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Friday, March 27, 2015

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

Minnesota Hosts Symposium Today on Reforming the IRS

Minnesota LogoMinnesota hosts a Tax Policy Symposium today on Reforming the IRS:

Congress asks the IRS to handle a variety of government functions—not just collecting taxes, but also implementing the Affordable Care Act, monitoring the activities of tax-exempt organizations, and administering refundable tax credits designed to accomplish various social welfare goals, among other myriad tasks. Even beyond the controversy over its scrutiny of conservative political organizations, the IRS faces criticism for its handling of many of its congressionally-assigned functions, from its declining ability to handle routine taxpayer phone calls to its efforts to address fraud in the Earned Income Tax Credit program. Meanwhile, Congress has reduced the IRS’s budget, making it difficult for the IRS to accomplish all of its myriad tasks successfully. But even if Congress gave the IRS better funding, could the IRS accomplish all that Congress asks of it effectively? Or has the IRS reached a point institutionally at which it simply cannot do its many jobs well, irrespective of the funding that Congress provides? If it cannot, then what might IRS reform look like? [The symposium papers will be published in the Spring 2016 issue of the Columbia Journal of Tax Law.]

Keynote Address:   Nina Olson (National Taxpayer Advocate), The IRS and Taxpayer Trust: Recent Research on Promoting Compliance

Panel #1:

  • Steve Johnson (Florida State), Law From the Sublime to the Ridiculous and Most Things in Between: Options for Tax Administration in an Era of Growing Responsibilities for Shrinking Budgets
  • Leandra Lederman (Indiana), Does the IRS Need Further Reform? 
  • Commenters:  Andy Grewal (Iowa), Joe Thorndike (Tax Analysts)
  • Moderator:  Morgan Holcomb (Hamline)

Panel #2:

  • Lloyd Mayer (Notre Dame), The Better Part of Valour is Discretion: Should the IRS Surrender Its Oversight of Tax-Exempt Organizations?
  • Amy Monahan (Minnesota), The IRS as Health Care Agency
  • Commenters:  Paul Caron (Pepperdine), Chris Walker (Ohio State)
  • Moderator:  Claire Hill (Minnesota)

Panel #3:

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March 27, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Taxation of Entertainers, Athletes, and Artists

ABALionel Sobel, Taxation of Entertainers, Athletes, and Artists (ABA Press, 2015):

As entertainers, athletes, and artists are often treated differently by the public, tax law also distinguishes between them and people who earn their living in more traditional ways. Their unique forms and sources of income; where the income is earned; and the sometimes uncertain ways that it is compensated require careful understanding and special handling

Taxation of Entertainers, Athletes, and Artists discusses the complex issues affecting the income taxation of these professionals. In this clearly written book, author Lionel S. Sobel provides numerous examples, calculations, charts and graphs to illustrate the material. He explains how taxation affects them in two sections:

Part I: U.S. domestic taxation policies and procedures, addressing how the United States taxes income earned in the United States by entertainers, athletes and artists who are United States citizens and resident aliens.

Part II: International taxation, covering the way that the United States taxes income earned in the U.S. by entertainers, athletes, and artists who are nonresident aliens, and how other countries tax income in those countries when these performers and artists are U.S. citizens and U.S.-resident aliens. This part also considers how the U.S. has provided some tax relief for those of its citizens and resident aliens who pay tax in other countries.

March 26, 2015 in ABA Tax Section, Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kahn & Kahn: The Agency Exception to the Anticipatory Assignment of Income Doctrine

Douglas A. Kahn (Michigan) & Jeffrey H. Kahn (Florida State), The Agency Exception to the Anticipatory Assignment of Income Doctrine:

One consequence of having graduated income tax rates is that it becomes advantageous to shift income from a high bracket taxpayer to a person in a lower tax bracket. A number of different vehicles have been tried to shift the incidence of the income tax to another person, and the courts and Congress have adopted a number of rules to prevent that from occurring. As early as 1930, the Supreme Court adopted the anticipatory assignment of income doctrine to prevent a person who anticipates earning income from his services from shifting that income to another person in a lower tax bracket. Income is taxed to the person whose services produced it rather than to the person who has the beneficial right to possess the income once it is earned.

This article discusses the tax treatment of an employee whose services create income for his employer. The anticipatory assignment of income doctrine does not apply in these circumstances under the so-called agency exception. This article explains the policy justification of the agency exception and uses examples to help illustrate when and when not the agency exception should apply.

March 26, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Galle: In Praise of Ex Ante Regulation

Brian D. Galle (Boston College; moving to Georgetown), In Praise of Ex Ante Regulation, 68 Vand. L. Rev. ___ (2015):

Timing is an important consideration in regulatory design. Corrective taxes are usually imposed before or contemporaneously with the harmful activity they are aimed at preventing, while tort awards are assessed ex post, in its aftermath. Patents and research grants both can encourage innovation, but patents pay off only after the invention is marketed. In a world of perfect information, fully rational actors, and complete credit or insurance markets, time would not matter. In the real world, though, the failure of one or more of these assumptions can change dramatically the impact of a regulatory option. For example, prior commentators have largely favored ex post incentives on the ground that government has much better information after the regulated activity is complete.

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March 26, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 1 Call for Papers Deadline: IFA International Tax Symposium

IFAThe International Fiscal Association has issued a Call for Papers for the Second International Tax Research Symposium in Basel, Switzerland:

We are pleased to announce the call for papers for the Second International Tax Research Symposium held in conjunction with the 69th Congress of the International Fiscal Association in Basel, Switzerland (August 30 to September 3, 2015). After the success of the first International Tax Research Symposium held during the IFA Congress in Boston in 2012 we are delighted to invite you for the Second International Tax Research Symposium in Basel. The International Tax Research Symposium aims to provide a platform for international scholars in international taxation. The Second IFA International Tax Symposium will be held on Sunday, August 30, 2015 (afternoon) in Basel and is supported by the International Fiscal Association. 

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March 26, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Schön Presents Neutrality and Territoriality in European Tax Law Today at Penn

SchoenWolfgang Schön (Max Planck) presents Neutrality and Territoriality: Competing or Converging Concepts in European Tax Law? at Pennylvania today as part of its Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series hosted by Chris William Sanchirico and Reed Shuldiner:

This article presents an analysis of the ECJ case law on the interaction between the fundamental freedoms and national tax systems. It pleads for a strict application of a unilateral neutrality principle based on non‐discrimination and rejects those strands of the judicature which apply an overall perspective to the taxation of cross‐border events by two (or more) involved states. The article criticizes the emerging trend in the ECJ’s jurisprudence to stress the territorial demarcation of Member States’ taxing rights and supports a sophisticated application of the concept of “coherence” in order to reconcile the requirements of neutrality with the territorial limitations of taxing power.

March 25, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kirsch, Schneider Debate Citizenship-Based Taxation v. Residence-Based Taxation

ACAThe American Citizens Abroad Global Foundation has released a new video aimed at breaking down the merits of Residence-based taxation in a clear and simple way for key decision makers and the public:  21st Century Taxation of Americans Abroad: Citizenship-based Taxation vs. Residence-based Taxation

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March 25, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Milne & Miller: Taxation's Troubling Toxicity

Toxic 2Janet E. Milne (Vermont) & Jack Miller (Vermont), Taxation's Troubling Toxicity:

Occupy Wall Street spurred cries of indignation, including calls to reform the tax code. This article examines the difficulty of raising taxes in the United States at a time when the federal government faces many needs and new taxes could help address the growing income disparity. In Part 1, it looks at several trends — the substantial federal deficit and rising debt, the lack of funding for infrastructure, and increasing income disparity among US residents — to establish the premise that resistance to higher taxes is troublesome. The article then turns to the question why taxes are viewed negatively. It surveys literature about the general public’s attitudes toward taxation (Part 2) and the intensely political views of taxation on and surrounding Capitol Hill (Part 3).

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March 25, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

SSRN Tax Faculty 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 March 1, 2015) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

 

 

All-Time

 

Recent

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

44,099

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

6297

2

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

28,037

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

5609

3

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)

26,121

Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)

4033

4

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

23,640

Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)

3038

5

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

21,971

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

2862

6

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

20,609

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

2836

7

James Hines (Michigan)

20,442

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2216

8

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

19.665

Omri Marian (Florida)

1926

9

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

19,417

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

1738

10

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

17,702

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

1703

11

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

17,026

David Gamage (UC-Berkeley)

1651

12

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

15,657

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1548

13

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

15.616

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

1522

14

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

15,140

DIck Harvey (Villanova)

1499

15

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

15,076

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

1479

16

David Weisbach (Chicago)

14,909

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

1474

17

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

14,848

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

1452

18

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

14,714

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

1289

19

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

14,686

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1285

20

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

14,421

William Byrnes (T. Jefferson)

1276

21

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

14,301

James Hines (Michigan)

1251

22

David Walker (BU)

14,160

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

1208

23

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

12,926

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

1155

24

Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)

12,686

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

1131

25

Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)

11,968

Christopher Hoyt (UMKC)

1083

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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March 25, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Faherty Student Tax Writing Competition -- $3,000 First Prize

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Osofsky Presents The Case for Categorical Nonenforcement Today at NYU

Osofsky (2015)Leigh Osofsky (Miami) presents The Case for Categorical Nonenforcement at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Viard:

Executive nonenforcement of the law is a hot-button issue. An important question that has surfaced in the debate about such nonenforcement is whether categorical, or complete, prospective nonenforcement of the law is legitimate. A variety of scholars and commentators have suggested that it is not. This Article contests such claims by applying theories of agency legitimacy to the realities of IRS nonenforcement of the tax law. Doing so reveals that in some circumstances categorical nonenforcement may actually increase the legitimacy of the IRS’s nonenforcement. Categorical nonenforcement can serve as a particularly salient means of communicating nonenforcement decisions, which may lead to greater political accountability, increasing the legitimacy of nonenforcement under the political accountability theory of agency legitimacy. Also owing to its ability to make enforcement decisions particularly salient, categorical nonenforcement may yield greater public deliberation, increasing the legitimacy of nonenforcement under the civic republican theory of agency legitimacy. Categorical nonenforcement also can serve as a practical (though perhaps not legally enforceable) means for high-level officials to commit the agency to a policy of nonenforcement, which may increase the legitimacy of nonenforcement under the nonarbitrariness theory of agency legitimacy. Categorical nonenforcement, of course, may not always be legitimacy enhancing, nor does this Article attempt to claim that it is. Rather, this Article fundamentally claims that viewing nonenforcement through the lens of agency legitimacy may help apply core values of democratic governance, which are obscured or missed by the existing analyses, to agencies’ inevitable, systematic nonenforcement of the law.

