TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, November 7, 2016

Pratt:  Two Tax Issues Disqualify Trump For The Presidency

Pratt (2016)TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Trump Tax Concerns Persist, by Katherine Pratt (Loyola-L.A.):

Just 24 hours before the presidential election, concerns about Donald Trump’s payment of his tax obligations persist.  Recent press coverage has focused on an issue that (at least so far, based on very limited information) probably does not disqualify him to be our president, and has not focused enough on two more fundamental tax issues that disqualify him to be our president.

In the past few days, press coverage has emphasized a technical business tax question:  what specific tax strategies did Trump use to generate and preserve $916 million of net operating losses (NOLs), despite massive debt discharge, and were those strategies legally questionable? A front page November 1 New York Times article on this topic asserts that the “stock for debt swap” part of Trump’s overall  tax strategy was a new tax “dodge” dreamed up by tax lawyers to avoid debt discharge income (COD) on the cancellation of debt. This characterization of such swaps as a new tax scam is inaccurate. My academic articles on corporate COD explain the long history and theory of the exception and its gradual repeal [Shifting Biases: Troubled Company Debt Restructurings after the 1993 Tax Act, 68 Am. Bankr. L.J. 23 (1994); Corporate Cancellation of Indebtedness Income and the Debt-Equity Distinction, 24 Va. Tax Rev. 187 (2004)]. Suffice it to say that “stock for debt swaps” in bankruptcy cases were relatively common in the 1980s and early 1990s. Unless there is more to be revealed, Trump’s use of the stock for debt exception to COD does not disqualify him to be president.

But Trump’s conduct regarding two other tax issues does disqualify him to be president.

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November 7, 2016 in Political News, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Columbia Journal Of Tax Law Issues Call For One Tax Paper For Inclusion In Forthcoming Issue

Columbia Journal of Tax Law LogoThe Columbia Journal of Tax Law has issued a call for one paper for inclusion in its forthcoming Volume 8, Issue No. 2:

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November 7, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new paper debuting on the list at #4 and a re-shuffling of the order within the Top 5.  The #1 paper is now #23 in all-time downloads among 12,319 tax papers:

  1. [3,838 Downloads]  Families Facing Tax Increases Under Trump's Latest Tax Plan, by Lily L. Batchelder (NYU)
  2. [237 Downloads]  Aggressive Tax Planning & the Ethical Tax Lawyer, by Heather M. Field (UC-Hastings)
  3. [236 Downloads]  The Up-C Revolution, by Gregg D. Polsky (Georgia) & Adam H. Rosenzweig (Washington University)
  4. [229 Downloads]  Estate Planning for Digital Assets: Assigning Tax Basis and Value to Digital Assets, by Elizabeth Ruth Carter (LSU)
  5. [226 Downloads]  Taxation and Human Rights: A Delicate Balance, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan) & Gianluca Mazzoni (S.J.D. 2017, Michigan)

November 6, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Ari Glogower (Ohio State) reviews a new article by Hayes Holderness (Illinois), The Unexpected Role of Tax Salience in State Competition for Businesses, 84 U. Chi. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2017).  

Glogower (2016)Hayes Holderness’ article identifies and examines a new form of incentive used by states to attract business activity—the “customer-based incentive.”  Unlike traditional incentives, such as tax credits or abatements, customer-based incentives yield a tax benefit to the businesses customers, not to the business itself.   The article argues that customer-based incentives can be more effective than traditional incentives, by capitalizing on customers’ different behavioral responses to the forms of incentive.  

The article begins with a specific example of an indirect customer-based incentive: relieving a business of the obligation to collect sales tax from customers, in exchange for the business establishing a physical presence in the state.  For example, in 2012 negotiations with the State of New Jersey, Amazon.com, Inc. sought temporary relief from the obligation to collect sales tax, in exchange for building fulfillment centers in the state.  While nominally a concession made to the business, this incentive in fact benefits customers, by effectively foregoing the collection of sales tax altogether (in the case of those rare customers who do not voluntarily report and pay sales and use tax not collected at the point of sale.)

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November 4, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chodorow Presents Rethinking Basis In The Age Of Virtual Currency Today At Florida

Chodorow (2014)Adam Chodorow (Arizona State) presents Rethinking Basis in the Age of Virtual Currency, 35 Va Tax Rev. ___ (2016), at Florida today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Yariv Brauner:

In Notice 2014-21, the IRS announced that virtual currencies like Bitcoin would be treated as property — and not foreign currency — for income tax purposes. As a result, taxpayers may owe tax each time they sell or spend such currency. The IRS also declared that the traditional “stand-alone” basis rules would apply to virtual currency. This decision permits taxpayers to manipulate their tax liability by picking and choosing which virtual coins to dispose of. In this Article, I argue that taxpayers should be required to pool the basis of their virtual currency to ensure that tax gains and losses match realized economic gains and losses.

