals

July 7, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Obama Administration Refuses To Follow Law Banning Government Contracts To Companies Who Engaged In Tax Inversions

Bloomberg:   U.S. Sided With Tax-Avoiding Companies Over Contracting Ban, by Zachary Mider:

The Obama administration quietly handed a victory to U.S. companies that avoid taxes by claiming a foreign address, suggesting that virtually all of them are still eligible for government contracts.

The Department of Homeland Security last year endorsed a legal memorandum that argued in part that a 2002 law banning such companies from federal contracts was invalid, according to a copy of the memo obtained by Bloomberg News. Although President Barack Obama later began publicly criticizing the tax maneuvers known as inversions, there’s no sign that he has reversed the department’s decision.

The March 2013 memo was submitted to Homeland Security by one of the country’s largest inverted companies, the manufacturer Ingersoll-Rand Plc. The company argued in part that U.S. trade agreements with foreign governments invalidated the law that would prohibit it from winning federal contracts.

July 7, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

UC-San Diego Sues USC Over Recruitment Of Prominent Professor

UCSDUSCLos Angeles Times:

Though universities commonly recruit or poach faculty from one another, lawsuits arising from those recruitments are rare. This lawsuit, formally filed by the UC regents, accuses USC and the other defendants of going beyond normal recruitment to commit a variety of illegal acts, including contract interference, computer crimes and civil conspiracy. ...

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July 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vik Amar Leaves Money On The Table, Takes Less Salary As Illinois Dean

AmarFollowing up on yesterday's post, Vik Amar Named Dean At Illinois Law School:  News-Gazette, UI's Next Law Dean Outlines Priorities:

The new dean for the University of Illinois College of Law thinks the cost of a legal education is a problem, and he's putting his own money behind that premise.

Vikram David Amar, 52, a constitutional law expert and senior associate dean for academic affairs at the University of California-Davis School of Law, was announced Monday as the next dean and Iwan Foundation Professor of Law at the 118-year-old UI law school. He succeeds Bruce Smith, who stepped down in 2014 after five years as dean. Law Professor John Colombo has served as interim dean since then.

Amar pledged to make affordability a priority and insisted that his salary be lower than what other law schools have recently offered candidates. He will earn a total of $324,900 annually, less than the $326,651 that Smith was paid in 2013-14. He also declined a summer stipend, typically about $25,000, a college official said.

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July 7, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (6)