Paul L. Caron
Dean



Friday, January 15, 2021

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Kim Reviews Holderness' Tax Relief for Commuters

This week, Young Ran (Christine) Kim (Utah) reviews a new work by Hayes Holderness (Richmond), Changing Lanes: Tax Relief for Commuters, 40 Va. Tax Rev. ___ (2021).

KimCommuting has mixed motives: one must travel to get to work (business motive), but the extent and burden of the travel is the result of the personal choice about where to live (personal motive). However, there is no middle ground under the tax law; an expense is classified as either personal or business. Under current law, it is well established that commuting expenses are personal, and thus, nondeductible expenses under the tax law (e.g., Comm'r v. Flowers, 326 U.S. 465 (1946)). However, in the wake of COVID-19, working from home has become the new normal. Many people who used to commute to work no longer have the same amount of expenditure for commuting, such as gas and metro passes. What are the normative implications of such changed behavior? Hayes Holderness offers his views in his recent essay, Changing Lanes: Tax Relief for Commuters (forthcoming in Va. Tax Rev.).

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January 15, 2021 in Christine Kim, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration

Weekly Legal Education Roundup

Biggest Issues Facing College Presidents Due To COVID-19: Student, Staff, And Faculty Mental Health Trumps Enrollment/Financial Concerns

American Council on Education, College and University Presidents Respond to COVID-19: 2020 Fall Term Survey, Part 2 (Part 1 here):

In September 2020, ACE surveyed college and university presidents in order to capture how they are responding to the challenges presented by COVID-19, as well as to better understand both the immediate and long-term effects of the pandemic on higher education more broadly. In this second survey of the fall 2020 term, 268 presidents responded to share their most pressing concerns, how the pandemic has affected their fall enrollment and financial health, plans for the spring 2021 term, efforts to support student, faculty, and staff mental health, and strategies for internationalization. The survey also captures college and university efforts to promote civic engagement and student voting in the last election, as well as presidents’ thoughts on the level of priority the incoming Biden administration should place on some key higher education-related policy topics. What follows is a summary of our key findings.

Presidents


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January 15, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

2021 Princeton Review Law School Rankings: Career Rating

Princeton Review

I previously blogged the lists of the Top 5 law schools in fourteen categories in the 2021 edition of the Princeton Review's Best Law Schools. In a series of posts this week, I will highlight the Top 50 schools in the five categories for which the Princeton Review provides individual law school data:

Career Rating:  This rating measures the confidence students have in their school's ability to lead them to fruitful employment opportunities, as well as the school's own record of having done so. This rating takes into account both student survey responses and school-reported statistical data. We ask students about how much the law program encourages practical experience; the opportunities for externships, internships, and clerkships; and how prepared to practice law they expect to feel after graduating. We ask law schools for the median starting salaries of graduating students; the percentage employed in a job that requires bar passage (and not employed by the school); and the percentage of these students who pass the bar exam the first time they take it. This rating is on a scale of 60–99.

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January 15, 2021 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

The Tax Lawyer Publishes New Issue

The Tax Lawyer has published Vol. 74, No. 1 (Fall 2020):

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January 15, 2021 in ABA Tax Section, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Death Of Rennard Strickland, Native American Law Pioneer And Dean Of Four Law Schools

University of Virginia School of Law Press Release, In Memoriam: Native American Law Pioneer Rennard Strickland:

StricklandRennard Strickland, a pioneer in the movement for Native rights and a legal historian who received two law degrees from the University of Virginia School of Law, died Jan. 5 at the age of 80.

Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Strickland was of Osage and Cherokee heritage. In a career that spanned teaching and leading numerous law schools, he served as dean of four: the University of Tulsa, Southern Illinois University, Oklahoma City University and the University of Oregon. He was most recently senior scholar in residence at the University of Oklahoma Law Center, where he helped introduce Indian Law into the University’s legal curriculum. The author, editor or co-editor of 47 books and 208 essays, book chapters and articles, he was frequently cited by courts and scholars for his work as revision editor-in-chief of “Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law,” considered the authoritative text on the subject.

Obituary: Rennard Strickland (September 16, 1940 - January 5, 2021)

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January 15, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Obituaries | Permalink

Global Implementation Of Soda Taxes: Is There A Better Solution For Combatting Obesity?

Lauren Cedeno (J.D. 2020, Brooklyn), Global Implementation of Soda Taxes: Is There a Better Solution for Combatting Obesity?, 45 Brook. J. Int'l L. 329 (2019):

As incidences of overweight and obese populations continue to increase around the world, countries are looking for ways to decrease the prevalence of this epidemic. Soda and SSB taxes have increased in prevalence as countries seek to address the health problems associated with consumption of soda and other sugary beverages. This Note explores the implementation of these taxes in Mexico, Europe, and the United States. In analyzing these taxes, this Note seeks to gain a greater understanding of whether these taxes have impacted overweight and obesity rates in the countries and municipalities that have enacted them. This Note argues that soda and SSB taxes are only the first step in addressing this growing health epidemic and that more robust health policies are necessary to achieve a healthier global population.