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November 4, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Repetti Presents Tax Rates, Efficiency And Inequality Today At Boston College

Repetti (2015)James Repetti (Boston College) presents Tax Rates, Efficiency and Inequality at Boston College today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series:

Traditionally, the great democracies of the western world assigned equal weight to distributive justice and economic efficiency in designing a tax system. In the past few decades, however, economic efficiency has dominated the debate about the best design of a tax system in politics and in analysis by legal academics. Discussions of progressive tax rates often focus on the adverse efficiency effects of high rates while ignoring benefits arising from a progressive rate structure’s reduced burden on lower income individuals. For example, many advocate low tax rates on investment income to reduce the efficiency effects of taxing savings.

In an attempt to increase efficiency, individual tax rates have decreased over the past 60 years. In 1956, the maximum statutory tax rate was 91%. In 2012, the maximum statutory rate was 36%. At the same time that tax rates were reduced, inequality increased, fueled in part by the declining tax rates.

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November 4, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Mason Presents U.S. BEPS Implementation Today In Switzerland

Mason (2016)Ruth Mason (Virginia) presents U.S. BEPS Implementation today at the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce Seminar on BEPS: Impact on Global Tax Policy in Zurich, Switzerland:

This presentation will report on implementation of the BEPS recommendations in the United States, with a special emphasis on features distinct to the United States, including its political situation, high corporate tax rate, new model tax treaty, the Altera case pending before the Ninth Circuit, and check-the-box.

November 3, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tennessee Symposium:  Professional Leadership In Legal Education

TennSymposium, Leading the Future: Professional Leadership Education, 83 Tenn. L. Rev. 709-981 (2016):

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November 3, 2016 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Clarke Presents Income Inequality And The Corporate Sector Today At Pennsylvania

ClarkeConor Clarke (Ph.D. 2017, Yale) presents Income Inequality and the Corporate Sector: 1913 - 2012 (with Wojciech Kopczuk (Columbia)) at Pennsylvania today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Chris Sanchirico and Reed Shuldiner:

Existing measures of income inequality that rely on tax data fail to systematically account for the corporate sector, which earns a substantial amount of income that either never appears on individual tax returns or appears with a substantial delay. To help correct for this oversight, we provide a framework for thinking about the historical and conceptual relationship between the corporate sector and income inequality. We assemble a variety of previously unused tax data on corporate income and use ownership estimates to impute this income to individual taxpayers. This exercise produces a large adjustment to both the level and trend of existing measures of income inequality. The magnitude of this adjustment also varies substantially over time: It depends on the legal incentives to report income on individual tax returns. In particular, the magnitude of the understatement was much larger before the Tax Reform Act of 1986 — which created large incentives to incorporate businesses as pass-through entities—than in the three decades since. Our baseline estimates suggest that standard measures have understated the top income shares in the U.S. by 2 to 7 percentage points before the 1980s, but much less since then. In other words, the top 1% earns a greater share of national income than previously thought — but top income shares have grown less dramatically than the existing literature indicates.

Companion Paper:  Business Income and Business Taxation in the United States since the 1950s (with Wojciech Kopczuk (Columbia)):

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November 2, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blank Presents The Timing Of Tax Transparency Today At Northwestern

Blank (2016)Joshua D. Blank (NYU) presents The Timing of Tax Transparency, 90 S. Cal. L. Rev. ___ (2017), at Northwestern today as part of its Advanced Topics in Taxation Workshop Series hosted by Sarah Lawsky:

Fairness in the administration of the tax law is the subject of intense debate in the United States. As recent headlines reveal, the Internal Revenue Service has been accused of failing to enforce the tax law equitably in its review of tax-exempt status applications by political organizations, the international tax structures of multinational corporations, and the estate tax returns of millionaires, among other areas. Many have argued that greater “tax transparency” would better empower the public to hold the IRS accountable and the IRS to defend itself against accusations of malfeasance. Mandatory public disclosure of taxpayers’ tax return information is often proposed as a way to achieve greater tax transparency. Yet, in addition to concerns regarding exposure of personal and proprietary information, broad public disclosure measures pose potential threats to the taxing authority’s ability to enforce the tax law.

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November 2, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Seto Presents Advertising, Preference-Shifting And Optimal Tax Theory Today At Oxford

Seto (2014)Theodore Seto (Loyola-L.A.) presents Incorporating Advertising into the Standard Model: Some Implications of Preference-Shifting for Optimal Tax Theory today at the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation as part of its Research Seminar Series on Topical Issues in Tax Policy:

This paper focuses on one of the standard model’s most glaring omissions: its failure to model the welfare effects of advertising, a central feature of modern consumer economics. Technically, the paper relaxes the standard welfarist assumption that preferences are fixed and exogenous and reflect welfare. Although this assumption is not widely accepted in other social sciences, economics generally treats situations in which it does not hold as deviations from the general rule, and therefore of limited interest. This paper offers an approach to incorporating within the standard model itself the possibility that advertising can change preferences. It then explores the consequences of this expanded model for two canonical assertions of optimal tax theory: (1) that taxes generally produce deadweight loss, and (2) that 100 percent of all taxes are borne by human beings, the only question being which.

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November 2, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Walker Presents The Practice And Tax Consequences Of Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Today At Columbia

Walker (2016)David I. Walker (Boston University) presents The Practice and Tax Consequences of Nonqualified Deferred Compensation at Columbia today as part of its Davis Polk & Wardwell Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex Raskolnikov and Wojciech Kopczuk:

Although nonqualified deferred compensation plans lack explicit tax preferences afforded qualified plans, it is well understood that nonqualified deferred compensation results in a joint tax advantage when employers earn a higher after‐tax return on deferred sums than employees could do on their own. Several commentators have proposed tax reform aimed at leveling the playing field between cash and nonqualified deferred compensation, but reform would not be easy or straightforward. This Article investigates nonqualified deferred compensation practices and shows that joint tax minimization often takes a backseat to accounting priorities and participant diversification concerns.

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November 1, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Marian:  Is Something Rotten In The Grand Duchy Of Luxembourg?

LLOmri Y. Marian (UC-Irvine), Is Something Rotten in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg?, 84 Tax Notes Int’l 281 (Oct. 17, 2016):

In November 2014 the ICIJ published hundreds of privately negotiated advance tax agreements (ATAs) granted by tax authorities in Luxembourg to MNEs. The documents were leaked by two former employees of the PwC Luxembourg office. The documents revealed that by securing ATAs in Luxembourg, MNEs were able to avoid high tax liability in jurisdictions where they had real activity and instead pay a much smaller amount of tax to Luxembourg, where they had no or little activity. The affair, appropriately coined ‘‘LuxLeaks,’’ caused a major popular uproar. Several official investigations followed the leak. This article argues, however, that the discussion over the past two years missed the worst aspects of the LuxLeaks scandal.

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November 1, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Avi-Yonah & Mazzoni:  The Apple State Aid Ruling

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan, moving to UC-Irvine) & Gianluca Mazzoni (S.J.D. 2017, Michigan), Apple State Aid Ruling: A Wrong Way to Enforce the Benefits Principle?:

Following an in-depth investigation formally launched in June 2014, the European Commission has recently concluded that Ireland granted tax benefits of up to €13 billion to Apple in violation of the State aid rules. As a result, Ireland must now recover the illegal aid. That decision has been sharply criticized by Jack Lew, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, who believes only the Internal Revenue Service has the right to tax Apple’s foreign income, since most of the company’s research and development took place in the US. However, that is not the way the big EU countries, where sales are made, see things. Who is right? To whom does the income belong?

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November 1, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Michael Simkovic Leaves Seton Hall For USC

Simkovic 3Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall) has accepted a lateral offer with tenure from USC. His recent articles include:

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October 31, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (0)

Viswanathan Presents Tax Compliance In A Decentralizing Economy Today At Loyola-L.A.

ViswanathanManoj Viswanathan (UC-Hastings) presents Tax Compliance in a Decentralizing Economy at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Ellen Aprill and Katherine Pratt:

Tax compliance in the United States depends heavily on centralized institutions acting as intermediaries between taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service. Income reported on intermediary-provided forms constitutes the overwhelming majority of both reported (and taxed) income. This information reporting is the primary mechanism by which the IRS evaluates taxpayer returns for compliance.

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October 31, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pickett Presents The Psychological And Social Costs Of Inequality Today At NYU

PickettKate Pickett (University of York) presents Income Inequality and Health: A Casual Review and The Enemy Between Us: The Psychological and Social Costs of Inequality (both with Richard Wilkinson (University of Nottingham)) at the NYU High-End Inequality Colloquium Series (more here) hosted by Robert Frank (Cornell) and Dan Shaviro (NYU):

Income Inequality and Health: A Casual Review
There is a very large literature examining income inequality in relation to health. Early reviews came to different interpretations of the evidence, though a large majority of studies reported that health tended to be worse in more unequal societies. More recent studies, not included in those reviews, provide substantial new evidence. Our purpose in this paper is to assess whether or not wider income differences play a causal role leading to worse health. We conducted a literature review within an epidemiological causal framework and inferred the likelihood of a causal relationship between income inequality and health (including violence) by considering the evidence as a whole. The body of evidence strongly suggests that income inequality affects population health and wellbeing.

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October 31, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

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. The #1 paper is now #23 in all-time downloads among 12,312 tax papers:

  1. [3,727 Downloads]  Families Facing Tax Increases Under Trump's Latest Tax Plan, by Lily L. Batchelder (NYU)
  2. [214 Downloads]  Taxation and Human Rights: A Delicate Balance, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan) & Gianluca Mazzoni (S.J.D. 2017, Michigan)
  3. [207 Downloads]  Law and Macroeconomics: The Law and Economics of Recessions, by Yair Listokin (Yale)
  4. [204 Downloads]  The Up-C Revolution, by Gregg D. Polsky (Georgia) & Adam H. Rosenzweig (Washington University)
  5. [184 Downloads]  Aggressive Tax Planning & the Ethical Tax Lawyer, by Heather M. Field (UC-Hastings)

October 30, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Daniel Hemel (University of Chicago) reviews a new article by Stephen Shay (Harvard), J. Clifton Fleming (BYU), and Robert Peroni (Texas), R&D Tax Incentives: Growth Panacea or Budget Trojan Horse?, 69 Tax Law Review 419 (2016).

