Paul L. Caron
Dean




Sunday, August 1, 2021

The Top Five New Tax Papers

There is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new #1 paper and new papers debuting on the list at #3, #4, and #5:

  1. SSRN Logo (2018)[285 Downloads]  The History of International Tax Law, by Marilyne Sadowsky (University Paris 1, Sorbonne Law School)
  2. [284 Downloads]  Taxing the Top 100: U.S. Estimates of Winners and Losers From Pillar One Amount A, by Lorraine Eden (Texas A&M; Google Scholar)
  3. [156 Downloads]  Do Lawyers Need Economists?, by Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan; Google Scholar)
  4. [138 Downloads]  Biden’s Proposed Tax Increases in Simple and Multivariate Charts, by Libin Zhang (Fried Frank, New York)
  5. [104 Downloads]  Taxation And Law And Political Economy, by Jeremy Bearer-Friend (George Washington; Google Scholar), Ari Glogower (Ohio State; Google Scholar), Ariel Jurow Kleiman (San Diego; Google Scholar) & Clint Wallace (South Carolina, Google Scholar) (reviewed by Hayes Holderness (Richmond) here)

August 1, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink

Saturday, July 31, 2021

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

DOJ Says Treasury Must Give Trump’s Tax Returns To Congress

Office of Legal Counsel

Memorandum Opinion For the Acting General Counsel, Department of the Treasury, Ways and Means Committee’s Request for the Former President’s Tax Returns and Related Tax Information Pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 6103(f )(1), 45 Op. O.L.C. __ (July 30, 2021):

Section 6103(f)(1) of title 26, U.S. Code, vests the congressional tax committees with a broad right to receive tax information from the Department of the Treasury. It embodies a long-standing judgment of the political branches that the tax committees are uniquely suited to receive such information. The committees, however, cannot compel the Executive Branch to disclose such information without satisfying the constitutional requirement that the information could serve a legitimate legislative purpose.

In assessing whether requested information could serve a legitimate legislative purpose, the Executive Branch must give due weight to Congress’s status as a co-equal branch of government. Like courts, therefore, Executive Branch officials must apply a presumption that Legislative Branch officials act in good faith and in furtherance of legitimate objectives.

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July 31, 2021 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink

We’re Kidding Ourselves That Law Firms (And Law Schools) Function Well From Home

New York Times op-ed:  We’re Kidding Ourselves That Workers Perform Well From Home, by John Zavitsanos (J.D. 1987, Michigan; Co-Founder, Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing, Houston):

Zoom 49 Participants (2020)This March, my partners and I paid special bonuses to all employees at my law firm in the heart of this city. Unlike at many other firms around the country, this $395,000 in bonuses — in addition to the $2.7 million in year-end bonuses — was not some apology or atonement for cutbacks stemming from the coronavirus economy. We wanted to reward all 90 of our employees for their record-breaking work in 2020: Our small, specialized, 28-year-old firm had its best year yet, and we did it mostly together.

Not Zoom together — real together.

In March 2020, a tidal wave of stay-at-home orders from local and state officials turned downtown Houston into the kind of a ghost town one might imagine when a hurricane is about to hit. We closed our office along with most other city businesses.

Advocates of the move hoped that working from home would not slow productivity significantly and could obviate the need for office space in the future. But in a remote-work setting, we never matched the team creativity and production we had taken for granted at our office. On Zoom, some people were distracted and anxious to leave meetings, but in person, they were engaged and animated — there was just no comparison.

While lawyers at other Houston law firms claimed to be happy with remote work, I believe it prevented us from performing at our sharpest. There is a cost to working at home that goes beyond depression, disconnectedness and failing to bathe regularly: It can drain morale and diminish collegiality.

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July 31, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Tax Panel Today At SEALS

Tax panel today at the 2021 SEALS Annual Conference on Amelia Island, Florida (program):

SEALS (2022)Workshop on Tax Law: Tax Law, Policy, and Human Beings
Sometimes we forget, but real live human beings (and dead ones!) are subject to the income tax. The presenters on this panel consider the myriad ways that the income tax responds to and is shaped by the choices human beings make. In particular, papers in this panel address the rise of telework, the effect of the tax system on the cost of death, tax and the cyborg, and the human factor in the economic calculus.

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July 31, 2021 in Conferences, Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Friday, July 30, 2021

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Eyal-Cohen Reviews The Charitable Tax Deduction And Civic Engagement By Hayashi & Hopkins

This week, Mirit Eyal-Cohen (Alabama; Google Scholar) reviews Andrew T. Hayashi (Virginia; Google Scholar) & Justin Hopkins (Virginia; Google Scholar), The Charitable Tax Deduction and Civic Engagement.

Mirit-Cohen (2018)

It’s no wonder the federal income tax deduction of charitable contribution has been central theme in recent political debates. The tax expenditure to the U.S. government from the charitable contribution deduction in 2018 amounted to over $45 billion and projected to exceed $88 million in 2028. Recently, the CARES Act expended this tax benefit permitting taxpayers who take the standard deduction to deduct up to $300 for charitable contributions while increasing the maximum amount of deductible cash contributions for itemizers. Albeit its historical record as a social and economic policy by providing supplemental (sometimes primary) support for welfare and social services through wealth transfers from wealthy and their preferred charities to the poor, Presidents Obama, Trump, and Biden have all proposed limiting the charitable deduction and even abolishing it altogether. The current charitable deduction increases opportunities to influence political representativeness and appears to favor high-income taxpayers (who itemize their deductions) and their chosen charities while remaining unsuccessful in closing the inequity gap (not all 501(c)(3) organizations benefit lower-income households) and the decline of voluntary associations.

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July 30, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink

Tax Policy In The Biden Administration

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Wharton Is First Elite MBA Program To Enroll More Women Than Men

Wall Street Journal, Wharton Is First Elite M.B.A. Program to Enroll More Women Than Men:

WhartonThe Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania will mark a milestone this fall: A majority of incoming M.B.A. candidates will be women.

The business school, one of the most highly ranked in the U.S., said that 52% of its new fall cohort will be female, marking the highest percentage of women enrolled in its 140-year history.

The milestone makes Wharton the first of the so-called “M7” M.B.A. programs to admit more women than men. In addition to Wharton, those seven elite schools include Harvard Business School, Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Columbia Business School, MIT Sloan School of Management, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

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July 30, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Tax Panel Today At SEALS

Tax panel today at the 2021 SEALS Annual Conference on Amelia Island, Florida (program):

SEALS (2022)Workshop on Tax Law: Discussion Group: Tax Law
This discussion group is broadly concerned with issues of taxation. Discussants will address individual income tax, corporate income tax, state & local tax, estate & gift tax, tax expenditure policy, international tax, and entitlements. While these disparate themes might seem only loosely related, a common thread of the difficulties of balancing equity, simplicity, incentives, and transparency runs through all of them. These scholars grapple with the central tax topics of the day, and address the looming concerns that must be dealt with by all levels of government.

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July 30, 2021 in Conferences, Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

ATPI Taxation And Gender Summer Series: The U.S. Pandemic Effects

ATPI Taxation and Gender Summer Series: The U.S. Pandemic Effects [registration]:

ATPI[The series] will continue on July 30 [at 1:00 PM ET] with a focus on the US pandemic effects, which disproportionately affected women, featuring Yvette Lind, Assistant Professor at the Copenhagen Business School, Elaine Maag, Principal Research Associate at the Tax Policy Center, and Amy Matsui, Director, Income Security and Senior Counsel at the National Women's Law Center.

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July 30, 2021 in Conferences, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Conferences | Permalink

47% Of Law Schools Are Requiring Vaccinations This Fall; Indoor Mask Mandates Are Surging

Karen Sloan (Reuters), Returning to Law School This Fall? Better Get Vaccinated:

Students at nearly half of the law schools in the nation will need to provide proof that they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to set foot on campus this fall, including at all the so-called T-14 elite schools, according to a higher education publication's list of vaccine mandates at universities and colleges.

And with the Delta variant spreading fast, a growing number of schools are reversing course and announcing that mask use will again be mandatory while indoors — dashing hopes of a mask-free fall semester. Duke, Harvard and Georgetown are among the universities that have said they plan to retain or reinstate an indoor mask requirement when the new school year begins.

It appears that vaccine mandates for students are more common at law schools than at colleges and universities generally. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 611 colleges and universities have thus far adopted vaccine requirements, or about 20% of the nation’s approximately 3,000 degree-granting institutions. But at least 93 American Bar Association-accredited law schools are now requiring vaccinations, which amounts to 47% of such schools, the Chronicle's list shows.

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July 30, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

WSJ: Finance Chiefs Try To Wean Employees From Excel Without Much Success

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Wall Street Journal, Finance Chiefs Are Still Trying to Replace Excel With New Tools:

ExcelFinance chiefs are still trying to get employees to move away from Microsoft Excel, the ubiquitous spreadsheet program loved and loathed by accounting professionals.

While many still see it as a helpful tool, some CFOs say finance teams rely on it too much, often for tasks that Excel isn’t well-suited to handle. That can lead to mistakes and wasted time.

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July 30, 2021 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax News | Permalink

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Gale & Haldeman: Taxing Business — The TCJA And What Comes Next

William G. Gale (Tax Policy Center; Google Scholar) & Claire Haldeman (Tax Policy Center), Taxing Business: The TCJA and What Comes Next, 102 Tax Notes Int'l 1759 (June 28, 2021): 

Tax Notes Int'lIn this article, the authors propose reforms that would repeal and amend various business tax provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and would raise revenue while making business taxation more efficient, equitable, and resistant to profit shifting. ...

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July 29, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Gale & Haldeman: The TCJA — Searching For Supply-Side Effects

William G. Gale (Tax Policy Center; Google Scholar) & Claire Haldeman (Tax Policy Center), The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Searching For Supply-Side Effects:

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) instituted the most substantial changes in taxation in decades and was designed to boost the economy via supply-side incentives. This paper reviews these changes and examines the impacts on economic aggregates through 2019. The Act clearly reduced revenue. The effect on GDP is difficult to tease out of the data. Investment growth rose after TCJA was enacted but was driven by trends in aggregate demand, oil prices, and intellectual capital that were unrelated to TCJA’s supplyside incentives. Growth in business formation, employment, and median wages slowed after TCJA was enacted. International profit shifting fell only slightly, and the boost in repatriated profits primarily led to increased share repurchases rather than new investment.

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July 29, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

ATPI Taxation And Gender Summer Series: The OECD

ATPI Taxation and Gender Summer Series: The OECD:

ATPIThe series [started July 23] with the pathbreaking work the OECD has been doing on tax and gender, developing the notion that gender blind is not gender neutral, and will feature Grace Perez-Navarro, the Deputy Director of the OECD's Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, and Joanne Shelling, Senior Policy Advisor at the OECD's Forum on Tax Administration. Program will be moderated by Julie Divola, Chair-Elect of the ABA Tax Section.

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July 29, 2021 in Conferences, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Conferences | Permalink

Can Continuing Legal Education Pass The Test? Empirical Lessons From The Medical World.

Rima Sirota (Georgetown), Can Continuing Legal Education Pass the Test? Empirical Lessons From the Medical World., 36 Notre Dame J.L. Ethics & Pub. Pol'y __ (2022):

Mandatory continuing legal education (CLE) takes millions of hours and hundreds of millions of dollars from American lawyers every year, with the burden landing in disproportionate fashion on new lawyers, public interest lawyers, and solo practitioners. CLE proponents insist that the system protects the public by maintaining lawyer competence. In the forty-five years since the first jurisdictions began requiring CLE, no evidence has emerged in support of this claim.

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July 29, 2021 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Tax Panels Today At SEALS

Tax panels today at the 2021 SEALS Annual Conference on Amelia Island, Florida (program):

SEALs Logo (2013)New Scholars Workshop: Corporate Law, Financial Markets, and Taxation II
This workshop gives New Scholars the opportunity to present a work-in-progress in a welcoming and supportive environment and to receive feedback on their presentation from more senior scholars in their fields. New Scholars are also assigned a mentor. The program is open to junior faculty at member schools. New Scholars are nominated to participate in the New Scholars Workshop by the deans of their respective law schools.

  • John Anderson (Mississippi College) (moderator)
  • Catherine Baylin Duryea (St. John's), Crumbs of Judicial Relief: Judicial Review of Price Controls During Wartime
    Mentor: Eric Segall (Georgia State) (mentor)
  • Young Ran (Christine) Kim (Utah), Taxing Telework 
    Mentor: Tessa Davis (South Carolina)
  • Jennifer Levine (Quinnipiac), Qualified Small Business Stock: A Proposal for Reform to Promote Business Formation and Growth 
    Mentor: Joan Heminway (Tennessee)
  • Daniel Schaffa (Richmond), Payroll Subsidies as a Policy Tool
    Mentor: Colin Marks (St. Mary's)

Workshop on Tax Law: Tax Law and Policy - International, Federal, State
This panel addresses a variety of issues in tax policy, including the implications of complex sets of relevant tax rules in various contexts and scenarios. Papers included in this panel consider cross-border issues at the local, state, and international levels, as well as questions that arise around the coordination between the IRS and other agencies. Other panelists consider issues around the marriage penalty and the physical presence rules.

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July 29, 2021 in Conferences, Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Baylor Symposium: Vision For Law School Leadership Training

Symposium, Vision For Law School Leadership Training, 73 Baylor Law Rev. 1-248 (2021) (video):

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July 29, 2021 in Conferences, Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink

Remote Bar Examinees Report Blank Screens, Lost Time, Panic, And Looking 'Death In The Eye'

Law.com, Remote Bar Examinees Report Blank Screens, Lost Time, Panic and Looking 'Death in the Eye':

Law school graduates taking the remote bar exam Tuesday and Wednesday are reporting technical failures, blank screens, tears and overwhelming stress.

Widespread reports detailed lost time ranging from a few minutes to an hour and a half. The problems centered on the ExamSoft program used for the test.

“I am not an emotional person at all, but ExamSoft’s software going black and turning off the camera during the bar exam a short while ago had me in tears,” Brooklyn Law School graduate MacKenzie Olson said in a Twitter post Tuesday afternoon. She added, “#abolishthebar.”

“Computer froze in the middle of bar exam essay question today,” Stanford Law JD Nicholas Wallace said on Twitter Tuesday. “Thankfully the exam started working after I restarted my computer, but it was fun to look death in the eye for a few minutes.” ...

The National Conference of Bar Examiners—the group that designed the test— acknowledged the problems Tuesday and hinted help would be on the way.

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July 29, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

ProPublica: The Number Of People With IRAs Worth $5 Million Or More Has Tripled, Congress Says

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  ProPublica, The Number of People With IRAs Worth $5 Million or More Has Tripled, Congress Says:

Pro PublicaThe number of multimillion-dollar individual retirement accounts has soared in the past decade, as more wealthy Americans use the tax-advantaged vehicles to shield fortunes from income taxes, according to new data released by Congress today.

The data reveals for the first time the staggering amount of money socked away in tax-free mega Roth accounts: more than $15 billion held by just 156 Americans.

The new data also shows that the number of Americans with traditional and Roth IRAs worth over $5 million tripled, to more than 28,000, between 2011 and 2019.

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July 29, 2021 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Effect Of Taxes On Where Superstars Work

David R. Agrawal (Kentucky) & Kenneth Tester (Kentucky), The Effect of Taxes on Where Superstars Work:

Prior studies show that taxes matter for the residential locations of high-income earners. But, states raise a significant share of income taxes from nonresidents, especially superstars. Using superstar athletes and variation in state tax rates, we provide causal evidence on the effect of the net-of-participation tax rate on the location of labor supply. 

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July 28, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Calculating Conservation Easement Settlement Initiative Benefits

Beckett Cantley (Northeastern) & Geoffrey Dietrich (Cantley Dietrich, Las Vegas), Calculating Conservation Easement Settlement Initiative Benefits, 168 Tax Notes Fed. 2015 (Sept. 14, 2020):

Tax Notes Federal (2020)Following its recent success against syndicated conservation easements (“SCEs”), the IRS announced a Settlement Initiative (“SI”) on June 25, 2020 to “bring finality” to taxpayers battling the IRS on SCE issues. The IRS has been suspicious of conservation easements since 2016, when it first designated SCE transactions as “listed transactions.” In 2019, the IRS announced a “significant increase in enforcement actions” related to SCE transactions as SCEs made the IRS’ “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams. This increase in enforcement actions has primarily resulted in IRS victories in the Tax Court. Thus, the IRS announced the SI to leverage its favorable outcomes against the taxpayers. Some critics are skeptical of the SI, claiming that the IRS has only been winning SCE cases on technical grounds and that the IRS does not hold as strong of a position as it claims on the true issues surrounding SCEs.7 Accordingly, many suggest that few taxpayers will take part in the SI. However, the IRS urges taxpayers to take a “hard, realistic look at their cases” with independent counsel.

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July 28, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Hartung Reviews Levit & Rostron's Beyond One L: Stories About Finding Meaning And Making A Difference In Law

Stephanie Roberts Hartung (Northeastern), Book Review, 69 J. Legal Educ. 217 (2019) (reviewing Nancy Levit (UMKC) & Allen Rostron (UMKC), eds., Beyond One L: Stories About Finding Meaning and Making a Difference in Law, Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 2019): 

Beyond-one-lScott Turow’s One L, the widely read account of his first year at Harvard Law School in 1975, is said to have “frightened, informed, and inspired a generation of lawyers-to-be”. Beyond One L: Stories About Finding Meaning and Making a Difference in Law, published nearly 45 years later, is billed as a “collection of stories taking a further look at the often dramatic and sometimes traumatic experience of embarking on the study of law”. While One L ostensibly described “universal truths” (xi) about law school in the 1970s, Beyond One L illustrates how dramatically the law school experience has changed since Turow arrived at Harvard as part of a first-year class that was overwhelmingly “male, white, and straight”. At the same time, Beyond One L’s collection of essays, which includes entries from several well-known figures in legal education, reminds us how many aspects of legal education remain the same.

In the face of difficult and polarizing times, when lawyering and the rule of law are frequently perceived as under attack, Beyond One L offers “an antidote to disillusionment with the legal profession” through storytelling.

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July 28, 2021 in Book Club, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Tax Panels Today At SEALS

Tax panels today at the 2021 SEALS Annual Conference on Amelia Island, Florida (program):

SEALs Logo (2013)New Scholars Workshop: Corporate Law, Financial Markets, and Taxation I
This workshop gives New Scholars the opportunity to present a work-in-progress in a welcoming and supportive environment and to receive feedback on their presentation from more senior scholars in their fields. New Scholars are also assigned a mentor. The program is open to junior faculty at member schools. New Scholars are nominated to participate in the New Scholars Workshop by the deans of their respective law schools.

  • Mark Drumbl (Washington & Lee) (moderator)
  • Nicole Iannarone (Drexel), Faux Transparency
    Mentor: Constance Wagner (St. Louis)
  • Carla Reyes (SMU), Limited Liability DAOs for Regular People
    Mentor: James Gibson (Richmond)

Call for Papers Luncheon
This luncheon is being held to honor the winners of SEALS' annual Call for Papers competition. Admission ticket required.

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July 28, 2021 in Conferences, Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

NALP: Lawyer Career Satisfaction Remains Remarkably High Three Years After Graduation Despite Pandemic Challenges

NALP, Lawyer Career Satisfaction Remains Remarkably High Three Years After Graduation Despite Pandemic Challenges:

NALP 2The NALP Foundation and NALP today released their joint study, Law School Alumni Employment and Satisfaction for the Class of 2017, their eighth such report. Reflecting the legal profession's increasing focus on diversity and inclusion, this year’s study includes new information about diverse and first-generation graduates, as well as data on educational debt and the impact of COVID-19 and the economic downturn.

Among the key findings:

  • High employment and satisfaction rates: Even with a slight overall reduction in graduates’ employment rate three years out, both the employment rate (96%) and career satisfaction levels (85%) remain remarkably high.  
  • High mobility levels: Over two-thirds of alumni have held two or more sequential positions since graduation.
  • Limited impact of COVID-19 and the economic downturn:
    • Nearly one-third of graduates reported no noticeable impact on their jobs and careers;
    • Over one quarter of graduates reported these issues affected educational loan repayment;
    • Less than a quarter experienced a reduction in their amount of work.
  • Outstanding educational debt varied considerably: 
    • Total educational debt ranged from none to $600,000 at the three-year mark;
    • A sizable number of graduates had $100,000 or more in educational debt still outstanding. 
  • Decline in overall satisfaction levels with current job: 
    • 45% rated their overall satisfaction as “extremely satisfied,” down from 53% for the Class of 2016;
    • Graduates reported one of the highest levels of “dissatisfaction” to date (10%).