Conclusion
The international community must begin to acknowledge the dangerous role that SSBs and other sugar-filled products play in the onset of NCDs caused by obesity. NCDs linked to poor consumption habits are currently the leading cause of death in the world today. Taxes on SSBs have been a critical step toward addressing the role sugary products play in the onset of NCDs and obesity. Without new policies to address the threat that obesity poses to population health, however, it is likely that the risk of obesity-related illness will only continue to rise. By imposing stricter regulations on the accessibility of SSBs, the sugar content in those products, and the manners in which they can be advertised, as well as developing more holistic food and beverage health initiatives, countries may very well see a substantial drop in obesity rates. Accordingly, it is important that international health organizations, such as the WHO, continue to raise awareness about the adverse health consequences that flow from diets high in food and drinks lacking proper nutrition. They can do this by encouraging countries to enact and reform legislation to better tackle the obesity epidemic.

January 15, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Lederman: Valuation As A Challenge For Tax Administration

Leandra Lederman (Indiana), Valuation as a Challenge for Tax Administration, 96 Notre Dame L. Rev. ___ (2021):

Valuation issues have long posed challenges for the U.S. federal tax system. This is not just because of questions about what technique will most accurately value particular types of property. A key problem for tax administration is that taxpayers have an incentive to claim erroneous, self-serving valuations. This Essay analyzes tax valuation through this tax compliance lens. In so doing, it highlights the importance that third parties to the taxpayer-government relationship act at arm’s-length from the taxpayer. It also explains why penalties are insufficient to deter erroneous self-reported valuations. The Essay also draws on the tax compliance perspective to make some preliminary observations about valuation methodologies.

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January 14, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Hemel & Polsky: Taxing Buybacks

Daniel J. Hemel (Chicago) & Gregg D. Polsky (Georgia), Taxing Buybacks, 38 Yale J. on Reg. 246 (2021):

Yale J RegA recent rise in the volume of corporate share repurchases has prompted calls for changes to the rules governing stock buybacks. These calls for reform are animated by concerns that buybacks enrich corporate executives at the expense of productive investment. This emerging antibuyback movement includes prominent politicians as well as academics and Republicans as well as Democrats. The primary focus of buyback critics has been on securities-law changes to deter repurchases, with only passing mention of potential tax-law solutions.

This Article critically examines the policy arguments against buybacks and arrives at a mixed verdict. On the one hand, claims that buybacks reduce corporate investment and inappropriately reward executives turn out to be poorly supported. On the other hand, the Article identifies legitimate tax-related concerns about the rising buyback tide. Buybacks exacerbate two of the U.S. tax system’s most severe flaws. The first is the “Mark Zuckerberg problem”: the effective nontaxation of firm founders on what is essentially labor income. The second is what we call the “Panama Papers problem”: the use of U.S. capital markets by investors in offshore tax havens to generate tax-free returns.

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January 14, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Ten Questions For Unconventional Dean Candidates

Neil Fulton (Dean, South Dakota), Ten Questions for Unconventional Dean Candidates, 46 Ohio N.U. L. Rev. 71 (2020):

Thinking back on my experience as an unconventional decanal candidate, there are questions that I believe candidates must ask before tossing their hat into the decanal search ring. Conveniently, those questions fit into a top ten list.

  1. Are You Sure? ...
  2. Why? ...
  3. Do You Know Who We Are? ...

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January 14, 2021 in Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink

Big Law Firms Use AI To Combat Bias In Recruiting Lawyers

American Lawyer, Big Law Firms to Test New Recruiting Tool, Using Tech to Combat Bias:

SuitedSuited, an artificial intelligence-powered recruiting platform with the promise of expanding recruiting pools and eliminating unconscious bias in law firm hiring practices, is set to begin a pilot program that includes Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft; Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton; Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders; Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

“We are building a network of top law firms that utilize a single, common assessment tool, providing candidates an efficient way to access this highly competitive industry and show their true potential,” Matt Spencer, Suited co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “We could not be more proud to partner with such an incredible group of firms and to be part of their continued commitments to diversity hiring and efforts to create a positive candidate experience.” ...

In addition to saving time and increasing the number of schools to recruit from, Suited looks to address another element that has stymied law firms for some time: bias in recruiting.

It’s not that law firms actively seek to deliberately limit the diversity of their workforce. But going back to the same schools each year with the same criteria in mind leads to what most firms deal with now: a homogeneity of mostly white males.

 

January 14, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

2021 Princeton Review Law School Rankings: Professors (Accessibility)

Princeton Review

I previously blogged the lists of the Top 5 law schools in fourteen categories in the 2021 edition of the Princeton Review's Best Law Schools. In a series of posts this week, I will highlight the Top 50 schools in the five categories for which the Princeton Review provides individual law school data:

Professors: Accessible:  This rating is based on how law students rate the accessibility of law faculty members at their school. The rating is on a scale of 60 to 99. 

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January 14, 2021 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

97% Of Students Rated In-Person Fall Semester Classes Good To Excellent, As Did 94% Of Students In Online Classes

Inside Higher Ed, Fall Semester Was Not a Wash For All:

Students who learned entirely online during the fall semester said they received a slightly poorer quality of education than those who had in-person instruction, according to a new poll released Tuesday by Gallup, the polling company, and the Lumina Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for equity in postsecondary education.

The poll found that about three-quarters of students over all rated the quality of their education “excellent” or “very good” amid the disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic this fall, but this largely positive outcome dropped off somewhat when surveyed students were separated by learning modality. Eighty-five percent of students whose curriculum was “completely” in person said their education quality was “excellent” or “very good,” while 71 percent of those learning “completely” online said the same, a report about the findings said.

IHE

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January 14, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Law Prof John Eastman Retires From Chapman 'Effective Immediately' Amidst Uproar Over Speaking At Trump Rally Last Wednesday

Los Angeles Times, Chapman Professor Will Retire After Uproar Over His Speaking at Trump Rally:

EastmanCapping days of growing uproar, Chapman University announced Wednesday that a professor who participated in the pro-Trump rally the same day that a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol would retire immediately.

John Eastman, an endowed professor and constitutional law scholar at Chapman, spoke alongside Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani at the “Save America” rally Jan. 6, making the unsubstantiated claim that “secret folders” inside ballot-counting machines skewed both the presidential and Georgia Senate race results in Democrats’ favor.

Chapman President Daniele Struppa said in a statement that the university and Eastman had reached an agreement and Eastman would retire immediately. Both parties agreed not to take any kind of legal action, including over claims of defamation, which Eastman had alleged.

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January 14, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Domicile In Multistate Personal Income Tax Residency Matters

Scott R. Thomas (Bentley University), Domicile in Multistate Personal Income Tax Residency Matters: Enter the Swamp at Your Own Peril, 39 Pace L. Rev. 875 (2019):

This Article argues that states should remove the domicile concept from the definition of a resident and rely solely on an objective test or tests. Part I of this Article defines the terms resident and domicile using examples from the laws of Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New York. Part II discusses the problems created for individuals and state taxing authorities in the application of a subjective standard, the burden and standard of proof applied, and the domicile or residency bias of states. Part III describes how Congress defines a resident of the United States and the rationale behind Congress’s movement away from its previous subjective standard.

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January 14, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Mason Presents The Legality Of Digital Taxes In Europe Online Today At Toronto

Ruth Mason (Virginia) presents The Legality of Digital Taxes in Europe (with Leopoldo Parada (Leeds)) online at Toronto today as part of its James Hausman Tax Law and Policy Workshop Series:

Mason_ruthThis essay argues that EU taxpayers may challenge digital services taxes as violations of EU law. Specifically, because digital services taxes exempt all but the very largest companies, which are disproportionately foreign, such taxes result in nationality discrimination as applied. As part of our analysis of the legality of digital taxes, we consider what role discriminatory intent should play in resolving nationality discrimination cases. We also evaluate potential justifications for digital taxes, and we argue that two recent decisions by the Court of Justice of the European Union suggest that the Court will uphold such taxes against challenges by taxpayers, but we explain how those cases could be distinguished.

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January 13, 2021 in Colloquia, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Tax Workshops | Permalink

Batchelder: Optimal Tax Theory As A Theory Of Distributive Justice

Lily L. Batchelder (NYU), Optimal Tax Theory as a Theory of Distributive Justice:

The literature on taxation and transfers primarily relies on two theories of distributive justice: resource egalitarianism and welfarism, as elaborated through optimal tax theory. In recent years, optimal tax theory has garnered even greater prominence. But non-welfarists argue it fails to address a number of serious philosophical objections.

This article considers the primary critiques of optimal tax theory, especially by resource egalitarians. It argues the gap between these two theories is narrower than most appreciate. Indeed, once one focuses on egalitarian optimal tax theory and reads that literature broadly, the ideal policy design principles implied by each theory largely mimic the other.

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January 13, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Is A Pandemic The Right Time To Make Bold Faculty Hiring Moves — At Yale And Elsewhere?

Inside Higher Education, Carpe Diem on Faculty Hiring?:

Yale University LogoYale University says it is doing more hiring this academic year than it planned during the pandemic. But that falls short of the hiring activity that faculty members want to see: in a months-long campaign, they’ve argued that hiring freezes during COVID-19 are not just damaging to Yale but also unnecessary.

Indeed, Yale’s budget has fared relatively well since the university announced a yearlong hiring freeze at the pandemic’s onset. In a financial update this fall, Scott Strobel, provost, and Jack Callahan, a senior vice president, said that results for the fiscal year that ended in June were “better than expected, thanks to the work of faculty and staff across campus who restrained spending” and other factors.

How much better than expected? The pandemic cost Yale more than $250 million in lost revenue and other expenses. Yet the university still ended the fiscal year with an operating budget surplus of $125 million. Yale’s endowment, which contributes to the annual budget, also saw a 6.8 percent investment return.

Universities continue to be loath to tap into their endowments for extra pandemic relief. But a $125 million budget surplus is significant.

Strobel and Callahan said that 89 percent of the surplus is tied up in reserve balances in individual campus accounts, and anything remaining is a “buffer” for the rest of this year. Still, they announced that Yale was “partially lifting” the freeze on faculty recruitment, to the tune of at least 60 new and continuing faculty searches across the professional schools and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

This was good news to many faculty members who vocally opposed any freeze on hiring. Even so, it wasn’t enough: Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate wants the university to be bold, not so cautious.

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January 13, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Polarizing Election Work, Discrimination Suits May Dent Jones Day's Appeal To Young Lawyers

American Lawyer, Polarizing Election Work, Discrimination Suits May Dent Jones Day's Appeal to Young Lawyers:

Jones DayJones Day’s links to Donald Trump’s presidency had been clear well before the firm was enlisted in the weeks prior to the November election in a fight over the fate of mail-in ballots that arrived after Election Day.

After a backlash emerged over willingness to take the litigation, the firm was quick to clarify that its engagement was not with the Trump campaign nor the Republican National Committee, but rather the Pennsylvania Republican Party. It also argued that its work was not an effort to contest the results of the general election, and contended that its legal efforts did not touch on the question of voter fraud. ...

Jones Day’s controversial election work has bubbled up after several years during which the firm’s personnel policies have been the subject of attention thanks to three high-profile lawsuits alleging multiple instances of gender bias at the firm. Jones Day has largely succeeded in the courts—the first accuser dropped her case after the firm returned her capital contributions, and the second set of plaintiffs just abandoned ambitious class action claims Monday—but the reputational impact of the salacious details revealed in litigation documents could be lingering.

Th effect of the election work and lawsuits against the firm may be particularly pronounced with younger lawyers, as they make choices about where to build their careers. Partners may be a different story. ...

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January 13, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

2021 Princeton Review Law School Rankings: Professors (Teaching)

Princeton Review

I previously blogged the lists of the Top 5 law schools in fourteen categories in the 2021 edition of the Princeton Review's Best Law Schools. In a series of posts this week, I will highlight the Top 50 schools in the five categories for which the Princeton Review provides individual law school data:

Professors: Interesting:  This rating is based on how students rate the quality of teaching at their law school. This rating is on a scale of 60-99.

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January 13, 2021 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Graetz: A Major Simplification Of The OECD’s Pillar 1 Proposal

Michael J. Graetz (Columbia), A Major Simplification of the OECD’s Pillar 1 Proposal, 170 Tax Notes Fed. 213 (Jan. 11, 2021):

Tax Notes Federal (2020)In this report, Graetz suggests major modifications to the OECD’s pillar 1 blueprint proposal to create a new taxing right for multinational digital income and some product sales that would greatly simplify the proposal. The modifications rely on readily available existing financial information and would achieve certainty in the application of pillar 1, while adhering to its fundamental structure and policies.

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January 13, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

John Marshall (Atlanta) Law School Converts To 501(c)(3) Status

Following up on my previous post, ABA Takes John Marshall (Atlanta) Off Probation After 70% Enrollment Reduction Increases LSAT Scores Of 1L Class; School To Convert From For-Profit To Non-Profit Status:  Press Release, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Enters 2021 as a 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Law School:

John Marshall (Atlanta) (2016)Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is delighted to start the New Year as a qualified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt Law School following its conversion effective January 1, 2021.

The Law School was founded as a nonprofit in 1933, and its recent conversion is a welcome new beginning and homecoming to its original roots. The change in status will not impact its students and will be a seamless transition for its employees. “The process of converting to 501(c)(3) status has been a long time in the making and we see nothing but positive outcomes as a result of our new status. I am extremely excited for the future of the Law School and the enormous potential benefits to our students under the new status change,” said AJMLS’s Dean Jace C. Gatewood.

The Law School will now be operated by Atlanta Law Center, Inc., a Georgia nonprofit corporation doing business as Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.

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January 13, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

The 1920s, The Digital Economy, And The Great Covid Lockdown

Craig Elliffe (Auckland), Assessing the Flaws in the 1920s Compromise in the Times of the Burgeoning Digital Economy and the Great Lockdown:

The COVID-19 pandemic has been described by the International Monetary Fund as the worst recession since the Great Depression. The combination of tax shortfalls, increased government spending, and the irrefutable growth in the digital economy has created a situation which means that the world arrives at the crossroads of international tax reform with a great sense of urgency. If there is political consensus, reform will be in the format proposed, or similar to, the OECD/Inclusive Framework’s proposal (described as the 2020s compromise). In the absence of political consensus, then the world will travel down the other branch of the crossroads and we will see the introduction of a plethora of interim and unilateral domestic taxes.

The existing international tax rules are widely regarded as being “not fit for purpose”. After a brief introduction of the history of the international tax framework (referred to by some as the 1920s compromise), this paper traces the development of the current OECD/Inclusive Framework proposals as international tax policymakers grapple with the vexing problem of how to tax multinationals who do business across borders, particularly those that operate using a highly digitalised business model.

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January 13, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

This Economist Has A Radical Plan To Solve Wealth Inequality

Wired, This Economist Has a Radical Plan to Solve Wealth Inequality:

CapitalPiketty’s 753-page book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, published in 2013, sold 2.5 million copies worldwide and helped put inequality on the global agenda. But his latest, the even thicker Capital and Ideology, may prove still more influential. The book is nothing less than a global history of inequality and the stories that societies tell to justify it, from pre-modern India to Donald Trump’s US. It arrives just as anger about inequality (some of it generated by Piketty’s work) approaches boiling point, and was channelled by a contender for the White House, Bernie Sanders.

Capital and Ideology builds on Piketty’s long-standing argument that inequality has soared across the world since 1980. It proposes strong remedies. Piketty wants to slap wealth taxes of 90 per cent on any assets over $1 billion, and waxes nostalgic about the postwar decades when British and American top marginal income-tax rates were over 80 per cent. ...

In an era when technology platforms are arguably concentrating wealth in the hands of a diminishing number of people in the Valley, Piketty’s advocacy of much higher taxes has attracted the attention of both progressives and radicals around the world. ...

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January 12, 2021 in Book Club, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Hatfield: Professionally Responsible Artificial Intelligence

Michael Hatfield (University of Washington), Professionally Responsible Artificial Intelligence, 51 Ariz. St. L.J. 1057 (2019):

As artificial intelligence (AI) developers produce more applications for professional use, how will we determine when the use is professionally responsible? One way to answer the question is to determine whether the AI augments the professional’s intelligence or whether it is used as a substitute for it. To augment the professional’s intelligence would be to make it greater, that is, to increase and improve the professional’s expertise. But a professional who substitutes artificial intelligence for his or her own puts both the professional role and the client at risk. The problem is developing guidance that encourages professionals to use AI when it can reliably improve expertise but discourages substitution that undermines expertise. 

This Article proposes a solution, using tax professionals as a case study. There are several reasons tax professionals provide a good case study, including that tax practice has a long history of computerization and that AI is already being developed for tax professionals. Tax professionals, including not only lawyers but certified public accountants, are directly regulated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in addition to their regulation by professional bodies.

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January 12, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Anonymous Professor Makes Largest Gift In Rutgers Law School History: $3.5 Million For Public Interest Scholars Named For Former Dean

Press Release, Faculty Member's Gift Will Help High-Achieving Students Attend Law School:

Rutgers (2021)A $3.5 million gift — the largest ever received by Rutgers University–Camden — is launching a new program to attract students to Rutgers Law School in Camden who have distinguished themselves academically and demonstrated a commitment to public service.

The donor of this significant gift is a Rutgers–Camden faculty member who otherwise wishes to remain anonymous. At the donor’s request, the gift creates the Rayman L. Solomon Scholars program at the Camden location of Rutgers Law School in honor of the school’s former dean.

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January 12, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

157 Law Deans Publish Rare Joint Statement On The 2020 Election And Events At The Capitol

I was proud to join 156 of my fellow deans in a rare joint statement. From the press release:

Today, 157 Law School Deans from schools across the country published a statement addressing the 2020 election and the events that took place in the United States Capitol last week. The statement marks a rare occasion. It is unusual for such a diverse group of law deans to come together to speak as one on an issue that falls outside the ambit of legal education.

“The violent attack on the Capitol was an assault on our democracy and the rule of law,” reads the statement. “The effort to disrupt the certification of a free and fair election was a betrayal of the core values that undergird our Constitution. Lives were lost, the seat of our democracy was desecrated, and our country was shamed.”

The joint statement goes on to reflect upon the roles that lawyers played in recent events and affirm the deans’ commitment to working together to repair the damage to democratic institutions and rebuild faith in the rule of law.

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January 12, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

2021 Princeton Review Law School Rankings: Academic Experience

Princeton Review

I previously blogged the lists of the Top 5 law schools in fourteen categories in the 2021 edition of the Princeton Review's Best Law Schools. In a series of posts this week, I will highlight the Top 50 schools in the five categories for which the Princeton Review provides individual law school data:

Academic Experience:  This rating measures the quality of the school's learning environment on a scale of 60 to 99. Factors taken into consideration include the Admissions Selectivity Rating, as well as how students rate each of the following: the quality of teaching and the accessibility of their professors, the research resources at their school, the range of available courses, the balance of curricular emphasis on legal theory and practical lawyering, the tolerance for diverse opinions in the classroom, and the degree of intellectual challenge that the coursework presents.

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January 12, 2021 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Fifteen Law Schools Are Looking To Hire Tax Profs

Law schools looking to hire tenure-track/tenured Tax Profs to start in the 2021-22 academic year:

January 12, 2021 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink

University Of Texas Law School Seeks To Dismiss Sex Discrimination Complaint, Says Linda Mullenix Has 'Bruised Ego'

Following up on my previous post, Linda Mullenix Files Federal Lawsuit Against University Of Texas Law School Alleging Sex Discrimination, Retaliation, And Violation Of Equal Pay Act:  Texas Lawyer, UT Austin Argues for Dismissal, Saying Female Law Professor Has 'Bruised Ego':

MullenixThe University of Texas at Austin argues that law professor Linda Mullenix, who sued for pay discrimination, has a “higher opinion of her work than her colleagues do” and does not have enough evidence the law school retaliated against her.

Much of Mullenix’s retaliation allegations “fall into the category of bruised ego” rather than actionable retaliation, the university claimed. The school argued that the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin should, for a second time, dismiss a retaliation claim in the law professor’s sex discrimination lawsuit.

Mullenix has alleged that she’s a distinguished law professor but she was paid more than $134,000 less from 2017 to 2019 than a male law professor with similar teacher evaluations ratings but nearly a decade less experience, fewer publications and fewer honors. She claimed that because she opposed unequal pay practices, the school retaliated by giving her low raises, putting her on insignificant committees and marginalizing her. ...

The university argued in a motion to dismiss that Mullenix has gotten raises consistently and her current salary is more than $337,000.

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January 12, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

What May We Expect Of A Theory Of International Tax Justice?

Dirk Broekhuijsen (Leiden) & Henk Vording (Leiden), What May We Expect of a Theory of International Tax Justice?:

In this article, we discuss what may be expected of a theory of international tax justice. After looking at the most important distributive as well as procedural theories of tax justice, we conclude that none of the existing theories can provide a coherent account of international tax justice. We therefore propose an alternative, more pragmatic approach drawing on Amartya Sen.

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January 12, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Monday, January 11, 2021

Kamin: How Far To Go In Reforming Taxation Of Wealth

David Kamin (NYU), How Far to Go in Reforming Taxation of Wealth: Revenue and Tax Avoidance, 168 Tax Notes Fed. 1225 (Aug. 17, 2020):

Tax Notes Federal (2020)The article describes the revenue estimates of incremental versus fundamental reform options for taxation of individual wealth, and explains how tax avoidance assumptions underlie the larger estimates for fundamental reform. 

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January 11, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Analysts, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

The Impact Of Potential Tax Reform On Stock Market Returns: 2016 Election To TCJA

Anthony M. Diercks (Board of Governors, Federal Reserve), Daniel Soques (University of North Carolina-Wilmington) & William Waller (Tulane), The 283 Days of Stock Returns after the 2016 Election:

Conventional wisdom suggests that the promise of tax legislation played an important and positive role in the 25% increase in the stock market that began on November 9, 2016 and continued through December 22, 2017 (the day TCJA was signed into law). Our comprehensive and exhaustive forensic analysis confirms its positive effect. With that said, we find that its net impact is relatively modest.

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January 11, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

2021 Tannenwald Tax Writing Competition

Tannenwald (2013)The Theodore Tannenwald, Jr. Foundation for Excellence in Tax Scholarship and American College of Tax Counsel are sponsoring the 2021 Tannenwald Tax Writing Competition:

Named for the late Tax Court Judge Theodore Tannenwald, Jr., and designed to perpetuate his dedication to legal scholarship of the highest quality, the Tannenwald Writing Competition is open to all full- or part-time law school students, undergraduate or graduate. Papers on any federal or state tax-related topic may be submitted in accordance with the Competition Rules.

Prizes:

  • 1st Place:  $5,000
  • 2nd Place: $2,500
  • 3rd Place:  $1,500

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January 11, 2021 in Legal Education, Tax, Teaching | Permalink

Dayton Seeks To Hire A Tax Prof

University of Dayton School of Law:

Dayton LogoThe University of Dayton School of Law invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position to begin August 16, 2021. Areas of particular need include contracts, secured transactions, business organizations, property, wills and trusts, and/or tax.

Applicants must have a J.D. or the equivalent degree from a foreign institution.

While not everyone may possess all the preferred qualifications, the ideal candidate will bring many of the following:

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January 11, 2021 in Legal Education, Tax, Tax Prof Jobs | Permalink

2021 Princeton Review Law School Rankings: Admissions Selectivity

Princeton ReviewI previously blogged the lists of the Top 5 law schools in fourteen categories in the 2021 edition of the Princeton Review's Best Law Schools. In a series of posts this week, I will highlight the Top 50 schools in the five categories for which the Princeton Review provides individual law school data:

Admissions Selectivity:  This rating measures the competitiveness of admissions at each law school on a scale of 60–99. Factors taken into consideration include the median LSAT score and undergraduate GPA of entering 1L students, the percentage of applicants who are accepted, and the percentage of applicants who are accepted and ultimately enroll. 

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January 11, 2021 in Law School Rankings, Legal Ed Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Lesson From The Tax Court: Too Much Control Over IRA Distribution Makes It Income

Tax Court (2020)Note: The Tax Court has migrated to a different operational internet platform.  As of last Friday, any opinions (if any) issued by  the Court since it closed its old platform in late November, are not accessible.  Further, older opinions are also not accessible, unless another website (such as leagle.com or casetext.com) captured a copy before the old platform closed.  That is why I am unable to provide a link to this week's case.  If any reader has public link to the opinion I would be grateful.

A fundamental concept I teach my tax students is the idea of control.  Taxpayers who engage in schemes where they ostensibly never touch a payment but in reality control its disposition often cannot escape taxation.  In Brett John Ball v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2020-152 (Nov. 10, 2020) (Judge Halpern), the taxpayer caused his self-directed IRA to distribute money to a wholly owned LLC, then caused the LLC to issue short-term loans to real estate entities.  When the loans were repaid, Mr. Ball re-deposited the money into the IRA.  The taxpayer had some decent arguments on why he should not have to report the IRA distributions as income.  Judge Halpern rejected those arguments, teaching us a lesson about how much control is too much control.

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January 11, 2021 in Bryan Camp, New Cases, Scholarship, Tax, Tax Practice And Procedure, Tax Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1)

Appeals Court Explains Decision To Deny Bail For Katherine Magbanua As She Awaits Trial In Dan Markel's Murder

Tallahassee Democrat, Appeals Court Judges Explain Bail Denial For Dan Markel Murder Suspect Katherine Magbanua:

Magnauba (2021)Appeals court judges in Tallahassee on Thursday explained their denial of a request by accused Dan Markel murder suspect Katherine Magbanua to be released on bail.

In a 9-page opinion, 1st District Court of Appeal judges Lori Rowe, Joseph Lewis and Ross Bilbrey bolstered their December decision for Magbanua to continue to be held in the Leon County Detention Facility until trial.

Magbanua has sought several times to be released but her attorneys have been rebuffed by two different circuit judges who say there is enough evidence to hold her until trial. She was already on trial once in Markel's death, but the jury deadlocked. ...

Magbanua, 36, is the only one of three suspects in Markel's July 2014 killing whose case has not been disposed.

WCTV, Katherine Magbanua to Remain Behind Bars, Appeals Court Says:

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January 11, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

TaxProf Blog Weekend Roundup

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Thirty Wealthy Colleges And Universities Are Targeted In Covid Relief Act

Inside Higher Ed, Wealthier Colleges and Universities Are Targeted In Covid Relief Bill:

After President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos criticized giving private colleges and universities with large endowments help in the CARES Act, wealthier institutions like Harvard, Yale and Stanford Universities had their share of the money in the latest coronavirus relief package cut in half.

Under a little-noticed provision in the bill passed two weeks ago [The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021], private higher education institutions that were required by a 2017 law to pay a 1.4 percent excise tax on net investment income not only had their aid slashed, they were barred from using the money they will get to defray their financial losses from the pandemic. The relief bill allows them only to use the aid on emergency grants to students or to pay for personal protective equipment and other health and safety costs associated with the coronavirus. Higher education received about $23 billion in the legislation.

The provision affects about 30 private colleges and universities who have to pay the tax because they have at least 500 tuition-paying students and assets of at least $500,000 per student, said Steven Bloom, the American Council on Education’s government relations director. However, that number is constantly changing, particularly during the economic fallout of the pandemic, as the value of the endowments fluctuates over and under the threshold.

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January 10, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Will Paper Bar Exams Become A Thing Of The Past?

ABA Journal, Will Paper Bar Exams Become a Thing of the Past?:

While there’s significant disagreement on how the bar exam should change, many believe it will, and there’s a wide range of ideas about what should happen.

So far, suggestions for change include breaking the test into smaller segments and administering part of it in law school; replacing essay questions with performance tests; and doing away with the licensing exam entirely. ...

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January 10, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

Dozens Of Kind Deeds Follow Harvard 2L's Suicide On New Year's Eve

Following up on my previous post, Statement Of Congressman Raskin And His Wife On Their Son Tommy, A Harvard 2L, Who Took His Own Life On New Year's Eve:  Washington Post, ‘One Small Act of Compassion in Tommy’s Honor’: Kind Deeds Follow the Death of Rep. Raskin’s Son:

Raskin 3When Thomas “Tommy” Raskin died at 25 years old on New Year’s Eve, he left a farewell message for his family, including his parents, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and his wife, Sarah Bloom Raskin:

“Please forgive me. My illness won today,” Tommy wrote, according to a poignant tribute written by his parents. “Please look after each other, the animals, and the global poor for me. All my love, Tommy.”

Although Tommy’s note was intended for his family, the broader community is now heeding his words.

More than 175 people from the D.C. area and beyond have signed up so far to fulfill Tommy’s final wish by doing good deeds, large and small, in his name. People are adding the deeds to a Google document, along with their names and where they live.

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January 10, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

The Top Five New Tax Papers

There is a bit of movement in this week's list of the Top 5 Recent Tax Paper Downloads, with a new paper debuting on the list at #5. The #1 paper is #491 among 15,657 tax papers in all-time downloads:

  1. SSRN Logo (2018) [878 Downloads]  A Simple Regulatory Fix for Citizenship Taxation, by John Richardson, Laura Snyder & Karen Alpert (Queensland)
  2. [411 Downloads]  Tax Treaty Negotiations: Myth and Reality, by Yariv Brauner (Florida)
  3. [291 Downloads]  Is It Time to Eliminate Federal Corporate Income Taxes?, by Edward Lane (Albany) & Randall Wray (UMKC)
  4. [237 Downloads]  Assessing the Flaws in the 1920s Compromise in the Times of the Burgeoning Digital Economy and the Great Lockdown, by Craig Elliffe (Auckland)
  5. [202 Downloads]  What May We Expect of a Theory of International Tax Justice?, by Dirk Broekhuijsen (Leiden) & Henk Vording (Leiden)

January 10, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Top 5 Downloads | Permalink

Saturday, January 9, 2021

This Week's Ten Most Popular TaxProf Blog Posts

California Bar Exam Pass Rate Is Highest In 12 Years, Due To Lower Cut Score; Supreme Court May Grant Licenses To 2,000 Applicants Who Failed Exams Since July 2015 And Scored 1390 Or Higher

California State Bar (2019)The California State Bar has released the results from the October 2020 online bar exam. The overall pass rate was 60.7%, up 10.6 percentage points from last year's July exam. For California ABA-accredited law schools, the pass rate for first time test-takers was 84%, up 12.7 percentage points from 2019. The was the first exam graded under the new cut score of 1390, reduced from 1440 by the California Supreme Court on July 16, 2020.

State Bar of California Releases Results of October 2020 Bar Exam:

Today the State Bar released results of the October 2020 California Bar Exam and announced that 5,292 people (60.7 percent of applicants) passed the General Bar Exam. If those who passed satisfy all other requirements for admission, they will be eligible to be licensed by the State Bar to practice law in California. The October 2020 General Bar Exam pass rate is the highest in more than a decade, since July 2008.

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January 9, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink

AALS Hosts Virtual Panel Today On New Voices In Taxation

The AALS Tax Section hosts a Zoom panel today on New Voices in Taxation at 4:15 pm ET:

AALS (2018)This program gives junior tax scholars an opportunity to receive useful feedback on their work from senior reviewers before submitting the work for publication.

Kathleen DeLaney Thomas (North Carolina) (moderator)

Jeremy Bearer-Friend (George Washington), Taxation and the Law-and-Political-Economy Project (with Ari Glogower (Ohio State), Ariel Jurow Kleiman (San Diego) & Clinton Wallace (South Carolina)
Commentator:  Ajay Mehrotra (American Bar Foundation & Northwestern)

Jonathan Choi (Minnesota), Legal Analysis, Policy Analysis, and the Price of Deference: An Empirical Study of Mayo and Chevron
Commentator, Leigh Osofsky (North Carolina)

Hayes Holderness (Richmond), Insidious Regulatory Taxes
Commentator:  Beth Colgan (UCLA)

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January 9, 2021 in Conferences, Legal Education, Tax, Tax Conferences, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

McLaughlin: Conservation Easements And Federal Tax Law

Nancy A. McLaughlin (Utah), Trying Times: Conservation Easements and Federal Tax Law (207 pages):

Since 2005, the courts have decided more than 90 cases involving challenges to deductions claimed with respect to conservation easement donations. More than 135 opinions have been issued in these cases due to appeals, motions for reconsideration, and the issuance of separate opinions addressing specific issues. This outline, which is updated annually, discusses the case law and other developments in the conservation easement donation context.

January 9, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship | Permalink

Friday, January 8, 2021

Weekly SSRN Tax Article Review And Roundup: Kleiman Reviews Hayashi's Dynamic Property Taxes And Racial Gentrification

This week, Ariel Jurow Kleiman (San Diego) reviews a new work by Andrew T. Hayashi (UVA), Dynamic Property Taxes and Racial Gentrification (2020).

Stevenson

Four decades after California’s Prop 13 and the Tax Revolt it instigated, we are still unraveling the downstream consequences of property tax limits. Andrew Hayashi explores yet another unanticipated, if not surprising, consequence of property tax assessment limits in the context of gentrification. Combining theoretical reasoning with empirical data from Maryland, his approach is thoughtful and nuanced, reflecting the multilayered complexity underlying the economic and social processes at play.

The crux of his reasoning is the following. Property taxes are based on a property’s assessed value, which often differs from its market value. A relatively lower assessed value means a lower “effective tax rate” (ETR), since the ETR is measured against market value. Tax limits play an important role by limiting the government’s ability to assess properties at their market value, either imposing a maximum increase percentage or requiring that increases be phased-in over time. Regardless of the form, these limits cause lower ETRs for properties that are increasing in value compared to properties with stable or declining values. The more rapid the appreciation, the more pronounced the ETR gap.

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January 8, 2021 in Scholarship, Tax, Tax Scholarship, Weekly SSRN Roundup, Weekly Tax Roundup | Permalink

Tax Policy In The Trump Administration