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Monday, April 27, 2015

NY Times: Finland Imposes Progressive Fines Based On Income; Millionaire Receives $58,000 Speeding Ticket

FinlandNew York Times, Speeding in Finland Can Cost a Fortune, If You Already Have One:

Reima Kuisla, a Finnish businessman, ... was recently fined 54,024 euros (about $58,000) for traveling a modest, if illegal, 64 miles per hour in a 50 m.p.h. zone. And no, the 54,024 euros did not turn out to be a typo, or a mistake of any kind. Mr. Kuisla is a millionaire, and in Finland the fines for more serious speeding infractions are calculated according to income. The thinking here is that if it stings for the little guy, it should sting for the big guy, too. ...

[T]he Finnish “day fine” system, also in use in some other Scandinavian countries, dates to the 1920s, when fines based on income were instituted for all manner of lesser crimes, such as petty theft and assault, and helped greatly reduce the prison population.

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April 27, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Carter: A Critique of Charitable Bequests

Elizabeth R. Carter (LSU), Tipping the Scales in Favor of Charitable Bequests: A Critique, 34 Pace L. Rev. 983 (2014):

This paper considers the public policy favoring testamentary bequests to charity and offers a critique of that policy.

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 718

IRS Logo 2Breitbart, GOP Sen. Presses Obama Administration On Criminal Probe Of IRS Targeting of Conservatives:

On Tax Day, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) pressed the Obama administration for an update on the criminal investigation into the alleged misconduct of IRS personnel in the handling of conservative organizations’ tax exempt status.

“It’s unclear whether all of these cases are open or closed,” Grassley said Wednesday. “The investigative agencies should account for their work. The scandal damaged the public trust in the IRS. Building back any of that trust requires investigation and accountability for any misconduct.”

In a letter to the Acting Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George, the Iowa lawmaker requested more information about the investigation — or lack thereof.

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April 27, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new #1 paper and new papers debuting on the list at #4 and #5:

  1. [271 Downloads]  The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act: American Legal Imperialism?, by Bruce W. Bean (Michigan State) & Abbey Wright Farnsworth
  2. [252 Downloads]  Recent Developments in Federal Income Taxation: The Year 2014, by Martin J. McMahon Jr. (Florida), Bruce A. McGovern (South Texas) & Ira B. Shepard (Houston)
  3. [217 Downloads]  Can Sharing Be Taxed?, by Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane) & Diane M. Ring (Boston College)
  4. [176 Downloads]  Using the 'Smart Return' to Reduce Tax Evasion, by Joseph Bankman (Stanford), Clifford Nass (Stanford) & Joel Slemrod (Michigan)
  5. [169 Downloads]  The Historical Origins of the Debt-Equity Distinction, by Camden Hutchison (Wisconsin)

April 26, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 717

IRS Logo 2Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, The Gathering Storm: An IRS Defeat:

Attempting to obscure the extent of its alleged targeting of conservative groups, the Internal Revenue Service has been smacked with a serious setback in its court fight in Ohio.

A federal judge granted a motion compelling the IRS to list the 298 targeted organizations, which the IRS had identified for the Treasury Department inspector general. In a lawsuit filed in 2013, 10 conservative groups, through discovery, have been trying to pry free the list of all groups targeted by the IRS. This, in order to seek class certification and expand the lawsuit to "all the organizations on (ex-IRS official) Lois Lerner's hit list," writes Hans von Spakovsky of The Heritage Foundation. ...

The discernible rumbling of distant thunder portends the gathering storm that is going to rain down on the IRS.

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April 26, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ring Presents Can Sharing Be Taxed? Today at Fordham

FordhamDiane M. Ring (Boston College) presents Can Sharing Be Taxed?, 93 Wash. U. L. Rev. ___ (2016) (with Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane)), at Fordham today as part of its conference on Sharing Economy, Sharing City: Urban Law and the New Economy:

The past few years have seen the rise of a new model of production and consumption of goods and services, often referred to as the “sharing economy.” Fueled by startups such as Uber and Airbnb, sharing enables individuals to obtain rides, accommodations, and other goods and services from peers via the Internet or mobile application in exchange for payment. The rise of sharing has raised questions about how it should be regulated, including whether existing laws and regulations can and should be enforced in this new sector or whether new ones are needed.

In this Article, we explore those questions in the context of taxation. We argue that, contrary to the claims of some commentators, the application of substantive tax law to sharing is mostly (though not completely) clear, because current law generally contains the concepts and categories necessary to tax sharing. However, tax enforcement and compliance may present challenges, as a result of two distinctive features of sharing. First, some sharing businesses tend to opportunistically pick the more favorable regulatory interpretation if there is ambiguity regarding which rule applies or whether a rule applies. This leads to compliance and enforcement gaps. Second, the “microbusiness” nature of sharing raises unique compliance and enforcement concerns. We suggest strategies for addressing these dual challenges, including lower information reporting thresholds, safe harbors and advance rulings to simplify tax reporting, and targeted enforcement efforts.

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 716

IRS Logo 2Forbes, IRS Forced To Release Names Of Targeted Groups, by Peter J. Reilly:

So we had another Tea Party decision on April 1 of all days. NorCal Tea Party Patriots is one of the ten organizations in a lawsuit against the IRS because of delays and intrusive scrutiny while they were applying for exempt status.  They want it to be a class action suit, but they need information from the IRS to determine what organizations should be in the class. ...

The IRS argued that it could not make those disclosures, because they would be in violation of Code Section 6103 which protects the confidentiality of returns and return information.  The judge went with NorCal on this one.

The Court concludes that the return information sought is directly related to the issue of class certification in this federal court proceeding. The names of the putative class member organizations and their control dates—the date which the putative class member organizations submitted their applications for tax exempt status to the IRS—are directly related to the issue of class certification. Plaintiffs seek the return information of the putative class members to prove to the Court that the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and 23(b) requirements such as typicality, commonality, and whether the IRS acted on a grounds that applied generally to the putative class are satisfied. ...