HemelFollowers of this blog likely know already that any article by the trio of Shay, Fleming, and Peroni will be well worth reading. And, no surprise, their latest installment very much fits that bill. Here, they present a forceful critique of the various R&D incentives embedded in the Internal Revenue Code, culminating in an ambitious proposal to repeal these incentives and use the resulting revenues to increase direct federal spending on basic research.

One significant contribution that Shay, Fleming, and Peroni make in this article (though far from the only) is to expand our view of R&D tax incentives beyond the section 41 credit for increasing research activities and the section 174 deduction for research and experimental expenditures. 

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October 28, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Florida Hosts 12th Annual International Tax Symposium

Florida Logo (GIF)The University of Florida Graduate Tax Program hosts its Twelfth International Taxation Symposium today at 8:15 am–1:00 pm EST (live stream here):

October 28, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NYU Conference On Divergent Country Views Of Base Erosion And Profit Shifting

NYU Law (2016)NYU hosts a Global Tax Conference today on Divergent Country Views of Base Erosion and Profit Shifting:

Panel #1:  European Commission State Aid Cases

  • Dan Shaviro (NYU) (moderator)
  • Itai Grinberg (Georgetown)
  • Hein Vermeulen (University of Amsterdam)
  • Dennis Webber (University of Amsterdam)

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October 28, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

42nd Annual Notre Dame Tax And Estate Planning Institute

ND

The 42nd Annual Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute concludes today.  Tax Profs with speaking roles include:

  • Mitchell Gans (Hofstra), The Most Important Estate and Income Tax Decision No One Knows: The Impact of the 1958 Supreme Court Decision in Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Co. v. Smith on Installment Sales and Private Annuities 
  • David Herzig (Valparaiso), The Intersection of Business Transactions and Estate Planning: What Every Estate Planner Needs to Know About Business Law in the Context of Tax Planning

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October 28, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Holderness:  The Unexpected Role Of Tax Salience In State Competition For Businesses

Hayes R. Holderness Jr. (Illinois),  The Unexpected Role of Tax Salience in State Competition for Businesses, 84 U. Chi. L. Rev. ___ (2017):

Competition among the states for mobile firms and the jobs and infrastructure they can bring is a well-known phenomenon. However, in recent years, a handful of states have added a mysterious new tool to their kit of incentives used in this competition. Unlike more traditional incentives, these new incentives — which this Article brands “customer-based incentives” — offer tax relief to a firm’s customers rather than directly to the firm. The puzzle underling customer-based incentives is that tax relief provided to the firm’s customers would seem more difficult for the firm to capture than relief provided directly to the firm — strange, as a state’s primary goal is to subsidize the firm’s investment in the state.

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October 27, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yale:  Residential Solar And The Federal Income Tax

Ethan Yale (Virginia), Residential Solar and the Federal Income Tax:

Residential solar systems are becoming commonplace in many regions of the United States. Use of such systems raises issues in tax doctrine and policy that are not well appreciated and have not yet been systematically analyzed. The goals of this article are threefold: (1) to identify the main issues and to organize them into a coherent framework, (2) to analyze the doctrinal and policy ramifications of present law, and (3) to suggest improvements to present law.

October 27, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ainsworth Presents Blockchain Technology Might Solve VAT Fraud Today At Pennsylvania

AinsworthRichard T. Ainsworth (Boston University) presents Blockchain Technology Might Solve VAT Fraud, 83 Tax Notes Int'l 1165 (Sept. 26, 2016) (with Andrew B. Shact (Mimecast, Boston)), at Pennsylvania today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Chris Sanchirico and Reed Shuldiner:

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 20-23, 2016, more than 800 technology executives and observers were asked when they think governments will begin collecting taxes using blockchain, a type of cryptographic software. The average response was 2023, with 73 percent of respondents saying 2025. The survey did not ask respondents to name the tax collected or the jurisdiction that would collect it, so we do not know where they expect blockchain to be used or what they expect it to collect. This article argues that the EU VAT will be an early adopter, if not the earliest adopter, of blockchain, which will bring substantial efficiency to VAT collection and reduce costs and build trust in intergovernmental relationships.

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October 26, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Market Myth And Pay Disparity in Legal Academia: We Should Amend The Equal Pay Act To Prohibit Market Excuses For Pay Differentials

Paula A. Monopoli (Maryland), The Market Myth and Pay Disparity in Legal Academia, 52 Idaho L. Rev. 867 (2016):

The definition of merit in academia is highly subjective, based in large part on the rank of the journal one publishes in and how often one publishes. ... There have been two high profile cases in legal academia in the past several years. ... The first case is that of Professor Lucy Marsh ... of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Marsh was the lowest paid faculty member at the school after forty years of teaching. The second case involved the release of documents pursuant to a Texas Public Information Act request by faculty members at the University of Texas School of Law documenting previously undisclosed compensation in the form of six-figure forgivable loans to certain faculty members, very few of whom were women. A discussion of the two cases ... illustrates why market excuses are so pernicious in terms of gender pay disparities in legal academia. ...