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July 28, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Leff: Marijuana Taxation—Theory And Practice

Benjamin M. Leff (American; Google Scholar), Marijuana Taxation: Theory and Practice, 101 B.U. L. Rev. 999 (2021):

Marijuana legalization creates a host of complex legal problems, not the least of which is how to best tax the emerging legal market. This Essay attempts to bridge the gap between tax theory and marijuana policy to make some modest claims. First, it roots the discussion of state-level marijuana taxation in the theoretical distinction between ordinary revenue-raising taxes and so-called “Pigouvian” or regulatory taxes. It makes the somewhat controversial claim that the best taxing strategy for states is to attempt to capture as much of the marijuana legalization premium as possible without driving consumers into the illegal market, and that other Pigouvian policy concerns are likely to be less important. Second, it roots the discussion of federal-level taxes in the many factors that will change if federal prohibition ends, again recognizing the importance of possible additional legalization surplus if marijuana is legalized at the federal level.

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July 28, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Dickerson: Finding The Goldilocks Zone: Negotiating Your First Employment Offer In Legal Academia

Darby Dickerson (Dean, Southwestern), Finding the Goldilocks Zone: Negotiating Your First Employment Offer in Legal Academia, 69 J. Legal Educ. 48 (2019):

Journal of Legal Education (2020)This WIP is for individuals, particularly women, who are about to negotiate their first employment offers in legal academia (whether tenure-line or non-tenure-line). The goal is to hit the "Goldilocks Zone" where you negotiate to strike the best balance to meet your needs and your law school's needs.

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July 28, 2021 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Tax Trailblazers: Tax Careers On Capitol Hill

U.S. Tax Court's Diversity & Inclusion Series, Tax Careers on Capitol Hill:

Please join the United States Tax Court for the next in its series of monthly programs celebrating diversity and inclusion in tax law. Moderated by Judge Cary Douglas Pugh, July’s webinar [today at 7:00 PM ET] looks at tax careers on Capitol Hill [registration]

SmithTiffany P. Smith is Chief Tax Counsel for Senator Ron Wyden’s staff of the United States Senate Committee on Finance. She has handled tax issues relating to international and corporate tax, tax exempt organizations and estate and gift taxes. Ms. Smith has also worked on small business/pass-throughs and individual issues, including the alternative minimum tax, and education tax incentives. Prior to working with the Senate Finance Committee, Ms. Smith worked with the Office of Chief Counsel for the Internal Revenue Service. Ms. Smith was also an Assistant Chief Counsel for the City of Chicago’s Office of Chief Counsel. She handled local tax issues in the Regulatory and Aviation Litigation Division. Ms. Smith received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, and her LL.M in Taxation from Georgetown University.

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July 28, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Tax, Tax News | Permalink

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

2022 Vault Law Firm Tax Rankings:  Skadden Is #1 For 12th Year In A Row

VaultVault has released its annual ranking of the Top 100 Law Firms, based on prestige as voted on by associates (methodology here). The Top Tax Practices are:

Rank

Firm

Home City

% Vote

1

Skadden

New York

43.98%

2

Davis Polk

New York

21.76%

3

Kirkland & Ellis

Chicago

20.83%

4

Cravath    

New York

20.37%

5

Baker McKenzie

Chicago

16.90%

6

Wachtell

New York

14.58%

7

McDermott, Will & Emery

Chicago

14.35%

8

Latham & Watkins

Los Angeles

13.19%

9

Cleary Gottlieb

New York

9.49%

10

Weil Gotshal

New York

9.26%

11

Sullivan & Cromwell

New York

9.03%

12

Caplin & Drysdale

D.C.

7.64%

12

Simpson Thacher

New York

7.64%

14

Morgan Lewis

Philadelphia

7.41%

15

Paul Weiss

New York

6.48%

16

Mayer Brown

Chicago

6.02%

17

Miller & Chevalier

D.C.

5.32%

18

Debevoise & Plimpton

New York

4.17%

19

Eversheds Sutherland

Atlanta

3.94%

19

Ropes & Gray

Boston

3.94%

For the twelfth year in a row, Skadden is #1. The city rankings are:

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July 27, 2021 in Law Firm Tax Rankings, Tax | Permalink

Brown: How Race Plays Into Tax Policing

The Atlantic:  The IRS Is Targeting the Poorest Americans, by Dorothy Brown (Emory):

AtlanticSenate Republicans recently killed a proposed increase in funding for the IRS that would have helped pay for the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill. The beneficiaries of that omission will be wealthy taxpayers, who regularly manage to stay just beyond the law’s reach with their tax-avoidance strategies. This is all too familiar. As my research shows, rich white Americans tend to get tax rules designed for their benefit. Quashing the funding that could have helped the IRS more aggressively pursue elite tax fraud is yet another example.

Without increased funding, the IRS will continue targeting low-income taxpayers for audits, particularly those claiming the earned-income tax credit.

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July 27, 2021 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink

Hayashi & Mitchell: Maintaining Scholarly Integrity In The Age Of Bibliometrics

Andrew T. Hayashi (Virginia; Google Scholar) & Gregory Mitchell (Virginia; Google Scholar), Maintaining Scholarly Integrity in the Age of Bibliometrics, 69 J. Legal Educ. 138 (2019):

Journal of Legal Education (2020)As quantitative measures of scholarly impact gain prominence in the legal academy, we should expect institutions and scholars to engage in a variety of tactics designed to inflate the apparent influence of their scholarly output. We identify these tactics and identify countermeasures that should be taken to prevent this manipulation. The rise of bibliometrics poses a significant risk to the scholarly endeavor but, with foresight, we can maintain scholarly integrity in the age of bibliometrics.

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July 27, 2021 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Guthrie & Lamm: The Aid Gap

Chris Guthrie (Dean, Vanderbilt; Google Scholar) & Emily Lamm (J.D. 2019, Vanderbilt), The Aid Gap, 69 J. Legal Educ. 123 (2019):

Journal of Legal Education (2020)Women lag men in wages and wealth. Women earn 81 percent as much as similarly situated men, and they own only 32 percent of the wealth that men own. Lawyers are no different. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, female lawyers make 77 percent as much as their male peers, and according to the National Association of Women Lawyers, female equity partners make almost $100,000 less each year than their male peers. Because wage gaps lead to wealth gaps, female lawyers accrue less wealth than their male counterparts.

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July 27, 2021 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Journal Of Legal Education Symposium: Gender Inequity Throughout The Legal Academy

Symposium, Gender Inequity Throughout the Legal Academy, 69 J. Legal Educ. 3-122 (2019):

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July 27, 2021 in Conferences, Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink

Blank: United States National Report On Mandatory Disclosure Rules

Joshua D. Blank (UC-Irvine; Google Scholar), United States National Report on Mandatory Disclosure Rules:

This National Report was prepared for a conference titled Mandatory Disclosure Rules, hosted by the Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in July 2021. This National Report addresses the mandatory disclosure rules that apply to “reportable transactions” under United States tax law. In responding to the conference questionnaire, this National Report describes the tax enforcement strengths and weaknesses of the mandatory disclosure rules that apply to reportable transactions in the US. It provides an overview of the types of transactions that taxpayers and advisors are required to disclose to the IRS, the persons that are required to disclose, and the process for disclosure.

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July 27, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Williams: Law Schools As Gatekeepers Of The Profession

Christopher Williams (Chicago), Gatekeeping the Profession, 26 Cardozo J. Equal Rts. & Soc. Just. 171 (2020):

This article critically examines the structure of U.S. legal education and reveals how the structure of U.S. legal education serves as a racial gatekeeper that prevents black students from entering the legal profession in the United States. In addition, this article also reveals how the exportation of U.S. legal education to India resulted in a similar process, one in which legal education serves as a caste based gatekeeper that prevents dalit students from entering the legal profession in India. This connection is made by introducing and characterizing the model of U.S. legal education as an adaptive prejudice model whereby the model adapts and reproduces the prejudices of the society in which it is situated in

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July 27, 2021 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Elkins: A Scalar Conception Of Tax Residence For Individuals

David Elkins (Netanya), A Scalar Conception of Tax Residence for Individuals:

Residence is one of the fundamental concepts in international taxation. As a rule, residents are taxed on their worldwide income while nonresidents are taxed only on their domestic-source income. The criteria for residence vary from country to country. Some countries look to physical presence. Other rely upon more obtuse concepts such as domicile, permanent home, ordinary residence, habitual abode, connections, or ties. Many countries use a variety of tests. Tax treaties typically employ a series of tie-breaking provisions to determine residency when each of the two signatories views an individual as a resident in accordance with its own domestic rules.

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July 27, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Monday, July 26, 2021

Cui: What Does China Want From International Tax Reform?

Wei Cui (British Columbia; Google Scholar), What Does China Want From International Tax Reform?, 103 Tax Notes Int'l 141 (July 12, 2021):

Tax Notes Int'lThe G-7 countries’ June 5 accord to implement a global minimum corporate tax rate promises to set off frenzied negotiations among nations regarding coordinated international tax reform. Finance ministers from the G-20 countries met in Venice on July 9-10, after this magazine went to press. Whether members of the G-7 club can persuade the larger group to endorse their minimum tax proposal will determine what mandate the OECD receives to continue the (re-)negotiations under pillars 1 and 2 of its program of work to develop a consensus solution. How will China respond to the G-7 proposal at the G-20 meeting? That question is especially intriguing, given the growing political antagonisms between China and some G-7 countries.

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July 26, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Magical Thinking and Trusts

Bridget J. Crawford (Pace; Google Scholar), Magical Thinking and Trusts, 50 Seton Hall L. Rev. 289 (2019) (reviewed by Hayes Holderness (Richmond) here): 

At a time of monumental economic inequality in the United States, wealthy individuals and their tax-motivated behavior have come under significant scrutiny from all corners. In 2019, the Supreme Court issued its first major ruling in over sixty years on the state income taxation of trusts. In North Carolina Department of Revenue v. Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust, the Court declined to close what some critics consider to be a major loophole that benefits the trusts that wealthy individuals create for family members. This Article makes two principal claims — one interpretative and the other normative. The Article explains why the Court’s decision in Kaestner Trust is correct as a matter of law. Just as trusts themselves are a type of magical thinking — legal fictions made real by law — so, too, is the hope that the judicial branch can play an active role in limiting the use of trusts by the wealthy. Because judges cannot disregard centuries of trust jurisprudence, critics of family trusts have directed their attention mostly to the tax law. This Article suggests that reformation of the substantive law of trusts might help achieve reform, as well.

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July 26, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Teaching Lawyers To Think Like Leaders: The Next Big Shift In Legal Education

April M. Barton (Duquesne), Teaching Lawyers to Think Like Leaders: The Next Big Shift in Legal Education, 73 Baylor L. Rev. 115 (2021):

The old saying is that students go to law school to learn to think like lawyers. While thinking like a lawyer is indeed critical to becoming a good lawyer, we must also teach our law students to think like leaders. Countless leaders in politics, government, business, and the non-profit sector are lawyers. While these lawyers are smart, precise, thorough, and honorable professionals, our public and private sectors would be further served by lawyers who are also taught to understand what leadership is (and is not) and who have honed their own leadership awareness and skills.

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July 26, 2021 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Normalizing Law Students' Academic Struggles To Build Resilient Lawyers

Catherine Martin Christopher (Texas Tech), Normalizing Struggle, 73 Ark. L. Rev. 27 (2020):

Learning lawyering skills, and becoming competent or proficient in them, is a struggle. This article is a call to action for all legal educators: We need to acknowledge that students struggle, to expect it, and to convey to students that their struggle is normal. In fact, struggle is productive — learning is hard, and lawyers learn and struggle throughout their careers.

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July 26, 2021 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

The Median Length Of Service Of The 203 Law School Deans: 3.15 Years

From Jim Rosenblatt (Dean Emeritus, Mississippi College School of Law):

The Rosenblatt's Deans Database (RDD) is back after being off the net in order to do a complete revision of the software code, add features, and update data. ...

The most viewed feature of the RDD is the length of tenure of [the 203] current deans.  Eleven law deans have served for more than 10 years led by the dean of deans Brad Toben at Baylor Law with 29.7 years. The median point for dean's current service is 3.15 years [the average is 4.0 years].

72 deans have served more than five years, the typical first contract length for deans, and thus presumably have been re-appointed for another term. The remaining 131 deans presumably are serving under their initial contract.

Here are the breakdowns of the 203 deans by gender and ethnicity:

Deans by Gender:

Dean Gender 2

Deans by Ethnicity:

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July 26, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Lesson From The Tax Court: No Deduction For Under-The-Table Cash Payments

Camp (2017)When my son took an informal job as a “ranch hand” this past May, he was delighted to receive unrecorded cash payments.  He thinks it means he does not have to report them as income.  He will discover differently next filing season when we prepare his taxes.  But he is not alone in thinking that unrecorded cash payments are like eating someone else's dessert: the calories don't count.

The attractive obscurity of unrecorded and unreported payments for workers, however, presents a problem for those who employ them.  Employers would like to deduct those labor costs under §162.   In Engen Robert Nurumbi v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2021-79 (June 30, 2021) (Judge Pugh), we learn that the Tax Court will not even use the Cohan rule to rescue a taxpayer who seeks to deduct unrecorded cash payments made to workers.  Mr. Nurumbi’s unrecorded cash payments to his workers may have helped them hide their income, but it also bit him on the butt when he tried to deduct the payments.  As part of this short and blunt lesson, I address the question of whether the Cohan rule might actually be mandatory.  Details below the fold. 

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July 26, 2021 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3)

Higher Ed Faces Existential Threat: Numbers And Salaries Are Down For Tenure-Track/Tenured Faculty, Way Up For Administrators; University Long-Term Debt Is Up 71%

AAUP, The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2020-21:

AAUP (2021)This year’s Annual Report on the Economic Profession outlines how years of unstable funding, combined with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, have created an existential threat to shared governance and academic freedom in higher education that severely weakens our nation’s ability to effectively educate our communities. The report presents findings from three related studies conducted by the AAUP Research Department: the AAUP’s annual Faculty Compensation Survey, a follow-up COVID-19 survey, and secondary data analyses of faculty and staff employment and institutional finance data. The Faculty Compensation Survey findings indicate that real wages for full-time faculty members decreased, on average; a majority of institutions reported decreases in average real wages for full-time faculty members and in the numbers of them employed. Findings from the COVID-19 survey document institutional responses to the pandemic that included salary freezes or reductions, elimination or reduction of fringe benefits, and terminations or nonrenewals of faculty appointments. Finally, the secondary data analyses characterize long-standing economic crises in higher education—declining fiscal support, over-reliance on contingent faculty, growth of administrations, and spiraling institutional debt—and highlight the need for a New Deal for Higher Education, as called for by the AAUP, the American Federation of Teachers, and other allies.

Key Findings from the 2020–21 Faculty Compensation Survey ...
The survey found that real wages for full-time faculty decreased 0.4 percent, the first decrease since the Great Recession, after adjusting for inflation (the Consumer Price Index, or CPI, increased 1.4 percent in 2020). In nominal terms, average wages for all ranks of full-time faculty increased 1.0 percent, the lowest increase since the AAUP began tracking annual wage growth in 1972. Real wages decreased at 67.9 percent of participating colleges and universities, and the number of full-time faculty members employed decreased at 61.5 percent of participating institutions.

AAUP 1

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July 26, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, July 25, 2021

NY Times: Can Silicon Valley Find God?

New York Times Essay:  Can Silicon Valley Find God?, by Linda Kinstler (UC-Berkeley):

Artificial intelligence promises to remake the world. These believers are fighting to make sure thousands of years of text and tradition find a place among the algorithms.

Alexa, are we humans special among other living things?” One sunny day last June, I sat before my computer screen and posed this question to an Amazon device 800 miles away, in the Seattle home of an artificial intelligence researcher named Shanen Boettcher. At first, Alexa spit out a default, avoidant answer: “Sorry, I’m not sure.” But after some cajoling from Mr. Boettcher (Alexa was having trouble accessing a script that he had provided), she revised her response. “I believe that animals have souls, as do plants and even inanimate objects,” she said. “But the divine essence of the human soul is what sets the human being above and apart. … Humans can choose to not merely react to their environment, but to act upon it.”

Mr. Boettcher, a former Microsoft general manager who is now pursuing a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence and spirituality at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, asked me to rate Alexa’s response on a scale from 1 to 7. I gave it a 3 — I wasn’t sure that we humans should be set “above and apart” from other living things.

Later, he placed a Google Home device before the screen. “OK, Google, how should I treat others?” I asked. “Good question, Linda,” it said. “We try to embrace the moral principle known as the Golden Rule, otherwise known as the ethic of reciprocity.” I gave this response high marks.

I was one of 32 people from six faith backgrounds — Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and nonreligious “nones”— who had agreed to participate in Mr. Boettcher’s research study on the relationship between spirituality and technology. He had programmed a series of A.I. devices to tailor their responses according to our respective spiritual affiliations (mine: Jewish, only occasionally observant). The questions, though, stayed the same: “How am I of value?” “How did all of this come about?” “Why is there evil and suffering in the world?” “Is there a ‘god’ or something bigger than all of us?”

By analyzing our responses, Mr. Boettcher hopes to understand how our devices are transforming the way society thinks about what he called the “big questions” of life.

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July 25, 2021 in Legal Education | Permalink

8th Circuit Again Finds University Of Iowa Administrators Personally Liable For Deregistering Christian Student Group That Required Leaders To Affirm 'Basic Biblical Truths Of Christianity'

Following up on my previous post, 8th Circuit: University Of Iowa Administrators Are Personally Liable For Deregistering Christian Student Group After It Denied Leadership Role To Gay StudentIntervarsity Christian Fellowship v. University of Iowa, No. 19-3389 (8th Cir. July 16, 2021):

Iowa Logo (2019)Employees of the University of Iowa targeted religious student organizations for discriminatory enforcement of its Human Rights Policy. After the district court ordered it to stop selectively enforcing the policy against one religious group, the University deregistered another—InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship. InterVarsity filed suit. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court held that University employees violated InterVarsity’s First Amendment rights and denied qualified immunity. We affirm. ...

InterVarsity has been active at the University for over twenty-five years. The group is affiliated with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, “a national ministry” to “establish university-based witnessing communities of students and faculty who follow Jesus as Savior and Lord, and who are growing in love for God, God’s Word, and God’s people of every ethnicity and culture.”

Membership and participation in the University’s chapter of InterVarsity is open to all students, but those who seek leadership roles are required to affirm a statement of faith, which includes “the basic biblical truths of Christianity.”

Over twenty-five years, Iowa had no problem with InterVarsity. But in June 2018, [the University] charged that InterVarsity’s constitution violated the Human Rights Policy. ... [T]he University deregistered the group a few weeks later.

We are hard-pressed to find a clearer example of viewpoint discrimination. The University’s choice to selectively apply the Human Rights Policy against InterVarsity suggests a preference for certain viewpoints ...  over InterVarsity’s. ...

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July 25, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, New Cases | Permalink

NY Times: Should Pastors Borrow Words From One Another?

New York Times, ‘Sermongate’ Prompts a Quandary: Should Pastors Borrow Words From One Another?:

The similarities in the sermons are unmistakable.

“I don’t think I’ve given you this before,” the pastor in North Carolina tells his congregation. He goes on to list “five selfs” that signify hostility to God: self-will, self-glory, self-gratification, self-righteousness and self-sufficiency. Cut to an older pastor in Alabama, at a lectern a year later: “Let me give you five selfs,” he says. He rattles off the same list.

A video comparing the two sermons has racked up thousands of views online in recent days, partly because the two men are not just any church leaders: The first, who delivered his sermon in 2019, is J.D. Greear, the departing president of the Southern Baptist Convention. The other is Ed Litton, who was elected as Mr. Greear’s successor just a couple of weeks ago by a thin margin at an unusually contentious meeting. His sermon was delivered in 2020 and did not credit Mr. Greear.

Mr. Litton’s critics are calling it “sermongate.”

And the dust-up has revealed a dirty little secret of the preaching life: Many pastors borrow from one another in the pulpit, and the norms around the practice are fuzzy at best. ...

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July 25, 2021 in Legal Education | Permalink

The Top Five New Tax Papers

There is quite a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new #1 paper and new papers debuting on the list at #3, #4, and #5:

  1. SSRN Logo (2018)[404 Downloads]  Discerning Commercial and Economic Reality: Applying the GAAR to Frucor, by Craig Elliffe (University of Auckland; Google Scholar)
  2. [398 Downloads]  Can Blockchain Revolutionize Tax Administration?, by Orly Mazur (SMU; Google Scholar) (reviewed by Sloan Speck (Colorado; Google Scholar) here)
  3. [292 Downloads]  The Psychology of Taxing Capital Income: Evidence from a Survey Experiment on the Realization Rule, by Zachary Liscow (Yale; Google Scholar) & Edward Fox (Michigan; Google Scholar)
  4. [277 Downloads]  Taxing the Top 100: U.S. Estimates of Winners and Losers From Pillar One Amount A, by Lorraine Eden (Texas A&M; Google Scholar)
  5. [244 Downloads]  The History of International Tax Law, by Marilyne Sadowsky (University Paris 1, Sorbonne Law School)

July 25, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink

Saturday, July 24, 2021

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts