TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, May 20, 2016

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

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May 20, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fordham Symposium:  We Are What We Tax

Fordham Law ReviewSymposium, We Are What We Tax, 84 Fordham L. Rev. 2413-2753 (2016):

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May 20, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ten Ways To Tell You May Be Sitting Next To An Economist On An Airplane

PassengersThe Economist, Ten Ways to Tell You Might be Sitting Next to an Economist:

An academic economist was taken off a plane last week after a fellow passenger became suspicious. He was feverishly scribbling what she thought was "terrorist code" or foreign lettering into a notebook. It turned out that Guido Menzio, an Italian economist from the the University of Pennsylvania, was working on some differential equations for a model on menu costs and price dispersion. Thankfully, Mr Menzio was allowed back on his flight. But passengers can't be too careful. Here are ten ways to tell you might be sitting next to an economist; police have also released pictures of two prime suspects (see above). 

1. He refuses to listen to the safety announcement because "in the long run, we're all dead" ...

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May 20, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

McGinnis:  The Case Against Disclosing Presidential Candidates’ Tax Returns

John O. McGinnis (Northwestern), The Case Against Disclosing Candidates’ Tax Returns:

I have previously expressed very substantial reservations about Donald Trump’s candidacy, but decline to join in the criticism about his refusal to release his tax returns. While a norm has developed suggesting that citizens have a right to see tax returns of presidential candidates and indeed candidates for some other offices, it is a bad norm. It invades privacy, discourages some people from entering politics, distracts from policy issues, and harms the prospects of those with complex financial affairs. ...

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May 20, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Too Many Lawyers? Report Faults Firms For Resisting Layoffs

American Lawyer LogoAmerican Lawyer, Too Many Lawyers? Report Faults Firms for Resisting Layoffs:

Should law firm leaders be firing more lawyers? That seems to be the takeaway of a report released Wednesday by the legal consultancy Altman Weil.

Nearly 60 percent of the 356 law firm leaders surveyed for the report said that overcapacity is hurting their firm’s profitability. The problem is more pronounced among firms with 250 lawyers or more, with 75.6 percent of them citing overcapacity as a drag on profits, the report said.

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May 20, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (8)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1107

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal:  The IRS’s Ugly Business as Usual: ‘How Much Has Really Changed?’ A Judge Asks. Answer: Not Much. The Scandal Goes On., by Kimberley A. Strassel:

Amid the drama that is today’s presidential race, serious subjects are getting short shrift. No one is happier about this than Barack Obama. And no agency within that president’s administration is more ecstatic than the Internal Revenue Service.

That tax authority’s targeting of conservative nonprofits ranks as one of the worst federal scandals in modern history. It is topped only by the outrage that no one has been held to account. Or perhaps by the news that the targeting continues to this day.

That detail became clear in an extraordinary recent court hearing, in front of a panel of judges for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The paired cases in the hearing were Linchpins of Liberty v. United States and True the Vote v. Internal Revenue Service. They involve several conservative nonprofits—there are 41 in Linchpin—that were, as they said, rounded up and “branded” by the IRS. The groups are still suffering harm, and they want justice.

A lower-court judge had blithely accepted the IRS’s claim that the targeting had stopped, that applications for nonprofit status had been approved, and that the matter was therefore moot.

The federal judges hearing the appeal, among them David B. Sentelle and Douglas H. Ginsburg, weren’t so easily rolled. In a series of probing questions the judges ascertained that at least two of the groups that are party to the lawsuit have still not received their nonprofit approvals. The judges determined that those two groups are 501(c)(4) social-welfare groups, which are subject to far less scrutiny than 501(c)(3) charities, yet are still being harassed by the IRS five years later. The judges were told that not only are the groups still on ice, but that their actions are still being “monitored” by the federal government.

As one lawyer for the plaintiffs noted, despite the IRS’s claim that it got rid of its infamous targeting lists, there is “absolutely no showing” that the agency has in fact stopped using the underlying “criteria” that originally “identified and targeted for mistreatment based on political views.”

The hearing also showed the degree to which the IRS has doubled down on its outrageous revisionist history, and its excuses. IRS lawyers again claimed that the whole targeting affair came down to bad “training” and bad “guidance.” They blew off a Government Accountability Office report that last year found the IRS still had procedures that would allow it to unfairly select organizations for examinations based on religious or political viewpoint. The lawyers’ argument: We wouldn’t do such a thing. Again. Trust us.

More incredibly, the IRS team claimed that the fault for some of the scandal rests with the conservative groups, for not pushing back hard enough during the targeting. In response to complaints that the groups had been forced to hand over confidential information (information the IRS now refuses to destroy), one agency lawyer retorted: “They didn’t have to give the information to the IRS if they thought it was inappropriate, they could have said so.” Really. ...

An IRS lawyer rolled out the defense used by former agency official Lois Lerner that the targeting was just the unfortunate use of “inappropriate” criteria, but Judge Sentelle reminded the lawyer of the IRS’s vindictiveness. He noted that on one occasion the IRS simply shelved the application of an organization that had sued it. The agency “came to Court not having done anything to eliminate” the problem, he said, so “It’s just hard to find the IRS to be an agency we can trust, isn’t it?”

Judge Sentelle said there is a “pretty good case” that “egregious violations of the Constitution” had been committed, and he dared an IRS lawyer to “stand there with a straight face” and say otherwise. Judge Ginsburg, who spent the hearing catching out the IRS’s conflicting statements, at one point simply asked: “How much has really changed?”

Answer: not much. It was good news, then, that the House Judiciary Committee recently announced it will hold two hearings to examine the conduct of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in this matter. Donald Trump, as the presumptive GOP nominee, could do worse than to use his megaphone to draw attention to the hearings. The IRS scandal needs to remain a story.Answer: not much. It was good news, then, that the House Judiciary Committee recently announced it will hold two hearings to examine the conduct of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in this matter. Donald Trump, as the presumptive GOP nominee, could do worse than to use his megaphone to draw attention to the hearings. The IRS scandal needs to remain a story.

