Paul L. Caron

Saturday, May 8, 2021

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Billable Hours Are Smothering Associates—And Any Attempts To Help Them, Billable Hours Are Smothering Associates—and Any Attempts to Help Them:

Associate mental health and wellbeing are deteriorating at an alarming rate, thanks in large part to billable hour requirements compounding the many additional stressors that have been brought about by the pandemic over the past year-plus.

Are alternative fee arrangements and additional time off the cure? It comes down to execution and expectations. But getting those right is easier said than done. ... 

The billable hour model is often held up as a monument to inefficiency, and with good reason. ... During the pandemic, the ever-present pressure on associates to hit their annual billable targets has not been relieved at many firms, exacerbating the mental toll of working remotely, quarantining and worrying about the health impact of COVID-19.

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May 8, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Bridget Crawford Named University Distinguished Professor At Pace

Pace University Appoints Bridget J. Crawford as University Distinguished Professor:

Crawford (2021)Bridget J. Crawford, a member of the Elisabeth Haub School of Law faculty, has been named as a Distinguished Professor. The title of Distinguished Professor is the highest honor the University can bestow upon a faculty member.

This honor comes in recognition of a sustained record of extensive, extraordinary research and scholarship, outstanding teaching, and exemplary service to the University, community, and the faculty member’s professional field. Professor Crawford’s pathbreaking interdisciplinary scholarship explores how seemingly neutral legal rules and systems can reflect, exacerbate and sustain inequality. Her work draws on jurisprudence, statutory analysis, behavioral economics, critical tax theory and feminist legal theory to demonstrate how an equitable legal system can better serve human needs by taking gender, race and other identity factors into account.

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May 8, 2021 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink

Tax Prof Baby: Theo Choi

Jonathan Choi (Minnesota) and Lilai Guo (PwC) welcomed Theo Choi (6 pounds, 10 ounces) into their family on March 18:

TaxProBaby - Theo Choi

May 8, 2021 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink

Friday, May 7, 2021

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Holderness Reviews Monroe's Improvisation And Forgotten Taxpayers In Partnership Tax

This week, Hayes Holderness (Richmond) reviews Andrea Monroe (Temple), Making Tax Law Work: Improvisation and Forgotten Taxpayers in Partnership Tax, 55 Mich. J. L. Reform ___ (2021):

Holderness (2017)When I teach Partnership Taxation, I like to introduce the subject by telling my students that there are really only two principles behind Subchapter K: 1) do what you want, and 2) don’t screw the government. I explain that the course will be an exercise in reconciling those two principles, and it will probably be the most difficult exercise in tax law that they encounter in law school. Until reading Andy Monroe’s forthcoming article, I was certain that the difficulty of Partnership Taxation was merely the unfortunate side effect of a tax regime designed to respect taxpayer choices. Now I’m not so sure, and worse, I’ve certainly been complicit in promoting this narrative.

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May 7, 2021 in Hayes Holderness, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink

Tax Policy In The Biden Administration

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

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May 7, 2021 in Legal Education, Scott Fruehwald, Weekly Legal Ed Roundup | Permalink

AALS Cancels In-Person Faculty Hiring Conference For Second Year In A Row Due To COVID-19

For the second year in a row, AALS has cancelled the in-person faculty recruitment conference due to COVID-19. Brian Leiter (Chicago) predicts a robust faculty hiring market, with perhaps 100 faculty openings this cycle:

AALS (2018)2021-22 promises to be an excellent year for law school enrollments, and early indicators suggest that the 2022-23 year will be at least as strong. Since enrollments drive hiring at 80-85% of the law schools in the country, this bodes very well for academic job seekers. I expect many more law schools to be in the market for new teachers this coming year, compared to this past year. ...

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May 7, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

The Pandemic’s Sexist Consequences: Academe’s Stark Gender Disparities Are Exacerbated By Covid-19

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  The Pandemic’s Sexist Consequences: Academe’s Stark Gender Disparities Are Exacerbated By Covid-19, by Rose Casey (West Virginia):

Covid-19 has precipitated a caregiving crisis with profoundly gendered effects. The well-documented decrease in women’s journal submissions is an early example of the pandemic’s impact. In coming years, we’ll probably see additional consequences, including widening gender divisions in attaining tenure and an increase in the gender pay gap. These effects will be particularly stark for racially minoritized women.

Covid’s collapsing of work into home life has made clear that what Tithi Bhattarcharya calls “life-giving reproductive labor” frequently falls on female shoulders. With schools closed, child-care provisions reduced, and care for other family members increased, pandemic time has heightened academe’s existing gendered inequalities.

Research across many disciplines — economics, public health, sociology, biology, medicine, gender studies, and more — has documented Covid-19’s detrimental impact on women. Multiple papers have shown that women’s unpaid care work, including child care, home-school supervision, emotional support of household members, and all manner of domestic tasks, has increased more than men’s during the pandemic. ...

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May 7, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Recognizing Another Black Barrier: The LSAT Contributes To The Diversity Gap In The Legal Profession

Lynee McDuffie, Recognizing Another Black Barrier: The LSAT Contributes to the Diversity Gap in the Legal Profession:

Imagine working your entire life with the purpose of building the house of your dreams. The ability to pursue this “calling” has been granted through your tremendous hard-work and dedication to your craft. In fact, building this dream home has been the final culmination of all that you have worked towards over the past several years. Now imagine, you have successfully built the foundation of the house, and began to lay the pipeline for the plumbing. Just as the plumbing was coming together, there was one exact piece that was missing, a coupling, which would be required to connect the pipes. Since pipelines are the heartbeat of all functionality within a house, without the coupling, the incomplete plumbing may diminish the potential of all that your dream house was meant to become. Thus, hindering the dream.