I’m beginning to despair of their ever being an end to the IRS Scandal on Day 714 by the TaxProf count, as I write this. I thought this latest decision might be a good opportunity to reach out to someone who might have a different view on the whole matter.

Frank Wolpe, Professor Emeritus at Bentley University has written a white paper about rebuilding the IRS. (download)

The paper identifies the ill-conceived massive 1998 structural reorganization and division (like salami-slicing) of field operations as a major cause of the IRS’s current legal battles and “downward slide.” In its 1998 aftermath, we were all left with an overly centralized Washington IRS National Office and an undermanaged array of field operations. That’s where the Tea Party scandal started; and, even more importantly, it need never be repeated. Indeed, such events must stop!

“With that recognition, change-makers can travel a 2015 bipartisan pathway to addressing a wrong-headed 1998 “solution” to a 1998 non-existent structural problem by introducing a 2015 proposal for a National Office consolidation (slimming down) coupled with a field operations decentralization (closer to customers and ending the practice of absentee senior management without local accountability).

Of course the notion that the scandal must have actually started in the Oval Office still has an irresistible grip in some circles, so a boring reorganization just won’t be satisfying.  So maybe it never will end.

Hans von Spakovsky of cnsnews.com wrote:

The arguments in this case by the Justice Department are another example of how the IRS has been hiding behind Section 6103. That law was intended to prevent the IRS from publicly disclosing private tax information—such as its illegal disclosure of the tax returns of the National Organization for Marriage (the IRS agreed to pay National Organization for Marriage $50,000 to settle that case in June of 2014). But the IRS has been trying to use this law to prevent having to disclose its abusive treatment of taxpayers.

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April 25, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Today Is Tax Freedom Day — Earlier In LA, MS & SD, Later In CT, NJ & NY

Tax Foundation logoToday is Tax Freedom Day, the day on which Americans will have earned enough money to pay all federal, state, and local taxes for the year:

Tax Freedom Day is the day when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the year. Tax Freedom Day takes all federal, state, and local taxes and divides them by the nation’s income. In 2015, Americans will pay $3.28 trillion in federal taxes and $1.57 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total tax bill of $4.85 trillion, or 31 percent of national income. This year, Tax Freedom Day falls on April 24, or 114 days into the year.

This year, Americans will work the longest to pay federal, state, and local individual income taxes (43 days). Payroll taxes will take 26 days to pay, followed by sales and excise taxes (15 days), corporate income taxes (12 days), and property taxes (11 days). The remaining 7 days are spent paying estate and inheritance taxes, customs duties, and other taxes.

Tax Freedom

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Tax Foundation Figures Do Not Represent Typical Households’ Tax Burdens:

The Tax Foundation released its annual "Tax Freedom Day" report today that, once again, can leave a strikingly misleading impression of tax burdens -- showing an average federal tax rate across the United States that's likely higher than the tax rate that 80 percent of U.S. households actually pay.

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April 24, 2015 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (1)

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

April 24, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

ATPI Hosts Conference Today On Delivering Benefits To Low-income Taxpayers

ATPI Logo (2015)The American Tax Policy Institute hosts a conference today on Delivering Benefits to Low-income Taxpayers through the Tax System  organized by George Plesko (Connecticut) and Stephen Shay (Harvard) in Washington, D.C.:

Congress has increasingly tasked the IRS to deliver a range of benefits through the tax system. The tax system has become home to some of our most important social policies, including health care, work incentives and poverty relief. The program will bring together leading academics, policymakers and administrators from both the US and abroad to consider issues revolving around administration and design of these important policies.

Panel #1:  Creative Ways to Improve Targeting and Take-Up of Earnings-Related Tax Benefits

This panel will consider ways the US tax system can adapt to its increasing role as a provider of benefits to low-income workers. The three papers explore creative approaches for better targeting of EITC benefits, including using information from other provisions and compliance functions to identify nonparticipants, experimenting with providing the EITC in advance to Chicago, and a proposal to replace existing benefits with a work credit.

Moderator/Discussant:  Damon Jones (Chicago)
Panelists:  Day Manoli (Texas), Elaine Maag (Tax Policy Center), David Marzahl (Center for Economic Progress)

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April 24, 2015 in Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Forman & Mann: Making The IRS Work

Florida Tax ReviewJonathan Barry Forman (Oklahoma) & Roberta F. Mann (Oregon), Making the Internal Revenue Service Work, 17 Fla. Tax Rev. ___ (2015):

This is an Article about how to redesign the federal tax system so that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can administer it more effectively given that Congress is only willing to let the IRS have around 82,000 employees and a $12 billion budget. As the IRS Oversight Board and the National Taxpayer Advocate frequently emphasize, the United States underinvests in the IRS, and that underinvesting means that taxpayer services are suffering and that tax enforcement has been significantly weakened.

With budget deficits for “as far as the eye can see” and the recent IRS troubles with tax-exempt political organizations, the prospects for increased funding for the IRS are remote. In this Article, we consider a variety of approaches that would make it easier for the IRS to raise and collect revenue, and we offer a number of recommendations for legislative and administrative changes. For example, we recommend simplifying the tax system, enhancing third-party reporting, and streamlining the tax-filing and dispute-resolution procedures.

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April 24, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 715

IRS Logo 2Breitbart, Did John McCain Know about IRS Targeting?:

When the IRS scandal broke, Sen. John McCain sent out a press release claiming to be shocked at the news. But was he?

Three years’ of IRS e-mail evidence continues to build against the federal government. The most interesting and possibly disturbing piece of information deals with the fact that Republican Senator McCain and Democrat Senator Carl Levin were both aware of the targeting eleven days before Lerner’s public admission of “inappropriate” actions.

E-mails reveal that staffers from McCain’s office met with IRS personnel for six hours, 11 days before Lerner’s public admission of “inappropriate” actions. ...

This revelation served as chilling confirmation of a suspicion Tea Party groups had all along: they were under fire from both sides of the establishment in Washington, D.C. Republicans and Democrats worked together to crush their common enemy, actual conservatives. ...

[W]hat about that six hour meeting? McCain has some serious explaining to do about just how much he knew about the targeting at the IRS. He’s certainly had his differences with the Tea Party and conservative Republicans in the past. And his positions on free speech and political action have more in common with liberals who prefer a one-way street over the marketplace of ideas.

Maybe, just maybe, Senator McCain did not mind the IRS’ attempts to stifle the First Amendment rights of Tea Party citizens. Maybe his shock at Lerner’s revelation was just as fake as the outrage from the White House.

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April 24, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Crane Presents Uncovering A Meaning For 'Direct Tax' Today At Ohio State

CraneCharlotte Crane (Northwestern) presents Uncovering a Meaning for “Direct Tax” at Ohio State today in a tax colloquium sponsored its Law, Finance and Governance Program:

This paper argues that the references article I to “direct taxes” (which if “layed and collected” by Congress must be apportioned among the states) is a reference to taxes the burden of which can be traced to a particular location, and thus to a particular state. The paper looks to the history of the grant of the impost to the Confederation Congress to support this argument. It demonstrates that throughout the decade before 1787, those involved in financing the War distinguished the impost (which could not appropriately be credited to the state in which it was paid when reckoning whether that state had met its fiscal obligation to the Confederation) from those “direct taxes” (which should be so credited). This same distinction was embedded in the Constitution, to provide both for the final reckoning of those obligations of the states and for the ongoing support of the United States.

Erik Jensen (Case Western) is the discussant.

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

Life After Loving: IRS Regulation of Tax Preparers

Florida Tax ReviewAlex H. Levy (NYU), Believing in Life After Loving: IRS Regulation of Tax Preparers, 17 Fla. Tax Rev. 437 (2015):

Nearly anyone can be a tax preparer. There is no test to pass or code of ethics to follow. With few barriers to entry, the field of tax preparation has drawn unscrupulous players, many of whom prey on low-income families who claim the earned-income tax credit. In 2011, the IRS endeavored to regulate the anything-goes world of tax preparation. But a group of small-government activists at the Institute for Justice challenged the IRS’s regulations in federal court. And they won. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the regulations as beyond the IRS’s authority under section 330 of Title 31 of the United States Code. In the wake of that decision, Loving v. IRS, the only path forward for advocates of taxpayer protection is for Congress to explicitly empower the IRS to regulate swindlers posing as tax professionals.

This Article is, fundamentally, a story of political and judicial failure in the age of small government absolutism. In a different era, federal oversight of unscrupulous tax preparers would have represented the blandest kind of common sense. But the Institute for Justice was able to convince a panel of judges on what is widely regarded as the second most influential court in the country that IRS oversight of tax preparers is unlawful. The government’s litigation strategy proved bumbling and ill-considered; it was easily outmaneuvered by its ideologically-driven adversary.

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April 23, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Auerbach, Gamage Named to California Tax Reform Advisory Panel

SealCalifornia State Controller's Office, Council of Economic Advisors:

Within her first four months of taking office, State Controller Betty Yee created a Council of Economic Advisors to examine the many ideas for comprehensive tax reform in California.

Controller Yee and other elected officials have called for a tax system that is less vulnerable during economic downturns and is more sustainable, providing greater certainty from year to year. While numerous reform ideas have merit, Controller Yee believes that changes to the tax system must be examined as a whole with focus on fairness to taxpayers and practicality. A comprehensive reform should avoid locking in even more money for specific groups and instead provide a dependable source of revenue that avoids major disruptions to government services.

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April 23, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

House Report: IRS ‘Deliberately’ Cut Customer Service to Make Tax Season Painful for Taxpayers

House LogoHouse Ways & Means Committee Majority Staff Report, Doing Less With Less: IRS’s Spending Decisions Harm Taxpayers (Apr. 22, 2015):

During the 2015 tax-filing season, the IRS provided what its own Commissioner described as “abysmal” customer service, blaming skyrocketing wait times for telephone and in-person assistance on agency budget cuts. The IRS even called budget cuts “a tax cut for tax cheats.” But a close review of the agency’s spending shows the IRS deliberately cut $134 million in funding for customer service to pay for other activities. Spending decisions entirely under the IRS’s control led to 16 million fewer taxpayers receiving IRS assistance this filling season. Other spending choices, including prioritizing employee bonuses and union activity on the taxpayer’s dime, used up resources that otherwise could have been used to assist another 10 million taxpayers.

The IRS’s spending choices and mismanagement of resources raise serious questions about the nature and extent of the agency’s self-described budget crisis and its commitment to serving the taxpayer.

Press and blogosphere coverage:

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April 23, 2015 in Congressional News, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)

The IRS Scandal, Day 714

IRS Logo 2Forbes, Before IRS Targeting, Lois Lerner Targeted At Federal Election Commission, by Robert W. Wood:

The IRS audits, sends bills, imposes penalties, files liens and levies. Yet incredibly, most of the money the IRS collects is self-assessed. We all fill out tax returns and voluntarily send in money. How much we believe in the system is critical to making it work. Sure, part of the reason we comply is our fear that we’ll be viewed as willful risking jail if we don’t. But there may be a correlation between how much people cheat and their faith that the tax system is impartial. That’s one reason the state of the IRS is so terribly important.

It is hard to believe that the IRS scandal is on day 711. More than two years on, we know that Lois Lerner got a pass on prosecution. She even got nice bonuses. And it seems clear that nothing more will happen. Democrats say that is as it should be, since as President Obama remarked that there is not even a smidgen of corruption at the IRS. But Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL) spoke in support of Congressman Jim Renacci’s (R-OH) Prevent Targeting at the IRS Act, which passed unanimously along with several other measures to rein in the IRS. Rep. Roskam called the targeting insidious and poisonous. ...

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

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April 23, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Closing The Books On My 25th Year Of Law Teaching

I taught my last Federal Income Tax and Tax Policy classes of the semester today, closing the books on my 25th (and best) year of law teaching. Thanks to the students who have put up with me through the years, including my hokey closing advice on the secret of life:

April 22, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Mazur: Taxing the Cloud

CloudsOrly Mazur (SMU), Taxing the Cloud, 103 Cal. L. Rev. 1 (2015):

Transacting business in the “cloud” has quickly gained popularity worldwide as the new method of providing information technology (IT) resources. Instead of purchasing or downloading software, we can now use the Internet to access software and other fundamental computing resources located on remote computer networks operated by third parties. These transactions offer companies lower operating costs, increased scalability, and improved reliability, but also give rise to a host of international tax issues. Despite the rapid growth and prevalent use of cloud computing, U.S. taxation of international cloud computing transactions has yet to receive significant scholarly attention. This Article seeks to fill that void by analyzing the U.S. tax implications of operating in the cloud from both doctrinal and policy perspectives. Such an analysis shows that the technological advances associated with the cloud put pressure on traditional U.S. federal income tax principles, which creates uncertainty, compliance burdens, liability risks for businesses, and a potential loss of revenue for the government. Applying the current law to cloud computing transactions also results in tax consequences that run counter to sound tax policy and may result in double taxation or complete nontaxation of cloud income.

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April 22, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Warren Buffett’s Nifty Tax Loophole

BuffettBarron's, Warren Buffett’s Nifty Tax Loophole:

Warren Buffett has backed higher individual tax rates–while ensuring that his vast wealth in Berkshire Hathaway is almost immune.

Warren Buffett is fond of saying his tax rate is lower than his secretary’s. He does not publicize his tax returns, but for the tax year 2010, he paid $6.9 million on taxable income of $39.8 million, according to partial disclosures he made in 2011.

What is astounding about those numbers is not the 17.3% tax rate, but that Buffett’s $39.8 million of taxable income is only about 0.05% of his reported net worth ($71 billion according to Forbes, which put him third on its list of the 400 wealthiest people in the world for 2015).

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April 22, 2015 in Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Florida Tax Institute Kicks Off Today

FloridaThe three-day Florida Tax Institute kicks off today at the Grand Hyatt in Tampa.  Tax Prof speakers include:

  • Sam Donaldson (Georgia State), Recent Developments Affecting Estate Planning
  • Lawrence Lokken (Florida), Current Developments in International Taxation
  • Martin McMahon (Florida) & Bruce McGovern (South Texas), Recent Developments in Federal Income Taxation 
  • Louis Nostro (Nostro Jones) & Grayson McCouch (Florida), Innovative Charitable Gift Planning Strategies
  • Hap Shashy (King & Spalding) & Michael Friel (Florida), Debt vs. Equity

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April 22, 2015 in Conferences, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 713

IRS Logo 2News Max, IRS Tea Party-Targeting Scandal Continues:

If the tea party and other conservative groups had been fully active in the critical months leading up to the 2012 election, would Mitt Romney be president today? The public will, of course, never know for certain.

Thanks to Judicial Watch, however, the American people do now know the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeted right-leaning organizations applying for tax-exempt status and prevented them from having their voice heard during that period. ...

In their lawsuit, Judicial Watch is asking the courts to order the IRS to do the following:

  • Conduct a search for any and all records responsive to (Judicial Watch’s) FOIA requests.
  • Produce, by a certain date, any and all nonexempt records responsive to (Judicial Watch’s) FOIA requests and a Vaughn index of any responsive records withheld under claim of exemption.
  • Enjoin the [RS from continuing to withhold any and all non-exempt records responsive to the plaintiff’s FOIA requests.

This targeting of donors and other right-leaning groups is intriguing in light of a new Lerner email Judicial Watch just released.

The email discloses that the IRS audited tax-exempt political groups using a separate investigation arm (under Lerner’s control), the Review of Operations Unit. Lerner wrote: "Also, we often use the ROO [Review of Operations Unit] to do initial research. Before starting audits — they don’t touch taxpayers, but can look at publicly available info about orgs."

These documents should dispel any remaining doubt that the Obama administration used tea party applications to do opposition research on individual citizens and groups opposed to President Obama’s policies.

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April 22, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Albouy Presents The Optimal Taxation Of Housing Consumption Today At NYU

AlbouyDavid Albouy (Illinois) presents Should We Be Taxed Out Of Our Homes? The Optimal Taxation of Housing Consumption at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Daniel Shaviro and Alan Viard:

Optimal tax theory suggests that it is more efficient to tax housing as a consumption good than other forms of consumption as it is a complement to leisure and is produced more intensively from land, an inelastic factor, than other goods. This tax rate appears to be at least 50 percent higher than other forms of consumption, justifying high rates of property taxation, particularly in areas with inelastic housing supply. It may be efficient to offer a lump sum transfer to households who choose to live close to high-paying jobs, justifying infra-marginal subsidies to housing units in some high-price areas. Proximity to amenities may also influence optimal tax rates depending on whether they are substitutes or complements to labor supply or housing consumption.

April 21, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Barry Law School Seeks To Hire An Entry Level Tax Prof

Barry LogoBarry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law in Orlando, Florida is seeking to hire entry level tenure track faculty in Tax, Legal Research and Writing, Business Law, Commercial Law, and Property. Other doctrinal areas are also being considered. To apply for a position, email a cover letter, CV, and list of references to Faculty Appointments Committee Chair Seema Mohapatra.

April 21, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bloomberg's Zachary Mider Wins Pulitzer Prize For His Tax Reporting

BloombergThe 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Explanatory Reporting:

Awarded to Zachary R. Mider of Bloomberg News for a painstaking, clear and entertaining explanation of how so many U.S. corporations dodge taxes and why lawmakers and regulators have a hard time stopping them.  [Photo: Bloomberg News Wins Pulitzer for Explanatory Reporting.]

