Paul L. Caron
Dean




Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Mazur Presents Can Blockchain Revolutionize Tax Administration? Today At San Diego

Orly Mazur (SMU; Google Scholar) presents Can Blockchain Revolutionize Tax Administration? (reviewed by Sloan Speck (Colorado; Google Scholar) here) at San Diego today as part of its Tax Law Speaker Series hosted by Miranda Fleischer:

Mazur-OrlyExperts predict that the use of smart contracts and other applications of blockchain technology can potentially revolutionize the manner in which we do business. Blockchain promises the elimination of middlemen, as well as trust, transparency, and improved access to shared information and records. Thus, it is no surprise that companies and entrepreneurs are now developing blockchain solutions for an array of markets, ranging from real estate to health care. But, can this new technology revolutionize tax administration? Our current tax administration system suffers from a large tax gap, high compliance and administrative costs, and many inefficiencies. Blockchain’s core attributes may present a solution to these shortcomings.

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January 25, 2022 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

The Robotic Revolution: A Tax Policy Collision Course

Kathryn Kisska-Schulze (Clemson) & Rodney P. Mock (California Polytechnic State University), The Robotic Revolution: A Tax Policy Collision Course, 93 Temp. L. Rev. 301 (2021): 

Media projections depict that robotics, process automation, and artificial intelligence threaten human workforce sustainability. Two oft cited studies forecast that technological innovation could jeopardize more than one third of the U.S. workforce. Significant worker displacement would devastate federal funding that is heavily reliant on individual income tax revenue and payroll taxes. Concerns of mass joblessness have led Bill Gates and others to propose a robot tax, with some suggesting a complete reworking of the Internal Revenue Code to address looming predictions.

While these ideas are critical to the robot immersion dialogue, they are largely premised on fear and the proposition that human labor should be protected. As history supports, automation has always threatened the human workforce, which has demonstrated a great propensity for adaptation. As resisting the tractor for fear of replacing farmers’ grit would have been senseless, it is now imprudent to tax innovation for fear of automation substitution. From its inception, the U.S. Constitution has protected innovation and intellectual property. Similarly, the Internal Revenue Code serves to incentivize research and development. Taxing robots would disrupt our nation’s deeply rooted tax policies.

As a matter of astute policy, this Article advances that Congress should not impose a robot tax.

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January 25, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

As The Pandemic Drags On, Law Professors Are Making Changes

ABA Journal, As the Pandemic Drags On, Law Professors Are Making Changes:

[L]aw professors say the pandemic changed how they interact with students, and many find themselves sharing personal information they may not have previously shared. That’s partially due to the chaos of COVID-19, but it’s also a way for faculty to convince students they are there to help.

And despite the various problems law schools face during the pandemic, students’ overall satisfaction rates have only slightly dropped between 2019 and 2021, according to the results from the most recent Law School Survey of Student Engagement. In 2019, 82% of the law students rated their education experiences as “good,” compared to 78% in 2021.

“I think a large part of that is faculty efforts to really connect with them,” says Meera Deo, a Southwestern Law School professor, who also serves as director of the LSSSE.

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January 25, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

More Commentary On The Amy Wax Controversy At Penn

St. Louis Symposium: Teaching Law Online

Symposium, Teaching Law Online, 65 St. Louis U. L.J. 455-726 (2021):

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January 25, 2022 in Conferences, Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink

Cowan & Cutler: Cross-Fertilizing The Tax Classroom

Mark J. Cowan (Boise State) & Joshua Cutler (Boise State), Cross-Fertilizing the Tax Classroom, 19 U. Pitt. Tax Rev. ___ (2022):

Pittsburgh Tax Review (2021)Taxation, embedded in both the legal and accounting professions, is taught in law schools and business schools. Courses in the former develop the skills of future tax attorneys, who will engage in tax structuring, document drafting, and litigation. Courses in the latter develop the skills of future CPAs, who will engage in tax compliance. But both lawyers and CPAs do tax research, tax planning, and represent clients on audit. The skills both professionals need and the content they are taught in both schools overlap to a great extent. (Indeed, masters of taxation courses in accounting programs often use law school casebooks.) Because of the overlap, there is much that teachers in both schools can learn from one another. In this contribution, we examine ways that tax accounting teaching approaches can be used in the law school classroom and vice versa. 

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January 25, 2022 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink

Microaggressions In The Context Of Academic Communities

Catharine P. Wells (Boston College; Google Scholar), Microaggressions in the Context of Academic Communities, 12 Seattle J. Soc. Just. 319 (2013):

In the late 1990s, I was invited to speak on a panel about the difficulties encountered by women in the legal academy. In this connection, I wrote a paper about microaggressions in which I used some of my own experiences as the basis for analysis. The frequent response to my examples was, “That can’t be true!” or “Why are you so sensitive?” Of course, neither of these reactions came from other women or men of color. But the response was telling. What seemed burdensome to me was invisible or seemingly harmless to the group of white men that dominated most law schools. In this context, the publication of Presumed Incompetent1 is an important milestone. First, it demonstrates that little has changed in the academic landscape. Second, it describes the especially vulnerable position still occupied by women of color. Third, by bundling these stories, the book makes skeptical responses less viable—we are telling the truth and we are not exceptionally sensitive.

Of course, the past few decades have brought some progress. Although the book makes it clear that the academic landscape is still littered with landmines for women of color, it is also true that the pool of tenured faculties has become less overwhelmingly white and male. This creates important opportunities for discussion and change. White women, in particular, can play a constructive role but only if we recognize that our hard won places in the establishment create the risk of blindness. Unless we remain alert, a microaggressive climate may become as invisible to us as it has been to our male colleagues.

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January 25, 2022 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Ambivalent Tax Morale Building In China

Huina Xiao (Macau; Google Scholar), Ambivalent Tax Morale Building in China, 20 China: An Int'l J. __ (2022):

This study examines the measures taken in China over the last four decades which aim to encourage taxpayer compliance through building a tax morale—fairness, equity and reciprocity—between the government and citizens. The process is referred to as ‘ambivalent tax morale building’, characterised as the state’s contradictions and conflicting aspirations in tax governance. The ambivalence is driven by the party’s goals of maintaining both party legitimacy and monopoly, as well as a lack of state capacity. 

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January 25, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Monday, January 24, 2022

Dagan Presents Unbundled Tax Sovereignty: Refining The Challenges Today At Brooklyn

Tsilly Dagan (Oxford; Google Scholar) presents Unbundled Tax Sovereignty: Refining the Challenges at Brooklyn today as part of its Colloquium on International Economic Law hosted by Steven Dean and Julian Arato:

Tsilly_ibfdTax sovereignty under globalization is at risk of unraveling. Not only–as is often argued — because international organizations or other states exert external power on sovereign states. Instead, it is the process of fragmentation of state sovereignty that undermines its own foundations. My main claim is that globalization increasingly alters the interaction between states and their constituents. Globalization, and the choices and flexibility it offers (some) taxpayers, threatens to transform taxpayers from members in a political community into consumers of public goods and services. Such transition, I argue, undermines the basis for state's coercive power. Importantly, this transformation does not affect all individuals in the same way. It varies between taxpayers, between different stages of their lives as well as among different aspects of their lives. Hence, in reality, taxpayers' interactions with the state create a mosaic of differing shades and patterns of consumer-member combinations. This diversity has many virtues, but it also entails serious pitfalls, which is why I argue that — in order to ensure social contracts' continued legitimacy — states should re-configure their social contracts with their constituents to accommodate these trade-offs.

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January 24, 2022 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

WSJ: The Huge Tax Bills That Came Out Of Nowhere At Vanguard

Wall Street Journal, The Huge Tax Bills That Came Out of Nowhere at Vanguard:

VanguardIt’s easy for a small investor to make big mistakes. It would be even easier for giant investment firms to help prevent them—but, sadly, the asset-management industry seems to have other priorities.

Just look at what happened last month to some investors in Vanguard’s Target Retirement funds. They got whacked with huge capital-gains distributions. Those payouts triggered painful tax bills they could easily have avoided if Vanguard had simply warned them not to hold these funds outside of a tax-advantaged retirement account.

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January 24, 2022 in Tax, Tax News | Permalink

IRS Chief Counsel Seeks To Hire 200 Experienced Attorneys (Salary: $79,363 - $176,300)

IR-2022-17, IRS Chief Counsel Looking For 200 Experienced Attorneys to Focus on Abusive Tax Deals; Job Openings Posted:

IRS Office of Chief Counsel Logo (2015)The Internal Revenue Service's Office of Chief Counsel today announced plans to hire up to 200 additional attorneys to help the agency combat syndicated conservation easements, abusive micro-captive insurance arrangements and other tax schemes.

"Combating abusive tax transactions that threaten to undermine our tax system remains a top priority for our enforcement efforts," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "It's critical we work to ensure a fair tax system and adding these new attorneys will help us in on our ongoing efforts in this arena."

These positions will be available around the country, and the IRS encourages qualified candidates to apply. The first announcements for these positions have already been posted on USAJOBS. Interested persons should apply today or as soon as possible via the following announcements:

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January 24, 2022 in IRS News, Legal Education, Tax | Permalink

Ohio State Seeks To Hire A Junior Lateral Tax Prof

The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law seeks to fill at least one tenure-track position:

Ohio State (2023)We are considering hiring a junior to mid-career lateral candidate for a position in the area of Tax Law or in both Business and Tax Law. 

The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law is committed to building and maintaining a diverse and inclusive community to reflect human diversity and improve opportunities for all. Diversity, inclusion, and equity are essential to the excellence of our community, culture, and curriculum, and the pursuit of this excellence is critical to our educational mission.

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January 24, 2022 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink

Leadership Evolution: The Rise Of Lawyers In The C-Suite

Garry Jenkins (Dean, Minnesota; Google Scholar) & Jon J. Lee (Minnesota; moving to Oklahoma), Leadership Evolution: The Rise of Lawyers in the C-Suite, 96 Tul. L. Rev. __ (2022):

Tulane Law ReviewThe traditional thinking about the path to the top corporate executive leadership posts, reaching the so-called C-suite, is that it begins with earning an MBA degree. By contrast, the JD degree is thought of as one that prepares graduates for the practice of law, for government service, or for public interest advocacy. Since lawyers have historically been trained to protect clients from risk, law is not associated with senior business leadership. Yet, an evolving and accelerating trend is emerging: more lawyers are reaching or crossing over to become part of top corporate management teams. We present findings from our empirical study on corporate leadership profiles that documents a rise in the status of and opportunities for corporate lawyer-leaders and tracks major shifts in lawyers holding senior executive posts over time, thereby challenging the conventional wisdom on corporate talent management.

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January 24, 2022 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Lesson From The Tax Court: The Qualifying Child Misnomer

Camp (2021)Like last week’s lesson, this week deals with how the Tax Code treats families as economic units and the difficulty in determining the scope of the proper family group.

Section 151 permits taxpayers a deduction for dependents.  Section 152 defines that term.  It divides the general concept of dependent into two buckets: one is labeled “Qualifying Child” (QC) and the other is labeled “Qualifying Relative” (QR).  The QC bucket is then used—more or less—to determine eligibility for the various child-rearing-related tax benefits in the Tax Code, such as the child credit, the earned income tax credit, etc.

Both labels are misnomers, but today’s lesson is about two common issues that arise with determining who is a QC.  In Carol Denise Griffin v. Commissioner, T.C. Sum. Op. 2021-26 (Aug. 16, 2021) (Judge Vasquez), we learn that a taxpayer can claim a deduction for a Qualifying Child who is not, actually, the taxpayer’s literal child.  However, in Nowran Gopi v. Commissioner, T.C. Sum. Op. 2021-41 (Dec. 2, 2021) (Judge Panuthos), we learn that a taxpayer may not do that when the Qualifying Child’s actual parent also files a tax return claiming the same QC.  Details below the fold.

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January 24, 2022 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Call For Presentations: UC-Irvine Tax Symposium

Call For Presentations: UC-Irvine Tax Sympsium:

UCI Law (2022)The Graduate Tax Program at the University of California, Irvine School of Law will host its 4th Annual UCI/Lavar Taylor Tax Symposium on March 21, 2022. Due to the ongoing COVID situation, we will host the symposium virtually. The theme this year is The Global Tax Deal and the Changing International Tax Order.

The purpose of this full-day symposium is to launch an in-depth discussion on the “global tax deal” adopting the OECD two-pillar framework, signed by 136 countries last October. We are interested in submissions for proposed presentations on the ramifications of the global deal from any point of view, including, but not limited to: economic, political, legal, social, racial, as well as any critical perceptive.

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January 24, 2022 in Conferences, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, January 23, 2022

What Standup Comedy And Deaning Have In Common

New York Times op-ed:  The Sublime Beauty of My Friend Bob Saget’s Filthy Comedy, by Penn Jillette:

Bob Sagat 3My children are teenagers, ages 15 and 16, and they know the comic Bob Saget was my friend. They know he died earlier this week, and that I’m grieving. They want to comfort me. But when they saw clips of Bob on the internet, making hard-core jokes about pedophilia and incest, they were offended. They thought my friend must have been a bad person, and it was hard for them to understand how I could have loved him.

I don’t know if I can blame them. How could they understand that doing transgressive comedy was, in Bob’s hands, not about hate and pain but, rather, a daredevil act of mutual trust? ...

He had a big smile and joy for the world in Full House and on America’s Funniest Home Videos. Everyone loved and trusted Bob in those roles. You wanted to hug him. ... 

Some people are saying now that the real Bob was very different from that good-guy image, but I disagree. Offstage he was loving, kind, open, funny, a great friend and a great father. He also told filthy, disgusting, offensive jokes.

What Bob Saget practiced was emotional stage diving. He would fall face-first into the audience’s arms. If the audience didn’t trust him enough to catch him with their laughs, it would be worse than smashing onto a concrete floor.

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January 23, 2022 in Faith, Legal Education | Permalink

The Politics Of Religion And Taxation: Keeping Church And State Separate

Mary Ann Hofmann (Appalachian State; Google Scholar), The Politics of Religion and Taxation: Keeping Church and State Separate, 22 J. Mgmt. Pol'y & Prac. __ (2021):

This paper discusses tax laws and federal court decisions relating to the taxation or exemption of religious non-profit organizations. In a democracy characterized by separation of church and state, what role does the federal government play in regulating the activities and financial transactions of churches and other religious non-profit organizations? What are the federal statutory requirements regarding tax exemption for churches, tax deductibility of donations to churches, and political activity by churches, and are these requirements justified? Does this regulation interfere with the free exercise of religion, or does the federal government violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment by providing inappropriate tax benefits to churches and clergy?

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January 23, 2022 in Faith, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

WSJ Op-Ed: Yeshiva University, The Jewish College Basketball Powerhouse

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed:  Yeshiva University, the Jewish College Basketball Powerhouse, by Ari Berman (President, Yeshiva University):

Yeshiva MaccabeesThe Jewish people can take pride in collective accomplishments across a range of human endeavors. I never imagined that basketball would be one of them, but it’s not the only thing that’s taken me by surprise since I became president of Yeshiva University four years ago.

As 2021 came to an end, so did our Division III basketball team’s remarkable 50-game winning streak. ... When I took this job, I anticipated celebrating student success in rabbinics, law, the humanities, business, tech and science. I never expected the energy and excitement of presiding over a sports powerhouse. For the past few years, I have watched game after game in which young men with great Jewish pride score basket after basket. It is beautiful and breathtaking to see their graceful play and teamwork in action.

Many have asked me if I think these wins are an act of divine intervention. This is the wrong question. As a rabbi—as a Jew, for that matter—I believe that everything in life involves divine intervention coupled with human agency. Even losing. The right question is: How could a small research university produce such a team? ...

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January 23, 2022 in Faith, 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 paper joining the list at #1 and some reshuffling of the order within the Top 5:

  1. SSRN Logo (2018)[564 Downloads]  On the Evolving VAT Concept of Fixed Establishment, by Rita de la Feria (Leeds; Google Scholar)
  2. [308 Downloads]  Principles-based Tax Drafting and Friends. On Rules, Standards, Fictions and Legal Principles, by Hans Gribnau (Tilburg) & Sonja Dusarduijn (Tilburg)
  3. [223 Downloads]  The Proposal for a Minimum Global Tax: Critical Reflections, by Leopoldo Parada (Leeds; Google Scholar)
  4. [205 Downloads]  Reducing Administrative Burdens to Protect Taxpayer Rights, by Leslie Book (Villanova; Google Scholar), Keith Fogg (Harvard) & Nina Olson (Center for Taxpayer Rights)
  5. [190 Downloads]  Speeding Up Benefits to Charity: Donor Advised Fund and Foundation Reform, by Roger Colinvaux (Catholic)

January 23, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink

Saturday, January 22, 2022

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

7th Circuit Vacates Reprimand After University Of Illinois Law Grad Cites Financial Hardship Caused By $543,000 Student Loan Debt

ABA Journal, Lawyer With Over $543K in Student Debt Gets Reprimand Vacated After Telling Court of Financial Hardship:

JafriA federal appeals court has vacated its reprimand of a lawyer who skipped oral arguments in a late-settled case, citing information provided in her request for reconsideration.

In a Jan. 14 order, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Chicago vacated its Dec. 3 reprimand of Farva Jafri of Armonk, New York. ...

Jafri told the court in a footnote that she currently has federal student loan debt of $543,200. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law and is licensed to practice in Illinois and New York, according to lawyer information published by those states. ...

“Jafri’s financial status is not something of which she is proud,” Jafri’s motion said. “But her law practice primarily serves the poor. She does not have clients that pay high hourly fees.”

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January 22, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

The Top 50 Law Schools: Admissions

Following up on my previous posts:

24/7 Wall Street, 50 Hardest Law Schools to Get Into:

To determine the 50 hardest law schools to get into, 24/7 Wall St. created an index based on three measures of selectivity from the American Bar Association: acceptance rate, or the number of offer letters a school sent in fall 2021 as a share of the number of applications; median LSAT score of newly enrolled students in fall 2021; and median undergraduate GPA of newly enrolled students. (We also reviewed the share of students in the class of 2018 who took the bar exam within two years of graduation and passed.)

  1. Yale
  2. Harvard
  3. Stanford
  4. Virginia
  5. Chicago
  6. Penn
  7. Columbia
  8. Michigan
  9. Washington University
  10. NYU
  11. Georgetown
  12. Northwestern
  13. Cornell
  14. Vanderbilt
  15. Duke
  16. UC-Berkeley
  17. UCLA
  18. USC
  19. Texas
  20. Florida
  21. Boston University
  22. Notre Dame
  23. Arizona State
  24. Georgia
  25. George Washington
  26. Texas A&M
  27. Alabama
  28. UC-Irvine
  29. North Carolina
  30. Fordham
  31. Emory
  32. Florida State
  33. Minnesota
  34. Pepperdine
  35. Utah
  36. George Mason
  37. Villanova
  38. Boston College
  39. BYU
  40. William & Mary

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January 22, 2022 in Legal Education | Permalink

Videos: How To Do Legal Research And Tax Research

How To Do Legal Research
Learn or review how to do effective legal research. Indiana University law librarian Ashley Ahlbrand walks through the steps involved in the legal research process.

How To Do Tax Research
This video covers both legal research generally & variations specific to tax. Indiana University law librarian Ashley Ahlbrand walks through the steps involved in doing effective tax law research. The video also covers primary vs. secondary sources and tax-specific sources.

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January 22, 2022 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink

Friday, January 21, 2022

Federalizing Tax Justice

Reuven Avi-Yonah (Michigan), Orli Avi-Yonah, Nir Fishbien (S.J.D. 2019, Michigan), New York) & Haiyan Xu (University of International Business and Economics Law School), Federalizing Tax Justice, 53 Ind. L. Rev. 461 (2020):

Most large federal countries have explicit ways to reduce the economic disparities between more and less developed regions. In Germany, for example, federal revenues are distributed by a formula that takes into account the relative level of wealth of each state (the so-called Finanzausgleich, or fiscal equalization). Similar mechanisms are found in Australia, Canada, India, and other large federal countries. The United States, on the other hand, has no such explicit redistribution. Each state is generally considered equal and sovereign and the federal government does not distribute revenues to equalize their spending capacity. While the overall impact of the federal tax and transfer system may be to shift revenues from richer to poorer states, this is not acknowledged and to the extent it is discussed in the literature it is generally condemned as unfair to the states that send more revenues to Washington than they get back in federal transfer payments. Nor is it politically likely that the US will adopt a formal fiscal equalization mechanism.

This paper proceeds from the normative position that the increasing gap between the richer and poorer areas of the US is a problem that requires federal intervention and that the federal tax system can play a role in that intervention.

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January 21, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Tax Policy In The Biden Administration

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Next Week’s Tax Workshops

Next Week's Tax Workshops - twitter

Monday, January 24: Tsilly Dagan (Oxford; Google Scholar) will present Unbundled Tax Sovereignty: Refining the Challenges as part of the Brooklyn Colloquium on International Economic Law. If you would like to attend, please email Steven Dean.

Tuesday, January 25: Orly Mazur (SMU; Google Scholar) will present Can Blockchain Revolutionize Tax Administration? (reviewed by Sloan Speck (Colorado; Google Scholar)) here) as part of the San Diego Tax Law Speaker Series. If you would like to attend, please register here.

Wednesday, January 26: Michael Devereux (Oxford) will present Pillar 2: Rule Order, Incentives, and Tax Competition (with John Vella (Oxford) & Heydon Wardell-Burrus (Oxford)) and Business Location Decisions With A Global Minimum Tax (with Francois Bares (Wisconsin) & Irem Guceri (Oxford; Google Scholar) as part of the Toronto James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop. If you would like to attend, please contact Robert Lines.

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January 21, 2022 in Colloquia, Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

2020-21 Moot Court Rankings

UC Hastings Takes Moot Court Crown, Nat'l Jurist, Fall 2021, at 18:

According to an annual ranking by University of Houston Law Center’s Blakely Advocacy Institute, UC Hastings racked up 127.5 points in moot court competitions during the 2020-21 academic year. (The score takes into account the quality of the competitions, their size and the school’s performance.) By comparison, second-place University of Georgia School of Law earned 97.5 points. That’s pretty far back in the rear view mirror.

Moot Court

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January 21, 2022 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Maynard: Biden’s Gambit: Advancing Racial Equity While Relying On A Race-Neutral Tax Code

Goldburn P. Maynard Jr. (Indiana University, Kelley School of Business; Google Scholar), Biden’s Gambit: Advancing Racial Equity While Relying on a Race-Neutral Tax Code, 131 Yale L.J. Forum 656 (2022):

Yale Law Journal (2020)The American Rescue Plan Act was both a major infusion of economic aid to low-income and middle-class Americans and an opportunity for the Biden Administration to keep its promise to promote racial equity. This Essay analyzes ARPA’s major provisions to determine their potential impact on racial equity. It argues that the Biden Administration should do more to tackle racial wealth inequality and the structural issues in the tax code that allow those at the top of the income distribution to benefit disproportionately from tax subsidies. It also underscores the larger challenge of achieving racial equity in the face of courts, particularly conservative judges, that treat race-based policies designed to counteract racial inequities as discriminatory.

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January 21, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Koppelman: What Yale Law School Teaches — Inadvertently — About The Appropriate Role Of Diversity Officials

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Andrew Koppelman (Northwestern), What Yale Law School Teaches — Inadvertently — About the Appropriate Role of Diversity Officials:

Yale Law Logo (2020)Yale Law School’s disastrous mishandling of a discrimination complaint actually shows that diversity officials can do valuable work — if we consider what they should have done.

As the bitter controversy continues over Yale Law School’s disastrous mishandling of a discrimination complaint, some have wondered whether there ought to be diversity officials at all. The mutual incomprehension among students that led to this situation actually shows that they can do valuable work — if they get it right.

In some ways, opposition to racism is baked into the modern university. Law schools like Yale, where I was a student, or Northwestern, where I teach, admit the best students they can find, regardless of race, sex, social class, or other ascribed statuses. But that egalitarian ethic has not always existed. The old hierarchies leave their mark, and members of previously excluded groups often feel that they don’t belong. If that affects their academic performance, the university’s educational mission is impaired.

Faculty should care about this experience of isolation because teaching is an exercise in rhetoric, and rhetoric has a moral dimension. It forces you to learn about your audience, to get outside your own head and into the heads of other people. Universities need to know what alienates students.  Otherwise we can’t do our jobs as effectively as we could. The alienation of minority students is a problem that needs to be addressed.

But addressing it can’t involve the embrace of any substantive orthodoxy. As the 1967 Kalven Report noted, a university “cannot insist that all of its members favor a given view of social policy,” because that means “censuring any minority who do not agree with the view adopted.” Rather, what the university can contribute to social policy is clarity, the dispelling of ignorance and confusion. That has implications for the role of diversity officers.

My point will be clearer if we consider the specifics of what happened at Yale. ...

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January 21, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Strategic Surrogates Or Sad Sinners: U.S. Taxation Of Bartering In Digital Services

Mark J. Cowan (Boise State), Joshua Cutler (Boise State) & Ryan J. Baxter (Boise State; Google Scholar), Strategic Surrogates or Sad Sinners: U.S. Taxation of Bartering in Digital Services,  58 Am. Bus. L.J. ___ (2021):

The COVID-19 pandemic caused both a surge in technology use and a deterioration in government finances. At the same time, big tech companies are under scrutiny by lawmakers for tax avoidance, antitrust issues, and other concerns. These realities call for governments to reassess tax policy towards tech companies and for tech companies to reassess legal strategy towards taxes. State and federal governments’ tax bases are eroding because of the non-cash, barter nature of modern transactions. When a taxpayer uses “free” digital services like email, social media, or search engines, she pays via access to her personal data or attention. From a legal and policy standpoint, these barter transactions should be taxed just as if cash had changed hands, but because it is not practicable to identify, value, and tax the data and time of each user, they have escaped taxation, giving many tech companies an unintended tax advantage. 

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January 21, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Kofler Presents The Shielding Effect of European Tax Directives Today At The OMG Transatlantic Tax Talks

Georg Kofler (Vienna; Google Scholar) presents The Shielding Effect of European Tax Directives today as part of the OMG Transatlantic Tax Talks Series (OMG = Oxford-Michigan-MIT-Munich-Georgetown):

OMG

January 20, 2022 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

Kaye: A Comparative Look At The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit And Opportunity Zones

Tracy A. Kaye (Seton Hall), Ogden Commons Case Study: A Comparative Look at the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and Opportunity Zone Incentive Tax Programs, 48 Fordham Urb. L.J. 1067 (2021):

The Opportunity Zone (OZ) tax incentive to invest in economically distressed areas across the United States was introduced in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This Article examines the Ogden Commons project, a mixed-use development in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood, as a case study for OZ investments. Ogden Commons represents an appropriate implementation of the OZ incentive, but its successes also demonstrate the program’s shortfalls. For example, unlike other federal economic development programs such as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), OZ investors have few restrictions with regards to the projects they invest in. This much touted great flexibility for the OZ investments comes at the expense of little oversight.

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January 20, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Modern Diploma Privilege: A Path Rather Than A Gate

Catherine Martin Christopher (Texas Tech), Modern Diploma Privilege: A Path Rather Than a Gate:

This article proposes a modern diploma privilege, a licensure framework that allows state licensure authorities to identify what competencies are expected of first-year attorneys, then partner with law schools to assess those competencies. Freed from the format and timing of a bar exam, schools can assess a broader range of competencies over longer time horizons. This will allow the development of law school curricula aimed at preparing students to assist clients rather than to pass the bar exam. The modern diploma privilege is structured as an ongoing partnership between licensure authorities and schools, which means that changes can be easily made to the list of desired competencies and/or the assessment methods. This in turn allows for a more nimble licensure mechanism that can quickly adapt to changes in the evolving market for legal services.

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January 20, 2022 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

AI, Law Schools, And Bar Exams

Lance B. Eliot (Codex: The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics), The Reasoned Case For Teaching About AI In Law Schools For Law Students:

Stanford CodexA perhaps surprisingly controversial question is whether or not law schools should be offering a formal class on the topic of AI and the law, and if so, additional queries arise about whether such an offering ought to be optional versus required, techie-oriented, or law-focused, etc. Let’s unpack the matter and see.

Lance B. Eliot (Codex: The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics), AI-Enabled Interrogators For Attorney Bar Exam Taking:

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January 20, 2022 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink

Northwestern Hosts Zoom Panel Today On Validity And Equity Problems In Law School Teaching Evaluations

Northwestern hosts a multidisciplinary Zoom panel on Validity and Equity Problems in Law School Teaching Evaluations today at 1:00 pm ET (registration):

Northwestern (2018)Student evaluations are, as shown by study after study, not valid measures of teaching quality and are biased along the axes of gender, race, accent, age, disability, attractiveness, and other instructor attributes unrelated to teaching ability. Yet, even as many universities and colleges have begun reckoning with these established problems with teaching evaluations, and while many law schools have started tackling other barriers facing women and minorities in academia, attempts to reform evaluations have lagged behind in the legal academy. This panel brings together a multidisciplinary group of scholars to discuss the most recent research on teaching evaluations and how law schools should proceed given what this work shows about the issues with such evaluations.

Speakers:

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January 20, 2022 in Conferences, Legal Ed Conferences, Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink

Drexel Seeks To Hire A Tax VAP And A Tech/Torts VAP

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law invites applications for two Visiting Assistant Professor positions:

Drexel Logo (2020)One position is dedicated to a faculty member who will teach and research in the area of tax. The other position is open, with a preference for someone who does research that touches on legal implications of new technology and/or someone open to teaching Torts. Each position will last two years and VAP’s are expected to fully participate in the intellectual life of the law school.

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January 20, 2022 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink

Magbanua's Defense Team Seeks To Call Adelson Family As Witnesses In Feb 14 Dan Markel Murder Trial

Tallahassee Democrat, Magbanua's Defense Team Looking to Call Adelson Family as Witnesses in Markel Murder Trial:

Adelson FamilyProsecutors are objecting to Katherine Magbanua’s defense attorneys calling alleged co-conspirators in Dan Markel’s murder as witnesses in her upcoming trial because they may have invoked their rights against self-incrimination.

Magbanua’s second trial on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation of murder is set to begin next month. Three years ago, her trial ended in a mistrial.

Her Miami defense team last month filed an amended witness list which includes Markel’s former in-laws, who prosecutors have alleged are the financiers behind the murder-for-hire plot that ended the Florida State University law professor’s life in 2014.

Harvey, Donna and Charlie Adelson have all denied any involvement in the murder and have not been charged by prosecutors. They are among 10 defense witnesses listed in the Nov. 30 filing in Leon County Circuit Court.

The list also includes WCTV news anchor and reporter Julie Montanaro and Markel’s ex-wife Wendi Adelson, who testified in 2019 when Magabanua was tried alongside her long-time boyfriend Sigfredo Garcia. ...

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January 20, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Textualism Without Tax Shelters

Jacob D. Nielsen (J.D. & LL.M. (Tax) 2021, Boston University), Note, Textualism without Tax Shelters: A Proposal for Integrating Judicial Anti-Abuse Doctrines with Textualism, 101 B.U. L. Rev. 1471 (2021):

BU Law ReviewThe line between legitimate tax planning and abusive tax positions, while clear in many instances, produces a significant amount of controversy. Judicial scrutiny of close cases has led to the development of a body of loosely related anti-abuse doctrines designed to separate the wheat from the chaff. However, textualist judges have increasingly rejected or limited the use of anti-abuse doctrines out of a concern that such doctrines undermine taxpayer reliance on the law. Critics contend that by rejecting anti-abuse doctrines, these textualist judges legitimate abusive tax shelters and deprive the judiciary of essential tools for curbing abuse. This Note responds to textualists and their critics alike by arguing that textualism is not incompatible with judicial anti-abuse doctrines. After surveying major landmarks in the historical development of the legal system’s treatment of tax abuse and considering the Sixth Circuit’s approach to the issue, this Note develops an account of judicial anti-abuse doctrines as textually sensitive aids to statutory interpretation.

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January 20, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Fox Presents The Psychology Of Taxing Capital Income Today At Toronto

Ed Fox (Michigan; Google Scholar) presents The Psychology of Taxing Capital Income: Evidence from a Survey Experiment on the Realization Rule (with Zachary Liscow (Yale; Google Scholar)) (reviewed by David Elkins (Netanya) here) at Toronto today as part of its James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series:

Fox_EdHow to tax capital income is a critical issue today. The realization rule—requiring that property usually must be sold before gains are taxed—is central to taxing capital income, but often decreases the efficiency, equity, and simplicity of the tax system. Estimates suggest that the realization rule costs the government over $2 trillion over 10 years. Given these problems, it is unclear why the rule exists for assets that are easy to value and sell. Scholars have long speculated about the role of the public’s views here, but little is known empirically about them. We conduct the first survey experiment to understand the psychology of the realization rule, which has broad implications for the taxation of capital income.

We have three main findings. First, respondents strongly prefer to wait to tax gains on stocks until sale: 75% to 25%. This pattern persists across a variety of other assets and policy framings: indeed, nearly half of those without stock prefer raising everyone’s taxes (including their own) to taxing unsold stock gains. But the flip side is that there is surprisingly strong support for taxing gains on assets at sale or transfer, including at death, in areas where current law never taxes those gains.

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January 19, 2022 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

Wage Enslavement: How The Tax System Holds Back Historically Disadvantaged Groups Of Americans

Goldburn Maynard Jr. (Indiana University, Kelley School of Business; Google Scholar) & David Gamage (Indiana University, Maurer School of Law; Google Scholar), Wage Enslavement: How the Tax System Holds Back Historically Disadvantaged Groups of Americans, 110 Ky. L.J. __ (2022):

Despite the importance placed on equality of opportunity within United States political culture, the existing tax system inhibits historically disadvantaged groups from building wealth or catching up with historically more privileged groups. This effectively then traps many members of historically disadvantaged groups into a continued cycle of dependence on tax-disfavored wage and salary income, a phenomenon that we metaphorically label as “wage enslavement.” This Article explains this phenomenon and then calls for reform.

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January 19, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Brown: Stereotypes, Sexism And Superhuman Faculty

Teneille R. Brown (Utah; Google Scholar), Stereotypes, Sexism and Superhuman Faculty, 16 Fla. Int'l L. Rev. __ (2021):

This symposium article explores how law professors with caretaking responsibilities struggled so greatly during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because legal academia prioritizes masculine ideals of competence over warmth, faculty were expected to suppress their emotions and mental health needs in order to maintain the appearance of competence. While students were allowed to be seen as vulnerable individuals needing accommodations, we did not extend this same compassion to our faculty colleagues. 

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January 19, 2022 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink

Heather Gerken Reappointed Dean Of Yale Law School For Another 5-Year Term

Office of the President, Announcement — Reappointment of Dean Heather Gerken:

Gerken (2022)Dear Members of the Yale Law School Community,
I am very pleased to announce the reappointment of Heather Gerken, Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law, as dean of Yale Law School for a second term of five years, effective July 1, 2022, pending approval from the Yale board of trustees.

This renewal recognizes Dean Gerken’s tireless efforts to strengthen the school’s tradition of academic excellence, ensure a rigorous intellectual environment by supporting faculty scholarship, and expand experiential learning opportunities for students. Among her many contributions, she launched a transformative program to educate the next generation of scholars and leaders, diversified the faculty and student body, and stewarded robust philanthropic support to enhance the institution’s educational experience and need-based financial aid programs. In addition, over the past two years, Dean Gerken has worked with faculty, staff, students, and alumni to make sure the Law School community can continue to thrive while navigating the pandemic.

During Dean Gerken’s first term, the Law School has admitted the five most diverse classes in its history with some of the highest yields ever, welcoming talented students from around the world with a strong record of academic performance and exceptional accomplishments. She has also helped nearly triple the number of veterans attending Yale Law School by expanding the Yellow Ribbon Program and worked diligently to provide financial, professional, and mentoring support for the many students who are the first in their families to attend college or graduate school. Dean Gerken has been steadfastly committed to increasing faculty diversity and excellence as well, including partnering with other parts of campus to bring in extraordinary scholars.

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January 19, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Pepperdine Caruso Law Seeks To Hire A Faculty Fellow

For anyone interested in becoming a tenure-track law professor, I hope you will consider our new Pepperdine Caruso Law Fellowship:

Pepperdine Campus Helicopter (040219) (Brighter)The Pepperdine Caruso Law Fellowship is designed to assist attorneys with backgrounds that are historically underrepresented in the legal academy to pursue a full-time legal academic tenure-track career. The fellowship is a two-year appointment that will provide such attorneys with the time and resources to obtain the skills needed to successfully transition to a tenure-track legal academic position.

Fellows will have ample time to pursue scholarly projects. They will be fully integrated into the faculty community and will be invited to attend and actively participate in all faculty presentations and workshops. Fellows will also have the opportunity to present a paper to the faculty and receive feedback in preparation for the entry-level job market. Fellows will also receive financial support for their scholarship including access to research assistants as well as funds to travel to and attend conferences. This is a full-time position, and Fellows will be expected to be in full-time residence at Pepperdine Caruso Law during the academic year.

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January 19, 2022 in Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink

University Of Mississippi Seeks To Hire A Tax Visitor

University of Mississippi Seeks Visiting Professor in Taxation:

Mississippi (2021)The University of Mississippi School of Law invites applications and nominations for a visiting professor during the 2022-2023 academic year. Depending on the courses that are being taught, we are flexible as to one semester (fall or spring) or full academic-year visitorships. Appointments will be at the rank of assistant, associate, or full professor depending on experience.

We are looking for a candidate to teach two tax or tax related courses per semester.

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January 19, 2022 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink

Penn Law Dean Starts Process That Could Lead To Sanctions On Professor Amy Wax

Following up Saturday's post, Debate Intensifies Over Potential Discipline For Penn Law Prof Amy Wax:  Philadelphia Inquirer, Penn Law Dean Starts Process That Could Lead to Sanctions on Professor Amy Wax:

Penn Logo (2022)The University of Pennsylvania’s law school dean Tuesday announced he would initiate a process that could lead to sanctions against long-time law professor Amy Wax for her racist comments.

In a noon email to the law school community, Dean Ted Ruger said he would invoke a faculty review, which must occur before any action, major or minor, could be taken. The process spelled out in Penn’s faculty handbook covers the issuing of minor sanctions such as a letter of reprimand, or convening a faculty hearing board to review charges for major sanctions such as suspension or termination of employment.

January 18 Statement About Actions Regarding Amy Wax:

Dear Law School students, faculty, and staff,
Since at least 2017, and most recently again two weeks ago, Professor Amy Wax has repeatedly made derogatory public statements about the characteristics, attitudes, and abilities of a majority of those who study, teach, and work here. In some of those instances, she has exploited her faculty access to confidential information about students in ostensible support of her inaccurate statements.

Her conduct has generated multiple complaints from members of our community citing the impact of pervasive and recurring vitriol and promotion of white supremacy as cumulative and increasing. The complaints assert that it is impossible for students to take classes from her without a reasonable belief that they are being treated with discriminatory animus. These complaints clearly call for a process that can fairly consider claims, for example, that her conduct is having an adverse and discernable impact on her teaching and classroom activities.

Taking her public behavior, prior complaints, and more recent complaints together, I have decided it is my responsibility as Dean to initiate the University procedure governing sanctions taken against a faculty member. As I have already discussed with Faculty Senate leadership, I am aggregating the complaints received to date, together with other information available to me, and will serve as the named complainant for these matters. This process is necessarily thorough and deliberate, but using it allows consideration of the range of minor and major sanctions permissible under the University’s rules.

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January 19, 2022 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Support Center

Nina Olson (Center for Taxpayer Rights), It’s (A)Live! LITC Connect Is Up And Running (Sort Of!):

Center for Taxpayer RightsAfter nine months of gestation, the Center for Taxpayer Rights has a new offspring … the LITC Support Center.  Today, the Support Center’s website is live, including the “dating app” for LITCs and prospective volunteers, LITC Connect.  Yay!  And a huge sigh of relief.

To recap:  since the days when I was the executive director of The Community Tax Law Project, it’s been clear the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic community, including its volunteers, have needed a resource center to provide technical support, litigation strategy, research, and systemic advocacy.  The Center started providing this support throughout the pandemic, hosting weekly Litigation Strategy calls with LITCs, assisting in several of the Economic Impact Payment lawsuits, and submitting amicus briefs on issues affecting low income taxpayers, as discussed here and here and here.

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January 19, 2022 in Tax | Permalink

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Layser: Financing Affordable Housing Through Opportunity Funds

Michelle D. Layser (Illinois; Google Scholar), Financing Affordable Housing Through Opportunity Funds, 19 Pitt. Tax Rev. __ (2022):

Pittsburgh Tax Review (2021)This Essay considers how the Opportunity Zones law could be amended to promote affordable housing development, and it evaluates whether policymakers should adopt such amendments. This Essay identifies several legal and practical barriers to the use of Opportunity Funds to finance affordable housing development, including through twinning with the LIHTC. These barriers include: substantial improvement rules that present barriers to affordable housing rehabilitation; basis rules that present barriers to new construction deals with low debt-to-equity ratios; strict timing rules that may not align with the realities of affordable housing construction; limits on nonqualified financial property holdings that may foreclose common affordable housing development structures; and differences in the identity and motivations of the investors who typically participate in Opportunity Zones deals versus LIHTC deals.

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January 18, 2022 in Michelle Layser, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Woolhandler: Public Rights And Taxation

Following up on my previous post on Nicholas R. Parrillo (Yale), A Critical Assessment of the Originalist Case Against Administrative Regulatory Power: New Evidence from the Federal Tax on Private Real Estate in the 1790s, 130 Yale L.J. 1288 (2021):  Ann Woolhandler (Virginia; Google Scholar), Public Rights and Taxation: A Brief Response to Professor Parrillo:

A division exists between scholars who claim that Congress made only limited delegations to executive officials in the early Republic, and those who see more extensive delegations. In A Critical Assessment of the Originalist Case Against Administrative Regulatory Power: New Evidence from the Federal Tax on Private Real Estate in the 1790s, Professor Nicholas Parrillo claims that congressional delegations under the direct tax of 1798 undercut arguments that early delegations of rulemaking either addressed unimportant issues or were limited to special categories. Nondelegation scholar Professor Ilan Wurman responded to Parrillo in the volume of the Yale Law Journal in which Parrillo’s article appeared [Nondelegation at the Founding], particularly arguing that Congress itself addressed the important issues as to the 1798 tax. 

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January 18, 2022 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink