TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, February 15, 2019

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Layser Reviews The Constitutionality Of A National Wealth Tax

This week, Michelle Layser (Illinois) reviews Dawn Johnsen (Indiana–Bloomington) & Walter E. Dellinger III (Duke), The Constitutionality of a National Wealth Tax, 93 Ind. L.J. 111 (2018).

Layser (2018)Presidential Candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren recently proposed a wealth tax on household net worth over $50 million, prompting observers from across the political spectrum to question whether the proposed tax was constitutional (see here, here and here). Critics point to a constitutional requirement that would be impossible to satisfy without serious geographic inequities. But Professors Dawn Johnsen and Walter Dellinger argue that a national wealth tax may not trigger such requirements after all—precisely because they would be impossible to satisfy without such inequities.

The requirement at issue is the “apportionment requirement” imposed by Article I, § 2 of the U.S. Constitution. That provision states that “direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States . . . according to their respective Numbers.” In other words, “direct taxes” must be apportioned among the states based on population size. For example, consider two states with the same population but residents with different net worth. The first state has a large number of wealthy residents, and the second has only a few. An apportioned wealth tax would require both states to render the same aggregate amount of tax. So the few wealthy residents of the poorer state would be unfairly burdened, forced to pay proportionately more than the wealthy taxpayers in the wealthier state.

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February 15, 2019 in Michelle Layser, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

More Coverage Of The U.S. News Law Faculty Scholarly Impact Rankings

U.S. News Law (2019)Following up on my previous posts:, U.S. News to Launch New Way to Rank Law Schools:

University of St. Thomas School of Law professor Gregory ... said on Wednesday that U.S. News’ entrance into the scholarly impact picture is evidence that citations are a useful measure of law faculty performance and law school quality. But he cautioned that many of the details of how the ranking will be compiled are unclear. “As with any such project, the proof will be in the pudding,” Sisk said. “We may not know for a couple of years how it is coming together, how it relates to the general U.S. News ranking system, and whether the approach and results are reliable.” ...

Pepperdine University Law Dean Paul Caron, who closely follows the U.S. News rankings on his TaxProf Blog, said Thursday that he thinks the publication’s push to evaluate the scholarly impact of law faculties is a positive development. Tracking citations isn’t a perfect method, but it’s the best objective way to measure legal scholarship, he said.

“The simple fact is that law schools vigorously compete to hire the best faculty, and research is far and away the most important determinant,” Caron said. “Prospective law students properly care very much about a law school’s reputation, so it make sense for U.S. News to rank law schools on this objective measure.”

Brian Leiter (Chicago), to Start "Scholarly Impact" Rankings:

knows it has been repeatedly burned by misleading self-reporting by schools that it never carefully audits, so switching to non-manipulable metrics no doubt seems preferable. And since their academic reputation surveys are now just echo chambers of recent overall rankings, adding in an impact/productivity component would be a slight corrective to that. ...

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February 15, 2019 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Florida Tax Review Publishes New Issue

Florida Tax Review (2018)The Florida Tax Review has published Vol. 22, No. 1:

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February 15, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

International Graduate Student Enrollments And Applications Drop For 2nd Year In A Row

Chronicle of Higher Education, International Graduate-Student Enrollments and Applications Drop for 2nd Year in a Row:

International graduate enrollment and applications have declined for the second year in a row, according to a new report from the Council of Graduate Schools. ...

China and India still lead the way in the number of international graduate applications and first-time enrollments. Chinese applicants and enrollments did not drop, but first-time enrollments by students from India dropped 2 percent, and applications fell 12 percent, according to the report.

Inside Higher Ed, New International Graduate Applications Decline 4%:

New enrollments of international students at U.S. graduate schools fell for the second year in a row, according to a survey from the Council of Graduate Schools.

First-time international enrollments fell by 1 percent from fall 2017 to fall 2018, following on a 1 percent decline the year before that.

First-Time International Enrollments at U.S. Graduate Schools, by Region or Country of Origin

  Fall 2012 to Fall 2013 Fall 2013 to Fall 2014 Fall 2014 to Fall 2015 Fall 2015 to Fall 2016 Fall 2016 to Fall 2017 Fall 2017 to Fall 2018
Overall +10% +8% +5% +5% -1% -1%

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February 15, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Preservation Of NOLs Of Bank Holding Companies

Vijay Sekhon & Ryan Hicks (Sidley Austin, Los Angeles), Preservation of Net Operating Losses of Bank Holding Companies, 37 Rev. Banking & Fin. L. 267 (2017):

[B]ecause the preservation of NOLs benefits companies with significant NOLs and their shareholders, permitting bank holding companies to implement NOL “poison pills” and transfer restrictions does not (contrary to the assertions in SR 15-15) benefit certain shareholders at the expense of others. Furthermore, because companies in other industries are able to use NOL “poison pills” and transfer restrictions to protect these valuable tax assets, permitting bank holding companies to take the same reasonable measures would make it easier for bank holding companies to attract capital (especially distressed bank holding companies that need the most capital).

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February 15, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

'Light Touch' Targeted Feedback To Students Improves Their Performance

Inside Higher Ed, Can Light Touch Targeted Feedback To Students Improve Their Performance?:

Students benefit from increased faculty engagement. Yet many professors still resist more student-centered teaching.

Part of the problem is that graduate schools are slow to adopt pedagogical training, meaning that some professors may want to up their interaction with students but don’t know how. Another part of the problem is that becoming a better teacher takes time, an increasingly scarce faculty resource.

What if engagement wasn’t complicated and didn’t take that much time? Preliminary research called My Professor Cares: Experimental Evidence on the Role of Faculty Engagement, presented last week at the annual meeting of the American Economics Association, suggests that even “light touch” interventions can make a difference to students.

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February 15, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Zelenak Presents The Intersection Of College Sports And The Federal Income Tax Today At Indiana

Zelenak (2016)Larry Zelenak (Duke) presents The NCAA and the IRS: Life at the Intersection of College Sports and the Federal Income Tax, 92 S. Cal. L. Rev. ___ (2019) (with Richard Schmalbeck (Duke)) (reviewed by Mirit Eyal-Cohen (Alabama) here) at Indiana today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by David Gamage:

Few organizational acronyms are more familiar to Americans than those of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Although neither organization is particularly popular, both loom large in American life and popular culture. Because there is a tax aspect to just about everything, it should come as no surprise that the domains of the NCAA and the IRS overlap in a number of ways. For many decades, the strong tendency in those areas has been for college athletics to enjoy unreasonably generous tax treatment—sometimes because of the failure of the IRS to enforce the tax laws enacted by Congress, sometimes because Congress itself has conferred dubious tax benefits on college sports. In just the past year, however, there have been signs of what may be a major attitudinal shift on the part of Congress—although so far there have been no signs of a corresponding change at the IRS. This article offers an in-depth look at the history and current status of four areas of intersection between the federal tax laws and college sports.

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February 14, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

University Of Virginia Law School Class Of 1990 Reports 91% Life Satisfaction

Virginia Law (2019)Grads Report 91% Life Satisfaction:

Graduates of the University of Virginia School of Law reported 91 percent career and life satisfaction in a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies [Lawyers at the Peak of Their Careers: A 30‐Year Longitudinal Study of Job and Life Satisfaction].

Law Professor John Monahan, the John S. Shannon Distinguished Professor of Law, has tracked the progress of members of the Law School’s Class of 1990 for almost 30 years.

In his most recent installment of the longitudinal study, a total of 91 percent of respondents said they felt satisfied with their lives, ranging from “average satisfaction” to “very highly satisfied.” What’s more, their happiness has risen over time. In 2007, 86 percent reported feeling satisfied. The average age of participants in 2017 was 53.

The findings cut against the image — cast by popular culture and, Monahan suggests, some suspect high-profile research — that lawyers are a largely unhappy bunch, relatively more prone than other similar professionals to depression, substance abuse and suicide. ...

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February 14, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jim Gash Named President Of Pepperdine University

GashJames A. Gash, associate dean for strategic planning and external relations and professor of law at the Pepperdine School of Law, has been named the eighth president and CEO of Pepperdine University. Gash is a renowned education administrator, legal scholar, global justice advocate, and attorney. He was selected by the Board of Regents Wednesday afternoon and will succeed Andrew K. Benton on August 1, 2019. Benton announced last March that he planned to step down at the end of the 2018–2019 academic year after 19 years as president.

“The board’s selection of Jim Gash to serve as the next president of Pepperdine is an auspicious moment in the history of this remarkable university,” said Ed Biggers, chair of the Board of Regents. “Throughout his venerable career at Pepperdine and beyond, Jim follows in the footsteps of Pepperdine presidents before him who have demonstrated the kind of inspiration, integrity, strength, and measured leadership that have made this university into the elite academy it is today. We will be fortunate to have Jim’s guiding vision for Pepperdine as we write our next chapter and continue to be a leading university in Christian higher education.”

Biggers also praised the robust participation from the Pepperdine community throughout the search and the work of the Presidential Search Committee, which was led by regent Dale Brown (’64) and committee vice chair Harold Smethills.

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February 14, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tax Prof Presentations At The Right to Bequeath Conference In Germany

TUTax Prof presentations at the The Right to Bequeath conference at TU Braunschweig (Germany):

Jennifer Bird-Pollan (Kentucky), Taxing Inherited Wealth in the Twenty-First Century:

The concentration of wealth in the hands of the wealthiest is growing around the world, but, at the same time, taxes on the transfer of wealth, at least in the United States, are shrinking. In light of this growing inequality, and the seeming public objections to the resulting stratification of society, might it be time to reconsider the taxes imposed on the transfer of wealth? And, if so, what method of taxing transfers of wealth best matches the desired social outcomes? Should taxation of wealth transfers focus primarily on the total wealth of the transferor, or instead on the amount received by the transferee? This project considers these questions, in particular with an eye towards the evolving wealth transfer taxation in place in a variety of tax systems.

David Duff (British Columbia), Wealth Transfers, Distributive Justice and Taxation:

Among the causes of increased economic inequality and a growing concentration of income and wealth among the top 1%, the intergenerational transfer of wealth is a major factor, which is expected to become even more significant in the coming years. This article reviews normative arguments for and against gratuitous transfers of wealth, and develops proposals for the design of a tax on the transfer of wealth to facilitate or encourage normatively attractive aspects of gratuitous wealth transfers while discouraging normatively unattractive results.

Miranda Perry-Fleischer (San Diego), Death and Charity:

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February 14, 2019 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

U.S. News FAQ: Law School Scholarly Impact Rankings

U.S. News Law (2019)Following up on yesterday's post, U.S. News To Publish Law Faculty Scholarly Impact Ranking Based On 2014-2018 Citations:

U.S. News FAQ: Law School Scholarly Impact Rankings:

What are the Law School Scholarly Impact Rankings?
U.S. News is considering expanding its law school rankings to evaluate each law school’s scholarly impact. This will measure a school’s faculty’s impact in terms of scholarly productivity and impact by using citations, publications and other accepted bibliometric measures. U.S. News is working with William S. Hein & Co., Inc. to complete this effort.

What is U.S. News asking of law schools, and what role will U.S. News and Hein each play in the analysis?
U.S. News is asking each law school to provide U.S. News with the names of its fall 2018 full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty. Each law school’s participation in the law school faculty survey is voluntary.

U.S. News will then share each school’s faculty name and other faculty profile data with Hein, who will use this information to link each individual law school’s faculty names to citations and publications that were published in the previous 5 years and which are available in HeinOnline. Using this data, Hein will compile faculty scholarly impact indicators for each law school. This will include such measures as mean citations per faculty member, median citations per faculty member, and total number of publications. Those measures will then be provided to U.S. News for use in creating a comprehensive scholarly impact ranking.

Will scholarly impact indicators factor into the next law schools rankings from U.S. News?
Scholarly impact will not be a factor in the overall law schools rankings published by U.S. News in the late winter or early spring 2019. Rather, U.S. News is considering publishing a separate law school scholarly impact ranking during the 2019 calendar year.

Will U.S News publish a methodology on its new scholarly impact ranking?
In collaboration with Hein, U.S. News would produce a detailed methodology at the time of publication on how the rankings were calculated, how the faculty scholarly impact indicators were calculated and weighted, a description of the legal periodicals and publications used in the analysis, and other pertinent details about how the rankings were developed.

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February 14, 2019 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Virginia Tax Review Publishes New Issue

Virginia Tax Review (2016)The Virginia Tax Review has published Vol. 38, No. 1 (Fall 2018):

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February 14, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call For Proposals: Association For Mid-Career Tax Law Professors

The Association for Mid-Career Tax Law Professors (“AMT”) has issued a Call for Proposals:

Mid-CareerThe 2019 AMT organizing committee—Michelle Drumbl (Washington & Lee), Heather Field (UC-Hastings), Miranda Fleischer (San Diego), Brian Galle Georgetown), Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College), and Darien Shanske (UC-Davis)—welcomes proposals for our annual conference.

AMT is a recurring conference intended to bring together relatively recently tenured professors of tax law for frank and free-wheeling scholarly discussion. Our fifth (!) annual meeting will be held on Thursday and Friday, June 13 and 14, 2019, at the lovely & temperate campus of the University of San Diego. We’ll begin early on Thursday and adjourn by noon on Friday. Sunscreen is not provided but strongly recommended.

2015 Conference at Ohio State (Day 1Day 2)
2016 Conference at UC-Davis (Day 1Day 2)
2017 Conference at Arkansas (Day 1, Day 2)

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February 14, 2019 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

National Taxpayer Advocate Delivers Annual Report to Congress, Releases 'Purple Book'

NTAIR-2019-11, National Taxpayer Advocate Delivers Annual Report to Congress: Addresses Impact of Shutdown; Urges More Funding for IT Modernization (Feb. 12, 2019):

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson today released her 2018 Annual Report to Congress, describing challenges the IRS is facing as a result of the recent government shutdown and recommending that Congress provide the IRS with additional multi-year funding to replace its core 1960s-era information technology (IT) systems. The release of the National Taxpayer Advocate’s report was delayed by a month because of the government shutdown.

Olson also released the second edition of the National Taxpayer Advocate’s “Purple Book,” which presents 58 legislative recommendations designed to strengthen taxpayer rights and improve tax administration. ...

Related Items:

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February 14, 2019 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

U.S. News To Publish Law Faculty Scholarly Impact Ranking Based On 2014-2018 Citations

U.S. News Law (2019)Robert Morse (U.S. News Chief Data Strategist), U.S. News Considers Evaluating Law School Scholarly Impact:

U.S. News & World Report is expanding its Best Law Schools data collection with the goal of creating a new ranking that would evaluate the scholarly impact of law schools across the U.S.

The intent is to analyze each law school’s scholarly impact based on a number of accepted indicators that measure its faculty’s productivity and impact using citations, publications and other bibliometric measures.

U.S. News is collaborating with William S. Hein & Co. Inc., the world's largest distributor of legal periodicals, to complete this analysis.

To begin the process, U.S. News is asking each law school to provide U.S. News with the names and other details of its fall 2018 full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty.

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February 13, 2019 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

LaLumia Presents Tax-Motivated Timing Of Charitable Giving Today At UCLA

LaLumia PhotoSara LaLumia (Williams College) presents Tax-Motivated Timing of Charitable Giving at UCLA today as part of its Colloquium on Tax Policy and Public Finance hosted by Jason Oh:

Gifts to charity are tax deductible for filers who itemize but not for filers who take the standard deduction. This paper investigates whether households that are likely switching from taking the standard deduction to itemizing change the timing of charitable donations, postponing gifts from December of the year in which they take the standard deduction to January of the year in which they newly itemize.

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February 13, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Historian Lays Into Billionaires At Davos: 'We've Got To Talk About Taxes; All The Rest Is Bullshit'

Huffington Post, Historian Lays Into Billionaires At Davos For Dodging The 1 Thing To Solve Inequality:

A historian’s remarks at a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, have gone viral after he told billionaires if they want to solve inequality, all they need to do is pay their taxes.

In a video posted by Now This and viewed more than 5 million times, Dutch historian Rutger Bregman heavily criticizes billionaires who talk about solving inequality, but fail to actually do the main thing he says will help.

“I hear people talking the language of participation and justice and equality and transparency, but then, almost no one raises the real issue of tax avoidance, right? And of the rich just not paying their fair share,” Bregman said last week at the forum, which typically draws the world’s elite.

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February 13, 2019 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

South Dakota Law School Seeks To Hire A Tax Clinic Director

South Dakota Law School LogoThe University of South Dakota School of Law invites applications for the position of Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) Director, to begin in July 2019:

The position is non-tenure track and paid out of a federal grant. Continued employment is contingent on the availability of grant funding. The grant period ends on December 31, 2019, but is expected to be renewed. Applicants may be eligible for a Lecturer or Senior Lecturer position, dependent upon qualifications.

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February 13, 2019 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Great Disappearing Teaching Load: From 3-3, To 3-2, To 2-2, To 2-1; 1-1 Is The Next Maginot Line

Chronicle of Higher Education, The Great Disappearing Teaching Load: How Few Courses Are Too Few?:

Course ReliefYale has gone 2-1," a faculty member in political science told me, in the tone he presumably used in the classroom when discussing the perils of nuclear proliferation.

It became a refrain. During my 10 years as dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Notre Dame, the question of teaching schedules — a phrase I unsuccessfully tried to substitute for "teaching loads" — hovered in the periphery of my day-to-day life. Sometimes it occupied center stage. At times I wondered if the question — "Could I have a course off for that?" — would be chiseled on my tombstone.

It’s a "first-world problem," as the kids say, and I hasten to acknowledge that deans or department chairs struggling with collapsing budgets, or faculty members routinely teaching four courses per semester, may want to proceed to the next article in The Chronicle Review.

For the rest of you, a question: How many courses per semester should a faculty member at a major research university teach?

The question is rarely asked — because it’s in no one’s interest to ask it. Not presidents, since in public institutions they, unlike faculty members, have to answer questions from more or less curious and informed state legislators about how professors use their time. Not provosts, deans, and department chairs, struggling to sustain the Maginot Line of standard teaching schedules while also competing to hire faculty members. Not graduate students, whose courses are typically taught by tenure-line faculty members anyway. And not professors, eager to conduct more research, certainly, but also craving the flexibility of a schedule not burdened by the day-to-day rhythm of class meeting times.

It’s actually in the interest only of innocent undergraduates, who don’t realize that the tenure-line faculty members supported by their tuition dollars may be teaching a decreasing number of courses. And although they don’t know it, it’s in the long-term interest of faculty members themselves. ...

John Boyer’s absorbing recent history of the University of Chicago is one of the few places where the topic is discussed. (Not coincidentally, Boyer is a longtime dean.) I suspect that the pattern he outlines there is typical: Tenure-line faculty members taught six courses per year (that is, two per quarter) through the 1960s, then five, and now, at most, four. Over time, teaching schedules, like salaries, began to vary a good deal by department or program.

Dame’s pattern was similar: Faculty members in the humanities, social sciences, and arts moved from 3-3 on a semester system in the 1970s to 3-2 and then 2-2 in the late 1980s. When I started as dean, in 2008, tenure-line faculty members in science and engineering taught 1-1, with the expectation that they would be running funded labs; those in business taught 3-0. The "0" came about when the business school identified a semester without teaching, remarkably, as the uniform policy at the top business schools. Humanities, social-science, and arts faculty members taught two courses per semester.

The first strike came in economics. "We need to go 2-1," the chair politely explained, "because otherwise we can’t hire anyone." He was right, and so we did, with the proviso that teaching would be more than 2-1 for faculty members without strong research programs. Economics at Notre Dame had a spectacular decade, zipping up the rankings. Now I’m warned, somberly, that "some faculty at Duke are 1-1." ...

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February 13, 2019 in Legal Education, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (6)

Johnson: The Founding Fathers Believed In A Wealth Tax

The Hill op-ed:  The Founding Fathers Believed in a Wealth Tax, by Calvin Johnson (Texas):

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has proposed a tax on wealth. It would be constitutional. Opponents claim a wealth tax is unconstitutional because it is a direct tax that must be apportioned among the states by population.

Apportionment by state for a wealth tax is a fatal requirement. Tax rates on wealth of Mississippi residents would have to be twice as high as tax rates on Connecticut residents because Connecticut citizens have twice the wealth of Mississippi residents.

The result is forced because Mississippi has too small of a tax base over which to spread its quota. The opponents of a wealth tax cackle at the absurdity, but it is not what the Founding Fathers intended. ...

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February 13, 2019 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Applications Surge 47% (142% Among African-Americans) After NYU Med Goes Tuition-Free

NYUFollowing up on my previous post, NYU Medical School Goes 100% Tuition-Free; $450m Has Been Raised Toward $600m Endowment:  Inside Higher Ed, Admissions Surge After NYU Med Goes Tuition-Free:

New York University's medical school in August stunned the world of medical education with the news that it had raised enough money to offer full-tuition scholarships to all students (more than 400 across classes) going forward.

While other medical schools have been moving to reduce tuition paid by students (and the debt many of them accrue), the NYU effort was the largest and most dramatic to date. With the tuition sticker price at NYU topping $55,000 (similar to the tuition of other top private medical schools), the question for many was whether NYU, already seen as a leading medical school with no shortage of applicants, would see significant gains in its applicant pool.

The answer is an unqualified yes.

Total applications to NYU's medical school increased by 47 percent, to 8,932. ... NYU Med saw a 102 percent increase, to 2,020, in applications from those who are a member of a group that is underrepresented in medicine (including black, Latino and Native American students). The largest percentage increase was among those who identify as African American, black, or Afro-Caribbean. Applications from this group went up 142 percent, to 1,062. ...

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February 13, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tax Wars: The Battle Over Taxing Global Digital Commerce

Arthur J. Cockfield (Queen's University), Tax Wars: The Battle over Taxing Global Digital Commerce, 161 Tax Notes 1331 (Dec. 10, 2018):

This Article discusses the emergence of an international tax “war” and provides an overview of global digital taxation reform efforts. Governments have been unable to attain consensus surrounding how to tax cross-border digital transactions. As a result, dozens of governments are now pursuing uncoordinated reforms -- including digital services taxes, economic presence tests, withholding taxes and equalization levies -- that will encourage international double taxation and inhibit cross-border trade and investment. The global digital tax conflict masks a growing dissatisfaction with how to tax value associated with global transactions.

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February 13, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Roemer Presents Cooperation, Socialism, Altruism, And Economic Theory Today At NYU

RoemerJohn Roemer (Yale) presents A Theory of Cooperation in Games With an Application to Market Socialism and Cooperation, Altruism and Economic Theory at NYU today as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Lily Batchelder and Daniel Shaviro:

A Theory of Cooperation in Games With an Application to Market Socialism:

Economic theory has focused almost exclusively on how humans compete with each other in their economic activity, culminating in general equilibrium (Walras-ArrowDebreu) and game theory (Cournot-Nash). Cooperation in economic activity is, however, important, and is virtually ignored. Because our models influence our view of the world, this theoretical lacuna biases economists’ interpretation of economic behavior. Here, I propose models that provide micro-foundations for how cooperation is decentralized by economic agents. It is incorrect, in particular, to view competition as decentralized and cooperation as organized only by central diktat. My approach is not to alter preferences, which is the strategy behavioral economists have adopted to model cooperation, but rather to alter the way that agents optimize. Whereas Nash optimizers view other players in the game as part of the environment (parameters), Kantian optimizers view them as part of action. When formalized, this approach resolves the two major failures of Nash optimization from a welfare viewpoint — the Pareto inefficiency of equilibria in common-pool resource problems (the tragedy of the commons) and the inefficiency of equilibria in public-good games (the free rider problem). An application to market socialism shows that the problems of efficiency and distribution can be completely separated: the dead-weight loss of taxation disappears.

Cooperation, Altruism and Economic Theory:

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February 12, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Grewal Presents The Charitable Contribution Strategy Is An Ineffective SALT Substitute Today At Georgetown

Grewal (2019)Andy Grewal (Iowa) presents The Charitable Contribution Strategy: An Ineffective SALT Substitute, 38 Va. Tax Rev. 203 (2018), at Georgetown today as part of its Tax Law and Public Finance Workshop Series hosted by John Brooks and Lilian Faulhaber:

Various states have proposed or enacted laws designed to circumvent the new $10,000 federal limit on state and local tax deductions. The new laws generally contemplate that taxpayers will substitute their tax payments with charitable contributions to state-controlled funds. This Article explores whether that strategy works and concludes that it does not.

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February 12, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kysar Presents Unravelling The Tax Treaty At Duke

Kysar (2018)Rebecca Kysar (Fordham) presented Unravelling the Tax Treaty at Duke as part of its Tax Policy Workshop Series hosted by Lawrence Zelenak:

Coordination among nations over the taxation of international transactions rests on a network of some 2,000 bilateral double tax treaties. The double tax treaty is, in many ways, the roots of the international system of taxation. That system, however, is in upheaval in the face of globalization, technological advances, taxpayer abuse, and shifting political tides. In the academic literature, however, scrutiny of tax treaties is largely confined to the albeit important question of whether tax treaties are beneficial for developing countries. Surprisingly little consideration has been paid to whether developed countries, like the United States, should continue to sign tax treaties with one another, and no formal revenue or economic analyses of the treaties has been undertaken by the United States government. In fact, little evidence or theory exists to support entrance into tax treaties by the United States, and examination of investment flows indicates the treaties likely lose significant U.S. revenues. Additionally, they enable taxpayer abuse, stagnate domestic policy, and thwart reforms of the antiquated international tax system. These consequences are particularly problematic for the United States. Other nations, after all, have been able to supplement their revenues and pursue destination-based taxation through treaty-friendly VATs.

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February 12, 2019 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Negotiated Tax Havens

Kevin Markle (Iowa) & Leslie Robinson (Dartmouth), Negotiated Tax Havens:

Recently, the intersection of state aid and international tax has acquired a high profile in the European Union. In response, important tax and accounting policy changes are being proposed or implemented. However, these changes are predicated on rhetoric that unfair tax ruling practices by host country governments are pervasive, and significantly benefit foreign-owned companies. Yet, there is no empirical evidence as to whether this is the case. Using several novel data sources on tax concessions granted in the EU, we find that both domestic- and foreign-owned companies receive economically significant tax benefits from state aid.

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February 12, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kleiman: Tax Limits And The Future Of Local Democracy

Ariel Jurow Kleiman (San Diego), Tax Limits and the Future of Local Democracy:

Property tax limits are state-level laws that place caps on local governments’ tax rates and revenue. These statutory limits, which put pressure on already strapped cities and counties in forty-six states, present an inexorable dilemma for local policymakers. On the one hand, they may cause cuts to vital services, bankruptcy, and reliance on regressive revenue sources. At the same time, however, tax limits may reflect genuine concerns about government profligacy and nonresponsiveness. While much research has focused on the first side of the dilemma—examining the laws’ fiscal consequences—this Article explores the second, probing how tax limits affect the distribution of political power between local voters and policymakers.

The Article makes three contributions. First, it argues that property tax limits have focused too strongly on a tax reduction goal to the exclusion of other potential objectives. Instead, tax limits can improve local public control and oversight of government fiscal decisions. Prioritizing public control would increase voter satisfaction and expand opportunities for taxpayer voice.

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February 12, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Moody's Continues New York Law School's Negative Financial Outlook, Citing Its 26% Operating Deficit

New York Law School Logo (2019)New York Law Journal, New York Law School Still Faces Financial Challenges, Moody's Finds:

A national uptick in law school applicants wasn’t enough to prompt a key bond credit rating agency to reverse its negative outlook on New York Law School’s finances.

Moody’s Investors Service on Thursday affirmed the school’s Baa3 bond rating, which is the lowest rating for investment grade bonds and indicates that Moody’s believes the school’s bonds represent a moderate risk to investors. The Moody’s report assigned the law school a negative outlook, saying that the school’s spending of its financial reserves to cover operating shortfalls is “well above” the industry standard of 5 percent. The school’s bonds are valued at about $140 million.

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February 12, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

John Marshall (Chicago) Seeks To Hire Tax Visitor For 2019-20

John Marshall UICJohn Marshall Law School in Chicago seeks two or more experienced faculty members to serve as full-time visiting professors for the 2019-2020 academic year (one or both semesters):

We need coverage in the areas of Civil Procedure, Corporations, Employee Benefits, Estates & Trusts, Income Taxation, Legal Research and Writing, and Property. Candidates must have law school teaching experience. It is contemplated that the successful candidates will be current full-time faculty members at ABA-approved law schools, although others with extraordinary credentials may be considered.

To apply, submit a current CV, cover letter, and three professional references to Associate Dean David Sorkin at The Committee will begin reviewing applications as they are received and will continue on a rolling basis until the positions are filled. We may conduct an interview via Skype or a similar platform or in person, and may request submission of teaching evaluations or other materials.

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February 12, 2019 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Impact Of Taxes v. Bonuses On Disposable Bag Use

Tatiana A. Homonoff (Cornell), Can Small Incentives Have Large Effects? The Impact of Taxes versus Bonuses on Disposable Bag Use, 10 Am. Econ. J.: Econ. Pol'y 177 (2018):

This paper examines a simple element of financial incentive design—whether the incentive takes the form of a fee for bad behavior or a reward for good behavior—to determine if the framing of the incentive influences the policy's effectiveness. I investigate the effect of two similar policies aimed at reducing disposable bag use and a five-cent tax on disposable bag use and a five-cent bonus for reusable bag use. While the tax decreased disposable bag use by over forty percentage points, the bonus generated virtually no effect on behavior. These results are consistent with a model of loss aversion.

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February 12, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 11, 2019

Morrow: TCJA — Teaching A Tax Code Just Adopted

Rebecca Morrow (Wake Forest), TCJA: Teaching a Code Just Adopted, 8 Wake Forest L. Rev. Online 57 (2018):

The spring 2018 semester at many law schools started approximately three weeks after the Tax Cuts Jobs Act (TCJA) passed. This essay reflects on the experience of teaching tax law in a semester when all textbooks and statutory supplements were outdated and tax scholars scrambled to make sense of the new law while simultaneously teaching it to our students. It concludes, paradoxically, that teaching the TCJA so soon after it passed offered some huge advantages from a pedagogical perspective: it proved to students that they must rely primarily on the statute, rather than secondary sources, and must develop strong statutory interpretation skills to understand tax; highlighted the importance of the first rule of statutory interpretation, to “keep reading”; and increased the already high marketability of tax law expertise.

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February 11, 2019 in Legal Education, Scholarship, Tax, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Phishing Scheme Targets Professors’ Desire to Please Their Deans — All For $500 In Gift Cards

ITunes $500Chronicle of Higher Education, Phishing Scheme Targets Professors’ Desire to Please Their Deans — All for $500 in Gift Cards:

Rachel E. Brenner was in her apartment one Thursday morning when she got the urgent email. Jason E. Lane, her interim dean, needed help on "something very important right away."

Brenner, an assistant professor of counseling psychology at the University at Albany's School of Education, hurried out the door and drove to campus, her mind abuzz. Maybe it was about her research, which they'd discussed the day before. As soon as she walked into her office, she wrote back: "I'm free!"

It was then that she got the dispiriting reply. He wanted Brenner to buy iTunes gift cards for his cousin's birthday. What an abuse of power directed at a young female professor, she thought, and so out of character for Lane, whom she knew to be a good guy.

That's because it wasn't Lane. Brenner quickly realized she was the target of a phishing scam — one that has targeted faculty members at more than a dozen universities and perhaps unknowingly exploits academe's power dynamics for some quick cash.

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February 11, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jordan Barry Named University Professor At San Diego

Barry (2019)Nine USD Faculty to Receive 2019-20 Top Professor Awards:

University of San Diego Vice President and Provost Gail F. Baker, PhD, has announced the selection of nine USD faculty members who will receive top university awards for 2019-2020 and will be formally recognized at the Faculty and Staff Fall Convocation on Sept. 13, 2019. ...

[Jordan Barry was] selected for a University Professorship. This award, which is the highest individual award that can be bestowed to a USD faculty member, goes to those who have demonstrated outstanding scholarly achievements in teaching and research supporting the mission and goals of USD.

February 11, 2019 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

UC-Irvine Hosts A Conference Today On Tax Reform: One Year Later

UC Irvine Logo (2019)The UC-Irvine Graduate Tax Program hosts its first annual tax conference today on Tax Reform: One Year Later:

Panel #1: Domestic Provisions in the TCJA

  • Victor Fleischer (UC-Irvine) (moderator)
  • Elizabeth Crouse (K&L Gates)
  • David Miller (Proskauer) 
  • Tony Nitti (WithumSmith+Brown)
  • Orla J. O’Connor (KPMG)

Panel #2: International Provisions in the TCJA

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February 11, 2019 in Conferences, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

UCLA Establishes $2 Million Eric Zolt Chair In Tax Law And Policy

ZoltUCLA Law Establishes Zolt Chair in Tax Law and Policy:

UCLA School of Law has established the Eric M. Zolt Chair in Tax Law and Policy in tribute to Professor Eric Zolt’s enormous contributions to the school and field of tax law.

A member of the faculty since 1985, Zolt is the Michael H. Schill Distinguished Professor of Law. A renowned scholar, award-winning teacher and extraordinary mentor to students and fellow faculty members, Zolt served as the founding director of the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy at UCLA Law.

Gifts totaling $2 million fund the Zolt Chair, including lead donations provided by longtime UCLA supporters Ralph ’58 and Shirley Shapiro; Lowell Milken ’73, whose gift established the Lowell Milken Institute at UCLA Law; and Zolt and his wife, Kathy Smalley. Other UCLA Law faculty members, alumni and friends of the school were among the 34 donors who generously contributed to the chair.

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February 11, 2019 in Legal Education, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Lesson From The Tax Court: Taxpayer’s Shell Game Defeats IRS

Tax Court (2017)Those who perform shell games often view them as games of skill.  Those who lose money view them as blue collar swindles.  I personally lost money at one on the streets of New York in the early 1980’s, a tuition payment to the School of Hard Knocks. 

Sophisticated taxpayers use shells—layers of entities—to protect assets in a white collar version of the shell game.  In last week’s Campbell v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2019-4 (Feb. 4, 2019) (Judge Kerrigan), it looks like the IRS lost money to one.  There, in a CDP proceeding, the Court found that the IRS abused its discretion in refusing an OIC of $12,600 to satisfy a $1.1 million tax liability.  The interesting part of the decision for me was trying to figure out how the taxpayer’s various shells affected the ability of the federal tax lien to attach to property or rights to property of the taxpayer.  Just based on what the Court wrote in its opinion, I think it possible that the IRS Chief Counsel attorney did not do enough to educate the Court on how to properly analyze the extent of IRS collection powers.

Of course, I am always trepidatious when critiquing an opinion, especially when the opinion is missing information that might well fix some of the problems I see.  Here, in particular, it may be me who is confused by the taxpayer’s shell game.  As usual, I welcome anyone who spots holes in my thinking to comment.

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February 11, 2019 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure | Permalink | Comments (1)

Law School Diversity Rankings


Most Diverse Law Schools (preLaw Winter 2019):

Diversity has increased significantly since the early 1980s, and progress continues. In an effort to track that, The National Jurist has assessed and graded law schools for diversity every other year since 2013.

This year, 60 law schools made our honor roll, which is determined by evaluating the percentage of minority faculty members [30%] and the percentage of students in five racial groups and comparing those to national averages [70%].

This year, 20 law schools received an A+

Top 20

12 law schools received an A grade (ranked 21-32)

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February 11, 2019 in Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (2)

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Federal Judge Orders University Of Iowa To Reinstate Christian Group That Rejected Gay Student For Leadership Role

University of IowaFollowing up on my previous post, Christian Student Group Sues University of Iowa, Sparking Debate Over Religious Freedom, LGBT Rights: Courthouse News Service, Judge OKs Christian Group’s Rejection of Gay Student:

A federal judge ruled late Wednesday that the University of Iowa violated a Christian student organization’s rights to free speech and free exercise of religion by stripping the group’s campus privileges after it refused to elect a gay man to a leadership position.

U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose ruled in favor of Business Leaders in Christ, or BLinC, on summary judgment, saying the university discriminated against the group based on its viewpoint by not equally enforcing its human rights policy for student organizations on campus.

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February 10, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Abolish Billionaires: 'Kneecapping The Wealthiest Among Us'

New York Times op-ed:  Abolish Billionaires, by Farhad Manjoo:

Last fall, Tom Scocca, editor of the essential blog Hmm Daily, wrote a tiny, searing post that has been rattling around my head ever since.

“Some ideas about how to make the world better require careful, nuanced thinking about how best to balance competing interests,” he began. “Others don’t: Billionaires are bad. We should presumptively get rid of billionaires. All of them.”

Mr. Scocca — a longtime writer at Gawker until that site was muffled by a billionaire — offered a straightforward argument for kneecapping the wealthiest among us. A billion dollars is wildly more than anyone needs, even accounting for life’s most excessive lavishes. It’s far more than anyone might reasonably claim to deserve, however much he believes he has contributed to society.

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February 10, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (6)

More Colleges Are Asking Scholars For Diversity Statements. Here’s What You Need To Know.

Chronicle of Higher Education, More Colleges Are Asking Scholars for Diversity Statements. Here’s What You Need to Know.:

Michelle A. Rodrigues has been on and off the academic job market since 2012. During the current hiring cycle, she's noticed something: Many more institutions are asking her to submit a statement with her application about how her work would advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The requests have appeared on advertisements for jobs at all kinds of colleges, from the largest research institutions to small teaching-focused campuses, said Rodrigues, a biological anthropologist and postdoctoral fellow at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The statements tend to be one page, maybe two. In them, scholars are supposed to explain how their experience can bolster institutional efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. Colleges are under increasing pressure to increase access and completion rates for students from underrepresented backgrounds, the thinking goes, so they should hire faculty members who understand their role in improving those outcomes.

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February 10, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (7)

The Top Five New Tax Papers

SSRN Logo (2018)This week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads is the same as last week's list:

  1. [534 Downloads]  Spiritus Ex Machina: Addressing the Unique BEPS Issues of Autonomous Artificial Intelligence by Using 'Personality' and 'Residence', by Lucas de Lima Carvalho (University of Sao Paulo)
  2. [417 Downloads]  How Data Should (Not) Be Taxed, by Johannes Becker (University of Muenster), Joachim Englisch (University of Muenster) & Deborah Schanz (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
  3. [405 Downloads]  Ten Reasons to Prefer Tax Partnerships Over S-Corporations, by Bradley Borden (Brooklyn)
  4. [314 Downloads]  The Impact of Soda Taxes: Pass-through, Tax Avoidance, and Nutritional Effects, by Stephen Seiler (Stanford), Anna Tuchman (Northwestern) & Song Yao (Minnesota)
  5. [296 Downloads]  The Proposed Section 163(j) Regulations, by David Miller, Sejin Park, Mani Kakkar & Sean Webb (Proskauer)

February 10, 2019 in Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 9, 2019

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

University Of Minnesota Law School Reduces Budget Deficit By 33% (From $5.2m to $3.9m), On Path To Balanced Budget In 2021

Minnesota LogoFollowing up on my previous posts (links below): Minnesota Daily, Regents Approve Tuition Surcharge For CSE Students:

As the Law School continues efforts to resolve a multi-million dollar deficit, the board reviewed progress made on a three-year plan. 

After the first year of the plan, Law School Dean Garry Jenkins said the Law School is well on its way to resolving its “structural imbalance” by 2021. 

The school reduced its deficit to $3.9 million in fiscal year 2018, a 33 percent reduction from two years earlier. The school expects to reduce the deficit by another $1.4 million in fiscal year 2019.

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February 9, 2019 | Permalink | Comments (1)

WSJ: Trump Tax Law Spurs Job Creation . . . For Tax Lawyers And Accountants

Wall Street Journal, Trump Tax Law Spurs Job Creation . . . For Tax Lawyers and Accountants:

WSJIn 2017, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Many of the jobs it is creating, it turns out, are in the tax industry.

The overhaul continues to generate thousands of jobs for tax professionals as companies analyze the law, restructure operations and rely on tax experts to do all the work flowing from the legislation and IRS regulations, according to lawyers and executives at tax firms. Business is unusually strong and should remain robust for years as a result of the law, they say. ...

Deloitte Tax LLP grew by 10% this fiscal year and expects another 10% bump next year. KPMG LLP says it hired twice as many experienced employees in 2018 in its U.S. tax practice as it did the year before. ...

Republicans sold the tax law to the public on the premise that the new tax system would be simpler, and that’s true for many individuals. Many companies, however, are encountering complex new provisions that create demand for sophisticated tax advice and seasoned experts who can do the work. Top law firms and accounting firms are expanding, and they’re battling for experienced tax professionals. ...

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February 9, 2019 in Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

How Scholars Who Don’t Drink Navigate The Conference Social Scene

Chronicle of Higher Education, ‘A Minefield’: How Scholars Who Don’t Drink Navigate the Conference Social Scene:

At academic conferences, like those put on by the AHA and the Modern Language Association, which were held in Chicago last week, drinking is a social norm. Cash bars and open bars proliferate. Each year the history association holds a cocktail-naming contest. (This year's winners were "More of a Comment Than a Question" and "The Haymarket Rye-It.") There's collegial drinking among old pals. There's commiserative drinking among job-hunting Ph.D.s. And there's tactical drinking as part of the networking that happens after, or sometimes during, regular conference hours.

But for ... scholars who don't drink, the bar isn't the place to make lasting professional connections. These scholars don't want everyone to become teetotalers, or for conferences to ban alcohol altogether. They just want to be able to tackle the social labors of being an academic without the expectation to imbibe.

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February 9, 2019 in Legal Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, February 8, 2019

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Kim Reviews Grinberg's International Taxation In An Era of Digital Disruption

This week, Young Ran (Christine) Kim (Utah) reviews a new work by Itai Grinberg (Georgetown), International Taxation in an Era of Digital Disruption: Analyzing the Current Debate

KimHave you heard of "GAFA"? It is a commonly used acronym in Europe, representing the four most powerful American technology companies, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. Recent legislative movement in Europe to impose a Digital Services Tax (DST) on gross revenue on a limited set of digital businesses targets those tech giants in effect, although the language of the statute appears to apply generally to search engines, online marketplaces, and social media firms. Whether you agree with the DST or not, it is evident that the taxation of the digital economy is one of the hottest topics in international tax policy these days. Itai Grinberg's new article, International Taxation in an Era of Digital Disruption: Analyzing the Current Debate, is an excellent piece introducing the current debate and the US perspective on European tax changes on digital economy and discussing three important policy options to reform the international tax on the digital sector.

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February 8, 2019 in Weekly SSRN Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekly Legal Education Roundup