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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Gamage: A Way Forward for Tax Law and Economics?

David Gamage (UC-Berkeley), A Way Forward for Tax Law and Economics? A Response to Osofsky's Frictions, Screening, and Tax Law Design, 61 Buff. L. Rev. 189 (2014):

This Essay responds to Leigh Osofsky's Who’s Naughty and Who’s Nice? Frictions, Screening, and Tax Law Design. Osofsky’s analysis suggests that tax rules might be designed so as to take account both of heterogeneity in taxpayers’ tax planning proclivities and of taxpayer characteristics relevant for distribution. By designing tax rules so as to create frictions that differentially impose higher costs on those taxpayers who are more successfully circumventing existing taxes we can perhaps reform our tax system so as to better achieve equitable distribution at lower efficiency costs. This Essay argues that Osofsky's analysis is generally correct and that it potentially suggests a path toward a more useful law and economics analysis of detailed tax rules.

July 1, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Zelenak: The Almost-Restatement of Income Tax of 1954

Lawrence Zelenak (Duke), The Almost-Restatement of Income Tax of 1954: When Tax Giants Roamed the Earth, 79 Brook. L. Rev. 709 (2014):

This essay describes the ALI’s Income Tax Project of 1948–1954—its origins, goals, drafting process, final product, and influence on Congress. The essay concludes with some thoughts on what role the ALI can and should play today in the tax legislative process. Whether the fault is in the stars or in ourselves (probably both, but with the stars deserving most of the blame), the drafting of a new ALI model income tax statute for the twenty-first century would be an almost insurmountable challenge in technical terms, and probably pointless in political terms. Nevertheless, there remains room for targeted ALI tax interventions, with a Restatement-type approach to the interpretation of the recently-codified economic substance doctrine16 seeming especially promising.

July 1, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yin: The Most Critical Issue Facing Tax Administration Today -- And What to Do About It

George K. Yin (Virginia), The Most Critical Issue Facing Tax Administration Today -- And What to Do About It:

This very brief paper contains the text of the keynote address delivered on June 19, 2014 to a research conference in Washington, DC on Advancing Tax Administration, co-sponsored by the IRS and the Tax Policy Center.

July 1, 2014 in IRS News, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, June 30, 2014

SSRN Tax Professor Rankings

SSRN LogoSSRN has updated its monthly rankings of 750 American and international law school faculties and 3,000 law professors by (among other things) the number of paper downloads from the SSRN database.  Here is the new list (through June 1, 2014) 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 Downloads

 

Recent Downloads

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

38,995

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

6932

2

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

26,070

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

2823

3

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

22,653

D. Dharmapala (Illinois)

2533

4

D. Dharmapala (Illinois)

19,787

Richard Ainsworth (BU) 

2508

5

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

19,782

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

2183

6

James Hines (Michigan)

19,542

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

2030

7

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

18,915

Bridget Crawford (Pace]

1901

8

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

18,678

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

1846

9

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

15,778

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

1832

10

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

15,312

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

1766

11

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

14,797

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

1750

12

David Weisbach (Chicago)

14,084

Omri Marian (Florida)

1738

13

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

14,065

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

1694

14

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

14,046

James Hines (Michigan)

1583

15

David Walker (BU)

13,833

Dick Harvey (Villanova)

1554

16

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

13,592

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

1431

17

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

13,555

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1425

18

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

13,522

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

1401

19

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

13,399

Susan Morse (Texas)

1342

20

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

13,362

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

1268

21

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

12,757

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1266

22

Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)

12,424

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

1260

23

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

11,917

David Gamage (UCBerkeley)

1204

24

Ed McCaffery (USC)

11,667

David Weisbach (Chicago)

1165

25

Wendy Gerzog (Baltimore)

11,610

Dan Simmons (UC-Davis)

1162

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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June 30, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rosenzweig: The Article III Fiscal Power

Adam H. Rosenzweig (Washington U.), The Article III Fiscal Power, 29 Const. Comm. ___ (2014):

What should happen when Congress and the President find themselves in a fiscal policy showdown resulting in a Constitutional violation? This question has risen to the fore in light of the recent political showdowns over the so-called “debt ceiling.” But the question is one that reaches far beyond the debt ceiling debate. Rather, it implicates the broader question of the proper role of the coordinate branches to make the government work within the Constitutional framework.

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June 30, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Roig: The Case For Retaining Law Faculty Tenure

Jorge R. Roig (Charleston), The First Thing We Do, 47 J. Marshall L. Rev. ___ (2014):

There is currently a concerted effort to dumb down America. In the midst of this, the American Bar Association’s Council of the Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar recently agreed to propose that tenure for law professors be eliminated as a requirement for accreditation of law schools. This article analyzes the arguments for and against tenure in legal academia, and concludes that the main proposed justifications for eliminating tenure are highly questionable, at best. A lawyer is more than a legal technocrat. Lawyers are policy makers and public defenders. They are prosecutors and activists. And the development of a critical and independent mind is no more important in any area of human action than in the law. There is a concerted effort to turn law schools into automaton production lines. Practice-ready, skills-oriented legal education (quite meritorious in itself) has become code for the manufacture of attorneys capable only of following their corporate clients’ instructions to the tee. The goal of this concerted effort is not a truly practice-ready and skilled attorney. The endgame is a mindless legal machine. That is not what a legal education is about. The survival of critical thought is at stake. This is not just about law professors. This is but one salvo in a much larger war against independent minds.

June 30, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

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

  1. [271 Downloads]  Carried Interest for the Common Man, by Richard Winchester (Thomas Jefferson)
  2. [235 Downloads]  The Real Problem with Carried Interests, by Heather Field (UC-Hastings)
  3. [199 Downloads]  A State Tax Approach to Regulating Greenhouse Gases Under the Clean Air Act, by Samuel Eisenberg (Stanford), Michael Wara (Stanford), Adele Morris (Brookings Institution), Marta Darby (Stanford) & Joel Minor (Stanford)
  4. [193 Downloads]  Sales Suppression as a Service (SSaaS) & the Apple Store Solution, by Richard Ainsworth (Boston University)
  5. [140 Downloads]  The Relationship between China's Tax Treaties and Indirect Transfer Antiavoidance Rules, by Qiguang Hardy Zhou (Baker & McKenzie, Shanghai City, China)

June 29, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 27, 2014

University of Oxford 8th Annual Academic Tax Symposium

OxfordThe Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation's 8th Annual Academic Tax Symposium concludes today with these speakers and papers:

David Gamage (UC-Berkeley), On Double-distortion Arguments, Distribution Policy, and the Optimal Choice of Tax Instruments
Discussant:  Jacob Nussim (Bar-Ilan) 

Joerg Paetzold (Salzburg), Unwilling, Unable or Uninformed to Cheat? Tax Evasion vVa Self-reporting in Austria (wth Hannes Winner (Salzburg))
Discussant:  Nirupama Rao (NYU) 

Martin Ruf (Tübingen), Tax Avoidance as a Driver of Mergers and Acquisitions (with Thomas Belz (Mannheim), Leslie Robinson (Dartmouth) & Christian Steffens (Mannheim))
Discussant:  Paul Baker (Bath)

Rosanne Altshuler (Rutgers), The Spillover Effects of Outward Foreign Direct Investment on Home Countries: Evidence from the United States (with Jitao Tang (Ernst & Young))
Discussant:  Estelle Dauchy (New Economic School, Moscow)

June 27, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

 Weekly Roundup

June 27, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Virginia Tax Review Publishes New Issue

Virginia Tax Review 2The Virginia Tax Review has published Vol. 33, No. 2 (Fall 2013):

June 27, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

University of Oxford 8th Annual Academic Tax Symposium

OxfordThe Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation's 8th Annual Academic Tax Symposium continues today with these speakers and papers:

Li Liu (Oxford), Small Business Incorporation and Investment: The Role of Corporation Tax (with Michael Devereux (Oxford))
Discussant:  Tim Goodspeed (CUNY)

Joana Naritomi (Harvard), Consumers as Tax Auditors
Discussant:  Jon Kerr (CUNY) 

Daniel Reck (University of Michigan), Reporting What You Can't Hide: How Credit Card Information Reporting Affects Small Business Tax Compliance (with Brett Collins (IRS), Jeffrey Hoopes (Ohio State) & Joel Slemrod (Michigan))
Discussant:  Michelle Hanlon (MIT)

Alex Raskolnikov (Columbia), The Uneasy Case for Graduated Tax Penalties
Discussant:  Miranda Stewart (Melbourne)

Matthew Smith (U.S. Treasury Department), At a Loss: Corporate Elasticity of Income at the Zero Kink (with Elena Patel (U.S. Treasury Department) & Nathan Seegert (Utah))
Discussant:  Tuomas Kosonen (VATT, Helsinki)

Eric Zwick (Harvard), Do Financial Frictions Amplify Fiscal Policy? Evidence from Business Investment Stimulus
Discussant:  Dominika Langenmayr (Munich)

Mazhar Waseem (Manchester) Taxes, Informality and Income Shifting: Evidence From a Recent Pakistani Tax Reform
Discussant:  Miguel Almunia (Warwick)

June 26, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morse: Supreme Court Clarifies Standard for Evidentiary Hearing in Enforcement of IRS Summons

Following up on Saturday's op-ed by Steve Johnson on Thursday's Supreme Court decision in United States v. Clarke, No. 13.301 (U.S. June 19, 2014):  SCOTUSBlog:  Court Clarifies Standard for Evidentiary Hearing in Enforcement of IRS Summons, by Susan C. Morse (Texas):

The Supreme Court on June 19 unanimously vacated and remanded an Eleventh Circuit per curiam decision in United States v. Clarke.  The Eleventh Circuit had reversed a district court refusal to grant a summons recipient an evidentiary hearing to challenge an IRS summons.  The Supreme Court emphasized the abuse of discretion standard applicable to the review of the district court’s decision and clarified the standard that the district court itself should apply.  It explained that “the taxpayer is entitled to examine an IRS agent when he can point to specific facts or circumstances plausibly raising an inference of bad faith.”  The decision leaves open an underlying legal question in the case:  whether improper purpose can follow from the issuance of a summons in retaliation for refusal to extend a statute of limitations and/or in anticipation of a not-yet-filed Tax Court suit.

June 26, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Papers from the 2013 IRS-TPC Research Conference: Administration at the Centennial

TPC-IRSThe IRS has released the papers from the 2013 IRS-TPC Research Conference: Administration at the Centennial (abstracts of papers here):

Session #1  Individual Income Tax Dynamics

Session #2:  Business Compliance Behavior

Session #3:  Corporation Income Tax Enforcement

Session #4:  Lessons From Other Tax Administrations

June 26, 2014 in IRS News, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Osgood Presents Reform of [the Tax Treatment of] Nonprofit Institutions Today at Washington University

OsgoodRussell K. Osgood (Washington University) presents Reform of [the Tax Treatment of] Nonprofit Institutions at Washington University today as part of its Faculty Workshop Series:

The paper: 1) reviews the growth in many dimensions of the nonprofit sector, 2) discusses the history from 1969 onward of the 1969 Act and the subsequent lack of statutory reform due to Congressional inaction and the reasons for it, and 3) makes six significant proposals, including imposition of 1% excise tax on the endowments of all nonprofits, redrafting and narrowing the definitions of allowable 501(c)(3) purposes and regulating more heavily changes in purposes, expanding the taxation of quasi business income by taxing all income “not closely” related to the exempt purpose(s), eliminating much of the private foundation regime but requiring private foundations to liquidate after ten years and disqualifying them for any violation of core fiduciary duties, and revising the 170 deduction rules by limiting the deductibility (to the higher of adjusted basis or 50% of fair market value) of appreciated property, reducing the estate and gift tax charitable deduction limit to 50% (vs. 100%) of the gifted property, and reducing the regular contribution limits for all property and all taxpayers to a uniform 25% of adjusted gross income with only a one year carry forward.

June 25, 2014 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

University of Oxford 8th Annual Academic Tax Symposium

OxfordThe Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation's 8th Annual Academic Tax Symposium continues today with these speakers and papers:

David Weisbach (Chicago), International Capital Taxation
Discussant:  Alan Auerbach (UC-Berkeley)

Chris Sanchirico (Pennsylvania), As American as Apple Inc.: Tax and Ownership Nationality
Discussant:  Ilan Benshalom (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) 

Johannes Becker (University of Muenster), A Negotiation-based Model of Tax-induced Transfer Pricing (with Ron Davies (University College Dublin))
Discussant:  Michael Stimmelmayer (KOF, ETH Zurich) 

Mitchell Kane (NYU), Transfer Pricing, Integration, and Novel Intangibles: A Consensus Approach to the Arm’s Length Standard
Discussant:  John Vella (Oxford University)

Alfons Weichenrieder (Goethe University Frankfurt), Does Exchange of Information Between Tax Authorities Influence Foreign Direct Investment Into Tax Havens? (with Julia Braun (WU Vienna University of Economics and Business))
Discussant:  Celine Azemar (Glasgow University) 

Jeffrey Hoopes (Ohio State), Real Costs of Disclosure: Evidence From an Exogenous Shock to Subsidiary Disclosure in the UK (with Jaron Wilde (Iowa))
Discussant:  Travis Chow (Singapore Management University)

David Agrawal (Georgia), The Internet as a Tax Haven? The Effect of the Internet on Tax Competition
Discussant:  Giorgia Maffini (Oxford University) 

June 25, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wells: Corporate Inversions and Whack-a-Mole Tax Policy

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Bret Wells (Houston), Corporate Inversions and Whack-a-Mole Tax Policy, 143 Tax Notes 1429 (June 23, 2014):

In this article, Wells argues that until policymakers address the fundamental tax disparity that creates corporate inversions, ever changing forms of the transaction will continue to pop up like moles in a whack-a-mole game.

June 25, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kaplan: Covering Retirement Health Care Costs

Richard L. Kaplan (Illinois), Desperate Retirees: The Perplexing Challenge of Covering Retirement Health Care Costs in a YOYO World, 20 Conn. Ins. L.J. 433 (2014):

A retiree’s single largest and most unpredictable expense is paying for health care, and this article explains the various choices and options that a retiree confronts regarding that expense. The article examines the traditional components of Medicare (Parts A and B), prescription drug plans (Medicare Part D), Medigap coverage, and managed care alternatives, as well as long-term care insurance. Each section addresses the financial trade-offs and time-sensitive decisions that are involved.

June 25, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

University of Oxford 8th Annual Academic Tax Symposium

OxfordThe Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation's 8th Annual Academic Tax Symposium kicks off today with these speakers and papers:

Joel Slemrod (Michigan), Do the Laws of Tax Incidence Hold? Point of Collection and the Pass-through of State Diesel Taxes (with Wojciech Kopczuk (Columbia), Justin Marion (UC-Santa Cruz) & Erich Muehlegger (Harvard))
Discussant:  Stephen Bond (Oxford)

Owen Zidar (UC-Berkeley), Who Benefits From State Corporate Tax Cuts? A Local Labor Markets Approach With Heterogeneous Firms (with Juan Carlos Suárez Serrato (Stanford))
Discussant:  Martin Simmler (DIW, Berlin)

Jing Xing (Oxford Corporate Tax Incentives and Capital Structure: Empirical Evidence From the UK Tax Returns (with Michael Devereux (Oxford) & Giorgia Maffini (Oxford))
Discussant:  Dhammika Dharmapala (Illinois)

Jacob Nussim (Bar-Ilan), A Theory of Tax Losses Mechanisms (with Avraham Tabbach (Tel Aviv))
Discussant:  Norman Gemmell (Victoria)

June 24, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hoffer & Walker: Kuretski, the Tax Court, and the Administrative Procedure Act

HWResponding to Sunday’s op-ed by Patrick Smith and Monday's op-ed by Kristin Hickman on Friday’s D.C. Circuit opinion in Kuretski v. Commissioner, No. 13-1090 (D.C. Cir. June 20, 2014):  TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Kuretski, the Tax Court, and the Administrative Procedure Act, by Stephanie Hoffer (Ohio State) & Christopher J. Walker (Ohio State):

Friday’s decision in Kuretski v. Commissioner is perhaps the first major opinion penned by Judge Sri Srinivasan—a recent Obama appointee considered by many to be on the short list for the Supreme Court.  In a well-written opinion, the D.C. Circuit rejects a constitutional challenge to the President’s removal power of judges on the United States Tax Court.  To reach this conclusion, the court has to grapple with the Tax Court’s puzzling position in the modern administrative state, concluding that the Tax Court is not an Article III (judicial branch) court but a court established under Article I (legislative branch) that actually exercises Article II (executive branch) powers.  Or as Judge Srinivasan writes (at 20) for the court:

We have explained that Tax Court judges do not exercise the ‘judicial power of the United States’ pursuant to Article III.  We have also explained that Congress’s establishment of the Tax Court as an Article I legislative court did not transfer the Tax Court to the Legislative Branch.  It follows that the Tax Court exercises its authority as part of the Executive Branch.

No doubt many tax and administrative law professors will weigh in on the constitutional issues (early coverage here, here, and here).  Here, however, we focus on Kuretski’s impact on the relationship between the Tax Court and the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”).  Patrick Smith, for instance, worries that Kuretski could open the door for the argument that “APA judicial review provisions simply do not apply in Tax Court proceedings.”  But we agree with the contrary position reached by Kristin Hickman (Minnesota) and write separately to show our math for this conclusion. 

At the outset, it is important to underscore that Smith’s worry is already a reality.  As we explain in a forthcoming paper, The Death of Tax Court Exceptionalism, 99 Minn. L. Rev. ___ (2014), the Tax Court has declared that “[t]he APA has never governed proceedings in the Court (or in the Board of Tax Appeals).”  In other words, the Tax Court refuses to apply the APA’s default standard (abuse of discretion) and scope (administrative record) of review.  Instead, it considers the default in both contexts to be de novo, and only departs from de novo review when it determines that the Internal Revenue Code suggests more deferential review.

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June 24, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kuretskis' Counsel Responds to Smith and Hickman Op-eds on Treating the Tax Court as Part of the Executive Branch

SamahonResponding to Sunday’s op-ed by Patrick Smith and Monday's op-ed by Kristin Hickman on Friday’s D.C. Circuit opinion in Kuretski v. Commissioner, No. 13-1090 (D.C. Cir. June 20, 2014):  TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Kuretskis' Counsel Responds to Smith and Hickman Op-eds on Treating the Tax Court as Part of the Executive Branch, by Tuan Samahon (Villanova; Counsel for Peter and Kathleen Kuretski):

I am one of the professors who serve as counsel for the taxpayers, the Kuretskis.  I wanted to comment on the op-eds by Patrick Smith and Kristin Hickman on the possible consequences of the D.C. Circuit’s opinion from last Friday.

First, Patrick Smith expresses concern that the Tax Court may not be able to conduct Administrative Procedure Act court review of the IRS if the Tax Court, now according to the Kuretski opinion, exercises executive power.  Professor Hickman is skeptical of this effect of the opinion. She notes that congressional statutory definitions may not always jibe with constitutional ones. 

Neither of their op-eds, though, included the following passage from the opinion showing what the panel thought about potential collateral consequences on other laws.  Judge Srinivasan wrote:

And while we have no need to reach the issue here, Congress, in establishing those entities [i.e., the Article I Tax Court and the Article I Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces] as a “court” rather than an “agency,” perhaps also exempted them from statutes that apply solely to executive “agencies.” Cf. Megibow v. Clerk of the U.S. Tax Court, No. 04- 3321, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17698, at *13-22 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 31, 2004) (Tax Court is a “court of the United States” and not an “agency” under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 551(1)), aff’d, 432 F.3d 387 (2d Cir. 2005) (per curiam).  [slip op. at 26]

This dictum seems to lean toward Professor Hickman’s view.

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June 24, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 23, 2014

University of Oxford Hosts Conference Today on Tax Competition and BEPS

OxfordThe Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation hosts a conference today on Tax Competition and BEPS.  United States Tax Profs presenting papers include:

  • Alan Auerbach (UC-Berkeley), Fundamental Issues in the Allocation of Profit
  • Dhammika Dharmapala (Illinois), What is the Scale of Base Erosion and Profit Shifting?: "The issue of tax-motivated income shifting within multinational firms – or “base erosion and profit shifting” (BEPS) – has attracted increasing global attention in recent years. This paper provides a survey of the empirical literature on this topic. Its emphasis is on reviewing and elucidating what is known about the magnitude of BEPS. It begins by outlining a simple conceptual framework that helps to clarify aspects of governments’ responses to the BEPS phenomenon and the potential role of the initiative on BEPS currently being undertaken by the OECD. The paper then discusses different empirical approaches to identifying income-shifting, describes existing data sources, and summarizes the findings of the empirical literature. A major theme that emerges from this survey is that in the more recent empirical literature, which uses new and richer sources of data, the estimated magnitude of BEPS is typically much smaller than that found in earlier studies. The paper seeks to provide a framework within which to conceptualize this magnitude and its implications for policy. It concludes by highlighting the importance of existing legal and economic frictions as constraints on BEPS, and by discussing possible ways in which future research might model these frictions more precisely."
  • Michael Graetz (Columbia), Prospects for Successful Multilateral Agreements 

June 23, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Using Altmetrics to Measure the Impact of Faculty Scholarship

AltmetricsI am heading back to San Diego after three great days at the 24th Annual Conference for Law School Computing at Harvard Law School.  In my talk on Friday, I argued that "blogs and social media can play a meaningful role in developing a faculty member's scholarly 'brand' and that current primitive methods for ranking faculty scholarship -- reputation, publications, citations, and downloads -- need to be augmented by more sophisticated faculty performance analytics in the coming 'big data' revolution."  In a presentation yesterday,  Katie Brown (Charlotte) explored some of those alternative metrics in Are The Scientists on to Something With Altmetrics? New Tools for Assessing and Tracking Scholarly Impact:

As scientific authors and researchers vie for tenure and funding they are including altmetrics to their CV's and tenure packets. Why the inclusion? They feel these alternative metrics disclose the full impact their work has with their colleagues, students and the public. Altmetrics, a term first coined in a tweet, involves "the creation and study of new metrics based on the Social Web for analyzing and informing scholarship". Often, altmetrics are providing tangible evidence of what is read, discussed, saved and recommended, as well as cited, in a particular area. They are also diverse in product, platform and audience. Products include articles, datasets, software, blogs, videos, and more. Some platforms are institutional repositories and online communities where the audience is going to be beyond the academy and include practitioners, clinicians and the general public. Scientists in growing number are providing this data to demonstrate their value in the profession and I believe these metrics will allow law librarians to do the same thing. Many law librarians are already online participating in scholarly conversations through blogs, SSRN, comments and Tweets. Why not track it so you can show others the valuable digital footprint you left behind? Additionally, altmetrics instruction may also be a valuable service that we can provide to our primary users.

