TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Death Of Harry Grubert

GrubertHarry Grubert, longtime Senior Research Economist in the Office of Tax Analysis at the U.S. Treasury Department, has died at age 81 after a long illness.  From Dan Shaviro:

Harry had more knowledge about U.S. international taxation than any other living individual. I'm not referring to legal knowledge, of course, as he was an economist — albeit, an exceptionally well-informed one about the law. But his long years of research and study regarding U.S. multinational firms, based on tax data that he understood better than anyone else, made him an extraordinary resource, almost like a public utility in light of his kind generosity and willingness to share what he knew.

He was also a leading scholar who developed a number of interesting and important international tax reform ideas (often in coauthored work with Rosanne Altshuler), and one whose research yielded innumerable consequential empirical findings — for example, regarding the costs associated with U.S. multinationals keeping their funds tied up abroad.

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August 16, 2017 in IRS News, Obituaries, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hayashi: The Quiet Costs Of Taxation — Cash Taxes And Noncash Bases

Andrew T. Hayashi (Virginia), The Quiet Costs of Taxation: Cash Taxes and Noncash Bases:

Tax law gives relief to “illiquid” taxpayers, those with income or wealth but no cash. This relief results in revenue losses, creates opportunities for tax avoidance, and distorts economic decisions. And yet, we don’t know how much hardship is actually created by illiquidity. This Article provides a framework for determining the magnitude of that hardship.

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August 16, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Viswanathan: Tax Compliance In A Decentralizing Economy

Manoj Viswanathan (UC-Hastings), Tax Compliance in a Decentralizing Economy:

Tax compliance in the United States has long relied on information from centralized intermediaries — the financial institutions, employers, and brokers that help ensure income is reported and taxes are paid. Yet while the IRS remains tied to these centralized entities, consumers and businesses are not. New technologies, such as the “sharing” economy (companies such as Airbnb, Uber, and Instacart) and the blockchain (the platform on which Bitcoin is based) are providing new, decentralized options for exchanging goods and services. Without legislative and agency intervention, these technologies pose a critical threat to the reporting system underlying domestic and international tax compliance.

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August 16, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stetson Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Stetson LogoStetson University College of Law invites applications for a full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty position for a dedicated teacher/scholar specializing in tax law. While we are particularly interested in receiving applications from experienced lateral candidates, we will consider hiring at all levels, with or without tenure.

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August 16, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kingi & Rozema: The Effect Of Tax Expenditures On Automatic Stabilizers

Hautahi Kingi (Cornell) &  Kyle Rozema (Chicago), The Effect of Tax Expenditures on Automatic Stabilizers: Methods and Evidence,  14 J. Empirical Legal Stud. 548 (2017):

We study the effect of tax expenditures on the stabilizing power of the tax system. We propose a micro‐simulation strategy that exploits links that we identify between automatic stabilizers, tax expenditures, and effective marginal tax rates. Using U.S. tax return micro data from 2000 to 2010, we estimate that, on average, the mortgage interest deduction and the charitable contributions deduction decreased the ability of the tax system to absorb fluctuations in aggregate consumption by an average of 7.4 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.

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August 16, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Law And Social Norms In Mandatory Palestine And Israel

Tax LawAssaf Likhovski (Tel-Aviv University), Tax Law and Social Norms in Mandatory Palestine and Israel (Cambridge Univ. Press 2017):

This book describes how a social-norms model of taxation rose and fell in British-ruled Palestine and the State of Israel in the mid-twentieth century. Such a model, in which non-legal means were used to foster compliance, appeared in the tax system created by the Jewish community in 1940s Palestine and was later adopted by the new Israeli state in the 1950s. It gradually disappeared in subsequent decades as law and its agents, lawyers and accountants, came to play a larger role in the process of taxation. By describing the historical interplay between formal and informal tools for creating compliance, Tax Law and Social Norms in Mandatory Palestine and Israel sheds new light on our understanding of the relationship between law and other methods of social control, and reveals the complex links between taxation and citizenship.

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August 16, 2017 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Washington State Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Seattle’s Gun Tax

Seattle Times, Washington State Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Seattle’s Gun Tax:

The Washington state Supreme Court has upheld Seattle’s tax on gun and ammunition sales, according to an opinion issued Thursday morning.

The justices ruled 8-1 to affirm a previous decision by King County Superior Court, which sided with the city against opponents, including the National Rifle Association.

The city has been imposing the tax of $25 per firearm and 2 or 5 cents per round of ammunition for more than a year and a half, following City Council passage in 2015. During that time, the lawsuit brought by the tax’s opponents has been moving through the courts.

The plaintiffs have said the tax violates a Washington law that bans cities from regulating firearms, reserving that authority for the state. Seattle claims the tax is legal because taxation is different from regulation.

The majority opinion concluded in part that the city’s ordinance does impose a tax, rather than a regulation, on firearms “because its primary purpose is to raise revenue for the public benefit.”...

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August 15, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

McMahon Wins University Of Cincinnati 2017 Teaching Award

McMahon2017 Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching:

For over 30 years, students at the University of Cincinnati College of Law have had the opportunity to recognize excellence in teaching by recognizing professors who distinguish themselves in the classroom, and whose accomplishments in research and public service contribute to superior performance in the classroom.

Congratulations to this year’s Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching awardees: ...

Stephanie McMahon, Professor of Law
Professor Stephanie McMahon goes above and beyond the standard for teaching. Wrote a student in her nomination letter, “She is one of those professors you remember forever who has the ability to change your view on a subject that most expect to dislike.”

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August 15, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

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 August 1, 2017) 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):







Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)



Michael Simkovic (USC)


Lily Batchelder (NYU)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


Michael Simkovic (USC)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Michael Graetz (Columbia)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



James Hines (Michigan)


David Gamage (Indiana)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Andy Grewal (Iowa)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


David Weisbach (Chicago)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Daniel Shaviro (NYU)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


William Byrnes (Texas A&M)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


Jordan Barry (San Diego)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


Bridget Crawford (Pace)



Dan Shaviro (NYU)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Brian Galle (Georgetown)



David Walker (BU)


Gregg Polsky (Georgia)



Steven Bank (UCLA)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Gregg Polsky (Georgia)


Steven Bank (UCLA)


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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August 15, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bloomberg: Trump's Ownership Structure Likely Saved 'Tens Of Millions' In Obamacare Taxes

Bloomberg BusinessweekBloomberg Businessweek:  Trump’s Web of Companies May Have a Way to Avoid the Obamacare Tax, by Lynnley Browning & John McCormick:

Behind the stainless steel and glass of Chicago’s Trump International Hotel & Tower lies a skeleton of 180,000 cubic yards of high-performance concrete. Below that, 57 rock caissons, some as thick as 10 feet and as long as 80 feet, anchor the skyscraper to the ground and bedrock. The building’s ownership structure is complex, too.

A limited liability company owns the building, and then another company owns that owner — followed by three more that own the owner’s owner, according to the latest federal financial disclosure from President Trump. Other companies appear to handle specific tasks, managing the building’s commercial, residential, and hotel businesses. And then there are companies that own those companies. The trail ends at the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, which collects income from the president’s worldwide businesses for his benefit. A flowchart of the structure “would go from the ceiling of a ballroom to the floor,” says Ronald Wiener, a tax lawyer specializing in partnerships.


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August 15, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1559: Checking In On IRS-Tea Party Lawsuits

IRS Logo 2Bloomberg BNA, Checking in on IRS-Tea Party Lawsuits:

Republicans continue to call for restricting IRS funding and restructuring the agency to ensure there isn’t a repeat of a scandal caused when IRS employees stalled some applications of conservative groups seeking tax exemptions. The IRS has said it worked to resolve the issue.

Still, several lawsuits are pending between the agency and conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. The IRS declined to comment on them. As part of occasional updates on the status of the disputes, here is where some high-profile cases stand now:

NorCal Tea Party Patriots  The IRS Aug. 2 defended its actions in the class action, saying it was within its rights to review exemption applications carefully, but it also acknowledged that it delayed some applications inappropriately (NorCal Tea Party Patriots v. IRS, S.D. Ohio, No.1:13-cv-00341, 8/2/17). ... A trial is set for Feb. 5, 2018.

True the Vote   ... True the Vote in April withdrew two discovery requests: evidence of the IRS using viewpoint-based criteria in tax administration and evidence of the political positions of IRS employees (True the Vote, Inc. v. IRS, D.D.C., No. 1:13-cv-00734, 4/5/17).

Linchpins of Liberty  An Aug. 15 hearing is scheduled on a motion requiring the government to release documents the Linchpins groups requested (Linchpins of Liberty v. United States, D.D.C., No. 1:13-cv-00777, 7/26/17). ...

Freedom Path  The Freedom Path case is set for a June 18, 2018, trial (Freedom Path, Inc. v. IRS, N.D. Tex., No. 3:14-cv-01537, 8/9/17). ... The IRS initially said Freedom Path didn’t qualify as a social welfare group, exempt under Section 501(c)(4) because it didn’t operate just to promote social welfare. The group applied for its exemption in 2011 and sued the IRS in 2014.

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August 15, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Weisbach: New View Integration

David A. Weisbach (Chicago), New View Integration, 71 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2017):

This paper examines the design of corporate integration systems, comparing integration limited to equity issued after enactment (New Equity Integration or NEI) to integration that applies to all equity (complete integration). It shows that NEI achieves all of the efficiency benefits of complete integration at a fraction of the cost. NEI, unlike complete integration, is, moreover, supported by both the traditional view and the new view of the effects of dividend taxation. From an efficiency perspective, NEI is strictly better than complete integration.

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August 14, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bird-Pollan Wins University Of Kentucky 2017 Teaching Award

Bird-Pollan (2017)UK Law's Jennifer Bird Pollan is 2017 Duncan Teaching Award Recipient:

Jennifer Bird Pollan, James and Mary Lassiter Associate Professor of Law, is the recipient of the 2017 Duncan Teaching Award at the University of Kentucky College of Law. 

Every year, a UK Law faculty member is recognized for excellence in the classroom, courtesy of the Robert M. and Joanne K. Duncan Faculty Improvement Fund – established in 1982 to promote outstanding teaching performance at the college.

Professor Bird-Pollan joined the UK Law faculty in 2010. She teaches a variety of Tax Law courses, including Basic Income Tax, Corporate Tax, Partnership Tax and International Tax. She is fully engaged in the academic welfare of her students and they enjoy her both inside and outside the classroom.

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August 14, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, August 13, 2017

WSJ: Number Of Americans Caught Underpaying Estimated Taxes Surges 40%

Wall Street Journal Tax Report, Number of Americans Caught Underpaying Some Taxes Surges 40%:

Attention gig workers, retirees, business owners and investors: Double-check your estimated-tax payments to Uncle Sam.

For reasons that aren’t clear, a growing number of people who pay taxes quarterly are getting their payments wrong and incurring penalties as a result. These taxpayers often owe estimated taxes because they have income that’s not subject to the same withholding as wages earned by employees.

According to Internal Revenue Service data, the number of filers penalized for underpaying estimated taxes rose nearly 40% between 2010 and 2015 — to 10 million from 7.2 million. 


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August 13, 2017 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

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

  1. [639 Downloads]  Family Limited Partnerships and Section 2036: Not Such a Good Fit, by Mitchell Gans (Hofstra) & Jonathan Blattmachr (Milbank, New York)
  2. [434 Downloads]  The Front Door Opens Wide for the Backdoor Roth IRA, by Philip Manns (Liberty) & Timothy Todd (Liberty)
  3. [320 Downloads]  The Rise and Fall of the Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax: What Was That All About?, by Daniel Shaviro (NYU)
  4. [241 Downloads]  The Case Against BEPS: Lessons for Coordination, by Mindy Herzfeld (Florida)
  5. [193 Downloads]  Formalizing the Code, by Sarah Lawsky (Northwestern)

August 13, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Two More Suits Filed to Block Seattle’s New Income Tax

Tax The RichSeattle Times, Two More Suits Filed to Block Seattle’s New Income Tax:

More than a dozen Seattle residents represented by the conservative Freedom Foundation sued the city Wednesday over its new income tax on wealthy households.

In addition, five residents whose legal team includes former Republican state Attorney General Rob McKenna and two former state Supreme Court justices sued to block the tax.

There are now three lawsuits against Seattle’s tax, the first brought last month by investment manager Michael Kunath. Although each challenge is beginning in King County Superior Court, City Attorney Pete Holmes said the overall issue could be taken up and resolved by the state Supreme Court as early as 2018....

Passed by unanimous vote this past month by the City Council and subsequently signed into law by Mayor Ed Murray, the Seattle measure is a 2.25 percent tax on total income above $250,000 for individuals and above $500,000 for married couples filing together.

Proponents and opponents alike expected the tax to be quickly challenged in court.

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August 12, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Erin Scharff (Arizona State) reviews a recent article by Steven A. Bank (UCLA), When Did Tax Avoidance Become Respectable:

Scharff (2017)The title of Steven Bank’s recent article asks a provocative question: “When Did Tax Avoidance Become Respectable?” Interested readers may be relieved to know that Bank also addresses other questions, including whether tax avoidance is respectable. Bank marshals a fascinating dataset (tracking newspaper ads about tax advice over time) to show that tax avoidance became more acceptable over the 1950s and 1960s. He then explains this change by suggesting, among other factors, that unsustainably high tax rates in the post-war period eroded public confidence in the tax system.  

As Bank notes, 2016 brought with it news of several major tax scandals:  the Panama Papers, tax fraud investigations of the world’s biggest soccer players—players important enough that I’d even heard of them, and, of course, Donald Trump’s, shall we say, very aggressive tax planning.  As a tax academic, it felt at the time like there might be a real public fury over aggressive efforts to lower tax payments.  My Facebook feed certainly suggested outrage.  These were big stories, or at least so it seemed to me.  