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May 20, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

LSAT Is Poor Predictor Of Law School Grades: 6 LSAT Points = 0.1 LGPA

LSAT (2015)Alexia Brunet Marks (Colorado) & Scott A. Moss (Colorado), What Predicts Law Student Success? A Longitudinal Study Correlating Law Student Applicant Data and Law School Outcomes, 13 J. Empirical Legal Stud. 205 (2016):

Despite the rise of "big data" empiricism, law school admission remains heavily impressionistic; admission decisions based on anecdotes about recent students, idiosyncratic preferences for certain majors or jobs, or mainly the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Yet no predictors are well-validated; studies of the LSAT or other factors fail to control for college quality, major, work experience, etc. The lack of evidence of what actually predicts law school success is especially surprising after the 2010s downturn left schools competing for fewer applicants and left potential students less sure of law school as a path to future success. We aim to fill this gap with a two-school, 1400-student, 2005-2012 longitudinal study. After coding non-digitized applicant data, we used multivariate regression analysis to predict law school grades ("LGPA") from many variables: LSAT; college grades ("UGPA"), quality, and major; UGPA trajectory; employment duration and type (legal, scientific, military, teaching, etc.); college leadership; prior graduate degree; criminal or discipline record; and variable interactions (e.g., high-LSAT/low-UGPA or vice-versa).

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May 19, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (4)

Elkins:  The Merits Of Tax Competition In A Globalized Economy

David Elkins (Netanya), The Merits of Tax Competition in a Globalized Economy, 91 Ind. L.J. 905 (2016):

Since the turn of the current century, leading transnational organizations and academic scholarship have identified tax competition among countries as one of the scourges of the international tax regime. Both the EU and the OECD have warned that tax competition erodes the tax bases of Member States and impedes their ability to provide essential services. Commentators have argued that unrestrained competition is driving tax rates on mobile sources of income to (or close to) zero, a process that jeopardizes the very existence of the welfare state, exacerbates problems of global poverty, and deprives developing countries of funds that they desperately need in order to improve their physical infrastructure and human capital. Tax competition is also said to misallocate economic resources by driving investment to where the tax rate is lowest rather than to where the return on investment is highest.

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May 19, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Private College Tuition Discounts Hit All-Time High Of 49%

49%National Association of College and University Business Officers, Tuition Discounts at Private Colleges Continue to Climb:

The gap between the sticker price on a private college education and the amount most students actually pay continues to widen, according to new data from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO).

In the 2015 NACUBO Tuition Discounting Study, 401 private, nonprofit colleges reported another year of record-breaking tuition discount rates for 2015-16, topping last year's previous highs. For academic year 2015-16, the average institutional discount rate—or the percentage of total gross tuition and fee revenue institutions give back to students as grant-based financial aid—was an estimated 48.6 percent for first-time, full-time freshmen and 42.5 percent for all undergraduates. In other words, these private colleges put about 42 cents on every dollar of tuition and fee revenue toward scholarships and grants.

NACUBO

For student recipients, those funds went further than ever before. About 88 percent of first-time, full-time freshmen and 77.6 percent of all undergraduates were awarded aid, which averaged roughly half the cost of tuition and fees for both cohorts.

 

May 19, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Book:  Bureaucratic Oppression And The Tax System

ABA Tax LawyerLeslie Book (Villanova), Bureaucratic Oppression and the Tax System, 69 Tax Law. ___ (2016):

Observers of the Internal Revenue Service’s administration of the earned income tax credit (EITC) have leveled one main criticism, that the Service has been unable to reduce stubbornly high error rates. Congress has generally focused attention on this problem with many legislative initiatives, including unprecedented (for the tax system) penalties for improper claims, special due diligence rules for preparers submitting returns with EITC claims, and a lessening of pre-assessment right to judicial review of Service rejections of EITC claims.

In this Article I wish to shift attention to the Service’s poor service to EITC claimants. In particular, I wish to broaden the inquiry to reflect the insights of nontax scholars who have looked at the ways that administrative agencies interact with low-income individuals who rely on benefits that agencies administer.

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May 19, 2016 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sugin:  Rhetoric And Reality In The Tax Law Of Charity

Linda Sugin (Fordham), Rhetoric and Reality in the Tax Law of Charity, 84 Fordham L. Rev. 2607 (2016):

The rhetoric of public purposes in charity law has created the mistaken impression that charity is public and fulfills public goals, when the reality is that charity is private and cannot be expected to solve the problems that governments can solve. The rhetoric arises from a combination of charity-law history and tax expenditure analysis. The reality follows the money and control of charitable organizations. On account of the mismatch of rhetoric and reality, the tax law of charity endorses an entitlement to pre-tax income and (ironically) creates a bias against taxation. This article reorients the project of defining public and private in the tax law by starting from a normative theory of government responsibility.

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May 19, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TPC Study Fuels New Congressional Push To Integrate Corporate And Shareholder Taxes

Wall Street Journal, Fewer Shareholders Pay U.S. Taxes on Dividends: New Study Is Bolstering Drive to Shift Tax Burden From Corporations to Investors:

WSJ 2A new study showing that a shrinking fraction of shareholders of U.S. corporations pay taxes on dividends is bolstering a drive to revamp the corporate tax system. [Steven Rosenthal & Lydia Austin, The Dwindling Taxable Share of U.S. Corporate Stock, 151 Tax Notes 923 (May 16, 2016)]

The specter of double taxation, which animates complaints about today’s U.S. corporate tax code, is receding, according to a new study from the Tax Policy Center. Tax-exempt and tax-preferred entities—such as 401(k) plans and other retirement accounts—own more than 75% of U.S. corporate stock, nearly opposite the prevailing pattern from 50 years ago, the study said.

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May 19, 2016 in Congressional News, Scholarship, Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rutgers Faculty Rebels Against Use Of Metrics To Assess Their Scholarly Performance

AAFollowing up on my previous post:  Inside Higher Ed, Refusing to Be Measured:

The faculty of the Graduate School at Rutgers University in New Brunswick took a stand against Academic Analytics on Tuesday, resolving that administrators shouldn’t use proprietary information about faculty productivity in decisions about divvying up resources among departments, or those affecting the makeup of the faculty, graduate teaching assignments, fellowships and grant writing. They also demanded to view their personal data profiles by Sept. 1. The vote was 114 to 2.

