TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Inversions And Viagra

Two very different takes on the Obama Administration's new anti-inversion rules:

Letter From 18 Former Treasury Officials To Treasury Secretary Lew (Apr. 18, 2016)

April 19, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Death Of Les Snyder

SnyderTax Prof Lester B. Snyder (San Diego) died on April 11 at the age of 87 (obituary; condolences; memorial gifts).  From San Diego Dean Stephen Ferruolo:

Professor Snyder began his long legal career in 1956 in legal practice in Boston, during which he served as a consultant to attorneys and accountants on tax issues.  He moved to academia in 1957 with an appointment to the law faculty of the University of Connecticut.  He remained at Connecticut until 1983 and held emeritus status.  During a leave of absence from 1968 to 1969, Professor Snyder was Professor-In-Residence in the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he represented the Internal Revenue Service in tax litigation before federal courts. 

Professor Snyder joined the faculty of University of San Diego School of Law in 1983. From 1983 to 1989, he was the director of the graduate tax program. He retired from faculty in 2009. During his 26 years at USD, Professor Snyder taught mostly in the field of tax law, including federal income tax, taxation of corporations and partnerships, tax accounting, federal tax policy, business planning, estate and gift tax planning, and state and local taxation.  Through his teaching, scholarly reputation and leadership, he established the foundation of our graduate tax program.

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April 19, 2016 in Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Welcome To The Tax Prof Blogosphere:  The Surly Subgroup

Welcome to the Tax Prof blogosphere, The Surly Subgroup: Tax Blogging on a Consolidated Basis, with Jennifer Bird-Pollan (Kentucky), Sam Brunson (Loyola-Chicago), Philip Hackney (LSU), David Herzig (Valparaiso), Stephanie Hoffer (Ohio State), Leandra Lederman (Indiana), Benjamin Leff (American), Diane Ring (Boston College), and Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane).  From their inaugural post:

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April 19, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1076

IRS Logo 2The Blaze, White House Responds to House GOP Calls to Impeach IRS Commissioner:

President Barack Obama has full confidence in Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, even as House Republicans are calling for his impeachment over failing to comply with congressional subpoenas.

“Of course he does” have confidence in Koskinen, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told TheBlaze Monday.

Last week, a group of House Republicans went to the House floor to call for Koskinen’s impeachment. Last year, Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee called for charges against the commissioner.

Republicans say Koskinen also failed to testify truthfully and failed to make congressional investigators aware evidence was missing as part of the probe into the IRS targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups — which first came to light in 2013.

Still, Earnest scoffed at the notion of impeachment: “It is ridiculous for Republicans in Congress who seek to gut funding for the IRS, in some cases they call for the outright abolition of the agency, to be a fair arbiter of the effectiveness of the IRS commissioner.”

“The fact is, Mr. Koskinen has an extraordinarily difficult job, and it’s made only more difficult because Republicans seek to cut the funding of the agency,” Earnest continued. “He is someone who undertakes that work with a lot of professionalism and seriousness of purpose, and he deserves our gratitude.”

Breitbart, White House: Republican Calls For IRS Commissioner To Resign ‘Ridiculous’

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April 19, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Blair-Stanek Presents Two Tax Papers Today At Oxford

Blair-Stanek (2016)Andrew Blair-Stanek (Maryland) presents Intellectual Property Law Solutions to Tax Avoidance, 62 UCLA L. Rev. 2 (2015), and Just Compensation for Intellectual Property, 58 Ariz. L. Rev. ___ (2016), at Oxford University today as part of a multidisciplinary workshop on the Technical and Practical Feasibility for a Data Levy:

Multinational corporations avoid taxes on a massive scale by transferring their intangible property -- including data and copyrighted data-derivatives -- to tax havens for artificially low prices. Tax agencies have failed to stop this avoidance, which takes advantage of international tax law norms enshrined in thousands of bilateral tax treaties. These two articles propose an alternative approach: fight this tax avoidance by focusing instead on the law governing the intangible property itself.

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April 18, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call For Papers:  Taxation And Migration Conference At Saint Louis

St. Louis (2016)Call for Papers:  Sanford E. Sarasohn Conference on Critical Issues in Comparative and International Taxation II: Taxation and Migration at Saint Louis University School of Law:

As ever growing numbers of individuals seek economic and political refuge in Europe and North America, and increasing numbers of individuals and businesses seek refuge from the tax burdens of their home jurisdictions in lower tax jurisdictions, these in- and out- migrations strain the national economies of affected countries causing them to modify their taxation rules and structures. This conference will explore the effects of taxation on migration and the effects of migration on taxation. Papers on any topic related to taxation and migration of individuals or entities are welcome but those offering a critical perspective or addressing the impact of taxation on, and taxation changes relating to acceptance of, migrants from conflict areas are preferred. Please submit paper proposal abstracts by e-mail to Professor Henry Ordower at no later than May 25, 2016. Notification of proposal acceptance is targeted for July 1, 2016.