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August 11, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Pittsburgh Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Pitt Logo (2015)The University of Pittsburgh School of Law invites applications for a tenure-stream position, beginning in the 2018-2019 academic year, to teach courses in the tax area.  The successful candidate will become an integral part of Pitt Law’s tax program, which includes a Tax Law Concentration, a Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, and the peer-reviewed Pittsburgh Tax Review. We anticipate hiring for this position at the rank of assistant, associate, or full professor, depending on the candidate’s qualifications. We strongly encourage applications from lateral candidates at all levels.

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August 11, 2017 in Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Editorial: Madam President, Abolish The Soda Tax

Chicago Tribune editorial, Madam President, Abolish the Soda Tax:

Cook County's soda tax turned one week old on Wednesday. Happy birthday!

Not exactly. County officials knew the penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages was unpopular, but we suspect they underestimated the public wrath it would provoke once shoppers saw how much it added to the cost of their daily purchases.

A We Ask America Polls survey commissioned by the Illinois Manufacturers' Association and conducted Aug. 3 through Aug. 6 found that 87 percent of respondents disapproved of the tax. Yes, 87 percent. Though the tax was sold as a public health initiative, 80 percent believe it's a money grab. And 83 percent said they would be less likely to re-elect a member of the Cook County Board who voted for it. (That chance comes in 2018.)

Whew. No positive spin in those numbers. The soda tax is about as popular as a hornet in a hospital nursery. ...

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August 11, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

NYU Tax Law Review Publishes New Issue

NYU Law (2016)The Tax Law Review has published a new issue (Vol. 70, No. 1 (Winter 2017)):

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August 10, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hatfield Wins University Of Washington 2017 Faculty Scholarship Award

HatfieldMichael (2017)Michael Hatfield Receives 2017 Faculty Scholarship Award:

The University of Washington School of Law awarded professor Michael Hatfield with the School’s 2017 Faculty Scholarship Award.

Presented by the dean of UW Law for exceptionally strong scholarship, the award recognized Hatfield’s article, Cybersecurity and Tax Reform. Forthcoming in the Indiana Law Journal, it documents the history of technology at the IRS and argues that, as it is so unlikely the IRS ever will be able to develop sufficient cybersecurity technology, Congress should reform the tax law so that the IRS is a less appealing and more defensible cybersecurity target.

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August 10, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Zelinsky: The Political Process Argument For Overruling Quill

Edward A. Zelinsky (Cardozo), The Political Process Argument for Overruling Quill, 82 Brook. L. Rev. 1177 (2017):

Should the U.S. Supreme Court overrule Quill Corporation v. North Dakota? A careful assessment of the federal political process suggests that the Supreme Court itself should overturn Quill in the Court’s role as guardian of the states against federal commandeering. A combination of factors underlay this conclusion: the tactical advantage that Quill bestows in the political process upon the internet and mail order industries, the importance of the states in the structure of federalism, the centrality of sales taxes to the financing of state government, the severe impediment which Quill and its physical presence test impose upon the collection of these taxes, and the unique disadvantages of the states in the federal legislative process.

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August 10, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1554: Why Is Trump's Justice Department Still Fighting Disclosure Of Documents Revealing IRS Targeting Of Conservative Groups?

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Obama IRS Abuse Should Unite Trump and Sessions, by Jerome Marcus:

[H]ere’s an issue on which Messrs. Trump and Sessions should be able to find common ground: The Justice Department should stop defending Obama administration corruption.

I’m referring to the cases, still on file today, challenging or seeking to expose Internal Revenue Service policies that delayed applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups. That’s viewpoint discrimination, a clear First Amendment violation.

The Obama Justice Department fought these cases intensely. It tried to get them thrown out of court before the plaintiffs had the chance to gather evidence. When that failed, Justice lawyers resisted discovery, to prevent disclosure of documents showing what the Obama administration was really doing.

That’s normal behavior for a defendant in a lawsuit. But since Jan. 20, the Justice Department has reported to Mr. Trump, who denounced each of the corrupt policies at issue in these cases.

So why is the department handling the cases as if it were still run by Eric Holder or Loretta Lynch? Because many of the career lawyers who were put on these cases by Obama Justice Department officials continue working on them, with no supervision from this administration. Those lawyers are still doing now what they have always done: fighting as hard as they can to prevent disclosure of what the Obama IRS, and the rest of the Obama administration, was doing to the country. ...

The government lawyers in all these cases are working hard to prevent anyone from finding out what the Obama administration was doing. Cleta Mitchell, who has represented tea-party organizations in the IRS viewpoint-targeting scandal, says Justice Department lawyers “have been stalling, obfuscating and doing all they can in these cases to avoid holding the IRS accountable.”

That’s true even though all these lawyers now work for President Trump. And it’s true even though Mr. Trump knows full well that the Obama IRS violated the Constitution by discriminating against opposing viewpoints. ...