Similarly to a person that has a dream of becoming a lawyer. The ability to pursue this calling would be directed through the education pipeline. After obtaining an Undergraduate degree through tremendous amount of hard-work and dedication, the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a coupling to the next education pipeline, is required for applicants to take when applying to law school. But, what if the LSAT is a faulty coupling that presents a major leak in the education pipeline? This standardize test has revealed years of racial bias from the disturbing score gaps between white and minority applicants. The LSAT has shown to have test biases within the questions that appear in the form of language interpretation, which contains culturally stereotypic language, situations, and structural components. As a result of these biases, there has been a disproportionate amount of lower scores by minorities, which hinders the chances of being accepted into law school. Thus, presenting a leak in the education pipeline that disconnects minorities from achieving their dreams of practicing law.

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May 7, 2021 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

George Mason-Scalia And Cardozo Host Free Virtual Conference For Aspiring And New Law School Deans

Deans Leadership Academy

George Mason-Scalia and Cardozo law schools are co-sponsoring a free virtual conference for aspiring and new law deans on June 3-4: the Deans Leadership Academy:

Taking charge of a law school requires specific skills and conquering a series of natural milestones in order to “get it right.” The early months are critical to establishing the tone and substance of your Deanship. The interview process for new deans rarely provides you with real insight about how to lead and what’s expected. The critical to-do list and the timetables for accomplishing them are not necessarily obvious. And retaining consultants for expert guidance may not be economically feasible.

This program offers critical lessons that current deans say they wish they had learned before starting. It is designed to take away some of the mystery of the do-it-yourself approach, while highlighting some of the dangers that come with the territory. Sessions will be led by leading experts in their respective fields, from both in and outside academia.

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May 7, 2021 in Conferences, Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Education | Permalink

Lipman: We The People Must Pull America Back From The Abyss Of Economic Injustice

Francine J. Lipman (UNLV; Google Scholar), We the People Must Pull America Back from the Abyss of Economic Injustice:

Americans have long suffered decades of increasing income and wealth disparity resulting from failed economic policies and systemic racial discrimination. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed and exacerbated the depth and breadth of these gaps. The juxtaposition of 67 million Americans losing their jobs, 27 million adults and their kids suffering food insecurity, and 14 million households behind on their rent with 651 billionaires adding $1 trillion in net worth to their already bloated balance sheets is immoral. The percentage of food-insecure families with children is approaching 20 percent of the U.S. population, and these numbers are almost double for families of color. Because of institutional racism, Black Americans have been hospitalized and died from COVID-19 at five times the rate of white Americans. Indigenous and Latinx individuals also suffer disproportionately from COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. 

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May 7, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Thomas Reviews Are Individuals More Willing To Lie To A Computer Or A Human About Their Taxes?

Kathleen DeLaney Thomas (North Carolina; Google Scholar), Your Tax Software Doesn't Know You're Lying (JOTWELL) (reviewing Ethan LaMothe (Central Florida; Google Scholar) & Donna Bobek (South Carolina; Google Scholar), Are Individuals More Willing to Lie to a Computer or a Human? Evidence from a Tax Compliance Setting, 167 J. Bus. Ethics 157 (2020)):

JOTWELL (2020)Imagine your accountant asks you if you earned any income that wasn’t reported on a 1099 or W-2 this year, and you know that you have an extra $5000 of such income. Do you tell her? Probably. For starters, you might be worried that she is going to be suspicious if you lie to her. Something in your voice might give it away, or perhaps your income this year is lower than last year and she wants to know why. Further, you might have developed a rapport with your accountant, and lying to her might cause psychological discomfort.

Now imagine that you are debating whether to report the same income without an accountant’s help, using tax return preparation software. The software isn’t suspicious of your omission and doesn’t harbor any ill feelings about whether you are telling it the truth. In that case, you might be more likely to lie and not report the income. A fascinating new study by Ethan LaMothe and Donna Bobek confirms this intuition. In a survey of 211 participants, LaMothe and Bobek find that individuals may be more willing to lie to tax preparation software than they are to a human tax return preparer. ...

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May 6, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Sabu: Reframing Bitcoin And Tax Compliance

Arvind Sabu (Chicago-Kent), Reframing Bitcoin and Tax Compliance, 64 St. Louis U. L.J. 181 (2020):

This Article argues that, contrary to the common belief that Bitcoin enables tax evasion, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) can increasingly police transactions in Bitcoin. First, commercial and technical intermediaries have emerged as part of Bitcoin’s ecosystem. This diverse set of intermediaries can facilitate tax enforcement, as the litigation over the IRS’s summons on Coinbase—the largest domestic digital asset exchange—and subsequent IRS efforts show. These intermediaries could report transactions to the IRS or even, one day, withhold and remit tax payments. Second, the publicly visible, trustworthy nature of Bitcoin’s blockchain—its unique role as a shared truth—allows tax authorities to observe transaction flows. This renders Bitcoin unusually regulable for tax purposes, as recent efforts by the IRS to rely on Bitcoin’s blockchain to police tax evasion demonstrate.

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May 6, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Tribute To Valparaiso University Law School (1879-2019)

Symposium, Tribute to Valparaiso University Law School (1879-2019), 53 Val. U. L. Rev. 833-1173 (2019):

Valpo (2018)Comments


Greatest Hits of Valparaiso University Law Review

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May 6, 2021 in Conferences, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink

Death Of Jack McNulty (UC-Berkeley)

SFGATE obituary, John McNulty:

Mcnulty_john_210x270-210x270John Kent McNulty, professor emeritus at Berkeley Law and a man of letters, music, and the arts, died Saturday, Sept. 26, at his home in Berkeley of an apparent heart attack. He was 85.

Jack, as he was known by many since childhood, was an accomplished legal scholar who specialized in federal income taxation and international tax. He joined the faculty at Berkeley Law (then Boalt Hall School of Law) in 1964 and taught full-time until his retirement in 2002. The law was his true north, and his community of scholars sustained him; he continued to visit his campus office every weekday until the COVID-19 pandemic precluded it.