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April 18, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. Wealth And Income Inequality

Markus Poschke (McGill) & Barış Kaymak (Université de Montréal),  US Wealth Inequality: Quantifying the Driving Factors:

Following the publication of Thomas Piketty’s 696-page tome, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, economic inequality is still at the forefront of public debate. In 2015, it has shifted its focus from the distribution of income to that of wealth, as new measures show that the wealthiest have claimed an increasingly larger share of total wealth in recent decades. In their study of US tax records, Saez and Zucman (2015) estimate the share of wealth owned by the wealthiest 1% of tax units (a concept close but not identical to a household) to be 42% in 2012, up from 28% in 1960 (see the blue line in Figure 1).

Figure 1

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April 18, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

ABA Tax Section Announces 2016-18 Public Service Fellows

ABA Tax Section Logo (2012)The 2016-2018 Christine A. Brunswick Public Service Fellowship Class:

  • Laura LaPrade, a recent graduate of the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, will be working with Community Tax Aid, Inc., in Washington, DC.
  • Catherine Strouse, who earned her J.D. from Gonzaga University School of Law and an LL.M. in Taxation from the University of San Diego School of Law, will be working with the Legal Aid Society of San Diego.

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April 18, 2016 in ABA Tax Section, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

States With The Highest And Lowest Tax Rates

Taxpayer-blue-vs-red-imageWallet Hub, 2016’s States with the Highest & Lowest Tax Rates:

As this year’s tax-filing deadline — April 18 in most states — looms closer, it’s fair to wonder which states have the most and least burdensome tax rates. WalletHub’s analysts searched for answers, comparing state and local tax rates in the 50 states and the District of Columbia against the national median. To illustrate, we calculated relative income-tax obligations by applying the effective income-tax rates in each state and locality to the average American’s income. This approach contrasts with our methodology for the Best States to Be Rich & Poor from a Tax Perspective, which considers tax obligations relative to the average income in each state.

Scroll down for the complete ranking, commentary on state- and local-tax insights from a panel of leading minds in the field, as well as a full description of our methodology.

Source: WalletHub

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April 18, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Princeton Review's Best 173 Law Schools (2016 Edition)

Princeton 2The Princeton Review has published the 2016 edition of The Best 173 Law Schools (press release) (FAQs) (methodology):

The Princeton Review surveyed over 19,700 students attending the 173 law schools.  The 80-question survey asked students to rate their schools on several topics and report on their experiences at them. Some ranking list tallies also factored in school-reported data.

Best Professors:  Based on student answers to survey questions concerning how good their professors are as teachers and how accessible they are outside the classroom.

  1. Duke
  2. Boston University
  3. Virginia
  4. Washington & Lee
  5. Chicago
  6. Pepperdine
  7. St. Thomas (Minnesota)
  8. Stanford
  9. Samford
  10. Charleston

Best Quality of Life:  Based on student answers to survey questions on: whether there is a strong sense of community at the school whether differing opinions are tolerated in the classroom, the location of the school, the quality of social life at the school, the school's research resources (library, computer and database resources).

  1. Virginia
  2. Vanderbilt
  3. St. Thomas (Minnesota)
  4. NYU
  5. Florida State

Best Classroom Experience:  Based on student answers to survey questions concerning their professors' teaching abilities and overall accessibility outside of the classroom, the balance of theory and practical skills in the curricula and the range of courses available, the level of tolerance for differing opinions in class discussion, and their assessments of research resources available.

  1. Stanford
  2. Virginia
  3. Chicago
  4. Northwestern
  5. Duke

Best Career Prospects:  Based on school reported data and student surveys. School data include: the median starting salaries of graduating students, the percent of students employed in a job that requires bar passage (and not employed by the school) and the percent of these students who pass the bar exam the first time they take it. Student answers to survey questions on: how much the law program encourages practical experience; the opportunities for externships, internships and clerkships, and how prepared the students feel they will be to practice the law after graduating.

  1. Pennsylvania
  2. NYU
  3. Chicago
  4. Stanford
  5. Columbia

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April 18, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

FiveThirtyEight:  Everyone Files Their Taxes At The Last Minute

538 (2015)FiveThirtyEight, Everyone Files Their Taxes At The Last Minute:

Americans are a nation of procrastinators. Our tax returns prove it.

Last year, 21.5 million Americans waited until the last minute – or at least the last week – to submit their tax returns. That’s roughly one in seven filers, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service.


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April 18, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

IRS Continues To Put Taxpayer Confidential Data At Risk By Not Following 94 GAO Recommendations To Improve Security

GAO (2016)Government Accountability Office, IRS Needs to Further Enhance Controls over Taxpayer and Financial Data (GAO-16-590T):

In March 2016 GAO reported that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had instituted numerous controls over key financial and tax processing systems; however, it had not always effectively implemented safeguards intended to properly restrict access to systems and information. In particular, while IRS had improved some of its access controls, weaknesses remained with identifying and authenticating users, authorizing users' level of rights and privileges, encrypting sensitive data, auditing and monitoring network activity, and physically securing its computing resources. These weaknesses were due in part to IRS's inconsistent implementation of its agency-wide security program, including not fully implementing GAO recommendations. The table below shows the status of prior and new GAO recommendations as of the end of its fiscal year (FY) 2015 audit of IRS's information security. GAO concluded that these weaknesses collectively constituted a significant deficiency for the purposes of financial reporting for fiscal year 2015. Until they are effectively mitigated, taxpayer and financial data will continue to be exposed to unnecessary risk.