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May 19, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

Knoll & Mason:  Is The Philadelphia Wage Tax Unconstitutional?

Michael S. Knoll (Pennsylvania) & Ruth Mason (Virginia), Is the Philadelphia Wage Tax Unconstitutional? And If It Is, What Can and Should the City Do?, 164 U. Pa. L. Rev. Online 163 (2016):

Philadelphia has a complex and antiquated tax system that has long been criticized for driving employers and jobs away from Philadelphia by making it expensive to conduct business in the City. The centerpiece of the Philadelphia tax system is the Philadelphia wage tax, which raised more than $1.6 billion in 2014. That tax has been challenged as unconstitutional in light of the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Wynne v. Comptroller of Maryland, which struck down a structurally similar Maryland tax.

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May 19, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Emotionally Intelligent Law Professor: A Lesson From The Breakfast Club

Breakfast clubHeidi K. Brown (Brooklyn), The Emotionally Intelligent Law Professor: A Lesson From the Breakfast Club, 36 U. Ark. Little Rock  L. Rev. 273 (2016):

While some law review articles emphasize the importance of teaching Emotional Intelligence (EI) as part of the students' law school curriculum as a component of “professionalism,” fewer articles thus far have illuminated how professors can cultivate their own EI to become better educators. The present article aspires to provide law professors with a workable explanation of EI, and practical guidance to make EI accessible and useful in the classroom.

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May 19, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1106

IRS Logo 2H. Res. 737, 114th Cong., 2d Sess.:

RESOLUTION Condemning and censuring John A. Koskinen, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. 

Whereas the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform issued a subpoena to John A. Koskinen, Commissioner, Internal Revenue Service, on February 14, 2014, which compelled him to produce, among other things, ‘‘all communications sent or received by Lois Lerner, from January 1, 2009, to August 2, 2013.’’;

Whereas on March 4, 2014, Internal Revenue Service employees in Martinsburg, West Virginia, magnetically erased 422 backup tapes, destroying as many as 24,000 of Lois Lerner’s emails responsive to the subpoena;

Whereas Commissioner Koskinen violated a congressional subpoena by failing to locate and preserve relevant records and by losing key pieces of evidence that were in the agency’s possession, and destroyed, on his watch;

Whereas Commissioner Koskinen betrayed the trust and confidence of the American people as an Officer of the United States;

Whereas Commissioner Koskinen failed to live up to the promise he made to the Senate Committee on Finance during his confirmation hearing to: ‘‘Be transparent about any problems we run into; and the public and certainly this committee will know about those problems as soon as we do.’’;

Whereas as early as February 2014, and no later than April 2014, Commissioner Koskinen was aware that a substantial portion of Lois Lerner’s emails were missing and could not be produced to Congress, but did not notify Congress of any problem until June 13, 2014, when he included the information on the fifth page of the third enclosure of a letter to the Senate Committee on Finance;

Whereas Commissioner Koskinen offered under oath a series of false and misleading statements utterly lacking in honesty and integrity;

Whereas on March 26, 2014, Commissioner Koskinen was asked during a hearing before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, ‘‘Sir, are you or are you not going to provide this committee all of Lois Lerner’s emails?’’ and he falsely answered, ‘‘Yes, we will do that.’’;

Whereas on June 20, 2014, Commissioner Koskinen testified falsely that ‘‘since the start of this investigation, every email has been preserved. Nothing has been lost. Nothing has been destroyed.’’;

Whereas on June 20, 2014, Commissioner Koskinen testified falsely that the Internal Revenue Service had ‘‘confirmed that backup tapes from 2011 no longer existed because they have been recycled, pursuant to the Internal Revenue Service normal policy’’ and that ‘‘confirmed means that somebody went back and looked and made sure that in fact any backup tapes that had existed had been recycled.’’;

Whereas on June 20, 2014, Commissioner Koskinen testified that the Internal Revenue Service had ‘‘gone to great lengths’’ to retrieve all of Lois Lerner’s emails, but in fact failed to search disaster backup tapes, Lois Lerner’s Blackberry, the email server, backup tapes for the email server, and Lois Lerner’s temporary replacement laptop, which the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration subsequently found to contain more than 1,000 of Lerner’s emails;

Whereas Commissioner Koskinen’s false statements delayed and otherwise interfered with congressional investigations into the Internal Revenue Service targeting of Americans based on their political affiliation; and

Whereas the aforementioned conduct of Commissioner Koskinen caused the House of Representatives to lose confidence in his ability to administer and supervise the execution and application of the internal revenue laws: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That—  (1) the House of Representatives does hereby 3 censure and condemn John A. Koskinen for a pat-tern of conduct while Commissioner of Internal Revenue that is incompatible with his duties and inconsistent with the trust and confidence placed in him as an officer of the United States; and

(2) it is the sense of the House of Representatives that John A. Koskinen, Commissioner of Internal Revenue, should— (A) immediately resign from office, and if he does not so resign, the President should remove him from office; and (B) be required to forfeit all rights to any annuity for which he is eligible under chapter 83 or chapter 84 of title 5, United States Code.

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May 19, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tax Court:  Accountant Cannot Deduct Law School Tuition

Tax Court Logo 2Santos v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2016-100 (May 17, 2016):

Santos earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting [from Indiana University (Bloomington)]. In 1990, he began working as a tax-return preparer. In 1995, he became an “enrolled agent”, a person authorized to represent taxpayers before the IRS. In 1996, Santos earned a master’s degree in taxation [from San Francisco State University]. He began offering other services to his clients, including accounting and financial planning.

At some point Santos enrolled in law school [John F. Kennedy University College of Law]. He was attending law school in 2010. During that year, he paid tuition and fees of $20,275. He graduated from law school in 2011. In July 2011, he took the California bar examination. ... In December 2014, he was admitted to the State Bar of California and admitted to practice before the U.S. Tax Court.

In 2015, Santos started a law firm, Santos and Santos Law Offices, with his father. The firm performs multiple services including legal representation, tax planning, accounting, and financial planning. ...

Whether Santos is entitled to a deduction of $20,275 for his law school tuition and fees remains at issue. ...

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May 18, 2016 in Legal Education, New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)

As Law School Enrollments Drop, Decline In Legal Jobs Keeps Law Grads Struggling To Find Work

American Lawyer LogoThe American Lawyer:  As Supply of Law Grads Drops, More Struggle To Find Work, by Matt Leichter:

What would it take to spark an employment recovery for law school graduates?

In simple economic terms, there are just two factors at play: the demand for new lawyers and the supply of graduates. The U.S. economy is still lagging, and the legal sector hasn't improved either, so it's understandable if law grads aren't finding more and better jobs amid slack demand.

That leaves the supply side. If the number of graduates falls, then those remaining should have an easier time finding jobs, leaving fewer graduates unemployed. And even if poor demand for new attorneys limits the positions available to graduates, those who don't find work as lawyers should be able to find it elsewhere. Like musical chairs, the fewer people who play, the fewer are left standing when the music stops. This is the glass-half-full prediction for law school graduates.

Unfortunately for graduates, the employment results for the class of 2015, which the American Bar Association officially released in May, tell a different story.

Excluding the three law schools in Puerto Rico, 3,772 fewer people graduated from ABA-accredited law schools in 2015, an 8.7 percent decline from 2014. Somewhat surprisingly, the number of graduates with jobs requiring a law degree fell by nearly 2,000, equivalent to more than half the difference in graduates between the two years. ...

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May 18, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Murphy Reviews Piketty's Capital In The Twenty-First Century

PikettyLiam Murphy (NYU), Why Does Inequality Matter?: Reflections on the Political Morality of Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, 68 Tax L. Rev. 613 (2015):

In the Conclusion to Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty issues a call for a political and historical economics. Like Marx and the political economists before him, Piketty is interested in how markets work because he is interested in the rights and wrongs of institutional, especially legal, design. His is book is guided by a clear sense that economic inequality, especially inequality of wealth, raises serious prima facie problems of social justice. This essay is a critical investigation into the political morality underlying Capital in the Twenty-First Century that unravels and evaluates the different ways in which economic inequality may or may not matter.

For my take, see Thomas Piketty and Inequality: Legal Causes and Tax Solutions, 64 Emory L.J. Online 2073 (2015).  Other reviews of Capital in the Twenty-First Century:

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May 18, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Law Students' Work Drive Positively Correlates To Their 1L Grades

Jeffrey Minneti (Seattle), Work Drive Matters: An Assessment of the Relationship between Law Students' Work-Related Preferences and Academic Performance, 42 Mitchell Hamline L. Rev. 150 (2016):

This article explores the dimensions of law students' schoolwork-related preferences and discusses an empirical assessment of those preferences. The assessment revealed two findings: (1) a positive correlation between students' schoolwork-related preferences and their first-year law school cumulative grade point average (LGPA); and (2) students' schoolwork-related preferences significantly enhanced the predictive power of the traditional law school success predictors, law students' LSAT performance and their undergraduate cumulative grade point average (UGPA).

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May 18, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Luke Reviews Kahng's Taxation Of Intellectual Capital

Charlene D. Luke (Florida), Illuminating the Dark Matter of Intellectual Capital, 66 Fla. L. Rev. F. 61 (2015):

Professor Lily Kahng’s article, The Taxation of Intellectual Capital, [66 Fla. L. Rev. 2229 (2014),] highlights the distortion contained in the current tax rules governing capitalization. Her article emphasizes that U.S tax law systematically fails to require capitalization for self-created, high-value intangible assets. Professor Kahng’s contribution is to situate the problem in a broader, interdisciplinary context and to use the knowledge gained from that context to suggest specific reforms. In the process, Professor Kahng explores the definitional boundaries of “intellectual capital” and considers potential objections to capitalization of the costs of intellectual capital. As a result, Professor Kahng’s article fosters a richer, contextualized conversation about a significant shortcoming of the tax system.

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

It's Official:  'Antonin Scalia Law School At George Mason University'

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 May 1, 2016) 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):

 

 

All-Time

 

Recent

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

56,012

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

10,555

2

Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)

32,036

Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)

4479

3

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

31,056

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

3702

4

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

26,620

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

2461

5

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

25,850

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2366

6

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

22,306

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1892

7

James Hines (Michigan)

21,719

Nancy McLaughlin (Utah)

1850

8

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

21,052

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

1776

9

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

20,965

Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)

1759

10

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

19,768

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

1747

11

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

18,807

Chris Hoyt (UMKC)

1688

12

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

17,814

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

1683

13

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

16,933

David Weisbach (Chicago)

1670

14

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

16,913

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

1595

15

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

16,799

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

1575

16

David Weisbach (Chicago)

16,768

Jack Manhire (Texas A&M)

1554

17

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

16,521

William Byrnes (Texas A&M)

1545

18

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

16,385

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

1482

19

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

16,016

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

1428

20

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

15,862

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

1426

21

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

15,557

Yariv Brauner (Florida)

1387

22

David Walker (BU)

14,988

Steven Bank (UCLA)

1373

23

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

14,791

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

1306

24

Steven Bank (UCLA)

13,314

Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)

1273

25

Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)

13,161

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1246

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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May 18, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ:  Women In Elite Jobs Face Stubborn Pay Gap

WSJWall Street Journal, Women in Elite Jobs Face Stubborn Pay Gap:

On average, American women earn less than their male peers. Highly educated women fare worst of all.

A Wall Street Journal examination of pay in 446 major occupations found that women in many elite jobs earn well below men, with professions such as doctors, compensation managers and personal financial advisers among those showing the widest earnings gaps.

Male doctors working full time earned about $210,000 annually on average for the five years through 2014, the Journal’s analysis of Census Bureau data found. Female physicians made 64% of that, about $135,000 a year. Among personal financial advisers, men took in about $100,000 while women made about $62,000.

Many white-collar jobs give substantially larger financial rewards to those logging the longest hours and who job-hop often, phenomena that limit white-collar women who pull back for child-rearing. Researchers on the topic say ingrained workplace cultures also impede women’s earnings.

The gender pay gap has become a big issue in corporate boardrooms, state capitols and the 2016 presidential campaign. Executives and policy makers are weighing ways to bridge it, with ideas such as limiting employers from asking about salary histories and attempting to create “wage transparency” by requiring employers to report salary data.

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May 18, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Are We Ready To Raise Taxes On The Rich? History Says No.

Taxing the RichWashington Post op-ed:  Are We Ready to Raise Taxes on the Rich? History Says No., by Kenneth F. Scheve (Stanford) & David Stasavage (NYU):

Economic inequality is high and rising. At the same time, many governments are struggling to balance budgets while maintaining spending for popular programs.

That’s prompted some presidential candidates to argue it’s time to raise taxes on the rich. Bernie Sanders is leading the charge and would create a new top income tax rate of 54.2 percent, up from the current 39.6 percent. Hillary Clinton would institute the so-called “Buffett rule” to require individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $1 million to pay an effective rate of at least 30 percent, and she’d add a new 4 percent surcharge on anyone who pulls in $5 million or more.

As White House aspirants, other politicians and voters debate whether it’s time to once again soak the rich to spread their wealth around, it’s helpful to consider what prompted past governments — ours and others — to raise their taxes.

We investigated tax debates and policies in 20 countries from 1800 to the present for our new book, Taxing the Rich: A History of Fiscal Fairness in the United States and Europe [Princeton University Press, 2016] [blogged here]. Our research shows that it is changes in beliefs about fairness — and not economic inequality or the need for revenue alone — that have driven the major variations in taxes on high incomes and wealth over the past two centuries.

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May 18, 2016 in Book Club, Political News, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

NLJ:  Law Grad Employment Rates Up, But Class Size Is Smaller

National Law Journal (2016)National Law Journal, Law Grad Employment Rates Up, But Class Size Is Smaller:

The latest law school graduate employment data from the American Bar Association show mixed results for the class of 2015.

A slightly higher percentage of graduates landed in long-term, full-time jobs that require bar passage 10 months after graduation: 59.3 percent had such jobs, compared with 57.9 percent for the previous class. But the overall number of those gold-standard law jobs declined by nearly 1,700 year-over-year. In short, the employment rate went up because of the 9 percent decline in the number of new law graduates, not because of growth in the market for new lawyers.

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May 18, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1105

IRS Logo 2Washington Post, Impeachment Hearings Are Latest Victory in Conservative War on IRS:

The House Judiciary Committee’s decision to hold hearings a week from today on whether to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is a victory for the chamber’s far-right caucus, still smarting over the agency’s treatment of conservative groups.

Over five years, House Republicans have slashed the IRS budget, passed bills banning employee bonuses and prohibiting employees fired for misconduct from getting rehired. The GOP has vowed to simplify the tax code, pounced on agency management failures and assailed customer service breakdowns caused by the budget cuts.

And last week, anti-IRS lawmakers persuaded previously hesitant House leaders to start the unusual process of removing the tax collector from office.

One of the biggest questions now is whether the 76-year-old tax commissioner will show up for the grilling. IRS officials said Monday they have made no decision on whether Koskinen will accept the Judiciary Committee’s invitation to appear May 24 and at a hearing in June.

Daily Kos, Republicans Move to Impeach Head of Government Agency for First Time Since 1876:

Suppose you hate taxes. And government. You could try to pass bills that cut taxes, scale back government … in short, do the things the extreme right Freedom Caucus says they want. Or you might simply make it impossible for the government to collect taxes by maneuvering to cripple the agency in charge, which is the approach conservatives radicals have actually taken.

The House Judiciary Committee’s decision to hold hearings a week from today on whether to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is a victory for the chamber’s far-right caucus, still smarting over the agency’s treatment of conservative groups.

The agency’s treatment of conservative groups. Which turned out to be pretty much the agency’s treatment of every sort of group. It was just that so many groups emerged from the tea party chaos, and so many of them blatantly did not know the difference between what was acceptable in a tax-exempt organization and what was not, that a high number of them became regulatory road kill.

But conservatives have never believed they have to play by the rules, and this scandal-that-wasn’t serves as sufficient pretext to carry on the teahad. ...

Oh, but do mark this down as a historic moment. It’s the first time anyone has tried to impeach the head of a government agency since the Grant administration. ... The real purpose of trying to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is to give the extremists in the GOP a distraction to talk about when they climb on the stage at rallies between now and November. The chances that they would actually remove Koskinen, who is set to leave in 2017 in any case, are somewhere between extremely slim and laughable. But he provides a demon to rail against. And his name isn’t Donald.

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May 18, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

BakerHostetler Hires Robot Lawyer 'Ross', Ushers In Legal Jobs Apocalypse

ROSS
Built on Top of Watson, IBM's Cognitive Computer

Sputnik News, Law School Scam? $200,000 in Student Debt, Replaced by Job-Killing Robot:

Law school, the default location for America’s brightest unemployed Liberal Arts graduates and the worst decision a 20-something can make in the modern era just became an even worse bargain, if that’s possible. ...

The world’s first "artificial-intelligence attorney," touted as the newest member of white-shoe law firm BakerHostetler, threatens to spark a job-killing trend in a vocation where career prospects already frighten a terrorized workforce.

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May 17, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (14)

Papers From The 2015 IRS-TPC Research Conference: Improving Tax Administration Through Research-Driven Efficiencies

TPCIRSThe IRS has released the papers from the 2015 IRS-TPC Research Conference: Improving Tax Administration Through Research-Driven Efficiencies:

2015 IRS Research Bulletin

Foreword

1. Innovative Methods for Improving Resource Allocation

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May 17, 2016 in IRS News, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gold:  Reducing The Cost Of Legal Education — We Either Hang Together Or Hang Separately

HangVictor James Gold (Former Dean, Loyola-L.A.), Reducing the Cost of Legal Education: The Profession Hangs Together or Hangs Separately, 66 Syracuse L. Rev. ___ (2016):

Is a legal education worth the cost? Until just a few years ago, there was little doubt that the answer was yes. The recession that began in 2007 changed everything. The job market for entry-level lawyers suddenly collapsed. With tuition high and job prospects low, many concluded that legal education was a bad investment. This essay documents the challenges confronting legal education and advises law schools to meet those challenges by reducing the cost of a JD degree. But forces within the legal profession itself make it unnecessarily difficult to follow this advice.

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May 17, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (5)

Why Foreign Buyers Are Snapping Up U.S. Companies: Our Tax Code

Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Why Foreign Buyers Are Snapping Up U.S. Companies, by James Carter & Ernest Christian

No matter who is elected president in November, fixing America’s broken tax code should be a high priority. Laying the groundwork for tax reform, the House Ways and Means Committee recently held a hearing inviting “proposals for improvements to the U.S. tax system.” Here’s one that should head the list: Bring U.S. corporate taxes in line with the rest of the developed world.

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May 17, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Elsevier Acquires SSRN

ESSRNPress Release, Elsevier Acquires the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), the Leading Social Science and Humanities Repository and Online Community:

Elsevier, a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, announced today the acquisition of the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). Founded in 1994, SSRN is a Rochester, NY-based scholarly research preprint repository and online community. SSRN will be further developed alongside Mendeley, a London-based free reference manager and scholarly collaboration network owned by Elsevier.

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

Senate Holds Hearing Today On Integrating The Corporate And Individual Tax Systems

Senate LogoThe Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing today on Integrating the Corporate and Individual Tax Systems: The Dividends Paid Deduction Considered:

  • Michael J. Graetz (Columbia)
  • Judy A. Miller (American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries)
  • Steven M. Rosenthal (Tax Policy Center)
  • Bret Wells (Houston)

In connection with the hearing:

Michael J. Graetz (Columbia) & Alvin C. Warren, Jr. (Harvard) have published Integration of Corporate and Shareholder Taxes, 69 Nat'l Tax J. ___ (2016):

Integration of the corporate and individual income taxes can be achieved by providing shareholders a credit for corporate taxes paid with respect to corporate earnings distributed as dividends. When such integration was previously considered in the U.S., proponents emphasized that it could reduce or eliminate many of the familiar distortions of a classical corporate income tax. Integration would also provide a framework for addressing current concerns for tax incentives for U.S. companies to shift income to foreign affiliates in lower-taxed countries or to expatriate in "inversion" transactions. A recent Congressional proposal for a corporate dividend deduction coupled with withholding on dividends could achieve equivalent results, while also reducing effective U.S. corporate tax rates.

Steven M. Rosenthal & Lydia S. Austin (Tax Policy Center) have published The Dwindling Taxable Share of U.S. Corporate Stock, 151 Tax Notes 923 (May 16, 2016):

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May 17, 2016 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Merritt:  The Never-Ending Law School Crisis

Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), The Crisis That Wouldn’t End:

The crisis in legal education was supposed to be over by now. The recession, after all, ended in June 2009. Even allowing for a slow recovery, legal educators predicted that JD hiring would be robust by this point. When applications fell and schools cut class sizes, educators hoped for a recovery bonus: An improved job market, combined with smaller graduating classes, would boost placement rates and attract applicants back to law school. Meanwhile, some projected, the economy would suffer a lawyer shortage.

Things haven’t worked out that way. As the ABA employment report for the Class of 2015 shows, JD employment remains depressed–and there is some evidence of a downward trend. In this post, I explain why law schools need to take this news very seriously. ...

What Does the Future Hold?

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May 17, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Coalition For Tax Competition Call On Congress To Eliminate Funding For OECD Due To BEPS Targeting Of American Corporations

BEPSThe Coalition for Tax Competition has sent this letter calling on Congress to stop funding the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on the ground that its Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project is undermining American interests:

With release of the final reports on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), there can be no doubt that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is no friend to the United States. For this reason it should no longer be subsidized by American taxpayers.

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May 17, 2016 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Northwestern Adopts New Curriculum To Prepare Law Grads To Thrive In Technology-Driven Economy

Northwestern (2016)Northwestern Press Release, New Curriculum to Address Technologically Driven Economy:

Two significant curricular additions, designed to help graduates succeed in the technologically driven global economy, were recently approved by Northwestern Pritzker School of Law faculty:

  • The Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Concentration will expose JD students to the issues that drive the innovation process and to the role of technology in the modern economy.
  • The Innovation Lab will focus on the legal, business, technical, teamwork, design, and presentation skills involved in the innovation process and allow students to put those skills to work in designing a commercial product that will solve a legal problem. 

Together these curricular initiatives will expand and enhance the Law School’s ability to prepare graduates to navigate complex legal issues related to innovation, to gain exposure to evolving legal practice technologies, and to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. ...

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May 17, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1104

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial:  The IRS’s Donor Lists: Congress Should Keep the Names of Donors Out of Tax Returns:

Democratic Attorneys General in California and New York have been trying to get their hands on donor information in the tax returns of nonprofit groups. Their disclosure demands were recently shot down in a California federal court, but the better question may be why the IRS is even collecting the info.

Under the Tax Reform Act of 1969, 501(c) groups are required to file Form 990 Schedule B that lists the sources of donations of more than $5,000 in the previous calendar year. The lists are supposed to remain private, but this is the government we’re talking about. The National Organization for Marriage’s donor list leaked to the Human Rights Campaign in 2012, and the state of California recently posted some 1,400 Schedule Bs on Attorney General Kamala Harris’s public website, though they were quickly taken down.

Sloppy handling of data that includes home addresses threatens donors with potential harassment. In his April order in AFPF v. Harris, the case challenging Ms. Harris’s appeal to see unredacted donor information from nonprofits, federal Judge Manuel Real noted that the disclosures included donors for Planned Parenthood of California. “An investigator for the Attorney General,” Judge Real wrote, “admitted that ‘posting that kind of information publicly could be very damaging to Planned Parenthood.’”

That goes across the political spectrum, which may be why IRS head John Koskinen and Director of Exempt Organizations Tamera Ripperda have said even the IRS is debating whether the information is necessary for tax enforcement.

Meanwhile, Illinois Republican Peter Roskam’s bill to stop the IRS from collecting donor details of tax-exempt groups passed the Ways and Means Committee in late April. Progressive groups, such as Democracy 21 and Public Citizen, say Schedules Bs are important to protect against foreign donations to tax-exempt groups.

But dropping Schedule Bs wouldn’t change the law. There is no ban on foreign contributions to tax-exempt outfits—see the Clinton Foundation—but there is a blanket ban on foreign money being spent to influence U.S. elections. Audits can determine if foreign contributions are being channeled into politics. Lawbreakers trying to skirt election laws aren’t disclosing improper donations on tax returns in any case.

The real progressive interest in donor disclosure is to use the information as a political weapon. Leaked selectively, donor lists suppress the speech of political rivals. Mr. Roskam’s bill is worth moving to the House floor.

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May 17, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, May 16, 2016

State Audit Rips California Bar For Shady Finances, Bloated Salaries

California State BarCalifornia State Auditor, The State Bar of California: Its Lack of Transparency Has Undermined Its Communications With Decision Makers and Stakeholders (May 12, 2016):

As required by Business and Professions Code section 6145, the California State Auditor presents this audit report concerning the State Bar of California’s (State Bar) financial operations and management practices. This report concludes that the State Bar’s financial-related reports lacked transparency and contained errors, limiting stakeholders’ ability to understand the State Bar’s operations and the Legislature’s ability to ensure the appropriateness of the State Bar’s fees.m

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May 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Johnson Controls Shifts Tax Gears, Will Structure Spin-Off Of Auto Parts Business As Taxable Dividend But New London Company Will Be Taxed At Lower Rate

JCTFollowing up on my previous post, Johnson Controls To Renounce U.S. Corporate Citizenship In Tax-Driven Inversion With Tyco:  Wall Street Journal, Johnson Controls Merger Will Give Its Spinoff a U.K. Home; Filing Reveals Adient Shares “Will Be Treated as a Taxable Dividend” for Recipients:

When Johnson Controls spins off its big auto-parts business in October, shareholders won’t get the tax breaks they expected. Instead, they receive something that might be even better: a company with a London address and even lower taxes.

Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls recently disclosed in a regulatory filing that the auto-parts company, which will be known as Adient, will be based in London, and shares in the new company “will be treated as a taxable dividend” for recipients.

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May 16, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Ridiculous Controversy Over Changing The Name Of George Mason Law School

Scalia 2The Volokh Conspiracy:  On the Ridiculous Controversy Over Changing the Name of the George Mason University School of Law, by Jonathan H. Adler (Case Western):

A group of GMU faculty (from outside the law school) have objected to the name change and pushed for a Faculty Senate resolution opposing the move, over the objections of law school faculty, allegedly in the name of tolerance and academic freedom.

Naming gifts are common in academia, and no one bats an eye when a school is named after a donor or a progressive icon. There’s no controversy over the renaming of the Pace University School of Law after liberal philanthropist and environmentalist Elisabeth Haub, and I can’t recall any objection to naming a law school after the jurist who infamously filed an amicus brief cataloging social science research purporting to show women are weaker than men. But naming a school after one of the most important and consequential jurists of the past century is apparently a bridge too far for some on the leftist fringe.

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May 16, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tennessee Man Convicted In Romney Tax Return Fraud And Extortion Scheme

Romney

Following up on my previous post, Report: Hackers Stole Mitt Romney's Tax Returns From PwC, Demand Ransom Payment: Department of Justice Press Release, Tennessee Man Convicted for Romney Tax Return Fraud and Extortion Scheme:

Michael Mancil Brown was found guilty late yesterday by a federal jury sitting in Nashville for engaging in an extortion and wire fraud scheme involving former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax returns, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, First Assistant United States Attorney Jack Smith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee and Special Agent in Charge Todd Hudson of the U.S. Secret Service’s Nashville Field Office.

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May 16, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Counterintuitive Costs And Benefits Of Clinical Legal Education

Wisconsin LogoFollowing up on my previous post, Wisconsin Law Review Debate: Does Experiential Learning Improve J.D. Employment Outcomes?Richard E. Redding (Vice Chancellor for Graduate Education and Professor of Law, Chapman), The Counterintuitive Costs and Benefits of Clinical Legal Education, 2016 Wis. L. Rev. Forward 55:

Professor Jason Yackee’s recent study, Does Experiential Learning Improve JD Employment Outcomes?, finding no relationship between a schools’ clinical offerings and student employment outcomes was greeted with skepticism by the clinical legal education (hereinafter “CLE”) community. If we may tentatively conclude from the study that clinical courses fail to give students any significant leg-up in the job market, then perhaps CLE entails some counterintuitive pedagogical costs and benefits that we ought to consider. Could it come at the expense of what is nowadays often touted as being precisely its goal, which is to equip students with practice-ready skills?

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May 16, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Graetz:  'Death Tax' Politics

BCACTEC 2Michael J. Graetz (Columbia), 'Death Tax' Politics, 57 B.C. L. Rev. ___ (2016):

In his Keynote Address 'Death Tax' Politics at the October 2, 2015 Boston College Law School and American College of Trust and Estate Counsel Symposium, The Centennial of the Estate and Gift Tax: Perspectives and Recommendations, Michael Graetz describes the fight over the repeal of the estate tax and its current diminished state. Graetz argues that the political battle over the repeal of the estate tax reflects a fundamental challenge to our nation’s progressive tax system.

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May 16, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Teaching With Judge Bork in Mind: The Best Teachers Are Driven By Love For Their Subject

BorkWall Street Journal op-ed:  Teaching With Judge Bork in Mind: The Best Teachers Are Driven by Love for the Subject They Teach, by Helaine L. Smith:

The current wrangling over a Supreme Court nomination calls to mind Robert H. Bork’s reply when he was asked at his confirmation hearing in 1987: Why do you want to be on the Supreme Court? He responded, “Because it would be an intellectual feast.” For that he was roundly condemned as heartless by his enemies and politically naïve by his friends.

I thought his answer was perfect. It revealed someone of honesty and intellectual integrity, someone who would have been the best of justices. Or perhaps I was only projecting, because I knew that had anyone ever asked me why I teach, I would have answered the same way.

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May 16, 2016 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Chorvat:  Corporate Equities As Lotteries—Skewness And The Tax Preference For Corporate Debt

Terrence R. Chorvat (George Mason), Corporate Equities as Lotteries: Skewness and the Tax Preference for Corporate Debt:

The tax preference for interest payments by corporations as compared to dividend payments is a long surviving feature of many tax systems. Many have argued that there is no reason for this preference and so it distorts the capital structure of corporations needlessly. This article argues that because the returns to equity are more positively skewed as compared to debt, individual investors will tend to value equity more than they would value it given only its mean and variance characteristics.

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May 16, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1103

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump’s Amazon Adventure, by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.:

You might get some argument about exactly how illegal it is for politicians to use their law-enforcement powers to punish their political opponents.

But at least when Nixon sought to, he felt obliged to do so by secret memorandum. As keeper of the enemies list John Dean wrote, “This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration; stated a bit more bluntly—how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.”

As it happened, however, the IRS commissioner at the time, Donald Alexander, refused orders to carry out tax audits of the Nixon White House’s political enemies.

Today, nobody, not even his worst critics, expects to find a memo from President Obama instructing Lois Lerner at IRS to stonewall applications from conservative political groups for tax-exempt status.

His critics probably don’t even expect Mr. Obama to have muttered under his breath that such a thing would be desirable. Rather, Ms. Lerner, all on her own, seemingly decided as a loyal Democratic and ideological warrior that it would be a good thing to use her agency to hamper the president’s partisan antagonists. ...

Donald Trump, an innovator in all things, is now in the process of changing the rules in America with his threat to bring legal action against Amazon on antitrust grounds and, if we hear him correctly, on tax grounds as well.

Mr. Trump couldn’t have been clearer about his motivation. He complained about Washington Post reporters calling up and “asking ridiculous questions,” “all false stuff,” apparently related to Mr. Trump’s tax returns, which in defiance of all tradition he has refused to release, as well as Mr. Trump’s real-estate dealings.

Mr. Trump says the Post was purchased as “a toy” by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (who bought the paper with his personal funds in 2013). Mr. Trump says the paper now is being used to attack Mr. Trump in order to protect Amazon’s alleged tax-dodging practices even though Amazon, after long resistance, has begun in recent years to collect state sales tax.

All this seems to arise because the Post, the dominant newspaper in the nation’s capital, has assigned reporters to investigate the business career of the candidate who champions his credibility to be president by referring to his business career. ...

Mr. Trump knows U.S. political culture well enough to know that gleefully, uninhibitedly threatening to use government’s law-enforcement powers to attack news reporters and political opponents just isn’t done.

Maybe he thinks he can get away with it. Maybe he’s trying to figure out how to disqualify himself for the presidency in a way that wouldn’t embarrass his fans or blow back on the business career that he always imagined he’d be returning to after the Republican convention at the latest. After all, one way to throw an election is to scare off donors (he needs about a billion dollars) by flaunting his inner Nixon.

Or maybe he really does want to be the American caudillo who flings American democratic and legal norms out the window and ushers in a new age of populist authoritarianism.

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May 16, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Why Are There So Few Conservative/Libertarian Law Profs, Even Though They Are More Productive Scholars Than Liberal Law Profs?

James Cleith Phillips (Ph.D. Candidate, UC-Berkeley), Why are There So Few Conservatives and Libertarians in Legal Academia? An Empirical Exploration of Three Hypotheses, 39 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 153 (2016):

There are few conservatives and libertarians in legal academia.

Graph 3

Why? Three explanations are usually provided: the Brainpower, Interest, and Greed Hypotheses. Alternatively, it could be because of Discrimination. This paper explores these possibilities by looking at citation and publication rates by law professors at the 16 highest-ranked law schools in the country. Using regression analysis, propensity score matching, propensity score reweighting, nearest neighbor matching, and coarsened exact matching, this paper finds that after taking into account traditional correlates of scholarly ability, conservative and libertarian law professors are cited more and publish more than their peers.

 

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May 15, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Larry Summers, Robert Rubin And The President's Authority To Tax Carried Interest As Ordinary Income

Following up on yesterday's post, The President's Authority To Unilaterally Raise Taxes

Business Insider, Larry Summers Just Threw Epic Shade About Tax Breaks Right in a Private-Equity CEO's Face:

On Wednesday morning, at the SkyBridge Alternatives hedge fund conference, Carlyle Group co-CEO David Rubenstein interviewed [former Treasury Secretary Larry] Summers alongside his Clinton administration colleague, Robert Rubin.

But at one point, Summers turned the tables on Rubenstein, with an assist from Rubin.

The interviewees noted that Rubenstein could teach the audience some lessons on influencing government, given his surprisingly successful record of fighting to retain the "carried interest" tax loophole, which gives private-equity and hedge fund managers a tax preference on their performance fees.

"Rarely has a policy existed so long with such weak arguments in its favor," said Summers, in backhanded praise of Rubenstein's lobbying skill. "It's the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, and carried interest, right?"

"Not necessarily in that order," Rubin added.

Rubenstein replied that, if Summers and Rubin thought the tax preference for carried interest was such bad policy, then they could have used executive action to eliminate it when they served in the Treasury Department.

"Not sure it works like that," Rubin replied.

He's right: You would need legislation to close the loophole, and that legislation has been stalled by private-equity-friendly members of Congress.

David Hemel (Chicago), Two-and-Twenty and Fifty-Fifty:

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

When You Are Called To Your Life's Work

Oxford 4Wall Street Journal, When You’re Called to Your Life’s Work:

Callings come in many ways, some unexpected. ... A chance encounter with an elderly homeless man led physician Lara Weinstein to her work treating marginal populations. “It was almost like a transcendental experience,” says Dr. Weinstein, a family doctor in Philadelphia.

Such events are more prevalent than one might expect. A 2006 Gallup poll of 1,004 adults, the most recent it has done on the subject, found that 33% of Americans said the following statement “applies completely” to them: “I have had a profound religious experience or awakening that changed the direction of my life.”

The experiences vary. A revelation, directive or message comes unexpectedly. A series of unlikely synchronistic events occur. Some people sense a divine presence, and others feel deeply connected to something larger than themselves, be it nature or others around them, and pursue more altruistic work.

People of all ages and faiths, agnostics and atheists, have such experiences, yet they rarely talk about them. They’re concerned others will dismiss them as delusional or won’t take them seriously. Sometimes words fall short of conveying the intensity of what they felt.

Some scientists and scholars are beginning to pay attention, says Lisa Miller, director of clinical psychology at Columbia University and editor of The Oxford Handbook of Psychology and Spirituality, published in 2012, which includes chapters written by quantum physicists and other scientists.

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May 15, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)