An invitation to join the Berkeley Law faculty prompted Jack, his wife Linda, and their three young children, Martha, Jennifer, and John Jr., to pack up and head west, arriving just in time for the Free Speech Movement and all the social, political, and personal change that would ensue. Jack and Linda, both born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., welcomed the waves of change, eager for their children to grow up in a more just and democratic society.

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May 6, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Obituaries, Tax, Tax News | Permalink

ABA Mulls Racism, Bias Training Accreditation Requirement For Law Schools

Karen Sloan (, ABA Mulls Racism, Bias Training Accreditation Requirement for Law Schools:

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)Law schools would be required to train students in bias, racism, and cross-cultural competency under a proposal being considered by the American Bar Association arm that oversees legal education.

That proposed change to the ABA’s law school accreditation standards is part of a larger push to incorporate professional identity formation into the curriculum requirements—that is, mandating that schools devote more time and attention to helping students understand what it means to be a lawyer, not just how to think like one.

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May 6, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Five Former IRS Commissioners (3 GOP, 2 Dem) Back Biden's Tax Plan

Washington Post, Five Former IRS Commissioners: Biden’s Proposal Would Create a Fairer Tax System:

The writers are former commissioners of the Internal Revenue Service: Lawrence B. Gibbs, 1986 to 1989; Fred T. Goldberg, 1989 to 1992; Margaret M. Richardson, 1993 to 1997; Charles O. Rossotti, 1997 to 2002; John Koskinen, 2013 to 2017.

President Biden’s proposal would restore our tax administration system to make it far fairer and more effective. This would benefit everyone who pays their taxes. It would produce a great deal of revenue by reducing the enormous gap between taxes legally owed and taxes actually paid — much of it through increased voluntary compliance. And it would improve taxpayers’ interactions with the IRS.

Achieving these goals will take time, persistence and sound management, but the investment is likely to pay for itself many times over, for decades to come.

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May 6, 2021 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink

John Eastman To Sue University Of Colorado For $1.9 Million For Stripping Him Of Duties After Jan. 6 Capitol Speech

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Colorado Politics, John Eastman Seeks to Sue CU For $1.9M For Stripping Him of Duties After Capitol Rally Speech:

EastmanJohn Eastman, a University of Colorado Boulder visiting professor, is looking to sue CU for nearly $1.9 million after he was stripped of most of his job duties following his speech at President Donald Trump’s Washington, D.C., rally on Jan. 6 prior to the Capitol insurrection.

Eastman filed a legal claim Thursday alleging breach of contract and defamation, saying CU Boulder and its leaders have “discriminated against Dr. Eastman on the basis of his political affiliation and political philosophy,” in violation of the university's anti-discrimination policies.

The claim said Eastman will seek $1.85 million for 10 years of future salary he claims he can’t earn due to "reputational harm" and $19,835 leftover in his CU research account. The legal claim is a statutory prerequisite before Eastman can file a lawsuit.

University of Colorado, Statement on Visiting Professor Eastman:

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May 6, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Michael Jackson's Estate Beats The IRS: Tax Court Sets FMV Of His Name And Likeness At $4 Million, Not $161 Million

Wall Street Journal, Michael Jackson Estate to Face Smaller Tax Bill After Court Ruling:

JacksonMichael Jackson’s estate prevailed over the Internal Revenue Service on several key issues in a closely watched court case, an outcome that will push the estate’s tax burden below the government’s initial assessment.

In a ruling issued Monday, U.S. Tax Court Judge Mark Holmes found that the singer’s name and likeness were worth $4 million when he died in 2009 at the age of 50, not the $161 million the government had claimed. The IRS won on some other points about the value of other Jackson assets, but will get far less than the hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes and penalties it had sought from the estate.

The government and the estate settled some issues, and the case came down to the question of how to value three main assets: Mr. Jackson’s name and likeness and two entities tied to the music business.

The estate initially started with some lower values, but by Monday’s decision, it had said those three assets were worth $5.3 million combined. The government had started with higher values and an estate tax bill topping $500 million, but eventually concluded those three assets were worth $481.9 million combined. Judge Holmes, in his ruling, said they were worth $111.5 million. The estate’s actual tax bill will be determined later. ...

A central question in the case was this: Was it foreseeable that the estate would—as it since has done—build a successful business around Mr. Jackson’s image? Or was that such a long shot that the estate could plausibly claim, as it initially did, that Mr. Jackson’s name and likeness was worth $2,105? As Judge Holmes put it, the estate was “valuing the image and likeness of one of the best known celebrities in the world—the King of Pop—at the price of a heavily used 20-year-old Honda Civic.” ...

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May 6, 2021 in Celebrity Tax Lore, New Cases, Tax | Permalink

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Bank Reviews Rebellion, Rascals, And Revenue: Tax Follies And Wisdom Through The Ages

Steven A. Bank (UCLA), Taxation’s Summer Blockbuster (reviewing Michael Keen (IMF) & Joel Slemrod (Michigan; Google Scholar), Rebellion, Rascals, and Revenue: Tax Follies and Wisdom through the Ages (Princeton University Press 2021)):

RascalsIn Rebellion, Rascals, and Revenue, Michael Keen and Joel Slemrod have written a fantastic book that collects and loosely organizes a treasure trove of anecdotes about tax systems, trivia, and events around the world and throughout history. In many respects the book, which endeavors to include stories about any type of tax, in any type of tax system, in any period in history, is overly ambitious. Nevertheless, Keen and Mick identify several common themes that persist over time. More contextualization might have revealed an omitted theme – the effect of societal changes on the development and adaptation of tax systems – but the book’s main contribution is in taking readers on a raucous ride through tax history that will leave them convinced that taxation is not only important, but exciting as well. In Rebellion, Rascals, and Revenue, Michael Keen and Joel Slemrod, two public finance economists from the International Monetary Fund and the University of Michigan, respectively, have written a fantastic book that collects and loosely organizes a treasure trove of anecdotes about tax systems, trivia, and events around the world and throughout history.