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April 18, 2016 in Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1075

IRS Logo 2Utah Policy, Ryan, Chaffetz Part Ways over Impeachment of IRS Chief:

Reps. Paul Ryan and Jason Chaffetz both believe IRS Commissioner John Koskinen should be fired, but they disagree about the timing. Chaffetz wants to remove Koskinen now, while Ryan says the GOP must win the White House first.

Reports Roll Call:

Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, with support from a majority of Republicans on his panel, introduced a resolution in October to impeach Koskinen. “The framers [of the Constitution] gave us a safety valve to get rid of somebody who is not serving the best interest of the nation and clearly John Koskinen is not,” Chaffetz said in a brief interview Thursday. “His record is clear and he should be removed from office.”

The resolution argues that Koskinen failed to comply with a subpoena requesting certain IRS documents and that he provided false and misleading information to Congress about missing emails sent to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner, a lead figure in the targeting scandal. The Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over impeachments, has not acted on the resolution.

Lerner, the former head of the IRS tax-exempt organizations division, retired from the agency in September 2013. She had been on administrative leave since May 2013 after she revealed during a tax conference that the agency had inappropriately used political terms like “Tea Party” to filter tax-exemption applications for extra scrutiny.

The IRS has said it disputes the resolution's allegations and that it has cooperated with congressional investigations.

Chaffetz said he is working to build broad support for his resolution, which currently has 62 Republican co-sponsors. “It hasn’t been done in 140 years to impeach a civil officer,” Chaffetz said when asked about resistance from colleagues to support the effort. “But we think we’re on firm ground. It is in the Constitution.”

As to Ryan’s idea of waiting for Republicans to win the White House, Chaffetz said, “That’s one path, but I want the bureaucracy to know that if they do something as reprehensible as destroying documents there is an action that Congress can take.”

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April 18, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Law School Rankings By Employment Outcomes:  New York And D.C./Maryland/Virginia

Derek Muller (Pepperdine) has two great posts on visualizing legal employment outcomes among New York's 15 law schools and D.C/Maryland/Virginia's 16 law schools

In New York, Columbia (98.8%, goosed by 31 law school funded jobs (LSF)), NYU (96.7%, 39 LSF), and Cornell (95.5%, 11 LSF) again are head and shoulders above the other New York law schools in "total placement" (per U.S. News).  Cardozo (76.8%, 1 LSF) and Fordham (76.1%, 0 LSF) surprisingly trail St. John's (81.9%, 0 LSF) and Albany (80.3%, 0 LSF).

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April 17, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

NY Times:  The Real Welfare Cheats

OxfamNew York Times op-ed:  The Real Welfare Cheats, by Nicholas Kristof:

We often hear how damaging welfare dependency is, stifling initiative and corroding the human soul. So I worry about the way we coddle executives in their suites.

A study to be released Thursday says that for each dollar America’s 50 biggest companies paid in federal taxes between 2008 and 2014, they received $27 back in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts.

Goodness! What will that do to their character? Won’t that sap their initiative?

The study was compiled by Oxfam and it comes on top of a mountain of evidence from international agencies and economic journals underscoring the degree to which major companies have rigged the tax code. ... The Oxfam report says that each $1 the biggest companies spent on lobbying was associated with $130 in tax breaks and more than $4,000 in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts. ...

One academic study [Kimberly Clausing (Reed College), The Effect of Profit Shifting on the Corporate Tax Base in the United States and Beyond] found that tax dodging by major corporations costs the U.S. Treasury up to $111 billion a year. ... The Panama Papers should be a wake-up call, shining a light on dysfunctional tax codes around the world — but much of the problem has been staring us in the face. Among the 500 corporations in the S.&P. 500-stock index, 27 were both profitable in 2015 and paid no net income tax globally, according to an analysis by USA Today. ...

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April 17, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

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 list, with some reshuffling of the order within the Top 5:

  1. [672 Downloads]  Lexisnexis® Guide to FATCA Compliance: Chapter 1, by Willliam Byrnes (Texas A&M) & Robert J. Munro (Texas A&M)
  2. [320 Downloads]  The Tax Lives of Uber Drivers: Evidence from Internet Discussion Forums, by Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane) & Diane M. Ring (Boston College)
  3. [295 Downloads]  Ownership of the Means of Production, by E. Glen Weyl (Chicago) & Anthony Lee Zhang (Stanford)
  4. [260 Downloads]  The Law of the Platform, by Orly Lobel (San Diego)
  5. [252 Downloads]  Taxing Wealth Seriously, by Edward J. McCaffery (USC)

April 17, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

UC-Berkeley Provost Resigns Amid Controversy Over His Handling Of Sexual Harassment Complaint Against Law School Dean

UC-Berkeley (University)Following up on my previous posts (links below): New York Times, Provost Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Case at Berkeley:

The University of California, Berkeley, announced Friday that Claude Steele, the university’s executive vice chancellor and provost for the past two years, resigned his administrative positions for personal reasons. Mr. Steele’s abrupt departure comes at a time of turmoil for the university, as he and other top administrators have been criticized for their handling of a widening sexual harassment scandal. ...