Messrs. Trump and Sessions, as well as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, should all be able to agree on this. The executive branch, through the Justice Department, can on its own agree to release the desired information and end these cases, without any permission from Congress or CNN. That would lighten the workload at Justice and shine sunlight on clearly improper Obama policies.

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August 10, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

IRS Lawyer Says The Agency Isn't Targeting Cannabis Lawyers

National Law Journal, IRS Lawyer Says the Agency Isn't Targeting Cannabis Lawyers:

A regional IRS executive told a gathering of cannabis lawyers on Friday that the agency is not out to target them, despite their work with clients whose marijuana businesses remain illegal under federal law.

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August 9, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Bill de Blasio Will Push For Tax On Wealthy To Fix Subway

NYCNew York Times, Bill de Blasio Will Push for Tax on Wealthy to Fix Subway:

Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to push for a tax on wealthy New Yorkers to pay for improvements needed to address the crisis engulfing New York City’s subway, city officials said on Sunday.

The proposal is the latest move in the battle between Mr. de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over who bears responsibility for repairing the deteriorating transit system. The plan would also pay for half-price MetroCards for low-income riders — part of a national movement that has gained momentum in New York.

Mr. de Blasio will announce a so-called millionaires tax on Monday for wealthy New York City residents to pay for subway and bus upgrades and for reduced fares for more riders, an idea that has been successful in Seattle.

His funding push comes as the subway faces a multitude of problems, and leaders at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subway, have called on Mr. de Blasio to provide more money for the system.

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August 9, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Three Donald Trump Appointees Owe IRS Back Taxes

Center for Public IntegrityCenter for Public Integrity, Three Donald Trump Appointees Owe IRS Back Taxes:

At least three of President Donald Trump’s political appointees are drawing taxpayer-funded paychecks while owing the Internal Revenue Service tens of thousands of dollars, a Center for Public Integrity review of federal financial disclosures reveals.

Trump’s appointment of federal debtors to his administration perpetuates a pattern that’s dogged presidential administrations — including that of President Barack Obama — for decades.

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August 9, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

TIGTA: The IRS Continues To Rehire Hundreds Of Former Employees With Conduct And Performance Issues

TIGTAThe Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has released The Internal Revenue Service Continues to Rehire Former Employees With Conduct and Performance Issues (2017-10-035):

From January 1, 2015, through March 31, 2016, the IRS hired nearly 7,500 employees, of which more than 2,000 had been previously employed by the IRS. ... The IRS has not effectively updated or implemented hiring policies to fully consider past IRS conduct and performance issues prior to making a tentative decision to hire former employees, including those who were terminated or separated during an investigation of a substantiated conduct or performance issue.

While most employees who are rehired do not have prior conduct or performance issues, TIGTA found that more than 200 (approximately 10 percent) of the more than 2,000 former employees who were rehired between January 2015 and March 2016 were previously terminated from the IRS or separated while under investigation for a substantiated conduct or performance issue.

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August 9, 2017 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NY Times: Our Broken Economy, In One Simple Chart

New York Times:  Our Broken Economy, in One Simple Chart, by David Leonhardt:


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August 9, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

GAO: IRS Provides Only 'Minimal Oversight' Of Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, Refuses To Collect Data That Would Allow It To Impose 'Basic Accountability'

GAO (2016)NPR, Housing Program Worth Billions Lacks 'Basic Accountability':

An $8 billion federal program to build housing for the poor is so lacking oversight that virtually no one in government knows how it is working, a government auditor testified before Congress today [Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: Actions Needed to Strengthen Oversight and Accountability (GAO-17-784T) (Aug. 1, 2017)].

IRS and no one else in the federal government really has an idea of what's going on," said Daniel Garcia-Diaz, an auditor with the Government Accountability Office while testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. "These are basic accountability requirements we would expect of any program, especially one as important as this one."

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August 8, 2017 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Villanova Seeks To Hire A Tax Clinician

Villanova Logo (2015)Assistant/Associate/Full Professor of Law and Director of the Federal Tax Clinic:

Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law seeks an outstanding lawyer-educator to direct and teach its nationally regarded Federal Tax Clinic. The Clinic represents low-income taxpayers in controversies with the IRS. The Director oversees students working in teams on examinations, administrative appeals, collection matters, and cases before the United States Tax Court, Federal District Courts and Appeals, as well as on comments projects relating to guidance issued by the IRS or Treasury.

The Director will be either a full-time continuing non-tenure track (governed by ABA Standard 405(c)), tenure-track, or tenured member of the faculty, depending on the qualifications and aspirations of the successful candidate.

Preferred Qualifications:

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August 8, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1552: The IRS's Email Retention Policies Still Do Not Ensure That Emails Are Retained And Produced When Requested

IRS Logo 2Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Electronic Record Retention Policies Do Not Consistently Ensure That Records Are Retained and Produced When Requested (2017-10-034):

IRS policies do not comply with certain Federal requirements that agencies must ensure that all records are retrievable and usable for as long as needed. For example, IRS e-mail retention policies are not adequate because e-mails are not automatically archived for all IRS employees. Instead, the IRS’s current policy instructs employees to take manual actions to archive e-mails by saving them permanently on computer hard drives or network shared drives.  

This policy has resulted in lost records when computer hard drives are destroyed or damaged. In addition, a recently instituted executive e-mail retention policy, which should have resulted in the archiving of e-mails from specific executives, was not implemented effectively because some executives did not turn on the automatic archiving feature.

For certain cases that TIGTA reviewed, IRS policies were not implemented consistently to ensure that all relevant documents were searched and produced when responding to external requests for records. TIGTA’s review of 30 completed Freedom of Information Act requests found that in more than half of the responses, the IRS did not follow its own policies that require it to document what records were searched. TIGTA also found that IRS policies for preserving records from separated employees were not adequate.

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August 8, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Kleinbard: The Debt Ceiling Crisis May Remove Remaining Constraints On Congressional Irresponsibility

New York Times op-ed:  The Debt-Ceiling Crisis Is Real, by Edward D. Kleinbard (USC):

Sometime in October, the United States is likely to default on its obligation to pay its bills as they come due, having failed to raise the federal debt ceiling. This will cost the Treasury tens of billions of dollars every year for decades to come in higher interest charges and probably trigger a severe recession.

The debt ceiling is politically imposed, and the decision not to raise it, and therefore to choose to default, is also political. It’s something America has avoided in the past. This time, though, will be different. ...

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August 7, 2017 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Quinnipiac Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

Quinnipiac LogoFull-Time Tenure Track Faculty Job Posting:

Quinnipiac University School of Law invites applications for two full-time tenure-track faculty positions for the fall of 2018. The principal curricular focus for one position will be tax law. Applicants for this position should expect to teach at least one section of Federal Income Taxation plus other courses in taxation and/or related fields of interest, including real estate, trusts & estates, business entities, and non-profit organizations. The principal curricular focus for the second position will be property law, broadly construed to include the traditional first-year Property course, plus real estate transactions and financing, land use, and planning and zoning. ...

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August 7, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Senate Confirms David Kautter As Assistant Treasury Secretary For Tax Policy

KautterFollowing up on previous posts (links below):  the Senate has confirmed David Kautter as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Tax Policy.  From President Trump's nomination announcement:

Mr. Kautter currently serves as Partner-in-Charge of the Washington National Tax practice for RSM, an audit, tax, and consulting services firm. He was also previously the Managing Director of the Kogod Tax Center and Executive-in-Residence at the Kogod School of Business at American University (AU).

Prior to his work at AU, Mr. Kautter spent over 30 years at Ernst and Young, including serving as Director of National Tax for over 13 years. Mr. Kautter also worked on Capitol Hill as Tax Legislative Counsel for former Senator John C. Danforth of Missouri. He is a high honors graduate of the University of Notre Dame and received his J.D. from Georgetown Law Center. 

From his webpage at American University's Kogod Tax Center:

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August 7, 2017 in Congressional News, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

National Taxpayer Advocate: IRS Allowable Living Expense Standards Do Not Provide Taxpayers With A Sustainable Standard Of Living

National Taxpayer Advocate Tax News: IRS Allowable Living Expense Standards Do Not Provide Taxpayers With a Sustainable Standard of Living:

At TAS, we help taxpayers from all walks of life. When it comes to taxpayers with tax debt, some taxpayers have the resources to pay their debt. This blog focuses on the method the IRS uses to determine the amount of basic living expenses it should take into account if a taxpayer needs to pay his or her tax debt over time.

Congress directed the IRS to make sure taxpayers who enter into offers in compromise still have enough money to cover their basic expenses. Specifically, in Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 7122(d)(2)(A), Congress told the IRS to “develop and publish schedules of national and local allowances designed to provide that taxpayers entering into a compromise have an adequate means to provide for basic living expenses.” The resulting Allowable Living Expense (ALE) standards have come to play a large role in many types of collection cases. For instance, if you want a non-streamlined installment agreement or are claiming an economic hardship, the IRS will want you to give them the information found on IRS Form 433-F, Collection Information Statement. IRS Form 433-F relies on the ALE standards to calculate a taxpayer’s monthly expenses, which in turn affects the resolution of the taxpayer’s case because it reflects how much he or she can afford to pay the IRS. ALEs cover common expenses such as food, clothing, transportation, housing, and utilities.

In its efforts to base the ALEs on reliable and consistent data, the IRS relies heavily on the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In particular, the IRS uses the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES), which measures what people spend to live. I’ve identified these problems with the current ALE standards:

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August 7, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Tax Panel At Today's SEALS 2017 Annual Conference

SEALs Logo (2013)Tax panel at today's concluding session of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools 2017 Annual Conference in Boca Raton (program):

Tax Policy
This discussion group is broadly concerned with issues of taxation. Discussants address individual income tax, corporate income tax, state & local tax, estate & gift tax, tax expenditure policy, international tax and entitlements. While these disparate themes might seem only loosely related, a common thread of the difficulties of balancing equity, simplicity, incentives and transparency runs through all of them. These scholars will grapple with the central tax topics of the day and address the looming concerns that must be dealt with by all levels of government.

  • Jennifer Bird-Pollan (Kentucky) (moderator)
  • Alice Abreu (Temple)
  • Arthur Acevedo (John Marshall)
  • Neil Buchanan (George Washington)
  • Terri Lynn Helge (Texas A&M)
  • Gary Lucas (Texas A&M)
  • Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College)
  • Gregg Polsky (Georgia)
  • Diane Ring (Boston College)
  • Elaine Waterhouse Wilson (West Virginia)
  • Richard Winchester (Thomas Jefferson)

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August 6, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

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

  1. [630 Downloads]  Family Limited Partnerships and Section 2036: Not Such a Good Fit, by Mitchell Gans (Hofstra) & Jonathan Blattmachr (Milbank, New York)
  2. [396 Downloads]  The Front Door Opens Wide for the Backdoor Roth IRA, by Philip Manns (Liberty) & Timothy Todd (Liberty)
  3. [313 Downloads]  The Rise and Fall of the Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax: What Was That All About?, by Daniel Shaviro (NYU)
  4. [224 Downloads]  The Case Against BEPS: Lessons for Coordination, by Mindy Herzfeld (Florida)
  5. [188 Downloads]  Formalizing the Code, by Sarah Lawsky (Northwestern)

August 6, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (1)

NY Times: Trump Can’t Save American Christianity

New York Times op-ed:  Trump Can’t Save American Christianity, by Rob Dreher:

According to Genesis 1, in four days, God made the heavens, the earth and all the vegetation upon it. But four days after Anthony Scaramucci’s filthy tirade went public, Team Trump’s evangelical all-stars — pastors and prominent laity who hustle noisily around the Oval Office trying to find an amen corner — still had not figured out what to say.

Fortunately, the White House relieved them of that onerous task by firing Mr. Scaramucci — not, please note, on the president’s initiative, but rather at the request of John Kelly, the new chief of staff. Meanwhile, the Christian Broadcasting Network ran a puff piece proclaiming that a “spiritual awakening is underway at the White House,” thanks to a Bible study with what “has been called the most evangelical cabinet in history.” That ought to still any skepticism emerging among the true believers for a while.

Is there anything Donald Trump can do to alienate evangelicals and other conservative Christians who support him? By now, it’s hard to think of what that might be. These are people who would never let men with the morals and the mouths of Mr. Trump and Mr. Scaramucci date their own daughters. And yet, Team Trump has no more slavishly loyal constituency.

This is not only wrong, but tragically so. The most pressing problem Christianity faces is not in politics. It’s in parishes. It’s with the pastors. Most of all, it’s among an increasingly faithless people.

The truth is, Christianity is declining in the United States. As a theologically conservative believer, it gives me no pleasure to say that. In fact, the waning of Christianity will be not only a catastrophe for the church but also a calamity for civil society in ways secular Americans do not appreciate.

But preparing for this post-Christian future requires a brutally honest assessment of both the modern church and the contemporary world. This is painful, but denial will only make the inevitable reckoning worse.

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August 6, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Sloan Speck (Colorado) reviews a new work by Manoj Viswanathan (UC-Hastings), Tax Compliance in a Decentralizing Economy.

Speck (2017)In a compelling new work, Manoj Viswanathan connects two seemingly disparate hot spots in taxation, the gig economy and blockchain-based cryptocurrencies, to argue that increasing economic decentralization presents a significant and underappreciated threat to tax compliance. For Viswanathan’s paper, decentralization essentially reflects the rise of direct peer-to-peer transactions through virtual means, rather than through institutional intermediaries. Companies such as Airbnb and Uber match sellers of lodging and transportation to buyers, while cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin allow secure transfers of value without banks. Independently, the gig economy and cryptocurrencies present serious issues for tax administration. When combined, Viswanathan argues, individuals could buy and sell entirely outside of taxing authorities’ traditional purview, which would enable rampant noncompliance. For Viswanathan, the solution is enhanced information reporting rules to account for decentralization, including incentives to disclose one’s own identity in transactions.

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August 5, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

President Trump Nominates Elizabeth Copeland, Patrick Urda To U.S. Tax Court

Tax Court (2017)White House Office of the Press Secretary, Eighteen Nominations Sent to the Senate Today:

Elizabeth Ann Copeland, of Texas, to be a Judge of the United States Tax Court for a term of fifteen years, vice James S. Halpern, retired.

Patrick J. Urda, of Indiana, to be a Judge of the United States Tax Court for a term of fifteen years, vice Diane L. Kroupa, retired.

Elizabeth A. Copeland is a tax litigation partner at Strausburger & Price (San Antonio).  President Obama nominated her in May 2015, and the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved her nomination in April 2016. In November 2016 (before the election), 52 Tax Profs sent a letter urging the Senate to hold a hearing on her nomination, but the Senate refused and sent her nomination back to the White House in January (before President Trump's inauguration).  Here is her bio:

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August 5, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Herzig & Crawford: Trump's Bargain Sale Of Two Central Park Condos To His Son Looks Like Criminal Gift Tax Fraud

TrumpWashington Post op-ed: This Trump Real Estate Deal Looks Awfully Like Criminal Tax Fraud, by David Herzig (Valparaiso) & Bridget Crawford (Pace):

President Trump clearly doesn’t want to release his income tax returns to the public. Members of the public and commentators have progressed through stages of outrage, speculation and acceptance that they’ll never see the goods, while others have made attempts to pry the documents free (such as proposed legislation in New York and other states that would require presidential candidates to release their returns). But Trump’s most pressing tax problem may come from somewhere else entirely: a pre-election transfer of property to a company controlled by his son that could run afoul of the IRS.

According to a recent story by ProPublica and the Real Deal, in April 2016 a limited liability company managed by Trump sold two condominium apartments to a limited liability company managed by Eric Trump. They were on the 13th and 14th floors of a 14-story, full-service, doorman building at 100 Central Park South in Manhattan. This is a prime Midtown neighborhood, yet the sale price for each condo was just $350,000.

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August 4, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tax Panels At Today's SEALS 2017 Annual Conference

SEALs Logo (2013)Tax panels at today's Southeastern Association of Law Schools 2017 Annual Conference in Boca Raton (program):

Issues in Corporate and International Taxation
Panelists explore the corporate and international tax rules, with particular attention to enforcement and implementation. The papers cover the consequences of failed start-ups, worldwide taxation and competitiveness, private equity fee waivers, the classification of business entities for tax purposes, and general issues of tax compliance. The papers address both theoretical and practical consequences of these various matters.

  • Francine Lipman (UNLV) (moderator)
  • Cliff Fleming (BYU)
  • Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College)
  • Gregg Polsky (Georgia)
  • Richard Winchester (Thomas Jefferson)

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August 4, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cui: A Critical Appraisal Of Destination-Based Cash-Flow Taxation

Wei Cui (British Columbia), Destination-based Cash-Flow Taxation: A Critical Appraisal, 67 U. Tor. L.J. 301 (2017):

This article offers the first comprehensive scholarly response to proposals for destination-based, cash-flow taxation (DCFT). DCFT proposals have attracted heightened public attention in 2016 because of the incorporation of one version into the US House Republican blueprint for tax reform and Donald Trump’s subsequent election to the White House. They also continue to fascinate tax specialists by suggesting that corporate profit can be taxed not only in countries of ‘source’ or ‘residence’ but also (or even exclusively) in the countries where sales to final consumers occur. This article clarifies the logical structure of DCFT proposals and exposes substantial gaps between their rhetoric and technical details.

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August 4, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oregon’s New Bicycle Excise Tax: Tax Policy Center And Tax Foundation Commentary

TaxVox, The Case of Oregon’s Bicycle Excise Tax:

Road trips are a staple of my family’s summer. We load up the van and head to the nearest state park, flash our Michigan Recreation Passport and off we go, hiking and biking. That “passport” is an annual $11 fee that we add to our license plate renewal payment. In exchange, we get unlimited access to all state parks, and the state uses the money, along with day-trippers’ fees, to maintain and improve the facilities.

Oregon, one of five states with no sales tax, just passed such a tax on bicycles to help fund trail maintenance and improvement. That decision generated a good bit of controversy, and as a bicycle-riding, trail-loving taxpayer, I wondered why a bicycle tax that supports bicycle trail use is so contentious.

Here are some details: Starting in October, Oregon will collect $15 on the purchase of every bicycle that retails for $200 or more. The state expects the excise tax to generate $1.2 million annually that will be used to “expand and improve commuter routes for non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians, including bicycle trails, footpaths and multi-use trails.”

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August 4, 2017 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (5)