Here are links to some of Zachary's tax reporting over the past year:

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April 21, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Eyal-Cohen: Lessons in Fiscal Activism

Mirit Eyal-Cohen (Alabama), Lessons in Fiscal Activism:

This article highlights an anomaly. It shows that two tax rules aimed to achieve a similar goal were introduced at the same time. Both meant to be temporary and bring economic stimuli but received a dramatically different treatment. The economically inferior rule survived while its superior counterpart did not. The article reviews the reasons for this paradox. It shows that the causes are both political and an agency problem. The article not only enriches an important and ongoing debate that has received much attention in recent years, but also provides important lessons to policymakers.

April 21, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 712

IRS Logo 2National Review, The IRS Assures an Atheist Group It Will Monitor Churches:

It was bad enough, as I wrote here last August, that the Internal Revenue Service appeared to reach an agreement to monitor the pulpits of ill-favored churches. What’s worse is that the IRS, directly counter to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requirements, steadfastly has refused to make public key documents pertaining to that decision.

So the IRS, acting with the whole power of government behind it, seems to be saying it can monitor and presumably punish churches for the content of their sermons, but the churches can’t know exactly if, how, and why they are being monitored.

To fight this combined assault on religious liberty and on government transparency, conservative legal stalwarts Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Judicial Watch together filed suit April 9 to force release of the IRS documents. ADF asserts that the IRS already has shared the documents with the atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). Once again, the IRS bends over backwards on behalf of leftists while harassing and ignoring the rights, on multiple levels, of conservative groups or faith communities.

And if the IRS continues to flout FOIA, we ought to treat its obstinacy as a major scandal. Then again, the IRS’s connivance with FFRF is itself a scandalous and deliberate trampling of our founding freedom of religious exercise and expression, guaranteed by the First Amendment.

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April 21, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Field Presents Aggressive Tax Planning and the Ethical Tax Lawyer Today at Pepperdine

Field (2015)Heather Field (UC-Hastings) presents Aggressive Tax Planning and the Ethical Tax Lawyer at Pepperdine today as part of our Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

[H]ow should a tax planner, who wants to engage in “permissible tax planning” but not cross the line over into “unethical loophole lawyering,” exercise her discretion and judgment? This paper seeks to answer this question by drawing on both (a) the extensive literature on lawyering and professionalism and (b) the social science literature regarding factors that contribute to biased decision-making and unintentional lapses in judgment. The explicit incorporation of these strands of literature into the discourse on tax ethics helps each tax planner operationalize, on an individual basis and in a way that aligns with her values, both the general and tax-specific rules of professional conduct. The existing tax ethics literature primarily focuses either on how to comply with the rules governing practice or on how the rules should be improved. Thus, this paper contributes to the literature by focusing on the issues that the rules leave to the discretion of the tax practitioner (rather than on the issues that the rules address) and by approaching the discussion from a lawyering perspective20 (rather than from a policymaking perspective).

Specifically, this paper argues that a lawyer seeking to pursue a career as an ethical tax planner should identify and implement her philosophy of lawyering to help her make difficult discretionary decisions in a principled way, and when implementing that approach to lawyering, she should work to counteract the subtle factors that can skew her professional judgment. ...

Ultimately, this paper argues that an important part of being an ethical tax planner, particularly when dealing with contestable tax positions, includes being deliberate about how one approaches the task of giving tax planning advice and being self-aware about the ways in which one exercises judgment. By fleshing out the concept of ethical tax planning, I hope to give our students confidence and guidance as they embark on (hopefully, ethical) careers as tax planners, and I hope to ease the tension between tax academics’ scholarly work condemning aggressive tax planning and their classroom work, in which they often teach students how to use those same tax planning techniques. And perhaps this limited defense of the ethics of the tax planning profession can help to rehabilitate the public image of tax lawyers.

Update:  Post-presentation lunch:

Field

April 20, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yale: Anti-Basis

Ethan Yale (Virginia), Anti-Basis, 94 N.C. L. Rev. ___ (2015):

Anti-basis is the untaxed benefit enjoyed by a taxpayer when a liability or obligation is incurred. In the business context, the untaxed benefit is an increase in asset basis or a tax deduction. In the personal context, the untaxed benefit might take one of those forms, or it might be (nondeductible) personal consumption. A well-functioning income tax system must keep track of any such untaxed benefit. If the liability from which the benefit derived is avoided by the taxpayer, the prior untaxed benefit must be taken into income (or must reduce basis). If there was no prior untaxed benefit relating to a liability, exceptions are necessary to various rules requiring income recognition (or basis reduction) on discharge or shifting of liabilities.

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

NY Times: Are You Receiving A Marriage Penalty Or Bonus?

New York Times, Are You Receiving a Marriage Penalty or Bonus?:

Nick Kasprak, a developer at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Kyle Pomerleau, an analyst at the Tax Foundation, have calculated marriage penalties or bonuses for thousands of hypothetical couples with total wages between $10,000 and $1 million.

In marriages without children, the largest bonuses, in percentage terms, occur when couples have income just under $100,000 and only one earner. These couples pay about 7 percent of their income, or $7,000, less in taxes than they would if they were forced to file as two single individuals.

The largest marriage penalties are for those who earn around $17,000, split evenly. These couples pay about 4 percent of their income, or $700, more in taxes than they would if they were allowed to file as two single individuals.

NYT

FiveThirtyEight, Should You Get Married (Or Divorced) For Tax Reasons?:

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April 20, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Death of Chuck Davenport

DavenportNeil H. Buchanan (George Washington),  Charles Davenport, Rest In Peace:

Chuck Davenport died last week.  I admired him greatly.  Chuck was the senior tax law professor at Rutgers-Newark when I was on the entry-level market for legal academics.  When I visited Newark for my job talk, Chuck came to the small dinner the night that I arrived, and I immediately knew that I had met a kindred spirit.  It was clear that we were politically similar (for example, he positively compared my thinking with that of John Kenneth Galbraith -- a generous compliment that would turn anyone's head!), but that was not what really mattered.  Chuck was just so easy to like.

