TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Monday, November 21, 2016

Shaviro Presents The Mapmaker’s Dilemma In Evaluating High-End Inequality Today At NYU

Shaviro (2015)Daniel Shaviro (NYU) presents The Mapmaker’s Dilemma in Evaluating High-End Inequality at NYU today as part of its High-End Inequality Colloquium Series (more here):

The last thirty years have witnessed rising income and wealth concentration among the top 0.1 percent of the population, leading to intense political debate regarding how, if at all, policymakers should respond. Often, this debate emphasizes the tools of public economics, and in particular optimal income taxation. However, while these tools can help us in evaluating the issues raised by high-end inequality, their extreme reductionism — which, in other settings, often offers significant analytic payoffs — here proves to have serious drawbacks.

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

National Taxpayer Advocate:  The IRS Is Out Of Touch With The People It Serves

Taxpayer Advocate (2016)Accounting Web, Nina Olson: IRS Out of Touch with the People it Serves:

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson minced few words in a recent assessment of the future of the IRS and its current interactions with taxpayers: The agency’s growing disconnect from the people it serves will lead to its failure.

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November 21, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

ATPI Conference:  Improving The Tax System Using Advances In Social Knowledge And Technology

ATPI Logo (2014)The American Tax Policy Institute sponsored a conference on Improving the Tax System Using Advances in Social Knowledge and Technology at Skadden's Washington, D.C. office on Friday:

Panel 1:  How behavioral economics relates to and might be taken into account in developing tax policy and administration

  • James Alm (Tulane) (Panel Chair)
  • Mike Hawkins (HM Revenue & Customs)
  • Steven M. Sheffrin (Tulane)
  • Eric LoPresti (Taxpayer Advocate Service, IRS)

Panel 2:  Using social science to improve the tax system and promote voluntary compliance

  • Susan C. Morse (Texas) (Panel Chair)
  • Joseph Bankman (Stanford)
  • John Guyton (Office of Research, Applied Analytics & Statistics, IRS)
  • Ronald Hodge (Office of Research, Applied Analytics & Statistics, IRS)
  • Kathleen DeLaney Thomas (North Carolina)

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

The IRS Scandal, Day 1292: Boston Herald Editorial—IRS Scandal Belies President Obama's Claim That His Has Been A Scandal-Free Administration

IRS ScandalBoston Herald editorial, Scandal 'Free' Obama:

“I am very proud of the fact that we will — knock on wood — leave this administration without significant scandal.” — President Obama at his Nov. 14 news conference.

Ah, the lie oft repeated . . .

Define scandal. Or perhaps “significant scandal.”

Well, let’s start with the IRS scandal — or is there another word for what happens when public officials in one of government’s most sensitive departments make decisions based on ideology. Let’s see, how about when any organization with the words “tea party” in its name applies for tax-exempt status? Lois Lerner, who headed the tax exempt division resigned.

But guess that’s only a “significant scandal” for those groups still waiting to hear back from the IRS. ...

No scandal here, folks. Just move along.

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November 21, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 20, 2016

NY Times:   After Critical Inspector General Report, IRS Cracks Down On Bitcoin Users

Bitcoin IRSNew York Times, Bitcoin Users Who Evade Taxes Are Sought by the IRS:

The IRS is on the hunt for people who used Bitcoin to evade taxes.

The tax agency sent a broad request on Thursday to Coinbase, the largest Bitcoin exchange in the United States, asking for the records of all customers who bought virtual currency from the company from 2013 to 2015.

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November 20, 2016 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThere is a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new paper debuting on the list at #5. The #1 paper is now #19 in all-time downloads among 12,340 tax papers:

  1. [4,594 Downloads]  Families Facing Tax Increases Under Trump's Latest Tax Plan, by Lily L. Batchelder (NYU)
  2. [522 Downloads]  Aggressive Tax Planning & the Ethical Tax Lawyer, by Heather M. Field (UC-Hastings)
  3. [299 Downloads]  The Up-C Revolution, by Gregg D. Polsky (Georgia) & Adam H. Rosenzweig (Washington University)
  4. [271 Downloads]  Estate Planning for Digital Assets: Assigning Tax Basis and Value to Digital Assets, by Elizabeth Ruth Carter (LSU)
  5. [223 Downloads]  IRS Issues Final and Temporary Debt-Equity Regulations Under Section 385, by David S. Miller (Proskauer, New York) & Janicelynn Asamoto Park (Proskauer, New York)

November 20, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS, Day 1291:  Federal Judge—‘Strong Showing’ That IRS Discriminated Against Tea Party Groups

Saturday, November 19, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

NY Times:  How To Give An IRA To Children Without Giving Up Control

New York Times: How to Give an I.R.A. to Children Without Giving Up Control, by Paul Sullivan:

Most people spend whatever they have saved in their individual retirement accounts in the years after they stop working. If they’re fortunate, they have enough to last.

But the few who have amassed such large retirement accounts that they will never exhaust them have a concern common to many wealthy parents: What happens to the money when they die and their children inherit it?

A trusteed I.R.A. is a relatively easy way for parents to control how, when and why their children receive the distributions from their retirement accounts.

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November 19, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1290:  Linchpins Of Liberty Seeks Declaratory Relief That IRS Violated Their First Amendment Rights

IRS Logo 2 Notice Regarding Declaratory Relief to Which plaintiffs Are Entitled, Linchpins of Liberty v. United States, No. 1:13-cv-00777 (D.C. D.C. Nov. 11, 2016):

Based on the applicable law, and the Government’s admissions, there can be no dispute that Plaintiffs are entitled to a declaration that the IRS violated their First Amendment rights by:

(1) engaging in viewpoint-based discrimination when it targeted Plaintiffs’ tax-exempt applications for heightened scrutiny, significantly delayed the processing of those applications, and issued irrelevant and unnecessary demands for information—all because of Plaintiffs’ political-sounding names and/or policy positions (i.e., viewpoints); and

(2) demanding that Plaintiffs disclose such information as donor names, the type of conversations and discussions members and participants had during organizational activities, and the political affiliations of Plaintiffs’ officers and directors, all without any government interest, let alone a substantial or sufficiently important one, as the Government has admitted the accuracy of TIGTA’s finding that such information demands were entirely irrelevant and unnecessary.

United States’ Motion for Summary Judgment as to Remaining CLaims and Supporting Statement of Points and Authorities, Linchpins of Liberty v. United States, No. 1:13-cv-00777 (D.C. D.C. Nov. 11, 2016):

No one disputes that the IRS used certain criteria and engaged in other conduct in processing applications for tax-exempt status that it should not have done, both as found by TIGTA and acknowledged by the IRS itself. Whether what went wrong rises to the level of a constitutional injury is an issue that this Court has yet to decide, and the United States has not conceded that legal point. But something having gone wrong in the processing of applications, whether it constitutes a constitutional injury or not, the point remains that what happened next is exactly what should have happened: an independent oversight body (TIGTA) became involved and conducted an extensive investigation of what happened, it made its recommendations to correct the objectionable conduct, and the IRS implemented all of those recommendations. And all of that took place with the additional and intense scrutiny of Congress exercising its oversight function. Something having gone wrong in the first place, the process to correct that problem worked as it was supposed to, leaving no need for the Court to grant declaratory or injunctive relief.

The fact that the IRS has acted on Plaintiffs’ applications leaves no live or ongoing issues to be resolved as to Plaintiffs’ claims, which centered on the application process. And, as described, the IRS has permanently changed its procedures that gave rise to Plaintiffs’ claims. As a result, Plaintiffs are not entitled to the declaratory and injunctive relief that they seek.

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November 19, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Weekly Tax Highlight And Roundup

This week, Joe Kristan (CPA & Shareholder, Roth & Company (Des Moines, Iowa); Editor, Tax Update Blog) discusses the importance of keeping good mileage records if you plan on deducting expenses incurred in the business use of a car (even an Aston Martin).

KristanThere is no short form mileage log for an Aston Martin.

All business. A California aerospace consultant visited his clients in a suitably space-age vehicle — an Aston Martin Vantage. Paleolithic vehicle recordkeeping blew up his car deductions on the launch pad.

The consultant claimed $21,747 in vehicle operating expenses on his 2012 return, along with $21,636 in depreciation expense for the Vantage. That’s a lot of deduction, but then again the Vantage is a lot of car. And, of course, the taxpayer said the car was used 100% for business. And he had proof! Well, sort of. Tax Court Judge Nega takes up the story (my emphasis):

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November 18, 2016 in Tax, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, Daniel Hemel (Chicago) reviews a new article by David Kamin (NYU), Getting Americans To Save: In Defense of (Reformed) Tax Incentives, Tax Law Review (forthcoming 2017).

HemelTax-preferred retirement accounts are hugely popular among participants but widely panned by academics who study saving behavior. The two principal criticisms are (1) that tax incentives such as 401(k)s and IRAs aren’t effective at encouraging individuals to save more, and (2) that these incentives amount to “upside-down” subsidies that deliver the largest benefits to wealthy Americans in the highest tax brackets. In an excellent new article, David Kamin carefully considers these criticisms and concludes that the case against tax-preferred retirement accounts is overstated. “[B]ased on the available evidence,” Kamin writes, “tax incentives probably should be used to help correct failures in people’s saving decisions—correcting the ‘internality’ that people impose on themselves because of their biases.”

Kamin begins by canvassing the empirical evidence suggesting that a substantial fraction of American workers are “under-saving” for retirement. He goes on to evaluate the evidence that tax incentives can encourage individuals to save more. On this point, research results vary widely, with some studies finding that tax incentives have little or no effect and others finding that tax incentives play an important role in boosting rates of saving.

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November 18, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (2)

Shaviro Presents Fixing U.S. International Taxation Today At San Francisco

FixingDaniel N. Shaviro (NYU) presents Fixing U.S. International Taxation (Oxford University Press, 2014) at the University of San Francisco Graduate Tax Program as part of its Tax Lecture Series:

International tax rules, which determine how countries tax cross-border investment, are increasingly important with the rise of globalization, but the modern U.S. rules, even more than those in most other countries, are widely recognized as dysfunctional. The existing debate over how to reform the U.S. tax rules is stuck in a sterile dialectic, in which ostensibly the only permissible choices are worldwide or residence-based taxation of U.S. companies with the allowance of foreign tax credits, versus outright exemption of the companies' foreign source income.

In Fixing U.S. International Taxation, Daniel N. Shaviro explains why neither of these solutions addresses the fundamental problem at hand, and he proposes a new reformulation of the existing framework from first principles. He shows that existing international tax policy frameworks are misguided insofar as they treat "double taxation" and "double non-taxation" as the key issues, conflate the distinct questions of what tax rate to impose on foreign source income and how to treat foreign taxes, and use simplistic single-bullet global welfare norms in lieu of a comprehensive analysis.

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November 18, 2016 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TIGTA: IRS Exposed 28 Million Taxpayers To Identity Theft By Sending Unencrypted Email

Washington Times, IRS Exposed Taxpayers’ Info Through Shoddy Emails, Audit Shows:

A surprising number of IRS employees are sending unencrypted emails containing personal taxpayer information to private accounts, putting that information at risk of being stolen, the agency’s inspector general said Thursday.

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November 18, 2016 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1289:  Federal Judge To IRS—‘Strong Showing’ Of Discrimination Against Tea Party Group

IRS Logo 2USA Today, Judge to IRS: ‘Strong Showing’ on Tea Party Bias Claim:

A federal judge ruled this month in a lawsuit in the ongoing IRS-Tea Party saga that there was "a strong showing" that the agency had discriminated against conservative groups because of their political stances.

And U.S. District Court Judge Michael R. Barrett wrote in a decision that a particular group suing the IRS "has made a strong showing of a likelihood of success" on its claim that its free speech rights were violated by the delay in processing the application.

He ordered the IRS to continue processing the application from the group, called the Texas Patriots Tea Party, even as the IRS fights the group’s lawsuit.

"The Government appears not to see the forest through the trees when it uses the existence of this lawsuit as grounds to continue the delay that is the subject of this lawsuit," Barrett wrote in his Nov. 4 decision. "The evidence strongly suggests that the IRS initiated the delay" because the Texas group was affiliated with the tea party. ...

The latest ruling could set a precedent in the ongoing saga over alleged unfair treatment of such organizations and make it easier for them to go through the non-profit application process, lawyers in the case say. That's because it could force the IRS to speed up and reconfigure how it determines whether such groups can get nonprofit status throughout its system, and not just for the individual Texas group.

"We are suing in part for what we think is a violation of our First Amendment right to free speech, and we feel this ruling gives us that," said Kansas City-based lawyer Eddie Greim who is one of the lead lawyers for the Tea Party groups in the case. "If it holds up, this could establish the basic principle that the IRS will be judged on in the future."

The IRS declined comment on the case Thursday, citing its policy not to discuss any litigation against the agency.

The Texas Patriots lawsuit reached class action status in January and now includes several other conservative groups. A total of four lawsuits against the IRS are still alive nationally, including two filed in Washington, D.C. The latest ruling involves the Texas organization alone.

All the suits were filed shortly after IRS officials in 2013 acknowledged they had singled out conservative-leaning "public interest" groups for extra attention while reviewing their applications for nonprofit status. Such a designation allows people to donate with no tax penalty, and such groups can conduct some political activity as long as it is not "the majority" of their actions.

Conservative groups claimed that the slow process put a chill on such contributions during the 2012 election cycle, raising the possibility that the scrutiny was a way to slow down fundraising and campaigning by conservatives by the Obama administration.

That led to a major scandal and several investigations by Congress, the Justice Department and even with the IRS itself. It also caused the resignations or firings of several top IRS officials, including then-Commissioner Steven Miller as well as other administrators tied to the targeting.

An FBI and Justice Department investigation found in 2015 that the IRS's nonprofit approval system was rife with mismanagement and poor judgment, but that there wasn't enough evidence to prove that IRS agents acted in political ways or should be criminally prosecuted.

But the IRS completely stopped processing the Texas group's nonprofit application that was originally filed in 2012 once the suit was filed, saying it had lost jurisdiction because of the ongoing case.

Barrett ruled that process should continue, but also that the IRS could use neither the previous process it used for such conservative groups nor the expedited replacement system the agency offered after the scandal broke. ...

It's unclear how these cases will be handled by the incoming Trump administration, although one conservative watchdog group is asking that investigations into the scandal be resumed once President-elect Trump takes office. ...

Judicial Watch this week released more than a thousand new documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that show officials in Cincinnati and Washington knew IRS agents in Cincinnati were targeting conservative groups by their party affiliations and by "guilt by association." ...

"We're getting document after document showing the IRS both in Washington and Cincinnati knew that people were doing things outside the rules," Judicial Watch's Finton said. "If they were asking inappropriate questions based on guilt by association or party affiliations, then I don't know what more you need to show that something inappropriate was going on, if not illegal."

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November 18, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Century Foundation Conference:  Paying For Progress—A Tax Reform Agenda For The Next President

CennturyThe Century Foundation hosts a conference today on Paying for Progress: A Tax Reform Agenda for the Next President:

Panel 1:  A Federal Budget for Equity and Fairness

  • Josh Bivens (Economic Policy Institute)
  • Jane Gravelle (Congressional Research Service)
  • Christian Dorsey (Economic Policy Institute) (moderator)

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November 17, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1288:  Top IRS Official Says Agency Targeted Conservative Groups Based on ‘Guilt By Association’ And ‘Party Affiliation’

IRS Logo 2Judicial Watch Press Release, New Documents Reveal Top Obama IRS Official Admitted Cincinnati Office Targeted Groups Based on ‘Guilt by Association’:

Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained 1593 pages of new documents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), including notes from a 2011 interoffice meeting revealing a top IRS official admitted that Cincinnati office agents were targeting organizations requesting tax exempt status based on “guilt by association” and “party affiliation.” According to former IRS Director of the Office of Rulings and Agreements Holly Paz, “they think they know what the org is really doing, rather than looking at actual activities.” ...

“This further confirms the IRS knew about abuses years before they were exposed. President Trump needs to reopen the criminal investigation of the IRS as soon as he is sworn into office,” said Judicial Watch President, Tom Fitton.

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November 17, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (10)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Burman Presents Is U.S. Corporate Income Double-Taxed? Today At Pennsylvania

Burman (2016)Leonard E. Burman (Tax Policy Center) presents Is U.S. Corporate Income Double-Taxed? (with Kimberly Clausing (Reed College)) at Pennsylvania today as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Chris Sanchirico and Reed Shuldiner:

Every public finance student learns that corporations are subject to two levels of taxation—at the company level through the corporate income tax and the individual level through taxation of dividends and capital gains. Though observers frequently lament this double taxation of equity-financed corporate investment, double taxation is not important per se; the issue is the overall level of tax. (Most investors would prefer two 10 percent taxes to a single 30 percent tax.) Still, the overall effective tax rate depends on both corporate and individual income taxes.

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November 16, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Shanske Presents Equitable Apportionment In The Age Of Single Sales Factor Apportionment Today At Northwestern

ShanskeDarien Shanske (UC-Davis) presents What is Equitable Apportionment For in the Age of Single Sales Factor Apportionment? A Study of the Evolution of State Corporate Income Taxes at Northwestern today as part of its Advanced Topics in Taxation Workshop Series hosted by Sarah Lawsky:

Over 40 states impose a corporate income tax. Each of these states use a formula to apportion the share of a multistate corporation’s income to the state. All of these states also permit both the government and the taxpayer to challenge the result of the formula if the results “do not fairly represent the extent of the taxpayer’s business activity in this State.” This is equitable apportionment. Needless to say, terms such as “fair” invite dispute, but it seemed there was at least some sense of how equitable apportionment was to work, at least until recently.

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November 16, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pomona College May Have Violated 501(c)(3) Tax Status To Fund Anti-Trump Student Protesters

PomonaThe Claremont Independent: Pomona College May Have Violated 501(c)(3) Tax Status to Fund Anti-Trump Protesters, by Matthew Reade & Ross Steinberg:

By funding the transportation of students to and from anti-Trump rallies in the Los Angeles area with tuition dollars, Pomona College’s Draper Center for Community Partnership may have violated IRS regulations prohibiting tax-exempt educational institutions from engaging in partisan political activity. ...

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November 16, 2016 in Legal Education, Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

ABA Tax Section Publishes November 2016 Issue Of Tax Times

ABA Tax Times (2016)The ABA Tax Section has published 36 Tax Times No. 1 (Nov. 2016):

Boston Meeting Successes, and More to Come
We had a great joint meeting in Boston with the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section at the end of September. There were approximately 1,100 in attendance, and I was inspired by the enthusiasm about the activities of the Tax Section for the coming year. We have a lot of work to do, and we are going to have a good time doing it.

Interview with Anne-Marie Rábago
By Tom Greenaway, KPMG LLP, Boston, MA
Anne-Marie Rábago recently joined the State Bar of Texas as Director of the Texas Opportunity & Justice Incubator in Austin. We interviewed her at the Joint Fall Meeting in Boston to talk about the incubator movement and the access to justice gap.

Implications of Bitcoin Not Being Actual Currency: The Espinoza Case
By Joni Larson, Professor, Indiana Tech Law School, Fort Wayne, IN
Bitcoin is not the first virtual currency. It has, however, garnered significant attention by being embroiled in several scandals. Through the lens of the Espinoza case, this article examinations the tax implications of selling bitcoin.

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November 16, 2016 in ABA Tax Section, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1287:  Koskinen Urges Trump Transition Team To Name New IRS Commissioner Soon

IRS Logo 2The Hill, IRS Chief Urges Trump Team to Consider Replacement Soon:

The head of the IRS said Tuesday it’s in the best interest of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team to act early when mulling options for his potential replacement.

“One of my concerns for a little while has been, whoever won, they need to understand that, no matter what happens, my term runs out next November,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told reporters after an American Institute of CPA's conference Tuesday.

He said Trump's team would be best served by making sure they have someone to put through the confirmation process by mid-spring in order to prevent a leadership drop off next November. ...

He said that he hopes meetings with the Trump’s transition team will begin soon.

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November 16, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Dynarski Presents Tax Benefits Of College Attendance Today At Columbia

DynarskiSusan Dynarski (Michigan) presents Tax Benefits of College Attendance at Columbia today as part of its Davis Polk & Wardwell Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex Raskolnikov and Wojciech Kopczuk:

National efforts to promote college enrollment are increasingly delivered through tax-based assistance, including tax credits and deductions for tuition and fees, tax-advantaged college savings plans, and student loan interest deductions. This paper outlines the main tax-based student aid programs and describes their history and growth over time. We then provide an economic perspective on tax-based student aid, and an assessment of their impact on student behavior. We conclude with a discussion of what the tax system does particularly well and what it does particularly poorly in comparison to traditional Department of Education-based student aid programs, and highlight opportunities for productive reform. 

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November 15, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Viard Presents Progressive Consumption Taxation: The X-Tax Revisited At NYU

PCT 2Alan Viard (American Enterprise Institute) presented Progressive Consumption Taxation: The X Tax Revisited (2012) at NYU yesterday as part of its High-End Inequality Colloquium Series (more here) hosted by Robert Frank (Cornell) and Dan Shaviro (NYU):

The United States is alone among industrialized countries in having no broad-based consumption tax at the national level. Yet, economic analysis suggests that consumption taxation is likely to be superior to income taxation, because it does not penalize saving and investment. This book proposes to completely replace the income tax system with a progressive consumption tax. This approach avoids the problems arising from the adoption of a consumption tax alongside the income tax and also avoids the distributional problems posed by regressive consumption taxes, such as the VAT.

This book argues that the Bradford X tax, developed by the late David Bradford, offers the best form of progressive consumption taxation. The X tax modifies the VAT, so that it no longer imposes a flat-rate tax on all consumption. It splits the value-added tax base, which equals aggregate consumption, into two components, wages and business cash flow. The X tax achieves progressivity by applying graduated tax rates to wages and a high flat tax rate to business cash flow, which reflects consumption financed from wealth accumulated prior to the reform and from above-normal business investment returns, which largely accrue to well-off households.

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November 15, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kamin:  Getting Americans To Save—In Defense Of (Reformed) Tax Incentives

David Kamin (NYU), Getting Americans to Save: In Defense of (Reformed) Tax Incentives, 69 Tax L. Rev. ___ (2016):

According to the most recent literature, one of the primary systems for getting Americans to save more — a system of tax-preferred retirement accounts — is fundamentally broken and should be abandoned. This system of 401(k)s, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), and other tax-preferred accounts cost the government about $80 billion per year, and influential new research by Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and co-authors — among others — suggests that tax incentives like these are unable to substantially increase private saving. However, this case against tax incentives is overstated.

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November 15, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Grewal:  Trump’s Broad Powers To Revoke Tax Regulations Issued By The Obama Administration

Trump (President Elect)Andy Grewal (Iowa), Trump’s Broad Powers to Revoke Tax Regulations Issued By the Obama Administration, Yale J. on Reg.: Notice & Comment (Nov. 14, 2016):

The IRS was actively involved in implementing various policy objectives of the Obama Administration and issued various controversial regulations, including those dealing with the Affordable Care Act. With Donald Trump soon to step into the Oval Office, one may wonder about the extent to which the Trump Administration can reverse regulations issued by the Treasury/IRS over the past 8 years.

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November 15, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

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







Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Mich.)



Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)


Michael Simkovic (S. Hall)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


Lily Batchelder (NYU)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine)



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



James Hines (Michigan)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Dan Shaviro (NYU)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


William Byrnes (Texas A&M)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



Brad Borden (Broklyn)


David Weisbach (Chicago)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Vic Fleischer (San Diego)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


Steven Bank (UCLA)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


Chris Hoyt (UMKC)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


Yariv Brauner (Florida)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Brian Galle (Georgetown)



Dan Shaviro (NYU)


Nancy McLaughlin (Utah)



Bridget Craford (Pace)


Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)



David Walker (Boston Univ.)


Jack Manhire (Texas A&M)



Steven Bank (UCLA)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)



Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)


Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


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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November 15, 2016 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1286:  Rep. Jordan Says He Will Continue To Push For IRS Chief’s Impeachment

IRS Logo 2Politico, Jordan Says He Will Continue Push for IRS Chief’s Impeachment:

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan is still pushing to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen as lawmakers return to Washington for the lame-duck session.

Jordan renewed the call for impeachment in a statement to POLITICO Monday criticizing the agency for denying tax-exempt status to the Albuquerque Tea Party group. The decision on the group — one of three stalled reviews the IRS agreed to expedite after a judge excoriated the agency for continued delays in August — came last week.

Rep. Jim Jordan Statement on IRS Denying Albuquerque Tea Party Non-Profit Status:

Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) made the following statement regarding the decision by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to deny the Albuquerque Tea Party non-profit status after delaying its application for almost seven years as part of the IRS targeting scandal:

“After seven years of stonewalling, targeting and harassing the Albuquerque Tea Party, the IRS has yet again blocked the group’s non-profit status without any explanation. This decision is a reminder that when a federal judge recently said that targeting was still going on, he meant it.

“This is further evidence that the IRS has not changed its ways, and shows that IRS Commissioner John Koskinen continues in his dereliction of duty. Congress must move forward on impeaching him.”

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November 15, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Blank Presents The Timing Of Tax Transparency Today In London

Blank (2016)Joshua D. Blank (NYU) presents The Timing of Tax Transparency, 90 S. Cal. L. Rev. ___ (2017), at Queen Mary University of London School of Law today as part of its Centre for Commercial Law Studies Speaker Series:

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

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November 14, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

McLaughlin Presents Keeping The Perpetual In Tax-Deductible Perpetual Conservation Easements Today At Loyola-L.A.

McLaughlinNancy McLaughlin (Utah) presents Keeping the Perpetual in Tax-Deductible Perpetual Conservation Easements at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Ellen Aprill and Katherine Pratt:

Section § 170(h) of the Internal Revenue Code authorizes a federal charitable income tax deduction for the donation of conservation easements and façade easements provided, among other things, that the easements are “granted in perpetuity” and their conservation purposes are “protected in perpetuity.” This deduction has been one of the driving forces behind the dramatic growth in the use of easements as land protection and historic preservation tools over the last several decades. The deduction has also, however, been subject to abuse. Over the past decade, courts have issued more than eighty opinions in cases involving challenges to claimed § 170(h) deductions. This case law reveals various forms of noncompliance and abuse, including persistent overvaluation of easements, failure to properly substantiate the claimed deductions, failure to satisfy one or more of the conservation purposes tests set forth in § 170(h), and failure to comply with “perpetuity” requirements set forth in § 170(h) and the Treasury Regulations.

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November 14, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

NTA 109th Annual Conference On Taxation

National Tax Association (2016)The three-day National Tax Association 109th Annual Conference on Taxation concluded Saturday in Baltimore. Saturday's highlights included:

Session 72:  Taxation and Wealth
Session Organizer:  John Brooks (Georgetown) 
Session Chair:  John Brooks (Georgetown)

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November 14, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1285:  After Six Year Delay And One Court Order, IRS Denies Two Of Three Tea Party Applications For Tax-Exempt Status

IRS Logo 2Washington Times, After Years of IRS Delay, 2 Tea Party Groups Denied Tax-Exempt Status:

Nearly seven years after it applied to the IRS for nonprofit status, the Albuquerque Tea Party has finally been given a decision: Denied.

The tax agency, under orders from a federal judge, is belatedly tackling the remaining tea party cases that it delayed for years, and so far the tea party isn’t doing well. Only one of the three groups in the case was approved, and the other two, including Albuquerque, got notices of proposed denials last week.

The applicants will have a chance to appeal, but the denials aren’t sitting well with the groups, whose attorney said it’s more evidence that the IRS continues to single out the tea party for abuse. “It is clear that we still have an IRS that is corrupt and incapable of self-correction,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, which represented a number of tea party groups in a case against the tax agency.

The one group that was approved was Unite in Action, a Michigan-based organization that first applied for tax-exempt status more than six years ago. The Albuquerque Tea Party and Tri Cities Tea Party from Washington state were notified of proposed denials.

Still to come is a decision on Texas Patriots Tea Party, a group that is part of a separate class-action lawsuit out of Ohio. A judge in that case ruled late last month that the IRS was likely violating the group’s First Amendment rights by delaying its application and ordered the tax agency to process and decide on the application.

The IRS, which declined to comment on the new decisions, admitted in court that it did subject the tea party groups to intrusive scrutiny, singling them out because of their political viewpoints and forcing them to go through hurdles that other groups didn’t face.

Jay Sekulow (American Center for Law and Justice), Continuing the Fight Against IRS Corruption in Federal Court:

As we continue our fight at the ACLJ against the lawless, unconstitutional Obama Administration’s IRS targeting of grassroots conservatives, we are achieving important victories.

But the fight also continues in federal court to ensure justice for all 38 of our clients from 22 states across the country. We must not stop fighting the IRS corruption until there is true justice and assurances that no American will ever be targeted by the IRS for his or her beliefs ever again.

Three of our remaining clients have received determinations from the IRS in recent weeks after a significant victory in which a federal judge ordered the IRS to issue determinations within 30 days.

Michigan-based Unite in Action – after waiting for more than six years – has been approved by the IRS.

Two other clients – Albuquerque Tea Party from New Mexico and Tri Cities Tea Party from Washington State – received proposed denials regarding their applications. The lengthy delays in receiving these determinations underscores the continuing problems inside the Obama Administration’s IRS.

It is clear that we still have an IRS that is corrupt and incapable of self-correction. We're pleased Unite in Action has finally received its approval after lengthy delays. We're now in the process of reviewing the proposed denials in the other two cases as we aggressively move forward with our federal lawsuit against the IRS to ensure it is bound by the U.S. Constitution and the law protecting the fundamental freedoms of speech and association that serve as the bedrock to this great nation.

As we continue fighting against the Executive lawlessness in federal court, please sign our petition to join the fight – for freedom and for the Constitution.

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November 14, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 13, 2016

NY Times:  Donald Trump’s Proposed Tax Changes May Encourage Dynastic Wealth

Trump (President Elect)New York Times: Trump’s Changes to the Tax Codes May Encourage Dynastic Wealth, by Paul Sullivan:

If Donald J. Trump follows through on his campaign promises, a host of taxes that affect only the very richest Americans may be eliminated, along with almost all tax incentives to be philanthropic. As a result, wealthy families may find it much easier to amass dynastic levels of wealth.

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November 13, 2016 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Top 5 Tax Paper Downloads

SSRN LogoThis week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads is the same as last week's list. The #1 paper is now #19 in all-time downloads among 12,338 tax papers:

  1. [4,345 Downloads]  Families Facing Tax Increases Under Trump's Latest Tax Plan, by Lily L. Batchelder (NYU)
  2. [444 Downloads]  Aggressive Tax Planning & the Ethical Tax Lawyer, by Heather M. Field (UC-Hastings)
  3. [285 Downloads]  The Up-C Revolution, by Gregg D. Polsky (Georgia) & Adam H. Rosenzweig (Washington University)
  4. [254 Downloads]  Estate Planning for Digital Assets: Assigning Tax Basis and Value to Digital Assets, by Elizabeth Ruth Carter (LSU)
  5. [242 Downloads]  Taxation and Human Rights: A Delicate Balance, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan) & Gianluca Mazzoni (S.J.D. 2017, Michigan)

November 13, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1284:  Podesta Friend At DOJ Led Cover-Up Of IRS Scandal

IRS Logo 2Polizette, Podesta Friend at DOJ Led Cover-Up of IRS Scandal:

Senior Department of Justice official Peter J. Kadzik, newly exposed by WikiLeaks as colluding with Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, is the same Obama appointee who helped cover up the Internal Revenue Service’s deliberate targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups. ...

[Lois] Lerner refused to testify at congressional hearings, instead invoking her Fifth Amendment rights to avoid possible self-incrimination. Congressional investigators found that the IRS targeted right-of-center 501(c)(4) nonprofit advocacy groups during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. They determined that Lerner organized an unprecedented crackdown on Tea Party and conservative groups and then attempted to scapegoat those nonprofits, blaming them for the harsh treatment they received at her instigation. ...

At DOJ, Kadzik also put the kibosh a year ago on any possible criminal prosecution of Lois Lerner. ... Kadzik was dismissive. "Ineffective management is not a crime," he wrote. "The Department of Justice's exhaustive probe revealed no evidence that would support a criminal prosecution. What occurred is disquieting and may necessitate corrective action — but it does not warrant criminal prosecution."

Kadzik wrote there was no proof of bad intent on Lerner's part and that she seemed to try to correct the inappropriately tough scrutiny on conservative and Tea Party nonprofits once she "recognized that it was wrong." "In fact, Ms. Lerner was the first IRS official to recognize the magnitude of the problem and to take concerted steps to fix it," he wrote. ...

Kadzik is tied to the Democratic Party Establishment and is a donor to Democrat candidates. Using his private Gmail account, on May 19, 2015, Kadzik tipped off John Podesta, Hillary's campaign chairman and former White House chief of staff in Bill Clinton's administration, about an upcoming hearing, according to a WikiLeaks document dump. ...

Earlier this year, WikiLeaks published a Sept. 8, 2008 email from Podesta, then serving on the Obama transition team, to Cassandra Butts of the Obama campaign. Podesta boasted in it that Kadzik — who represented him when he was accused of procuring a job for Bill Clinton paramour Monica Lewinsky as a way to keep her quiet — was a "fantastic lawyer" who "kept me out of jail." 


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November 13, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

preLaw Magazine Grades Law Schools On Breadth Of Tax Curriculum:  2 A's, 9 A-'s, 8 B+'s

Prelaw 3Top Schools for Taxation, preLaw 49 (Fall 2016):

There has never been a more exciting time to be a tax lawyer.

That's straight from the mouth of Paul Caron, professor of law at Pepperdine university School of Law and the publisher of TaxProf Blog.

Employment prospects are currently and will likely remain high, compared to other areas of law, making the specialty a fairly safe one to enter. Tax law is not subject to booms and busts like real estate, said Caron.

"There are always tax needs, and tax professionals need to meet those needs," Caron said. "It's never really a booming practice, but the upside is, it's never really a down practice area."

One hundred and nine schools offer either concentrations or certificates in taxation, but just two schools earned A grades [90% or higher] from preLaw magazine for the breadth of their curricular offerings [30% for a concentration, 24% for a clinic, 12% for a center, 12% for an externship, 9% for a journal, 8% for a student group and 5% for a certificate]:  Loyola Law School, Los Angeles and Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University. ... Nine schools earned A- [75%-89%], and eight more earned B+.

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November 12, 2016 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1283:  IRS Handed Defeat in Court Ruling Against Tea Party Group It Stiffed

IRS Logo 2Townhall, IRS Handed Defeat in Court Ruling Against Tea Party Group It Stiffed:

The Texas Patriots Tea Party emerged as victor in its case against the IRS. On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Michael R. Barrett ruled that the agency must process TPTP's application for tax exempt status after a long (and seemingly politically motivated) delay.

It's now clear the IRS segregated TPTP's application in 2012 because it was a conservative political organization. It was just one instance in a larger scandal in which the IRS targeted conservatives and unfairly stalled their applications.

The agency has insisted it no longer practices such political bias, yet the court said that doesn't solve TPTP's issue. "Regardless of the fact the IRS purports to have stopped applying the inappropriate political advocacy criteria in 2013, the evidence is undisputed that the IRS continued to delay processing TPTP’s until August of 2016," the judge wrote in his decision."

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November 12, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Weekly Tax Highlight And Roundup

This week, Joe Kristan (CPA & Shareholder, Roth & Company (Des Moines, Iowa); Editor, Tax Update Blog) discusses a recent Tax Court case that illustrates the need for a “'sauce for the gander' rule that allows taxpayers to receive penalty payments from the IRS on the same basis as the IRS can impose penalties on taxpayers taking lame positions."

KristanI’ll take your house, but the money I give you is for sweeping it.

The keys will be extra. It’s common to see a Tax Court decision where you wonder why they bothered to go to the trouble of litigating. It’s unusual when the puzzling litigant is the IRS.

When the real estate bubble popped in 2008, mortgage lenders were swamped with borrowers who couldn’t keep up the payments. To deal with all of the repossessions, they came up with deals to encourage delinquent borrowers to leave quietly without wrecking the house.

A California couple took advantage of such a deal when they got underwater on a second home in North Carolina (my emphasis):

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November 11, 2016 in Tax, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup

This week, David Gamage (UC-Berkeley, moving to Indiana) reviews a new article by Susan Morse (Texas) and Eric Allen (USC), Innovation and Taxation at Start-Up Firms, Tax Law Review, Vol. 69, No. 3, 2016.

Gamage (2017)Tax planning occupies a substantial portion of the legal work done by businesses. But this does not mean that every business engages in significant tax planning. In their new paper, Morse and Allen show that early-stage startup companies have very low appetites for tax planning.

The essence of how they reach this conclusion is rather simple. Early-stage startup companies are resource constrained. These companies cannot pursue all avenues for maximizing future profitability, and must instead focus only on those tasks that have the most immediate payout or the highest potential for very large future payouts. Many forms of profitable tax planning do not meet these criteria.

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November 11, 2016 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

NTA 109th Annual Conference On Taxation

National Tax Association (2016)The three-day National Tax Association 109th Annual Conference on Taxation continues today in Baltimore. Today's highlights include:

Session 38: Multinational M&A and Incorporations
Session Organizer:  Tim Dowd (Joint Committee on Taxation)
Session Chair:  Jane Gravelle (Library of Congress)

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November 11, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

69th University Of Chicago Tax Conference

Chicago (2016)The two-day 69th University of Chicago Tax Conference kicks off today. Tax Prof speakers include:

  • Itai Grinberg (Georgetown)
  • Kristin Hickman (Minnesota)
  • Julie Roin (Chicago)

The six sessions are:

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November 11, 2016 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

House Ways & Means Committee Democrats Seeks To Hire Business Tax Staffer

Ways & Means (2016)The House Ways & Means Committee seeks to hire an experienced attorney/policy expert who specializes in corporate tax law and the taxation of pass-through entities to help set the legislative agenda of the Ranking Member and the Democratic Members of the Committee:

Responsibilities include: analyzing, developing, and drafting legislative proposals; briefing Members on a variety of tax issues; and preparing for hearings and Committee markups. Exceptional oral and written skills and the ability to express ideas clearly, quickly and concisely are essential to the role. Working knowledge of estate tax, employee compensation, or other niche tax areas is a plus.

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November 11, 2016 in Congressional News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 1282:  True The Vote Asks Supreme Court To OK Lawsuits Against Lois Lerner, Former IRS Commissioner For Damages For Violating Their Constitutional Rights

IRS Logo 2 The Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Claremont Institute, Constitutional Jurisprudence Clinic at Chapman Law School, Public Interest Legal Foundation and Cleta Mitchell and other lawyers at Foley & Lardner have filed a cert. petition (appendix) asking the Supreme Court to review True the Vote’s case against the IRS for the IRS’s illegal targeting of conservative organizations:

True the Vote won a major victory before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit back in August, when that Court reinstated its claims against the IRS itself, holding that they were not moot even after the IRS finally granted True the Vote’s application for non-profit status, because the IRS has not demonstrated that it has ceased its illegal conduct. But the D.C. Circuit also held that the individual IRS officials involved in the unconstitutional targeting scheme, including Lois Lerner and the former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, were immune from suit for what one of the judges described as their “egregious unconstitutional conduct.” That aspect of the case is what True the Vote is asking the Supreme Court to review. There are sympathetic courts elsewhere in the country that seem to recognize the problem if the perpetrators of this unconstitutional targeting scheme are not held to account. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio stated in parallel litigation that “among the most serious allegations a federal court can address are that an Executive agency has targeted citizens for mistreatment based on their political views. No citizen—Republican or Democrat, socialist or libertarian—should be targeted or even have to fear being targeted on those grounds.” And the district court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan has allowed lawsuits to proceed against IRS officials by other organizations who fell victim to the same targeting scheme that caught True the Vote in its net.

We close the brief with a reminder from Abraham Lincoln’s Lyceum Address: If the laws be continually disregarded with impunity, “the alienation of the American People’s affections from the Government [will be] the natural consequence.” Lincoln was addressing mob rule by private citizens, of course, but the danger is even more pronounced when the lawlessness is engaged in by those at the highest levels of government. We expect to learn sometime in January whether the Supreme Court will take this case.

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November 11, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lucas Presents Psychological Barriers To An Efficient Carbon Tax At George Mason

LucasGary Lucas (Texas A&M) presented Psychological Barriers to an Efficient Carbon Tax at George Mason yesterday as part of its Public Choice Seminar Series hosted by the Center for Study of Public Choice:

The Paris Agreement on climate change and the federal government’s recent efforts to regulate carbon emissions suggest that the United States is starting to take global warming seriously. According to economists, a carbon tax would be the most effective and economically efficient way to address the problem. The American public, however, strongly opposes taxing carbon. The public’s opposition is not rooted in climate change denialism. In fact, the public supports government action on global warming, but it eschews taxation in favor of “green” subsidies and command-and-control regulations that would make global warming mitigation incredibly expensive and perhaps even infeasible.

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November 10, 2016 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

52 Tax Profs Urge Senate To Vote On Tax Court Nominees

SCLetter From 52 Tax Professors to Sen. Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid (Nov. 10, 2016):

We the 52 undersigned tax law professors, academics, and clinicians strongly encourage you to set the U.S. Tax Court nominees, nominee numbers 510 and 511 (Vik Edwin Stoll and Elizabeth Ann Copeland), for an immediate floor vote. Both nominees were unanimously, favorably reported out of the Senate Finance Committee on April 18, 2016 and await a confirmation vote. The Senate received each nomination over a year ago. Vik Edwin Stoll’s nomination was received by the Senate on November 9, 2015, more than one year ago. Elizabeth Ann Copeland’s nomination was received by the Senate on May 4, 2015, over eighteen months ago.

These two nominees have been fully vetted and favorably reported out of the Senate Finance Committee. Moreover, appointment to the U.S. Tax Court has traditionally been a nonpartisan appointment, based on merit. The Senate should therefore look past any partisan concerns and bring these nominees to the floor for a vote.

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November 10, 2016 in Congressional News, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)