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October 26, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Scharff:  Limits On Municipal Taxing Authority And What to Do About Them

Erin Adele Scharff (Arizona State), Powerful Cities?: Limits on Municipal Taxing Authority and What to Do About Them, 91 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 292 (2016):

Cities are once again on the rise and have become the site of major public debates, from income inequality and immigration policy to where and how Americans should live. While municipal leaders are often eager to fill the void in political leadership left by Congress and state elected officials, they are often hamstrung by state home rule laws, which define the powers states grant to municipalities. These laws limit, among other things, municipal taxing authority. Recently, local government scholars have wrestled with whether and how to grant municipalities more fiscal authority, but such scholarship has not provided a unified theory of municipal taxing authority.

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October 26, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Using Machine Learning To Predict Outcomes In Tax Law

BlueJBenjamin Alarie, Anthony Niblett & Albert Yoon (Toronto), Using Machine Learning to Predict Outcomes in Tax Law:

Recent advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning have bolstered the predictive power of data analytics. Research tools based on these developments will soon be commonplace. For the past two years, the three of us have been working on a project called Blue J Legal. We started with a view to understanding how machine learning techniques can be used to better predict legal outcomes. In this paper, we report on our experiences so far. The paper is set out in four parts.

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October 26, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Clemens Presents The Minimum Wage And The Great Recession Today At Columbia

ClemensPhoto2Jeffrey Clemens (UC-San Diego) presents The Minimum Wage and the Great Recession (with Michael Wither (UC-San Diego)) at Columbia today as part of its Davis Polk & Wardwell Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex Raskolnikov and Wojciech Kopczuk:

We estimate the minimum wage’s effects on low-skilled individuals’ employment and income trajectories following the Great Recession. Our approach exploits two dimensions of the data we analyze. First, we compare individuals in states that were fully bound by the 2007 to 2009 increases in the federal minimum wage to individuals in states that were not. Second, we use variation in the minimum wage’s bite across skill groups to separate our samples into “target” and “within-state control” groups. Using the 2008 panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation and the Current Population Survey, we find that binding minimum wage increases had significant, negative effects on the employment and income growth of targeted workers.

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October 25, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Use Of Metrics To Assess Scholarly Performance: The Emperor’s New Clothes?

BibliometricsInside Higher Education, Can Your Productivity Be Measured? (reviewing Yves Gingras (University of Quebec), Bibliometrics and Research Evaluation: Uses and Abuses (MIT Press, 2016):

“Since the first decade of the new millennium, the words ranking, evaluation, metrics, h-index and impact factors have wreaked havoc in the world of higher education and research.” ...  Ultimately, Bibliometrics concludes that the trend toward measuring anything and everything is a modern, academic version of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” in which — quoting Hans Christian Andersen, via Gingras — “the lords of the bedchamber took greater pains than ever to appear holding up a train, although, in reality there was no train to hold.”

Gingras says, “The question is whether university leaders will behave like the emperor and continue to wear each year the ‘new clothes’ provided for them by sellers of university rankings (the scientific value of which most of them admit to be nonexistent), or if they will listen to the voice of reason and have the courage to explain to the few who still think they mean something that they are wrong, reminding them in passing that the first value in a university is truth and rigor, not cynicism and marketing.”

Although some bibliometric methods “are essential to go beyond local and anecdotal perceptions and to map comprehensively the state of research and identify trends at different levels (regional, national and global),” Gingras adds, “the proliferation of invalid indicators can only harm serious evaluations by peers, which are essential to the smooth running of any organization.”

And here is the heart of Gingras’s argument: that colleges and universities are often so eager to proclaim themselves “best in the world” -- or region, state, province, etc. -- that they don’t take to care to identify “precisely what ‘the best’ means, by whom it is defined and on what basis the measurement is made.” Put another way, he says, paraphrasing another researcher, if the metric is the answer, what is the question?

Without such information, Gingras warns, “the university captains who steer their vessels using bad compasses and ill-calibrated barometers risk sinking first into the storm.” The book doesn’t rule out the use of indicators to “measure” science output or quality, but Gingras says they must first be validated and then interpreted in context. ...

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October 25, 2016 in Book Club, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

American University Symposium:  Taxing Remote Sales In The Digital Age

AmericanSymposium, Taxing Remote Sales in the Digital Age, 65 Am. U. L. Rev. 1115-1271 (2016):

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October 25, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Soled & Thomas:  Regulating Tax Return Preparation

Jay A. Soled (Rutgers) & Kathleen DeLaney Thomas (North Carolina), Regulating Tax Return Preparation, 58 B.C. L. Rev. ___ (2016):

Every year the U.S. government collects nearly $3 trillion of income and employment taxes, a large share of which is used to deliver social welfare benefits to the poor. With respect to these collections and deliveries, the Form 1040 (U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) seeks to ensure taxpayer accuracy. In the twenty-first century, there are two sets of key players that dominate the Form 1040 preparation and submission process, namely, tax return preparers and tax return preparation software companies. The former hand-hold taxpayers through the entire tax return preparation and submission process while the latter provide taxpayers with the necessary tools to complete and submit tax returns on their own. These two groups – tax return preparers and tax software companies – thus stand as vital intermediaries between the government and taxpayers, assisting in the preparation of over 90 percent of all individual tax returns.

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October 25, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Frank Presents Papers On High-End Inequality Today At NYU

FrankRobert Frank (Cornell) presents five short articles today at the NYU High-End Inequality Colloquium Series (more here) hosted by Robert Frank (Cornell) and Dan Shaviro (NYU):

The discussant is K. Anthony Appiah (NYU).

 

October 24, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call For Tax Papers And Panels: SEALS 2017 (Boca Raton, Florida)

SEALs Logo (2013)Now that we are deep into the fall semester, it's time to think about SEALS 2017! The conference will be held July 31-August 6 in Boca Raton, Florida. The conference submission tool is now open, and Jennifer Bird-Pollan, Leandra Lederman, Francine Lipman, and Shu-Yi Oei, as the Tax Resource team, are eager to coordinate people who are interested in presenting tax work at the SEALS conference into relevant panel groups. In addition, we have also had a very successful Tax Policy Discussion Group in recent years.

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October 24, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tax Papers At ClassCrits IX Conference At Loyola-Chicago

ClassCrits

Critical Perspectives on Tax Law 

  • Les Book (Villanova), Bureaucratic Oppression and the Tax System, 69 Tax Law. 567 (2016)
  • Samuel Brunson (Loyola-Chicago), Avoiding Progressivity: RICs, Pease, and the AMT
  • David Herzig (Valparaiso), Let Prophets Be (Non) Profits
  • Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane), The Troubling Case of Offshore Tax Enforcement 

Distributing Wealth, Law and Power

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October 23, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new paper debuting on the list at #4. The #1 paper is now #23 in all-time downloads among 12,295 tax papers):

  1. [3,668 Downloads]  Families Facing Tax Increases Under Trump's Latest Tax Plan, by Lily L. Batchelder (NYU)
  2. [204 Downloads]  Taxation and Human Rights: A Delicate Balance, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan) & Gianluca Mazzoni (S.J.D. 2017, Michigan)
  3. [190 Downloads]  Law and Macroeconomics: The Law and Economics of Recessions, by Yair Listokin (Yale)
  4. [155 Downloads]  Interrogating the Relationship between 'Legally Defensible' Tax Planning and Social Justice, by Daniel Shaviro (NYU)
  5. [150 Downloads]  Capital Taxation in an Age of Inequality, by Edward Kleinbard (USC)

October 23, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, David Gamage (UC-Berkeley, moving to Indiana) reviews a new article by Gregg Polsky (Georgia) and Adam Rosenzweig (Wash U), The Up-C Revolution (Oct. 13, 2016):

Gamage (2017)When I was in law school, I was taught what was then the conventional wisdom about the U.S. Corporate Income Tax (the “CIT”)—that it was in the process of being eroded through sophisticated tax planning, with the expectation that it would soon shrink to irrelevance as source of federal revenue.  Yet, somewhat ironically, my law school years turned out to mark the (temporary?) end of that trend.  Although the CIT shrank dramatically as a source of federal government revenues during the period from the 1950s through the early 2000s, CIT revenues have since remained more or less constant as a percent of GDP from the early 2000s through today (albeit fluctuating with economic conditions).

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October 21, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Virginia Tax Review Publishes New Issue

Virginia Tax Review (2016)The Virginia Tax Review has published Vol. 35, No. 3 (Spring 2016):

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October 21, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Virginia Tax Review Publishes New Issue

Virginia Tax Review (2016)The Virginia Tax Review has published Vol. 35, No. 2 (Winter 2016):

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

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

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

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

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October 20, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (12)

Crawford & Spivack:  Tampon Taxes, Equal Protection And Human Rights

Bridget J. Crawford (Pace) & Carla Spivack (Oklahoma City), Tampon Taxes, Equal Protection and Human Rights, 2016 Wis. L. Rev. ___ :

In recent months, activists around the globe have harnessed the power of the Internet to raise awareness of the so-called “tampon tax,” an umbrella term to describe sales, VAT and similar “luxury” taxes imposed on menstrual hygiene products. In response to pressure from constituents, five U.S. states and Canada have repealed their tampon tax. Active campaigns are underway in Australia, the United Kingdom and several other countries. Where public pressure has not been an effective technique, those seeking to challenge the tampon tax in the United States have turned to litigation. In four U.S. states, class action lawsuits have been filed seeking repeal of the tax and a refund for back taxes paid, alleging equal protection violations. In the international context, human rights law provides a promising foundation for similar legal challenges to the tampon tax because human rights law takes a capacious approach to gender equality. In the European Court of Human Rights, for example, there are several tax cases that recognize gender-differentiated taxes as a form of impermissible discrimination. This Article explains how the tampon tax violates equal protection and human rights norms. The tax also shows how deeply embedded gender is in matters of tax policy. Full realization of gender equality will require revision of tax laws.

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

Wake Forest Symposium: Revisiting Langdell — Legal Education Reform And The Lawyer’s Craft

Wake 4Symposium, Revisiting Langdell: Legal Education Reform and the Lawyer’s Craft, 51 Wake Forest L. Rev. 231-420 (2016):

Legal Scholarship in the Era of Reform

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October 20, 2016 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Gamage Presents Tax Cannibalization And Fiscal Federalism Today At Toronto

Gamage (2017)David Gamage (UC-Berkeley, moving to Indiana) presents Tax Cannibalization and Fiscal Federalism in the United States, 111 Nw. U. L. Rev. ___ (2017) (with Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)), at Toronto today as part of its James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series:

The current structure of U.S. federal tax law incentivizes state governments to adopt tax policies that inflict costs on the federal government, at the expense of national welfare. We label this the “tax cannibalization problem.”

This article introduces the tax cannibalization problem to the law and policy literatures for the first time. This article also explains how U.S. federal tax law might be restructured so as to alleviate the tax cannibalization problem — to counteract the perverse incentives currently leading U.S. state governments to design their tax systems so as to, in effect, wastefully devour federal tax revenues.

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

Speck Presents Expertise And International Tax Norms Today At Northwestern

SpeckSloan Speck (Colorado) presents Expertise and International Tax Norms at Northwestern today as part of its Advanced Topics in Taxation Workshop Series hosted by Sarah Lawsky:

This project explores the ways in which a particular framework for understanding international taxation—a framework driven by so-called international tax neutrality norms—developed among economists and legal academics in the 1960s and subsequently became entrenched among public-sector policymakers. The neutrality norm framework marks a turn from the instrumental use of international taxation in the 1950s toward the ostensibly objective, efficiency-driven orientation towards international taxation that dominates discussions about international tax policy today (though a growing academic literature questions the viability of this orientation). This project explores how the neutrality norm framework came into being, and how it became a durable framework for understanding international tax policy.

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

McCormack Presents Postpartum Taxation: The Internal Revenue Code And The Opt Out Mom Today At Columbia

McCormackShannon Weeks McCormack (University of Washington) presents Postpartum Taxation: The Internal Revenue Code and the Opt Out Mom at Columbia today as part of its Davis Polk & Wardwell Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex Raskolnikov and Wojciech Kopczuk:

Legislation seeking to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work has been on the books for decades. Nevertheless, the average American woman still receives less than eighty cents for every dollar earned by the average American man. Happily, the gender pay gap between men and childless women is narrowing over time. Meanwhile, the gap between mothers and others continues to widen. Career interruptions contribute significantly to this disturbing trend — nearly half of mothers opt out of the workforce at some point in their lives, most often to care for young children. Faced with too-short (or non-existent) maternity leaves, inflexible work schedules and the soaring costs of childcare in the United States, this opt out phenomenon is hardly surprising. But with the decision to opt out comes grave cost. Over 90% of opt out moms want to return to the workforce several years after off ramping. Unfortunately, many discover that they are unable to do so. A mother that does manage to reenter the workforce will find that even a short off ramp results in a sizeable and disproportionate reduction in her annual earnings that will persist for every year of her remaining life.

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October 18, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Taubinsky Presents Heuristic Perceptions Of The Income Tax Today At UC-Berkeley

Taubinsky 2Dmitry Taubinsky (Dartmouth) presents Heuristic Perceptions of the Income Tax: Evidence and Implications for Debiasing (with Alex Rees-Jones (Pennsylvania)) at UC-Berkeley today as part of its Robert D. Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance Seminar:

This paper reports a new survey experiment designed to directly assess misperceptions of the US Federal Income Tax, and presents a theoretical framework for analyzing the redistributive consequences of these misperceptions. Survey participants are asked a series of incentivized questions about the tax that would be owed by a hypothetical taxpayer. This taxpayer is nearly identical to the participant, but household income is varied across questions; forecasts in this setting identify perceptions of the full tax schedule. We estimate the prevalence of previously discussed heuristics for simplifying tax forecasts (Liebman and Zeckhauser, 2004), and identify the qualitative features of the remaining misperceptions that are not captured by existing models.

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

Comprehensive Bar Exam Preparation: The Secret Behind Chapman's Overperformance On The California Bar Exam

Chapman Logo (2017)Mario William Mainero (Chapman), We Should Not Rely on Commercial Bar Reviews to Do Our Job: Why Labor-Intensive Comprehensive Bar Examination Preparation Can and Should Be a Part of the Law School Mission, 19 Chapman L. Rev. 545 (2016):

Increasingly, law school bar passage rates are an important concern for faculty and administration, as well as students. The July 2014 bar exam saw a precipitous drop nationally in bar passage rates, including declines ranging from four to over twenty percentage points. At the same time, there have been declines in applications to law schools, declines in admissions statistics (LSAT and undergraduate GPA), and an empirically demonstrable decline in student preparedness for law school. The confluence of these events portends even greater declines in bar passage if law schools do not rethink how they prepare students for the bar exam. This Article examines developments in academic support and bar preparation programs with an eye toward suggesting models for effective in-house bar preparation programs. Specifically, this Article examines: (1) the evolution of academic support programs in law schools to include bar passage programs, with a brief description of the types of programs that traditionally have been available; (2) the particular difficulty posed by the California Bar Exam; (3) the existing types of supplemental programs, and concerns posed by programs that are limited to “bar tips” or even limited practice exams or substantive lectures, given the increased numbers of “at risk” students due to the increase in underpreparedness; (4) the supplemental program at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, including the intensity of effort required of both faculty and students in a comprehensive program applicable to all students; and finally, (5) the bar passage results at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law since adoption of a comprehensive supplemental bar passage program, that have been significantly better than would be expected by some commentators, given its ranking and relative youth as a law school. This Article suggests that the traditional focus of academic support programs, including bar preparation programs, that focus largely on perceived “at risk” students, is insufficient in light of the increased numbers of underprepared students. In order to avoid further calamitous declines in bar passage rates, law schools will have to move from traditional academic support models to models that encourage the entire cohort of students to work together, cooperatively, and that apply extensive time and effort to ensure that all students receive the benefit of these programs.

California Bar Exam Results and U.S. News Rankings by School:

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October 18, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

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 October 1, 2016) of the Top 25 U.S. Tax Professors in two of the SSRN categories: all-time downloads and recent downloads (within the past 12 months):

 

 

All-Time

 

Recent

1

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

59,656

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)

10,519

2

Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)

33,897

Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)

4873

3

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

32,118

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

3593

4

D. Dharmapala (Chicago)

28,168

Paul Caron (Pepperdine)

2769

5

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

26,540

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

2356

6

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

22,968

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

2201

7

James Hines (Michigan)

22,124

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

2240

8

Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)

21,344

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

2178

9

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

21,279

William Byrnes (Texas A&M)

2099

10

Ed Kleinbard (USC)

21,023

Lily Batchelder (NYU)

2076

11

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

19,305

Chris Hoyt (UMKC)

1880

12

Richard Ainsworth (BU)

18,737

Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)

1851

13

Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)

18,020

Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)

1812

14

Carter Bishop (Suffolk)

17,317

David Weisbach (Chicago)

1778

15

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

17,296

Louis Kaplow (Harvard)

1716

16

David Weisbach (Chicago)

17,192

Vic Fleischer (San Diego)

1678

17

Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)

16,905

Nancy McLaughlin (Utah)

1604

18

Chris Sanchirico (Penn)

16,771

Yariv Brauner (Florida)

1594

19

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

16,504

Steven Bank (UCLA)

1590

20

Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)

16,194

Brad Borden (Brooklyn)

1425

21

Bridget Crawford (Pace)

15,998

Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)

1389

22

Dan Shaviro (NYU)

15,986

Jack Manhire (Texas A&M)

1380

23

David Walker (Boston Univ.)

15,259

Brian Galle (Georgetown)

1374

24

Steven Bank (UCLA)

13,961

Francine Lipman (UNLV)

1354

25

Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)

13,289

Richard Kaplan (Illinois)

1322

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

Monday, October 17, 2016

Crane Presents Integrating A Fragmented Corporate Tax Today At Boston College

Crane (2016)Charlotte Crane (Northwestern) presents Integrating a Fragmented Corporate Tax at Boston College today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Jim Repetti and Diane Ring:

Calls for corporate tax reform are made with increasing intensity. From some perspectives, there appear to be two separate reform efforts, one focused on “integration” of the tax on the corporation itself with the tax its shareholders pay on distributions to eliminate “double taxation,” and the other focused on reform of the taxation of US-based corporations on their offshore earnings.

The problems to be addressed in these two efforts have in the past been largely treated as distinct policy problems. Solutions that integrate the corporate and individual income taxes in order to eliminate “double taxation” have ordinarily assumed that the current system of cross-border taxation remained in place, and solutions that address cross-border taxation have for the most part assumed the existing approach to taxing distributions from corporations to shareholders remains in place.

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October 17, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Hoffer Presents Will Treasury's Final Regulations Fix The ABLE Act? Today At Loyola-L.A.

Hoffer (2016)Stephanie Hoffer (Ohio State) presents Will Treasury's Final Regulations Fix the ABLE Act?, 153 Tax Notes 265 (Oct. 10, 2016), at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Ellen Aprill and Katherine Pratt:

Passed as part of the Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (ABLE Act), section 529A allows states to build tax-preferred savings programs for individuals with qualifying disabilities. The law is similar to section 529, which governs college savings programs, and it is a game-changer for the disability community. Account principal and investment earnings can be withdrawn from the account tax free for qualified disability-related expenditures, and if used appropriately, withdrawals will not affect the beneficiary’s eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and other federal supports for people with serious disabilities. But Treasury will determine how truly able the law is to achieve its dual goals of allowing individuals with disabilities to cover their own expenses and save for the future. The law contains both annual and aggregate contribution limits, and interpretation is up for grabs. Under one reading of the law, an account could accept no more than the annual limit, regardless of withdrawals from the account. Under an alternative reading that is more in keeping with the spirit of the law, dollars contributed and then withdrawn in the same year would not count against the annual contribution limit. 

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October 17, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)