Katie's PowerPoint slides are available here, and the video of her talk will be posted here by the end of the month.  In the meantime, check out these presentations on altmetrics (click on YouTube button on bottom right to view video directly on YouTube to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate):

 

June 22, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (2)

Smith: Reflections on Kuretski's Holding That the Tax Court Is Part of the Executive Branch

SmithTaxProf Blog op-ed: Reflections on Kuretski v. Commissioner, by Patrick J. Smith (Ivins, Phillips & Barker, Washington, D.C.):

In Kuretski v. Commissioner, No. 13-1090 (D.C. Cir. June 20, 2014), a unanimous panel of the D.C. Circuit rejected a challenge to a Tax Court decision that was based on the argument that the power given to the President by section 7443(f) of the Internal Revenue to remove Tax Court judges for “inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office” is a constitutionally impermissible infringement on the judicial power exercised by the Tax Court.  The D.C. Circuit held that this removal power does not violate the constitutional separation of powers between the executive branch and the judiciary because, in the D.C. Circuit’s view, the Tax Court is part of the executive branch.

This holding undoubtedly has many significant consequences beyond the specific issue in the case.  One very worrisome potential implication is the effect this holding could have on the application of the judicial review provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act when the Tax Court in deficiency proceedings is considering a challenge by a taxpayer to the validity of IRS action such as the issuance of regulations.  The APA judicial review provisions (5 U.S.C. §§ 701 to 706) apply when a court reviews agency action. 

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June 22, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

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 on SSRN, with a new #1 paper and new papers debuting on the list at #4 and #5:

  1. [243 Downloads]  Carried Interest for the Common Man, by Richard Winchester (Thomas Jefferson)
  2. [221 Downloads]  The Real Problem with Carried Interests, by Heather Field (UC-Hastings)
  3. [192 Downloads]  A State Tax Approach to Regulating Greenhouse Gases Under the Clean Air Act, by Samuel Eisenberg (Stanford), Michael Wara (Stanford), Adele Morris (Brookings Institution), Marta Darby (Stanford) & Joel Minor (Stanford)
  4. [171 Downloads]  Sales Suppression as a Service (SSaaS) & the Apple Store Solution, by Richard Ainsworth (Boston University)
  5. [128 Downloads]  The Relationship between China's Tax Treaties and Indirect Transfer Antiavoidance Rules, by Qiguang Hardy Zhou (Baker & McKenzie, Shanghai City, China)

June 22, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Johnson: Reflections on United States v. Clarke

Johnson (Steve)TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Reflections on United States v. Clarke, by Steve R. Johnson (Florida State):

On June 19, the Supreme Court decided United States v. Clarke, 2014 WL 2765284, vacating & remanding  517 Fed. Appx. 689 (11th Cir. 2013).  Clarke involves the ability of a party challenging an IRS summons to obtain an evidentiary hearing to probe whether the IRS issued the summons in bad faith.  Unique among the circuits, the 11th Circuit’s position was that even a bare allegation of bad faith was sufficient to entitle the taxpayer or other target to a hearing at whether it could question IRS officials about their motives.  In an opinion authored by Justice Kagan, the Supreme Court rejected that view, holding instead that the taxpayer/target is entitled to a hearing only “when he points to specific facts or circumstances plausibly raising an inference of bad faith.”  *2.

The outcome of the case isn’t a surprise.  A unanimous Court needed only a short opinion (operatively only four pages) to dispose of the view of the outlier circuit.  But if powerhouse college football and basketball programs sometimes schedule “breather” games against East Podunk State, perhaps the Supreme Court too is allowed occasionally to pencil in an easy one.

To say that the result of Clarke is unsurprising, however, does not imply that the decision is bereft of significance.  I offer eight thoughts below.

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June 21, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

June 20, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

McGill Symposium: Tax Justice and Human Rights

McGillThe three-day Tax Justice & Human Rights Symposium at McGill concludes today with these papers as part of its Research Collaboration Symposium Part II:

Panel #6:  Reducing Inequality: Tax Avoidance and Capital Flight

  • Ofer Sitbon (PhD Candidate, College of Law & Business, Tel Aviv), Moderator
  • James Henry (Tax Justice Network), Kleptocracy and Human Rights
  • Stephen Cohen (Professor, Georgetown University), Does Swiss Bank Secrecy Violate International Human Rights?
  • Brigitte Alepin (Partner, Agora Fiscalité), The Foundation
  • Steven Dean (Professor, Brooklyn Law School), A Tax Regime to Catalyze Social Enterprise Crowdfunding
  • Lee Sheppard (Journalist, Tax Analysts) and John Christensen (Director, Tax Justice Network), Discussants

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June 20, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Caron Presents Law Professor Blogs Network 2.0: One Year Later Today at Harvard

I am presenting The Law Professor Blogs Network 2.0: One Year Later at Harvard Law School today as part of the 24th Annual Conference for Law School Computing:

LPBN LogoThe Law Professor Blogs Network is the nation's only network of legal blogs edited primarily by law professors. The network owns and operates over fifty legal blogs, edited by leading scholars and teachers who are committed to providing the web destination for law professors, practitioners, government and nonprofit lawyers, legal information professionals, and students in their respective fields. Since the launch of TaxProf Blog on April 15, 2004, the network’s influence has continued to grow. At last year's CALI Conference, I unveiled a major re-design of the network, intended to provide the premier legal blogging platform to our editors. The re-design was intended to (1) optimize each blog for viewing across a variety of platforms (desktop, laptop, tablet, and smart phone); (2) better integrate social media; (3) provide more robust analytics with richer and more accurate readership data; and (4) strengthen our partnership with Wolters Kluwer Law & Business/Aspen Publishers and provide additional avenues for monetization. This presentation will explore the progress that the network has made toward these goals over the past year and explain planned future innovations.  In addition, I will argue that blogs and social media can play a meaningful role in developing a faculty member's scholarly "brand" and that current primitive methods for ranking faculty scholarship -- reputation, publications, citations, and downloads -- need to be augmented by more sophisticated faculty performance analytics in the coming "big data" revolution. 

Update:  Enjoying a post-presentation dinner in Harvard Square with Jim Smith (Georgia), Jennifer Martin (St. Thomas), Jeff Lipshaw (Suffolk), and Mark Heffner (Roger Williams):

Photo

June 20, 2014 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Florida State Symposium: One-Hundred Years of the Federal Income Tax

Florida State logoSymposium, One-Hundred Years of the Federal Income Tax, 41 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 1-289 (2013):

June 19, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rosenzweig: An Antigua Gambling Model for the International Tax Regime

Adam Rosenzweig (Washington University), An Antigua Gambling Model for the International Tax Regime, 44 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol'y 79 (2014):

The international tax world is facing a defining moment. While there is little agreement on anything within the field, there appears to be a growing consensus that the modern international tax regime — the so-called flawed miracle emerging from World War II — is irrevocably broken. As the countries of the world confront the challenges facing the international tax regime in the next century, new models for an institutional framework for international tax become increasingly crucial to its success. While significant progress has been made in developing underlying norms to serve as the basis for a modern international tax regime, less focus has been paid to building the institutions and structures necessary to implement these norms. To this end, this Essay proposes looking to the recent experience of the WTO in the Antigua Gambling case as a model for a new institutional framework for the new international tax regime. The Essay then proposes three potential ways to do so: (1) the creditable gross-withholding tax method, (2) the extraterritorial excise tax method, and (3) the WTO cross-retaliation method.

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June 19, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

George & Yoon: The Labor Market for New Law Professors

Tracey E. George (Vanderbilt) & Albert Yoon (Toronto), The Labor Market for New Law Professors, 11 J. Empirical Legal Stud. 1 (2014) (more here):

Law school professors control the production of lawyers and influence the evolution of law. Understanding who is hired as a tenure-track law professor is of clear importance to debates about the state of legal education in the United States. But while opinions abound on the law school hiring process, little is empirically known about what explains success in the market for law professors. Using a unique and extensive data set of survey responses from candidates in the 2007-2008 legal academic labor market, we examine the factors that influence which candidates are interviewed and ultimately hired by law schools. We find that law schools appear open to non-traditional candidates in the early phases of the hiring process but when it comes to the ultimate decision — hiring — they focus on candidates who look like current law professors.

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June 19, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

McGill Symposium: Tax Justice and Human Rights

McGillThe three-day Tax Justice & Human Rights Symposium at McGill continues today with these papers as part of its Research Collaboration Symposium Part I:

Panel #1:  Setting the Stage

  • William Stephenson (Editor in Chief, McGill Law Journal), Moderator
  • Kim Brooks (Dean, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University), Why Justice Matters for Tax Policy
  • Ignacio Saiz (Executive Director, Center for Economic and Social Rights), The Evolving Norms and Standards of Human Rights
  • Allison Christians (Professor, McGill Faculty of Law), Who Has Rights, What Rights, and Against Whom?

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June 19, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Effect of CEO Narcissism on Corporate Tax Policies

Kari Joseph Olsen (University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business) & James Stekelberg (University of Arizona, Eller College of Management), CEO Narcissism and Corporate Tax Policies:

NarcissismWe examine the effect of CEO narcissism on corporate tax policies. Narcissism is a multifaceted personality trait associated with a propensity to cheat and engage in questionable behavior. Narcissists feel that they are above the law and are aggressive in pursuing what they believe is theirs. Narcissists also take more risks than do others and possess heightened sensitivities to the rewards of risk taking. Consistent with these predictions regarding the behavioral tendencies of narcissistic individuals, we document a positive association between CEO narcissism and various measures of corporate tax avoidance and tax risk. Our study contributes to the literature by documenting a setting in which the individual personality characteristics of the CEO can impact firm-level tax policies.

June 18, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

22 Notable Corporate Tax Articles of 2013

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Jordan M. Barry (San Diego), Karen C. Burke (Florida) & Monica Gianni (Florida), A Brief Review of Corporate Tax Articles of 2013, 143 Tax Notes 1314 (June 16, 2014):

June 18, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

McGill Symposium: Tax Justice and Human Rights

McGillThe three-day Tax Justice & Human Rights Symposium at McGill kicks off today with these papers by emerging scholars:

Panel A:  Samuel Singer (Associate, Stikeman Elliott), Moderator

Leyla Ates (PhD Candidate, University of Wisconsin and Inonu University, Turkey), Developing Countries and Globalization of Tax Law Making: Turkish Tax Law Reforms on Fighting Tax Evasion
Steven Dean (Professor, Brooklyn Law School), Discussant

Montano Cabezas (LLM Candidate, Georgetown University Law Center), Giving Credit Where it is Due: Rethinking the Corporate Tax Paradigm
Kim Brooks (Dean, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University), Discussant 

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June 18, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Tax Lawyer Publishes New Issue

The Tax Lawyer (2013)The Tax Lawyer has published Vol. 67, No. 3 (Spring 2014):

June 17, 2014 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shaviro: Capital Levies: A Solution for the Sovereign Debt Problem?

Tax Analysys Logo (2013)Daniel Shaviro (NYU), Capital Levies: A Solution for the Sovereign Debt Problem?, 74 Tax Notes Int'l 1027 (June 16, 2014):

The following speech was delivered as the University of Luxembourg's "Distinguished Lecture" on May 15, 2014.

June 17, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lipshaw: 'Retire and Teach' Amidst the Great Law School Retrenchment

Jeffrey M. Lipshaw (Suffolk), "Retire and Teach" Six Years On, 41 N. Ky. L. Rev. 67 (2014):

RetirementThis is a follow up to a 2007 essay I wrote about what it might take for a well-seasoned practitioner to join a law school faculty as a tenure track professor. Having now wended my way up (or down) that track for six years plus, my intended audience this time includes the original one, those seasoned veterans of the law practice trenches who may think but should never utter out loud the words “I would like to retire and teach,” but now also my colleagues in academia who are facing what looks to be the greatest reshuffling of the system in our generation. Much of what I said in the earlier essay still holds. This essay, however, includes (a) a more nuanced look at the strange hybrid creature that is the scholarly output of academic lawyers; (b) a more respectful appreciation of what it takes to become a good teacher, with some notes about what worked for me, and (c) an attempt to reconcile the interests in scholarship and the interest in teaching after the “Great Retrenchment” of the legal profession and legal education, with some brief thoughts about the opportunities that may bring for the aging but not ossifying academic aspirant.

June 17, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Law School Kills Brain Cells

Debra S. Austin (Denver), Killing Them Softly: Neuroscience Reveals How Brain Cells Die from Law School Stress and How Neural Self-Hacking Can Optimize Cognitive Performance, 59 Loy. L. Rev. 791 (2013):

BrainLaw is a cognitive profession and the legendary stressors in legal education and the practice of law can take a tremendous toll on cognitive capacity. Lawyers suffer from depression at triple the rate of non-lawyers. This article provides a groundbreaking synthesis on the neuroscience of achieving optimal cognitive fitness for all law students, law professors, and lawyers.

A number of innovative companies have instituted programs designed to enhance the bottom line. Research shows that perks such as onsite gyms, stress management classes, and mindfulness training produce vibrant workplaces and thriving employees. Forward-looking law schools have created wellness programs designed to relieve law student stress and improve well-being. This article explains the neurobiological reasons these programs enhance employee performance and improve student achievement.

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June 17, 2014 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Reviews of Ajay Mehrotra's Law, Politics, and the Rise of Progressive Taxation

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

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

  1. [326 Downloads]  The New Flat Tax: A Modest Proposal for a Constitutionally Apportioned Wealth Tax, by John Thomas Plecnik (Cleveland State)
  2. [321 Downloads]  Just Say No: Corporate Taxation and Corporate Social Responsibility, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)
  3. [227 Downloads]  Carried Interest for the Common Man, by Richard Winchester (Thomas Jefferson)
  4. [208 Downloads]  The Real Problem with Carried Interests, by Heather Field (UC-Hastings)
  5. [181 Downloads]  A State Tax Approach to Regulating Greenhouse Gases Under the Clean Air Act, by Samuel Eisenberg (Stanford), Michael Wara (Stanford), Adele Morris (Brookings Institution), Marta Darby (Stanford) & Joel Minor (Stanford)

June 15, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

June 13, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

June 13, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Crawford Reviews McCouch's Who Killed the Rule Against Perpetuities?

JotwellBridget Crawford (Pace), A Lawyer With a Candlestick in the Conservatory: The Perpetuities Whodunit (Jotwell), reviewing Grayson M.P. McCouch (Florida), Who Killed the Rule Against Perpetuities?, 40 Pepp. L. Rev. 1291 (2013) (Symposium on Tax Reform in a Time of Crisis):

For readers who are interested in the relationship between and among tax law, legal reform and professional culture and change, this article provides much food for thought. Many states that have repealed the rule against perpetuities have also abolished income taxation of trusts and their beneficiaries. For that reason, even states with a booming trust business may not receive any direct tax revenue from it. But the ancillary effects of increased trust business—more jobs created in that state—should not be underestimated. It may be that some lawyers and bankers have benefited handsomely from perpetuities reform, but so has that same reform given rise to a new cadre of supporting professionals who pay taxes and spend their paychecks in those states. McCouch’s article undoubtedly will serve as the inspiration for additional scholarship in this area.

June 12, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Professionals' Contribution to the Legislative Process

Adam S. Hofri-Winogradow (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Faculty of Law), Professionals' Contribution to the Legislative Process: Between Self, Client, and the Public, 39 Law & Soc. Inquiry 96 (2014):

How may professionals be made to contribute to legislative processes so that their expertise redounds to the public interest, despite the legislative product being likely to have a negative impact on their clients' wealth? Drawing on a case study of the legislative process that gave birth to Israel's recent (2002–2008) trusts taxation regime, based on five years of participant observation among the trust professional community, I find that to obtain the benefit of private-sector professionals' expertise under such circumstances, government should have legislation drafted in a dispassionate, exclusive environment of experts rather than in the political arena; it should build professionals' trust in government by adopting an explicitly collegial approach; it should focus reform efforts on elements of the existing law so clearly inequitable as to make a refusal to contribute difficult to justify; and take care that the new regime creates a compliance practice lucrative enough to compensate for any loss to professionals consequent on its enactment. Once professionals' interests are suitably safeguarded, their loyalty to clients appears surprisingly brittle and government can successfully combine with them in the public interest.

June 12, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gerzog: The Façade Easement Charitable Deduction

Wendy C. Gerzog (Baltimore), Alms to the Rich: The Façade Easement Deduction:

This article presents the case for repeal of the façade easement deduction. Proponents of this benefit argue that the deduction encourages historic preservation by reimbursing property owners for relinquishing their right to alter the façade of their property in a way inconsistent with that conservation goal; however, this article shows that there are many reasons to urge its repeal: the revenue loss, the small number of beneficiaries, the financial demographics of that group of beneficiaries; the dubious industries that are supported by the deduction; and the continual marked overvaluation and abuse despite Congressional, court, and administrative review and expense.

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June 12, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Marian Presents Designing a Regulatory System for the Bitcoin Era Today in Albuquerque

MarianOmri Marian (Florida) presents Designing a Regulatory System for the Bitcoin Era at the annual meeting of the National Association of Consumer Credit Administrators (NACCA) today in Albuquerque:

Abstract: Bitcoin is now touted as revolutionary as the Internet in the early 1990s. The potential of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is hardly limited to being a medium of exchange. At its core, Bitcoin is a protocol that allows for the verification of transactions without the need for a trusted third party. As such, Bitcoin holds great positive potential. However, Bitcoin is also uniquely suited to facilitate harmful behaviors. Traditional regulatory models rely heavily on intermediaries that are optimally positioned to identify and disrupt misconduct, but Bitcoin has the potential to eliminate intermediaries without eliminating the underlying conduct. How can policymakers address the challenges that Bitcoin presents to traditional regulatory models, without hindering Bitcoin’s generative potential? This is the question the Article seeks to answer. The Article advances two main arguments: First, intermediary-based regulation will persist to a significant extent even in a Bitcoin-dominated environment. Many intermediaries are market-created, not government-created constructs. Such intermediaries can be regulated under traditional intermediary-liability models. Second, where intermediaries are eliminated, the article proposes a different theoretical model of regulatory framework – “passive crowd participation”. Under a passive crowd participation model, actors who use Bitcoin for legitimate purposes are incentivized to act in a manner that makes the Bitcoin ecosystem less attractive for illicit users. I use tax evasion to explain how such model might work in practice. I propose a model of “surrogate presumptive collection” tax, by which merchants accepting bitcoins collect gross tax that serves as a proxy for the consumer’s income tax liability. The surrogate tax is waived if the consumer identifies itself to the merchant or to a trusted bitcoin clearing service.

June 11, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shanske: State-Level Carbon Taxes and the Dormant Commerce Clause

Darien Shanske (UC-Davis), State-Level Carbon Taxes and the Dormant Commerce Clause: Can Formulary Apportionment Save the World?, 19 Chapman L. Rev. ___ (2015):

This short Article, a contribution to a symposium, outlines some possible design responses to the primary legal issue raised by the implementation of a state-level carbon tax. There are at least two reasons for states to consider a carbon tax. First, somewhat prosaically, the Environmental Protection Agency just released draft rules requiring states to reduce carbon emissions; these rules appear to permit states to achieve at least some of the required reduction through carbon taxes. Second, and more importantly, economists offer strong arguments for preferring carbon taxes as a method of greenhouse gas mitigation. Accordingly, even before the new EPA rules were proposed, a carbon tax was already being considered in some U.S. states, such as Oregon, and a carbon tax is in place in one Canadian province, British Columbia.

The primary legal issue with a state-level tax in the United States is the following: a carbon tax imposed in only one state will presumably make goods and services produced in that state more expensive. The direct response would be to impose a complementary carbon tax on imports. Yet it would appear that the dormant Commerce Clause, and particularly the Supreme Court’s narrow interpretation of the complementary tax doctrine, bars the way to such border adjustments. This Article argues that appearances might be deceiving and that border adjustments might be possible. Alternatively, this Article argues that formulary apportionment could take the place of border adjustments. 

June 11, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Gift Tax Treatment of Donations to Social Welfare Organizations

Matthew A. Melone (Lehigh), Gift Taxes on Donations to Social Welfare Organizations: De-politicizing Social Welfare Organizations or Politicizing the IRS?, 12 DePaul Bus. & Com. L.J. 51 (2013):

Part III of this Article provides an analysis of the gift tax in general and its application to contributions to section 501(c)(4) organizations. Despite the dearth of case law on this issue, it appears that taxing contributions to these organizations has ample statutory support, and the current regulations interpreting the statute should survive the deferential standard of review to which they are subject. Moreover, enforcement of the tax against donors to section 501(c)(4) organizations does not do violence to the First Amendment. However, notwithstanding the legal justification for enforcement of the tax, Part IV argues that the enforcement of the tax is unwarranted from a policy standpoint. Enforcement of the gift tax with respect to contributions to section 501(c)(4) organizations will not reduce politically motivated giving because such giving will be diverted to vehicles to which donations are exempt from the gift tax. Moreover, large corporations, for all practical purposes, will be unaffected by the gift tax thereby raising the possibility that section 501(c)(4) organizations will remain a significant political force but one dominated by corporate donors. Perhaps the most salient objection to enforcement of the tax is the risk that the public comes to perceive enforcement of the tax as selective and politically motivated. The IRS recently has taken actions that, to its critics, were politically motivated, and, for the most part, taxpayers are powerless to challenge such actions. A tax system already suffering from a lack of public respect can do without accusations of political meddling.

June 11, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Zelenak: The Taxation of Frequent Flyer Benefits in the U.S., Canada, and Australia

Lawrence Zelenak (Duke), Up in the Air Over Taxing Frequent Flyer Benefits: The American, Canadian, and Australian Experiences:

Since frequent flyer programs first appeared in the early 1980s, the agencies charged with the administration of their nations' income tax laws have struggled with the question of whether -- and if so, how -- to tax employees who earn frequent flyer points (or "miles") on employer-paid business trips, and who eventually redeem those points for personal travel rewards (or other personal consumption services or goods). This article describes and evaluates the ways in which three agencies -- the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) -- have responded to the tax administration challenge presented by frequent flyer programs. The rather disheartening end of the story (in all three countries) is that no significant amount of tax is being collected on frequent flyer benefits, even though the benefits are clearly taxable in theory (at least in the United States and Canada), and that respect for the rule of law (on the part of both taxpayers and the agencies themselves) has been eroded. The article analyzes what features of frequent flyer programs are responsible for the tax agencies' difficulties, and explains that taxing benefits involves serious problems of timing, valuation, enforcement, and public acceptance. Finally, the article considers how, in light of those problems, an agency (or legislature) could go about designing an effective system for taxing frequent flyer benefits. The task is not easy, but it is also not impossible.

June 10, 2014 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)