Mr. Steele has been criticized for his handling of claims of sexual harassment made against the dean of the law school, Sujit Choudhry. ... A report by the university found that Mr. Choudhry had repeatedly hugged and kissed his executive assistant, behavior that an investigator concluded was “unwelcome and objectively sexual in nature.”

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April 17, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1074

IRS Logo 2Investor's Business Daily editorial, Storming The IRS Gates: An Occupy Movement Worth Supporting:

A federal judge says the IRS can’t be trusted. Well, he’s right. So when will people in this country finally rise up and force Washington to get rid of this awful agency?

Because a holiday called Emancipation Day was celebrated Friday in the capital district, Americans have a few extra days to file their taxes this year. But the IRS remains, as does its institutionalized abuse of taxpayers. There is no emancipation from the torment of taxation, nor the agents of its collection, on the horizon.

Americans need relief, however. Taxes eat away at our substance, and the IRS makes this all the more intolerable because it decided long ago to be a wedge of enmity between a growing federal government and an ostensibly free people. This strained relationship has deteriorated to the point that the IRS targeted for persecution groups and individuals that it doesn’t like. Organizations that identified as Tea Party and conservative were harassed to the point that some of the victims decided to sue.

It’s hard to be upbeat on April 15, even when tax filing day is delayed. Yet there is a scintilla of hope to be found when a federal official rightly characterizes the IRS as an institution whose word is of little value.

“It’s hard to find the IRS to be an agency we can trust,” Judge David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, said Thursday during oral arguments in one of the lawsuits filed against the tax collector in the targeting scandal.

The Washington Times reported that during the hearing Sentelle “said there is strong evidence that the IRS violated the constitutional rights of the groups when it delayed their nonprofit status applications and asked inappropriate questions about their political beliefs.”

What’s more, there’s good reason to think that the mistreatment of Tea Party and right-of-center groups has never stopped.

This should deeply concern us all, even those who aren’t Tea Party supporters. The IRS is not a political arm of the government that’s free to be used to suppress to dissenters. It is merely a tax collector.

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April 17, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Obama And Biden Release Their 2015 Tax Returns

2015 Obama

President Obama and Vice-President Biden yesterday released their 2015 tax returns. Here are charts putting the 2015 returns in context with their earlier returns:





Charitable Gifts



















































































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April 16, 2016 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rebranding The IRS: 'Fueling America'

Bloomberg, Would You Like the IRS If It Looked Like This? We Invited Three Top Design Firms to Give the Tax Agency a New Public Face. Here Are Their Rebrands.

It's hard to think of a government agency as disliked as the IRS. In a recent poll, 12 percent of taxpayers said they liked Vladimir Putin better. Beyond the Internal Revenue Service itself, many Americans hate the whole idea of paying taxes. Twenty-seven percent of those polled said they would get an IRS tattoo if it meant a tax-free future. Eleven percent would clean the toilets at Chipotle.

And it's impossible to imagine the IRS ever changing its image.

Or is it?

We asked three leading global design and brand strategy firms—Base Design, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, and Siegel+Gale—to do just that. Here's what they came up with.

My favorite:  The IRS: Fueling America:


Another good one:

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April 16, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

68 Year Old Man Admitted to 10 Law Schools Sues UConn, The Only School That Rejected Him

UConn Law Logo (2015)ABA Journal, Man Rejected by Just One of 11 Law Schools Files Age-Bias Suit:

A 68-year-old man who applied to 11 law schools over the past few years has filed an age-bias suit against the single school that rejected him: the UConn School of Law.

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April 16, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1073

IRS Logo 2The Daily Signal, Conservatives Renew Campaign to Impeach IRS Commissioner:

In time for tax season, members of the Freedom Caucus are calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., to deliver the head of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on a political platter.

As most of Congress heads out of town for the weekend, a handful of members filed onto the House floor Thursday evening and renewed an effort to impeach the nation’s top taxman.

They argued that the IRS infringed on free speech when they unfairly targeted conservative groups and they blamed Koskinen for obstructing a congressional investigation into the agency’s conduct. ..

The move comes just four days before the April 18 deadline to file individual tax returns. That timing was intentional, Jordan said. His group designed the move to spotlight issue during a week when “American are dealing with the IRS in an up close and personal way.”

Already written up, the impeachment articles remain mired in committee. And while conservatives can exert political pressure by rallying public opinion, they can’t technically advance the process.

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April 16, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 15, 2016

UCLA Law Prof's Long Legal Fight Over Access To California Bar Admissions Data Headed To Trial

MismatchFollowing up on my earlier post, The Mismatch Critique of Law School Affirmative Action and Its Opponents:  Wall Street Journal, Long Legal Fight Over Access to California Bar Admissions Data Headed for Trial:

It was a decade ago when a UCLA law professor known for his critique of affirmative action first asked the State Bar of California to give him a trove of data on people who applied to practice law in the state.

Professor Richard H. Sander still hasn’t gotten the state bar to turn over the information he wants. But his long legal effort in pursuit of it may have reached a turning point this week when a judge said his case could go to trial over the objections of the state bar.

Mr. Sander is the academic most associated with the “mismatch” theory about affirmative action, the idea that racial and other kinds of admissions preferences can have unintended consequences by putting students in academic settings for which they’re not prepared.

In 2006, he asked the state bar to disclose bar exam scores, grade point averages and LSAT scores of everyone who applied for bar admission between 1972 and 2007, along with each bar applicant’s race and gender. All of the information is stored on the state bar admissions database.

His request didn’t seek disclosure of anyone’s names, but sought admissions data on much more granular level. Mr. Sander has said his request had to do with his research into “the large and persistent gap in bar passage rates among racial and ethnic groups.”

The state bar refused, citing privacy concerns. In 2008, the professor and the California First Amendment Coalition filed suit, arguing that they have a legal right to the information.

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April 15, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (5)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

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April 15, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

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April 15, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Denver Seeks To Hire A Visiting Tax Prof

Denver Logo (2015)The University of Denver Sturm College of Law seeks to hire a Visiting Professor of the Practice (any rank) to teach a full-time load of five tax courses (18 quarter units or equivalent) in the Graduate Tax Program — and possibly the JD program — during the 2016-2017 academic year:

The Visiting Professor will teach mostly required courses in the Graduate Tax Program, such as Corporate Taxation; Civil & Criminal Procedure; Individual Tax Problems; Partnership Taxation; Property Transactions; Tax Accounting; and Tax Principles, Research & Writing. The Visiting Professor may also teach one or more elective courses in the Graduate Tax Program, or tax courses in the Sturm College of Law. Most courses will be taught in the evenings. The position will begin September 1, 2016, or sooner depending on the availability of the successful candidate. This is a faculty appointment with service expectations for all twelve months. This appointment is not on the tenure track, but may be renewable for another year at the discretion of the Sturm College of Law and Graduate Tax Program.

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April 15, 2016 in Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Blank & Osofsky:  Simplexity

Joshua D. Blank (NYU) & Leigh Osofsky (Miami), Simplexity, 65 Emory L.J. ___ (2016):

In recent years, federal government agencies have increasingly attempted to use plain language in written communications with the public. The Plain Writing Act of 2010, for instance, requires agencies to incorporate “clear and simple” explanations of rules and regulations into their official publications. In the tax context, as part of its “customer service” mission, the Internal Revenue Service bears a “duty to explain” the tax law to hundreds of millions of taxpayers who file tax returns each year. Proponents of the plain language movement have heralded this form of communication as leading to simplicity in tax compliance, more equitable access to federal programs and increased open government.

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April 15, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

GAO:  Two-Thirds Of All Active Corporations Paid Zero Federal Income Tax

GAO (2016)Government Accountability Office, Most Large Profitable U.S. Corporations Paid Tax but Effective Tax Rates Differed Significantly from the Statutory Rate (GAO-16-363):

In each year from 2006 to 2012, at least two-thirds of all active corporations had no federal income tax liability. Larger corporations were more likely to owe tax. Among large corporations (generally those with at least $10 million in assets) less than half—42.3 percent—paid no federal income tax in 2012. Of those large corporations whose financial statements reported a profit, 19.5 percent paid no federal income tax that year. Reasons why even profitable corporations may have paid no federal tax in a given year include the use of tax deductions for losses carried forward from prior years and tax incentives, such as depreciation allowances that are more generous in the federal tax code than those allowed for financial accounting purposes. Corporations that did have a federal corporate income tax liability for tax year 2012 owed $267.5 billion.


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April 15, 2016 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

White House Infographic On Inversions: You Don't Get To Pick Your Tax Rate. Neither Should Corporations.

White House Infographic on Inversions:

Inversions — or tax maneuvers that reward U.S. corporations that declare themselves overseas residents to avoid paying taxes in America — have drawn the ire of many Americans as an example of an unfair corporate tax loophole. The Treasury Department took another step to limit inversions. Get the facts below, and then pass this on.

White House

National Review: White House Puts Out Misleading Infographic on Corporate Inversions, by Veronique de Rugy (George Mason):

This is both a terrible title and a terrible pitch to taxpayers. ... Why can’t I choose my tax rate, Uncle Sam? You think it is okay for me to be trapped in a high tax system? But then there is, of course, the fact is that people actually do make decisions in order to minimize their tax rates such as moving to lower-rate states — ask retirees if there is any tax component to the decision to move to Florida as opposed to staying in New York. ...

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April 15, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1072

IRS Logo 2Washington Times, Federal Judge Calls IRS Untrustworthy in Tea Party Case:

A federal judge said the IRS isn’t to be trusted as he and his colleagues tried Thursday to figure out whether the tax agency is still targeting tea party groups for intrusive and illegal scrutiny.

Judge David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said there is strong evidence that the IRS violated the constitutional rights of the groups when it delayed their nonprofit status applications and asked inappropriate questions about their political beliefs.

The agency’s insistence that it has retrained employees and instructed managers to behave better did not mollify the judges, who said past IRS behavior doesn’t lend itself to the benefit of the doubt.

“It’s hard to find the IRS to be an agency we can trust,” Judge Sentelle said.

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April 15, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Craig Boise Named Dean At Syracuse

Boise (2016)Craig M. Boise, Dean (and Tax Prof) at Cleveland-Marshall, has been named Dean at Syracuse:

Recognized as an innovator in legal education, Craig M. Boise has been named dean of Syracuse University’s College of Law. Boise comes to Syracuse University from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University, which under his deanship made significant gains in academic programs, national rankings and fundraising. The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees approved his appointment earlier today. Boise will assume his new role on July 1, 2016.

“Craig Boise is a dynamic and forward-thinking leader who is equally passionate about quality, access and enhancing the student experience,” says Michele G. Wheatly, vice chancellor and provost-designate. “I am impressed by his record of achievements and know the College of Law will make great strides under his leadership.”

Chancellor Kent Syverud echoed Wheatly’s sentiment, saying Boise will achieve great things as dean of the College of Law. “Craig’s bold vision and commitment to academic excellence have enhanced the student experience, improved student outcomes and positioned graduates for career success,” says Chancellor Syverud. “He is the ideal person to lead the College of Law into a new era, particularly as it seeks to enhance its global reputation and continue its ascent in national rankings.” ...

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April 14, 2016 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Duncan Presents Tax Incidence In The Presence Of Tax Evasion Today At Indiana

DuncanDenvil Duncan (Indiana-Bloomington) presents Tax Incidence in the Presence of Tax Evasion (with Philipp Doerrenberg (ZEW Mannheim and Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Germany) at Indiana-Bloomington today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Leandra Lederman:

This paper studies the economic incidence of sales taxes in the presence of tax evasion opportunities. We design a laboratory experiment in which buyers and sellers trade a fictitious good in double auction markets. A per-unit tax is imposed on sellers, and sellers in the treatment group are provided the opportunity to evade the tax whereas sellers in the control group are not. We find that the market equilibrium price in the treatment group is lower than in the control group. This difference is economically and statistically significant, and implies that sellers with access to evasion shift a smaller share of the statutory tax burden onto buyers relative to sellers without tax evasion opportunities.

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April 14, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Doran Presents The Puzzle Of Non-Qualified Retirement Pay Today At Colorado

Doran (2015)Michael Doran (Virginia) presents The Puzzle of Non-Qualified Retirement Pay: Optimal Contracting, Managerial Power, and Taxes at Colorado today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by David Hasen and Sloan Speck:

Pay arrangements for managers of public corporations typically include substantial amounts of compensation deferred through non-qualified retirement plans. As a departure from the familiar baseline of current payment for current services, this presents a longstanding puzzle. The corporate-governance literature offers two explanations for the practice. The “optimal-contracting account” argues that non-qualified retirement pay represents “inside debt” that aligns the interests of managers with the interests of the corporation’s unsecured general creditors. The “managerial-power account” argues that non-qualified retirement pay represents “stealth compensation” that facilitates managers’ extraction of rents from corporate assets. In this paper, I set out a different explanation based on tax considerations.

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April 14, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tenured Rutgers Law Prof Suspended From Practice Of Law For Misappropriating Client Funds

RutgersIn the Matter of Aaron Ari Afilalo, 2016 NY Slip Op 02727 (NY App. Div. Apr. 12, 2016):

Respondent, Aaron Ari Afilalo, was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the First Judicial Department on January 23, 1995. ... The Departmental Disciplinary Committee (Committee) seeks an order, pursuant to the Rules of the Appellate Division, First Department (22 NYCRR) § 603.4(e)(1)(iii), immediately suspending respondent from the practice of law until further order of this Court, based upon uncontested evidence, namely, written admissions and bank records, that he, inter alia, misappropriated client funds, which misconduct immediately threatens the public interest.

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April 14, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

IRS Admits It Encourages Illegals To Steal Social Security Numbers To Get Tax Refunds

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  IRS Admits It Encourages Illegals To Steal Social Security Numbers For Taxes, by Robert W. Wood:

This isn’t exactly the kind of story the IRS wants buzzing around at tax time. The IRS and Justice Department normally want ‘scared straight’ stories just before Tax Day. Ideally, when an indictment or conviction for tax evasion hits the news, it makes you think twice. Somehow, you think just a bit more about all those deductions, or if you really reported all your income, before you sign your return under penalties of perjury.

Instead, we have the top dog at the IRS, the IRS Commissioner himself, admitting that, well, there’s a problem with illegal immigrants and taxes. In fact, the top IRS official this time wasn’t talking about how the IRS wipes some hard drives or can’t find emails. He wasn’t even asking for a bigger budget to give bonuses to IRS employees.

This time, he was talking about illegal immigrants, and about the IRS turning a blind eye. Or maybe worse. The IRS actually wants illegal immigrants to illegally use Social Security numbers, he suggested.

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April 14, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Clinical Law Prof Questions Indoctrinating Students With Social Justice Morality And Requiring Pro Bono By Students, Not Faculty And Administrators

Wall Street Journal, Law Schools Are ‘Indoctrinating Students with a Social Justice Morality,’ Says Professor:

A typical law school clinic gives students experience doing legal work for a government agency or teaming up with activists in the public-interest arena. Some schools also offer post-graduate “bridge-to-practice” fellowships with nonprofit or public-sector employers. And increasingly, pro bono service has become a graduation requirement.

Such programs teach law students and young graduates legal skills while aiding vulnerable and under-served populations, law schools say. Julie D. Lawton, a clinical professor of law at DePaul University in Chicago, worries they’ve become a form of indoctrination. ...

Ms. Lawton says many of the legal educators emphasizing social justice have a laudable goal: to try to diminish gaps in access to justice. But by dedicating so much resources into social justice programs, she argues, law schools are “imposing their own morality upon students” and limiting exposure to competing ideas. ...

Ms. Lawton doesn’t just criticize law schools for imbalance but also inconsistency.  A further challenge to the imposition of social justice morality by legal educators is the hypocrisy of pro bono requirements for law students, but not for law school faculty and administrations. If legal educators genuinely believe that mandatory pro bono is a necessary part of our collective responsibility, why are educators not arguing for a similar requirement for law school faculty?

Julie D. Lawton (DePaul), The Imposition of Social Justice Morality in Legal Education, 4 Ind. J.L. & Soc. Equality 57 (2016):

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April 14, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Students Who Handwrite Notes Get Better Grades Than Students Who Type Notes On Laptops

Laptop BanFollowing up on my previous post, Princeton/UCLA Study: It Is Time To Ban Laptops In Law School Classrooms:  Wall Street Journal, Can Handwriting Make You Smarter?:

Laptops and organizer apps make pen and paper seem antique, but handwriting appears to focus classroom attention and boost learning in a way that typing notes on a keyboard does not, new studies suggest.

Students who took handwritten notes generally outperformed students who typed their notes via computer, researchers at Princeton University and the University of California at Los Angeles found. Compared with those who type their notes, people who write them out in longhand appear to learn better, retain information longer, and more readily grasp new ideas, according to experiments by other researchers who also compared note-taking techniques.

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April 14, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Pandya & Utz:  Designing The Tax Treatment Of Litigation-Related Costs

Sachin S. Pandya (Connecticut) & Stephen Utz (Connecticut), Designing the Tax Treatment of Litigation-Related Costs:

This paper identifies key tax design issues for how income tax law should treat litigation-related costs paid by defendants, such as attorney fees, court courts, and payments to settle claims or satisfy judgments, fines or penalties. After discussing how US and Germany income tax law treat litigated related costs, the paper identifies four important tax-design issues: (1) how to attribute litigation-related costs to any particular income-producing activity; (2) whether to treat liability insurer payments made on a defendant’s behalf as income to that defendant; (3) whether to coordinate the tax treatment of a payer’s damages payments with the tax treatment of those receipts to the payee; and (4) whether litigation-related costs should be treated as capital expenditures related to the right to receipts established or sought to be established by the litigation itself.

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April 14, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

University Of California To Provide $4.5 Million Annually To Berkeley, Davis, Irvine & UCLA Law Schools For 424 Summer ($4,500) & 58 Post-Graduate ($47,500) Public Interest Fellowships

University of California (2015)Press Release, UC President Announces Public Service Law Fellowships:

Pursuing public service just got a lot easier for University of California law school students.

UC President Janet Napolitano today (April 13) announced a first-of-its-kind fellowship program to help UC law school students pursue careers in public interest law.

The President’s Public Service Law Fellowship program will award $4.5 million annually to promising law students at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine and UCLA. The funding will make postgraduate work and summer positions more accessible for students who want to pursue public interest legal careers but might otherwise – out of financial need – seek private sector jobs. ...

The postgraduate fellowships will provide $45,000 for graduates entering public service, plus an additional $2,500 to help defray bar-related costs. The summer fellowships provide each fellow between $4,000 to $4,500 to subsidize summer public interest law jobs.

In all, the program is expected to provide 424 summer fellowships and 58 postgraduate fellowships for students at the four top-tier law schools....

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April 14, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1071

IRS Logo 2Washington Times, IRS Must Publicize Sensitive Tea Party Data Obtained in Targeting, Obama Administration Says:

The IRS says it has stopped targeting the tea party — but three years later, the tax agency is still holding on to the sensitive information it pried from the conservative groups through invasive questions, and officials are even vowing to make the answers public.

Groups caught up in the scandal say that is proof the targeting is continuing, and they want the IRS to expunge the information or, at the very least, to make sure it is never released.

Obama administration officials insist they have stopped targeting but say the groups are at fault for following the misguided IRS requests for information. Now, the administration says, there is nothing the tax agency can do but make the information public as the law requires.

On Thursday, a federal appeals court in Washington will be asked to referee the dispute, just one of the legal problems still plaguing the IRS after its 2013 admission that it inappropriately singled out conservative and tea party groups for intrusive scrutiny.

“They asked for things to which they were not entitled,” said Cleta Mitchell, an attorney for True the Vote, one of the tea party nonprofits that got caught up in the targeting scandal. “This is the fruit of the poisonous tree.”

The IRS acknowledged that the questions it asked were inappropriate and weren’t needed to decide on tea party groups’ applications for nonprofit status.

Questions included such sensitive information as the names of all financial contributors; lists of family members, details of their political affiliations and speculation about their plans to run for office; and details of organization members’ outside jobs.

Groups were even told that they must detail members’ private communications with their local legislators or any contact with reporters.

Tea party groups said the questions trampled on their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association.

Some tea party organizations, advised by their attorneys, refused to comply. Others figured that the IRS had the upper hand, so they turned over the information despite misgivings.

The IRS has apologized for the intrusive questions but still holds on to the information it gleaned from dozens of tea party groups from 2010 through 2013.

