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Monday, July 6, 2015

Vik Amar Named Dean At Illinois Law School

AmarIllinois Press Release:

The University of Illinois has named Vikram David Amar as the next dean of the College of Law, pending approval from the University’s Board of Trustees at their July 15 meeting. Amar will assume the deanship, and also become the Iwan Foundation Professor of Law, on August 16. For the last several years, Amar has been the senior associate dean for academic affairs and a professor of law at the University of California, Davis School of Law. ...

During his seven years as associate dean at UC Davis, Amar has been extensively involved in faculty hiring, tenure, and promotions; clinical programming; admissions; career services; and curricular development. In addition to teaching at Davis, Amar has been a professor of law at UC Hastings and a visiting professor of law at UC Berkeley and UCLA. 

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July 6, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Congratulations, Team USA!

July 6, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

LSU Law School Dean/Chancellor Steps Down Due To 'Major Policy Differences With Vocal Segment Of Faculty'; Tax Prof Claims Retaliation After She Filed Sexual Misconduct Complaint Against Faculty Colleague

LSU Logo (2016)The Advocate, LSU Law Center Chancellor Jack Weiss to Step Down in August, Cites 'Major Policy Differences With a Vocal Segment of the Faculty':

Jack Weiss, head of the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center, is stepping down as law chancellor and dean in August in the wake of conflicts with faculty, some of whom had advocated for his ouster.

“I am proud of the many positive developments at the Law Center during my eight years as chancellor and look forward to submitting the progress of the Law Center during those years to the judgment of history,” Weiss said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, however, major policy differences with a vocal segment of the faculty have made it difficult, if not impossible, for me to continue to lead the Law Center on a day-to-day basis and to implement my vision for the Law Center’s future.”

Weiss, who was out of the country Friday, said in an email he’s heard that a small number of faculty gathered signatures on a document expressing disapproval with him and submitted it to LSU’s provost in May. But he said he’s neither seen the document nor heard specifically what claims those faculty members made against him.

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July 6, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Proposes Changes To Rules On Reporting Law School-Funded Jobs

ABA Logo 2Memorandum From Barry Currier (Managing Director, ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar), ABA Employment Questionnaire Reporting of Law School-Funded Position – Continuing Matter and Invitations to Comment Further (June 30, 2015):

At its July 31, 2015 meeting in Chicago, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will consider additional proposals to reform the reporting of law school/university-funded positions in the annual ABA Employment Questionnaire. The pending proposals are attached to this memorandum. One is a revised report and recommendations from the Data Policy and Collection Committee to the Council (Attachment A), and the second is a proposed amendment to the Committee’s prior recommendations by Dean Paul Mahoney, a member of the Council (Attachment B). 

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July 6, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 788

TIGTATreasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Report of Investigation, Exempt Organization Data Loss and Potential Obstruction of Justice:

The investigation determined that there were six possible sources to examine in order to potentially recover the missing e-mails. These sources were LERNER's crashed hard drive, the backup or disaster recovery tapes, a decommissioned Microsoft (MS) Exchange 2003 e-mail server, the backup tapes for the decommissioned e-mail server, LERNER's BlackBerry, and loaner laptop computers that may have been assigned to her while her laptop was being repaired. An examination of four of these sources, the backup or disaster recovery tapes, the decommissioned Exchange 2003 e-mail server, LERNER's BlackBerry, and the loaner laptops produced e-mail that the IRS had not previously produced to Congress, DOJ or TIGTA. The investigation also determined that once it was discovered that there was a gap in the IRS' production of LERNER's e-mail, the IRS did not fully identify as a source or perform recovery attempts for e-mail on the following electronic media, all of which the IRS had in their possession: backup or disaster recovery tapes, the decommissioned Exchange 2003 e-mail server, the backup tapes for the decommissioned e-mail server or the loaner laptop computers.  ...

The investigation also revealed that on or about March 4, 2014, one month after the IRS realized it was missing some of LERNER's e-mails, IRS employees in the IRS Enterprise Computing Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia (Martinsburg), magnetically erased 422 backup tapes that are believed to have contained LERNER's e-mails that were responsive to Congressional demands and subpoenas. However, the investigation did not uncover evidence that the IRS and its employees purposely erased the tapes in order to conceal responsive e-mails from the Congress, the DOJ and TIGTA. 

The investigation revealed that the backup tapes were destroyed as a result of IRS management failing to ensure that a May 22, 2013, e-mail directive from the IRS Chief Technology Officer (CTO) concerning the preservation of electronic e-mail media was fully understood and followed by all of the IRS employees responsible for handling and disposing of e-mail bStephen MANNING, former IRS Deputy Chief Information Officer, Strategy and Modernization.ackup media.  ...

When interviewed, [Terence MILHOLLAND, IRS Chief Technology Office] was asked if he knew that e-mail backup tapes from a decommissioned e-mail server had been degaussed in March 2014, MILHOLLAND stated that he was not aware of this, and he advised that he was "blown away" at the revelation. He further stated that IRS IT senior management was ultimately responsible. MILHOLLAND also stated that his May 2013 e-mail directive would have applied to preserving the NCFB backup tapes and that the organization that sent them to be destroyed would also be responsible for their destruction.

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July 6, 2015 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Fleischer: Jeb Bush Tax Returns Recall Old Days Of Shelters

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times Deal Book:  Jeb Bush Tax Returns Recall Old Days of Shelters, by Victor Fleischer (San Diego):

Jeb Bush’s tax returns take us back to the time when it was a point of pride for high-income earners to buy a piece of a Panamanian gold mine, a Hollywood movie, a Texas oil well or a California alpaca farm. The point was not to make money but to use the artificial tax losses from a partnership to shelter one’s true salary from tax.

Mr. Bush released 33 years of returns on Tuesday, and his effective tax rate of 40 percent in 2013 contrasts notably with that of the last Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, who disclosed an effective rate of 13.9 percent in 2010. After releasing his returns, Mr. Bush joked that he “apparently didn’t take full advantage” of deductions.

Mr. Bush should be careful when throwing stones; he did not always pay tax at such a high rate. In the 1980s, before the Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed many of the rules related to tax shelters, Mr. Bush’s dealings in real estate allowed him to pay almost no income tax, even when he earned considerable wages and had little to no risk of economic loss on his investments.

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July 5, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Will Christian Colleges (And Law Schools) Lose Their Tax Exemption After Obergefell?

White House Same Sex MarriageFollowing up on my previous post, Will Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Decision Cost BYU Its Tax Exemption?:  Inside Higher Ed, The Supreme Court Ruling and Christian Colleges:

Friday's Supreme Court decision that states must authorize and recognize gay and lesbian marriages could create major legal challenges for religious colleges -- primarily evangelical Christian colleges that bar same-sex relationships among students and faculty members. Or the decision may not create much of a legal challenge at all. Or it may create challenges, but not soon.

Legal experts are divided. But the question of whether same-sex marriage as a national right changes the legal status of Christian colleges is no longer just theoretical.

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July 5, 2015 in Legal Education, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (14)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

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

  1. [385 Downloads]  Taxation of E-Commerce, by Orkhan Abdulkarimli (Baku State)
  2. [317 Downloads]  Trust Decanting: A Sale Without Gain Realization, by Jason Kleinman (Herrick, New York)
  3. [189 Downloads]  Reducing Inequality With A Retrospective Tax On Capital, by James Kwak (Connecticut)
  4. [181 Downloads]  Citizenship Taxation, by Ruth Mason (Virginia)
  5. [167 Downloads]  What Does Voluntary Tax Compliance Mean?: A Government Perspective, by J. T. Manhire (U.S. Treasury Department)

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 787

Saturday, July 4, 2015

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Tax Like It Is July 4, 1776

1776Wall Street Journal op-ed:  What Life Was Like in 1776, by Thomas Fleming (Former President, Society of American Historians; Author, What America Was Really Like in 1776 (2012)):

Americans [in 1776] had the highest per capita income in the civilized world, paid the lowest taxes—and were determined to keep it that way. ...

In the northern colonies, according to historical research, the top 10% of the population owned about 45% of the wealth. In some parts of the South, 10% owned 75% of the wealth. But unlike most other countries, America in 1776 had a thriving middle class.

Tax Foundation:  Tax Facts for Independence Day 2013:

Taxpayers across the country will celebrate the 237th anniversary of American independence on July 4th this year. As students of history will remember, one of the chief complaints of the American colonists against the British government in 1776 was unfair and burdensome taxation (including 18th century tax breaks for big business). With that in mind, the Tax Foundation presents a few facts for Independence Day that highlight the changing American tax system.

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July 4, 2015 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Lima Declaration On Tax Justice And Human Rights

OxfamOver 100 organizations have signed the Lima Declaration on Tax Justice and Human Rights:

We come together as a broad-­based community of experienced advocates, practitioners, activists, scholars, jurists, litigators and others committed to advancing tax justice through human rights, and to realizing human rights through just tax policy.

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July 4, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 786

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal, Lois Lerner for President:

[G]et a load of this report from CNSNews.com:

Catherine Duval, the attorney in charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s email production to Congress, has changed jobs: She now manages the State Department’s email production to Congress, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) told a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday, June 25.

Meanwhile, members of the Oversight Committee last week accused the IRS of destroying some of Lois Lerner’s emails despite a subpoena and an order to preserve them.

“There was a preservation order in place, there’s a subpoena in place, they’ve never complied with it; we’ve had testimony from the IRS commissioner that we would get all this only to find out they’ve been degaussing these tapes and they destroyed evidence,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) at the June 25 hearing.

Which gives us an idea: Why doesn’t Lois Lerner jump into the race for the Democratic presidential nomination? At least she believes in something.

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July 4, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Two Fired Tenured Profs Sue Charleston Law School

Charleston 2Charleston Regional Business Journal, Fired Professors Sue Charleston Law School:

Two former tenured faculty members at the Charleston School of Law say they were fired as retaliation for opposing The InfiLaw System purchase of the school. They’re now suing the school and its owners, Robert Carr and George Kosko.

Nancy Zisk and Allyson Haynes Stuart, along with five other faculty members, were terminated from the school on May 22.

Zisk and Stuart each filed similar lawsuits [Zisk complaint; Stuart complaint] within the past week against Charleston School of Law LLC, saying the owners cited “a state of financial exigency due to continuing reductions in student enrollment” and the faculty members’ high salaries as reasons for their termination.

Both plaintiffs claim the owners have not proved the school is in a financial exigency, or state of emergency, and say the owners have ignored the requirements of their tenured statuses.

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July 3, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

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July 3, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Genevieve Tokic (McDermott Will & Emery) Joins Northern Illinois Law School Faculty

TokicNorthern Illinois College of Law Press Release:

Genevieve Tokic, an associate from the tax group at McDermott Will & Emery, will teach courses in the areas of tax and international business, where her expertise in international tax planning and cross-border business transactions will well-complement the school's global reach and credentials. Previously, Professor Tokic served as an associate in the U.S. Corporate Finance Group of Norton Rose Fulbright in London, where she focused her practice on securities regulation and mergers and acquisitions. She has taught at the Texas Tech University School of Law and served as a visiting professor at NIU Law in 2011. She holds a masters of law and undergraduate degrees from Northwestern University and a J.D. from the New York University School of Law.

July 3, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

Avi-Yonah: Constructive Unilateralism — U.S. Leadership And International Taxation

Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan), Constructive Unilateralism: US Leadership and International Taxation:

In recent years, various US international tax proposals have been advanced on the basis that we should follow the lead of our major trading partners. For example, it has been argued that we should adopt a “territorial” tax system (really, an exemption for dividends from controlled subsidiaries of US multinationals) because most of our trading partners have done so, or that we should adopt a “patent box” because some EU countries have one. But is this an adequate policy argument? Historically, most of the advances in international taxation occurred because the US led, not because it has followed. This paper reviews the history of instances in which other countries followed US international tax reforms, and then argues that positive results can be expected if the US maintains its leadership by “constructive unilateralism”.

July 3, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School 'Deaning' In The 'New Normal'

New NormalDavid Barnhizer (Cleveland State), “Deaning” in the “New Normal”:

My focus in this analysis is on the kinds of skills and capabilities law deans need if they are seeking to guide law schools through this messy period. A recent report indicated that the median tenure of a law dean in a US law school had fallen to an all-time low of 2.78 years.  ...

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July 3, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 785

IRS Logo 2Politico, Double Trouble? IRS Lawyer Now Heads Clinton Email Production:

A year ago, Catherine Duval was embroiled in the scandal over former IRS official Lois Lerner’s lost emails.

Now the top government attorney is heading up another document project in the cross hairs of Congress: the State Department’s release of Hillary Clinton’s emails and Libya documents to the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

And Republican GOP investigators are raising red flags, accusing her and the State Department of stonewalling Congress by narrowly interpreting document requests and failing to disclose important information.

“The person in charge of document production at two different places on two different scandals has not been completely straightforward with us,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a top IRS and Benghazi investigator, in an interview. “She was at the IRS when there was a preservation order and subpoena — and documents were destroyed. She is now at the State Department, where we were supposed to get [certain] information, and we know that some of the emails were not given.”

Duval, a former attorney for the powerhouse Washington law firm Williams & Connolly who left the IRS and joined the State Department last August, declined to comment for this story. But she told House Oversight investigators last year that she didn’t know such backup tapes of the lost Lerner emails — recently found destroyed — even existed. And while she was leading the document production effort, she also gave a preservation order to all employees. ...But now, with an IRS watchdog announcing last Thursday that tax agency employees under Duval’s watch had erased more than 400 backup tapes central to Congress’ IRS probe of the tea party targeting, Republicans are even more suspicious.

“Who is Kate Duval — because I think I’ve heard that name before,” Gowdy asked during last week’s IRS hearing on the news. “I know where she is now: She’s at the Department of State in charge of their email productions. Wow.” ...

Benghazi panel Democrats say the IRS problems were out of Duval’s control, noting that the Oversight Committee turned up nothing when it questioned her last year about her role. And they add that Duval was the one who raised the alarm about Lerner’s missing emails in the first place.

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July 3, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Shit Academics Say: A Social Media Experiment

TwitterChronicle of Higher Education:  @AcademicsSay: The Story Behind a Social-Media Experiment, by Nathan Hall (McGill):

I am not an intellectual, leading expert, or public scholar. I am a rank-and-file academic with the job of balancing respectable research with acceptable teaching evaluations and sitting on enough committees to not be asked to sit on more committees. And in my spare time, I run what is arguably one of the most influential academic accounts on social media: Shit Academics Say (Facebook).

Since starting the account in September of 2013, it has grown to over 122,000 followers, gaining 250 to 300 new followers daily and ranking in the top 0.1 percent across social media influence metrics such as Klout, Kred, and Followerwonk. To unpack this a bit, tweets sent from my phone while recalibrating dopamine levels on the treadmill, or waiting outside my 3-year-old’s ballet class, are showing up in about 10 million Twitter streams and generating 200,000 to 300,000 profile visits a month, effectively making @AcademicsSay a bigger "social authority" on Twitter than nearly all colleges and academic publications. Not weird at all. ...

Twitter 2

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July 2, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Shaviro: Taxing Potential Community Members' Foreign Source Income

Daniel Shaviro (NYU), Taxing Potential Community Members' Foreign Source Income:

Recent years have witnessed rising debate, on both sides of the Atlantic, regarding how to define the category of individuals whom a given country classifies as domestic taxpayers, and who thus may be taxable on their foreign source income (FSI) even if they live abroad. While the United States rules focus distinctively on citizenship, the broader issue is better viewed as pertaining to the taxation of “potential community members” (PCMs) – that is, all those who plausibly might be viewed as members of the home community.

This paper makes two main points regarding the taxation of PCMs on their FSI. First, the issues turn in large part on drawing a distinction between “us” and “them” – that is, between people whom we classify as members of the home community, and thus whose welfare we care about, and those whom we classify as normatively irrelevant (or less relevant) outsiders. While such a distinction is inevitable in a world with separate national governments, conventional tax policy and public economics tools shed little direct light on how one might operationalize it.

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July 2, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bloomberg: Is It Time To Start Shutting Down Law Schools?

Going Out of BusinessBloomberg, Is It Time to Start Shutting Down Law Schools?:

This month, the American Bar Association provisionally accredited a new law school at Concordia University. More than 200 law schools are accredited in the U.S. An analysis of data from the ABA itself raises the question whether that list should be getting any longer. 

Law schools exist for a lot of reasons, but a pretty important one is to prepare people to be lawyers. By that standard, a large handful of institutions seem to be failing. Last year, 10 law schools were unable to place more than 30 percent of their graduating class in permanent jobs that required passing the bar, according to ABA data. Those job numbers don't include positions that schools fund for their graduates or people who say they are starting their own practice.

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July 2, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Morriss: BEPS, FATCA & EU Tax Harmonization: Seeing The Taxman

Andrew P. Morriss (Dean, Texas A&M), Seeing Like A Taxman:

The world of international financial regulation and taxation is in turmoil. New initiatives from the United States, the OECD and the European Union seek to reign in tax avoidance and evasion through a wide array of measures. These include the US FATCA, the OECD's base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) initiative, and EU tax harmonization measures. As Richard Gordon and I have argued elsewhere, these measures were generally adopted without regard to whether the benefits they might yield in revenue collection are worth the costs they impose [Moving Money: International Financial Flows, Taxes, & Money Laundering, 35 Hastings Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. (2014)]. Why then do they continue to appear?

Scott 3One advantage academics have in such circumstances is to bring to bear ideas from outside a narrow field that can help make sense of events by providing a framework for analysis. Two books by James C. Scott, a political scientist and anthropologist at Yale, offer a perspective on anti-avoidance and anti-evasion measures that can suggest where things might be headed. In Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (Yale 1998), Scott drew on his work in Southeast Asia to analyze why many ambitious development projects failed. In The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (Yale 2009), he looked at the history of upland people who avoided incorporation into pre-colonial and colonial states by running away. We can use Scott's analysis as an opportunity to re- think how governments are approaching tax avoidance and tax evasion. In doing so, I am stretching Scott's analysis well beyond where he deployed it. Nonetheless, the analogy between Southeast Asian societies and modern tax avoidance and evasion is a powerful one.

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July 2, 2015 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Rethinking Measures Of Quality And Value In The U.S. News Law School Rankings

2016 U.S. News RankingsChristopher J. Ryan (Vanderbilt), Crunching the Numbers: Rethinking Measures of Quality and Value in National Law School Rankings:

Rankings have become an important, if not essential, element of the law school environment since U.S. News & World Report (“U.S. News”) first began publishing law school rankings in 1987. Since the rankings’ first publication, a new fixation on standings took hold of pre-law school consumers, as well as legal academe, coinciding with a historic rise in law school applicants, students, and graduates.However, in the wake of the Great Recession, since 2013, the law school luster has dulled, due in part to increased concern over increasing tuition and student debt, concurrent with diminishing prospects of employment upon graduation. As these disturbing trends illustrate, both the legal profession and legal education are at a crossroads. Still — and perhaps because of legal education has historically been slow to evolve — the U.S. News rankings are an important, if not essential, element of the new law school environment. While several alternative rankings have begun to gain traction in recent years, for better or for worse, the U.S. News ranking has become the “gold standard of the ranking business,” as well as a proxy for determining a law school’s quality and value.

Good ranking systems help consumers of information determine quality and value; however, many have attacked the U.S. News methodology — whose quality assessment, a survey of scholars and lawyers for their ranking of an institution’s reputation, accounts for 40%, whose measures of selectivity comprising 25%, and whose measures of student and faculty diversity account for 0% of a law school’s total score — and its standard of law school rankings as both a product and a source of stagnation in legal education (Arewa, et al., 2013 [Enduring Hierarchies in Legal Education, 89 Ind. L.J. 941]; Morris & Henderson, 2008 [Measuring Outcomes: Post-Graduation Measures of Success in the U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings, 83 Ind. L.J. 791]; Black & Caron, 2006 [Ranking Law Schools: Using SSRN to Measure Scholarly Performance, 81 Ind. L.J. 83]). New measures assessing institutional quality and value, as well as diversity, can and should be developed to address the relevancy of legal education in the 21st Century.

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July 2, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weidner: Capital Accounts In LLCs And Partnerships

Donald J. Weidner (Dean, Florida State), Capital Accounts in LLCs and in Partnerships: Powerful Default Rules and Potential Tax Significance, 14 Fla. St. U. Bus. Rev. 1 (2015):

Balance sheets for limited liability companies and for partnerships differ from corporate balance sheets in one important respect. Accounting for these alternative forms traditionally includes a separate equity account, or “capital account,” for each owner. Accounting practice and case law suggest that, at least as a default rule or norm, these accounts guide distributions on liquidation or buyout, and, if negative, may also reflect debts to the firm. Indeed, the statutory default rule of partnership law in most states requires that individual capital accounts be maintained and given economic significance on liquidation or buyout. Although the statutory law of LLCs does not contain these default rules, partnership law provides analogy. Furthermore, the federal income tax rules that apply both to partnerships and to most multi-member LLCs closely examine the maintenance and significance of capital accounts to determine the validity of special allocations of tax benefits. Finally, capital accounts analysis also sharpens the understanding of the economic arrangement of the owners, particularly with respect to how and to what extent they have agreed to share different items of loss.

July 2, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Three Rules for Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers

ThreeMichael D. Cicchini, Three Rules for Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers, 34 Miss. C. L. Rev. 1 (2015):

Legal education reform is currently a hot topic. The most promising ideas involve elevating skills-based training from its current sideshow status (where it is taught by adjunct and clinical instructors) to a meaningful and integral part of the mainstream curriculum. This type of skills-based reform, however, not only faces some practical roadblocks, but also it glosses over legal education’s deeper, more fundamental problem: the failure to adequately train students in the underlying substantive and procedural law. To address this more immediate issue, this Essay recommends three basic rules for reform.

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July 2, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 784

IRS Logo 2World, Investigators Find Proof IRS Destroyed Evidence in Targeting Scandal:

Two Treasury Department inspectors general revealed last week someone erased computer evidence during the investigation into the IRS targeting scandal—months after the agency was ordered to preserve the documents.

Timothy Camus and J. Russell George made the disclosure during a Thursday hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. They said 422 backup tapes were destroyed and about 24,000 emails were lost in March 2014, the same month IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told Congress the agency was fully complying with the investigation.

The controversy revolves around Lois Lerner, former head of the IRS tax-exempt division, who acknowledged in 2013 her department improperly singled out conservative groups for extra scrutiny. Investigators discovered her computer crashed in 2011, and government IT specialists were unable to detect why. Camus and George said Lerner borrowed multiple computers on loan and deleted thousands of emails. ...

Despite a subpoena order to provide documents, IRS employees working night shifts demagnetized the contents of Lerner’s’ computers, according to the inspectors general. They said Koskinen failed to inform the employees about the May 2013 subpoena order to preserve the documents.

Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., suggested Koskinen committed a crime by lying to Congress about the availability of the emails. He said Americans are “sick and tired of being snookered” by the government.

“I urge you to hold these people accountable,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the committee. He and other Republicans called the ongoing IRS scandal worse than Watergate.

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July 2, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Palfrey: BiblioTech — Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever In The Age Of Google

PalfreyJohn Palfrey (Head of School, Phillips Academy; former Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law & Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources, Harvard Law School), BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google (May 2015):

Libraries today are more important than ever. More than just book repositories, libraries can become bulwarks against some of the most crucial challenges of our age: unequal access to education, jobs, and information.

In BiblioTech, educator and technology expert John Palfrey argues that anyone seeking to participate in the 21st century needs to understand how to find and use the vast stores of information available online. And libraries, which play a crucial role in making these skills and information available, are at risk. In order to survive our rapidly modernizing world and dwindling government funding, libraries must make the transition to a digital future as soon as possible—by digitizing print material and ensuring that born-digital material is publicly available online.

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July 1, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Are Academic Law Libraries Doomed?

Law LibraryYesJames Milles (SUNY-Buffalo), Legal Education in Crisis, and Why Law Libraries are Doomed, 106 Law Libr. J. 507 (2014):

The dual crises facing legal education - the economic crisis affecting both the job market and the pool of law school applicants, and the crisis of confidence in the ability of law schools and the ABA accreditation process to meet the needs of lawyers or society at large - have undermined the case for not only the autonomy, but the very existence, of law school libraries as we have known them. Legal education in the United States is about to undergo a long-term contraction, and law libraries will be among the first to go. A few law schools may abandon the traditional law library completely. Some law schools will see their libraries whittled away bit by bit as they attempt to answer “the Yirka Question” in the face of shrinking resources, reexamined priorities, and university centralization. What choices individual schools make will largely be driven by how they play the status game.

NoKenneth J. Hirsh (Cincinnati), Like Mark Twain: The Death of Academic Law Libraries Is an Exaggeration, 106 Law Libr. J. 521 (2014):

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July 1, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Pittsburgh Tax Review Publishes New Issue

Pittsburgh Tax Review The Pittsburgh Tax Review has published Vol. 12, No. 1 (Fall 2014):

July 1, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nobel Laureate: Replace Student Evaluations With Best Practices

BestChronicle of Higher Education, Amid Criticism of Student Evaluations, Nobel Laureate Offers Alternative:

The list of complaints about how colleges conduct course evaluations is long and seems to keep getting longer. A survey released last week of thousands of professors by the American Association of University Professors found that student evaluations are losing much of the value they once had. Earlier research already showed that student evaluations failed to adequately describe teaching quality, and often reflected judgments about an instructor’s appearance. But if not student evaluations, what should colleges use to judge the effectiveness of teaching?

Carl E. Wieman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, says he may have found an answer. In a paper published recently in Change magazine, Mr. Wieman suggests another form of evaluation: judging professors based on an inventory of their teaching practices. The ultimate measure of teaching quality, he argues, is the extent to which professors use practices associated with better student outcomes.

"It may seem surprising to evaluate the quality of teaching by looking only at the practices used by an instructor," Mr. Wieman wrote in the paper. But he said research over the past few decades had established a correlation between the teaching methods used and the amount of student learning.

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July 1, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (3)

Jeb Bush Releases 33 Years Of Tax Returns

Bush

Jeb Bush yesterday released 33 years of tax returns, more than any presidential candidate in history. 

Jeb 2
According to a letter from former IRS Chief Counsel Hap Shashy, the head of King & Spalding's Tax Practice Group, Governor Bush paid an effective tax rate of 36% over those years (summary).

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July 1, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

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July 1, 2015 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

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July 1, 2015 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 783

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

NYU Tax Law Review Publishes New Issue

NYU Law (2014)The Tax Law Review has published a new issue (Vol. 68, No. 1 (Fall 2014)):

June 30, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call For Estate Planning Papers: ACTEC Law Journal

ACTECCall For Papers:  ACTEC Law Journal:

Estate Planning In the 21st Century:  Seismic Shifts and Predictions for the Future

The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel announces a Call For Papers on the following topics:

Estate planning has radically changed in the last several decades.   Statutes such as the Uniform Probate Code and the Uniform Parentage Act altered the presumptive definitions of such terms as "children" and "descendants" to include a much broader range of beneficiaries, including adoptees, out-of-wedlock children, and in some cases foster children and stepchildren.  Some children may now inherit from more than two parents.  Very recent changes have broadened those allowed to marry and thus inherit in intestacy from each other.  The assets dealt with by estate planners have transformed dramatically, with the rise in the acceptance of non-probate forms of title, digital assets, etc.  Perpetual trusts, once allowed only for charities, now exist for families, with attendant issues such as decanting, virtual representation, and non-judicial trust modification.  Advance health care directives have become a common tool in the estate planner's box, and in a few states estate planners may deal with clients opting for physician aid in dying.  Papers will address ways in which estate planning has transformed in the last 20, 30 or 40 years, and how it may continue to change over a comparable time in the future. 

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June 30, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Avi-Yonah: The International Tax Regime — A Centennial Reconsideration

Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan), The International Tax Regime: A Centennial Reconsideration:

The international tax regime is almost a hundred years old. The two principles it is based on (the benefits principle and the single tax principle) were developed in the 1920s and 1930s. The regime functioned reasonable well until the 1980s, where globalization led to tax competition that undermined its principles. As the OECD is reconsidering the regime in the context of the BEPS and MAATM projects, now is a good time to rethink the fundamentals. Upon reconsideration, it is clear that the regime cannot function without multilateral consensus, and that such consensus is easier to achieve among source countries in the case of passive income and residence countries in the case of active income. This, in turn, suggests that the priorities underlying the benefits principle need to be reversed.

June 30, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reynolds Reviews Barton's The Decline And Rebirth Of The Legal Profession

GlassFollowing up on my previous post:  Glenn Reynolds reviews the new book by Benjamin H. Barton (Tennessee), Glass Half Full: The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession (Oxford University Press, June 15, 2015), in USA Today, Are Happier Lawyers, Cheaper Legal Fees on the Horizon?:

Barton notes that high-end law firms are being squeezed by much-greater client sensitivity to costs, and by technology that lets one junior attorney do the work of ten when reviewing documents. (Increased efficiency isn't a plus when you bill by the hour.) Likewise, lawyers at the bottom end are being squeezed by online legal form services like LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer. Still, he sees some upsides for lawyers and clients alike.

For lawyers, he sees incomes falling to the more-modest levels that prevailed before the 1980-2000 legal boom. Lower incomes are bad, of course, but it's also true that prior to the boom, lawyers were happier with their work. Crushing workloads, dog-eat-dog firm politics and fickle clients made the boom time much more stressful. The move to billing arrangements that focus on results, not hours worked, saves clients money, but it also changes the way lawyers work, probably for the better.

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June 30, 2015 in Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Tax Lawyer Publishes New Issue

The Tax Lawyer (2013)The Tax Lawyer has published Vol. 68, No. 3 (Spring 2015):

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June 30, 2015 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jury Rejects Unsuccessful Conservative Faculty Candidate's Discrimination Suit Against University of Iowa Law School

WagnerFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Iowa Press-Citizen, Jury Rejects Conservative's Bias Suit Against UI Dean:

The former dean of the University of Iowa law school didn't commit illegal political discrimination when she passed over a conservative lawyer for teaching jobs, a jury ruled Monday.

After a six-day trial, a federal jury in Davenport rejected Teresa Manning's assertion that then-Dean Carolyn Jones rejected her for the faculty because of Manning's political beliefs and associations. ...

A UI law graduate, Manning had moved back to Iowa from Washington to work as associate director of the law school's writing center when she was one of three finalists for two job openings in 2007. She had previously taught writing at George Mason University law school. But after she gave a talk to faculty members as part of the hiring process, the faculty recommended that Jones hire another finalist who was a self-described liberal and not fill the second opening.

Jones went along with those recommendations even though an associate dean had warned her in an email that he worried professors were blocking Manning "because they so despise her politics (and especially her activism about it)."

Several professors disputed that, testifying that Manning essentially disqualified herself during the interview. They said that Manning responded to a question by saying that she wouldn't teach analysis — a key part of the job — and would focus on writing. Manning argued that claim was bogus and fabricated to justify discrimination.

Manning claimed that the opposition to her appointment was driven by Professor Randall Bezanson, who helped draft the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in 1973 while he was a clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun. At the time, the 50-member faculty included 46 registered Democrats. Since then, the faculty has become at least slightly more politically diverse. ...

Her book, tentatively titled, "Academic Injustices: One woman's fight against bias in higher education and the law," is scheduled for release in January, Encounter Books president Roger Kimball said. He said her story was "worth telling" regardless of how the trial came out.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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June 30, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

New 'Gainful Employment' Rule Spells Trouble For For-Profit Law Schools (And Would For 50 Non-Profit Law Schools)

American Lawyer LogoAmerican Lawyer:  New Rule Spells Trouble for For-Profit Law Schools, by Matt Leichter:

Advocates for student debtors chalked up a victory in May, when a New York federal judge dismissed a challenge to the U.S. Department of Education's "gainful employment rule." The rule, slated to go into effect next month, will limit for-profit colleges' access to federal student loans on the basis of their graduates' incomes and debts. The Obama administration enacted the rule to curb what it perceives as abuses by the for-profits—namely, enrolling students with a low likelihood of success and encouraging them to borrow large sums. Graduates often cannot find suitable work for their credentials and remain shackled to their loans. Or they default without any consequences to their schools. ...

Most ABA-accredited law schools will hardly suffer any effects. Only six law schools are run for profit, and one of them, Charleston School of Law, is already teetering. The remaining 200 are either private nonprofits or public institutions, so the rule won't apply to them at all, even though many of them arguably serve their students no better than the for-profits the gainful employment rule means to target.

Those six for-profits law schools, though, will be in trouble because they rely substantially on federal student loans. ... For the six for-profit law schools, the question is how much an average graduate would need to earn for the schools to keep or lose their federal student loan eligibility. For most of the schools, the number is quite high. Here is a table showing the average debt disbursed to 2014 law school graduates at the six schools, using a 20-year repayment plan—which is what the rule requires of professional and doctoral programs—and assuming a 7 percent interest rate. The source is U.S. News and World Report's annual graduate debt rankings.

Using this table, it's fairly simple to apply the rule. The two annual income columns show the minimum average earnings graduates would need to either pass or stay "in the zone." The same goes for the two columns on the far right, which show the minimum discretionary incomes.

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June 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 782

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  IRS Won't Release Lois Lerner Emails -- Because They Might Be Duplicates, by Robert W. Wood:

Eureka! The IRS says it may have found 6,400 more emails from Lois Lerner. What do they say? Who are they targeting? We don’t know, as the IRS says it won’t release them. The reason?

This is a good one. Not only the IRS, but the Obama Justice Department is weighing in on this. We need to be sure we have not already released these emails, they say. After all, they might be duplicates. We don’t even want members of Congress to see these until we can determine if we already provided them. ...

Of course, the IRS said in 2014 (a little late?) that Ms. Lerner’s computer crashed in 2011. Oops, no one’s fault that we lost a few years’ worth of emails. We kept being reminded how hard the IRS looked and how terribly expensive it was that the IRS had to do this. But the inspector general found about 35,000 emails from recycled back-up tapes.

It then turned out that the key IRS IT people weren’t even asked to look at back up tapes. Isn’t this a little insulting? The IRS’s admission that it couldn’t find Lerner’s emails reinvigorated congressional investigations into the IRS. Of course, the IRS sort of apologized in May 2013 for singling out Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status. But the seeming cover-up doesn’t exactly seem sorry.

One email from former IRS firebrand Lois Lerner is particularly revealing. Sure, she said she did nothing wrong, she was the victim, and she still took the Fifth. But in February 2012, she wanted to “put together some training points to help them [IRS staffers] understand the potential pitfalls” of revealing too much information to Congress. This is the IRS version of don’t tell. You might have assumed that retired but officially silent Lois Lerner–who ran a key IRS division–might face charges.

Congress found her in contempt after she professed her innocence, and thereafter took the Fifth. Much later, she broke her silence to Politico, saying she did nothing wrong, claiming that she was the victim. The U.S. Attorney’s Office was supposedly considering prosecution, but now it announced she is off the hook and will not be charged with contempt. So said a seven-page letter the U.S. Attorney–on his last day in office–sent to Speaker John A. Boehner with the news and its rationale.

Wouldn’t some answers be nice? There is arguably no part of the government more important than our tax system. Our country cannot exist without it. Our tax code and how we administer it could be improved. Yet it is still a system with integrity, one that is administered mostly on the honor system. IRS employees deserve better than the black eye they are getting over this mess. American taxpayers deserve better too.

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June 30, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Bezos, Jobs & Musk: Must Visionary Leaders Be Cruel To Their Employees?

LogosNew York Times, The Bad Behavior of Visionary Leaders:

As I was reading Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk: Tesla, Space X and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, I was alternately awed and disheartened, almost exactly the same ambivalence I felt after reading Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs and Brad Stone’s The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.

The three leaders are arguably the most extraordinary business visionaries of our times. Each of them has introduced unique products that changed – or in Mr. Musk’s case, have huge potential to change – the way we live.

I was awed by the innovative, courageous, persistent and creative ways all three built their businesses. I also love their products. I own a Mac Pro and an iPhone, and I have been a loyal customer of Apple for 20 years. I buy many books and other products on Amazon, lured by a blend of low prices, ease of purchase and reliably quick delivery. The Tesla X is hands down the best car I have ever driven, and it’s all electric, rechargeable in your garage.

Plainly, I have bought in to what these guys are selling.

What disheartens me is how little care and appreciation any of them give (or in Mr. Jobs’s case, gave) to hard-working and loyal employees, and how unnecessarily cruel and demeaning they could be to the people who helped make their dreams come true. ...

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June 29, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

2015 Brophy Law School Rankings: Median LSAT, Full-Time J.D.-Required Jobs, And Law Review Citations

Alfred L. Brophy (North Carolina), Ranking Law Schools, 2015: Student Aptitude, Employment, and Law Review Citations (more here):

This essay builds on a paper released last year that ranked law schools on three variables: the median LSAT of entering students of the most recent class, the most recently available employment outcome for each school’s graduates, and citations to each school’s main law reviews over the past eight years. This paper updates that study with LSAT median data for the class entering in fall 2014, employment data for the class graduating in 2014 ten months after graduation, and the most recent law review citation data for 2007 through 2014. It studies 195 ABA approved law schools.

In addition to using more recent data, this study changes the method of combining those data. Where the last paper used simple ranks for each variable and averaged them, this study has a more granular approach to the data. It converts each school’s median LSAT score and the percentage of students employed in full-time, permanent, JD-required jobs ten months after graduation (excluding school-funded positions and solo practitioners) to standard scores. In addition, given the dramatic differences in number of law review citations among schools, it employs a common log transformation of law review citations and then converts the transformed scores to standard scores. The paper combines the first two scores to provide a two-variable ranking, and then combines all three variables to provide a three-variable ranking. The paper reports average scores for the three-variable ranking, thus permitting examination of how close schools are to each other. It also ranks the 195 ABA-approved law schools in the United States (excluding the three schools in Puerto Rico) that U.S. News included in its rankings released in March 2015. And it compares the new, two- and three- variable rankings to the U.S. News provided ranks in March 2015. It identifies the schools that improve and decline the most with the new rankings.

Here are the Top 25:

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June 29, 2015 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

ABA: The Most LGBT-Friendly Law Schools

WhiteABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, LGBT-Friendly Law Schools:

Most law schools are LGBT-friendly. Some law schools, however, are going an extra step further to be more inclusive of LGBT students. These law schools have established associations and forums designed to enhance educational opportunities for  LGBT students:

June 29, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

University of Cincinnati President Turns Down $200,000 Bonus, Gives Money To Charities, Slain Police Officer's Family

OnoHuffington Post, College President Turns Down $200,000 Bonus, Gives Money To Charities:

University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono has rejected his annual bonus, asking for the money to instead be donated to charities and scholarships, WCPO reported. Ono has also turned down a raise in his base salary.

"This may sound crazy, but it's hard for us when someone turns down a raise," University Board President Tom Humes told the news outlet. "But we've learned that the way to satisfy President Ono is to give him the ability to help others.”

Since becoming president in 2012, Ono has not accepted his yearly bonus. This year, the $200,000 bonus will be divided among 14 organizations and scholarships, according to WCPO, including the university’s LGBTQ center, a local STEM high school, and GEN-1 House, a program for first-generation college students.

The president will also give $10,000 from the bonus money to the family of Sonny Kim, a police officer killed in a shootout last Friday, Cincinnati.com reported. Ono has also offered full tuition to UC to the three sons of fallen officer. While, according to the news site, the Ohio Revised Code requires state universities to pay up to four years of tuition to the children of police officers who die in duty, the university will further cover full room and board should they attend, Ono wrote on Twitter.

(Hat Tip: Francine Lipman.)

June 29, 2015 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (4)