TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Marian: The State Administration Of International Tax Avoidance

Omri Y. Marian (UC-Irvine), The State Administration of International Tax Avoidance:

In November of 2014, hundreds of advanced tax agreement (ATAs) issued by Luxembourg’s Administration des Contributions Directes (Luxembourg’s Inland Revenue, or LACD) to multinational corporate taxpayers (MNCs) were made public. Using an original dataset generated from a hand-coded sample of 172 leaked documents, the Article explores LACD administrative practices in issuing ATAs. The analysis demonstrates how a jurisdiction can be made a tax-haven by administrative practices, rather than by state law. LACD cannot be reasonably viewed – as some have suggested in LACD’s defense – a passive player in MNCs’ tax avoidance schemes. Rather, LACD is best described as a manufacturer of tax arbitrage opportunities. Specifically, even when the tax laws of the jurisdictions of residence (i.e., investors) and source (i.e., investment) are harmonized, LACD produced regulatory instruments that were intended to artificially create legal differences between the tax laws of the source and residence jurisdictions. MNCs could then exploit the manufactured tax differences to their advantage. LACD collected a fee that was functionally linked to the amount of taxes avoided by MNCs in the other jurisdictions.

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November 11, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Seven Former IRS Commissioners Call For Restoring IRS Budget Cuts

IRS Logo 2Seven former IRS Commissioners  have written this joint letter to the leaders of Congress’s appropriations committees urging them to reconsider proposed cuts in the IRS's budget:

The appropriations reductions for the IRS over the last five years total $1.2 billion, more than a 17% cut from the IRS appropriation for 2010.  None of us ever experienced, nor are we aware of, any IRS appropriations reductions of this magnitude over such a prolonged period of time.

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November 11, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Legal Enforcement and Corporate Behavior: An Analysis Of Tax Aggressiveness After An Audit

Jason DeBacker (Middle Tennessee), Bradley Heim (Indiana) & Anh Tran (Indiana) & Alexander Yuskavage (U.S. Treasury Department), Legal Enforcement and Corporate Behavior: An Analysis of Tax Aggressiveness After an Audit, 58 J.L. & Econ. 291 (2015):

Contrary to common expectations, legal enforcement may increase subsequent corporate misbehavior. Using Internal Revenue Service and financial statement data, we find that corporations gradually increase their tax aggressiveness for a few years following an audit and then reduce it sharply. We show that this U-shaped impact is consistent with strategic responses on the part of firms and with Bayesian updating of audit risk. This adverse effect on corporate behavior calls for a reexamination of both the theory and policy of legal enforcement.

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November 11, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Taxes, Lawyers, And The Decline Of Witch Trials

Noel D. Johnson & Mark Koyama (both of George Mason University, Department of Economics), Taxes, Lawyers, and the Decline of Witch Trials in France, 57 J.L. & Econ. 77 (2014):

This paper explores the rise of the fiscal state in the early modern period and its impact on legal capacity. To measure legal capacity, we establish that witchcraft trials were more likely to take place where the central state had weak legal institutions. Combining data on the geographic distribution of witchcraft trials with unique panel data on tax receipts across 21 French regions, we nd that the rise of the tax state can account for much of the decline in witch trials during this period. Further historical evidence supports our hypothesis that higher taxes led to better legal institutions.

November 11, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

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, 2015) 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 (Michigan)


Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan)



Paul Caron (Pepperdine)


Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)



Michael Simkovic (Seton Hall)


D. Dharmapala (Chicago)



Louis Kaplow (Harvard)


Gregg Polsky (N. Carolina)



D. Dharmapala (Chicago)


Paul Caron (Pepperdine)



Vic Fleischer (San Diego)


Ed Kleinbard (USC)



James Hines (Michigan)


Richard Ainsworth (BU)



Ted Seto (Loyola-L.A.)


Jeff Kwall (Loyola-Chicago)



Richard Kaplan (Illinois)


Louis Kaplow (Harvard)



Ed Kleinbard (USC)


Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)



Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)


Dan Shaviro (NYU)



Richard Ainsworth (BU)


Katie Pratt (Loyola-L.A.)



Carter Bishop (Suffolk)


Brad Borden (Brooklyn)



Robert Sitkoff (Harvard)


Dick Harvey (Villanova)



Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)


Jack Manhire (Texas A&M)



Dennis Ventry (UC-Davis)


Chris Hoyt (UMKC)



Chris Sanchirico (Penn)


Chris Sanchirico (Penn)



Brad Borden (Brooklyn)


Joe Bankman (Stanford)



David Weisbach (Chicago)


Jen Kowal (Loyola-L.A.)



Francine Lipman (UNLV)


Omri Marian (UC-Irvine)



Bridget Crawford (Pace)


Nancy McLaughlin (Utah)



David Walker (BU)


Ruth Mason (Virginia)



Dan Shaviro (NYU)


David Gamage (UC-Berkeley)



Herwig Schlunk (Vanderbilt)


Vic Fleischer (San Diego)



Steven Bank (UCLA)


Francine Lipman (UNLV)


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 11, 2015 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Prof Rankings | Permalink | Comments (1)

WSJ: Republican Candidates Push Bold Tax Plans

Tax Foundation 1

Following up on last week's post, NY Times, WSJ Editorialize On Republican Presidential Candidates' Tax Plans:  Wall Street Journal, Republican Candidates Push Bold Tax Plans:

Republican presidential candidates are competing to propose dramatic changes to tax policy that go well beyond the party’s previous platforms and all but ensure the issue will play a central role in the general election.

Driven by a desire to stand out in a crowded field and spark economic growth, the GOP contenders no longer just say they want to lower rates and expand the tax base. Their new ideas, once the province of right-leaning think tanks, make previous Republican plans look timid.

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November 11, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Cauble: Reforming The Non-Disavowal Doctrine

Emily Cauble (DePaul), Reforming the Non-Disavowal Doctrine:

One well established feature of tax law is that, oftentimes, substance prevails over form. In other words, the substance of a transaction will determine the transaction’s tax consequences. For instance, tax consequences will not depend solely on the label that a taxpayer assigns to a given transaction. Instead, the IRS can examine the transaction’s economic features to more accurately characterize it for tax purposes.

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November 11, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

$1,000 Honorarium To Attend 32nd Annual Law Prof Summer Law & Econ Institute

GM32nd Economics Institute for Law Professors:

Event Date: Sunday, July 10 to Friday, July 22, 2016

Location: The Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs, VA

Prerequisite:  The Economics Institute is carefully designed for those who possess little or no previous formal economics education. It covers basic price theory, with emphasis on the allocative effects of alternative property rights regimes, transaction cost economics, and the application of basic economic theory to a variety of legal issues.  As such, there is no prerequisite for this Institute.

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November 11, 2015 in Conferences, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 916

Sign the petition to Impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for:

  • Failing to comply with a subpoena for evidence resulting in the destruction of 24,000 Lois Lerner emails.
  • Failing to testify truthfully and providing false and misleading information to the Congress.
  • Failing to notify Congress that key evidence had gone missing.

John Koskinen has done everything in his power to protect the IRS from its outrageous targeting scandal. Now, the Obama Justice Department has announced it will not press charges. So, it's time for Congress finally to stand up for the American people.

The Hill op-ed:  Impeach Koskinen, by Jenny Beth Martin (President & Co-founder, Tea Party Patriots):

House Republicans have introduced a resolution to impeach Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, about which, a simple thought — it’s about damn time. ...

Remember, it was the IRS that was used as a political weapon to target citizens who were deemed opponents of this Administration. My organization and many affiliated with it have been on the receiving end of this political weapon and I would not wish it upon any American--including my worst political adversaries. 

Not surprisingly, it was announced last month that the Obama Justice Department would not press charges against the person at the center of this scandal – former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner. So, just when will the American people receive justice? 

A start would be to impeach and convict the man who continued the cover-up and denied justice for the American people, and I truly give House Republicans credit for seeming to understand this. Will Congress step up and do something meaningful to defend the American people? Help make your voice heard by adding your voice to the national petition at

It’s about damn time.

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November 11, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Brooks Presents Quasi-Public Spending Today At Columbia

Brooks (John)John R. Brooks (Georgetown) presents Quasi-Public Spending, 104 Geo. L.J. ___ (2016), at Columbia today as part of its Davis Polk & Wardwell Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Alex Raskolnikov and Wojciech Kopczuk:

This Article proceeds as follows. In Part II, I review the Affordable Care Act and income-driven student loan repayment, describing how each program operates as a substitute for direct public spending. In Part III, I briefly sketch out some of the reasons for high and growing government budgets, since the political ceiling on the size of government is a key motivator for policymakers to take advantage of quasi-public spending. Part IV discusses the structure of quasi-public spending in more detail and contrasts it with some similar forms of government intervention. Part V examines in detail the unique features of quasipublic spending as compared to direct public spending. Here I focus in particular on the fact that much of the spending is off-budget, and also on the fact that a quasi-public spending program is likely to be complex. While both of these features have given some commentators pause, I provide a qualified defense of each. In Part VI, I use the analysis in the earlier Parts to derive a framework for helping policymakers to determine whether quasi-public spending is feasible and reasonable. Because of its particular features, quasipublic spending will not be suitable to all settings, even where policymakers might have worthwhile goals. Part VII applies that framework preliminarily to several other policy areas. Part VIII concludes.

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November 10, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shaviro Presents Getting A 'Fix' On Recent International Tax Policy Developments Today At McGill

Shaviro (2015)Daniel Shaviro (NYU) presents The Crossroads versus the Seesaw: Getting a 'Fix' on Recent International Tax Policy Developments at McGill today as part of its Spiegel Sohmer Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

U.S. international tax policy is at a crossroads, say those who urge the United States to adopt what common parlance would call a territorial system. They argue that one of the two ways forward they identify – trying to fortify the current U.S. system – would lead to ever-costlier outlier status for our tax system, and ever-declining competitiveness for U.S. multinationals. They therefore urge U.S. policymakers to embrace what they identify as the other way forward: conforming to global norms by adopting a territorial system.

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November 10, 2015 in Book Club, Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hatfield: Taxation And Surveillance -- An Agenda

Michael Hatfield (University of Washington), Taxation and Surveillance: An Agenda, 17 Yale J.L. & Tech. 319 (2015):

Among government agencies, the IRS likely has the surest legal claim to the most information about the most Americans: their hobbies, religious affiliations, reading activities, travel, and medical information are all potentially tax relevant. Privacy scholars have studied the arrival of Big Data, the internet-of-things, and the cooperation of private companies with the government in surveillance, but neither privacy nor tax scholars have considered how these technological advances should impact the U.S. tax system. As government agencies and private companies increasingly pursue what has been described as the “growing gush of data,” the use of these technologies in tax administration will become increasingly important to consider.

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November 10, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Price We Pay: A Movie About Offshore Tax Havens

The Price We Pay

The Price We Pay is inspired by Brigitte Alepin’s book La Crise fiscale qui vient [Pay Your Fair Share of Taxes...Like We Do]Director Harold Crooks (who co-directed Surviving Progress with Mathieu Roy) blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance with this incendiary documentary about the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, which has seen multinationals depriving governments of trillions of dollars in tax revenues by harboring profits in offshore havens. Tax havens, originally created by London bankers in the 50s, today put over half the world’s stock of money beyond reach of  public treasuries.

Nation states are being reshaped by this offshoring of the world’s wealth. Tax avoidance by big corporations  and the wealthy – citizens of nowhere for tax purposes – is paving the way to historic levels of inequality and placing the tax burden on the middle class and the poor. Crusading journalists, tax justice campaigners and former finance and technology industry insiders speak frankly about the accelerating trends that are carrying the Western world to an  unsustainable future.

Reviews of The Price We Pay:

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November 10, 2015 in Book Club, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Grinberg & Pauwelyn: The Emergence Of A New International Tax Regime

ASILItai Grinberg (Georgetown) & Joost Pauwelyn (Graduate Institute, Geneva), The Emergence of a New International Tax Regime: The OECD’s Package on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), ASIL Insights, Vol. 19, Issue 24 (Oct. 28, 2015):

International tax law is rarely discussed amongst public international lawyers. Tax policy is highly technical and perceived as one of the last bastions of Westphalian sovereignty. Cross-border tax cooperation is difficult, as it is inevitably distributional: tax revenues, the “lifeblood of the state,” are split among countries. With origins in work undertaken by the League of Nations in the 1920s, international tax law is centered on a network of more than 3,800 bilateral tax treaties. Little progress had been made towards a multilateral tax regime, until recently.

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November 10, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Papers: 2016 International Conference On Tax Administration

Call for Papers:  The 12th International Conference on Tax Administration at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Coogee, Sydney on 31st March & 1st April 2016. The theme of the conference will be Global trends and developments in tax administration service delivery. Those interested in presenting a paper at this conference are encouraged to submit a proposal that accords with this theme (for example, digitalisation, simplification, benchmarking, alternative tax dispute resolution, citizen-focused tax administration, fostering voluntary compliance, tax administrative responses to BEPS, etc).

Your proposal should include the following details:

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November 10, 2015 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 915

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Republicans Want IRS To Target Hillary Clinton, by Peter J. Reilly:

Given the outrage that Republicans have expressed about the “targetting” of the Tea Party by the IRS, you would think that they would be slow to advocate IRS political targetting.  Apparently  it is more a matter of who’s ox is being gored.

When the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called for Ben Carson to step out of the Presidential race, he countered by demanding that the IRS immediately revoke its exemption.  Then this week Reince Priebus, Chair of the Republican National Committee, wrote to Commissioner Koskinen about a grave matter concerning the Clinton Health Access Initiative. ...

It has become an article of faith in some circles that the delays and intrusive inquiries involving Tea Party exemption application was politically motivated.  The main evidence of that motivation is Democratic lawmakers complaining about dark money organizations and Lois Lerner and President Obama bemoaning the Citizens United decision.  Everybody agrees that the IRS shouldn’t oughta have targetted the Tea Party, whether it did or not. So why should the IRS now target the Clintons? And launching an audit in response to a clerical error would clearly be political targetting.

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November 10, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Polsky Presents The Up-C Tax Revolution Today At Northwestern

Polsky (2015)Gregg Polsky (North Carolina) presents The Up-C Revolution (with Adam Rosenzweig (Washington University)) today as part of its Advanced Topics in Taxation  Workshop Series hosted by Herbert Beller, Charlotte CraneDavid Cameron, Philip Postlewaite, Jeffrey Sheffield, and Robert Wootton:

Over the past few years, a revolutionary new tax structure, known as the Up-C, has been increasingly utilized, particularly in instances where an LLC is being taken public. In such an Up-C IPO, a newly formed C corporation is placed on top of the existing LLC, which continues to operate the business. Shares of the C corporation are sold to new investors, and the proceeds are used by the C corporation to buy an interest in the LLC. Meanwhile, the original owners of the LLC (typically, founders and private investment funds) retain their interests in the LLC, while receiving exchange rights that allow them to swap their LLC interests for equivalent-value shares of the C corporation. In addition, the original owners often receive the benefit of tax receivables agreements (TRAs), which provide that the owners will receive a specified percentage (usually 85 percent) of the tax benefits to the C corporation resulting from future exchanges. In combination, these features seem to provide a near-nirvana of tax efficiency. It is therefore unsurprising that the use of Up-Cs is growing at an exponential rate.

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November 9, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

McCormack Presents The Child Care Squeeze: (Over-) Taxing The Working Family Today At Loyola-L.A.

McCormackShannon McCormack (University of Washington) presents Uncle Sam and the Child Care Squeeze: (Over-) Taxing the Working Family, 114 Mich. L. Rev. ___ (2015), at Loyola-L.A. today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series:

Today, many working parents are caught in a “childcare squeeze”: while they require two incomes just to make ends meet, they end up spending a striking-ly large percentage of their income on childcare so that they can work outside the home. Worse still, some parents find themselves “squeezed out” of the market entirely, unable to earn the additional income their families require because they cannot find jobs that pay enough to offset soaring childcare ex-penses. This Article argues that the tax laws have played an important role in aggravating these hardships. Currently, the Internal Revenue Code treats the childcare costs incurred by working parents as personal expenses, subject to various dollar limitations, percentage limits, and phaseouts. Once these limitations are applied, working parents will receive tax relief for only a small fraction of the childcare costs they actually incur.

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November 9, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

WSJ: Pfizer Pumps Up Its Reported Tax Rate With Profits Stashed Overseas

Wall Street Journal:  Pfizer Piles Profits Abroad: Drug Giant’s Accounting Method Leads to Higher Effective Tax Rate in U.S., by Richard Rubin:

WSJPfizer told investors it had a 25.5% global tax rate in 2014. The company could have cut that rate to 7.5% if it reported its foreign earnings the way most U.S. corporations do.

The pharmaceutical company, which is exploring a merger with Allergan that could put the combined company’s legal address outside the U.S., has been complaining that the U.S. tax system hobbles its ability to compete globally. But Pfizer’s accounting methods raise its reported tax rate, without increasing the actual taxes the company pays. More than two-thirds of the company’s 2014 tax expense—$2.2 billion out of $3.1 billion—was money the company will actually pay only if and when it chooses to repatriate foreign profits.

“It gives a distorted picture of how much tax they’re paying,” said Marty Sullivan, chief economist at Tax Analysts, the nonprofit publisher of Tax Notes. “Their tax situation is one of the most advantageous of any major U.S. corporation.” ...

Pfizer’s case shows how the effective tax rates reported to investors can be of limited use in analyzing what a company actually pays to governments. It also complicates the company’s claim that it is suffering under the U.S. tax system. ...

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November 9, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Microsoft, IRS Spar Over Long-Running Tax Probe

Microsoft IRSSeattle Times, Microsoft, IRS Spar Over Long-Running Probe of its Taxes:

Microsoft and the Internal Revenue Service sparred in court Friday over the agency’s power to investigate taxpayers.

Microsoft, seeking a court order to overturn a portion of an IRS probe into its books, says the tax agency’s reliance on outside lawyers in the investigation sets a dangerous precedent for taxpayer confidentiality, and could embolden the agency to use powers Congress never intended to it have.

The government’s lawyers counter that a ruling in favor of Microsoft may curtail the IRS’s ability to bring in outside experts to help make sense of complex tax matters, sabotaging the system the government relies on to make sure companies pay the appropriate amount of tax. ...

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November 9, 2015 in IRS News, New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cauble: Detrimental Reliance On IRS Guidance

Emily Cauble (DePaul), Detrimental Reliance on IRS Guidance, 2015 Wis. L. Rev. 421:

The IRS issues different types of guidance to taxpayers, and the extent to which taxpayers can rely on IRS guidance depends on the form in which it was offered. For instance, taxpayers generally cannot rely on oral advice provided over the phone but can rely on more formal types of advice. The current state of the law harms unsophisticated taxpayers who disproportionately obtain informal advice -- the least reliable type of IRS guidance.

Existing literature lacks a thorough discussion of why, as a policy matter, we allow taxpayers to rely on some forms of IRS guidance more than others. This Article fills that gap by suggesting and critically evaluating potential justifications for this practice.

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November 9, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

President Obama Nominates Vik Edwin Stoll To Be U.S. Tax Court Judge

StollWhite House Press Release, President Obama Nominates Vik Edwin Stoll to the United States Tax Court:

Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Vik Edwin Stoll as a Judge to the United States Tax Court.

Vik has demonstrated unwavering integrity and dedication throughout his career, said President Obama. I am proud to nominate him to serve on the United States Tax Court.

Vik Edwin Stoll, Nominee for Judge, United States Tax Court
Vik Edwin Stoll is the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer and Director of Collections for Jackson County, Missouri, positions he has held since 2012 and 2014, respectively. Mr. Stoll also served previously as Jackson County’s Director of Collections from 2009 to 2012. From 1998 to 2009, Mr. Stoll was a Partner at Morrison & Hecker LLP, later known as Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP, and he was a member of Hillix, Brewer, Hoffhaus, Whittaker & Wright LLC from 1990 to 1998.

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November 9, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 914

Lawless 2Washington Post — The Volokh Conspiracy:  Obama Administration Lawlessness: The Top Five, by David Bernstein (George Mason):

The most frequent question I get about my book Lawless: The Obama Administration’s Unprecedented Assault on the Constitution and the Rule of Law is what I think are the administration’s most egregiously lawless actions. So here is my somewhat subjective list. ...

4. Failing to prosecute anyone at the IRS for the 501(c)(4) scandal. That the IRS put its massive bureaucratic thumb on the scales against conservative activist groups is one of the great political scandals in recent U.S. history. When the news first broke, President Obama properly declared that he “will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives.” But tolerate it his administration did.

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November 9, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, November 8, 2015

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, with some minor reshuffling of the order of the papers within the Top 5:

  1. [325 Downloads]  Income Tax Deductions for Charitable Bequests of IRD, by Christopher R. Hoyt (UMKC)
  2. [299 Downloads]  Big Data and Tax Haven Secrecy, by Arthur J. Cockfield (Queen's University)
  3. [289 Downloads]  2014 Developments in Connecticut Estate and Probate Law, by Jeffrey A. Cooper (Quinnipiac) & John R. Ivimey (Reid and Riege, Hartford)
  4. [261 Downloads]  Breaking BEPS: The New International Tax Diplomacy, by Itai Grinberg (Georgetown)
  5. [249 Downloads]  The One Hundredth Anniversary of the Federal Estate Tax: It's Time to Renew Our Vows, by Paul L. Caron (Pepperdine)

November 8, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink | Comments (0)

OECD: How's Life? 2015: Measuring Well-Being

OECD 2OECD, How's Life? 2015 Measuring Well-Being:

How’s Life? describes the essential ingredients that shape people’s well-being in OECD and partner countries. It includes a wide variety of statistics, capturing both material well-being (such as income, jobs and housing) and the broader quality of people’s lives (such as their health, education, work-life balance, environment, social connections, civic engagement, subjective well-being and safety). The report documents the latest evidence on well-being, as well as changes over time, and the distribution of well-being outcomes among different groups of the population.

This third edition of How’s Life? develops our understanding of well-being in new ways. There is a special focus on child well-being, which finds that not all children are getting a good start in life, and those living in less affluent families face more risks to their well-being. The report introduces new measures to capture some of the natural, human, social and economic resources that play a role in supporting well-being over time. A chapter on volunteering suggests that volunteer work can create a virtuous circle: doing good makes people feel good, and brings a variety of other well-being benefits to both volunteers and to society at large. Finally, the report looks at inequalities in well-being across different regions within countries, demonstrating that where people live can shape their opportunities for living well.

Here is how the United States fares:

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November 8, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 913

IRS Logo 2Washington Examiner, Chaffetz: I'm Just Getting Started:

For Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the news on Oct. 23 that the Department of Justice had dropped its investigation of the Internal Revenue Service without pressing charges was unwelcome, if unsurprising. His committee had been electrified by the IRS probe under its previous chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, and tensions over whether the IRS actually targeted conservative groups boiled over in public hearings that many criticized as political sideshows.

But Chaffetz has attempted to usher in a new era for the oversight committee, quietly continuing the IRS investigation while broadening the committee's scope. Chaffetz previewed some "juicy" announcements to look out for from his committee in the coming weeks.

Examiner: You have called for Commissioner John Koskinen to resign. Was there any one particular breaking point where you said, "Koskinen has to go?"

Chaffetz: He had a duly-issued subpoena and despite that subpoena, they destroyed documents. Imagine if you did that to the IRS. They would haul you into jail. And rightfully so. So we're going to hold them accountable.

Fresno Bee, Tell the Truth About IRS Problems:

President Obama stated there is not even a smidgen of corruption at the IRS. False. The IRS pled guilty to releasing names and personal information of the National Organization of Marriage to a gay rights group and was ordered to pay $50,000. We deserve the truth and to know who is accountable for either these deliberate actions, obstruction or gross mismanagement.

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November 8, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Nancy Staudt Installed As Inaugural Cayne Professor Of Law At Washington University

Staudt 2Washington University, Staudt Installed as Inaugural Howard and Caroline Cayne Professor of Law; Dean of School of Law and Renowned Expert on Tax Law:

Nancy Staudt, JD, PhD, dean of the School of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, has been installed as the inaugural Howard and Caroline Cayne Professor of Law. A lecture and a reception to celebrate the occasion were held Oct. 22 in the Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom in Anheuser-Busch Hall.

A nationally renowned scholar in tax, tax policy and empirical legal studies, Staudt previously served as professor of law at the university from 2000-06.

Prior to her return to the university, Staudt served as academic director of the newly established Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy at the University of Southern California. She also was the vice dean for faculty and academic affairs at the USC Gould School of Law and the inaugural holder of the Edward G. Lewis Chair in Law and Public Policy. ...

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November 7, 2015 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 912

IRS Logo 2Boston Herald editorial, Impeach the IRS Chief:

The House Judiciary Committee and the House itself should approve impeachment charges filed against the head of the Internal Revenue Service, John Koskinen on charges of allegedly giving false testimony in the investigation of IRS harassment of conservative political groups. The Justice Department’s whitewashing of Koskinen and the IRS is outrageous

The department said it found “mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia” but no evidence of crime when Lois Lerner was in charge of the section that granted tax-exempt status. (She retired after invoking her privilege against self-incrimination.)

Harassment (through delay and offensive questioning) of conservative applicants before the 2012 elections has been fully documented. Ditto the waving through of applications from liberals, and the “Be On the Lookout” instruction to target groups using certain phrases like “Tea Party,” and the destruction of email backup tapes after they were subpoenaed, and a failure to look for relevant emails — which an inspector general soon found. Koskinen was not in charge while Lerner was active, but was during the investigation by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, whose chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), filed charges on behalf of himself and committee Republicans.

The Justice Department has been inexcusably partisan and, therefore, not trustworthy by the American people.

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November 7, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Weekly Tax Roundup

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November 6, 2015 in Tax, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly SSRN Tax Roundup

Weekly Student Tax Note Roundup

The IRS Scandal, Day 911

IRS Logo 2Washington Post op-ed:  The Supreme Court’s Opportunity to Tackle Sinister Trends, by George Will:

The IRS scandal — the denial of essential tax-exempt status to conservative advocacy groups, thereby effectively suppressing the groups’ activities — demonstrates this: When government is empowered to regulate advocacy, it will be tempted to suppress some of it. And sometimes government will think like Oscar Wilde: “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.”

These truths should be on the Supreme Court’s nine fine minds on Friday when they consider whether to hear a challenge to a lower court’s decision that disregards some clear Supreme Court pronouncements pertaining to the First Amendment. The amendment says there shall be no laws abridging freedom of speech, but various governments are persistently trying to regulate, and perhaps chill, advocacy. The most recent wrinkle in this disreputable project comes from California.

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November 6, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Avi-Yonah: A Bipartisan Tax Reform?

Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan), A Bipartisan Tax Reform?:

If one listens to what Democratic and Republican candidates for president are saying on the campaign trail, the chances for tax reform in 2017 and beyond appear to be minimal. To pass tax reform, a bipartisan approach is essential, because even if we have a Republican president and Republican majorities in both houses, they are unlikely to be able to get major tax reform through the Senate without 60 votes. But the parties seem very far apart on tax reform. Democrats are focused on using the tax system to reduce inequality, and are determined to raise the tax rates at the top of the income distribution. Republicans would like to cut those rates for both individuals and businesses.

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November 5, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fleischer: It's Time To Debunk The Pay-For-Performance Myth And Junk Section 162(m)

NY Times Dealbook (2013)New York Times Deal Book:  The Executive Paycheck Myth, by Victor Fleischer (San Diego):

Every religion has a creation myth.

Pay-for-performance is the fundamental tenet of the American approach to executive compensation. While groups in Britain and Switzerland have proposed capping executive pay, investors and regulators in the United States are mainly concerned when there’s a mismatch of pay versus performance. As long as a company is doing well, the sky’s the limit. ...

Pay-for-performance is even embedded in the tax code, which encourages corporations to pay executives with stock options, performance share plans or other forms of compensation linked to the company’s stock price. Section 162(m) of the tax code limits corporate deductions for compensation paid to top executives to $1 million unless the pay is “performance based.”

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November 5, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

IRS Estate Tax Data On Assets Held At Death

Wall Street Journal, When the Superrich Die, Here’s What’s in Their Wallets:

Estate tax data recently released by the Internal Revenue Service show what the wealthiest Americans possess when they die—and where the money goes. ... Fewer than 12,000 estate tax returns were filed in 2014, and more than half of those returns didn’t yield any tax for the federal government.

The data break down what assets people hold at death, offering a glimpse into the holdings of the ultrawealthy. ... The composition of assets changes as people get wealthier. The merely rich have houses, cash, farms and retirement accounts. The very rich have bonds and real estate. And the very, very rich own art and stock of closely held businesses, often the ones they are trying to pass to future generations. 


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November 5, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Clinton Foundation Spin-Off Reverses Position, Agrees To Refile Corrected Tax Returns After Republicans Call For Audit

Clinton FoundationFollowing up on Tuesday's post, Clinton Foundation Spin-Off Won’t Refile Tax Returns To Correct Mistakes, Despite Earlier Pledge:  Politico, Clinton Foundation Spinoff Reverses on Refiling Tax Forms:

An organization related to the Clinton Foundation has again reversed itself on fixing errors on its federal tax filings and now says it plans to submitted amended returns.

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November 5, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 910

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Impeaching The IRS Commissioner Is The Wrong Thing To Do, by David Brunori (Tax Analysts):

The House Republican attempt to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is one of the most unseemly developments of the Lois Lerner affair. Unseemly is probably not a strong enough word to describe the partisan effort to remove a sitting commissioner. It is just wrong.

I say that without any particular bias in favor of the commissioner. Indeed, I think the Department of Justice went too easy on Lerner and the IRS. Nor do I carry any water for the administration. I disagree far more often than I agree with President Obama on tax policy. Yet, I believe impeachment should be reserved for “big things.” It should not be used as a weapon in the political arena or in policy debates. ...

House GOP members say they are frustrated with Koskinen. Since when did frustrating someone equate to a high crime or misdemeanor? Those calling for impeachment say that Koskinen failed to comply with a congressional subpoena ordering him to locate and preserve IRS records related to congressional investigations of the IRS’s handling of conservative groups’ exemption applications; lied in his testimony before Congress regarding the e-mails of Lois Lerner, the former IRS exempt organizations director at the center of the investigations; failed to act with competence and forthrightness in overseeing the investigation of the IRS’s handling of exemption applications; and acted in a manner inconsistent with the trust and confidence placed in him as an officer of the United States. ...

Koskinen may be guilty of being combative with Congress. He may be guilty of caginess during his testimony. He may be guilty of being a lousy commissioner. But none of those are reasons for impeachment.

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November 5, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Eyal-Cohen Presents Through The Lens Of Innovation Today At Texas A&M

Eyal-Cohen-MiritMirit Eyal-Cohen (Alabama) presents Through the Lens of Innovation, 43 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. ___ (2016), at Texas A&M today as part of its Faculty Workshop Series:

The legal system constantly follows the footsteps of innovation and attempts to discourage its migration overseas. Yet, present legal rules that inform and explain entrepreneurial circumstances lack a core understanding of the concept of entrepreneurship. By its nature, law imposes order. It provides rules, remedies, and classifications that direct behavior in a consistent manner. Entrepreneurship turns on the contrary. It entails making creative judgments about the unknown. It involves adapting to disarray. It thrives on deviations as opposed to traditional causation. This Article argues that these differences matter.

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November 4, 2015 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Inside The Secretive World Of Tax-Avoidance Experts

AtlanticThe Atlantic:  Inside the Secretive World of Tax-Avoidance Experts, by Brooke Harrington (Copenhagen Business School):

A sociologist realized that if she were ever going to understand global inequality she would have to become one of the people who helps create it. So she trained to become a wealth manager to the ultra-rich.

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November 4, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

IRS Use Of 'Stingray' Devices To Track Cellphones Sparks Bipartisan Senate Outrage

Sting RayUSA Today, IRS Use of 'Stingray' Devices to Track Cellphones Sparks Senate Inquiry:

The Internal Revenue Service's newly revealed use of controversial "Stingray" cellphone trackers has prompted an inquiry by Senate Judiciary Committee leaders about how and why the IRS is using the surveillance equipment.

“We were surprised to learn that IRS investigators may be using these devices,” Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and ranking member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who oversees the IRS.

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November 4, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

IRS Audits of Individuals Drop to 11-Year Low

Wall Street Journal, IRS Audits of Individuals Drop to 11-Year Low:

The Internal Revenue Service’s audits of individual taxpayers fell to the lowest rate in 11 years, a revenue-sapping result that the agency’s commissioner blames on budget cuts.

The IRS audited 0.84% of individual taxpayers in the 2015 fiscal year, the lowest level since 2004, the agency said Tuesday. Revenue from audits declined by 41% to $7.3 billion and fell to the lowest level since 2002, the IRS said.

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November 4, 2015 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

United States Is Third Biggest Tax Haven, Above Cayman Islands

FSITax Justice Blog, How the U.S. Became a Top Secrecy Jurisdiction:

The U.S. ranks as the third biggest offender – just after Switzerland and Hong Kong – on the Tax Justice Network’s 2015 Financial Secrecy Index when it comes to facilitating financial secrecy and tax evasion, or, in other words, enabling individuals to hide their assets.

The largest drivers for the United States’ high ranking are its financial secrecy laws and that it has the largest share of the global market for offshore financial services.

November 4, 2015 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (3)

Income Inequality Decreased Significantly in 2013

Scott Greenberg (Tax Foundation), Income Inequality Decreased Significantly in 2013:

The top 1% of American households made a smaller share of national income in 2013 than 2012, according to new statistics from the IRS. Overall, the recently released statistics show a more equal income distribution in 2013 than the year before.

Tax Foundation

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November 4, 2015 in Tax, Think Tank Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 909

IRS Logo 2New York Post editorial, Yes, the IRS Chief Has Earned Impeachment:

He still won’t wipe that smirk off his face, but the House of Representatives is quite right to get the ball rolling on impeaching IRS chief John Koskinen.

Brought into the agency to clean house after the IRS’s unlawful targeting of conservative groups, Koskinen instead presided over endless stonewalling of congressional probes — including the destruction of evidence that had been subpoenaed.

If you responded to an IRS audit the way Koskinen’s IRS has behaved, you’d be looking at huge penalties and maybe prison time.

He waited months to tell the IRS that an “accident” had destroyed the e-mail records of Lois Lerner, the woman at the scandal’s heart. Indeed, he made no real effort to secure those e-mails, despite a subpoena — allowing key backups to be destroyed.

Then he nonchalantly testified that Lerner’s e-mails were all gone forever — and then showed not a hint of shame after an inspector general came up with thousands of them.

All along, he sniffed in outrage at the very idea that the people’s representatives would dare question blatant abuses of power by the most feared federal agency.

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November 4, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hellwig: The Constitutional Nature Of The U.S. Tax Court

Tax Court Logo 2Brant J. Hellwig (Dean, Washington & Lee), The Constitutional Nature of the United States Tax Court, 35 Va. Tax Rev. ___ (2015):

The article examines the nature of the United States Tax Court in the constitutional scheme of government. The article begins by tracing the institutional evolution of the Tax Court, noting the court’s origins as an independent agency within the Executive Branch of Government as well the developments leading up to Congress rechartering the court as a “court of record” established under Article I of the Constitution as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1969. The article analyzes the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the 1969 legislation in Freytag v. Commissioner, 501 U.S. 868 (1991), wherein the Court concluded that the Tax Court constitutes one of the “Courts of Law” for purposes of the Appointments Clause. The article then moves on to a more contemporaneous examination of the Tax Court’s constitutional status. In the case of Kuretski v. Commissioner, 755 F.3d 929 (D.C. Cir. 2014), the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the separation-of-powers challenge to the President’s qualified power to remove a sitting judge of the Tax Court by concluding that no inter-branch conflict existed. Rather, the D.C. Circuit determined that the Tax Court exercised its power as part of the Executive Branch of government. The article details how the Kuretski decision is difficult to square with the legislative history of the 1969 Act as well as the Supreme Court’s decision in Freytag.

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November 3, 2015 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vox: 100 Years Of Tax Brackets, In One Chart

Vox, 100 Years of Tax Brackets, in One Chart:

The US currently has seven tax brackets — and many presidential candidates think that's too many. ... Generally, politicians want to reduce the number of brackets because they believe it will simplify the tax code. That said, tax brackets are among the easiest parts of the tax code, thanks to modern software and, well, math.


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November 3, 2015 in Political News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

WSJ: The Corporate Tax Political Divide

Wall Street Journal editorial, The Corporate Tax Political Divide: Democrats Are Driving U.S. Companies and Capital Offshore:

‘Why is the tax code making it better for foreign companies to invest in the United States than U.S. companies?” That was the pungent question posed by Pfizer Chairman and CEO Ian Read in an interview last week with this newspaper. Washington has no good answer, and President Obama shows no inclination to reform the worst system of corporate income taxation in the industrialized world. So Mr. Read’s Pfizer, currently located in New York, is considering a merger with Dublin-based Allergan. Basing the combined company in Ireland would free up more cash for shareholders, employees and research.

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November 3, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chodorow: Ben Carson's Tithing-Based Tax Proposal Lacks Biblical Support

CarsonSlate:  Holy Crap — Ben Carson Thinks Our Tax System Should be Based on the Bible. He Clearly Hasn't Read It Very Closely, by Adam Chodorow (Arizona State):

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson recently proposed a tax system “based on tithing, because I think God is a pretty fair guy.” The basic idea is that people would pay a set percent of their income in taxes, and most of the federal tax code’s current deductions and loopholes would be closed. Carson suggests that such a system is inherently fair and simple, and he’s tasked Thomas Rustici, an economics professor at George Mason University, with working out the details. During Wednesday night’s debate among the Republican primary candidates in Boulder, Colorado, Carson noted that his ideal rate might not be the biblically mandated 10 percent, but something closer to 15 percent.

The Bible actually refers to a number of different taxes or tax-like practices that are divinely inspired, including the temple tax, the agricultural tithe, and nonagricultural tithing, the practice of giving 10 percent of one’s income to the poor. Each of these reflects a different conception of fairness. ...

The fact is that biblical taxes were religious obligations inextricably linked to their religious purposes, such as supporting the temple attendants and feeding the poor. They were never intended to be a model for a modern, secular tax system. ...

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November 3, 2015 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)