March 24, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Michael: Taxing Labor Like Capital Would Reduce Income Inequality and Promote Economic Growth

Michael PhotoTaxProf Blog op-ed:  Taxing People Like Shares: How Pro-Labour Tax Simplification Can Help Reduce Income Inequality and Promote Long-Term Economic Growth, by Bryane Michael (Oxford University):

Stagnant wages in the US have contributed largely to income inequality. No wonder given friendlier capital tax rates, compared with labour. Could the much-debated change to the US tax code hold the key to a fairer society? In this brief, I will discuss the economics and ethics of changes to worker taxes. Specifically, I will look at equal taxation of income taxes and capital taxes. I will discuss how other such taxes in places like South Korea have helped achieve social (read macro-ethical) goals. I will also provide estimates of how such taxes would reduce income equality in the US, and their effect on the budget deficit. Its an article about ethics because of the balancing of "good" across political-economic groups.

Figure 2

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March 24, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Polsky Presents Private Equity Tax Games Today at Pepperdine

Polsky (2015)Gregg D. Polsky (North Carolina) presents A Compendium of Private Equity Tax Games at Pepperdine today as part of our Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

This paper will describe and analyze tax strategies, lawful and unlawful, used by private equity firms to minimize taxes. While one strategy — the use of “carried interest” — should by now be well understood by tax practitioners and academics, the others remain far more obscure. In combination, these strategies allow private equity managers to pay preferential tax rates on all of their risky pay (through carried interest), pay preferential tax rates on much of their non-risky pay (through management fee waivers and misallocations of their expense deductions), and push much of the residual non-risky pay down to their funds’ portfolio companies who, unlike the fund, can derive significant tax benefits from the resulting deductions (through monitoring fees and management fee offsets). 

Update:  Post-presentation lunch:

Lunch

March 23, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Denver Is Accepting Submissions For The Emerging Scholar Award

DenverThe Denver University Law Review is accepting submissions for the Emerging Scholar Award:

This exclusive opportunity is for all scholars who have received their J.D. as of March 1, 2015, not yet accepted a tenure-track teaching position, and not held full-time teaching positions for more than three years. The selected recipient will receive an award of $500 and publication in Issue 1, Volume 93, scheduled for early 2016. We will accept submissions for the Emerging Scholar Award from March 23, 2015, until March 30, 2015. Our Articles Committee will review all submitted articles and respond to authors by April 13, 2015.

(Hat Tip: Francine Lipman.)

March 23, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thimmesch: Testing the Models of Tax Compliance: The Use-Tax Experiment

Adam Thimmesch (Nebraska), Testing the Models of Tax Compliance: The Use-Tax Experiment, 2015 Utah L. Rev. ___ :

Researchers in a number of fields have explored the question of why people voluntarily comply with the tax laws. The resulting scholarship suggests that a number of factors influence that decision, but the precise role of, and interaction between, those factors continue to be subjects of debate, and more research is needed. That includes field research to put the current theories to test in real-life settings. This article proposes that state use taxes — known primarily as the taxes that are due when we purchase items online without paying sales taxes — provide a remarkable opportunity for that research. Compliance with those taxes is virtually nonexistent, and most discussions of that issue simply assume that obtaining meaningful levels of voluntary compliance will be impossible. Those assumptions are largely based on rudimentary applications of a basic deterrence model, which relies heavily on audit risk and penalties as motivators of compliance. The modern models of tax compliance, however, offer many different theories with which states could experiment to promote the voluntary payment of those taxes. That experimentation would not only help states to increase their tax collections, but would also help us to obtain a deeper understanding of the very models being applied. The lessons that we learn from those efforts could thus help to inform researchers, the federal government, and governments worldwide regarding how to best encourage voluntary compliance with tax laws more generally. This article begins the process of obtaining those reciprocal benefits by summarizing the current models of tax compliance and by offering concrete examples of how states could use those models within the context of their use-tax systems. The article concludes by exploring the features of state use taxes that make them especially well suited for these efforts.

March 23, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with new papers debuting on the list at #4 and #5:

  1. [351 Downloads]  Why Corporate Tax Reform Can Happen, by Edward Kleinbard (USC)
  2. [198 Downloads]  Cancellation of Debt and Related Transactions, by Douglas A. Kahn (Michigan) & Jeffrey H. Kahn (Florida State)
  3. [194 Downloads]  The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act: American Legal Imperialism?, by Bruce W. Bean (Michigan State) & Abbey Wright Farnsworth
  4. [156 Downloads]  Abusive Tax Avoidance and Institutional Corruption: The Responsibilities of Tax Professionals, by Gillian Brock (Harvard) & Hamish Russell (Toronto)
  5. [137 Downloads]  Recent Developments in Federal Income Taxation: The Year 2014, by Martin J. McMahon Jr. (Florida), Bruce A. McGovern (South Texas) & Ira B. Shepard (Houston)

March 22, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Lindgren: The Most Under-Represented Groups in Law Teaching: Whites, Christians, Republicans, Males

James Lindgren (Northwestern), Measuring Diversity: Law Faculties in 1997 and 2013:

This article is the first careful look at the demographic makeup of law faculties compared to the larger pools of lawyers and the general public. It examines which racial, gender, religious, and political groups were the most under- and overrepresented in 1997 and in 2013 compared to persons of similar ages in larger pools, including the U.S. full-time working population and the U.S. lawyer population.

The data show that in 1997 women and minorities were underrepresented compared to some populations, but Republicans and Christians were usually more underrepresented. For example, by the late 1990s, the proportion of the U.S. population that was neither Republican nor Christian was only 9%, but the majority of law professors (51%) was drawn from that small minority. Further, though women were strongly underrepresented compared to the full-time working population, all of that underrepresentation was among Republican women, who were—and are—almost missing from law teaching.

Table 18

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March 21, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (12)

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

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March 21, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Tulane Hosts 5th Annual Tax Roundtable Today in New Orleans

Tulane (2015)Tulane hosts its 5th Annual Tax Roundtable today:

The Tulane Tax Roundtable brings together tax scholars from around the country, resident Tulane Faculty, and Tulane students for discussion and debate about important tax policy issues of our time. The roundtable showcases the drafts and works-in-progress of its participants and subjects these works to rigorous analysis in a discussant-driven workshop format.

James Alm (Tulane), Using Public Information to Estimate Self-Employment Earnings of Informal Suppliers (with Brian Erard (B. Erard & Associates))
DiscussantSusan C. Morse (Texas)

Steven A. Dean (Brooklyn), SE(c)(3): A Catalyst for Social Enterprise Crowdfunding (with Dana Brakman Reiser (Brooklyn))
Discussant:  Kirk J. Stark (UCLA)

Andrew T. Hayashi (Virginia), Taxing Committed Consumption and the Simple Economics of Paying in Kind
Discussant:  Mirit Eyal-Cohen (Alabama)

Alex Raskolnikov (Columbia), Rational Decisions Under Legal Uncertainty
Discussant:  James Alm (Tulane)

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March 20, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Minnesota Symposium: Reforming the IRS

Minnesota LogoMinnesota hosts a Tax Policy Symposium next Friday, March 27,  on Reforming the IRS:

Congress asks the IRS to handle a variety of government functions—not just collecting taxes, but also implementing the Affordable Care Act, monitoring the activities of tax-exempt organizations, and administering refundable tax credits designed to accomplish various social welfare goals, among other myriad tasks. Even beyond the controversy over its scrutiny of conservative political organizations, the IRS faces criticism for its handling of many of its congressionally-assigned functions, from its declining ability to handle routine taxpayer phone calls to its efforts to address fraud in the Earned Income Tax Credit program. Meanwhile, Congress has reduced the IRS’s budget, making it difficult for the IRS to accomplish all of its myriad tasks successfully. But even if Congress gave the IRS better funding, could the IRS accomplish all that Congress asks of it effectively? Or has the IRS reached a point institutionally at which it simply cannot do its many jobs well, irrespective of the funding that Congress provides? If it cannot, then what might IRS reform look like? [The symposium papers will be published in the Spring 2016 issue of the Columbia Journal of Tax Law.]

Keynote Address:   Nina Olson (National Taxpayer Advocate), The IRS and Taxpayer Trust: Recent Research on Promoting Compliance

Panel #1:

  • Steve Johnson (Florida State), Law From the Sublime to the Ridiculous and Most Things in Between: Options for Tax Administration in an Era of Growing Responsibilities for Shrinking Budgets
  • Leandra Lederman (Indiana), Does the IRS Need Further Reform? 
  • Commenters:  Andy Grewal (Iowa), Joe Thorndike (Tax Analysts)
  • Moderator:  Morgan Holcomb (Hamline)

Panel #2:

  • Lloyd Mayer (Notre Dame), The Better Part of Valour is Discretion: Should the IRS Surrender Its Oversight of Tax-Exempt Organizations?
  • Amy Monahan (Minnesota), The IRS as Health Care Agency
  • Commenters:  Paul Caron (Pepperdine), Chris Walker (Ohio State)
  • Moderator:  Claire Hill (Minnesota)

Panel #3:

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March 20, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Schizer Presents Taxes, Subsidies, and Energy Innovation Today at Northwestern

SchizerDavid M. Schizer (Columbia) presents Taxes, Subsidies, and Energy Innovation at Northwestern today as part of its Tax Colloquium Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

Part I outlines the environmental, national security, and economic goals of our energy subsidies. Part II considers how conflicts among these goals, as well as empirical uncertainty, undermine efforts to pursue them effectively. Part III demonstrates why poorly crafted subsidies increase overall demand for energy, and also require the government to pick winners. This Part also shows that the real problem is not so much using subsidies instead of taxes, but using “proxy” policies in lieu of “results-based” policies. Part IV focuses on “demand reduction” subsidies, analyzing challenges in funding energy efficiency and alternative energy. Part V considers “supply enhancement” strategies, exploring problems with subsidizing oil production. Part VI considers how the traditional tax policy issues of distribution, excess burden, and revenue apply to energy subsidies. Part VII is the conclusion.

March 19, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Singhal Presents Firm Misreporting and Limits to Tax Enforcement Today at UCLA

Singhal (2015)Monica Singhal (Harvard) presents Dodging the Taxman: Firm Misreporting and Limits to Tax Enforcement (with Paul Carrillo (George Washington) & Dina Pomeranz (Harvard)) at UCLA today as part of its Colloquium on Tax Policy and Public Finance hosted by Jason Oh and Alexander Wu:

Reducing tax evasion is a key priority for many governments, particularly in developing countries. A growing literature has argued that the use of third party information to verify taxpayer self-reports is critical for tax enforcement and the growth of state capacity. However, there may be limits to the effectiveness of third party information if taxpayers can substitute misreporting to less verifiable margins. We present a simple framework to demonstrate the conditions under which substitution will occur and provide strong empirical evidence for substitution behavior by exploiting a natural experiment in Ecuador. We find that when firms are notified by the tax authority about detected revenue discrepancies on previously filed corporate income tax returns, they increase reported revenues, matching the third party estimate when provided. Firms also increase reported costs by 96 cents for every dollar of revenue adjustment, resulting in minor increases in total tax collection.

March 19, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sieg Presents Increasing Property Tax Compliance at Penn

SiegHolger Sieg (Pennsylvania) presented An Experimental Evaluation of Strategies to Increase Property Tax Compliance: Free-riding in the City of Brotherly Love at Pennsylvania yesterday as part of its Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series hosted by Chris William Sanchirico and Reed Shuldiner:

This study evaluates a set of notification strategies intended to increase property tax collection. We develop a field experiment in collaboration with the Philadelphia Department of Revenue to test three of the most commonly suggested hypotheses of tax compliance: deterrence, moral appeal, and peer conformity. Our preliminary findings provide evidence that both moral appeal and peer conformity modestly improve tax compliance, while deterrence notifications are no different from standard notifications.

March 19, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bankman, Nass & Slemrod: Using the 'Smart Return' to Reduce Tax Evasion

Joseph Bankman (Stanford), Clifford Nass (Stanford) & Joel Slemrod (Michigan), Using the 'Smart Return' to Reduce Tax Evasion:

Tax evasion costs government over 400 billion dollars a year. We suggest enforcement efforts can be strengthened by redesigning the tax return to take advantage of social psychology research, and industry experience with data-driven systems. To illustrate the potential of this approach, in this paper we propose three categories of changes that merit testing through pilot studies. The first involves changing the wording on existing returns to increase the psychological cost of evasion and increase the perceived expectation of detection. The second builds appeals to morality in the return itself through the use of a short phrase containing a "self-relevant" noun. The third uses on-line "conversational agents" to ask adaptive questions.

March 19, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Chicago Symposium: Grassroots Innovation and Regulatory Adaptation

Chicago Logo 2Symposium, Grassroots Innovation and Regulatory Adaptation, 82 U. Chi. L. Rev. Dialogue 1-115 (2015):

March 19, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Shanske Presents Local Democracy and Financial Knowledge Today at Toronto

Shanske (2015)Darien Shanske (UC-Davis) presents Local Democracy and Financial Knowledge: The Case for a Local Government Finance Commission at Toronto today as part of its James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series:

The financial crisis of 2008 demonstrated that local governments often do not currently have the expertise to use debt wisely, much less the expertise to reform their use of pensions or to design tax systems that can raise more money with less economic distortion. Yet local governments must do all of these things and more, as higher levels of government continue to devolve responsibilities.

This is not to say that there is not useful expertise that could help local governments, just that there is not generally an institution for aggregating this knowledge and making it available to local decisionmakers in a manner consistent with the norms and goals, both political and economic, of local democracy. There are examples of such mediating institutions, such as North Carolina’s Local Government Commission, but their role – and the reasons for their success – have not yet been adequately theorized.

In short, I will argue that a new state‐level institution can succeed in improving local government financing in a manner consistent with preserving local autonomy if its expertise is used in the first instance to design default rules that are both simple and (mostly) correct. Beyond the default rules there is a place for a more fact‐intensive engagement, but in most cases the default rules should provide a workable options or set of options with which a local government can achieve its goals.

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March 18, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Dharmapala Presents Interest Deductions in a Multijurisdictional World Today at Georgetown

Dharmapala (2015)Dhammika Dharmapala (Chicago) presents Interest Deductions in a Multijurisdictional World (with Mihir A. Desai (Harvard)) at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John BrooksItai Grinberg, and David Schizer:

The tax treatment of interest expenses in a multijurisdictional setting raises numerous complexities. This paper catalogs these difficulties and highlights the particular problems associated with efforts to achieve ownership neutrality among multinational corporations (MNCs) when debt financing is available. We argue that the differential deductibility of debt entailed by various current tax law provisions leads in general to potential distortions in the patterns of asset ownership across MNCs, and that various proposed solutions have significant limitations. We suggest several alternative regimes to address both the ownership distortions that we highlight, as well as other well-established problems of income-shifting through debt. These alternative regimes are extensions to a multinational setting of two general approaches to the neutral treatment of interest expenses - the CBIT (comprehensive business income tax) and ACC (allowance for corporate capital). These regimes – a worldwide debt cap (WDC) and a net financing deduction (NFD) – provide solutions to income-shifting and ownership distortions. However, they have the potential disadvantage of restricting other policy parameters.

March 17, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Leff Presents A New Method for Funding Law School Education Today at William & Mary

LeffBenjamin M. Leff (American) presents The Income-Based Repayment Swap: A New Method for Funding Law School Education (with Heather Hughes (American)) at William & Mary today as part of its Faculty Workshop Series:

The high cost of legal education and corresponding student debt levels is a subject of robust debate. Yet too few critics of degree cost show creativity in thinking about the optimal mechanism for funding a legal education. The traditional model for financing a legal education is that students borrow with (mostly) fixed-rate loans repayable soon after graduation. The federal government supplements loans with income-based repayment and loan forgiveness programs to protect students who have borrowed more than they can afford to pay back. The reach of these programs has expanded dramatically in recent years, with the programs covering 1.3 million graduates owing around $72 billion as of the first quarter of 2014, with every indication that those figures will grow dramatically unless the programs are modified. A significant segment of those who depend on income-based repayment and loan forgiveness programs will be law students, because those are among the students with the highest levels of qualifying debt.

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March 17, 2015 in Colloquia, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Barry & Caron: Tax Regulation, Transportation Innovation, and the Sharing Economy

Jordan M. Barry (San Diego) & Paul L. Caron (Pepperdine), Tax Regulation, Transportation Innovation, and the Sharing Economy, 82 U. Chi. L. Rev. Dialogue 69 (2015):

Many emerging companies’ business models center on helping consumers to share assets in new ways. This “sharing economy” has already experienced tremendous growth and attracted considerable investment capital and talent. Yet, as is often the case with economic innovations, existing regulatory structures have hindered the growth of the sharing economy, reducing its popularity and slowing its development.

This Article explores the tension between innovation and regulation, both in general and in a specific context: the intersection of the transportation sector of the sharing economy and the qualified transportation fringe benefit rules of Internal Revenue Code Section 132. We illustrate how regulators’ legitimate concerns combine with the uncertainty surrounding new ways of doing business to create regulatory environments that place new industries at a disadvantage. We also argue that two of the most common approaches that regulators adopt to foster new industries – expanding regulation to encourage new industries and restricting regulation to spur innovation – are both flawed. In tax and other areas of law, these approaches tend to operate cyclically, with each coming into fashion for a time until its flaws are deemed unbearable and it gets replaced by the other. This cycle will continue until someone comes up with a better innovation.

March 17, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Symposium: Legal Education Looking Forward

SHSymposium, Legal Education Looking Forward, 44 Seton Hall L. Rev. 967-1129 (2014) (blogged here):

March 17, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monroe: Rethinking Partnership Distributions

Andrea Monroe (Temple), Taxing Reality: Rethinking Partnership Distributions, 47 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 657 (2014):

Partnerships play an increasingly vital role in the federal income tax. Yet partnership taxation is deeply flawed, with complicated provisions that strain the voluntary compliance mechanism on which all federal income tax relies. This article considers one of the most difficult challenges facing partnership taxation: the treatment of distributions.

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March 17, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Brown: Law School Without Borders

Following up on her op-ed in last Monday's Washington Post, Law Schools Are in a Death SpiralDorothy Brown (Vice Provost and Professor of Law, Emory), Law School Without Borders, 44 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1050 (2014):

LawyersNow that the music has stopped, instead of law schools having more people than seats, we have more seats than people. Accordingly, law schools are shrinking class size to stave off any negative impact on their U.S. News rankings. But shrinking class size means shrinking revenue, so either some part of the budget must be cut, or universities will have to subsidize the deficit in perpetuity—a very unlikely occurrence.

The largest expenditure in most law school budgets is faculty salaries and benefits, so that should be the natural focus of budgetcutting.  But it will not be. While law firms can fire partners, law schools cannot fire tenured law professors easily while remaining open. ...

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March 16, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (7)

Final Day for Proposals: Association for Mid-Career Tax Law Professors

Today is the final day to respond to the Call for Proposals issued by the Association for Mid-Career Tax Law Professors (“AMT”):

Mid-CareerAMT is a recurring conference intended to bring together relatively recently-tenured professors of tax law for scholarly discussion. Our inaugural meeting will be held on Thursday and Friday, June 4 & 5, 2015, on the campus of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. We anticipate that official proceedings will wrap up by noon on June 5. Thanks to the generous support of Law, Finance and Governance @ Ohio State and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, AMT is able to provide attendees with conference meals and refreshments. AMT can commit to ensuring that these meals will not be “lavish or extravagant under the circumstances.” Attendees will be expected to cover their own travel and lodging expenses.

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March 16, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kahn: A Tax Audible: Coaches and Buyouts

Jeffrey H. Kahn (Florida State), A Tax Audible: Coaches and Buyouts, 68 Vand. L. Rev. En Banc ___ (2015):

CHarlie StrongAfter Mack Brown resigned, the University of Texas, a school that has one of the premier football programs in the country, looked to hire a new head football coach. The school set its eyes on Charlie Strong. One roadblock was that Strong was still employed as the head football coach of the University of Louisville. In order to be released, Strong’s contract required a buyout payment from Strong to the University of Louisville for $4.375 million. The typical method of handling this has the new university employer reimburse the coach for the buyout or directly pay the buyout to the old university employer. Under those structures, many schools took the position that such payments were includible in the coach’s income for federal tax purposes. The University of Texas, however, accomplished its desired result in a seemingly unique manner that attempted to avoid the income tax issue. In this article, I will explain that this new structure does not improve the prospects for excluding the payment from the coach’s taxable income. However, this does not mean the buyout payment is taxable to the coach. Instead, I will review two independent policy justifications for not taxing the coach regardless of which structure is used.

March 16, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deborah Jones Merritt: What Happened to the Law School Class of 2010?

Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), What Happened to the Class of 2010? Empirical Evidence of Structural Change in the Legal Profession:

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

Table 4A

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March 16, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (7)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with new papers debuting on the list at #3 and #4:

  1. [336 Downloads]  Why Corporate Tax Reform Can Happen, by Edward Kleinbard (USC)
  2. [223 Downloads]  David Foster Wallace on Tax Policy, How to Be an Adult, and Other Mysteries of the Universe, by Arthur J. Cockfield (Queen's University)
  3. [171 Downloads]  The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act: American Legal Imperialism?, by Bruce W. Bean (Michigan State) & Abbey Wright Farnsworth
  4. [168 Downloads]  Cancellation of Debt and Related Transactions, by Douglas A. Kahn (Michigan) & Jeffrey H. Kahn (Florida State)
  5. [147 Downloads]  Inevitable: Sports Gambling, State Regulation, and the Pursuit of Revenue, by Anastasios Kaburakis (St. Louis), Ryan Rodenberg (Florida State) & John Holden (Florida State)

March 15, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thomas Presents User-Friendly Taxpaying Today at UCLA

Thomas (2015)Kathleen DeLaney Thomas (North Carolina) presents User-Friendly Taxpaying at UCLA today as part of its Colloquium on Tax Policy and Public Finance hosted by Jason Oh and Alexander Wu:

Our income tax system is notoriously complex. The sheer volume of the tax code, along with the technical nature of its provisions, means that many individuals don’t fully understand the tax rules that apply to them. This Article refers to this type of tax complexity as “substantive complexity.” Although many commentators have argued for reforms that would simplify the substance of our tax laws, others have argued that substantive complexity is necessary if we want to tax each person according to his or her individual circumstances.

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March 12, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Columbia Journal of Tax Law's Tax Matters: King v. Burwell

Columbia Journal of Tax Law LogoThe Columbia Journal of Tax Law has published a new issue of its Tax Matters feature, with three short pieces by tax practitioners responding to a specific cutting-edge tax law issue posed by a tax academic. This issue's prompt is by David Gamage (UC-Berkeley):

Once again, the U.S. Supreme Court will be deciding the fate of Obamacare—in the case of King v. Burwell. Also, once again, the future of American healthcare reform will turn on how the Supreme Court reviews a provision of Obamacare that was enacted through the tax code.

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March 12, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Marian Reviews Sanchirico's International Tax and Ownership Nationality

JotwellOmri Marian (Florida), So Who, at the End of the Day, Owns Google (or Apple, or Microsoft, or Pfizer ... )? (Jotwell) (reviewing Chris William Sanchirico (Pennsylvania), As American as Apple Inc.: International Tax and Ownership Nationality, 68 Tax. L. Rev. ___ (2014)):

Clearly, the taxation of “U.S. Companies” plays a major role in public discourse. Roughly speaking, the two sides of the debate can be outlined as follows: U.S. multinational corporations either pay too much (because our tax system is not competitive compared with the rest of the world), or too little (because our tax system is riddled with loopholes). We need to reform our tax system so “U.S. Companies” are at par with their foreign competitors; or, we need to tighten our tax rules so as to make sure that “U.S. Companies” share the burden. While political views differ, the terms of the debate seem clear. Whichever side of the debate one takes, something must be done about how we tax “U.S. companies.”

Sanchirico, however, questions the core terms of the debate: “When we speak of ‘U.S. multinationals,’ what do we mean by ‘U.S.’? More specifically, to what extent are these ‘U.S.’ companies owned by non-U.S. investors?” Sanchirico’s ultimate answer is quite a shocker: we have no idea what we are talking about when we speak of “U.S. Companies,” at least in terms of who owns these companies. ...

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March 12, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Columbia Journal of Tax Law Publishes New Issue

Columbia Journal of Tax Law LogoThe Columbia Journal of Tax Law has published  Vol. 6, No. 1:

March 11, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Yin Presents Protecting Taxpayers from Congressional Lawbreaking Today at NYU

Yin (2015)George K. Yin (Virginia) presents Protecting Taxpayers from Congressional Lawbreaking at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Viard:

This paper describes how the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee broke the law in 2014 when it approved public release of the confidential tax return information of 51 taxpayers. Because the Speech or Debate Clause insulates the legislators and their staff from prosecution if they carry out their violation in the context of a protected legislative act, to prevent a future violation, the paper recommends a new restriction on the access of the tax committees to tax return information.

March 10, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

McIntyre & Simkovic: Lifetime Value of Law Degree Drops Only $30k For Those Who Graduate Into a Poor Economy

Frank McIntyre (Rutgers) & Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall), Timing Law School:

We investigate whether economic conditions at labor market entry have persistent effects on law graduate earnings. We find that unemployment levels at graduation continue to affect law earnings premiums within 4 years after graduation. For law graduates entering the labor market in strong economies, early outcomes are particularly good. However, the effect quickly fades as law graduates gain experience and the impact on lifetime earnings is relatively small. Outcomes data available prior to matriculation do not predict unemployment or starting salaries at graduation. Earnings premiums are not predicted by either cohort size or projected job openings. Even an effective “timing” strategy would likely be outweighed by the opportunity cost of a two-year delay in law school completion.

M&S1

Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), Timing Law School:

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March 10, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Forman & Sabin: Tontine Pensions

Jonathan Barry Forman (Oklahoma) & Michael J. Sabin, Tontine Pensions, 163 U. Pa. L. Rev. 755 (2015):

Tontines are investment vehicles that can be used to provide retirement income. A tontine is a financial product that combines the features of an annuity and a lottery. In a simple tontine, a group of investors pool their money together to buy a portfolio of investments and, as investors die, their shares are forfeited, with the entire fund going to the last surviving investor. Over the years, this “last survivor takes all” approach has made for some great fiction. For example, in an episode of the popular television series M*A*S*H, Colonel Sherman T. Potter, as the last survivor of his World War I unit, got to open the bottle of French cognac that he and his buddies bought (and share it with his Korean War compatriots).

On the other hand, sometimes the fictional plots involved nefarious characters trying to kill off the rest of the investors to “inherit” the fund. Of course, tontines can be designed to avoid such mischief. For example, instead of distributing all of the contributions to the last survivor, a tontine could make periodic distributions. Indeed, tontines could be used to create “tontine annuities” that could be sold to individual investors. These tontine annuities would make periodic distributions to surviving investors, but unlike traditional tontines, tontine annuities would solicit new investors to replace those that have died. Structured in this way, a tontine annuity could operate in perpetuity.

In this Article, we consider how the tontine principle could be used to create “tontine pensions” through which large employers could provide retirement income for their employees. These tontine pensions would have several major advantages over most of today’s pensions, annuities, and other retirement income products.

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March 10, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blank: Reconsidering Corporate Tax Privacy

Joshua D. Blank (NYU), Reconsidering Corporate Tax Privacy, 11 N.Y.U. J. L. & Bus. 31 (2014):

For over a century, politicians, government officials and scholars in the United States have debated whether corporate tax returns, which are currently subject to broad tax privacy protections, should be publicly accessible. The ongoing global discussion of base erosion and profit shifting by multinational corporations has generated calls for greater tax transparency. Throughout this debate, participants have focused exclusively on the potential reactions of a corporation’s managers, shareholders and consumers to a corporation’s disclosure of its own tax return information. There is, however, another perspective: how would the ability of a corporation’s stakeholders and agents to observe other corporations’ tax return information affect the corporation’s compliance with the tax law?

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March 10, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Hellwig Presents The Constitutional Nature of the U.S. Tax Court Today at Indiana

HellwigBrant Hellwig (Dean (as of July 1, 2015), Washington & Lee) presents The Constitutional Nature of the United States Tax Court at Indiana today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium hosted by Leandra Lederman:

Is the United States Tax Court part of the Executive Branch of Government? One would expect that question would be capable of being definitively answered without considerable difficulty. And as recently expressed by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, that indeed is the case. In the course of addressing a challenge to the ability of the President to remove a judge of the Tax Court for cause on separation of powers grounds, the D.C. Circuit rejected the premise that the removal power implicated two branches of government: “The Tax Court exercises Executive authority as part of the Executive Branch.” [Kuretski v. Commissioner]

This article will examine the Kuretski decision, using this case as a vehicle to examine the constitutional nature of the Tax Court.

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

Elizabeth Chamblee Burch, Michael Simkovic Awarded ALI Young Scholars Medals

BurchThe American Law Institute Announces Young Scholars Medal Recipients:

The American Law Institute has announced that the Young Scholars Medal will be awarded this year to two exceptional law professors— Elizabeth Chamblee Burch of the University of Georgia School of Law and Michael Simkovic of Seton Hall University School of Law. The award is presented every other year to one or two outstanding early-career law professors whose work has the potential to influence improvements in the law.

Justice Goodwin Liu of the California Supreme Court, who chairs of the Young Scholars Medal Selection Committee, will present the awards on Monday, May 18, at the ALI Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. "We are extremely proud of this year’s Medal recipients," said Justice Liu. “These two exceptional professors have produced first-rate scholarship that is already having an impact in legal debate and policy. Professor Burch’s work provides an innovative analysis of strategies for solving principal-agent problems in aggregate litigation, and Professor Simkovic's research on consumer finance and credit markets has influenced courts, regulators, fellow researchers, and the United States Congress.”

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

Symposium on The Role of the Associate Dean for Research

Symposium, Perspectives From an Associate Dean: Scholarship and School Visibility, 31 Touro L. Rev. 15-74 (2015):

Patricia Salkin (Dean, Touro), Associate Dean for Research & Scholarship Symposium Offers Perspectives on Engaged Scholarship and the Changing Definition of Scholarly Work:

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