TaxProf Blog

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

Monday, September 11, 2017

Schmalbeck Presents Nonprofit Organizations And Political Campaigns At Northwestern

Schmalbeck (2016)Richard L. Schmalbeck (Duke) presented Nonprofit Organizations and Political Campaigns at Northwestern as part of its Advanced Topics in Taxation Workshop Series hosted by Sarah Lawsky:

This story involves three organizational forms, and two broad policy considerations. There are more than a score of different nonprofit organizational categories described in the IRC, but only three are relevant here: the organizations described in sections 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), and 527. All are exempt from federal income taxes on any excess of revenue over expense that they might experience in any tax year. The first category (charitable organizations under section 501(c)(3)) allows use of deductible contributions to advance its programmatic ends, and also permits anonymous donations. The second (social welfare organizations under section 501(c)(4)) allows anonymous donations (but no deduction for contributions). The third (political organizations under section 527) is subject to rules that compel disclosure of the names of contributors and amounts of their contributions.

Continue reading

September 11, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brookings Symposium On Business Tax Reform

 Low-Tax Texas Should Pay Its Fair Share Of Harvey Costs

Hurricane HarveyWashington Post op-ed:  Low-Tax Texas Should Pay Its Fair Share Of Harvey Costs, by Peter A. Barnes (Duke; Caplin & Drysdale) & H. David Rosenbloom (NYU; Caplin & Drysdale):

As the floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey recede, the humanitarian need for federal aid to help Texas and its residents is starkly evident. Lots of aid. Right now, or as soon as Congress can approve an appropriation.

Although members of Congress from New York and New Jersey complain about the hypocrisy of Texas requesting federal aid, given the fact that the Texas congressional delegation almost unanimously opposed the federal aid package for Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the grousing amounts to nothing. With the suffering in Texas visible on every news show, America is too good to withhold support as political payback.

But that doesn’t mean funding should be a gift. Not at all. The bulk of the federal money to help Texas residents rebuild their lives and communities should come in the form of a loan — perhaps a long-term loan at a favorable interest rate, but definitely a loan.

Here is why: Texas is avowedly a low-tax state.

Continue reading

September 11, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (13)

Remembering September 11th At Pepperdine

Waves

Pepperdine to Honor 9/11 Victims with Waves of Flags Display:

From September 9 through September 25, Pepperdine’s Alumni Park will have on display the 10th annual Waves of Flags installation to commemorate the lives lost in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

Each year Waves of Flags features 2,977 full-size flags—2,887 American flags for each American life lost and 90 international flags representing the home countries of individuals from abroad who died in the 9/11 attacks.

The installation became a Pepperdine tradition in 2008 when the school’s College Republicans group organized to bring the tribute to the campus. ...

In addition to the Waves of Flags installation, Pepperdine is the permanent home of the Thomas E. Burnett, Jr., Heroes Garden, a public space for visitors to reflect and honor all those who live heroic lives, including namesake and Pepperdine alumnus Thomas Burnett (MBA ’95), a passenger on United Flight 93 who lost his life in the 9/11 attacks.

Heores Garden

Continue reading

September 11, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Bainbridge: Is Tax Avoidance Immoral? — A Catholic Perspective

Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA), Is Tax Avoidance Immoral? A Catholic Lay Perspective:

My friend and UCLA colleague Steven Bank [presented] a very interesting paper ... at a faculty colloquium, entitled When Did Tax Avoidance Become Respectable? ...

I'm neither a tax lawyer nor a theologian, but this got me to wondering what the Church taught on the subject. ... [A letter written by 11 heads of national Catholic Conferences says]:

Continue reading

September 10, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Law Grad's GivnGo App Allows You To Round Up Your Purchases For Charity

GivnGo LogoOne of my former tax students, Arian Behboodi (J.D & M.B.A. 2017, Pepperdine), has created a very cool app, GivnGo.  The app allows a user to register a credit or debit card and the app rounds up your purchases to the next dollar and distributes the change to the charity or charities of your choice.  For example, if you spend $15.75, then the next dollar up is $16.00, so GivnGo distributes 25 cents to your charity. The app is available on iTunes.

Continue reading

September 10, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

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:

  1. [545 Downloads]  Federal Tax Procedure (2017 Practitioner Ed.), by John Townsend (Houston)
  2. [536 Downloads]  The Front Door Opens Wide for the Backdoor Roth IRA, by Philip Manns (Liberty) & Timothy Todd (Liberty)
  3. [268 Downloads]  Is Efficiency Biased?, by Zachary Liscow (Yale)
  4. [253 Downloads]  BEPS and European Union Law, by Sjoerd Douma (Leiden)
  5. [187 Downloads]  When Did Tax Avoidance Become Respectable?, by Steven Bank (UCLA)

September 10, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

ABA Tax Section Releases 17th Annual Law Student Tax Challenge Problem

ABAThe ABA Tax Section has released the J.D. Problem (rules; entry form) and LL.M. Problem (rules; entry form) for the 17th Annual Law Student Tax Challenge:

An alternative to traditional moot court competitions, the Law Student Tax Challenge asks two-person teams of students to solve a cutting-edge and complex business problem that might arise in everyday tax practice. Teams are initially evaluated on two criteria: a memorandum to a senior partner and a letter to a client explaining the result. Based on the written work product, six teams from the J.D. Division and four teams from the LL .M. Division receive a free trip (including airfare and accommodations for two nights) to the Section of Taxation 2018 Midyear Meeting, February 8-10, 2018 in San Diego, CA, where each team will defend its submission before a panel of judges consisting of the country’s top tax practitioners and government officials, including tax court judges. The competition is a great way for law students to showcase their knowledge in a real-world setting and gain valuable exposure to the tax law community. On average, more than 50 teams compete in the J.D. Division and more than 30 teams compete in the LL .M. Division.

IMPORTANT DATES

Continue reading

September 9, 2017 in ABA Tax Section, Legal Education, Tax, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1584: Trump’s DOJ Won’t Pursue Criminal Charges Against Lois Lerner

IRS Logo 2

Continue reading

September 9, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (9)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Sloan Speck (Colorado) reviews a new work by Lee Anne Fennell and Richard McAdams (Chicago), Inverted Theories.

Speck (2017)Since the early 1960s, the interdisciplinary turn in legal scholarship has been marked by academic lawyers’ engagement with, and adoption of, theoretical work from economics, anthropology, and philosophy, among other fields. In an important new article, Lee Anne Fennell and Richard McAdams argue for a novel reconsideration of how certain of these theories are deployed by law professors. Specifically, Fennell and McAdams identify a category of theories in which a central (and typically normative) claim “takes center stage,” while implausible or stylized assumptions that qualify this claim are minimized. For this type of theory, the footnotes supersede the headline, but readers are just skimming the large print. Fennell and McAdams argue that we should “turn the spotlight” on these “untrue assumptions” by inverting these theories, putting the footnotes first and downsizing the headline. Doing so will lead to more fruitful inquiry, both in terms of the questions we ask and the answers we find.

Continue reading

September 8, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Kleinbard: The Right Tax At The Right Time

Florida Tax Review  (2015)Edward Kleinbard (USC), The Right Tax at the Right Time, 20 Fla. Tax Rev. ___ (2017):

The companion paper to this (Capital Taxation in an Age of Inequality, 90 S. Cal. L. Rev. 593 (2017)) argues that a moderate flat-rate (proportional) income tax on capital imposed and collected annually has attractive theoretical and political economy properties that can be harnessed in actual tax instrument design. This paper continues the analysis by specifying in detail how such a tax might be designed.

Continue reading

September 8, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Allison Christians Named Associate Dean For Research And Promoted To Full Professor At McGill

Christians (2018)The McGill Faculty of Law is pleased to announce that Allison Christians has been promoted to the rank of Full Professor, effective September 1.

Professor Christians, who was recently renewed as H. Heward Stikeman Chair of Tax Law, coincidentally began her term as Associate Dean (Research) at the Faculty on the very same date for a three-year mandate.

Her research and teaching focus on national and international tax law and policy issues, with emphasis on the relationship between taxation and economic development and on the role of government and non-government institutions and actors in the creation of tax policy norms.

Continue reading

September 8, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Profs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hemel Presents In Defense Of The State And Local Tax Deduction Today At Boston College

HemelDaniel Hemel (Chicago) presents Easy on the SALT: In Defense of the Deduction for State and Local Taxes at Boston College today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Jim Repetti, Diane Ring, and Shu Yi Oei:

Congressional Republicans and Trump administration officials have said that they plan to repeal the deduction for nonbusiness state and local taxes (SALT) as part of a comprehensive tax reform package. This essay critically examines the major arguments for repealing the SALT deduction. Repealing the deduction and using the resulting revenues to reduce federal rates across the board would likely lead to greater tax-induced deadweight loss overall. Repealing the deduction also would distort decisions about the financing of education and health care, which together account for more than half of all state and local government spending. Repeal would further encourage a shift from nonbusiness to business taxes at the state and local level, and potentially would result in more borrowing by subnational governments in the short and medium term.

Continue reading

September 7, 2017 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tax Prof Panel On A U.S. Perspective On Tax Compliance And Tax Privacy At Cambridge

CambridgeWilliam Byrnes (Texas A&M), Michael Hatfield (University of Washington), Leandra Lederman (Indiana-Bloomington), and Adam Thimmesch (Nebraska) participated in a panel on Tax Compliance and Tax Privacy: A U.S. Perspective at the 35th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime yesterday at the University of Cambridge:

This panel of US tax academics explored cutting edge issues in tax compliance, information reporting, and tax privacy. The topics include recent developments in the behavioral economics and psychology of tax compliance, and the rapidly evolving use of technology and big data in tax enforcement and its impact on the privacy of taxpayers

Continue reading

September 7, 2017 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Insights From Behavioral Economics Can Improve Administration Of The EITC

Leslie Book (Villanova), David Williams (Intuit) & Krista Holub (Intuit), Insights from Behavioral Economics Can Improve Administration of the EITC:

The IRS is a non-traditional but key player in delivering social benefits to the nation’s working poor. In fact, it administers one of the nation’s largest anti-poverty programs: the earned income tax credit (EITC). The EITC is generally praised for its role in reducing poverty and incentivizing low-wage work. While the credit has bipartisan support, the IRS continues to face strong criticism over EITC compliance issues.

Continue reading

September 7, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dealing With IRS Scammers (And How To Tell They Are Not Private Debt Collectors)

Readers will recall that Congress, in §32102 of the 2015 (FAST) Act, amended IRC §6306 to force the Service to outsource some collection inventory to private collection agencies.

Now, I have no doubt that readers of this blog are totally compliant in their taxes.   And if any happen to be delinquent in their taxes, I have no doubt they are not in the category of delinquent taxpayers who face collection from private collection agencies.   But I also suspect many readers have received questions about the program from clients, friends, family members, workplace colleagues, neighbors, and others.

Continue reading

September 7, 2017 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1582: Is The IRS Scandal About To Break Wide Open?

IRS Logo 2PJ Media, Is the IRS Scandal About to Break Wide Open?:

Lost emails, destroyed hard drives, foot dragging, stonewalling, and a smirking, sneering IRS commissioner doing his best to obscure the truth -- this has largely been the response by the Internal Revenue Service to investigations by Congress and FOIA requests from conservative groups trying to discover the truth about the IRS targeting scandal.

But one federal judge appears to be just as curious as the rest of us about what exactly the IRS was up to when it targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny in approving their tax-exempt status. ...

Although the arrogance of the IRS is breathtaking, it looks like they may have more than they can handle with Judge Walton. With the agency already proving that it tried to hide documents directly related to a FOIA request, how much nonsense will Walton put up with? He better have a low tolerance for word games and shenanigans by the IRS.

More names means more witnesses to be deposed under oath. Perhaps some promises of immunity are in order so that the truth can be wrung out of an agency that has been used to target the political opponents of a president and materially affect the ability of conservative groups to exercise their rights.

Continue reading

September 7, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Thomas: Taxing the Gig Economy

Kathleen DeLaney Thomas (North Carolina), Taxing the Gig Economy, 166 U. Pa. L. Rev. ___ (2017):

Due to advances in technology like mobile applications and online platforms, millions of American workers now earn income through “gig” work, which allows them the flexibility to set their own hours and choose which jobs to take. To the surprise of many gig workers, the tax law considers them to be “business owners,” which subjects them to onerous recordkeeping and filing requirements, along with the obligation to pay quarterly estimated taxes. This Article proposes two reforms that would drastically reduce compliance burdens for this new generation of business owners, while simultaneously enhancing the government’s ability to collect tax revenue.

Continue reading

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

The (Lack Of) Human Touch In Collecting Taxes

The National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olsen has a blog post here that is well worth your time to read.  It's about the Service's automated levy program called FPLP (Federal Levy Payment Program).  

One way the Service tries to collect unpaid taxes is by looking for people who owe the delinquent taxpayer money and snagging those payments.  That's called a levy.    FPLP is a computer program designed to snags payments owed by the federal government to delinquent taxpayers.  Now, some people consider it an irony that one hand of the federal government actually sends payments to many delinquent taxpayers who owe the federal government money. Notably, however, FPLP hits what are commonly viewed as "safety net" payments from Social Security and Federal Retirement programs.  So other people consider it an irony that one hand of the federal government would partially undo the safety net payments made by the other hand.

Continue reading

September 6, 2017 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink | Comments (0)

The 100 Most Influential People In Tax And Accounting

100 CoverI am honored to be included on the list of Accounting Today's 100 Most Influential People in Tax and Accounting for the twelfth consecutive year:

Not only is Caron’s blog one of the most important in tax — it hit an alltime high of 1.5 million page views a month in 2016 — its prominence also helped elevate him to his new position as dean of his law school; proof, if any was needed, that thought leadership really does pay off.

I am honored to be on the Top 100 list with such high-powered people in the tax and accounting worlds, including:

  • Karen Abramson (CEO, Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting)
  • Joe Baron (Managing Director, Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting)
  • Wayne Berson (CEO, BDO)
  • Kevin Brady (Chair, U.S. House Ways & Means Committee)
  • James Doty (Chair, PCAOB)
  • Lynne Doughtie (Chair & CEO, KPMG)
  • Kimberly Ellison-Taylor (Incoming Chair, AICPA)
  • Cathy Engelbert (CEO, Deloitte)
  • George Farrah (Executive Director, Tax & Accounting, Bloomberg BNA)
  • J. Russell George (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration)

Continue reading

September 6, 2017 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Would A 91% Top Tax Rate Bring Back A Flourishing Economy?

91%New York Times op-ed:  When the Rich Said No to Getting Richer, by David Leonhardt:

A half-century ago, a top automobile executive named George Romney — yes, Mitt’s father — turned down several big annual bonuses. He did so, he told his company’s board, because he believed that no executive should make more than $225,000 a year (which translates into almost $2 million today). ...

Romney didn’t try to make every dollar he could, or anywhere close to it. The same was true among many of his corporate peers. In the early 1960s, the typical chief executive at a large American company made only 20 times as much as the average worker, rather than the current 271-to-1 ratio. Today, some C.E.O.s make $2 million in a single month.

The old culture of restraint had multiple causes, but one of them was the tax code. When Romney was saying no to bonuses, the top marginal tax rate was 91 percent. Even if he had accepted the bonuses, he would have kept only a sliver of them.

Continue reading

September 6, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Macroeconomic And Distributional Effects Of U.S. Personal Income Tax Reforms

Macroeconomic and Distributional Effects of Personal Income Tax Reforms : A Heterogenous Agent Model Approach for the U.S (IMF Working Paper):

This paper assesses the macroeconomic and distributional impact of personal income tax (PIT) reforms in the U.S. drawing on a multi-sector heterogenous agents model in which consumers have non-homothetic preferences and sectors differ in terms of their relative labor and skill intensity. The model is calibrated to key characteristics of the US economy. We find that (i) PIT cuts stimulate growth but the supply side effects are never large enough to offset the revenue loss from lower marginal tax rates; (ii) PIT cuts do “trickle-down” the income distribution: tax cuts stimulate demand for non-tradable services which raise the wages and employment prospects of low-skilled workers even if the tax cut is not directly incident on them;

Continue reading

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

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hemel: Is Rothification Just A Budget Math Gimmick?

Daniel Hemel (Chicago), Is Rothification Just a Budget Math Gimmick?:

Trump administration officials and congressional Republican leaders are reportedly considering a proposal to “Rothify” retirement savings as part of a comprehensive tax reform package. The idea is that instead of excluding 401(k) contributions from taxable income in the year they’re made and then paying tax on withdrawals, individuals would pay tax on 401(k) contributions in the year they’re made and then be able to withdraw tax-free. The latter approach — already an option for individuals whose employers offer Roth 401(k) plans  —  would become mandatory with respect to some or all 401(k) savings. Similar changes on the IRA side would push individuals from traditional to Roth accounts.

Continue reading

September 5, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

FactChecking Trump’s Tax Speech

FactCheck LogoFactCheck.org, FactChecking Trump’s Tax Speech:

In a speech on changing the tax code, President Donald Trump offered some political spin on the facts.

  • Trump claimed “anywhere from $3 trillion to $5 trillion” of profits are left overseas by U.S. companies to avoid U.S. taxes. But his own press office cites an estimate of $2.6 trillion in a fact sheet posted online the day of his speech. The group that published that number told us $5 trillion “seems impossibly high.”

Continue reading

September 5, 2017 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Corporate Tax Reform Would Increase Employment By 6%-22% And Wages By 15%-28%

Andrew Hanson (Marquette) & Ike Brannon (Cato Institute), Corporate Income Taxes and Labor: An Investigation of Empirical Evidence:

With the highest top marginal corporate tax rate among OECD nations and the third-highest in the world at 35 percent, it is not surprising that policymakers have long evinced a desire to lower the U.S. federal corporate income tax rate. Reducing the corporate income tax rate has implications for a wide-range of outcomes — from federal revenues to foreign direct investment, but the effects of such a change on workers is less understood. This paper examines the empirical literature on the effect of corporate income taxes on labor, specifically on employment and worker incomes.

In general, empirical work with the most robust results and controlling for factors of influence outside of corporate income taxes generally have an elasticity of employment with respect to the corporate income tax rate of between -0.2 and -0.4, with a wage/income elasticity near -0.5. In the context of recent tax reform discussions that propose a rate reduction between 30% to 57%, that would imply employment gains between 6% to 22% and wage increases between 15% to 28%. 

September 5, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Tax Consequences Of Hurricane Harvey (And Other Natural Disasters)

Hurricane HarveyThe Service has put up a very useful and comprehensive webpage titled "Help for Victims of Hurricane Harvey."  The page contains excellent information about all the different actions the Service takes in response to a natural disaster and has links to all kinds of useful sites. 

The Texas State Comptroller has a similarly useful webpage that describes the state and local tax relief (such as exemption from hotel taxes).

 

Continue reading

September 5, 2017 in IRS News, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1580: Conservative Group Hoping For 'Perp Walks' After Breakthrough In IRS Lawsuit

IRS Logo 2Washington Examiner, Conservative Group Hoping for 'Perp Walks' After Breakthrough in IRS Lawsuit:

One of the groups that sued the Internal Revenue Service over its targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups believes there has been a breakthrough that will help them draw a more complete picture of what went on behind the scenes at the agency, four years after it took its case to court.

In a lawsuit involving True the Vote, Judge Reggie B. Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the IRS last week to release the names of employees involved in targeting conservative and Tea Party groups. Walton also told the IRS to explain why groups were targeted and search for additional records in agency databases from May 2009 to March 2015.

The IRS has until Oct. 16 to complete its records search.

Walton's order was a turning point for True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht in her legal battle with the IRS that began in 2013.

"We've come so far, and I believe that we are going to bring this thing to a head," Engelbrecht told the Washington Examiner. "I believe we will see the IRS correct its ways, and as to accountability, I'd love to see some perp walks." ...

Engelbrecht ... said just learning the names of those involved isn't enough for her. Instead, she wants the IRS to enact a policy prohibiting viewpoint discrimination. "That's our whole goal — it's to make sure this viewpoint discrimination can never occur again. It is procedurally prohibited," Engelbrecht said. "That they admit what they did was unconstitutional and won't happen to an organization, an individual, doesn't matter your political party preference. The IRS has been weaponized and needs to be put back in the box."

Continue reading

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

TaxProf Blog Holiday Weekend Roundup

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Top Five New Tax Papers

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 a new paper debuting on the list at #5:

  1. [501 Downloads]  The Front Door Opens Wide for the Backdoor Roth IRA, by Philip Manns (Liberty) & Timothy Todd (Liberty)
  2. [495 Downloads]  Federal Tax Procedure (2017 Practitioner Ed.), by John Townsend (Houston)
  3. [238 Downloads]  BEPS and European Union Law, by Sjoerd Douma (Leiden)
  4. [226 Downloads]  Is Efficiency Biased?, by Zachary Liscow (Yale)
  5. [157 Downloads]  When Did Tax Avoidance Become Respectable?, by Steven Bank (UCLA)

September 3, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Golden Gate Seeks To Hire A Faculty Director Of Its Tax & Estate Planning LL.M. Programs

Golden Gate Logo (2018)Golden Gate University School of Law is seeking to hire a Director of its LL.M. in Taxation and LL.M. in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law programs:

This position is a full time, tenure or tenure-track position. Our LLM in Taxation has provided 40 years of instruction and has 1,600 plus alumni and is consistently ranked as the best LLM in Taxation in California. We are also proud of our newest LLM in Estate Planning which started in 2015 and is the first LLM in Estate Planning west of the Mississippi River. We welcome the opportunity to work with a director to help shape these programs to best meet the needs of lawyers seeking to enhance their learning and training in these specialty areas. 

Continue reading

September 2, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (1)

WSJ: What Tops The Agenda For A New Space Colony? A Debate Over Taxes

Wall Street Journal, What Tops the Agenda for a New Space Colony? A Debate Over Taxes:

It’s tough enough to create a nation in space. There’s the Earth-orbiting colony to plan, the provisioning to figure out and the technical challenge of launching thousands of people.

On top of that, you have to make folks get along before they even rocket up there.

The scale of the human task is dawning on Russian businessman and scientist Igor Ashurbeyli, who last year drew headlines with his plan for a peaceful democratic utopia dubbed Asgardia above the stratosphere.

More than 300,000 people from 217 countries and territories signed up online to be Asgardians — among them starry-eyed dreamers, sci-fi fans and political idealists — and 110,000 of them are now officially citizens.

While Dr. Ashurbeyli’s lofty plan involves launching “Space Arks” into lower Earth orbit by 2025, he has found himself caught up in earthly debates among his people about pesky details such as the space nation’s constitution and potential taxes.

Not to mention its prospective shortage of women.

Among problems facing Asgardia, “the biggest is self-organization,” said Dr. Ashurbeyli, 53, “because no one has ever tried organizing … what is today 100,000 citizens from 200 countries who don’t know each other and live in different places on Earth.”...

Continue reading

September 2, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 1, 2017

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Orly Mazur (SMU) reviews a new work by Brian Galle (Georgetown), How to Save Unemployment Insurance, forthcoming in the Arizona State Law Journal.

Mazur (2017-2)With the Labor Day Holiday upon us, what a perfect time to celebrate American workers by considering how best to provide workers with a source of relief in the event of involuntary unemployment. Brian Galle’s compelling new work does exactly that by analyzing and suggesting potential reforms that can help to save our unemployment insurance (UI) program.

The UI program is a form of social insurance that provides temporary income support to workers that lose their jobs through taxes collected by state and federal governments from employers. Unfortunately, as the recent Great Recession showed us, “the U.S. system of financing its unemployment insurance program is seriously dysfunctional.” After explaining the cause of the UI program’s failings, Galle makes a persuasive case that for any UI reform proposal to be effective, three factors need to be taken into account. 

Continue reading

September 1, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Subscribing To TaxProf Blog

SubscribeWe offer three ways to have TaxProf Blog content automatically delivered to your computer, tablet, or smart phone:

RSS Feeds:  You can subscribe to one of three different feeds to receive TaxProf Blog posts via your RSS reader:

Email:  You can subscribe to receive TaxProf Blog posts via email through one of three approaches:

  • FeedBlitz:  Enter your email address here to receive TaxProf Blog posts via email, delivered to you either daily, every 12 hours, every 8 hours, every 4 hours, or hourly (at your option).
  • TaxProf Blog Tax Email Service:  Email me to be added to my twice daily (during the week) and once daily (on the weekend) emails to the TaxProf Discussion Group with titles and links to recent TaxProf Blog posts on tax topics.
  • TaxProf Blog Legal Education Email Service:  Email me to be added to my email distribution list with titles and links to recent TaxProf Blog posts on legal education topics.

September 1, 2017 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Support TaxProf Blog By Shopping On Amazon

Amazon-associatesTaxProf Blog participates in the amazon.com affiliate program. You can help support TaxProf Blog at no cost to you by making purchases through Amazon links on the blog and through the "Shop Amazon" tab on the header at the top of the blog:

Header

and the search box in the right column of the blog:

Amazon Search

September 1, 2017 in About This Blog, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1576: Will Justice Come For IRS Lawbreakers At Last?

IRS Logo 2Investor's Business Daily editorial, Will Justice Come For IRS Lawbreakers At Last?:

The IRS scandal seemingly has lain dormant now for months, all but forgotten amid the spate of recent anti-Trump media spasms, the ongoing violent antics of the antifa leftists and, now, Hurricane Harvey's devastation. But even if much of Washington has forgotten about it, a Washington judge hasn't.

As reported by the Washington Examiner, Judge Reggie B. Walton of the Washington, D.C., District Court last week revived legal attention to the scandal, telling the IRS it has to reveal the names of IRS employees who targeted conservative, libertarian and Tea Party groups.

But Walton didn't stop there. He also gave the IRS until Oct. 16 to find all the records in IRS databases from May 2009 to March 2015 that are relevant to the case and to explain just why these groups were targeted.

All of this is the result of a suit against the IRS brought in 2013 by True the Vote and 38 other groups. The groups have doggedly pursued the IRS for four years after the tax agency held up their tax-exempt status before and during the 2012 election year for what appear to be blatantly political reasons. In their search for justice, the groups have had little help from the mostly apathetic, left-leaning media that wish conservative groups would just go away. ...

Paul Caron, dean of the Pepperdine University School of Law and himself a tax lawyer, has kept a lonely vigil at his blog on the IRS' questionable actions in all this, running a virtually day-by-day account of the news behind the scandal, which as of Monday by his count was in its 1,572nd day (and counting).

With so little action, on Monday Caron wondered plaintively, "Why did it go away?" Well, we've wondered that too.

Caron quotes a piece from the Nonprofit Quarterly that notes that since May 2013 there have been "several congressional and other investigations but no criminal indictments or known personnel actions against  anyone involved in the targeting. ... The U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation, but in the midst of that investigation, they announced there would be no indictments." ...

By seeking maximum disclosure, Walton is doing yeoman's duty in making the IRS accountable. We wish him success in prying open the IRS' chest of dirty secrets.

But that's not enough. At the very least, it's time the U.S. Department of Justice stopped defending the indefensible, and started forcing the rogue tax-collection agency and its former executives to answer for its politically motivated crimes. As the old saying goes, justice delayed is justice denied.

Continue reading

September 1, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Karen Hawkins Named Chair Of ABA Tax Section

HawkinsNews Release, Former IRS Official Karen L. Hawkins to Chair ABA Section of Taxation:

Karen L. Hawkins of Yachats, Ore., has been selected to chair the American Bar Association’s Section of Taxation, the nation’s largest organization of tax lawyers. Hawkins will serve a one-year term, to be succeeded by Eric Solomon, of Washington, D.C., who will serve this year as chair-elect.

Hawkins served as the director of the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), where she oversaw the standards of practice for tax professionals. Prior to government service, she was a partner in the San Francisco law firm of Taggart & Hawkins PC, where she specialized in civil and criminal tax controversy. ...

Continue reading

August 31, 2017 in ABA Tax Section, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

McCluskey: Tax And The Ideology Of Unequal Economic Growth

Martha T. McCluskey (SUNY-Buffalo), Framing Middle-Class Insecurity: Tax and the Ideology of Unequal Economic Growth, 84 Fordham L. Rev. 2699 (2016):

Prevailing tax discourse rationalizes growing economic inequality. Using the example of state and local economic development “subsidy wars,” this article explores how conventional tax ideas present unequal sacrifice and risk as a public responsibility, driven by economic fact rather than unjust politics.

Continue reading

August 31, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Caron: From Moses To Hamilton: A Dean’s Journey

Caron HamiltonFor my Southern California friends:   I have the great honor of speaking this Sunday (Sept. 3) at Pepperdine University's campus church service held in Elkins Auditorium starting at 10:15 am.  The title of my talk is From Moses to Hamilton: A Dean’s Journey.  For a teaser, see C.S. Lewis & Lin-Manuel Miranda: How I Found My Faith In Mere Christianity And Deepened It In Hamilton:

I repeatedly (perhaps excessively) extol the genius of Hamilton (see links below). I often tell people that the play changed my life and led me to seek the deanship of Pepperdine law school.  

Continue reading

August 31, 2017 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Aprill: Religious Organizations, Refuge For Undocumented Immigrants, And Tax Exemption

Ellen P. Aprill (Loyola-L.A.), Religious Organizations, Refuge for Undocumented Immigrants, and Tax Exemption:

The Trump Administration plans for aggressive enforcement of immigration laws have caused many houses of worship and other religious organizations to consider whether their beliefs call upon them to grant refuge or so-called sanctuary to undocumented immigrants. This brief essay considers whether these organizations would risk their tax-exempt status were they to do so. It reviews relevant judicial and IRS guidance.

Continue reading

August 31, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WaPo: Fact-checking President Trump’s Speech On His Tax Plan

WaPo Fact CheckerWashington Post, Fact-checking President Trump’s Speech on His Tax Plan:

President Trump on Wednesday delivered an address on his “principles” for a tax plan in Springfield, Mo., though he provided few details. He also shifted from extolling how well the economy is doing to language that suggested the United States was suffering terribly. As usual, some of the president’s facts and figures were a bit fishy, so here’s a roundup of 10 of his claims.

Continue reading

August 31, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

How Stephen Ross' $33 Million Gift To The University Of Michigan Ended Up In Tax Court

Michigan LogoFollowing up on Paul's previous post, Tax Court Denies Billionaire's $33m Charitable Deduction; Did University Of Michigan 'Rent Its Brand To Brazen 10:1 Tax Avoidance Scheme'?:  Detroit Free Press, How Stephen M. Ross' Gift to the University of Michigan Ended Up in Tax Court:

On his way to becoming the University of Michigan's largest donor, Stephen M. Ross and a group of business partners donated a collective gift to his alma mater.

In return, the partnership claimed a giant charitable tax deduction: $33 million.

The Internal Revenue Service didn't buy it.

Continue reading

August 31, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

It’s A Myth That Corporate Tax Cuts Mean More Jobs

NYTNew York Times op-ed:  It’s a Myth That Corporate Tax Cuts Mean More Jobs, by Sarah Anderson (Institute for Policy Studies):

“The arithmetic for us is simple,” AT&T’s chief executive, Randall Stephenson, said on CNBC in May. If Congress were to cut the 35 percent tax on corporate profits to 20 percent, he declared, “I know exactly what AT&T would do — we’d invest more” in the United States.

Every $1 billion in tax savings would create 7,000 well-paying jobs, Mr. Stephenson went on to say. The correlation between lower corporate taxes and more jobs, he assured viewers, runs “very, very tight.”

As Congress prepares to take up tax legislation this fall, including an effort to reduce the corporate tax rate, this bold jobs claim merits examination. Notably, it comes from the chief executive of a company that’s already paying comparatively little in federal taxes.

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, AT&T enjoyed an effective tax rate of just 8 percent between 2008 and 2015, despite recording a profit in the United States each year, by exploiting tax breaks and loopholes. ...

Many other large American corporations have also been playing the tax break and loophole game. Their huge tax savings have enriched executives but not created significant numbers of new jobs.

Our report [The 35 Percent Corporate Tax Myth: Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies] analyzes the 92 publicly held American corporations that reported a profit in the United States every year from 2008 through 2015 and paid less than 20 percent of their earnings in federal income tax. ...

Continue reading

August 30, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

NY Times: Trump Tax Plan May Free Up Corporate Dollars, But Then What?

New York Times, Trump Tax Plan May Free Up Corporate Dollars, but Then What?:

The tax overhaul promised by President Trump and Republican congressional leaders is lugging a remarkably heavy load. The goal is not only to reduce the tax bills of corporations and small businesses, but also to stimulate investment, create jobs, increase global competitiveness and promote economic growth.

Whatever the intentions, though, pushing the world’s largest and most diversified economy in any particular direction is a colossal undertaking. In addition, there is a large and sophisticated tax avoidance industry dedicated to frustrating the most carefully worded proposals.

And as Mr. Trump prepares to outline his corporate tax overhaul ideas in a speech on Wednesday in Springfield, Mo., economists and tax experts warn that the path is likely to be treacherous.

Consider the tantalizing $2.6 trillion in global profits that American companies are keeping out of their home accounts and out of the Internal Revenue Service’s reach.

A pro-growth tax policy would presumably aim not only to reach profits kept abroad as a tax dodge, but also to encourage companies to use that money to expand their business and hire more workers.

Continue reading

August 30, 2017 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Robinson: The Folly Of Conflating The Power To Fine With The Power To Tax

Mildred Robinson (Virginia), The Folly of Conflating the Power to Fine with the Power to Tax, 62 Vill. L. Rev. ___ (2017):

As citizens, we expect the police “to protect and to serve.” So how does a police force become revenue collector instead of protector? On the local level, we “purchase” through taxes police and fire protection as well as a myriad of other services. This article, an expansion of remarks made during the October 2016 Shachoy Symposium — Exploring Police Accountability in America — at the Villanova University School of Law, examines how reliance on traffic fines for general budgetary purposes became a matter of general practice in Ferguson and many other towns and cities. It ultimately serves as a reminder that there are very sound economic and civic reasons to rely upon “taxes [as] the price we pay for a civilized society?”

Continue reading

August 30, 2017 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1574: Why Are Trump’s Justice Department Appointees Protecting The IRS?

IRS Logo 2The Daily Signal, Why Are Trump’s Justice Department Appointees Protecting the IRS?

Various media sources have reported that federal District Court Judge Reggie Walton has ordered the IRS to finally respond to various legal requests for information and documents made by the conservative tea party organizations that sued the agency.

But the question that no one is asking is why that order was even necessary, and why the Justice Department, which is now supposedly under the control and authority of the new administration, hasn’t reversed its obstinate, inflexible, and stubborn defense of the IRS. ...

[T]he Tax Division of the Justice Department, which is currently headed by acting Assistant Attorney General David A. Hubbert, has put up a mulish fight defending the IRS, including doing everything it can to prevent the IRS from having to provide any of the information and documentation that the plaintiffs are seeking about the targeting.

[T]he IRS — after four years of delays — is going to finally have to tell us who (in addition to Lerner) planned, organized, and participated in the abuse of the government’s tax power to target Americans for their participation in the political process, their opposition to Obama and liberal policies, and their support for the Constitution and the rule of law.

Walton’s order is a significant victory for the plaintiffs in this lawsuit. But why were this hearing and this order even necessary in the first place?

As soon as President Donald Trump was inaugurated and the first members of the Trump transition team landed at the Justice Department, one of the first steps they should have taken was to order the Tax Division to stop its deliberate litigation strategy of fighting all attempts to ferret out what exactly happened at the IRS, and who was responsible for it.

Instead, the Justice Department has continued to obstruct discovery in this lawsuit that has been going on for four long years, resulting in Walton’s Aug. 17 order against the IRS and the Justice Department. ...

What are the political appointees at the Justice Department doing? Why are they continuing to protect the IRS? Why are they trying to stop the efforts to find out who at the IRS was responsible for this abusive behavior?

And while we are on the subject of the IRS scandal, why haven’t Trump’s political appointees at the Justice Department reversed the refusal of Ronald Machen, former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, (who was an Obama appointee) to enforce the contempt citation issued by the House of Representatives against Lerner for her refusal to cooperate with the congressional committee investigating this abusive conduct?

Continue reading

August 30, 2017 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)