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April 14, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Senator Warren Introduces Bill To Simplify Tax Filing Endorsed By Dozens Of Tax Profs And Economists

Tax MazePress Release, Senator Warren Introduces Bill to Simplify Tax Filing:

United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today introduced the Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2016 to simplify and decrease the costs of the tax filing process for millions of American taxpayers. This year, taxpayers will spend an average of 13 hours preparing and filing their returns, and will pay $200 for tax preparation services — a cost equal to almost 10 percent of the average federal tax refund.

The legislation introduced today would direct the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to develop a free, online tax preparation and filing service that taxpayers can use to prepare and file their taxes directly with the federal government, if they choose to do so, and would prohibit the IRS from entering into agreements that restrict its ability to provide free online tax preparation or filing services. The Act would give all taxpayers the right to download third-party-reported tax information that the IRS already has, and would provide those with simple tax situations with a return-free option.

In conjunction with the introduction of the Tax Filing Simplification Act, Senator Warren released a staff report [fact sheet] that describes how - for decades - the tax preparation industry has blocked the IRS from implementing laws that would make tax preparation and filing easier for taxpayers. Corporate capture of the filing process means that taxpayers have to absorb billions of dollars in costs and share their personal information with third parties just to file their taxes.

The legislation has been endorsed by dozens of law professors and economists including Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago, Emmanuel Saez of the University of California - Berkeley, and Joe Bankman of Stanford University.

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April 13, 2016 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (12)

Gentry Presents Capital Gains Taxation And Entrepreneurship Today At Penn

Penn (2016)William Gentry (Williams College) presents Capital Gains Taxation and Entrepreneurship at Pennsylvania today as part of its Center for Tax Law and Policy Seminar Series hosted by Chris Sanchirico and Reed Shuldiner:

The taxation of capital gains is a perennial issue in tax policy. One critical aspect for understanding the overall effects of capital gains taxation is how these taxes affect entrepreneurs. While many analyses focus on the disincentive effects created by capital gains taxes for investors in large corporations, these disincentives may be even more important for entrepreneurs. This paper discusses several mechanisms through which capital gains taxes can affect entrepreneurs’ decisions. First, capital gains taxes may create an additional level of taxation on successful entrepreneurs. Second, asymmetric taxation of capital gains and losses (in which gains are taxed more heavily than losses) may be an especially important issue for entrepreneurs; the asymmetries in the tax system may discourage entrepreneurs from taking risk. Third, much like the commonly-referenced lock-in effect of capital gains taxes on investments in stock, entrepreneurs may become locked into closely-held businesses; this lock-in effect may distort whether firms are owned by the most efficient manager for the firm. Fourth, capital gains taxes can affect the cost of capital for entrepreneurs.

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April 13, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hickman Presents Treasury's Retroactivity Today At Cambridge

Hickman 2014 2Kristin Hickman (Minnesota) presents Treasury's Retroactivity at Christ's College, Cambridge today at a conference on The Role of Judges in Developing the Content of Tax Law:

In Bowen v. Georgetown University Hospital, the Supreme Court described retroactivity as "not favored in the law" and generally rejected allowing federal administrative agencies to adopt regulations "altering the past legal consequences of past actions."  Unlike most regulatory agencies, Treasury and the IRS are expressly authorized by Congress to adopt regulations with precisely such primary retroactive effect.  Specifically, IRC § 7805(b) grants Treasury and the IRS the power to backdate tax regulations under a variety of circumstances.  Preliminary analysis shows that Treasury and the IRS utilize this authority regularly with little judicial oversight for abuse of discretion.  Using empirical data, this article will explore more fully Treasury and IRS utilization of the authority to adopt retroactively effective regulations interpreting the Internal Revenue Code

April 13, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times:  European Union Calls For Big Companies To Disclose More Tax Data

New York Times, European Union Calls for Big Companies to Disclose More Tax Data:

European Union officials on Tuesday waded into the fight against international tax dodging, calling for the world’s biggest companies to disclose more data about their tax arrangements with the bloc’s member governments and to share information about offshore havens where they shelter money. ...

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April 13, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

To Close $150 Million Deficit, UC-Berkeley To Eliminate 500 Staff, 0 Faculty Jobs

UC-Berkeley (University)San Francisco Chronicle, UC Berkeley to Eliminate 500 Staff Jobs:

Financially troubled UC Berkeley will eliminate 500 staff jobs over two years to help balance its budget by 2019-20, The Chronicle has learned. Chancellor Nicholas Dirks sent a memo to employees Monday informing them of the job reductions and said they will amount to “a modest reduction of 6 percent of our staff workforce.”

Berkeley employs about 8,500 staffers, from custodians to administrators. Faculty members will not be affected. ...

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April 13, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

Government's $5 Billion Settlement With Goldman Sachs Will Cost Bank 70% Less, Due To Credits And Deductions To Fund Priorities Like Low Income Housing

GoldmanNew York Times, In Settlement’s Fine Print, Goldman May Save $1 Billion:

State and federal officials said on Monday that Goldman Sachs would pay $5.1 billion to settle accusations of wrongdoing before the financial crisis.

But that is just on paper. Buried in the fine print are provisions that allow Goldman to pay hundreds of millions of dollars less — perhaps as much as $1 billion less — than that headline figure. And that is before the tax benefits of the deal are included.

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April 13, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)