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April 20, 2015 in Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 711

IRS Logo 2Charleston Post and Courier editorial, Lack of Transparency a Continuing Scandal:

Hillary Clinton’s disclosure that she used her own email system for official and private business while Secretary of State and has wiped clean its server, after delivering print-outs to the State Department that she and her staff selected, is one more reminder that “the most transparent administration” ever still maintains large walls of darkness around sensitive subjects.

The Justice Department recently bolstered that sad truth when it declined to bring charges of contempt of Congress against former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner.

That means Ms. Lerner can’t be compelled to tell Congress and the public about her role and motives while on the public payroll in supervising an IRS witch-hunt of “Tea Party” and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status in the 2011-2012 election cycle. ...

We are left to wonder who at the IRS knew about the crackdown on conservative, but not liberal, groups. Were there higher ups who wanted to tilt the political playing field against conservative candidates?

A reported 298 conservative groups were targeted. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott recently ruled, over the objection of the Justice Department, that the Internal Revenue Service must turn over a list of their names to litigants who want to bring a class-action suit against the government for violating their First and Fifth Amendment rights as well as pertinent federal law.

So the public yet should get some additional information on this scandal from an unwilling administration.

Just over six weeks ago the inspector general for the IRS reported that it was looking into criminal activity by the agency in falsely reporting to Congress that it could not recover Ms. Lerner’s emails because of computer failure and the lack of backup tapes. The IG reported that his office found the backup tapes with little trouble.

That report let a bit of light into the dark subject of the politicization of the revenue service, but the relentless back-checking by the IRS and the Justice Department, like the possibly illegal destruction of records by Mrs. Clinton, will make it hard to learn what happened before the next presidential election is over.

As for the president’s promise that his administration would be the most transparent in history, it is well to remember the advice given by Richard Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell on how to evaluate that administration:

“Watch what we do, not what we say.”

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April 20, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, April 19, 2015

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 #1 paper and a new paper debuting on the list at #5:

  1. [312 Downloads]  Cancellation of Debt and Related Transactions, by Douglas A. Kahn (Michigan) & Jeffrey H. Kahn (Florida State)
  2. [258 Downloads]  Abusive Tax Avoidance and Institutional Corruption: The Responsibilities of Tax Professionals, by Gillian Brock (Harvard) & Hamish Russell (Toronto)
  3. [255 Downloads]  The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act: American Legal Imperialism?, by Bruce W. Bean (Michigan State) & Abbey Wright Farnsworth
  4. [236 Downloads]  Recent Developments in Federal Income Taxation: The Year 2014, by Martin J. McMahon Jr. (Florida), Bruce A. McGovern (South Texas) & Ira B. Shepard (Houston)
  5. [192 Downloads]  Can Sharing Be Taxed?, by Shu-Yi Oei (Tulane) & Diane M. Ring (Boston College)

April 19, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 710

IRS Logo 2Breitbart, IRS: Mistakes Were Made:

Judicial Watch has just released a new batch of documents forced out of the IRS that show the Obama administration’s scandalous misuse of the IRS to target Tea Party and other conservatives goes far deeper than realized.

Included in the new batch of documents is a February 2012 email from Lois Lerner, who was then head of the IRS’ Exempt Organizations Branch, asking that a special program be set up to “put together some training points to help [IRS staffers] understand the potential pitfalls” of revealing too much information to Congress. Amid the hundreds of released pages, Judicial Watch also found a remarkable Lerner email from 2013 in which she says she is willing to take the blame for not having provided sufficient direction to her underlings on how best to investigate the targeted groups, and then concedes that she “understands why the IRS criteria” leading to targeting of Tea Party groups and other opponents of President Obama “might raise questions.”

In May 2013, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released an audit revealing the IRS had used “inappropriate criteria” to identify potential political cases. “Early in Calendar Year 2010,” TIGTA wrote, “the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status to (e.g., lists of past and future donors).” The illegal IRS reviews continued for more than 18 months and, TIGTA reported, “delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications” preparing for the 2012 presidential election.”

Not so coincidentally, during this period of time, Lerner emailed former Director of the Office of Rulings and Agreements Holly Paz, attempting to limit information provided by the IRS to Congress about non-profit classifications. ...

Should Mitch McConnell lead Republicans and Democrats in requiring the appointment of a special counsel for Lynch (or, preferably, a better nominee) to get a vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate? Concerned citizens should let McConnell and other Senate representatives know what they think. McConnell’s office can be reached at 202-224-3121.

In the meantime, Judicial Watch will keep on doing what Justice and Congress won’t. There is more to come. The watchdog currently has thousands more internal IRS documents under review, several other lawsuits and more leads that are keeping the organization working at full capacity. The fight for transparency and accountability is too important to let up now.

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April 19, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

IRS Budget Cuts: Tax Administration v. Tax Handouts

Chris Edwards (Cato Institute), IRS Budget Cuts and Tax Filing:

For taxpayers needing IRS help, this year’s filing season could be a nightmare. The Washington Post today reports on the long lines at IRS offices. The newspaper suggests that five years of Republican budget cuts are to blame, even though Democrats control the White House and, until recently, the Senate. But, whoever is at fault, the IRS commissioner is correct that his agency’s service is “abysmal.”

Let’s take a closer look at those alleged budget cuts. Using data from the OMB budget database, I split total IRS outlays into two activities: administration and handouts. Administration includes tax return processing, taxpayer help, enforcement, and other bureaucratic functions. Handouts are mainly refundable tax credits, particularly the earned income tax credit, child credit, and Obamacare exchange subsidies, which began in 2014.

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April 18, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 709

IRS Logo 2Letter From Charles Grassley (Chair, Senate Judiciary Committee) to Sally Yates (Acting Deputy Attorney General) and J. Russell George (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration) (Apr. 15, 2015):

I am writing in regard to the ongoing criminal investigation into the alleged misconduct by Internal Revenue Service personnel, including Ms. Lois Lerner, in connection with their handling of applications for tax-exempt status by certain conservative organizations. In May of 2013, Attorney General Holder announced that he had ordered the investigation. In January of 2014, the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed law-enforcement officials, reported that the FBI did not at that time plan to file any criminal charges as a result of the investigation, but noted that the case was ongoing and would likely remain open for months.

On November 3, 2014, the Department of Justice filed a sworn declaration by Mr. Nelson D. Hermilla, an official in the Department’s Civil Rights Division, in a civil case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In that declaration, Mr. Hermilla stated that the Justice Department “is currently conducting” the investigation of alleged IRS misconduct, further stating:

The investigation is being conducted by career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division and the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division, as well as agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.”

In order to evaluate the extent to which your organizations are actively investigating this issue, please provide written answers to the following questions by May 15, 2015:

1. Since January of 2014, who has been assigned to the investigation from each of the offices cited in Mr. Hermilla’s declaration?

2. When were they assigned, and by whom?

3. How many hours has each attorney or agent identified above worked on the investigation since being assigned to it? How many hours since January of 2014?

4. Prior to being assigned to this investigation, had any of these assigned attorneys or agents previously had contact with any of the IRS employees or offices under investigation? If so, please provide a detailed explanation of the nature and extent of the prior contacts.

5. Has a litigation hold or other preservation effort been instituted to ensure that all potentially relevant parties preserve all possible evidence, including electronically stored information that could otherwise be damaged or erased absent such preservation efforts? If so, please provide a copy. If not, please explain why not.

If you have any questions about this request, feel free to contact Patrick Davis of my Committee staff at (202) 224-5225. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Forbes, IRS Targeting Investigation Is Probed By Senator Grassley, by Robert W. Wood:

Without hyperbole, Sen Grassley ask logical questions and is entitled to some answers:

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April 18, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Weekly Tax Roundup

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

House Votes To Repeal Estate Tax, Preserve Step-Up In Basis At Death

Estate Tax LogoFollowing up on Monday's post, the House voted 240-179 yesterday to repeal the estate tax and preserve step-up in basis at death:

April 17, 2015 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (8)

The IRS Scandal, Day 708

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial, How Lois Lerner Got a Pass: The Prosecutor Absolved the IRS Witness on His Last Day on the Job:

If Americans know anything about the IRS it’s that it accepts no excuses, and so they trudged wearily on Wednesday to pay their taxes. That’s in notable contrast to the free passes that keep flowing to the tax agency’s most famous former employee, Lois Lerner.

The Obama Administration’s latest gift to the former IRS tax-exempt chief came recently when U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ron Machen informed the House of Representatives that he would not file charges on its formal contempt citation against Ms. Lerner. This absolution, which shields Ms. Lerner from a grand jury probe, came on Mr. Machen’s final day on the job.

To review: Ms. Lerner was summoned to the House on May 22, 2013, to answer questions about her role in the IRS’s politically biased review of Tea Party nonprofit group applications for tax-exempt status.

She began her testimony with a statement recounting her career, reprising the scandal and proclaiming her innocence. She ended by saying: “I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws, I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.” Only after she offered this long defense did she claim her right not to incriminate herself by citing the Fifth Amendment, refusing to answer questions.

House lawyers determined that, in making that statement, Ms. Lerner had forfeited her right to remain silent. The House on May 7, 2014 held her in contempt of Congress and sent the citation to Mr. Machen.

The law clearly explains that the U.S. Attorney’s only “duty” “shall be” to “bring the matter before the grand jury for its action.” Mr. Machen instead sat on the contempt citation for 11 months, and on March 31 sent Speaker John Boehner a letter explaining he’d unilaterally decided not to investigate Ms. Lerner.

According to Mr. Machen’s rationale, Ms. Lerner’s statement made only “general claims of innocence” that did not forfeit her Fifth Amendment rights to refuse to answer questions. To reach this conclusion, Mr. Machen had to willfully ignore that Ms. Lerner, in her statement, rebutted specific accusations against her.

“[M]embers of this committee have accused me of providing false information when I responded to questions about the IRS processing of applications for tax exemption,” she said, before claiming she had never done so. Those accusations had been detailed to her in a letter from former House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrel Issa, eight days before she testified.

Mr. Machen also had to ignore that Ms. Lerner had prior to her House appearance voluntarily met for an interview with Justice prosecutors. As the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky has noted, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in its 1969 Ellis v. U.S. decision found that “once a witness has voluntarily spoken out, we do not see how his protected interest is jeopardized by testifying in a subsequent proceeding, provided he is not required to disclose matters of substance which are unknown to the Government.”

Since Ms. Lerner had already disclosed to the “government” (prosecutors), she lost her privilege to clam up before Congress. And we’d note that after her House stonewall, she again chose to speak in an interview with the Politico website. Ms. Lerner wants the right not to answer questions except when it suits her public-relations purposes.

In any event, the job of making these legal calls belonged to a grand jury—not Mr. Machen. Then again, this is the prosecutor who in an exit interview with the National Law Journal about his tenure touted his allegiance to Attorney General Eric Holder, describing him as a “tremendous mentor and a tremendous friend.”

After Mr. Machen’s performance in shielding Ms. Lerner from the consequences of her actions, Mr. Holder would no doubt return the compliment. The handling of the IRS scandal is a blot on both of their careers.

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April 17, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Omri Marian Leaves Florida For UC-Irvine

Marian (2015)Omri Marian, a rising tax scholar at Florida, has accepted a lateral offer from UC-Irvine. Omri spent three years as a tax associate at Sullivan & Cromwell and joined the Florida tax faculty in 2012. His recent tax scholarship includes (in addition to reviews and op-eds):

Omri joins Sarah Lawsky in giving UC-Irvine a powerhouse tax faculty and strengthening my not entirely disinterested view that Southern California boasts the strongest collection of tax scholars of any region in the country, which includes, among others:  UCLA (Steve Bank, Jason Oh, Kirk Stark, Eric Zolt), USC (Tom Griffith, Ed Kleinbard, Ed McCaffery), San Diego (Howard Abrams, Jordan Barry, Victor Fleischer, Miranda Perry Fleischer, Bert Lazerow), and Loyola-L.A. (Ellen Aprill, Ted Seto, Katie Pratt), not to mention (ahem) the tax faculty at Pepperdine.

April 16, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Moves | Permalink | Comments (3)

NY Times Op-Ed: The Declining Support For Redistribution

New York Times op-ed:  Has Obamacare Turned Voters Against Sharing the Wealth?, by Thomas B. Edsall:

With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, the share of Americans convinced that health care is a right shrank from a majority to a minority.

This shift in public opinion is a major victory for the Republican Party. It is part of a larger trend: a steady decline in support for redistributive government policies. Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at Berkeley and one of the nation’s premier experts on inequality, is a co-author of a study [How Elastic Are Preferences For Redistribution? Evidence From Randomized Survey Experiements] that confirms this trend, which has been developing over the last four decades. A separate study, The Structure of Inequality and Americans’ Attitudes Toward Redistribution, found that as inequality increases, so does ideological conservatism in the electorate.

The erosion of the belief in health care as a government-protected right is perhaps the most dramatic reflection of these trends. In 2006, by a margin of more than two to one, 69-28, those surveyed by Gallup said that the federal government should guarantee health care coverage for all citizens of the United States. By late 2014, however, Gallup found that this percentage had fallen 24 points to 45 percent, while the percentage of respondents who said health care is not a federal responsibility nearly doubled to 52 percent. ...

The conservative shift in public attitudes on health care and on issues of redistribution and inequality pose a significant threat to the larger liberal agenda.

The 2013 paper published in Public Opinion Quarterly that I mentioned at the beginning of this article, The Structure of Inequality and Americans’ Attitudes Toward Redistribution, suggests that Democratic programs providing tax-financed benefits to the poor are facing growing hostility.

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April 16, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times Op-Ed: Shaming Those Who Skip Out on Taxes

New York Times op-ed:  Shaming Those Who Skip Out on Taxes, by Ricardo Perez-Truglia (Harvard) & Ugo Troiana (Michigan):

In 2006, according to an estimate by the United States Treasury Department, Americans underpaid their taxes by about $450 billion. For that year, that’s roughly equal to Pentagon spending, and more than the gross domestic products of Sweden and Switzerland.

A good chunk of the missing tax revenues comes from underreporting income, or tax evasion. The rest, roughly 25 percent — about $110 billion — comes from failure to pay taxes, or tax delinquency.

Some people are hard up and can’t afford to pay their taxes. But others simply choose not to pay. When traditional enforcement strategies, like charging above-market interest rates on the debt, don’t work, the government uses a number of tools to collect these taxes. For instance, some states, like Kentucky, can order employers to take a bigger tax bite from the wages of tax delinquents, as allowed by federal and state law.

But traditional collection methods don’t always work. In a recent study [Tax Debt Enforcement: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment in the United States], we used another strategy that got results: publicly shaming tax delinquents. It should be a key part of government efforts to increase the collection of tax debts, and thanks to the Internet and social media, the government has the means to make it even more effective.

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April 16, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

North Carolina Law Review Festschrift In Honor Of Bill Turnier

TurnierJohn Charles Borger (Dean, North Carolina), An Issue in Tribute to a Splendid Career William J. Turnier: UNC Law Colleague, 1973–2014, 93 N.C. L. Rev. 643 (2015):

It is not every senior faculty member whose fondest wish upon retirement is less a dinner hosted in his honor or a public celebration in the Rotunda of Van Hecke-Wettach, but rather an issue of the North Carolina Law Review devoted to tax scholarship. Yet it seems completely fitting that William J. Turnier, a member of the University of North Carolina law faculty for the past forty-one years, has acquiesced in the tribute that appears in these pages, a series of tax articles his scholarly colleagues have assembled in this issue of the Review to mark his departure from full-time academic life. ...

There is always some sadness in watching the departure from our halls of learning of someone who has built such a rich career and commanded such gratitude from more than two generations of students. Yet Bill Turnier’s impact on Carolina Law will remain, and by suggesting this special issue, designed in tribute to his chosen field, Bill has afforded us one last gift that will endure as long as readers strive to read, research, and understand law and its potential for ordering the commonweal.

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April 16, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Adler: How The IRS Repeatedly Rewrites Obamacare Tax Credit Provisions

The Volokh Conspiracy:  How the IRS Repeatedly Rewrites Obamacare Tax Credit Provisions, by Jonathan H. Adler (Case Western):

The plaintiffs in King v. Burwell argue that an IRS regulation unlawfully extends tax credit eligibility beyond what is expressly authorized under Section 1401 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). It appears that this sort of administrative rewrite of the PPACA may be more the rule than the exception, as there are at least two other instances of the IRS rewriting the PPACA’s tax credit eligibility requirements. 

In a series of posts at “Notice & Comment,” the blog of the Yale Journal on Regulation, Professor Andy Grewal documents two additional cases in which the IRS has rewritten the PPACA’s tax credit eligibility requirements so as to expand eligibility beyond what Congress authorized.  Combined with other instances of the IRS and HHS disregarding the PPACA’s plain text, it appears the federal government has little regard for what the PPACA actually says. ...

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April 16, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

The Mob Museum: The Treasury Department's Special Intelligence Unit

Mob MuseumThe Mob Museum Presents Follow The Money: The Unsung Intelligence Unit That Put Away Some Of The Most Notorious Mobsters:

Who put some of the most notorious mobsters behind bars? Many people don’t realize it was, in fact, the IRS. On Thursday, April 16 at 8 p.m., The Mob Museum, the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, presents its next installment in the Courtroom Conversations series, “Follow the Money: The Unsung Intelligence Unit That Brought Down the Mob.”

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April 16, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)