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May 5, 2021 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Regional Variation In Tax Compliance And The Role Of Culture

Alice Guerra (Bologna, Google Scholar) & Brooke Harrington (Dartmouth, Google Scholar), Regional Variation in Tax Compliance and the Role of Culture:

To address a debate in the literature concerning the impact of culture on tax compliance, we examine a case where extreme disparities in the two variables coincide, and test for a causal relationship. Our research design isolates the role of culture by focusing on regional differences within a single country: Italy. Southern Italy has long been a focus of research interest, not only for its extremely high rates of tax evasion, but for a host of other social and political ills, all usually attributed to regional culture.

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May 5, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Trends In Law School Enrollment Since The Great Recession

Goodwin Liu (Associate Justice, California Supreme Court), Miranda Li (J.D. 2019, Yale) & Phillip Yao (J.D. 2019, Yale), Who's Going to Law School? Trends in Law School Enrollment Since the Great Recession, 54 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 613 (2020):

This study provides a comprehensive analysis of recent U.S. law school enrollment trends. With two sets of JD enrollment data from 1999 to 2019, we discuss how the demographic composition of law students has changed since the Great Recession. We examine enrollment data by gender, race, ethnicity, and nationality, with particular attention to Asian Americans, who too often remain an invisible minority in contemporary discourse on diversity. We also undertake a novel analysis of enrollment demographics by law school ranking. Our findings include the following:

  • Total enrollment has declined almost 25% since the recession and, despite a recent increase, seems unlikely to rebound to pre-recession levels.
  • Women have outnumbered men in law school since 2016; the recent uptick in total enrollment is entirely attributable to more women pursuing law.
  • Since the recession, Asian Americans and Whites have comprised a smaller share of enrollment; African Americans and Hispanics have comprised a larger share.

Liu 1

  • Women, African American students, and Hispanic students are disproportionately enrolled in lower-ranked schools with lower rates of bar passage and post-graduation employment. It is thus unclear to what extent the changing diversity of law students will translate into greater diversity in the legal profession.

Liu 2

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May 5, 2021 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

The Role Of Lawyers And Law Schools In Fostering Civil Public Debate

Vikram D. Amar (Dean, Illinois) & Jennifer K. Robbennolt (Illinois; Google Scholar), The Role of Lawyers and Law Schools in Fostering Civil Public Debate, 52 Conn. L. Rev. 1093 (2021):

Partisanship can make policy discussion and civil debate difficult. Partisan differences in how facts and policies are understood contribute to the escalation of conflict and a lack of cooperation. Lawyers are not immune from these human tendencies. But good lawyers have, and good law schools teach, values, knowledge, and skills that can aid in fostering and modeling more productive debate and resolution of conflict.

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May 5, 2021 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink

San Diego Provost Rejects Student Demand That Tenured Law Professor Be Fired Over Blog Post

Following up on my previous post, San Diego Law School Launches Investigation Of Tenured Professor's Blog Post; Student Petition Calls For Professor's Termination:

USD Law (2021)Gail F. Baker (Vice President and Provost, University of San Diego):

Dear USD Community:
We recently received complaints relating to a post by USD Law Professor Tom Smith on his personal blog concerning the causes of COVID-19. The complaints alleged violations of various university and School of Law policies.

As a threshold matter, we sought to determine whether the blog post at issue was protected by our policy on academic freedom. After a thorough legal review, it was determined that the expression was protected by that policy.

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May 5, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Low-Income Taxpayers And The Affordable Care Act

Christine Speidel (Villanova), Low-Income Taxpayers and the Affordable Care Act (in Effectively Representing Your Client Before the IRS:

ABA What is the connection between taxes and health insurance? Why do advocates for low-income taxpayers need to know about the Affordable Care Act? The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) contains dozens of tax provisions. The ACA introduced a major new tax credit and a major new tax penalty for 2014. It also imported tax concepts into Medicaid. All told, the ACA will have a major impact on low-income taxpayers. Health care advocates are already in the thick of helping people get and maintain health insurance coverage. Tax advocates at Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) may not see ACA-related examinations and collection controversies until 2015, but now is the time many of our clients are making decisions that will seriously impact their lives and shape future tax controversies. Education, issue-spotting, and early guidance could make a positive difference. All advocates working with low-income taxpayers should educate their clients, particularly those in English as-a-second-language (ESL) communities, about their new rights and responsibilities. This article serves as an introduction and reference on the ACA for legal advocates and policymakers, with a focus on tax provisions affecting lower-income individuals. The article summarizes the major health care reform developments affecting low-income taxpayers from October 2013 through mid-2015, and introduces key ACA concepts. It then focuses in detail on the two ACA tax provisions that most concern low-income individuals: the Premium Tax Credit and the individual shared responsibility payment.

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May 5, 2021 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

There Are Now 27 Black Women Law School Deans

From Catherine Smith (Denver):

There are now 27 Black Women Law Deans:

  1. Dean Michèle Alexandre (Stetson)
  2. Dean Patricia Bennett (Mississippi College)
  3. Dean Karen Bravo (Indiana University-McKinney)
  4. Dean Lolita Buckner Innis (incoming, University of Colorado)
  5. Dean Joan Bullock (Texas Southern)
  6. Dean Marcilynn Burke (Oregon)
  7. Dean Danielle Conway (Penn State-Dickinson)
  8. Dean Camille Davidson (Southern Illinois)
  9. Dean Felicia Epps (UNT-Dallas)
  10. Dean Linda Greene (Michigan State)
  11. Dean Cassandra Hill (Northern Illinois)
  12. Dean Renee Hutchins (University of the District of Columbia)
  13. Dean Danielle Holley-Walker (Howard)
  14. Dean Jelani Jefferson Exum (incoming, Detroit Mercy)
  15. Dean Diedre Keller (Florida A & M)
  16. Dean Tamara Lawson (St. Thomas)
  17. Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew (George Washington)
  18. Dean Browne Lewis (North Carolina Central)
  19. Dean Kim Mutcherson (Rutgers-Camden)
  20. Dean Camille Nelson (Hawaii)
  21. Dean Eboni Nelson (Connecticut)
  22. Dean Angela Onwuachi-Willig (Boston University)
  23. Dean Carla Pratt (Washburn)
  24. Dean LaVonda Reed (incoming, Georgia State University)
  25. Dean Song Richardson (outgoing, UC-Irvine. incoming President of Colorado College)
  26. Dean Sean Scott (California Western)
  27. Dean Verna Williams (Cincinnati)

May 5, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Former IRS Chief Counsel Michael Desmond Joins Gibson Dunn

Former IRS Chief Counsel Michael Desmond Joins Gibson Dunn’s Los Angeles and D.C. Offices:

Desmond 3Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP is pleased to announce that Michael J. Desmond has joined the firm as a partner in the Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. offices.  Desmond, who recently served as the Chief Counsel of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and Assistant General Counsel in the U.S. Department of the Treasury, will focus on tax controversy matters.

“We are delighted that Michael has joined the firm,” said Barbara Becker, Chair and Managing Partner of Gibson Dunn.  “As a nationally prominent, deeply experienced tax litigator, he adds significant capability to our elite tax and litigation practices.  Our clients will benefit from the invaluable insight that he gained during his tenure at the IRS, where he was involved in the agency’s most important guidance and enforcement actions.”

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May 5, 2021 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Shobe: Subsidizing Economic Segregation Through The State And Local Tax Deduction

Gladriel Shobe (BYU; Google Scholar), Subsidizing Economic Segregation Through the State and Local Tax Deduction, 11 UC Irvine L. Rev. 539 (2020) (reviewed by Ariel Jurow Kleiman (San Diego; moving to Loyola-L.A.; Google Scholar) here): 

Economic segregation has increased over the past half-century. The trend of rich localities getting richer while poor localities get poorer is particularly concerning because it limits upward mobility and perpetuates intergenerational income inequality. This Article makes the novel argument that the state and local tax deduction subsidizes economic segregation. It arrives at that conclusion by showing that the “local tax deduction” provides a greater subsidy, per capita, for wealthy, economically segregated localities because only those localities have a critical mass of wealthy taxpayers who claim the deduction. This allows wealthy localities, but not poor localities, to provide services at a cost less than face value to their residents. This Article argues that the deduction’s subsidy for wealthy localities rewards and likely contributes to economic segregation because it provides an incentive for the wealthy to segregate into wealthy, subsidized localities over less segregated and less subsidized localities.

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May 4, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Soled: The Need To Reduce The Federal Estate Tax Exemption

Jay A. Soled (Rutgers; Google Scholar), The Federal Estate Tax Exemption and the Need for Its Reduction, 47 Fla. L. Rev. 649 (2020):

One of the central components of the nation’s transfer tax system is the federal estate tax exemption. This is the amount that taxpayers can pass free of transfer tax imposition. While over the last 100 years the size of this exemption has fluctuated, Congress most recently increased it exponentially, jeopardizing the vitality of the entire transfer tax regime and potentially sapping it of its strength. To enhance the nation’s fiscal solvency and to reduce wealth inequality, this analysis contends that Congress must reduce the estate tax exemption (and, along with it, the gift and generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions). Furthermore, it proposes ways for Congress to efficiently and equitably accomplish this goal.

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May 4, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Why I No Longer Grade Class Participation

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  Should We Stop Grading Class Participation?, by James M. Lang (Assumption University):

I no longer grade class participation. I seem to be in the minority on that, based on my conversations with other faculty members. But I have come to believe that grading student participation is a poor pedagogical choice, and that a better alternative exists. Here I’ll explain why — and how I cultivate participation in my courses, even without hanging a grade-based incentive over my students’ heads.

What drove me away from grading student participation was an uneasy feeling — and it grew each year — that grades were not something that should be fudged based on my hunches and instincts, or influenced in any way by my informal observations and memories. In retrospect, it seems ridiculous to believe that I could accurately measure how much every student participated in all my courses during a 15-week semester.

Such a “system” is subject to every kind of bias imaginable. In addition to whatever unconscious biases I might be carrying toward students based on their identities, I might find myself looking more favorably on a student whose comments or demeanor remind me a little of myself — or unfavorably on a student who reminds me of someone I dislike.

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May 4, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink

CSI: Law School. Forensic Science In Legal Education

Brandon L. Garrett (Duke), Glinda Cooper (Yeshiva) & Quinn Beckham (Duke), Forensic Science in Legal Education:

In criminal cases, forensic science reports and expert testimony play an increasingly important role in adjudication. More states now follow a federal reliability standard, following Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals and Rule 702, which call upon judges to assess the reliability and validity of such scientific evidence. Little is known about what education law schools provide regarding forensic and scientific evidence, or what types of specialized training they receive on scientific methods or evidence. Whether law schools have added forensic science courses to their curricula in recent years was not known. In order to better understand the answers to those questions, in late 2019 and Spring 2020, we conducted searches to identify course offerings in forensic sciences at U.S. law schools and then surveyed their instructors, asking for syllabi and information concerning how the courses are offered, how regularly, and with what coverage.

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May 4, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink

University Of Illinois Symposium: President Biden’s First 100 Days

Symposium, President Biden’s First 100 Days, 2021 U. Ill. L. Rev. Online 1-219:

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May 4, 2021 in Conferences, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Graduating Law School In The Time of COVID? Be Patient And Persistent., Graduating Law School in the Time of COVID? Be Patient and Persistent.:

Are you about to graduate law school into a, well, interesting economy? I’ve been there. I graduated from law school during the Great Recession. In my experience, there was nothing great about it. When I graduated, the employment rate for new lawyers was at an all-time low. The chance of making the income you once expected had vanished. Suddenly, you were willing to do work for free just to get experience. It was a horrible time to be a law school graduate, but, as is commonly said, you grow from each challenge.

For you 3L students and recent graduates, I am sorry that you are in a similar boat. But, there is a bright side.

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May 4, 2021 in Legal Education | Permalink

Zero Economic Value Humans?

Hilary G. Escajeda (Denver), Zero Economic Value Humans?, 10 Wake Forest J.L. & Pol'y 129 (2020):

The decades ahead will bring forth a convergence of increasingly capable technologies, such as artificial intelligence and robotics, that will fundamentally reshape and transform work environments by replacing average humans with ordinary job skills. Klaus Schwab, Founder of the World Economic Forum and author of The Fourth Industrial Revolution, perceptively identifies this impending paradigm shift and argues these technologies will challenge policymakers to “think strategically about the forces of disruption and innovation shaping our future.”

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May 4, 2021 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

IRS Seeks Grant Applications For Funding Low Income Taxpayer Clinics


The IRS has announced (IR-2021-100) that it is accepting grant applications through June 18 for Low Income Taxpayer Clinics for the 2022 grant cycle (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2022):

The LITC Program is a federal grant program administered by the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate at the IRS, which is led by National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) Erin M. Collins. LITCs can make a tremendous impact on the lives of taxpayers, as detailed in this recent blog from the NTA:  Not all Superheroes Wear Capes: Join the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Community and Be a Hero to Taxpayers Most in Need.

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May 4, 2021 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink

Monday, May 3, 2021

Layser: A Spatial Analysis Of Place-Based Tax Incentives

Michelle D. Layser (Illinois; Google Scholar), Subsidizing Gentrification: A Spatial Analysis of Place-Based Tax Incentives, 11 UC Irvine L. Rev. ___ (2021):

Place-based tax incentives, such as the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) and Opportunity Zones incentives, are often used to promote investment in low-income neighborhoods. However, not all low-income neighborhoods have an equal need for investment subsidies. Subsidies for investment in already gentrifying neighborhoods, for example, may reflect inefficient inframarginal investment, and they may lead to inequitable outcomes. Critics fear that when gentrifying neighborhoods are eligible for tax incentives, they will draw investment away from the neighborhoods that need it most. However, few studies have provided empirical analysis to assess whether these concerns have merit. Through a novel geospatial analysis of the location patterns of tax-subsidized projects, this Article provides new evidence that critics’ concerns are justified.

This Article analyzes 15 years of NMTC data to explore the location patterns of tax-subsidized projects in 20 U.S. cities.

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May 3, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Pay Millions To Hide Trillions

Chuck Collins (Institute for Policy Studies), The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions (2021):

Wealth Horders 3For decades, a secret army of tax attorneys, accountants and wealth managers has been developing into the shadowy Wealth Defense Industry. These “agents of inequality” are paid millions to hide trillions for the richest 0.01%.

In this book, inequality expert Chuck Collins interviews the leading players and gives a unique insider account of how this industry is doing everything it can to create and entrench hereditary dynasties of wealth and power. He exposes the inner workings of these “agents of inequality,” showing how they deploy anonymous shell companies, family offices, offshore accounts, opaque trusts, and sham transactions to ensure the world’s richest pay next to no tax. He ends by outlining a robust set of policies that democratic nations can implement to shut down the Wealth Defense Industry for good.

This shocking exposé of the insidious machinery of inequality is essential reading for anyone wanting the inside story of our age of plutocratic plunder and stashed cash.

It is no great surprise anymore that we are facing the greatest crisis in income and wealth inequality that we have seen since the 1920s. What is shocking is the sprawling system of corruption that the ultra-rich have designed in order to hoard their unimaginable wealth at the expense of everyone else. Chuck's book reveals not only the inner workings of this elaborate scheme to hide more than $20 trillion in wealth, it offers us a blueprint for reversing this obscene inequality so we can take back our democracy and ensure that our government works for everybody—not just the billionaire class and wealthy campaign contributors.
Senator Bernie Sanders

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May 3, 2021 in Book Club, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

NCBE Sets The Record Straight On Future Bar Exams And Online Proctoring

Hulett H. Askew, Judith A. Gundersen, Suzanne K. Richards & Hon. Cynthia L. Martin (NCBE), Future Bar Exams and Online Proctoring—Setting the Record Straight:

In response to a recent Insight, we want to clarify how future bar exams will be administered. As widely publicized earlier this year, and as reported by Bloomberg Law, the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ (NCBE) testing task force has made clear that the next generation of the bar exam will be administered in-person on computers and monitored live by on-site proctors.

For reference, “remote” and “online” testing both refer to a method of test administration in which applicants take an exam on their own computers at home (or in another private location, such as a law school or office). Remote testing, as NCBE uses the term, requires an internet connection only at certain times—for example, to enter the exam password and take an identity verification photograph at the beginning of the exam, or to upload exam answer files and monitoring videos at the end of the exam—while online testing requires internet connectivity throughout an exam.

“Computer-based” testing means only that the exam itself can be taken on a computer instead of with paper and pencil. The next generation of the bar exam will be a computer-based test administered either at computer testing centers managed by a suitable vendor or on candidates’ laptops at jurisdiction-managed test sites. ...

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May 3, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

NY Times: Debate Erupts At Rutgers Law School After White Student Quotes Racial Slur In Full Version Of Case Assigned In Excerpted Form By Professor

New York Times, Debate Erupts at N.J. Law School After White Student Quotes Racial Slur:

Rutgers (2021)The controversy over the use of a racial slur that has embroiled a public law school in New Jersey began with a student quoting from case law during a professor’s virtual office hours.

The first-year student at Rutgers Law School in Newark, who is white, repeated a line from a 1993 legal opinion, including the epithet, when discussing a case.

What followed has jolted the state institution, unleashing a polarizing debate over the constitutional right to free speech on campus and the power of a hateful word at a moment of intense national introspection over race, equity and systemic bias.

The tension comes at a time of heightened sensitivity to offensive words on college and law school campuses, where recent uses of slurs by professors during lessons have resulted in discipline and dismissal.

In early April, in response to the incident, a group of Black first-year students at Rutgers Law began circulating a petition calling for the creation of a policy on racial slurs and formal, public apologies from the student and the professor, Vera Bergelson.

“At the height of a ‘racial reckoning,’ a responsible adult should know not to use a racial slur regardless of its use in a 1993 opinion,” states the petition, which has been signed by law school students and campus organizations across the country.

“We vehemently condemn the use of the N-word by the student and the acquiescence of its usage,” the petition says. ...

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May 3, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Early Signs Portend A Continued Law School Admissions Boom In Fall 2022

Following up on last week's post on the booming Fall 2021 law school admissions season:  Mike Spivey (Spivey Consulting), Brief Application Volume/LSAT Update and a Glimpse at Next Cycle:

We also have our first glimpse of the 2021-2022 application cycle. Or rather, our first solid data-based glimpse. June 2021 LSAT registrations closed as of midnight yesterday. 42,321 people are signed up to take the test. That's a heck of a lot [a 300% increase over the final June 2020 registrants]. Now obviously many of them will drop out, and that number will go down — potentially a good deal. Still, even if one in three registrants drop out, June 2021 will be the largest June LSAT since 2010. . . .  [S]uch a large number of potential June takers could be an ominous sign for 2021-2022 applicants, and an encouraging one for law schools hopeful that this wasn't a one year blip in applicant volume.

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May 3, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Kennedy & Volokh: The New Taboo — Quoting Epithets In The Classroom And Beyond

Randall Kennedy (Harvard) & Eugene Volokh (UCLA), The New Taboo: Quoting Epithets in the Classroom and Beyond, 49 Cap. U. L. Rev. 1 (2021):

Is it wrong for professors to quote epithets in class or in other educational settings? In law schools, this question has arisen as to [the n-word] when a [Wake Forest] professor quoted the defendants’ speech from a leading First Amendment case in a First Amendment class; a [UCLA] professor (one of us) quoted the facts in a rare example of a hate speech prosecution, also in a First Amendment class; a [UC-Irvine] professor teaching a class on legal problem-solving quoted the word in a discussion of Facebook’s implementation of its “hate speech” policy; a [Emory] professor teaching a torts class quoted the facts of a case involving emotional distress and wrongful discharge claims; a [Stanford] professor teaching a class about legal history quoted a statement attributed to Patrick Henry; a [DePaul] professor posed a hypothetical about provocation and self-defense in a criminal law class; a guest [Stanford] lecturer in a class on tobacco regulation displayed and quoted copies of racist advertising; and a professor at Emory University, in discussing discrimination against Native Americans, mentioned that ... had been used as slurs against them. ...

Moved by a recognition that the prevalence of the slurs in American life is an indication of how common hatred of blacks and gays has been and continues to be, and apprehensive about the slurs’ toxicity even in the classroom, some students, professors, and administrators maintain that any enunciation of them is wrongful no matter the context or the intention of the speaker. They maintain that giving voice to those epithets is so hurtful to some that no pedagogical aim is worth the pain inflicted. Thus, some teachers never vocalize the terms, either talking around them or substituting a euphemism such as “the n-word.” ...

There are, however, other words with toxic associations: KKK. Lynching. Nazi. Auschwitz. Genocide. Rape. They are not epithets, but much in life is worse than epithets. Indeed, one reason sometimes given for eschewing any vocalizing of epithets is precisely their association with bigoted violence. The words we just mentioned are at least as clearly associated with the cruelest forms of violence. Yet they are routinely discussed without expurgation or euphemism, especially in the university (and in our own department, law).

We believe the same should be true for epithets. The academy, we believe, should be a place where people discuss the facts—whether of a controversy, a historical document, or a precedent—as they have actually occurred.

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May 3, 2021 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink

Lesson From The Tax Court: The Multiple Paths For Loss Deductions

Camp (2017)Section 165 permits certain groups of taxpayers to deduct certain losses of capital under certain circumstances.  I emphasize to my students that §165 is, at bottom, a capital recovery provision.  There is no deduction for lost opportunities, lost profits, or lost pets.  It's only for losses of capital “sustained during the taxable year and not compensated for by insurance or otherwise.” §165(a).

Ronnie S. Baum and Teresa K. Baum v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2021-46 (Apr. 27, 2021) (Judge Kerrigan) teaches a nice basic lesson on the multiple ways taxpayers can deduct the loss of money under §165.  There the taxpayers claimed to have lost money in a stock purchase deal gone bad.  They tried to claim a theft loss deduction of $300,000 for tax year 2015.  The Tax Court said no.  The lesson I see is not so much about the rules for theft losses.  Rather, the reasons why these taxpayers lost gives a nice lesson in the various options taxpayers have in deducting losses.  It's a woulda-coulda-shoulda lesson.  In fact, I think the Baums may still be able to get the deduction, for a different reason in a different year.  I may be wrong!  I invite your thoughts below the fold.

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May 3, 2021 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Notre Dame Law School Dean Defends Exploding Deposit Deadline For Incoming 1Ls

Following up on my previous post, A ‘Bank Run’ At Notre Dame Law School:  Indiana Lawyer, Notre Dame Law Dean Embraces Admission Practice Others Call ‘Unnecessary, Callous’:

Notre Dame Law (2020)In response to criticism about its 2021 admission process, which has been dubbed by one social media user as the “seat deposit scandal,” Notre Dame Law School Dean G. Marcus Cole is calling the approach a success and praising the process as yielding an incoming class that is strongly committed to the institution.

“This was so successful and worked so well, we’re going to maintain this exact same approach to our admissions from now on,” Cole told Indiana Lawyer.

According to the dean, the class of 2024 will be the most diverse in the law school’s history with about a third being students of color. Also, the class has a median LSAT score of 168, which is three points higher than the median 165 recorded just two years ago.

Describing the admission process as a “roaring success,” Cole said, “We are very pleased with the composition of the incoming class.”

However, the approach created a stir on social media. Applicants vented their dismay when they discovered the deadline for submitting their deposits had passed and despite having been admitted with scholarship offers, they found themselves on the wait list.

In turn, Kyle McEntee, executive direct of Law School Transparency, wrote about the situation for Above the Law in an article entitled “Chaos Reigns.”  Other articles followed in Inside Higher Ed and on

Cole asserted the articles are “completely inaccurate.”

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May 2, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Renewal: Anticipating The New Thing God Is Doing

TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Renewal Series: Anticipating the New Thing God is Doing, by Chalak Richards (Pepperdine) (originally published in Pepperdine Spiritual Life Blogcast):

Chalak"If you say you are grateful one more time, I'm going to reach through this screen and grab you!"

I couldn't believe I said those words to one of my dearest friends, but I did. I knew things hadn't gone the way she wanted: a year into a pandemic that kept us separated from family and friends, another celebration through a screen. I wanted us to be real — to acknowledge that this year has felt like exile and captivity.

In the middle of these feelings, I've felt more empathy towards the ancient, exiled Israelites than ever before. I've come to understand in a different way the feelings of loneliness and desperation that come with being so far away from the people we love, the places that bring comfort, and even more, the visions we have for our lives. I've been told that deliverance is coming, but it seems slow.

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May 2, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

48 Cardozo Law Professors Urge Parent Yeshiva University To Reverse Its 'Wrong And Unlawful' Ban On LGBTQ+ Student Group

Letter From 48 Cardozo Law Professors To Yeshiva University President (Apr. 27, 2021):

Cardozo (2015)As members of the Yeshiva University community, the forty-eight undersigned faculty members of Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law write to express our dismay at the University’s continued refusal not to allow undergraduate students to form a group devoted to building community and support for LGBTQ+ students. We appreciate your expressions of empathy and, as described in a fall 2020 memo “Fostering an Inclusive Community,” the establishment of measures to address issues of diversity and inclusion. But the continued refusal to recognize the student organization is hurtful to our students and other community members and will seriously damage the reputation of the University’s graduate and undergraduate programs. It is also wrong and unlawful.

Discrimination against a student organization solely because of its focus on LGBTQ+ issues has no place in a University that holds itself out as a community committed to the flourishing and equal dignity of all its members. We have a collective obligation to ensure that each student is supported and given the opportunity to thrive, and refusing to extend access to University facilities to this student group on the same terms all other student groups enjoy will prevent LGBTQ+ students, together with their allies, from creating the space to find that support. Particularly as our students grapple already with the effects of a catastrophic public health crisis and deepening racial divide, insisting that LGBTQ+ students bear this avoidable additional insult is hard to fathom. Indeed, at Cardozo, where LGBTQ+ students are a vital part of our community, with an active and engaged student group, no such discrimination is practiced or tolerated. We find it unacceptable that our parent University would adopt such a hurtful policy towards the undergraduate student body.

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May 2, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

The Top Five New Tax Papers

There 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 #1:

  1. SSRN Logo (2018)[461 Downloads]  Taxing the American Emigrant, by Laura Snyder (Taxpayer Advocacy Panel)
  2. [400 Downloads]  Ten Truths About Tax Havens — Inclusion And The ‘Liberia’ Problem, by Steven Dean (Brooklyn) & Attiya Waris (Nairobi)
  3. [354 Downloads]  Tax Treaty Entitlement and Fiscally Transparent Entities: Improvements or Unnecessary Complications?, by Leopoldo Parada (University of Leeds; Google Scholar)
  4. [337 Downloads]  Insider Giving, by Sureyya Burcu Avci (Sabanci University; Google Scholar), Cindy A. Schipani (Michigan; Google Scholar), H. Nejat Seyhun (Michigan; Google Scholar) & Andrew Verstein (UCLA; Google Scholar),
  5. [250 Downloads]  Redistribution For Realists, by Zachary Liscow (Yale; Google Scholar)

May 2, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink

Saturday, May 1, 2021

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

Human Rights Watch Fires General Counsel After She Used N-word In Columbia Class, Human Rights Watch GC Loses Her Job After Using the N-Word Repeatedly in a Lecture:

Columbia Human RightsIt’s happened again. Another in-house lawyer has lost her job after using the N-word during an academic hate speech discussion.

This time it was Dinah PoKempner, a prominent human rights lawyer and the now-former general counsel for Human Rights Watch, a New York-based international research and advocacy agency.

While serving as an adjunct professor at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University, PoKempner, who is white, repeatedly used the N-word while discussing “comparative legal treatment of hate speech” during a Zoom lecture. ...

The incident occurred April 1, and Human Rights Watch terminated PoKempner on April 11. ...

Asked if Berman would continue teaching at Columbia, a university representative noted that adjunct professors do not have continued employment when a semester ends. The semester ended last week.

“A student complaint filed with our Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action is under review. We are very clear that classroom discussions must be conducted with civility, tolerance and respect,” stated the representative, who did not provide additional comment. ...

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May 1, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink